10 for 10

Over the past ten days, my wife and I have enjoyed many blessings of ministry of which here are ten. They are shared here for God’s glory and appreciation for His kindness to us in these days of such sin and sorrow!

1. Officiating and directing a wedding! Wow! How special to see two lives brought together in the will of God! The wedding was Christ-exalting and so very romantic! I love weddings!! (Side note: In respect of the newlyweds, I will not post any pics until they do.)

2. Providing a place to rest in our home for two days for a fellow servant in ministry! Quiet walks, prayer, porch time, mountain drive, sharing scripture, etc.!!

3. In 2014, my wife and I had the joy of leading the Missionary Teen Retreat in the Basque region of Spain. We have kept up with several who are now young adults. Daniel and Jessica celebrated their first anniversary with a return trip to Gatlinburg, TN. Their anniversary celebration included worshipping with us in both Sunday gatherings plus a meal and afternoon spent at our home. What a special treat! I call that “clipping grace coupons”!!

4. Preaching the Hebrews 12:12-19 passage in the morning gathering at BCBC!! What a solemn and joy-filled honor it is to prepare and preach the Word of God verse-by-verse!! The Word works!! (2 Timothy 3:16; 4:2)

5. Leading and teaching the Biblical Counseling Elective on Sunday mornings!! “The heart of every issue is an issue of the heart.”

6. Follow-up visitation of church visitors. Made to feel so at home with these folks!!

7. Having coffee with a young man from our church who just finished his first year of college. My heart was greatly encouraged to see how he has grown both spiritually and as a young man!!

8. Discipleship with another man in our congregation. Met for lunch and read together through a chapter of Disciplines of a Godly Man, R. Kent Hughes. Iron sharpening iron (Proverbs 27:17).

9. Small Group gathering on Thursday night! What can I say?!?! A highlight of every week! Singing, prayer, transparent testimonies, Bible study, fellowship around the bar counter and in the living room, laughter, tears, bearing burdens, and rejoicing in answered prayer!!

10. Attending a high school graduation of a young man that has attended BCBC through his teen years. Another opportunity to encourage a young man to follow Christ, not his heart!!

That’s only 10! There were so many more!! Oh! How marvelous is the goodness and grace of God!! And, I got to share in all of these with my wife, except for #8.

It is the blessing of the Lord that makes rich, and He adds no sorrow to it. (Proverbs 10:22)

It’s Friday . . . and Sunday’s Coming!

Preacher, are you ready?

May I share three things to encourage you toward Sunday?

1. Prepare your heart

In this atomic age when forces are being released that stagger the thought and imagi­nation of man it is well to remember that prayer transcends all other forces. (F. J. Huegel)

Men, Jesus said, Without me, you can do nothing (John 15:5)! Preparing your heart through prayer is more important than delivering your sermon. Passionate, dependent, scripture-filled prayer says, “Lord, You are able, I am not!”

2. Prepare your message

Men, we have been challenged to Preach the Word (2 Timothy 4:2) since the day we sensed God’s call to the ministry. Those folks who gather to hear you Sunday need hope and to see Christ. Therefore, preach the Word under the control of the Holy Spirit from a heart set on fire by God!

Give the sheep good grain, a message from God’s Word, not just a sermon.

3. Prepare your family

Saturday evening, gather your family together and share what the Lord has taught you and what you will deliver in the message on Sunday. Have them pray for you and with you.

Make your family a vital part of the ministry team!

Preacher, will you be ready?

To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily. (Colossians 1:27-29)

Overcoming Discouragement in Ministry #9

McAfee Knob AT

Do you feel a sense of guilt when you take time to go on a date with you wife?

Does guilt grab ahold of you if you are playing in the backyard with your children and a church member drives by?

If that church member stops to say hello, does a feeling of guilt lead you to give a reason or excuse for taking time to enjoy your children?

Does guilt consume you while on vacation?

When the day is done, do you deal with guilt because you didn’t get all of your boxes checked or those visits made?

GUILT….an emotion that can create ongoing discouragement in ministry.

How do you deal with it?

1. If you have started your day in prayer seeking the Lord’s will as well as surrendering your plans to His leading, then rest in His sovereign care and direction.

The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delights in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; for the Lord upholds him with His hand (Psalm 37:23-24).

The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord. Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established. The Lord has made everything for its purpose (Proverbs 16:1, 3-4a).

2. Live to please the Lord, to glorify Him, and realize that you will never be able to please everyone in your congregation. Furthermore, they cannot always please you either. Yes, you are an example to the flock and they are watching you, but if you live to honor the Lord (1 Corinthians 10:31), then you have lined up with the highest standard. So respond with humility and grace. Neither pastor nor parishioner should have a standard for the other that they themselves are not living up to. Be gracious and give others some latitude.

3. Your freedom from the fear of man will be a testimony to your people as you interact with them in love and compassion. Lead them to see that for all of us, our expectation, our hope must come from the Lord (Psalm 62:5).

The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe (Proverbs 29:25).

4. Your identity is in Christ alone in Whom you are accepted. Spend some time soaking your soul in Romans 6-8 and Philippians 1.

To the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved (Ephesians 1:6).

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me (Galatians 2:20).

Ministry friend, remember that we live in a sin-cursed world that will never work right. So, rest in the promises of God, rest in grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, and rest in Matthew 11:28-30, Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am [f]gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.

Overcoming Discouragement in Ministry (#8)

Twin Falls (Eastatoe), Sunset, SC

“Men, how’s your prayer life?”

WRONG QUESTION.

“Men, how’s your life of prayer?”

Ah, yes! That’s the correct question and the correct setting.

A prayer life is compartmentalizing your walk with God. A life of prayer aptly describes what the Christian life should look like–a man solely dependent upon God for spiritual life and vitality, an eternal, biblical viewpoint, wisdom from the Throne of God, and a relationship with his Heavenly Father that is real and personal.

Jesus speaking to His disciples said, Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing (John 15:4-5). These same words are greatly needed for all of us in ministry.

How interesting, too, that the Lord Jesus Christ, the very Son of God, the Creator and Sustainer of all things, our Savior and Great High Priest and Intercessor is a man of prayer (Luke 3:21-22; 5:15-16; 6:12-13; 9:18, 28; 18:1; 22:31-32; 23:46).

So, what’s another remedy for discouragement in ministry? A life of prayer!

Prayer is the first thing, the second thing, the third thing necessary to a minister. Pray, then, my dear brother; pray, pray, pray.” — Edward Payson

You can do more than pray after you have prayed, but you cannot do more than pray until you have prayed. Pray often, for prayer is a shield to the soul, a sacrifice to God, and a scourge to Satan.” — John Bunyan

So, may I encourage you who are prone to discouragement in ministry, see prayer as your life.

  • Pray on Monday! Make it a day of just praising the Lord for Who He is and what He did on Sunday. Redirect your focus upward not manward. Use Psalms 34:1-9; 92:1-8; 100; 103; 111:1-5; 117; 145 to pray in praise and thanksgiving. I would greatly encourage you to only pray this way on Mondays—praise and thanksgiving (Philippians 4:6-8).
  • Pray such that your sermon becomes a message from God. While studying the words of the text, talk to God about it. When you take a coffee break, talk to God about it . . . and listen to what He says. When you are driving down the road to visit a dear soul, talk to God about it. When Sunday comes, the message to preach is a burden from God that He responsible for, and not you. You will be so consumed with what God has taught you and how He has changed you that when you preach, the congregation will see Jesus, and not you. “Strange it is that any discussion of preaching should take place outside the context of believing prayer. We have not prepared until we have prayed… We cannot represent God if we have not stood before God” (David Larsen).
  • Pray with your wife. (Meals only do not count but can be included.)
  • Pray with your children.
  • Pray with your parents and in-laws.
  • Pray with ministry leaders in your church. Call and ask them to pray with you and for you. Maybe meet somewhere in the country, the mountains, or a coffee shop and have a three-way conversation with the Head of the Church!
  • Pray with pastors and other ministry leaders outside your church. As above, call a friend in ministry and say, “Just wanted to ask you spend some time in prayer with me and for me. Let’s talk to the Lord together!”
  • Pray with the one who just unloaded their burdens on you. Just you implore them to obey 1 Peter 5:6-7, you do the same with that burden. You are not to carry it either!
  • Pray with and/or for your server at the restaurant.
  • Pray right then and there when you are asked to pray about a situation or individual.
  • Pray Scripture with your Bible and your eyes wide-open!!
  • Pray in your “prayer closet” or that quiet place near your home or in the woods.
  • Pray on Sunday morning with a group of prayer people before Sunday School and the morning gathering.
  • Pray that you have a life of prayer, not a prayer life.

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

Remember, it was Jesus Who said, “Without Me, you can do nothing” (John 15:5) and “Men ought always to pray and not lose heart” (Luke 18:1).

Overcoming Discouragement in Ministry (#7)

Hiking is so much like life! Constant ups and downs, wear and tear on your body, hidden and exposed roots that cause you to stumble, stony trails that cause your feet to burn and twist, steep climbs that seem to last forever, stinkin’ socks and fellow hikers, the burden of 25-40 pounds on your back, sloshing through a rain-soaked trail, and wishing you could carry your bed from home in your backpack in exchange for the ground or a shelter floor!

As I stood on one of the many awe-inspiring, give-God-praise views on the Appalachian Trail this week, I proclaimed to my hiking buddy, Rick, “And you ask me why we love to hike????” (Besides the fact that we just love being outdoors in the mountains!)

Men, one of the reasons we are prone to become discouraged in ministry is the view. Ministry can be like what I described in the first paragraph. While carrying the weight of “your church” on your shoulders, all you see are ministry deadlines, the constant burdens of others, unmet expectations, another sermon to ream out, your body wearing down, the battle of your flesh, and a mind full of stinkin’ thinkin’!!! Just like the old adage, “you can’t see the forest for the trees.” You need to change the view.

How?

Learn to rest! Most folks in ministry do not know how to rest! We are on the go 24/7 with our foot on the accelerator pushed to the floor. Even on vacation, we are still thinking ministry, taking calls, answering texts, and thinking about next Sunday’s sermon.

Rest breaks are crucial while hiking. As we climbed up the mountain to McAfee Knob and trekked the distance over to Tinker Cliffs, periodic rest breaks for water and a protein snack gave energy and heart to press forward. Even along the way, we enjoyed other views as we dropped our packs and briefly rested. We knew the extraordinary views were coming!

Your rest breaks could be . . .

  • a drive in the country with your wife (no ministry discussion allowed)
  • a walk or bike ride in a nearby park
  • 15 minutes on the back porch singing and swinging
  • reading the Psalms or Philippians for your heart’s sake and not for a sermon
  • no phone at supper while remaining at the table with your wife to chat for 15-30 minutes at the end of your meal
  • your prayer closet
  • a power nap
  • watching something humorous to get you laughing
  • a cup of coffee or tea and a healthy snack
  • calling your wife and talking to her like you did when you were dating (seriously)
  • Facetimeing one of your grandkids . . . that’ll lighten up your heart

Ministry friend, learn to rest. Remember, Jesus went to the mountains and the wilderness to get away (Matthew 14:23; Luke 6:12). You need those rest breaks more than Jesus did. You are not the Messiah!

The “hike” in ministry calls for periods of rest. The “views” will be much better when you do!

Overcoming Discouragement in Ministry (#3)

So you have completed a full day of ministry. You have proclaimed and taught the Word of God, perhaps as many as three to four times. You have praised the Lord with all your heart! You have listened to many burdens, heard maybe a complaint or two, and sought to encourage and edify many. You have worked through a power point failure during your third point, a crying baby, and on the way home, a flat tire. As you ease into your chair in the family room and take a deep breath, you can still hear all the “noise” of the day in your mind, even if you are catching up on Sunday night football and Facebook.

Be careful! Your mind and body are worn out! You are reliving the day. Thoughts of “what if” and “if only” and “I should have” start to permeate your mind. You are a prime target for the flesh and the devil to lie to you. It’s a set up, friend!

May I encourage you . . . and remind myself?

First of all, instead of listening to yourself, preach the Truth to yourself . . . instead of just to those who gathered to hear the message. You proclaimed the Truth with passion and conviction all day. Now, believe and live out what you preached! Rest in it. Lean hard into it. His Word never returns void (Isaiah 55:11). Your failures of the day are a good reminder that you are frail and totally dependent on God’s grace and mercy all the time. Your successes, and only God determines that, are what they because Christ worked through you to build His Church, to do His work, not yours. So rejoice in Him! Praise Him! Thank Him!

Second, start counting your blessings from the day and record them in a journal or on your phone . . . even if it might have been a difficult Sunday! Satan doesn’t want you to remember the goodness of God that you experienced through the day. Most of all, remember your position and identification in Christ (Ephesians 1:3-14). You are accepted in the Beloved (1:6).

Third, track your thinking and what you usually do on Sunday nights. Make sure it does not feed your discouragements. Perhaps a good idea would be to put the kids to bed, and you and your wife enjoy some time alone! Act like you’re newlyweds! Hold hands, kiss, cuddle, and enjoy the wife your youth (Proverbs 5:18). Encourage each other. And, just like Saturday night, hold hands and pray before drifting off to sleep. You need her, she needs you and you both need the Lord!!

Sleep well, friend, and . . . let’s pray for one another to choose what’s right by God’s grace.

You will keep him in perfect peace,
Whose mind is stayed on You,
Because he trusts in You.
(Isaiah 26:3)

And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, . . . and be thankful. (Colossians 3:15)

Overcoming Discouragement in Ministry (#2)

In this quest to overcome discouragement, let’s begin on the first day of the week, the “biggest day” of the minister’s calling.

How do you begin your Sunday morning? Do you make sure you get a good night’s rest? Friend, sleep is good; it’s needful. Sunday requires much from you mentally, spiritually and physically. Don’t underestimate the rhythm that God has given your body. Also, make it a habit to pray with your wife before you drift off to sleep.

Do you get up early and have a designated time with the Lord in prayer and surrender to the Christ in you as you prepare to join Him in His work? S.D. Gordon said, “The greatest thing anyone can do for God and man is pray. It is not the only thing; but it is the chief thing. The great people of the earth today are the people who pray. I do not mean those who talk about prayer; not those who can explain about prayer; but I mean those people who take time and pray.” Also, “You can do more than pray after you have prayed but you cannot do more than pray until you have prayed.” Jesus said, “Without Me, you can do nothing” (John 15:5).

Let me add that if you have a family, it’s a blessing to hear them prayer in the car on the way to church. Now that my wife and I are enjoying the empty nest, she always leads in prayer on our way down the road to church. It’s so sweet to hold her hand and share together in preparation for the day through intercession before the Throne of God! When our girls were young, we would have prayer in the van in the church parking lot before entering the building. These were some very precious times, especially hearing a toddler pray!

Next, how about a time of prayer with others before the day of ministry begins. This could be an announced time set aside every Sunday morning to gather with the men, elders and deacons, church members, etc. Hearing others pray for you, calling out your name, can be a rich source of encouragement to you and your heart can be blessed as you pray for others, getting the focus off of yourself.

Have you noticed an emphasis here? How easy it is to “get in gear” and run 70 mph through a Sunday or any day because you have ministry to be done, people to see, etc. May I encourage you to soak your soul in Psalm 23 and let the Chief Shepherd (1 Peter 5:1-4) shepherd your soul throughout your Sunday? You need Christ to be all you need, to quiet you in His green pastures and still waters, to restore your soul and to lead you in His righteous paths (Psalm 23) throughout the day.

Perhaps one of the reasons we get discouraged is that we are so prone to think of ourselves as THE shepherd, THE pastor, THE man of God, and forget to surrender throughout the day to the CHIEF SHEPHERD Who dwells in us. He is the only One Who has the right to say, “I will build My Church” (Matthew 16:18).

Ministry friend, prayer is “the declaration of our dependence upon God” (Ken Collier). Read the Psalms, and you will see that when David was discouraged, he prayed and praised God. Please do not underestimate the need, the power, the fellowship, and the dependency of prayer!!

I will bless the Lord at all times;
His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
2 My soul shall make its boast in the Lord;
The humble shall hear of it and be glad.
3 Oh, magnify the Lord with me,
And let us exalt His name together.
4 I sought the Lord, and He heard me,
And delivered me from all my fears.
5 They looked to Him and were radiant,
And their faces were not ashamed.
6 This poor man cried out, and the Lord heard him,
And saved him out of all his troubles.
7 The angel of the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him,
And delivers them.
8 Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good;
Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!
(Psalm 34)

“A sermon steeped in prayer on the study floor, like Gideon’s fleece saturated with dew, will not lose its moisture between that and the pulpit. The first step towards doing anything in the pulpit as a thorough workman must be to kiss the feet of the Crucified, as a worshipper, in the study.” (Thomas Armitage)

No Frills, No Fluff

What would draw hundreds of men from Missouri, Ohio, New Jersey, South Carolina, and even California?

Great entertainment? Good food? Well-known speakers? Attractive venue?

What would you say if I told you the draw is . . . prayer?

Really? Yes, indeed!

Men’s Prayer Advance.

Each year men gather in the Roanoke, VA, area to worship by listening to strong, Holy-Spirit infused preaching, full-throttle singing with hearts and voices in joyful praise, and most of all, meeting together at the Throne of Grace in passionate, expectant prayer!! This is “an encounter with Christ!”

Men’s Prayer Advance is a no frills, no fluff meeting properly described by its name.

MEN’S: Luke 18:1 says, Men ought always to pray, and 1 Timothy, 2:8, I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling. You should see and hear these men pouring out their hearts to the Lord in transparent, honest, pleading, crying out, believing prayer! The highlight every year occurs on Friday at 11:00 a.m. with “Sweet Hour of Prayer” where men get alone with God for one hour or more in prayer of praise and petitions. One man said to me, “I missed lunch because my time with the Lord would so good!!” Some prayer meetings continue on into late Thursday night and Friday morning after the Thursday evening service.

PRAYER: Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation (Matthew 26:41). First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:1-4). Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints (Ephesians 6:18). “Prayer doesn’t begin on earth, it begins in heaven.” (Ron Lynch)

ADVANCE: As we hear so often from Harold Vaughan, the founder of Christlife Ministries, “This is not a prayer retreat, it’s a prayer advance! We’re not backing up, giving up, or slowing down.” For three days, from Thursday at 1:30 p.m. until Saturday noon, it is an intentional move toward God! James gives us an example of a man advancing in prayer. The heartfelt and persistent prayer of a righteous man (believer) can accomplish much [when put into action and made effective by God—it is dynamic and can have tremendous power]. 17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours [with the same physical, mental, and spiritual limitations and shortcomings], and he prayed intensely for it not to rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. 18 Then he prayed again, and the sky gave rain and the land produced its crops [as usual]. (James 5:16-18 AMP)

What draws you to have an encounter with Christ? Have you met with Him today in prayer? Are you advancing or retreating?

“The greatest thing anyone can do for God and man is pray. It is not the only thing; but it is the chief thing. The great people of the earth today are the people who pray. I do not mean those who talk about prayer; not those who can explain about prayer; but I mean those people who take time and pray.” ~ S. D Gordon

(If you would like information about future Advances for men, ladies, students and couples, check out Prayer Advances.)

How To Talk About Your Church

  • “Well, I walked into church, and no one spoke to me!” 
  • “Every Sunday, my heart is stirred, and I leave knowing I have met with my Lord!” 
  • “Our preacher (fill-in-the-blank)!” 
  • “All our church knows to do is ask for money!” 
  • “Our kids’ ministry is awesome!”

These and a whole host of other statements, both positive and negative, true and false, have been and continue to be said about the local church. In connection with yesterday’s post, Covid’s Speech Lesson, I want us to consider what is said to others about the local gathering we attend. Let’s look at one of them.

“Our church (or, That church) is so unfriendly!”

There’s a quick remedy for that one. Proverbs 18:24 reminds us, He that has friends must himself be friendly.  Next Sunday, before you get out of your car, pray by yourself or with your spouse or your family, “Lord, I surrender to You, Who dwells in me, to be friendly, compassionate, listening, and caring to all we meet. And, lead us to the seats in the auditorium where You want us to sit today that we may help move folks around one step toward Christ.”

Think about it. If we are given to say that our church is not friendly, then perhaps we are not friendly because we are the church. We as born again believers are the body of Christ. Therefore, when we gather, we are more than just friendly on “the outside.” We desire to go deeper by showing mercy to those around us. We greet others with a firm handshake or a fist-bump or with raised eyebrows (for mask-wearers) and a word of greeting. Try to refrain from the norm, “How you doing?” and move on.

If you are greeting a visitor/guest, stop, speak to them, give your name, listen for their name(s) and use their name(s) immediately so you can begin to remember it. Put yourself in their shoes. Consider how you can make them feel at home; as if they were entering your living room. As you chat with them, don’t be in hurry. Introduce them to those serving at the Welcome Center. Ask questions and give guidance to the auditorium or nursery or fellowship area. Pray with them.

Sometime during the week, send a thank you note or a text or give them a call to let them know you have prayed for them. Make sure they know you genuinely care.

True friendliness is grounded in the person of Christ. He spent time with His disciples and others (John 3:22). He initiated conversations (John 4:7-42). He came to serve others (Mark 10:45). He prayed for others (John 17). He visited in homes (Luke 19:1-10). He reached out to sinners (John 8:1-11).

Since we can do all things through Christ as He lives His life through us, we can ignite a culture of biblical friendliness in our local congregation that will be contagious for Christ and to others!!

“That congregation is so friendly! They are genuine; they really care!”

2021 In Review

Many years ago I started the habit of keeping a daily journal. This has practice has given back over and over again in my life. As I reread the entries from the week or month or even perusing through another year’s journal, the reminders of God’s faithfulness, love, teaching, wisdom, care, guidance, provision, and grace abound! There’s also the reminders of joy, sorrow, fun, heartache, ups and downs, the general stuff of life and the moments you don’t want to forget.

With that said, I end this year looking back through my journal to share some of life’s lessons and blessings with you.

  1. Celebrated 40 years of marriage in June with my sweetheart, best friend, and companion. We have done something special on the 2oth of every month since we were married on June 20. Wrote 40 blessings of being married for 40 years.
  2. Celebrated 20 years of ministry at Boones Creek Bible Church via the gift of a month long sabbatical from our church family.
  3. Statements throughout my journal: “By grace, give and live abundantly in Christ today!!” “Nothing is impossible with God!” “God uses weak men.” “What we think of God and believe of Him determines how we view all of life.” “The believer in life should love life.” “Jesus is enough.” “Do we just possess the Word or do we practice the Word?” “The key to understanding the Bible is to see Jesus Christ on every page.” “Just another typical day in the life of a child of God.” “Victims become victors and the condemned become conquerors through Christ alone!” “God puts His people in the right place at the right time to accomplish His righteous work.”
  4. The joy of preaching through 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, Jude and Hebrews on Sunday morning!
  5. Family gatherings: Celebrating our 40th anniversary, Pigeon Forge, Thanksgiving and Christmas, to mention a few!
  6. Answered prayer, answered prayer, answered prayer, answered prayer, answered prayer . . . .
  7. Many Thursday entries about the blessings of our small group meeting in our home as we sang, prayed, studied the Word, shared, watch God answer prayer, gathered around the bar counter enjoying fellowship, watching discipleship take place, etc.!!
  8. “Denise had Shiloh here for the morning and lunch and Shepherd here for the afternoon. . . . Alli and the boys came for an afternoon visit. . . . Shepherd went with me to return tables to the church. . . . After running with Andrew, I picked up Shepherd and Shiloh for a DD run and then Dollar Tree for a toy before leaving for camp. . . . Enjoyed watching football with Shepherd. . . . Went to the boys’ home to see them open up birthday gifts—so much fun! . . . . Shepherd and Shiloh stayed overnight with us.” (Do you get it????)
  9. “Although the Utah Missions trip was officially called off today, Andrew reported that all money was refunded! Praise the Lord for directing him to secure Covid insurance for this trip. The teens are learning from this major change in their plans.”
  10. “Grace to preach Hebrews 2:14-18. Wonderful time of worship through communion. Watching our folks worship is such a joy! Congregational singing: Because He Lives, By Faith, O Lord My Rock & My Redeemer, His Mercy is More!”
  11. “Blessing: Received a text from ________________________ saying they were coming through town and wanted to catch up with us! So good to see these dear friends again!” This was a common occurrence through the year!
  12. “After enjoying ice cream cake for Paul’s 41st birthday, they shared their big announcement—-the Lord has led them to foster to adopt! Wow!! Another answer to prayer in the way the Lord would have it, not our way or thoughts!”
  13. “Music on the Square, good times with Denise!” “Denise and I left for Carter Fold to hear Carson Peters & Iron Mountain. Packed house, good concert, great to be back at the Fold. So wholesome, family-oriented, great time to be with Denise!”
  14. “Ran the Tweetsie Trail—beautiful day!” “AT Spivey Gap to High Rocks; Rick & me; snow 6 inches to 2 feet!” “AT Cherokee Flats south to Pearisburg, VA; 22 miles; camped out on Peter’s Mt; Rick & me.”
  15. Read Deep Discipleship (English); The Faith of Christopher Hitchens (Taunton); Calvary Road (Hessions); How to Worship Christ (Carroll); On Pastoring (Charles) and others.
  16. “Tested positive for covid today.”

As 2021 closes, this scripture passage and song encapsulates my year.

Psalm 18:30 – As for God, His way is perfect; the Word of the Lord proves true; He is a shield for all those who take refuge in Him.

Thank you for reading! More than anything, I trust that the Lord Jesus Christ is your personal Lord and Savior; that you are follower of Christ; that you are secure in Christ for all eternity (John 1:12; 3:16; Ephesians 1:1-2:10; Titus 3:5). If not, please watch the video link in the sidebar above.

Dale