Overcoming Discouragement in Ministry (#4)

My dad weighed a 119 pounds when he entered the Army and 125 pounds when he was married. Me, I think I weighed 125 in the third grade! 🙂 I wore huskie size jeans in the first grade! I always said that my dad ate to live, and I lived to eat!

I am a “foodie,” and, since college days, I have had a battle with my weight, up and down, up and down. Several years ago, that all changed. Please take what I share below as truly coming from a caring heart for you, my brother.

So men, one of the ways to overcome discouragement is to exercise and eat right.

There are several ingredients to helping you accomplish this need:

  1. You have to honestly and humbly admit that you need to change and then choose to make this a life decision. No one can guilt you into it nor change you. It is by the grace of God, prayer, and the will to say “yes” and “no.” Let me say that several years ago, an evangelist friend had a loving, stern talk with me that was extremely helpful, but you must make the choice.
  2. Be ready for the long haul that takes a day-at-a-time; a meal-at-a-time.
  3. Choose a diet plan that will enable you to go for the long haul. Personally, I have seen too many spend mega bucks on a strict plan just to see the weight return in a short period of time. My wife and I used Weight Watchers and ate our own food. Over a period of a few months, I lost a total of 80 pounds.
  4. Exercise. For me, my favorites are running and hiking. My wife loves to briskly walk the farm road near our country home. Do what is best for you.
  5. Speaking of my wife, a diet/exercise program is so much better with a companion on this journey or even a group of other ministry friends for encouragement and accountability!
  6. When eating out, share a meal. For a very long time, my wife and I order one entrée and split it. That also means no appetizer or dessert. Of course, we enjoy desserts and other special foods but we do not gorge! Remember, the very best bite of every food item is the first one. After that, you are headed toward . . . “Oh, I can’t eat anymore'” and the taste has diminished!!
  7. As you lose your weight, get rid of your clothes that are now too big. You are not going back!!
  8. The most convicting and challenging thing that moved me to change was my testimony before the Lord as a man and a pastor and my love for my wife. You see, food became an idol and an unholy habit before my God. Also, as a pastor, how could I challenge the folks I shepherd to live disciplined lives when I was not disciplined in my eating habits. Men, the belt around our waist should not be “a leather fence around a chicken graveyard” as so many preachers have joked about over the years! Our bodies were created by God, belong to God, and are sustained by God. Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
  9. As for my wife, I am so grateful that she has set a high standard for herself in this regard. She is so disciplined that she eats one bite from a candy bar, puts it in the drawer, and she might go back to it next week or next month! 🙂 Seriously, my love for eating was greater than my love for her. One of the best ways I could demonstrate my love for her was to lose weight and start being fit, if for no one else, just for her!!
  10. For any of you who need to loose weight and exercise, do not let the following statement discourage you. Hopefully it will motivate you. Remember, the older you get, the harder it becomes to lose the pounds. So, get started; begin somewhere (small or big) and stay at it! Your wife, your body, your heart, your cholesterol, your health, your congregation, and you will be glad you did. Most of all, it is pleasing to God!

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. (1 Corinthians 9:24-27)

I realize that this step could be very difficult for some. This post was not written to shame or further discourage you. Men, I’m cheering you on!!!! No matter your situation, begin with the Lord in prayer. He’s able.

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

Discipleship & Running (2)

Wow! The smell was rank! It may have been just me or both of us, but the aroma in the car was almost roadkill worthy. But, what do you expect with all that sweat!

You say, “what does that have to do with discipleship?” Well, you may or may not have heard it said, but “discipleship is messy.”

Think of all Jesus dealt with in reference to his disciples. Here He is leading this band of twelve knowing one would betray Him, one would deny Him and they would forsake Him at the cross.

At various times Jesus had to deal with their insecurities, their misunderstandings, their pride, their selfishness, their unbelief, their hasty decisions, their inopportune sleepiness, their parents, their confusion, their rejection of children, their hindering statements, their temptations, their prejudice, their low commitment, their fears, their bad spirit, their doubts, etc. Leading these men was messy.

We and those we disciple are messy, too. As you do life with others, as you get to know one another, weaknesses, sins, and frailties are exposed. We can easily relate to the list in the previous paragraph. Many times, the stories of those we disciple are complicated by sin and its consequences. It’s a mess! And, we too, have paragraphs and chapters in our life that we wish had never been written.

If we stopped right here, it would end like a cheap television talk show. All the gory details, the mess, the sin, the raw display of our humanness, but no solution, no spiritual transformation.

Discipleship is simply helping someone take the next step toward Christ for God’s glory. As you do life together, pray together, read the Word together, serve together, work in the yard together, play ball together, share together, laugh together, eat together, talk together, etc., you will work up some holy sweat as you together exercise unto godliness (1 Timothy 4:7).

The smell of a messy life can be transformed by the grace of God (Romans 5:19-21) into a sweet-smelling aroma for Christ and unto God (2 Corinthians 2:15-16; Ephesians 5:12).

As someone has said, “Let your mess be transformed into a message;” a message of the Christlife being formed in you and lived out of you (Romans 6-8; Galatians 4:19; 2 Corinthians 3:18; 2 Peter 3:18). That’s a pleasing aroma!

And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:11)

Discipleship & Running

One of the joys of my life is running on the nearby Tweetsie Trail in Johnson City / Elizabethton, TN. The views of the mountains, the trees lining the trail, the fresh air, the quiet, the deer and squirrels, and the bridges are all way cool!

Another joy is running with my son-in-law. He’s a great encourager as he runs alongside me asking every now and then, “You doing ok?” I’m sure he would run a fastest pace than me since he’s 35 years younger, but he stays right there with me until the last mile. That’s when he moves on ahead to our normal finish line of 4.3 miles.

He and I have run many times on the Tweetsie as well as in other timed races. His question “You doing ok”? is standard fare and reminds me of discipleship in another believer’s life.

You see, we are not okay if we think we can go solo in this walk with Christ. Besides the residency of the Trinity within us (John 14:15-24), we must have one another outside of us asking, “You doing okay?”

When you consider all the “one another” passages in Scripture as well as Matthew 28:18-20 and Titus 2:1-8, it is very evident we need our family in Christ to go beyond the shallow, surface relationships of what has sadly become normal Christianity. We need to seek it out and also offer ourselves in genuine love and transparency to encourage and edify one another in our participation with Christ in this life.

There have been times when Andrew asks, “Are you doing ok?” that I have had to declare, “I’m struggling today!” Or, “You go ahead, I’ve got to slow down. I’ll catch up with you.” Or, “Doing great!” There have also been times that I have done the same for him. We are definitely transparent with each other.

You see, running together makes this question mean something. We are both running for the finish life; we are on the same trail; we are pushing each other; we care for one another; we are involved in each other’s lives; we are sweating together; we know this is good for us! Discipleship is the life of Christ! This is what we are, disciple-makers. This is the core of life!

Who are you running with in discipleship? Who are you honestly asking “You doing okay?”?

(More on this in future posts.)

Buffering

 

buffering 2

Cell service in my neck of the woods has been an adventure since we moved here almost five years ago.  I am told that we live between two cell towers and therefore, service is sketchy.  We have tried LG, Samsung, Moto, and iphones from Sprint and Verizon.  Used a booster. Talked hours to tech support.   Nothing has changed. Most of the time, I have one bar showing on my phone.  Not to mentioned a gazillion dropped calls.

Continue reading “Buffering”

Taking the Scenic Route in Marriage #10

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Biking the Greenbelt, Kingsport, TN

“Enjoying the Pleasures; Avoiding the Potholes”

On the scenic route through the mountains, especially the Blue Ridge Parkway, you will see many folks riding their bikes.  These guys and gals are fit and trim.  They are dressed for action and prepared for the long haul.

I will probably get myself in trouble here, but husbands, are you still your wife’s prince, her knight in shining armor?

Have you looked at any of your wedding pictures lately?  Who are those people?

At our wedding I wore a white tux with tails, or as Jerry Clower would have called it, “a claw-hammer tail coat.”  Standing 6’2” and weighing 185 pounds, I looked like a Good Humor Ice Cream salesmen.  My sweet wife . . . 4’9” and weighed under 100 pounds.

The years went by and my wife began to see more and more of me.  Ugh! Not good. Eventually almost 100 pounds of me!  She on the other hand has given birth to three children and today is still under a 100 pounds.

Men, once we get our gal, why do we let ourselves deteriorate physically?  Do we not respect her and the Lord enough to take care of our bodies?

Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body, and in 9:27, But I discipline my body and keep it under control.  And then John in 3 John 2, Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul. Then in 1 Timothy 4:8, Paul once again exhorts us, For while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.

Husbands, you need to be your wife’s protection, pillow and partner (Blog Posts #4 -#9), but also her prince!

In this age of fast food, video games, busyness of life and “feeding” our emotions, it is so easy to get lazy, overweight, and out-of-shape.  It takes discipline, planning, and sweat to exercise yourself unto godliness and good health. Your testimony and your wife are worth it!

Husbands, begin to exercise and eat right. Deny yourself.  Join up with your wife on a plan to work together to get healthy, eat healthy and stay heathy. Be honest with each other and encourage each other for your good and God’s glory!

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Husbands, dress for your wife.  When you are home, don’t look like a bum.  Your wife is there and your kids.  You can be casual without looking like you just stepped out of a dirty laundry basket.

Yes, the inner man must be renewed day-by-day, but our outward man is a reflection of what’s going on in our heart.

Something that I have appreciated about my wife from the very beginning is that she wants to look good for me.  She has said many times, “I do not dress for me but for you.”  I should reciprocate. She has eyes, too.  She is my princess.

Also, men, in being a prince to your wife, have good manners at the dinner table (1 Corinthians 10:31).  You should be the last to be served and the first to want to serve.  You should seat your wife at the table.  Put away your cell phones and talk to each other. You take the lead in prayer or calling on someone to pray; on having family devotions at the table if that is a good time for you.

Last of all, men, in being your wife’s prince, be polite.  Read Ruth 2 and take note of how polite and kind Boaz was to Ruth.  She was impressed by his gracious actions.

A prince draws his wife to himself by his kind words and deeds.  Speak well of your wife in public, tell her how much she means to you, let her know that you are paying attention to her, and be sure to often speak the words “I love you.”

Recently, I have added biking to my running routine.  No, I am not planning on riding the Blue Ridge Parkway for any great distance, but I am trying to do what I have encouraged you to do, men.  It’s for God’s glory and for my wife.

We are in it for the long haul.

Clippin’ Grace Coupons

The complete life of a believer in Christ is all about grace.  We deserve an eternity in hell because we are sinners under the wrath of God (Romans 3:9-30; Ephesians 2:1-3).  We are totally unrighteous (Romans 3:10).  But when we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation (Romans 10:9-13), God accepts us in Christ by His grace (Ephesians 1:6; 2:8-9).  From that point on, we live by God’s grace, we are sustained by God’s grace, and we are empowered to live for Him by grace as His disciple (Matthew 4:19; Luke 14:26-27, 33).

So, whenever I write this post about clippin’ grace coupons, it is my way of recognizing the truth of Ephesians 2:7, so that in the coming ages He might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.  God is so very good to us, and sometimes like Andy Griffith would say, “Extreee good!”

Here’s a few grace  coupons God has allowed me to clip in the past two weeks.

Grace Coupon #1:  Running toward the sunrise at the beach

Denise and I love to get up early on vacation and watch the awesome display of God’s handiwork!  She walks, and I run.  What a time we have together!

Grace Coupon #2:  Seeing the elk at Cataloochee, Great Smoky Mountain Park

What a special treat to hike this area as well as Big Creek with a dear friend and fellow hiker, Rick Stoner!

Grace Coupon #3:  The Beauty of Cataloochee

Grace Coupon #4:  Singing in the Sun 2017

What a special treat to attend two nights and hear such groups as Mark Trammell Quartet, Brian Free & Assurance, The Talleys, Gold City, and Triumphant Quartet.  Better than the singing was the preaching of Evangelist C.T. Townsend and Dr. Herb Reavis and seeing many souls come to Christ!!  A special thank you to the Life FM for the great seats.

An unexpected blessing on the second night was to sit right behind a young girl from back home, her husband and their daughter.  Then, to find out that a dear friend of mine and his wife were a section over from us!  He and I have shouted, praised the Lord, wept, and rejoiced at many Southern Gospel concerts.

 

Grace Coupon #5:  Worshiping With Our Daughter & Son-in-Law, Whitney & Paul

Running Uphill . . . to the Finish Line

My son-in-law and I have basically owned the Tweetsie Trail this summer for our morning run.  The beautiful scenery, friendly bikers, walkers and runners, beautiful wildlife, the nostalgia, pristine quiet, and the desire to stay healthy and prepare for periodic races calls us out three to four times a week.  Our routine is to run from Johnson City to Elizabethton at different distances as my training is currently maxed out for 10Ks while Andrew is preparing for a half-marathon.  Recently, I said, “Let’s change our routine and run from Elizabethton to Johnson City.  Well, I was greeted with a startling fact . . . the trail is predominately an uphill grade.

Our last run really took it out of me, and I was a bit defeated because running is such a challenge to me.  Upon sharing my thoughts via texting with Andrew, he said, “The second you feel defeated, you fail.  Sounds like the Christian life.”  He is right.

Running is such a mind game.  Correct thinking is so crucial.  In most instances, you can run farther than your mind tells you.  There you are, your legs are burning a bit, your lungs grasping for air, and your mind saying, “Just go ahead and quit.  You know it’s too hard to finish. You just don’t have it.”  That’s when you have to think the truth, remind yourself about things you have learned from running, and take another drink as well as another step.  You really don’t want to listen to yourself.

The Christian life is often uphill as well.  Every day presents you with battles that begin with putting your feet on the floor first thing in the morning.   Once that happens, you are “off to the races.”  How needful it is to think biblically from the first thought of the morning.  So often when we start the Tweetsie Trail, one of us will say, “What a beautiful day to run.  Praise the Lord!”  Starting your day thinking the Word and then throughout the day reminding yourself of the Word will help you climb the next hill.  It is so important that we do not listen to ourselves but rather preach the Word to ourselves.

I for one will tell you that one of the best parts of running is the finish.  There is such an exhilarated rush when you are done.  So here’s some truths to begin your day that will get you to the finish line… even if its uphill.

This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him. The Lord is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord.  (Lamentations 3:21-26)

For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete. (2 Corinthians 10:3-6).

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:37-39).