Pop Pop Epistle #22 – About Pearl Harbor

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Dear Grandkids,

As you grow up you will no doubt become familiar with the significance of December 7 in the history of our nation. On December 8, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt famously said…

“Yesterday, December 7, 1941 — a date which will live in infamy — the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.”

It was a tragic day for our country. 2,403 Americans died and 1,178 more were wounded. Eighteen ships were sunk or run aground, including five battleships. But what our enemy had no way of knowing was that that horrific attack upon our country ultimately spelled doom and defeat for them. The attack on Pearl Harbor catapulted the United States into the throes of World War II, culminating 4 years later with the conquest of the Axis powers and overwhelming victory for the Allies.

The gruesome events of December 7 were soon memorialized by the motto “Remember Pearl Harbor.” It became a rallying cry for our nation as we set our focus on avenging what the enemy had done.

As Christians, we have another rallying cry: “Remember the cross!”  It was at the cross that our enemy mockingly thought he had surely defeated Jesus and God’s redemptive plan to secure freedom for those He loved. But it was at the cross that the enemy’s sure defeat was determined.

At the cross sin was atoned for
At the cross God’s wrath was satisfied
At the cross hope was restored
At the cross God’s mercy triumphed
At the cross God’s love was demonstrated
At the cross death was defeated
At the cross salvation was secured
At the cross the righteous were vindicated
At the cross God’s enemies were vanquished
At the cross God’s justice prevailed
At the cross God’s power was displayed
At the cross grace was victorious
At the cross God’s glory was revealed

Today is a great day to remember. Remember Pearl Harbor. But every day is a great day to “Remember the Cross” and to let this catchphrase be your battle cry as you seek to fight the good fight of faith.

Remember the Cross!

And never ever forget that you are very loved!

Pop Pop

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A Prayer for Audrey

Audrey Lynn Reyner

December 3, 2017
8 pounds 10 ounces
Durham, NC
Parents: Scott and Mary Reyner
Grandparents: Shay and Linda Reyner (aka Nona and Pop Pop)

Father,

Screen Shot 2017-12-05 at 9.34.12 AMThank you for this newest little blessing that You have given our family. You continue to pour out grace upon grace to us and we are very grateful. Grateful for her safe delivery. Grateful for her health. Grateful for her mom and dad and brother. Grateful for the life You have planned for her.

I pray that Your Spirit would fuel her with “joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory”  from the beginning of her life. That she would find delight in You and Your ways even as a little child and that there would be a demonstrative gladness that radiates from within her.

I pray that her life would reflect the meaning of her name –  noble strength. Noble in the sense that she is a living breathing reflection of the King of Kings. And that her strength would be “in the Lord and in the power of His might.” That she would understand that Your strength will be perfected in her weakness. That she find strength through humility. Strength through serving others. Strength through unselfishness.

I pray that she would experience You as Jehovah Shalom: The Lord is my Peace – that she would know a peace that surpasses all understanding; a peace that comes from knowing that she has been reconciled and redeemed; a peace that energizes her to live a life of contentment.

I pray too that she would experience You as Jehovah Roi: The Lord is my Shepherd – that You would guide her throughout her life. That she would joyfully follow You because You are the Good Shepherd. That she would rest knowing that You will provide for her and that You will protect her and that You will always prove yourself faithful to her.

And finally I pray she would always know that she is very loved by You. That she would know the all sufficient love of Christ no matter what happens to her in this life knowing that your love will sustain her with hope for the life to come. And too, may she always know how much she is loved by her mom and dad and the rest of her family. Care for this little girl and use her to be an incredible testimony to the glory of Your name.

Pop Pop Epistle #21 – Welcome Audrey Lynn Reyner

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Dear Grandkids,

Today is an exciting day for our family. Well, actually the exciting day started at 10:28 PM last night. In case your parents haven’t told you yet, you have a new baby girl cousin – or sister as the case might be for Keller. By the time I write my next epistle that little sonogram blob below will be replaced by  a whole bunch of cuteness.

So this makes 6 times now that your Nona and I have welcomed a grandbaby into our family in just a little more than 5 years. Three of you have been born in a little more than 7 months. And at present, as far as we know, there are no more currently in the pipeline.

I hope you already know that you have been prayed for even before you were conceived and are the primary focus even now of the prayer times that Nona and I have together. Here are 6 Scripture based prayers that we will continue to pray for you in the days to come as we watch you grow up and wait to see how the Lord mightily uses you as an instrument of His grace:

“But to all who did receive (Jesus), who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12) – Our foremost prayer will be that you put your faith in the Lord Jesus as the One who reconciles you to the Father and become a child of God.

“And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming.” (1 John 2:28) Abide is one of my favorite New Testament words. We will be praying that you learn how to abide, how to be nourished and find your satisfaction in Jesus alone.

“Little children, let no one deceive you.” (1 John 3:7) There will be many who will try to distract you and steer you away from the Lord. Our prayer is that you will be thoroughly grounded in the truth so that no one will be able to deceive you.

“Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” (1 John 3:18) We will be praying that others will know that you love them not just because of what you say but more importantly because of what you do.

“Little children, keep yourselves from idols.” (1 John 5:21) This verse is the way that the Apostle John concludes his first letter. It was what he wanted them to remember. Our prayer will be that you worship the Lord alone and not the things of this world that can so easily become idols to us.

“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” (3 John:4) We will pray that step by step, day by day, that you will walk in the truth. The Word of God will light your path and lead you in the way of truth if you will devote yourselves to be students of the Word.

You can count on the fact that we will pray for you.

And never ever forget that you are very loved!

Pop Pop

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Pop Pop Epistle #20: About Squanto

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Dear Grandkids,

Thanksgiving 2017 is over. It was awesome to have most of you in our home for several days to eat together and play together and just be together. We muchly missed Asher who was with her other grandparents and we daily await the arrival of grand-baby girl #2 who is now officially past her due date.

Perhaps this is a good time for a little lesson in history – the story of Squanto. This is how Charles Colson tells his story…

Historical accounts of Squanto’s life vary, but historians believe that around 1608, more than a decade before the Pilgrims landed in the New World, a group of English traders, led by a Captain Hunt, sailed to what is today Plymouth, Massachusetts. When the trusting Wampanoag Indians came out to trade, Hunt took them prisoner, transported them to Spain, and sold them into slavery.

But God had an amazing plan for one of the captured Indian – a boy named Squanto.

Squanto was bought by a well-meaning Spanish monk, who treated him well and taught him the Christian faith. Squanto eventually made his way to England and worked in the stable of a man named John Slaney. Slaney sympathized with Squanto’s desire to return home, and he promised to put the Indian on the first vessel bound for America.

It wasn’t until 1619, ten years after Squanto was first kidnapped, that a ship was found. Finally, after a decade of exile and heartbreak, Squanto was on his way home.

But when he arrived in Massachusetts, more heartbreak awaited him. An epidemic had wiped out Squanto’s entire village.

We can only imagine what must have gone through Squanto’s mind. Why had God allowed him to return home, against all odds, only to find his loved ones dead?

A year later, the answer came. A shipload of English families arrived and settled on the very land once occupied by Squanto’s people. Squanto went to meet them, greeting the startled Pilgrims in English.

According to the diary of Pilgrim Governor William Bradford, Squanto “became a special instrument sent of God for [our] good . . . He showed [us] how to plant [our] corn, where to take fish and to procure other commodities . . . and was also [our] pilot to bring [us] to unknown places for [our] profit, and never left [us] till he died.”

When Squanto lay dying of a fever, Bradford wrote that their Indian friend “desired the Governor to pray for him, that he might go to the Englishmen’s God in heaven.” Squanto bequeathed his possessions to his English friends “as remembrances of his love.”

Who but God could so miraculously weave together the lives of a lonely Indian and a struggling band of Englishmen? It’s hard not to make comparisons with the biblical story of Joseph, who was also sold into slavery and whom God likewise used as a special instrument for good.

The Bible tells us that everyone has been sold into slavery, having been captured by the evil one because of our sinful nature. But Christ the Redeemer sets us free because of what He accomplished on the cross on our behalf. When we put our faith and our trust in Him Christ redeems us – He sets us free. And just as He did with Squanto He can use us as special instruments for good.

So never forget that the Lord has special purposes for you – He desires to use you to bring about good in the lives of others, to bless this world that has been captured by the evil one, and to be a redeeming influence among a people that do not even know that they are enslaved.

And never ever forget that you are very loved!

Pop Pop

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Pop Pop Epistle #19 – Happy Birthday Grayson

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Dear Grayson,

So… you are the first grand young’un to have a birthday since I started writing the Pop Pop Epistles. Hence you get the first one of these to be addressed specifically to you and you will also note that your picture has been updated below.

Now that you are learning to read perhaps you can read this little story for yourself. If not, ask your dad to – since it has to do with fishing…

A father and son went fishing one day. After a couple hours out in the boat, the boy suddenly became curious about the world around him. He asked his father, “How does this boat float?” The father thought for a moment, then replied, “Don’t rightly know, son.”

The boy returned to his thinking, then turned back to his dad, “How do fish breath underwater?” Once again the father replied, “Don’t rightly know, son.”

A little later the boy asked his father, “Why is the sky blue?” Again, the father replied. “Don’t rightly know, son.”

Worried he was going to annoy his father, he says, “Dad, do you mind my asking you all of these questions?” “Of course not son. If you don’t ask questions, you’ll never learn anything!”

Maybe you know that one of the things that I collect is questions. Not many people collect questions but I hope that you will enjoy collecting them too. Question asking is a great skill to learn for at least two reasons:

1) It helps you learn stuff that you don’t know – I have found this is especially true as I study the Bible. When I don’t understand something I ask questions until I get a good answer.
2) It helps you get to know people that you don’t know – By asking people questions it lets them know that you are interested in their lives. And this is really important as you try to help them know about Jesus and the gospel.

Here are two things I want you to do. 1) Ask your dad what is funny about the fishing story up above if you don’t already know. And 2) get your mom to help you come up with 3 questions to ask me when you see me next week – questions that will help you learn some things about me. And I might just have some surprises in store  for you when you do.

In the meantime, I hope you have a super terrific birthday today and an awesome birthday celebration with your friends tonight. I will miss being there with you. But here is my birthday blessing for you…

May you always find joy in your walk with the Lord. May He fuel you each day with a contagious gladness as you get to know Him more and more. May He fill you with curiosity about this world that we live in and the people around you and may He teach you to ask great questions as you grow up.

And may you never ever forget that you are very loved.

Pop Pop

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Pop Pop Epistle #18 – About My Pillow

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Dear Grandkids,

About 4:00 AM this morning as I was tossing and turning I made a decision…. the pillow that I was testing out for the 3rd night was definitely going back to the store. Over the past year I have probably bought, tried, and taken back about 20 pillows. Why? Because I am in search of the perfect pillow.

Here is the backstory. About 15 years ago when I was also searching for the perfect pillow I happened to stay at a hotel where I had a glorious night of sleep. I woke up thinking that my search was over. Only one problem – it was the hotel’s pillow. Well, not being bashful about these things, and because my circumstances were so tragic, I approached the hotel management, explained my situation, and asked if I could buy their pillow. (Now I know that at this point many of you reading this besides my grandkids are already grossed out because there is no way of telling what that pillow had already been through and who and how many had slept on it – but you must understand that desperate times call for desperate measures.) They would not sell it to me. But big props to Country Inn and Suites who understood my anguished predicament and GAVE me the pillow. Oh glorious day…and by that I mean Oh glorious night.

Fast forward 15 years to present day and my perfect pillow is starting to crumble and disintegrate. Pillows don’t crumble you say. Ah, but indeed they do when your perfect pillow is a foam pillow. I’m not talking about faux foam like shredded foam or gel foam or memory foam but genuine real deal foam. I have loved my pillow and now I am sad because I know it is dying a slow death. So once again I am search of the perfect pillow. And so far my search has been futile, frustrating, and fruitless. Just ask your Nona.

So as I lay wide awake at 4:00 AM thinking about my search for the perfect pillow this verse from Scripture came to mind…

You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. (Jeremiah 29:13)

There are so many people in this world who are involved in a futile, frustrating, and fruitless search to fill the empty places in their heart. Like my search for the perfect pillow, they try one thing and find it unsatisfying and then try something else and something else and something else. It was Augustine of Hippo, himself a frustrated seeker until he found Christ, who wrote in his Confessions

You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.

As you lie on your pillow at night, take a moment before you drift off to sleep and thank God that He has given us a perfect Savior. Thank Him for sending His Son to fill the empty places in our heart, to forgive our sin, to secure our salvation, and to fuel us with joy for the journey. Thank Him for offering us hope and for giving us His Holy Spirit to guide us and comfort us and teach us. And thank Him for your pillow.

And never ever forget that you are very loved!

Pop Pop

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Pop Pop Epistle #17 – My First 8-Pointer

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Dear Grandkids,

I got my first 8 pointer last night.

Now I’m sure you know that I am not a hunter nor the son of a hunter. Never even been hunting. Pretty sure that I will never go hunting. So it was rather unfortunate that I got my first 8 pointer last night.

I was coming down St Mary’s Road on the way back from a very good meal at Vinnie’s with Nona, Scott, Mary, Keller, and Mary’s mom. It was already dark and we were probably going about 40 mph. Out of the corner of my eye I see this big buck in the other lane trying to decide if he should cross or not. I remember thinking, “don’t do it bucko.” But he chose not to listen to me and then slammed into the driver’s side of our van. Not too much damage to us – a dent in the sliding door and knocked loose the left turn signal. Pretty sure the deer got the worse end of the deal.

Here is my takeaway as I have reflected on what happened:

One of the driving lessons I have learned over the years living in deer country is this: Don’t try to swerve to miss a deer. Swerving is more likely to cause you to crash. Better to hit the deer than to risk ending up upside down on the side of the road.

Scripture teaches us something similar…

Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil. (Proverbs 4:27)

“So you shall observe to do just as the LORD your God has commanded you; you shall not turn aside to the right or to the left. (Deuteronomy 5:32)

You can get into a lot of trouble really quickly when you veer away from living according to the commands of God. In my almost 60 years of life I have seen this principle affirmed again and again… “Obedience to the Word brings blessing. Disobedience brings pain.”

There is plenty of pain to be experienced in this world without bringing it on ourselves. God will use pain to teach us some things that we would not learn any other way. But the pain and the hurt caused by our own sin and disobedience is an avoidable kind of pain. One that I hope you will steer away from as you grow up.  Choose blessing. Choose to turn your foot away from evil. Choose to do just as the Lord has commanded you. You will not regret making this choice.

And never ever forget that you are very loved!

Pop Pop

 

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Pop Pop Epistle #16 – About My Heart

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Dear Grandkids,

Earlier today I went to see my cardiologist. A cardiologist is a doctor who specializes in the heart. I try to see him once a year just to have him check me out – not because I have a heart problem but because I want to avoid a heart problem. I may have already told you that my dad died of a heart attack when I was 13. He was only 42. And I never knew my dad’s dad because he died of a heart attack before I was born. I’m hoping to be around a lot longer than they were so that you guys can say that you knew your Pop Pop really well. But you never know about these things.

So even though I don’t seem to have any heart problems physically at this point, I do have a major heart problem. The Bible informs us that “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick” (Jeremiah 17:9). If I had not been given a new heart when I was 16 years old you would not want to call me your Pop Pop. I would be a selfish, self-centered, self-seeking, self-indulgent old man. As it is, I still have to fight hard against the disease of self. But thanks be to God who has rescued me, redeemed me, reconciled me, and created within me a change of heart through Christ Jesus my Lord.

Ezekiel 36:26 says, “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh…” Were it not for this spiritual heart transplant I would be a very different person. Your Nona and I pray often for you that the Lord will give you new hearts as well and will remove the heart of stone that we are all born with.

One other thing about the heart. Do not EVER listen to the advice that is so prevalent these days, often shared by well meaning people, both believers and unbelievers, who tell you to “just follow your heart.” Your heart will lead you astray – because, as I mentioned above, it “is deceitful above all things.” Follow the Lord. Listen to His Word. Pursue Him above all things. And do the one thing that the heart is supposed to do. For as the Scripture says in Proverbs 3…

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
    and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
    and He will make straight your paths.

And never ever forget that you are very loved!

Pop Pop

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Pop Pop Epistle #15 – About October 31, 2017

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Dear Grandkids,

Today is October 31, 2017.

I could not let the significance of this day pass without writing to you about it. Most people in our country are celebrating Halloween. But for those of us who are believers we have much more to celebrate on this day as we commemorate the 500th anniversary of Reformation Day.

It was on this day in 1517 when a German professor named Martin Luther posted his Ninety-Five Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg. Now that might not mean a lot to you now but I promise that it was a very big deal. And it will mean a lot to you in the future.

Here is what Kevin DeYoung (an author/pastor that I hope you will  read much of as you grown up) wrote in his blogpost this morning about this day:

We give thanks for Luther, flawed and fallible though he was, for the role he played in igniting a reform movement that caught fire in the cities of the Holy Roman Empire, spread through the rest of Europe, and now reaches to the ends of the earth. Wherever we find Scripture alone as the highest and final authority, grace alone as the only hope for resurrecting spiritually dead sinners, faith alone as the only instrument by which we are joined to Christ and justified by the imputation of his righteousness, Christ alone as the only atoning sacrifice for sin, and God alone as the ultimate object of our worship—wherever we find these truths sung, savored, and celebrated, we have reason to rejoice in the Reformation….

And so on this momentous day when we celebrate the rediscovery of the gospel and the recovery of true worship, we commit ourselves once again to the worship of our triune God and the gladhearted declaration of this gospel. And if the Lord should tarry another half-millennium, our prayer is not first of all for another Luther, but that we may be an instrument in the Lord’s hands just as Luther was.

De Young mentions the 5 Solas that are paramount to the Reformation:

  1. Sola Scriptura (“Scripture alone”): The Bible alone is our highest authority.
  2. Sola Fide (“faith alone”): We are saved through faith alone in Jesus Christ.
  3. Sola Gratia (“grace alone”): We are saved by the grace of God alone.
  4. Solus Christus (“Christ alone”): Jesus Christ alone is our Lord, Savior, and King.
  5. Soli Deo Gloria (“to the glory of God alone”): We live for the glory of God alone.

I look forward to talking with you in the days to come about why these are so important to what we believe. I am so glad that I am your Pop Pop and very grateful for each of you.

Never ever forget that you are very loved!

Pop Pop

(By the way, today is your dad/uncle Tucker’s Re-birthday. Ask him to tell you about that day sometime)

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Pop Pop Epistle #14 – About My Friend Leon

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Dear Grandkids,

Let me tell you about my friend Leon Dorleans. You will probably never meet him but he is worth getting to know. He is almost 70 years old now. I met him about 20 years ago. He is a pastor from Haiti that I got introduced to at a time when our church was looking for an opportunity to do some mission work in that country. We struck up a friendship which began a great relationship between us but also between our church and his ministry – Haiti Outreach Ministries. There is much that I have learned from him over Screen Shot 2017-10-26 at 5.38.20 PMthe years. Here are a few things that I hope you will learn as well:

Your early life does not define the rest of your life – Leon was born in one of the poorest countries in the world. Even today the per capita income is less than $800 per year. Most Americans make more than that each week. He had nothing materially but he did have a mother who insisted that he get an education. And it was his education that gave him opportunities to be a difference maker on behalf of the kingdom of God. He has been used to influence thousands of young men and women in Haiti and to bless the country of his birth – even when he easily could have left Haiti and lived in the comfort and ease of America.

Vision separates great leaders from good leaders – Almost 30 years ago Leon started a Bible Study with a few people in the Cité Soleil area of Port-au-Prince. But he did not allow the success of that study to keep him from thinking bigger. Much bigger. Out of that Bible Study has come 5 church plants  reaching over 3200 people each week and 4 schools providing an education to over 1500 children. A medical clinic. An orphanage. And a vocational school. Leon’s vision continues to fuel Haiti Outreach Ministries with the power of possibility as he holds onto the promise that “nothing is impossible with God.”

Enthusiasm is contagious – You do not have to be around Leon for very long to recognize that he is passionate about the work that God has entrusted to him. And he has a gift for communicating that passion very enthusiastically. People are drawn to be a part of the work God is doing in Haiti because of his excitement. As you grow up, my prayer is that you will find a God-ordained passion and unashamedly tell everyone you come in contact with about it with unbridled enthusiasm.

Investing in people pays huge dividends – Leon realized early on that there is much more profit to be gained by investing in people than money. The dividends that are being reaped are eternal and are growing at a rate far beyond what a healthy portfolio could ever produce. Take note of the way that other people invest their lives in you as you grow up and then make it a life long pursuit to invest your life in the lives of others. This is a gospel mandate – to make disciples who will make disciples who will make disciples.

I hope that one day I will have the opportunity to introduce you to my friend Leon. If not, make it a point to learn from men like him.

And by the way… never ever forget that you are very loved!

Pop Pop

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