Let’s Cheer ‘Em On!

Pulling into the Tweetsie Trail parking lot for our early morning run, there gathered around the trailhead were 30 or more college students. They were in fine shape bringing back memories of my pre-gotta-watch-what-you-eat, what’s-that-hanging-over-your-belt days! They were all lean, trim and in optimum running shape.

Andrew and I headed down the trail and about two miles in, we heard the sound of runners gaining on us. These college age gazelles in various groupings passed us with great ease.

As we approached the three mile mark, some of these students were gathered waiting for the rest of their gang. Are you ready for this? They saw us coming and formed lines on either side of the trail and began clapping for us and cheering us on!!! Wow!! They did not know us. We were not in their group. The only thing that unified us was what called us to be on the Tweetsie Trail . . . running.

As Andrew and I continued our run, a pertinent application struck a chord in my heart. This is how Christians should treat others, especially those in the family of God.

So, how should we treat others in the family of God? Should we carry long-term grudges against them? Should we withhold forgiveness? Should we just write them off? Should we misapply scripture to fit our reasons for distancing ourselves from our brother and/or sister in Christ? Should we gossip about them? Should we make them feel like a nobody when seen in public? What does the Word of God say?

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:34-35)

Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. (Romans 12:10, 16)

Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. (Romans 15:7)

Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:2)

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:1-3)

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:32)

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:11)

You may not run races here on earth, but if you are a believer, you are running a race that will count in Glory (1 Corinthians 9:24-27; Hebrews 12:1-3). Hence, may I encourage you to cheer on your brother and sister in Christ? Should we treat them different here than we will in Heaven? Who needs to hear you clapping and cheering them on?

They Are Growing Up!

One of the cool features of being a grandparent is watching your twin grandsons grow and change every day! Given that our two bundles of energy have had to overcome great obstacles, those points of development are magnified.

Yesterday, I listened to them sing more words to the choruses that accompany our wagon rides on the farm road. I saw one of the boys take more steps in his struggle to walk. I heard their vocabulary increase as we walked to the back of our property. And, I watched with a full heart their zest for life as they proved again and again, they are “all boys”!!

Indeed, it is fascinating to watch our children and grandchildren grow and learn; to attempt new things; to make progress; to act like little adults; to fall down, get back up, and try again. How often we look at the kids and then the parents and say, “That apple doesn’t fall far from that tree!”

As a follower of Jesus Christ, one commanded to mature in Christ, what would others say about my growth in Christ? Could they give specific points of development? Have I grown from the times when I “fell down” each day?

2 Peter 3:18 says, But grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 4:15-16 exhorts us, Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. And 1 Peter 2:2, Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up.

Can you imagine Sunday morning as we gather to worship, an older believer walks up to you and says, “I have seen great growth in your life this week! I saw you from a distance be confronted with a situation that normally would elicit anger from your heart, but you responded in kindness and wisdom as Christ would. To God be the glory! Stay in the Word, walk on your knees, and be faithful!! Let’s pray together and ask the Lord to help both of us take the next step in wisdom.”

Instead of looking for the faults in others, let’s look for growth points and be encouragers. Let’s rejoice as we mature together in Christlikeness. Let’s help each other when we “fall down.” Let’s walk together to Glory. After all, we are the family of God.

I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well. For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. (2 Timothy 1:5-7).

Clippin’ Grace Coupons in Ministry

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While looking back through my journal for this the first week of the New Year, my, how faithful, good, and loving God has been.  But, true is, that is not surprising because that’s Who He is!  So when you come to know Him, you watch for where He is at work, you recognize His revealed character/attibutes, and then you respond to Who He is.  I promise you, if you recognize Who He is, you will never miss what He does.  So with that in mind, here’s a recap of some of God’s grace this week.

#1  Answered Prayer!!

I could on and on about this one!!  One of the best is the reminder to never stop praying for our unsaved family and friends.

In Wednesday’s post, I wrote about Barbara Chandler’s investments in others’ lives. Her greatest investment was in prayer, especially for the salvation of her husband.  For many, many years she labored in prayer for him.  He was known for his many trips across the state line where he would get drunk and also squander their money on the lottery.

I learned while attending her funeral on Tuesday that God answered her prayer and the prayers of countless others.  Seven years, at the age of 81, Ralph humbled himself before the Lord and received Him as his personal Lord and Savior (Romans 10:9-13).

May we have the heart of Barbara Chandler as well as the Apostle Paul who said, I am telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh, […]Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation. (Romans 9:1-3; 10:1)

 #2  Blessed Quietness


How wonderful to spend a day on the lake, in the Word, in prayer, seeking the Lord for what He would have me preach.  The serene quiet, the voice of the Lord, and setting at Jesus’ feet is invaluable time spent.

Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He (Jesus) went out and departed to a solitary place, and there He prayed. (Mark 1:35)

#3   Encouragement

Yesterday was a full day of ministry opportunities that included a funeral, a hospital visit, and mentoring to name a few.  When I arrived home around 9:15, I checked my Facebook and found I had been tagged by my oldest daughter.  Here’s a throwback video of a song that has meant so much to me over the years.  I needed this last night. I needed to be reminded that in the midst of all of life and ministry’s demands, Jesus is always the center of my joy.

(Also made me think of a very special group of teenagers who gathered in Spain two years ago!)

Center of My Joy

The Ministry of Music

Yesterday, not too long after arriving in the patient’s cardiac ICU room, he was telling me about his love of ministering in a local nursing home and using music to bring a smile to otherwise lonely people.  As he told me his story, his own countenance brightened.  I can only imagine him singing and leading those dear folks in song, especially the ones about heaven!

Many times over the years, Denise and I have had the joy of ministering by the bedside of a dear loved one or precious church member in the hospital or their home.  In recent years, we have often ended our visit by singing a hymn or gospel song.  I remember once, a dear lady who was in the ER struggling to get her breath, and we began to sing very softly, “When peace like a river attendeth my way.  When sorrows like sea billows roll . . . .”  Later on we sang, “We have a heavenly Father above.  With eyes full of mercy and a heart full of love.  He really cares when your head is bowed low. . . . “ As we moved through those songs and on to others, there was a certain calmness that came over the room.

In the midst of their battles with cancer, my parents loved to hear the songs of the redeemed.  We often played a CD of invitation hymns that ministered to my dad’s soul in a very special way.  For my mom, a dear family in our church provided an iPod for her to listen to the piano music of Rudy Atwood as well as some of her other favorites.  In the wee morning hours, sometimes, there would be Mom fixing her ear buds so she hear the songs of grace and promise.  That was new fangled gadget for her! J

Today, this week, be a blessing to a downcast, hurting soul.  Give them a CD or an iTunes card.  When you stand to sing in church, do so joyfully so the folks around who may need encouragement will be uplifted as you sing from your heart to the Lord!

Psalm 100

Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands!

2 Serve the Lord with gladness;

Come before His presence with singing.

3 Know that the Lord, He is God;

It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;[a]

We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.

4 Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,

And into His courts with praise.

Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.

5 For the Lord is good;

His mercy is everlasting,

And His truth endures to all generations.

Ephesians 5:19 – Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord

When God Is Near