“We must value what God values, and God values people”
As we begin this year’s pondering project, here are a few tips that may be helpful. We will be tackling one chapter from Paul’s epistles each week. This will seem like a lot because there will be so much to ponder. Read each chapter several times at the beginning of the week. Use the Pondering Questions toward the middle of the week if they are helpful. Journal your thoughts at the end of the week for your own benefit but feel free to post them here for the benefit of others. Also feel free to post your own questions that emerge from the text. Here are the questions I came up with for Galatians 1. Keep in mind that these are designed both to make you think about the passage and to facilitate conversations with others. You might even find a friend to ponder these chapters with – I suspect you will have some stimulating, non superficial conversations
v1 – What qualifies someone to be an apostle?
Does God still send people to specific people or places? Have you ever had a sense of “sentness”?
v2 – Where is present day Galatia?
v6 – Describe how you were “called”?
What is the gospel?
v7 – How was the gospel being perverted among the Galatians? How is it being perverted today?
v10 – In what ways do you try to win man’s approval? God’s approval?
On a scale of 1-10, to what degree are you a people pleaser? How does being a people pleaser disable you from serving Christ? What can you do to fight this sin of people pleasing?
v12 – Do revelation experiences still happen today? If so, in what way? Have you experienced one? If so, describe.
v13 – Describe your life prior to your conversion?
v15 – What does Paul mean by “set apart from birth”? Does God choose us for salvation or do we choose to believe and be saved?
v17 – What is the value and significance of what Paul did here?
v18 – What do you suppose these conversations between Peter and Paul were like? Are you having “gospel conversations” with people away from the boundaries of the church?
1. For those of you who enjoy pondering along with me – I will be pondering through Paul’s epistles from Galatians – Philemon. We will take 1 chapter each week. On Monday or Tuesday I will post some questions that you might want to ponder during the week as you think on the chapter. Then the following Monday or Tuesday I will post some of my comments on a few of the questions and then give the questions for the next chapter. Our Connect Group at church will also be pondering each chapter together so if you are not involved in a small group we would love to have you join us on Sunday mornings at 9:30 AM.
2. I will continue to post a “Quotes Worth Pondering” each Wednesday. This year the quotes will come from books that I am being nourished by. Since I am a slow reader you may get several weeks in a row from the same author.
3. I also hope to have some random posts about stuff that is happening in the news. I want to become a better student of our culture and this will be one way that will make me think critically about current events.
4. And lastly, you will continue to see some posts that detail things going on with my family. This blog has become a good way for me to chronicle our journey through this life that we are blessed to live.
I have no idea what the Lord has in store for me in 2015 but my prayer is that I will joyfully rest in His sovereignty, grow in His boundless grace, and display His infinite glory through these writings and in my life and ministry.
(written by guest blogger Linda Reyner)
Grateful! What a great year we have experienced as we have watched major transitions for each of our children.
Chad & Christy: In May, as the possibility for church planting did not work out, the church where Chad was doing his internship offered him a position on staff. He now serves Crosspoint Community Church in Clemson, SC as the Discipleship and Missions pastor. They bought their first house in June and moved in August. They are also expecting our second grandson in January!! Grateful they are only about 5 hours away at this point!
Scott & Mary: They became engaged in July and were married on November 23! We had a wonderful weekend celebrating them and what the Lord has done! Thankful Shay has been able to marry all 3 of our kids! Scott is teaching 7th grade math and working part-time in the kid’s ministry of Summit Church. Mary is an Occupational Therapist at Duke Regional Hospital and they are living in downtown Durham! Grateful they are close by! #emptynestersagain
Tucker & Danielle: Last spring they decided to move to Wilmington to be part of a new church plant. They moved in June, found jobs in July and August (yes, that stretched this mom’s faith!), and are settled in now. Tucker just finished his 3rd semester at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary – he is taking most of his classes online while working in a coffee shop in Wilmington. Danielle is working in a doctor’s office and they are involved with The Bridge Church. Grateful they have jobs!
John expresses my heart exactly: (3 John 4) I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. With so many comments about pastor’s kids, we are grateful that all of our kids and their spouses are walking with the Lord and serving him through the local church. Shay was asked recently what will have made him happy when he is 80 – and quickly his answer was having left a legacy. #Hegetstheglory #GRATEFUL #blessedbyall6ofthem
This was a memorable year for Shay and I also. Shay has now been in ministry for about 31 years out of our 33 years of marriage. He got his first sabbatical this past summer!!! GRATEFUL!!! We have actually been talking and planning this for several years. We left in June and traveled Italy for 3 weeks and Switzerland for 1 week. We came home and left 5 days later for a family week at Sunset Beach (with my sisters and their families too)– clearly needed a vacation to recover from the vacation! So many memories (ask me about the Matterhorn and the lessons I learned on top of the mountain!) –such an amazing trip. We met friends in 3 cities, Shay’s wallet was stolen on day 1, and we walked and ate A LOT! Would I go back or do it again – ABSOLUTELY! Before we were married, Shay promised to take me to Zermatt, Switzerland – one of his most favorite places. It just took 34 years for him to keep that promise – and through the rain of those days and the mountain-top encounter with the Lord it has become one of my favorites too (and one of the most amazing pastries I have ever eaten, maybe worth a trip back just to get one of those ) #ifitrainsinZermattteatpastries (really GRATEFUL Shay’s kidney stone attack came after we returned – he had surgery in August and is doing well now!)
GRAYSON: Can’t even begin to describe the joy he is. Yes, grandparents are really obnoxious and I didn’t understand that until he was born. He just turned 2 and is a delight. He fills our hearts and lives with so many things we didn’t even realize we were missing. Anticipating #2 in January and all he will add to our lives. #loveeveryminutewithhim
Shay and I continue with our same positions: Shay is Discipleship Pastor and I am a middle school counselor. Grateful for our jobs and the place the Lord has us right now.
Grateful most of all that in the 1970’s the Lord called us both from darkness into His light and allows us to be called His children. We celebrate Him this season and each day.
Linda and Shay
“The Lord did not come to make a display. He came to heal and to teach suffering men. For one who wanted to make a display the thing would have been just to appear and dazzle the beholders. But for Him Who came to heal and to teach the way was not merely to dwell here, but to put Himself at the disposal of those who needed Him, and to be manifested according as they could bear it, not vitiating the value of the Divine appearing by exceeding their capacity to receive it.”
“When we begin to glimpse the reality of God, the natural reaction is to worship him. Not to have that reaction is a fairly sure sign that we haven’t yet really understood who he is or what he’s done.”
“When we learn to read the story of Jesus and see it as the story of the love of God, doing for us what we could not do for ourselves–that insight produces, again and again, a sense of astonished gratitude which is very near the heart of authentic Christian experience.”
I was recently asked the question, “When you are 80 years old, looking back on your life, what will have made you happy?” I did not have to think long about the answer. Soon after Linda and I got married (33+ years ago) we began praying that God would develop a spiritual legacy through our family. I am a first generation believer so this would be something new to my side of the family. Over the next 10 years we had 3 kids. We tried to model for them what it meant to walk with Christ and what a godly marriage looked like. At times we did well, at other times not so much. But by the grace of God by the time they were 10 each of them had professed faith in Christ and were learning what it meant to follow Him. We watched with awe and joy as they went through their high school and college days – making wise friendship choices, involving themselves in missions, eagerly participating in church, and developing hearts that yearned to know God. I use the word “awe” because we had very little to do with it – it was definitely a work of God in their lives.
None of our kids dated much. Somehow they had got it in their heads that dating was a waste of time unless it was a serious relationship that could result in marriage. Christy hung out with a group of friends (guys and girls) in high school, fell in love with one of them and married him (Chad) 6 years later. Tucker met a girl as a junior in college on a local missions project, knew pretty quickly that she was “the one” and married her (Danielle) a few weeks after graduation. Scott met a young woman while serving in the Kid’s Ministry at his church, told us within a few weeks that he “had met someone”, and married her (Mary) 17 months later – just a few weeks ago on November 23. I refer to that day as the day Scott got “Mary”d.
It has been my great pleasure as a Dad and as a pastor to officiate the weddings of each of my kids. At all of the weddings that I do I will give a short message (perhaps 7 minutes) to charge the couple with some thoughts from Scripture about marriage. Here is what I said to Scott and Mary:
Here are 3 gospel-centered phrases and a few comments that I hope you will never forget…
1) The Importance of the Incarnation – Incarnation means “in the flesh.” One of the great truths of our faith is that Jesus is God in the flesh. In the person of Jesus we are able to see forgiveness being offered, compassion being demonstrated, love being lived out, patience being practiced, and grace in action. As husband and wife, you are to incarnate, to flesh out, both to each other and to those around you these same virtues because Christ lives in you and is on display through you and your marriage. Together you have the opportunity to manifest the gospel in a way that you could never do were you not married.
2) The Mystery of the Trinity – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Three distinct persons – one God. It sounds crazy to those who are outside the faith but to those of us who are believers it is a mystery that we joyfully embrace. I say joyfully because the Trinity affirms for us that our faith is about relationships, not about rules or religion. And then Scripture tells us in Genesis 2:24 that when it comes to marriage, husband and wife, 2 distinct people, will become one flesh. 1 + 1 = 1. An incredible mystery. A powerful mystery. A beautiful mystery. And an awesome miracle. Like hydrogen and oxygen coming together to form life sustaining, thirst quenching water – each of you are independent and dynamic and valuable – but together, you become a supernatural work of God. An extraordinary work of the Father. But this will only be true so long as the Lord remains the all sufficient, supreme Sovereign in each of your lives.
3) The Centrality of the Cross – The cross stands as the preeminent symbol of our faith and there is a lot that we could talk about regarding the cross and how it relates to marriage but I want to mention just one. Ephesians 5 talks about the sacrificial love that Christ demonstrated for His bride, the Church. The Apostle Paul admonishes husbands to love their wives in this same way. Essentially, Scott, Paul is saying that it is up to you to lead your wife by sacrificially loving her – by demonstrating day in and day out that you will do whatever it takes to present her to God as a radiant bride, wonderfully sanctified. This is the power of your love for her. And let me tell you a secret – when a wife knows this kind of love, when she knows that her husband is willing to put her needs, hopes, desires, and dreams before his own, then you have a wife who will respond in the same way – unselfishly seeking to meet his needs and make his hopes come true. And if you will sacrificially love one another this way then you have a marriage that most couples can only dream about. But it starts by remembering the sacrificial love that was demonstrated for you when Christ went to the cross on your behalf.
These are words that I need to be regularly reminded of as well.
We are very excited to have Mary as a part of our family. God has provided godly spouses for each of our kids so we are eagerly watching the legacy grow. The 3rd generation of the legacy is currently in growth mode. Grayson (Christy and Chad’s son) is now 2 years old and they are expecting another baby boy in mid January. Linda and I consider ourselves to be incredibly blessed in so many different ways and are very much looking forward to see how God uses our family in the generations to come to bless the nations.
“Heavenly Father, we come before you today to ask your forgiveness and to seek your direction and guidance. We know Your Word says, ‘Woe to those who call evil good,’ but that is exactly what we have done. We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and reversed our values. We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery. We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare. We have killed our unborn and called it choice. We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable. We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building self esteem. We have abused power and called it politics. We have coveted our neighbor’s possessions and called it ambition. We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression. We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment. Search us, Oh God, and know our hearts today; cleanse us from every sin and set us free. Amen!”