Stuff and Such 21.3

Several Blogs/Podcasts – Sam Thomas, who leads a Connect Group at our church, wrote THIS on “Putting Jesus First in 2021.”

And if you are not familiar with “The Briefing” by Albert Mohler it is worth checking out. It is a a daily analysis of news and events from a Christian worldview. It is a podcast but HERE is a transcript of today’s analysis on “How Did Abortion Become Thinkable in American Culture?”

A Book Excerpt – “The problem with deception is that you don’t know you are being deceived. It simply feels as if you’re right. Deception feels incredibly rational. Idols function like spiritual forgeries, imitating God’s character but distorting it. That’s why theology is not merely for people in seminary. It’s important for all God’s people to know who God is so we can spot counterfeit gods when they approach our lives.

Idols give promises and warnings, and both the promises and the warnings are lies. Giving in to these promises will disillusion you, and heeding the warnings will harm you. False gods create false law, false definitions of success and failure, false definitions of value and stigma. Idols define good and evil contrary to God’s definition. They deceive us.” ( Beautiful Resistance by Jon Tyson)

Two Questions – At the end of my pastor’s message yesterday he asked two questions that are worth pondering:

  1. What impact has the gospel had on your life?
  2. What impact has God made in others through you because of the gospel?

Bernie Memes – When I first started seeing them pop up last week, my first thought was that “people have too much time on their hands.” Then I became one of those people.. Here are two that I created:

Two Verses From Hebrews 3 – Many of you know that I am currently pondering my way through the Book of Hebrews. These verses cut to the heart and have great application: 12Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. 13 But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. 

Another Hike: Yesterday our Sunday hike started in downtown Hillsborough at the Weaver Street Market and took us via the Riverwalk to the Occoneechee Speedway loop and back. It was almost 4 miles. Lots of history at the Speedway. My friend Tony Fernandez who hiked with us told me about this special on PeacockTV  that features Dale Earnhardt Jr and Richard Petty that recount some of the history of the track.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pop Pop Epistle #137 – About Cousins

Dear Grandkids,

Just about the time that I was getting used to having 8 grandkids, Tucker and Danielle inform us that #9 will be joining the clan in July. It’s a good thing that I am still a young man – with the strength of an elephant and the memory of a lion. Or is it the other way around?

A couple of the things that Nona and I love is that all you cousins are reasonably close in age and that you enjoy playing together. We are going to do our best as grandparents to create experiences that will foster great affection for one another and awesome memories that you can share together.

There are at least two instances of cousins in Scripture that are specifically pointed out and worth taking note of because of the influence that resulted due to the relationship.

1) Esther 2:7 says, “Mordecai was the legal guardian of his cousin Hadassah (that is, Esther), because she didn’t have a father or mother. The young woman had a beautiful figure and was extremely good-looking. When her father and mother died, Mordecai had adopted her as his own daughter.” If you don’t already know the story, God used Mordecai’s influence on Esther, his cousin, to save the Jewish people from a pogrom. It was Mordecai who told Esther, “And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Esther then used her influence with the king to expose the man who was plotting to kill all the Jews. Grandkids, it may very well be your words of encouragement to one of your cousins that the Lord uses to compel them to do heroic things.

2) Colossians 4:10 says, “Aristarchus my fellow prisoner greets you, and Mark the cousin of Barnabas (concerning whom you have received instructions—if he comes to you, welcome him).” Perhaps you know the backstory here as well. Mark accompanied Paul and Barnabas on one of their missionary journeys. Somewhere along the way he got home sick and left and went back home. When Mark wanted to rejoin the team, Paul wanted nothing to do with him. But Barnabas was willing to stop traveling with Paul in order to give his cousin a second chance. It greatly encouraged young Mark – who would go on in future years to write what we now know as the Gospel According to Mark, one of the most famous books ever written. It probably would not have happened without some serious cousin love.

So as you grow up and spend time together and even when you are grown with kids of your own – love one another and look our for one another and lift one another up when they are down. I have no doubt that the Lord will use you greatly in each other’s lives.

Never ever forget that you are very loved!

Pop Pop

Brick #75 – Hebrews 3

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Lots to unpack in this great chapter as the author continues to build his case that Jesus is far far superior to anything we can imagine. He has already talked about His superiority to the prophets, to angels, to sin, to suffering, and to temptation – in this chapter he makes the case that Jesus is even superior to Moses. Now to a Jewish audience, even a Christian Jewish audience, these are almost fighting words because of the respect and honor that the Jews held for Moses. But the fact is… Jesus is better!

One of the doctrinal questions that the author begins to address is this: Is it possible to lose your salvation once you have been granted salvation? The letter to the Hebrews, more than any other letter in the New Testament, raises this question. Notice in chapter 3 a few comments that the author makes:

  • verse 6 – we are His house IF indeed we hold fast our confidence...
  • verse 12 – Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God.
  • verse 14 – For we have come to share in Christ, IF indeed we hold our original confidence
  • verse 19 – so we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief

The doctrine that we in Baptist circles cling to is stated this way: Once saved, always saved. But is it biblical? Historically, the doctrine is known as “Perseverance of the saints.” Perseverance of the saints basically means this: those who persevere to the end are indeed the true and genuine saints of God. This is what the author to Hebrews vehemently believes. His concern for his readers, during a time when when their faith was being rigorously tested, was to make to make sure that they indeed believed what they said that they believed.

The tests that we encounter in this life will do this. They will shake our faith to the core and help us recognize if our faith is merely “lip service” or does it reflect a heart that clings to and relies solely on Jesus for life and salvation. I certainly know many people who at one time claimed the name “Christian” but who are now no where to be found in circles of faith. And you do too. When the trials of life came their way they reverted to their default way of handling things – by dependence on self and the things of this world. If you are truly saved then your default way of dealing with life has been changed so that your first response is to turn to the Lord, not your last.

So is the doctrine “once saved, always saved” a biblical doctrine. Absolutely! The question that the author to the Hebrews raises, and that we must ask ourself is this: Are we genuinely saved? 2 Corinthians 13:7 says this…

“Examine yourselves to see if you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you – unless indeed you fail to meet the test.”

May this brick cause you to rely more and more on Jesus as the days of testing increase – or if there are any question marks in your mind to examine yourself to to see if you are in the faith.

 

 

 

 

 

Stuff and Such 21.2

A Podcast – I’m listening to a podcast by Mark Driscoll. He is doing a sermon series called Pray Like Jesus. In the first message of the series he talked a lot about how our “father wounds” often contribute to an anemic prayer life. Worth listening to.

A Quote – As I pondered Hebrews 2 this past week I came across this quote from William Barclay that is spot on:

There are few people who deliberately and in a moment turn their backs on God; there are many who day by day drift farther and farther away from him. There are not many who in one moment of time commit some disastrous sin; there are many who almost imperceptibly involve themselves in some situation and suddenly awake to find that they have ruined life for themselves and broken someone else’s heart. We must be continually on the alert against the peril of the drifting life.

 

Time With Family – Our kids and grandkids were at at our house for the weekend. We played and picnicked at Duke Park which has some super duper slides on which I was part of a cousin train. Christy and Chad and Linda and I had our first Escape Room experience. It was really fun but WE DID NOT ESCAPE. In our defense, we chose a really hard challenge that only about 10% of groups escape from – and we were only a few clues away when our time ran out. And then on Saturday we celebrated Bowen’s 6th birthday. He is an awesome young man who loves to play and have boy fun but also has a very tender heart that looks out for and cares for other people – which he does fabulously with his younger cousins.

A Hike – We have gotten in the habit of taking a Sunday afternoon hike on most Sundays and exploring some of the great trails in and around Durham. This past Sunday we went to Occoneechee State Park and hiked the trail around Occoneechee Mountain.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brick #74 – Hebrews 2

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There is a lot to ponder in this awesome chapter. I am going to put my pondering this week in the form of questions and hope that they will intrigue you to dig deeper into these extraordinary verses.

Verse 1: What does the word “therefore” refer to in this context?

Verse 1: What are some practical things you can do to “pay much closer attention” to God’s Word? What symptoms of spiritual A.D.D. do you experience?

Verse 1: Has spiritual “drift” occurred lately in your life? What do you need to do to get back on track”?

Verse 3: What role does “neglect” play in spiritual drift? What are some things you have neglected to do that you know you should be doing?

Verse 3: Can you list 10 reasons why we enjoy a “GREAT salvation”?

Verse 6: Why did the author use the word “somewhere”? Didi he not remember where the following verses are from?

Verses 6-8: What do these verses have to do with the “Septuagint”?

Verse 8: Can you think of a bigger understatement than “At present we not yet see everything in subjection to Him”?

Verse 9: What is the “substitutionary atonement”? How does it correlate with “he might taste death for everyone.”

Verses 14-18: Why was the incarnation necessary? Could God not have saved us some other way?

Verse 15: In what ways do people who are not physically enslaved experience “lifelong slavery”? What kinds of things are people enslaved to?

Verse 17: What is propitiation and what does it have to do with the wrath of God? If you get a chance check out Romans 3:23-25. You are probably familiar with 3:23, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  Verse 24-25 are part of the same sentence. Awesome!

Verse 18: Why is this verse a good one to remember when we deal with the trials and temptations of life?

In his commentary on Hebrews, Albert Mohler closes out his exposition of chapter 2 with these words:


 

 

 

Pop Pop Epistle #136 – HB Bowen and About Nerf Stuff

Dear Bowen,

Happy birthday #6 my #2 grand young ‘un. I am very much looking forward to celebrating your birthday with you and am thrilled that when your mom asked you what you wanted to do for your birthday you said “go to Durham.” I am also excited about the NERF theme, the Chick-fil-A, and the big chocolate chip cookie that will all be a part of the extravaganza.

Speaking of the NERF theme, I bet you did not know that NERF stands for “Non-Expanding Recreational Foam”. It is actually a polyester resin that reacts with another compound in the presence of CO2, which then becomes a freakishly light polyurethane material. I did not make that sentence up – it came from the internet so we know that it is true.

The original NERF ball was first marketed back in 1970 (I was 12 years old) as a 4″ ball that you could “throw indoors, but can’t damage lamps or break windows, or hurt babies or old people.” Now that I am one of those old people I especially appreciate that. It was another 20 years before the introduction of the NERF gun. (I’m thinking that you will see my mad NERF gun skills in action this weekend). Did you know that there are about 450 MILLION NERF darts made each year. And I suspect that I will get hit with my fair share of them on Saturday.

Of course there is a lesson behind all this. Ephesians 6:16 says this: “In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one.”

Now I don’t expect to get hit with flaming darts this weekend but for sure I have been target practice for the evil one a time or twenty. And it is my faith in the Lord Jesus that has kept me from sure and certain defeat at his hands. So I want to encourage you to take up the shield of faith every day keeping in mind that every day is another day that the evil one is looking for an opportunity to wound your soul, steal your joy, and destroy your life.

So whenever you pick up a NERF gun to play a game with your friends keep in mind that there is a spiritual war being fought in the unseen world. Fight the good fight of faith my young grandson  – I will be praying for you as you go into battle.

And never ever forget that you are very loved!

Pop Pop

Stuff and Such 21.1

A Podcast – I’ve recently been listening to a podcast by Mark Batterson from National Community Church. Here are a few choice quotes from his message on January 3, 2021.

“You are a unique expression of God’s imagination.”

“When you have a setback you do not take a step back because God is already preparing you for a comeback.”

A Book – I’ve been reading a book by J. T. English called Deep Discipleship. He says this on p.9: “I believe it is time for the church to ask some serious questions about our shared disease and how we can begin to create depth that might lead to breadth.Perhaps the church should start thinking about what it means to go deeper with fewer instead of going wider with many. What if our cultural moment is inviting the church to embody the depth and substance of the Christian faith, not a shallow spirituality that appeals to the masses.” 

A Restaurant – Linda and I had our first take out dining experience at Spanglish in downtown Durham on Saturday. Very yummy. We got the Old Havana Ropa Vieja and 3 Empanadas. We will go back.

A Netflix TV Show – If you have not yet seen The Chosen it is very much worth watching. It is a show about the life of Jesus as seen through the eyes of those who knew Him. Very well done. It takes some license with some of the things left unsaid in the gospels but creates a narrative that invites you to want to know Jesus better.

A Cartoon

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brick #73 – Hebrews 1

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(For the next 13 weeks I will be pondering my way through the Book of Hebrews… Brick by Brick.)

As I pondered my way through this great first chapter of Hebrews there were several things that caught my attention. The first thing was something that was NOT there. In all of the other letters in the New Testament there is a “salutation” – a greeting that identifies who wrote the letter and who it is to. Hebrews does not have this. Therefore there is some uncertainty as to who the author of this letter is. Many people think it was Paul. But other candidates include Luke, Barnabas, and Apollos. We just do not know for sure, but what we do know is that the author had a deep concern for the people he was writing to and wanted to encourage them in the midst of the problems they were facing and the persecution that they were experiencing.

So who were the recipients? The title of the letter is a huge clue. They were Hebrew Christians. Jews who had become believers – who had put their faith in the long-awaited Messiah that had been promised throughout the Older Testament – Jesus.

A few other things that grabbed my attention:

“God spoke” (v.1) – The Hebrews had been used to hearing God speak through the prophets but after Malachi He was silent for 400 years. Just imagine what that would have been like for a people used to hearing God’s voice. But then… God spoke loud and clear and compellingly through the voice of His incarnate Word when Jesus appeared at the beginning of the 1st century. And He still speaks loud and clear and compellingly through the voice of His written Word… the Scriptures. The author is adamant throughout this book that we “not refuse Him who is speaking.” (Hebrews 12:25) Many people live today as if God is silent. I do not want to be one of those people.

“Much Superior to Angels” (v.4) – The author begins building his case as to why Jesus is much superior and “more excellent” (v.4)  than anything. He spends half a chapter here documenting why this is true regarding angels. Why does he pick on angels? Well, it turns out that there had developed during the last centuries of the B.C. era a fascination of and a worship for angels. This is what happens when people do not listen to or hear God’s Word. They supplant worship for the one true God with whatever suits their fascination. It is called idol worship. Anything that takes the rightful place of God is idolatry. In the Hebrews case it was angels. But what about in our case? Where does our fascination lie? What are our cultural idols? Money. Sports. Food. Fame. Sex. These are a few that get a lot of votes in our day. What is it that is very alluring to you that you have to fight against lest it take the place of God in your life?

The author of Hebrews wants us to understand that Jesus is much superior and more excellent than any of these things. And as he will say in the first verse of chapter 2, “we must pay MUCH CLOSER ATTENTION to what we have heard, lest we drift away.” 

So that is my encourage to you as we begin our pondering through Hebrews: Stay in the Word. Read it. Ponder it. Pay attention to it. Obey it.

And may this brick cause you to think about what might be superior to God in your own life and to make a course correction so that you do not slowly drift away.

 

 

 

Pop Pop Epistle #135 – 2020 By The Numbers

Dear Grandkids,

2020 has been one of those years that most people would just like to forget. And in many ways I would agree. But in other ways it has been an awesome year. Yes, a year that has created new challenges but also a year that has created new opportunities. But such is life. Every year will be like this in one way or another. Here is my annual end of the year round up… by the numbers.

0 – I am more than happy to report that I had zero kidney stones this year.

1 – I did however have 1 CAT-Scan – which showed that I DO NOT have any kind of unusual growth in my head. I had to get this checked out because I started having some hearing loss this year in my right ear. So if I ask you to repeat something sometime instead of being annoyed at your aging granddad instead rejoice that I don’t have a brain tumor.

1 – We added one more grandkid to the clan this year thanks to Scott and Mary. Haddon was born back in late February and has been a joyful delight to the family.

2 – I can officially check off a bucket list item. I can now solve both a 2×2 and a 3×3 Rubik’s Cube.

3 – As you are no doubt aware we again held the Reyner Family Disc Golf Invitational over Christmas. One day you will be included in this if you choose to do so. But this year I am proud to announce my 3rd place finish.

4 – To date, there have been 4 members of our family that have tested positive for Covid-19. In all cases, it was a very mild version of the virus. We are hopeful that 2021 will be the year of sayonara to the coronavirus.

9 – Apparently there is this thing called the enneagram that has been around for a long time. I am kind of late to the enneagram party but this year have enjoyed exploring how it works. It is a tool that is used to describe the different personality types that people have and I have found it very useful. I am a Type 9 – which probably explains why I like the Hebrew word “shalom” so much.

15 – Back in October, Nona and I went waterfall chasing and managed to see 15 waterfalls  in the western part of NC. We would love to introduce some of them to you sometime as we enjoyed the pristine beauty of nature in our great state.

18 – Back in March we started zooming with our College Age group from church but started meeting in person (socially distanced as much as possible) in July. We now meet in our church worship center so we have plenty of space to spread out and average about 18 people each Tuesday as we ponder Scripture together.

27 – I have now been serving at Ridgecrest Baptist for 27+ years. I serve with a great staff team led by a great pastor alongside great people seeking to know and follow Jesus.

44 – This is the 44th Pop Pop Epistle of 2020 that I have written. Hopefully I am around long enough to write 1000 of these to youse guys and gals.

36,600 – Back at the beginning of the year I set a goal to do 100 pushups each day. This morning I counted down my final 100 of the year and am pleased to report that I did not miss one.single.day. during the year. This tells me a few things: 1) I was healthy enough to do them every day which is a good thing and 2) a worthy goal is very motivational to me as I seek to pursue health in my advanced years.

4,717,062 – One of my other fitness goals was to keep walking and to minimally get 70,000 steps each week – an average of 10,000 steps per day. As of this writing at 4:43 PM on December 31 I have over 4.7 million steps for the year (a daily average of 12.8k). And for the 4th year in a row I have not missed a week of getting at least 70,000 steps. That works out to 208 straight weeks.

So anytime that you want to call and congratulate me on any of these numbers I would love to hear from you. But just so you know, the number that I love the most, which I did not even mention, is 8 – which represents all of you: Grayson, Bowen, Keller, Miller, Asher, Audrey, Ezra, and Haddon.

Never ever forget that you are very loved!

Pop Pop

Pop Pop Epistle #134 – 40 Years Ago Today

Dear Grandkids,

40 years sure does go by fast!

It was 40 years ago today that I asked Nona to be my wife. That decision made it possible for you to read this. If I had not asked and if she had not said yes then we would not have had 3 awesome kids and you would never have been born.

Here’s how it happened. It was Christmas Day 1980. We were both 22 years old. I had gone to Kernersville, NC to hang out with Nona and her family for the evening. Kernersville is where she grew up and the house was the same house that she had come home from the hospital to. Her mom and dad and one of her sisters were there. At some point in the evening we snuck back to her bedroom to privately exchange Christmas gifts with each other. I told her that I had written a poem for her and I gave it to her and asked her to read it out loud. It was entitled “This Poem Is A Prayer” and went like this:

This poem is a prayer
So as you read you ought to pray.
I thought it best the Lord should hear
These words I have to say.

This poem is a love song
So as you read you ought to sing.
You can praise the Lord our God
Who’s given life to you and me.

This poem is a dream
Which I have waited to come true.
I had been asleep for many years
But awoke when I found you.

This poem is an ending
To the two of us apart
And it culminates a miracle
Which brought love to my heart.

This poem is a beginning
To a never ending life
Where two can live as one
And both can live in Christ.

This poem is an answer
To a prayer prayed long ago
As it brings us both together
To a life we soon shall know.

This poem is a question
Which I cannot let you read
But if you’ll look into my eyes
I’ll ask you…

At this point I got down on one knee and finished the poem by saying “will you marry me.” I told her there was something in the toe of her stocking. She fished it out and found a box with a diamond ring. She looked up at me and answered my question by quoting from Psalm 34:3-4 which says, “O magnify the Lord with me and let us exalt His name together! I sought the Lord and He answered me and delivered me from all my fears.”  She said YES and told me that the Lord had given her a calm assurance about us being together despite some crazy ideas that I had at this point in my life. (Remind me sometime to tell you the story about how I never became a dairy farmer).

So that’s my story as best I remember it. I will end this epistle by saying two things: 1) It has been an awesome 40 years with Nona full of incredible memories and shared ministry, and 2) 40 years sure does go by fast!

Never ever forget that you are very loved!

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