2017: By the Numbers

2017 has been a good year – here are a few significant numbers that help to illustrate this.

6 – This has to be at the top of the list. Linda and I went into 2017 with 3 grandkids and as we leave 2017 behind we now have 6 grandkids. We still find it hard to believe that we are even old enough to be grandparents but we are very blessed by our kids and their kids.

5 – Linda and I were in Poland in August for a mission trip with our church and then stayed over in Europe to take an anniversary cruise around Scandinavia. 5 represents the number of countries we went to that I previously had never been to: Estonia, Russia, Finland, Sweden, and Denmark. This brings my total of countries visited to 47. My Mom built a love for travel into me as a young lad and it is something I still enjoy doing.

4,000,000+ – Just before 2017 started I got a Fitbit and set a goal for the year of 70,000 steps per week (10,000 per day). I am happy to say that I have eclipsed that goal by averaging 11-12,000 steps each day. My Fitbit has been a good motivation tool for me as I try to keep exercising in my older years.

59 – This is a huge number because it represents the fact that I am still alive. 59 years old. Or to say it another way – I am well into my 60th year. I know that by most standards I am an older man now but that does not stop me from still thinking of myself as a young man – and acting that way on many occasions.

24 – This is the number of years that I have served on staff at Ridgecrest Baptist Church in Durham. I serve with an awesome group of other pastors among an awesome family of believers that encourage me as I seek to encourage them. It has been said, “Find a job that you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.” This is how I feel about working at my church.

23 – This year I started a series of blog posts that I call “The Pop Pop Epistles”  – subtitled “Legacy Letters For My Grandkids.” To date I have written 23 of them. It is one way that I am trying to invest in them and leave something behind long after I am with the Lord.

And since I am talking about numbers, here are a great few verses from Numbers 6:24-26 that is my blessing for you as we move into 2018…

Numbers 6

Pop Pop Epistle #23 – About Chanukkah


Dear Grandkids,

Today is the beginning of the eight daylong festival known as Chanukkah. It is probably the best known of the Jewish holidays among the general populace but most people really do not know what it celebrates. Perhaps they know that it generally coincides with the Christmas season. Perhaps they know that it has something to do with a menorah. But most do not know about the history behind the holiday. So here is a quick history lesson.

The holiday of Chanukkah celebrates the events which took place over 2,300 years ago in the land of  Israel. It begins in the reign of Alexander the Great, who conquered Syria, Egypt, and Israel, but allowed the lands under his control to continue observing their own religions.

More than 100 years after Alexander, Antiochus IV (also known as Epiphanes) rose to power in the region. He began to oppress the Jews severely, placing a Hellenistic (non-Jewish) priest in the Temple, massacring Jews, prohibiting the practice of the Jewish religion, and desecrating the Temple by requiring the sacrifice of pigs (a non-kosher animal) on the altar. One of the groups which opposed Antiochus was led by Mattathias the Hasmonean and his son Judah Maccabee (known as “The Hammer”).

This small band of pious Jews led guerrilla warfare against the Syrian army. Antiochus sent thousands of well-armed troops to crush the rebellion, but the Maccabees succeeded in driving the foreigners from their land. According to historical accounts, Jewish fighters entered Jerusalem in December 164 BC. The Holy Temple, the Jewish religious center, was in shambles, defiled and desecrated by foreign soldiers.

The Maccabees cleansed the Temple and re-dedicated it on the 25th day of the Jewish month of Kislev. When it came time to re-light the Menorah (the multi-branched lampstand), they searched the entire Temple, but only one small jar of oil bearing the pure seal of the High Priest could be found. Miraculously, the small jar of oil burned for eight days, until a new supply of oil could be brought. From then on, Jews everywhere have observed a holiday for eight days in honor of this historic victory and the miracle of the oil. For these reasons Chanukkah is also known as The Festival of Lights or The Feast of Dedication.

It was during The Feast of Dedication, as recorded in John 10,  that Jesus made one of the most audacious claims ever. In response to the question, “If you are the Christ, tell us plainly”, that Jesus boldly proclaimed Himself not just to be the long awaited Christ but to be one with the Father. As a result the Jews tried to stone Him for blasphemy.

So either He was blasphemous or He was not. Either He was indeed the Christ that the Jews had been waiting for or He was not. Either He was God in the flesh or He was not. Either He is The Light of the World or He is not. I have staked my life on the fact that He is – for some very good reasons which we can talk about as you grow up. But my prayer is that you will do the same and then every Chanukkah will be a reminder that a great Light shines in the darkness and brings salvation to those who embrace Him as Christ the Messiah.

Never ever forget that you are very loved!

Pop Pop

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Pop Pop Epistle #22 – About Pearl Harbor


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)


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


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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