A Prayer For Asher

Asher Elizabeth Reyner

June 9, 2017
8 pounds 4 ounces
21.5 inches long
Wilmington, NC
Parents: Tucker and Danielle Reyner
Grandparents: Shay and Linda Reyner (aka Nona and Pop Pop)

Father, I thank you for this blessing – this little girl who is so dependent upon others for everything but who already has been a source of great joy to many.

And this is my prayer as she grows up…

I pray that she would always find her dependence on You. And even when sin tries to take root in her heart and turn her away from You, that your Spirit would draw her back and enable her to find joy in clinging to You as she asserts a bold streak of dependence not independence.

I ask that her heart would be tender towards You and others from an early age. That she would yearn to know You and have a strong appetite for Your Word. That she would demonstrate genuine compassion towards others because she genuinely knows that You have shown great compassion towards her.

I pray that she will learn to abide in your magnificent, magnanimous love. That she will know the width and breadth and length and depth of the love of Christ, this love that surpasses knowledge that she might be filled to all the fulness of Christ.

I pray that You will use her parents to disciple her and to model for her a marriage that prioritizes You and Your Word. I pray that during her teenage years you will surround her with friends who seek after You and with with godly adult mentors who will exemplify Christ and spur her to want to know You better.

I pray that You will protect her from the evil one. Guard her. Shield her. Cover her. And while I know that she will not be immune to trouble and difficulty I ask that You would equip her with strength and wisdom to know that You are sovereignly in control, that she can rest in Your nearness and that Your joy will be her strength no matter what this world brings her way.

And finally I ask that just as she is a blessing, that you would use her to be a blessing in significant and eternal ways. That her life would be used to encourage others and to challenge others, and to serve others and to help others find their joy in You. Use her to lead others out of darkness and into your marvelous light and to know the only One who gives lasting satisfaction to our hungering hearts.

A Prayer for Miller

Miller William Ferrell
April 27, 2017
6:57 am
7 pounds, 2 ounces
21 inches long

“…May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, having the eyes of your heart enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which He has called you, what are the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of His power toward us who believe according to the working of His great might….” (Ephesians 1:17-19)

Father, I want to echo this prayer that Paul prayed for the Ephesians on behalf of my grandson Miller. As he grows up and as he develops a knowledge of who You are I would ask that You would do these three things…

Would You open the eyes of his heart so that he would be enabled to see You as the glorious God that you are. I know that the enemy of his soul will do everything that he can to blind Miller to what is truth. I ask You to protect him from the evil one in this regard. And just as Elisha also asked that his servant’s eyes would be opened, I too ask that Miller would be able to see the vast army of heavenly forces that are ready to fight on his behalf. Give him eyes to see what most people cannot see – the greatness of Your glory and the bounty of Your grace towards him.

Would You also fill him with the hope of Your salvation. He has been born into a world that tends to drain people of hope and causes them to despair rather than to find joy in You. Would You so work in his life that he always senses Your presence and protection so that even when life is hard  he still is emboldened with hope and fueled with courage to live a life that makes a difference for the Kingdom. Use him to be an ambassador of hope  to a world that more and more feels hopeless.

And too, would You give him great contentment in this world as he looks forward to the next world. Help him to recognize how rich he is even when he might be poor according to the standards of this life. Help him to anticipate with great eagerness the glorious inheritance that is already his and not to get caught up in the quest to fill his life with stuff. Would You create within him a great love for eternal things – specifically a love for people and a love for Your Word.

And Father, would you use his family to strengthen him for the journey. Thank you for the mom and dad and brothers he has been blessed with. May their family be used mightily in the generations to come to influence the nations for the gospel.

Top Ten Memories of Aiken (the Town I Grew Up In)

aiken-sc-logoI grew up in the town of Aiken SC. It was a great town to grow up in. The population was between 25-30k when I lived there. I moved to Aiken from Columbia SC when I was 6 after my folks split up. My mom moved my brother and I to Aiken because she got a job teaching at Aiken High School. It became what I will always consider my hometown even though I really only lived there for 12 years. But it was a great 12 years. Here are my top ten memories of those days from 1964-1976.

The Family I Had – It was just me, my Mom, and my brother. Columbia and my dad and grandma were 60 miles away. My dad and my mom got along very well – much better than when they were married. But being an hour away meant that seeing him was not all that easy. My mom did a great job as a single parent of taking care of us. My brother Scott was only 11 months younger than I was and we always got along but we were very different in terms of the things we liked to do. Despite my folks divorce I was very blessed with my family.

The Places I Lived – I lived in two different houses while in Aiken. 1) 633 Aldrich Street: A small one story 3 bedroom house in Crosland Park. It was a great little neighborhood that had a tree fort behind my house, minimally trafficked roads to ride bikes on, and friends within walking distance.  2) 848 Oleander Drive: A two story 4 bedroom off Whiskey Rd near the Polo Grounds. Good friends all around where I honed my basketball, baseball, and football skills because we were always hanging out and playing something.

The Schools I Attended – I attended North Aiken Elementary for 1-4 grades. For some reason I still remember all my teachers from there. 1st – Wessinger, 2nd – Sanders, 3rd – Fripp, 4th – Herndon. It was after 4th grade that we moved across town. I spent 5th and 6th grades at Aiken Elementary. 7-8th grades at Kennedy Junior High. 9-10th grades at Schofield and 11-12th grades at Aiken High School. This was right after school integration took place which is why my high school days were split between two schools. Schofield had been the black high school and Aiken the white high school prior to integration.

The Sports I Played – I played little league baseball all the way through Pony League and then played for my high school. Baseball was always my favorite sport and shortstop was my favorite position. Though in high school I was an outfielder my junior year and second baseman my senior year. The other sport I played a lot of was tennis – primarily because my mom loved to play ( and incidentally still loves to play at 80 years old). I played for my high school as a freshman and sophomore. I got into playing soccer rather late – played my senior year in high school because of the influence of some good friends.I also learned to play golf in Aiken and still remember getting my very first eagle on #3 at Highland Park Country Club.

The Friends I Enjoyed – I won’t be naming names here because I’m sure I would leave someone out but… I was very blessed to have  incredible friends around me through all my years in Aiken. In fact, I can count on two fingers the # of people I have stayed connected with from college but there are too many to count from my Aiken days. If you are reading this and you are from Aiken, thank you for helping to make my years there an unforgettable time in my life.

The City I Loved – I have not been back to Aiken in many years but I know that it has grown a lot since I left. But when I lived there it was small town living at its best. It was safe for kids to play outside by themselves or ride their bikes to school or stay out after dark or talk to strangers. And I always thought Aiken was a beautiful town with the big old oak trees on South Boundary and all the horse stuff and polo grounds scattered around. It had a quaint downtown and was close enough to the “big” city of Augusta if there was something Aiken did not have.

The Deaths I Endured –  1) I was 13 years old and I remember my mom coming into my room and telling me that my dad had died of a heart attack. He was 42. I was in the 8th grade. His early death became much more significant to me when I became a dad. I didn’t want to die that early and leave my kids fatherless at a young age. So I have tried to exercise regularly and get annual checkups and keep my cholesterol and blood pressure under control. 2) I was 16 years old and I remember my mom coming into my room in the middle of the night and telling me that my uncle (my dad’s brother) and his wife and son were killed in a single engine plane crash. My Uncle Alan had tried to look out for me after my dad’s death – often inviting me to Columbia to see the Gamecocks play basketball.

The History I Lived Through – A lot of significant things happened in our country between 1964 and 1976. The Civil Rights Movement. Assassinations of RFK and MLK. Vietnam. Watergate. The Beatles. Elvis. Munich Olympics tragedy. Secretariat. The Energy Crisis. Hank Aaron hitting #715. Jaws. Charlie’s Angels. Disco. Roe v. Wade. Apollo 11. Apollo 13. And my personal favorite: The New York Mets winning the 1969 World Series – going from last to first.

The Experiences I Gained – I experienced a lot of “firsts” while I was in Aiken: first driver’s license, first broken bone, first date, first girlfriend, first kiss, first heartbreak, first best friend, first time on stage (Who’s On First routine by Abbot and Costello for HS variety show), first speeding ticket, first wrecked car, first time on a motorcycle, first time to go The Masters. I have blogged about my love of The Masters several times.
Top Ten Masters Memories
Memories of the Masters
Easter and the Masters
Amen Corner – A Metaphor for My Life

The Faith I Developed – I was born into a Jewish family in Columbia. When we moved to Aiken, religious involvement was not a priority for my mom so I essentially grew up knowing nothing about God. It was not until around 9th grade that I began attending First Presbyterian Church at the invitation of my next door neighbor and best friend Charles England. I went to youth group with him and began to get introduced to God and Christianity. The pastor was Jerry Robinson and his son Tim was also one of my good friends and I would hang out at his house a lot. Over the next few years I began to understand more and more: That God was holy and righteous. That I was sinful and separated from God and rightly deserving of His wrath. That Jesus was indeed the Messiah and lived a perfect life and was therefore able to atone for my sin and reconcile me to God. That His resurrection validated everything He said and did and that the only reasonable response on my part was to repent and turn away from sin and to place my faith in Him as the only one who make things right with God and give me eternal life. As a junior in high school I did this – though it took several years for me really grasp all that faith in Christ meant. But that decision completely changed the trajectory of my life.

After I left Aiken I lived in New Orleans for 4 years. The Boston area for 2 years. Raleigh for 11 years. And now Durham, NC for the last 24 years – a city that I love. But Aiken will always be my hometown.

 

Top Ten Memories From My College Years

I graduated from Aiken High School in 1976. I applied to 4 colleges: Duke, Cornell, Clemson and Tulane.  I got put on a wait list at Duke. I did not get into Cornell. And I got accepted to both Clemson and Tulane. I chose to go to Tulane for several reasons: 1) At the time I wanted to go to a school different from where all my friends were going (I’m not sure that I would make that same decision today), 2) It had a very good Engineering department, 3) my granddad went to Tulane, and 4) New Orleans – it seemed like a fun place to do college.

I was at Tulane from August of 1976 through May of 1980. Here are ten of my memories from those years… in no particular order.

tulane_logo

  1. I majored in Biomedical Engineering – Biomedical Engineering was still a relatively new field in those days. I had always had an interest in medicine and I had always been pretty good at math and science so it seemed like a good fit. I had no problem with the book side of the major – finished with a B average, but I was not very good at the application part – which is pretty much what engineering is all about. So while I enjoyed the major, it was clear to me by my junior year that I would not make a living as an engineer.
  2. Sigma Alpha Epsilon – Many of you reading this will be surprised that I was a frat guy. Me too. Here’s how it happened. I knew exactly zero people when I arrived at Tulane. My roommate became my first friend. He had been impressed with the guys he met during pledge week at SAE and encouraged me to go by the house and check it out. Which I did. They extended me an invitation to join and I accepted along with my roommate. I was pretty active for my first 3 years but then was inactive my senior year. I never lived at the frat house but enjoyed getting to know a lot of the guys over the years.
  3. Intramurals – The fraternity gave me an opportunity to be involved in sports while at Tulane. Back in the day I was a really fast runner. I still remember several fly patterns I ran for touchdowns during football season. I also played softball and soccer – having played baseball and soccer in high school. Good times. Fun memories.
  4. Running – It was while I was in college that I began running. One of the nice things about New Orleans is that it is flat. And one of the nice things about Tulane is that it was right across from Audobon Park – a great place to run that took you down by the Mississippi River. I set a goal for 1979 to run 700 miles – which is only about 2 miles per day but it meant that I had to be disciplined to get it done. Which i am proud to say that I did. I ended up running until I was about 45 and then realized that I had never really enjoyed it like some people do – so I became a walker instead. Which I still do.
  5. Andre, Pete, Jason – I finished up my high school days with a lot of good friends, many of who I am still connected to today – thanks to Facebook. I had three guys that I would consider good friends while I was at Tulane. Pete – my roommate freshman year, Jason – my roommate sophomore year. And Andre – my suite-mate sophomore year and fraternity brother. Both Pete and Jason transferred away from Tulane and I have lost touch with them – haven’t been able to find them on FB. Andre, a Louisiana cajun, moved to South Carolina not long after college. We still stay in touch and occasionally see each other.
  6. New Orleans – New Orleans was an interesting place to do college. But it is not a city I would want to live in. Way to hot and humid for me. Still, lots of fun memories: The French Quarter, jazz music, great food, Cafe Du Monde and beignets, Mardi Gras, streetcars, Audobon Park, the Mississippi River, the Garden District, and sporting events…
  7. Sporting Events – I was able to attend two once in a lifetime sporting events while I was in college: 1) I went to Super Bowl XII in January of 1978 between Dallas and Denver. I got to see Roger Staubach lead the Cowboys to a 27-10 victory over the Broncos. Andre and I were able to scalp tickets outside the Superdome – face value was only $35 back then. I got my ticket for $50. 2) I was also able to see Muhammed Ali win the heavyweight title for the 3rd time in September of 1978 in a unanimous decision over Leon Spinks. History and a sporting icon at the same time.
  8. Cru – My first full day in my dorm freshman year there was a knock on my door – A Campus Crusade for Christ staff guy introduced himself and so began my involvement. I was a very young, immature Christian when I went to Tulane and the Lord used this ministry to disciple me and help prepare me for my future. I was able to be involved in leadership in several ways over the years. Josh McDowell came to our campus when I was a sophomore and I had a chance to give him a ride from school to his hotel. But the transforming highlight of my involvement was participation in CCC Beach project following my junior year.
  9. Hearing God’s Voice – I have detailed this experience HERE. But suffice to say that it was while I was at Tulane that God spoke to me loud and clear in ways that changed the trajectory of my life. I am very grateful that He  intervened in my life in supernatural ways rather than letting me follow my own path. I suspect that my life would have turned out far differently if God had not stepped in. I have been incredibly blessed over the years and take great joy in knowing that the Lord is guiding my way.
  10. A Song and a Kiss – Linda and I met in Galveston, Texas and began dating while we were both on the CCC Beach Project. At the end of the project she traveled with me back to New Orleans before flying home to NC. We had a magical night together that featured supper in the French Quarter at The Chart House, yummy stuff from Cafe Du Monde, our first kiss in Jackson Square, and me telling her I loved her for the first time – as we hung out on one of the quads at Tulane and I sang and played on my guitar Jim Croce’s song “I’ll Have To Say I Love You In A Song.

Good times! Good memories!

 

2016 Christmas Letter

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Better late than never, right…

Grace and Peace to you as we celebrate the incarnation. As seems to happen every year, 2016 has been a blur. This was not a year that involved health issues or big trips or career changes or major crises. It was a year for us to enjoy the many, many ways that we have been blessed. We both turned 58 years old this summer and realize just how young we still are – though our bodies often remind us to the contrary. Here are a few highlights that you may or may not already know about:

  • us1Linda is in her 12th year as a school counselor at Carrington Middle School. She enjoys her job, most of the time, and does her best to advocate on behalf of students who are dealing with lots of family and cultural challenges.
  • Shay is in his 24th year at Ridgecrest Baptist Church serving as Pastor of Discipleship Ministries. He would tell you that he hasn’t worked for several decades because “if you find a job that you love you never have to work a day in your life.”
  • In May, Scott and Mary moved in with us as their lease was up and they were figuring out what was next for them. We had 4 months with them as they transitioned from their jobs into full time ministry and had their first child who chose to enter this world 6 weeks early. It was awesome to have them living with us before they moved 10 hours away to Mississippi – and took our grandson with them.

Here are a few snippets about each of our kids…

candc

 

Christy and Chad: Married 8 years in June. Son Grayson turned 4 in November. Son Bowen turned 1 last January. Son, as yet unnamed, to be born in April ’17. Chad continues to serve as Missions Pastor at Crosspoint Church in Clemson SC. Christy continues to provide fun learning experiences for the boys as a stay at home mom.

reyner11Scott and Mary: Married 2 years in November. Son Keller Shay born 6 weeks early on July 29. Scott finished 3 years of teaching math at Carrington Middle School. Mary left her job as Occupational Therapist from Duke Regional. End of September moved to Starkville, Mississippi where Scott now serves as Kid’s Pastor at Pinelake Church. Mary is living her dream as a stay at home wife and mom.

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Tucker and Danielle: Married 3 years in May. Expecting first child in June ’17. They are still living in Wilmington NC. Danielle works as an ophthalmic assistant at Wilmington Eye. Tucker works part time at Port City Java as a barista and part time at The Bridge Church as the Connections Director. Tucker graduated from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in December with his M.Div.

reyners2016xmas

Much grace and peace to you as you anticipate all that the Lord has in store for you in 2017.

Pondering the Word – Philippians 1:2

ponderingtheword2“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:2)

Perhaps you know by now that the poet in me often comes out when I ponder Scripture. Here is a song/poem I wrote as I thought about Paul’s salutation to the Philippians (as well as to other churches that he wrote to).


(Refrain)
Grace and peace from our heavenly Father

Grace and peace from the Lord.
Grace and peace from Jesus our Savior
The Holy Creator, the Alpha, Omega
The One who alone should be praised and adored.

Your grace so amazing, abundant and free.
Your grace is sufficient to satisfy me.
Your grace makes me grateful and fuels me with strength
And helps me to live with unshakeable faith –
And helps me to live in your steadfast embrace.

Grace and peace from our heavenly Father
Grace and peace from the Lord.
Grace and peace from Jesus our Savior
The Holy Creator, the Alpha, Omega
The One who alone should be praised and adored.

Your peace is sustaining when life’s really hard.
Your peace lights the way when the daylight seems dark.
Your peace rules my heart when I’m prone to despair
And helps me remember that you’re always there.
And helps me remember that you really care.

Grace and peace from our heavenly Father
Grace and peace from the Lord.
Grace and peace from Jesus our Savior
The Holy Creator, the Alpha, Omega
The One who alone should be praised and adored.

Articles Worth Pondering – 10 Books Every Christian Teenager Should Read

Articles Worth PThis article by Tim Challies may be helpful to those of you with teenagers and soon to be teenagers.

reader recently asked the question: Do you have a suggested list of books for teenagers, something like a “Ten best books every Christian teenager should read?” It surprised me that I have never compiled such a list, especially since I’ve got two teenagers of my own. I decided I’d better remedy this oversight straight away. Here, then, is a list of ten great books every Christian teen ought to read—or at least consider reading.

Please note that these are not necessarily the ten best books your teens will read in their lifetime. Not all of these books will stand the test of time as Christian classics. But each of them is suited to twenty-first century teenaged readers and together they will provide a foundation for the Christian life that will prove both deep and wide. I list them in no particular order….

Click below to see the list and the rest of the article:

10 Books Every Christian Teenager Should Read

Pondering the Word – Acts 20:7-12

ptwOn the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight. There were many lamps in the upstairs room where we were meeting.Seated in a window was a young man named Eutychus, who was sinking into a deep sleep as Paul talked on and on. When he was sound asleep, he fell to the ground from the third story and was picked up dead. 10 Paul went down, threw himself on the young man and put his arms around him. “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “He’s alive!” 11 Then he went upstairs again and broke bread and ate. After talking until daylight, he left. 12 The people took the young man home alive and were greatly comforted.

We’ve all been there haven’t we. .. fighting to stay awake while the pastor goes on and on and on… and on! (not my pastor, of course but I’ve heard that there are pastors who do this). So how do you stay awake so that you don’t find out after the service that you a pic of you has gone viral that you had no clue was even taken. A few tips…

Doodle on your bulletin – outline words, draw boxes around announcements, try to write your name backwards abd upside down

Count all the number of bald headed men that you can see

Shout out a loud “Amen” even when the sermon does not call or it

Stand up and stretch , lifting your hands up above your head – people will think that you are really engaged in worship

Kneel and lean on your chair and pray – this way people will think you are really spiritual but you can take a nap.

And if those don’t work, keep these cartoons in mind…

e1 e2 e3

Romans 15:5-6,13

ptwMay the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

As I read these verses this week they seemed especially poignant in view of all the political pervasiveness. They do not need much commentary.

Read them. Ponder them. Pray them. Encourage others with them. And find joy in the God of endurance and encouragement and hope!

Quotes Worth Pondering – John Piper

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One day America and all it’s presidents will be a footnote in history, but God’s kingdom will never end.

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