I Met Jordan

Jordan

Living in the mountains of East Tennessee gives many reasons for rejoicing and thanksgiving! The scenery changes every day and every season through the myriad acts of God’s creative, sustaining, sovereign hands.  How often I find myself singing “How Great Thou Art,” and “How Great Is Our God!”

Yesterday while driving back from Asheville, NC, I had in my mind to stop along the creek near Rocky Fork State Park near Flag Pond, TN.  Major rains had descended upon us through the night so I knew the waterfalls would be awesome, and it would provide a peaceful place to sit and commune with my God in prayer.

The Lord had other plans for which I am oh so grateful.  When I turned onto the Old Asheville Highway, there was a bearded man with a full pack and hiking poles which immediately signified an AT thru-hiker.  Since I love to hike, especially on the Appalachian Trail, this was a great opportunity in many ways!  Upon offering him a ride, he threw his gear in the back of my car, and we headed for Erwin and Uncle Johnny’s.  What a special treat to listen to his recent weather-related stories as well as the back-story of his life.

The very best part was the joy of talking about eternal life, listening to his answers, caring for his needs and ministering to him Christ Who has finished the work of salvation for all sinners including Jordan and myself.  What a special privilege!!

Please pray for my new friend, Jordan, as he hikes the trail.

Meeting Jordan was the highlight of my day!!

 

Here are two links to his story and the reason for his AT journey:

Jordan’s Story

Jordan’s AT Thru-Hike

 

Here is a video link for you to learn how you can have a personal relationship with God and know for certain your sins are forgiven and that you have a home in Heaven forever.

The Gospel Message

Making Investments

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There she lay.  Her earthly labors were over.  Her bodily tent had been comfortably tucked inside a beautiful, stained wooden casket adorned with a regal spray of flowers.  Her days here were over, but her life in Heaven had only just begun for all eternity on Saturday (John 14:1-6; 2 Corinthians 5:7-8).

As her pastor approached the podium, he read from Proverbs 31 and then described her life by two words, one of which was, investments.

An investment is “an act of devoting time, effort, or energy to a particular undertaking with the expectation of a worthwhile result.”  This dear lady, 83 years old, had spent most of her making investments . . . into people.

She invested . . .

  • The gospel into lost souls of every walk of life not matter who they were, the color of their skin, or their lot in life.
  • Time and energy in prayer crying out to the Lord.
  • Time and effort in prayer crying out to the Lord for the salvation of her husband. God heard and answered her prayer!
  • The Word of God into her children, her grandchildren, and her Sunday School class by her teaching and her example.
  • In “throw aways,” people that others did not want to “touch.”
  • In her pastor by encouraging him and praying for him.

I am quickly reminded of what Jesus said as recorded in Mark 10:42-45, But Jesus called them to Himself and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.

Jesus came, died on the cross, and rose from the tomb to make an eternal, soul-saving investment in any one who would receive Him (John 1:12).  Barbara Chandler, a devout follower of Christ, made investments in others for the cause of Christ to lead others to Christ because Christ lived in her (Colossians 1:27).

I never knew her in this life. No matter, even in death, she made an investment in me.

What are your plans in 2017 to make investments in people, to make a difference other’s lives, to make those eternal investments?  I believe it’s called laying up treasures in heaven (Matthew 6:19-21)!

And What’s My Excuse?

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She has lovingly taken care of her husband since his dementia diagnosis in 2005.  Now he lies in a hospital bed at home in their beautifully decorated sun room with full-blown Alzheimer’s.  Demonstrating her marriage vows, she wipes his face, pats his head, speaks to him in terms of endearment, cleans up his bed, combs his hair, and listens for any signs of life.

Her home is beautifully attired with all the dressings for Christmas, but one stands out among all others.  Next to her beloved husband’s bed, she has prepared a second tree, “just for him, although he doesn’t even know it’s there.”

“His biological clock has not stopped working.  He wakes up nearly every morning at 5:00 a.m.”  She sleeps in the bedroom next to the sunroom so she can respond to his needs through the night.  “He will cough, but it’s not a real cough.  I think it’s just a ‘Hey, I’m awake cough,’ and I get up to go check on him.”

Sunday evening, my wife, another couple, and I stopped to sing Christmas carols to them.  She had the bar counter prepared with Christmas goodies and fourteen cups set out waiting to be filled with warm apple cider or hot chocolate.  In the midst of her trial, she had gone to great lengths to prepare for company.  I was saddened that she expected a “small crowd,” and it was only a very small crowd of four.

While visiting around the counter and enjoying the tasty treats, this dear lady said something that arrested my attention.  “Last week, I invited some of my friends here for a meal.  We had a house full.  These are folks from up on the mountain where I’m from.  I am concerned about one lady in particular.  I’m not sure she is saved.”

Wow!  I mean, wow!  Here’s a lady whose life is consumed with the care of her husband, and she intentionally prepared a large meal, invited guests to her home, and all for the purpose of sharing the gospel.  In the midst of caring for her born-again husband suffering from the awfulness of the sin-curse and will one day know no more pain or memory loss, she reaches out in compassion to those who will suffer for an eternity in hell, if they do not receive Christ as their personal Savior (John 1:12; 3:16-17).

Enough said.

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd (Matthew 9:36).

And of some have compassion, making a difference (Jude 22).

Clippin’ Grace Coupons in Ministry

Looking back over this past week, there are so many grace blessings that my heart is overflowing.

Andrew, Dale and Mike


Last Friday, I had the privilege of participating in the funeral, and on Saturday, the burial committal service for a precious lady, Dixie Gouge. I wrote about it in last week’s post.  Another grace blessing from this event was serving together with two other pastors.  Mike Garland was baptized as a young man by father when Dad pastored Forest View Bible Church, Johnson City, TN, of which Ralph and Dixie Gouge were members.  Mike is also a nephew of the Gouge’s.  The other pastor is my son-in-law, Andrew, who is our assistant pastor at BCBC.  What a joy to stand between these two men that have special ties to my heart!  God is so good to let you clip such blessed grace coupons! 

Two hams!


What a special treat to minister to our neighborhood, especially the family next door to us. Their two precious children come to our home every week for Bible club.  They are our adopted “grandkids” and are such a blessing to our hearts.  Here we are having some silly fun time!

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Mr. D doing what Mr.D does best!!

Pioneer Children’s Club, Wednesday nights: How grateful to be in the midst of people who love children and demonstrate a passion to see them be more than just good kids; better yet, godly kids.  Even better is the passion of Mr. D who wants to see these precious children and their parents come to Christ for salvation!  He is faithfully out knocking on doors and doing bus visitation on Tuesdays in preparation for Wednesday nights!

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Apples of Gold Decor

Apples of Gold Ladies Mentoring Ministry: Last Saturday, we hosted twenty people at our home for the AOG Celebration Dinner. My wife had every decorated so beautifully.  She and her helpers prepared delicious soups, salad and desserts. What a special blessing it was to eat outside, and then to be gathered around the fire pit sharing testimonies and singing songs under a starlit sky.  God is so good!

Clippin’ Grace Coupons in Ministry

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Life is all about the grace of God.  We do not deserve anything except hell because of our sinful state.  But in His grace, God has provided salvation for all men (John 1:12; 3:16; Ephesians 2:1-4, 8-9; Titus 3:5).  Then, in and through His grace, He provides so many undeserving gifts everyday of our lives (John 1:16-17; Ephesians 2:4-7).  How easy it is to dwell on all the bad around us that we forget to focus on the grace of God which is transcendent over all (Romans 5:20).  So with that in mind, my goal for Friday’s blog is to share with you from a pastor’s heart some of the “grace coupons” in ministry that I’ve been able to “clip” over the past seven days. So here we go!

  1. Worshipping on Sunday at Boones Creek Bible Church! One of the many true blessings of a Sunday at BCBC is joining with our congregation as they sing.  With raised voices, uplifted hands and glowing countenances, praise is abundant!  Many Sunday mornings on my way to church I find myself saying, “I can hardly wait to sing with my brothers and sisters in Christ today!”   Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God (Colossians 3:16).
  2. Seeing ladies cry out in prayer, singing, and worship as they joined together for three hours in the presence of the Lord at BCBC. You can read a bit more about it on my wife’s blog post Friday Favorites.
  3. When I was an earlier teen, my dad pastored a church here in south Johnson City, TN. Words cannot describe what a grace blessing it is to be living and pastoring in the same area that has always been so special to me.  When we moved here from Bluefield, West Virginia, two men, Stacey Tester and Ralph Gouge, came from Johnson City to assist us.  They made a huge impression on me.  Stacey and Ralph have since gone on to Glory, but today, I have the privilege of participating in the funeral for Dixie Gouge, Ralph’s precious wife.  Furthermore, Ralph and Dixie’s daughter and three of their children are part of the BCBC family.  Also, I saw Ralph and Dixie’s son this week which was the first time since we moved away.  As we sat in the Gouge’s living room and reminisced about our time here and about my parents, I thought, “Lord, how good you are to me, and how good to be still connected to my dad’s ministry in such a blessed way!”
  4. Joy in ministry is often mixed with sadness and sorrow as even mentioned above. Yesterday I stood by the bedside of a dear man whose body is riddled with Alzheimer’s. His wife has faithfully stood by his side and cared for him with love and great compassion for several years.  With Bernice on one side and me on the other, we shared Psalm 23 and then sang several songs:  In the Sweet By and By, When the Roll is Called Up Yonder, Heaven Is a Wonderful Place, Until Then, I Have Found a Hiding Place, and others.  As a pastor, I am so grateful for the opportunity to minister the balm of God’s Word and the blessed encouragement of song that gives encouragement for today and expectation for the future.  It is all by His grace!
  5. Finally, there’s the blessing of preaching and teaching the Word of God!! Currently, I am preaching through Revelation . . . the revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ.  How timely; how sobering; how hope-filled!

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ . . . . To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.  (Ephesians 1:3, 6)

School Cancelled Again?!?!?!?!

Odessa Waters Video

Odessa has become a star via her daily video rants and raves.  She is a hoot!  After viewing this video and reading many posts on Facebook, I have to ask parents, “Why did you have children in the first place?”  Let me get right to the point, and with a saddened and concerned heart.  Is it really that bad for your children to be home from school for several days?

Here’s several reasons why it is a blessing to have your children home from school due to the weather:

  • These are valuable opportunities for you to instruct your children in the Word of God, to pray with them, to sing with them, and to go over their Sunday School lesson with them.
  • These are precious opportunities to do crafts, teach them how to bake cookies (and eat them!), help do some spring cleaning, and/or rearrange the furniture in their room.
  • These are fun opportunities to play outdoors. Go sledding. Make snow cream.  Roll in the snow and make a snow angel.  Build a snowman.  Take a bunch of photos. Make a ton of memories.
  • These are priceless opportunities for you to give your children your undivided attention. Many of their behavioral problems are due to you be so preoccupied with your phone or ipad.  Turn them off. Listen and talk to your children.  Ask questions.
  • These are treasurable opportunities for you to influence your children, watch them learn, and see them grow rather than the daycare worker or school teacher seeing all the “firsts” and telling you about it later on.
  • These are beloved opportunities to pretend. Build a blanket fort and camp out. Eat your lunch under the tent; maybe even sleep there with your pretend fire glowing through the night.   Or, for supper, pretend you own a restaurant and teach your children how to set a table, serve others, and act at a restaurant.  Or, pretend you are having church and let your children preach, lead singing, receive the offering, etc.

There’s one important aspect to the success of these precious opportunities—-PLANNING.  Yes, it’s a whole lot easier to watch Frozen for the 1,237th time or to spend hours mindlessly surfing Facebook or the internet while your children “get on your very last nerve!”  Let me say, I understand children can be rambunctious and parade their old sin nature for all to see, but most of their misbehavior is a lack of loving, caring, patient training and discipline that needs to come from you.

So, don’t squander these awesome opportunities because you are not getting to do what you want to do.  Serve your children.  Love them.  Teach them. Hold them.  They will be gone before you know it.  God gave you children to enjoy and edify, not to endure.

Say, what do you have planned for tomorrow if you hear that school has been cancelled?   (Btw, you and your kids should be so disappointed that school is back in session because of the cool plans you have made!!)

Outreach Opportunity Month

As I watch the farmers around my house cut hay and prepare for winter, my thoughts have drifted to harvest time and colder temps.  These are great days to look on the fields (Luke 10:2) and pray for harvesters and a harvest.  But, we do not just pray, we get involved.  For the dear congregation of Boones Creek Bible Church, I offer on this the first day of October, some outreach ideas for you to exercise the heart and compassion of Christ and be a laborer in the harvest field of opportunity!  Start or continue to build relationships that point to Jesus Christ.

Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.36 But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. 37 Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. 38 Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” (Matthew 9:35-38)

  • Invite a group of folks to your backyard, build a fire, and make s’mores. Play a game.
  • Bring someone to the Community Caring Closet at church, October 18-29, that could use some clothes and some gospel care.
  • Prepare your car trunk with goodies for Trunk or Treat night, October 28, at church. Have a theme for your and bring some other kids.  After the service, all the children will walk through the parking lot receiving your goodies.  Great opportunity for you to connect with the kids and be a blessing to them!
  • Reverse Halloween: It’s the one night of the year when most folks are at home and eager to answer the door. Of course, residents will be surprised when they get treats instead of having to give them out. Go door-to-door to distribute bags of goodies containing candy, Christian DVDs or CDs, a gospel tract, a book, a card, etc.
  • Help a neighbor rake leaves and/or take in their summer furniture; just offer to help in some way.
  • Family Free Car Wash: Make up signs saying “FREE Car Wash” and “No Tricks, Just Treats”. People will stop and ask, “What’s the gimmick?” Tell them, “We’re Christians, and doing something for you, at no charge, is one way of letting you know that Jesus loves you and so do we. We want to treat you today by washing your car for you.” Most people will stand outside while their car is being washed. This is a good time for friendly talk, to invite them to church, and if possible to ask them about their relationship with the Lord Jesus. As they leave, give them a tract and information about our church.
  • Prepare a harvest basket of fruit, cookies, etc and deliver it to a policemen or fireman as way to say thanks. Be sure to include a gospel tract, a personal note of thanks with your address, and church information.
  • Lead a church service at the local nursing home by singing, reading Scripture and prayer.
  • Distribute donuts, hot chocolate, and a gospel tract at a local bus stop.
  • Bring in breakfast for all the teachers at a local school near you.
  • Go door-to-door in your neighborhood and ask how you can pray for them. Write it down and go back in a week or two to find out how God answered.  If possible, have prayer with them at the door.
  • Offer an evening or Saturday to help a single parent. That may include babysitting, fixing things, helping maintain a car, help cleaning the house, etc. Ask questions and be a good listener. Perhaps offer to pray.

Opportunities are everywhere because people are everywhere!  See the harvest?

Thank You For Serving!

It happens almost every Sunday night.  After a very full day of ministry, at some point between leaving church or an after-church fellowship and getting into bed for a good night of rest, I find myself looking back over the day with a sense of amazement and awe.  So very much happened!!  I can still hear the voices of people sharing their burdens, singing their hearts out, asking life questions, telling me of answers to prayer, sharing a testimony; the chatter, the children, the laughter, the tears, the “Pastor, what about . . .?”, etc.  Then I go back over Sunday School class, the AM Service and the PM Service as well as replay my preaching over and over wishing I had said that or left out that.

Somewhere in those thoughts comes to mind ALL the people involved in ministry throughout the day at BCBC that serve upfront and behind the scenes.  They are those who set up the gym for SS and then put away the tables and chairs, those who come to early prayer meeting, sound room workers doing a multitude of things for sight and sound, greeters ready to welcome and be hospitable, one who gets an umbrella and walks people from their car to the carport in the pouring rain or parks the cars for some of our ladies, nursery workers dealing with precious and sometimes not so precious babies, janitors, deacons who are all over the place doing seven things at once, coffee makers providing that ever-needed java jolt, secretary work that didn’t end on Friday, teachers leading their classes, musicians playing and singing, people being intentional to reach other people with a hand-shake and a smile or the gospel, and on and on it goes throughout a typical Sunday.  The purpose of this blog today is to say to all who serve at BCBC on Sundays as well as Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, THANK YOU!

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord (1 Corinthians 15:58).

I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:3-6).