Pop Pop Epistle #61 – About Obedience

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Dear Grandkids,

Because (the Lord) wants us to flourish He restricts us in order to truly free us.

I came across this quote this morning as I was reading a little book called Before You Open Your Bible by Matt Smethurst. It is a book well worth your time to read – and it is very short.

He is talking about the subject of obedience. Even at your age I know that you struggle with obeying what your parents tell you to do. Sometimes it is easy to obey. Sometimes not so easy. This will be true for your entire lives. Especially when it comes to obeying what God tells us to do – and not to do. I want you to understand early on in your life that God’s commandments are there for a very good reason….

Because (the Lord) wants us to flourish He restricts us in order to truly free us.

Here is an illustration that Smethurst shares that I think will be helpful:

Fish are made for the water and birds for the air, right? Now imagine a fish who decides he’s tired of being restricted to the water. He wants to be free, to experience the joy of life on land. So he manages to flop around and “free” himself onto dry land – which turns out to be a death sentence. Why? He was only designed for water not for air. Conversely, imagine a seagull growing jealous of the freedom he witnesses in the ocean below. I’m sick of being confined to the air, he thinks. I want to be truly free. So he plunges in – and perishes. Why? He was only designed for air, not water.

In a similar way, just as the fish was built for the water and the bird for air, so you were built for God- and you will not find true life and freedom anywhere else.

It will always be in YOUR BEST INTEREST to choose obedience – because the Lord wants you to flourish!

And so do I!

Never forget that you are very loved!

Pop Pop

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Pop Pop Epistle #60 – About May the 9th

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Dear Grandkids,

It was just a little more than a year ago that I did a similar “May” post for May the 5th.  I just might make this an annual tradition. We shall see. Here are some of my “May the 9th” benedictory prayers for you…

May the 9th verse of Romans 10 be the starting point for for your life as you build a foundation that will carry you through the adventures that lie ahead…

9  If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

May the 9th verse of 2 Corinthians 12 be a regular reminder that your dependence is to be upon the Lord and that you will need to fight daily the temptation to take control of your life from Him after you have reached a point of surrender…

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

May the 9th verse of Galatians 6 encourage you when life becomes exhausting and when you wonder if living for Jesus is really worth it…

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.

May the 9th verse of 1 Peter 2 stir you to declare the “excellencies” of our awesome God  as you are reminded of who you are and what He has done for you.

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

May the 9th verse of 1 John 1 admonish you when you turn away from the One who has justified us, who is sanctifying us, and who will glorify us.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

And may the 9th verse of Colossians 1 remind you of one the prayers that your Nona and Pop Pop pray for you each night as we get ready to turn out the light at the end of the day…

And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;

Never ever forget that you are very loved!

Pop Pop

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Pop Pop Epistle #59 – Happy Birthday Miller

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Dear Miller,

There has been a lot of craziness this past week so I apologize for being a few days late with this Pop Pop post. But it was fun to be able to celebrate your birthday with you on Saturday and have you hang out with us last week.

Two years old is an awesome age to be. So much to learn. So much to discover. So many adventures in your future. Your mom recently posted a video of you and your brothers that was incredible. The closing shot was of you riding down the street on your gator as if you are off to explore the world. The video perfectly captured a lesson I hope you always remember. Everything is sacred when you take time to notice. Big love happens in the small moments. We just have to be on the look out for those small mundane moments or else we are liable to overlook them.

The American painter Andrew Wyeth once said…

Most artists look for something fresh to paint, frankly I find that quite boring. For me it is much more exciting to find fresh meaning in something familiar.

As you continue to grow up, ask the Lord to “open the eyes of your heart” every day to see people in a fresh way. To see circumstances in a fresh way. To see Scripture in a fresh way. To see nature in a fresh way. To see the gospel in a fresh way.

May the Lord give you eyes to see and a heart to understand and a mind to comprehend just how awesome God’s creation is and to find joy in knowing that you were put on this earth to help others discover the freshness of the love of God and the beauty of the gospel.

Never forget that you are very loved!

Pop Pop

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Pop Pop Epistle #58 -About The Masters and Amen Corner

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Dear Grandkids,

(8 years ago – soon after I started blogging – I wrote a similar post which I have updated and amended. None of you were born at that time)

Screen Shot 2019-04-15 at 1.50.48 PMYou may not know it yet but you will soon learn that I LOVE THE MASTERS. This year I got to show off the course and my love for the tournament to Scott, Mary, and Chad for Friday’s 2nd round.

I have realized that The Masters, and Amen Corner in particular, provides the perfect metaphor for my life. Let me explain….

I’ll start at #1. Standing on the first tee. Not knowing what to expect. I am full of hope that this could be one of the greatest rounds of my life. Such a thrill to even be able to stand there. But also very scary. Knowing that this is where the greats of golf have stood. Having seen for myself the pitfalls that lie ahead. Having seen people conquer the course and and be counted among the legends of Master’s history and having seen shipwrecks take place – also taking their place in Master’s history. What will this round hold for me?

What will this life hold for me?

So I have a choice from the get go. Do I play on knowing that it very well might not be pretty, but also knowing that there might be some great moments along the way, some memories to be made? Or do I say, “There’s no way I could ever play like those guys on TV so why even play at all.”

I choose to play! Just like I choose to live and try to conquer all the ups and downs of life. Expecting that life will at times be painful, but also enjoying the indescribable thrill of playing the game and waiting for that one shot, that one moment, that will energize me and keep me going. I endure the mundane so that I can enjoy the magnificent!

On to Amen Corner – which is the phrase coined to designate holes 11, 12, and 13 -because when you are finished playing them you breathe a prayer of relief.

First, hole #11. One of the hardest holes on the course. It demands that you start well if you want to finish well. It calls for courage and finesse and creativity. This is where Larry Mize broke Greg Norman’s heart in 1987 with an improbably 140 foot chip in from off the green to win the green jacket. The thrill of victory! The agony of the defeat! It is said that The Masters does not really even begin until the back nine of Sunday’s round. You have to survive 10, 11, and 12 to get to the 13, 14, and 15.

Life. Sometimes it is about surviving. And at times when we are just trying to stay alive… we thrive. I have found that it is often when I am in survival mode that God teaches me the most. He sharpens me. He shapes me. He prepares me to deal with the tough times of life and equips me to handle with humility the good times of life. But sometimes in life when things are tough… they just get tougher.

On to #12!

So here I am, standing on the tee box of one of the greatest golf holes in the world – #12 at Augusta National. It has been called the “hardest par 3 in the game of golf”. This is for several reasons…

1) The target is small and runs from east to west not north to south – which means that I must choose the right club if I have any chance of getting it on the green.

2) The swirling winds – The wind might be doing one thing on the tee box, but something completely different on the green. You just never know – and it could change between the time you hit the ball and the time that it lands back on planet earth. You just never know.

3) The crowds that are watching – everyone knows that if you are in the hunt on Sunday at the Masters that this little hole could very well define who wins and who loses. Everyone is watching. Everyone is holding their breath. Everyone is waiting to see how you will determine your destiny. You may not win the tournament on this one hole – but you could very well lose it.

4) The emotions created by the drama of the moment – I can only imagine how nervous I would be. Golf is a head game. You have to be able to control your emotions. You can’t think too much. You have to trust your swing and your game what “brung you” to this point.

A little history. In 1980 this is where Tom Weiskopf put 5 balls in the water and made a 13 in the first round. In 1992 this is where Fred Couples made a miraculous par after his ball semi-plugged into the bank above Rae’s Creek. This is where Tom Watson double bogeyed in 1991 costing him the tournament and losing to Ian Woosnam. In 1997, Tiger Woods came to the hole  with a ten-shot cushion. Despite his commanding lead, Woods couldn’t help but smile and then exhale once his tee shot found the green. This is where the pendulum swung in Tiger’s favor this year as Francesco Molinari put one in the drink and vaulted Tiger into a tie for the lead.

It is thrilling… yet scary! Beautiful… yet intimidating! Daunting… yet dangerous!

But this is life. It is thrilling. But it can be hard. It is scary but it can be fun. It is beautiful but it can turn ugly. But it is times like this when I feel most alive. It is times like this when memories are being made, when stories are being written. Mark Batterson said in one of his books a quote I have never forgotten, “We ought to live the kind of life that is worth telling stories about.” I like that. I like that a lot!

On to #13.

It is a hole where you can come away with eagle. but it is just as easy to come away with double bogey. It is a startlingly beautiful hole. The hundreds of azalea bushes providing a gorgeous backdrop to the perils that lurk just one shot away. In 2010 this is where Phil Mickelson took control of the tournament with his bold 2nd shot out of the pine straw, under the trees, over the creek, onto the green. It was a ridiculously amazing shot that captured in one moment what this hole is all about. Risk and Reward! In 1985, Curtis Strange came to #13 with a 3 stroke lead, went for the green with a 4-wood, hit into Rae’s Creek and wound up making bogey on his way to a back-nine collapse. He never won The Masters. Risk and Reward!

But isn’t that what makes life worth living. You can sit in the stands or you can play the game. If you choose to sit you can expect to experience life vicariously. But if you choose to play you can expect ups and downs, thrills and disappointments, joy and pain. But at the very least you will have some great stories to tell along the way.

Screen Shot 2019-04-15 at 2.11.37 PMThis year’s tournament was epic. Never to be forgotten. I could hear the Tiger roar way up here in North Carolina. You will watch people play 20 years from now who watched this year’s Masters and decided that golf was the game they wanted to pursue.

For me, The Masters is indeed a great metaphor for life. And it reminds me why the game of golf is such a great game – but even more importantly, why God created me to live a life of purposeful adventure. And why He did the same for you. I’m looking forward to watching your adventures play out over the years and hope to be a part of many of them.

Never forget that you are very loved!

Pop Pop

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Pop Pop Epistle #57 – About April Fool’s Day

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Dear Grandkids,

Today is what is known as April Fool’s Day.

Supposedly back around the year 1700 a bunch of pranksters in England began playing practical jokes on one another. Somehow it became a tradition and on April 1 of every year you can usually expect to hear about somebody being fooled by a really good practical joke. Sometimes these jokes are funny. Sometimes, not so much.

Most people don’t really like to be the butt of another person’s joke. And nobody likes to be considered a fool. And yet, according to God’s Word there are a lot of foolish people out there. Check out these verses:

“The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, But a wise man is he who listens to counsel.” (Proverbs 12:15)

“The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God .” ” (Psalm 14:1)

“He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, But he who walks wisely will be delivered.” (Proverbs 28:26)

Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. (Ephesians 5:15-17)

One of my favorite quotes is by a man names Jim Elliot. Elliot was martyred in 1956 by the Auca Indians in Ecuador along with 4 of his friends as they sought to take the gospel to this unreached people group. He was 28 years old. He had written in his journal during his college days the following words:

“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”

Ponder these words. Ask your mom and dad what they mean. When you get older talk about this quote with your friends and read the story of Jim Elliot’s life.

Put these words into practice and you will be nobody’s fool.

And never forget that you are very loved!

Pop Pop

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Pop Pop Epistle #56 – Welcome Ezra Louise Reyner

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Dear Grandkids,

#7 has been added to your number. The boys had what seemed like an insurmountable lead (4-0) a few years ago but the girls are now quickly catching up (4-3). Here are the stats on the newest in the clan:

Screen Shot 2019-03-25 at 1.53.40 PMEzra Louise Reyner
Parents: Tucker and Danielle Reyner
Sister: Asher Elizabeth
Born: 11:45 PM on March 23
9 lbs, 3 oz, 21 inches

And here is my prayer for the newest of the grandkids:

Father,

You are the blessed God and, yet again, I find myself the recipient of your great blessings. Thank you for the gift of this little girl. Thank you for bringing her into this world safely and guarding her life and the life of her mom during delivery. And thank you for choosing her to be a part of our family.

I anticipate that You will use her life to do great and awesome things. My prayer is that You will order her steps in the days to come so that her heart is drawn to Jesus as the One who will be her joy and her salvation. I pray that she will grasp early on in her life just how high and long and wide and deep is the love of Christ and to know this love that surpasses all understanding. And as she is rooted in the love of Christ, may she have a deep abiding sense of your presence and peace as she grows up.

And even as her name suggests, I pray that she will never forget that “The Lord is my helper.” Would You work mightily in her life to help her know that her sufficiency is in Christ and what He has done on her behalf rather than in herself. Would You help her to delight in Your Word. Would You help her to love Your  bride the Church. And would you help her to esteem eternal things over the the things of this world.

And then as she grows in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ would You use her to be a magnanimous helper for the sake of the kingdom of God. Would You equip her for Your kingdom purposes and enable her to find gladness in serving the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Thank You for giving this little girl Tucker and Danielle for a mom and dad and Asher as a big sister. Would You knit them together as a family and build a legacy of love through them in the years to come.

You O Lord are indeed worthy to be praised. May Your great Name be exalted.

Amen!

Never forget that you are very loved!

Pop Pop

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Pop Pop Epistle #55 – My Little Darling Christy

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Dear Grandkids,

Today we celebrate a birthday! Your Mom (G and B and M) and Aunt (K and A and A) was born 33 years ago today. Which means that she is 33 on 3/3. I have written each of you a letter when you were born but when Christy and her brothers were born I wrote them poems.

I thought that today I would share with you the poem that I wrote for her 2 days after she was born.

My Little Darling Christy

My little darling Christy –
How much I love you so!
As you grow up and older
I hope you’ll always know
That you are very special
And your father’s heart is full
Of love and deep emotions
That are uncontrollable.
Your little life is precious
As your life will always be,
And though I’m sometimes blind
Your Father’s heart can see
The precious love you have to offer,
The priceless gift you have to give,
The wondrous hope you have within you,
The wondrous life you have to live.
You’ll always be my child
And even when I am not near
You’ll still be in my heart –
And your Father’s ears will hear
The whispers from your lips,
The prayers that you will pray,
The cries that you will cry,
The words that you will say.
My little darling Christy –
My heart is full of love
But even it cannot compare
To your Father’s love above.

You know her as an amazing mom and aunt. But before she was this she was my beautiful, tender-hearted, precious daughter. You are very blessed to have her in your life – as is everyone that knows her. And by the way…

I still call her darling.

Never forget that you are very loved!

Pop Pop

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Pop Pop Epistle #54 – About Galatians 2:20

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Dear Grandkids,

I noticed this morning when I looked at my Fitbit that today is February 20. Or to say it another way – today is 2/20. When I saw the date it made me think of one of the most awesome verses in Scripture… Galatians 2:20.

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There is a context to this verse in Galatians 2  that really makes it stand out as incredible but even as a stand alone verse it is stunning – as well as audacious. If I had one verse in Scripture that I wanted you to memorize and ponder and thoroughly grasp what it says this might very well be it.

Here are some questions that this verse provokes me to keep asking – questions that I hope you will take the time to ponder:

  • Has my old sinful nature indeed been put to death (crucified)? If not, what is keeping that from happening?
  • Is it evident that Christ is alive in me?
  • In what ways does my life (and my lifestyle) demonstrate that I am living by faith?
  • Do I daily treasure the fact that Christ loved me so much that He gave Himself for me? Do I thoroughly grasp the depths of the love of Christ for me?
  • How do I display my gratitude to Him for rescuing me?

This is a verse that is worth coming back to again and again… and again. May the Lord use these 45 words to fuel you to live a Christ saturated life and to spur you on love Jesus more.

Never forget that you are very loved!

Pop Pop

Gkids2018

Pop Pop Epistle #53 – February 14, 1996 Revisited

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Dear Grandkids,

Let me tell you my best Valentine’s story.

Way back in 1996 when your parents were 9 (Christy), 8 (Scott), and 5 (Tucker) a friend of mine and I went to a Promise Keepers Clergy Conference that was from February 13-15. Yes indeed, it was scheduled over Valentine’s Day. Yes indeed it was put on by an organization that strongly promoted men leading their wives and families. And yes indeed I made the choice to go and be away from my wife on purportedly the most romantic day of the year. Probably not the best decision I ever made but I didn’t do a  bad job of redeeming that decision – if I do say so myself.

Here’s what happened…

Greg and I felt so bad about being away from our wives that we decided NOT to be away from our wives. We arranged for our wives to spend V-Day with us – without them knowing it ahead of time.

On the morning of the 14th I called Nona from Atlanta and wished her a Happy Valentine’s Day and told her to look in a drawer of my dresser after we got off the phone. There was a letter that explained the following:

  • Her mom, your great grandmother, would be showing up at the house soon to look after the kids. She would get them from school  and take care of them that night and the next day. She didn’t have to worry about anything – everything was arranged for her to be gone.
  • There was an airline ticket for a flight that left RDU early afternoon.
  • She was to pack a bag for a one night romantic adventure and join me in Hotlanta.
  • I would meet her at the airport

She followed my instructions perfectly. I met her at the airport – along with Greg’s wife who was enjoying the same surprise – and we had an an awesome evening together including a romantic candlelight supper, a stroll through Underground Atlanta, and various other romantic kinds of things.  It was a Valentine’s memory that has gotten a lot of mileage through the years and one that we will never forget.

My guess is that one day each of you will be married. My encouragement to you is to look for ways to build memories that will last a lifetime with the one that you love. Those memories will help to anchor your relationship and will give you some fun stories to tell when your grandkids ask you to tell them stories about when their parents were kids.

Never forget that you are very loved!

Gkids2018

Pop Pop Epistle #52 – About Satisfying Our Thirst

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Dear Grandkids,

I probably preach about 2-3 times per year at my church. Last Sunday I preached a message from John 7:37-39:

37 On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” 39 Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive….

My main point was that Jesus is the Fountain of Life and is sufficient to satisfy our deepest thirsts. It was a fun message to preach because I got to talk about the background of what Jesus said – which was the Feast of Tabernacles. So I delved into some of the Jewishness of my faith which is always interesting to me.

screen shot 2019-01-26 at 8.30.13 amBut I didn’t have time to share everything that I wanted to share. Those 3 verses are so full and rich that they pretty much preached themselves. One of the things that did not make it into the morning message was a little story that I found from C.S. Lewis’ book The Silver Chair, which is book 4 in his Chronicles of Narnia series. Here is the story about Jill and her thirst – you will easily see how I could have used it in my message if I had more time…

The birds had ceased singing and there was perfect silence except for one small, persistent sound, which seemed to come from a good distance away. She listened carefully, and felt almost sure it was the sound of running water.

Jill got up and looked round her very carefully. There was no sign of the lion; but there were so many trees about that it might easily be quite close without her seeing it. . . . But her thirst was very bad now, and she plucked up her courage to go and look for that running water. . . .

The wood was so still that it was not difficult to decide where the sound was coming from. It grew clearer every moment and, sooner than she expected, she came to an open glade and saw the stream, bright as glass, running across the turf a stone’s throw away from her. But although the sight of water made her feel ten times thirstier than before, she didn’t rush forward to drink. She stood as still as if she had been turned to stone, with her mouth wide open. And she had a very good reason: Just on this side of the stream lay the Lion. . . .

How long this lasted, she could not be sure; it seemed like hours. And the thirst became so bad that she almost felt she would not mind being eaten by the lion if only she could be sure of getting a mouthful of water first.

“If you’re thirsty, you may drink.” . . .

For a second she stared here and there, wondering who had spoken. Then the voice said again,

“If you are thirsty, come and drink.” . . .

It was deeper, wilder, and stronger; a sort of heavy, golden voice. . . .

“Are you thirsty?” said the Lion.

“I’m dying of thirst,” said Jill.

“Then drink,” said the Lion.

“May I — could I — would you mind going away while I do?” said Jill.

The Lion answered this only by a look and a very low growl. . . . The delicious rippling noise of the stream was driving her nearly frantic. . . .

“Do you eat girls?” she asked fearfully.

“I have swallowed up girls and boys, women and men, kings and emperors, cities and realms,” said the Lion. It didn’t say this as if it were boasting, nor as if it were sorry, nor as if it were angry. It just said it.

“I daren’t come and drink,” said Jill.

“Then you will die of thirst,” said the Lion.

“Oh dear!” said Jill, coming another step nearer. “I suppose I must go and look for another stream then.”

“There is no other stream,” said the Lion.

My hope is that you will always look to Jesus to satisfy the desires of your heart. There are lots of other places you could look to try to quench your soul’s thirst but you will ultimately be disappointed unless you respond to Jesus’ invitation to “Come to Me and drink.”

Never forget that you are very loved!

Gkids2018

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