Pop Pop Epistle #84 – About Names

Pop Pop Epistles (Main)

Dear Grandkids,

I actually have 4 names that I am called. You know me primarily by one of those names. My other 3 names, besides Pop Pop, are Shay, Dad, and Rabbi. Most people outside of our family call me Shay. This was the name that my parents gave me when I was born.

The backstory to the name is this as I understand it. My Dad’s name was Charles. They named me Charles after him. (It is my legal first name). But they did not want to call me Charles. My Mom loved the French language so she took the first part of Charles and pronounced it in a French way… Chay – which supposedly comes out Shay. But my grandmother looked at Chay and pronounced it in English like it looks (with the CH sound) so they changed the C to an S. Thats my story and I’m sticking to it.

Your parents all called me Dad. In the fullness of time when I needed a granddad name I decided to go with the name that my grandfather (on my Dad’s side) used – which is why you call me Pop Pop.

It is pretty much around our church that I am known as Rabbi. This is because of my Jewish lineage which I am very proud of. I like the moniker because it keeps me connected to my ancestral roots and distinguishes me from the other pastors on our staff.

Did you know that God also has many different names in Scripture? You are probably most familiar with Father, or Lord, or Jesus. But He is called other names depending on specific roles that He played in people’s lives.

Here are 4 that I really like…

He is called El Shaddai by Abraham in Genesis 17. The name means God Almighty or God the Mighty One. It signifies His strength and power which Abraham experienced when he became a father  and Sarah became a mother in their very old age. When I need God to work in a powerful way I often address Him as El Shaddai.

He is called Jehovah Jireh in Genesis 22 when Abraham was preparing to sacrifice his son Isaac and God instead provided a ram as a substitute sacrifice. The name means God our Provider. I will address Him as Jehovah Jireh when I am asking God to provide in some way for my needs or the needs of others.

He is called Jehovah Shalom by Gideon in Judges 6 meaning the The Lord is our Peace. Gideon needed the peace of God when the Lord called him to do something he was crazy scared to do. I will often address the Lord as Jehovah Shalom when I an feeling anxious and am in need of His “peace which surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7).

Isaiah 7:14 prophesies that “the virgin shall conceive and bear a son and shall call his name Immanuel“. Matthew 1:22-23 sees the birth of Jesus as fulfillment of this prophesy. Immanuel means God with us. The name Immanuel is a great reminder that no matter what we have to deal with in this world, God will always be with us.

Now that you know a little more about my names and about some of God’s names you might want to ask your folks about your names – and how you happened to get named the name that you did.

Never forget that you are very loved!

Pop Pop

Pop Pop Epistle #83 – About Traveling

Pop Pop Epistles (Main)

Dear Grandkids,

 My Mom (you know her as Bett) instilled within me a love for traveling starting when I was just a little older than you are now. At present, I have had the privilege of traveling to 46 different countries. A lot of them have been for pleasure. And a lot of them have been for short term mission trips. Nona and I love seeing the world that the Lord has created and our hope is to do some traveling with you as you grow up.  At the bottom of this post you can see a map of everywhere I have traveled to date. And as you can see there is still a lot of world left to see.

Here is an idea of some of my favorite places and how I ended up there.

Switzerland – I went to a summer camp there when I was in high school and also spent a week there in 2014 with Nona when we were on a sabbatical. It is difficult to use words to describe just how gloriously gorgeous the Swiss Alps are.

Italy – Nona and I spent 3 weeks there when we were on that sabbatical. A beautiful country with so much history and incredible food.

Palau – Way back in 1991, I helped lead a mission team to this little island in the middle of the South Pacific. We spent 2 weeks there doing ministry but also got to enjoy the beauty of the island.

Haiti – In 1999, I began taking teams from our church to this country in the Caribbean. It has a beauty all its own – found largely in the people we have gotten to know over the years.

Israel – Nona and I have traveled there twice – both times with our church – and we would certainly go back again. An amazing country in so many ways. It would be a place we would love to take you.

Peru and Botswana – I led mission teams to both of these places. Seeing the wildlife in Botswana and boating down the Amazon River are experiences I will never forget but it was the shared adventure of the mission trip with so many friends that will forever live in my mind.

A few countries on my bucket list that I may or may not ever get to include: Croatia, New Zealand, Japan, China, and Thailand. Perhaps I will experience one of these countries for the first time with you. Mostly, I hope you learn to love traveling as much as I do. Here are a few things that traveling will teach you…

  • Traveling helps you understand that the world is not as big and scary as it is sometimes made to seem.
  • Traveling helps you recognize that people are not so different even if they live in very different places in the world.
  • Traveling abroad forces you out of your comfort zone and helps you to embrace uncertainty.
  • Traveling helps you realize just how little history our country really has.
  • Traveling helps you realize just how great our country really is.
  • Traveling helps to remind you that there is no place like home.

I’m looking forward to our adventures together.

Never forget that you are very loved!

Pop Pop

Pop Pop Epistle #82 – Happy Birthday Grayson

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Dear Grayson,

Happy Birthday #7.

Maybe you know this. Maybe you don’t. But I pray specifically for you every week. Nona image1 (1)and I pray for all of you grandkids generally but Monday is my day to pray specifically for you.

I thought I might share with you some of the prayers that I pray for you. The Apostle Paul had a habit of telling his friends just how he was praying for them as a way of encouraging their soul. So here are a few ways I pray for you.

I pray that you will be protected from the evil one – This is one of the ways that Jesus prayed for his friends in John 17. The evil one is indeed real and he is a liar and a deceiver and a schemer and he will do all that he can to overthrow the work of the Lord in your life. My prayer is that he will be thwarted and frustrated at every turn.

I pray that you will find your joy and satisfaction in Christ alone – The world that we live in will offer you many counterfeit ways to find and experience happiness. But true joy can only be found by pursuing the One who created you and who loves you more than you can ever imagine. My prayer is that the temptations of this world will look pale and grungy compared to the beauty and majesty of Christ.

I pray that the Lord will use you to be a tremendous influence in the Kingdom of God – The ways that you have been gifted are beginning to surface and it is exciting to watch how the Lord is already using you through your passions. My prayer is that the Lord will equip you in the years to come to be an agent of change that will produce gospel impact in the lives of millions of people.

I pray that the Lord will mature you and develop you into a godly man who abides deeply in Christ – And to that end, my prayer is that you will have a hunger for the Word of God and that your soul will be nourished daily as you fellowship with our Father. And that as you do so, you will grasp, in a way that most people do not, how long and wide and high and deep is the love of Christ for you.

I pray that the Lord will even now be preparing for you a godly young woman who will gladden your heart and be a partner in ministry – whether that is vocational or avocational – Just as we prayed this prayer for our kids beginning when they were young, so I pray it for you. I pray that the Lord will direct your steps and hers toward each other and that she will be a surprise of joy when the day comes that your paths sovereignly cross.

There are other ways that I pray for you but these here will be recurring themes throughout the next 15 years of your life.

Never forget that you are very loved!

Pop Pop

P.S. – I hope you enjoy your pocketknife.


Pop Pop Epistle #81 – About Questions

Dear Grandkids,

Most people will tell you that I like to ask questions. You may have even noticed this yourself. Questions are awesome for several reasons but the biggest reason that I ask them is to get to know people better. The better that I know people the better I can understand them and encourage them and pray for them and the stronger our relationship will be.

I have found that most people will respond to a good question. So for the past 15 years I have been collecting questions. I know that sounds funny. People collect coins or stamps, or baseball cards, or trains, etc. How many people do you know that collect questions? Probably not many.

Anyway, because I value great questions I wanted to share some of my favorites with you. You can even ask them of me sometime if you want to. But mostly I hope you will find them useful to help you build strong relationships with the people you are around every day.

  • How have you observed God at work in your life in the past week?
  • What are you doing these days to nourish your soul?
  • What’s stressing you out right now, that you could do with a break from?
  • What do you say when people ask for one “fun fact” about you?
  • What are three things that most people would not know about you?
  • Knowing what you know now, what would you tell your 15 year old self?
  • What do you wish you had more time to do?
  • What are three things that are on your “bucket list.”
  • What is a book that you would recommend that you have read in the last year and why?
  • Is there a Scripture verse that you find yourself often going back to and why is it so special to you?
  • If you could start your education and career over what would you do differently?
  • What are some of your favorite apps?
  • What TV shows do you enjoy watching?
  • What are your all time favorite movies?
  • Do you have a personal mission statement and if so what is it?
  • If you had a full year with pay (and a job to come back to) what would you spend your time doing?
  • Describe 2 “defining moments” in your life.
  • What made you smile today?
  • What was your high/low of this past week?
  • What habits would you say most need to be built into your life?
  • What is the biggest challenge that you have dealt with in the past year?
  • If you could have one “do over” in your life what would you do differently?
  • What is something that you would like to be an expert in and why?
  • What one place would you like to travel to if given the chance?
  • One thing that you hope that you will be remembered for when you die is…
  • Describe the biggest risk you have ever taken and how it turned out.
  • How would you describe the perfect day.
  • What would you say is your proudest accomplishment?
  • How would you like me to pray for you?
  • What are 3 things in your life that you are most grateful for?
  • Tell me about the best vacation you have ever had.
  • What is the hardest lesson you have learned and how did you learn it?
  • What are a few of your favorite quotes?

Don’t be surprised if I ask you some of these as you grow up. And don’t be surprised if you start asking questions if people begin saying to you, “You’re just like your Pop Pop.”

Never forget that are very loved!

Pop Pop

Pop Pop Epistle #80 -Thoughts To My 16 Year Old Self


Dear Grandkids,

Earlier this week I was interviewed in front of an audience of middle and high school students. I was asked the question, “Now that you are an older man what are three things that you might tell your 16 year old self if you had a chance to.” These could change in the years to come but this is what I told them…

Everybody’s life tells a story. Make your story an epic adventure! – I don’t want the story of my life to be a boring story. And I suspect that the same is true for you. Make up your mind now to pursue adventure. Don’t be afraid of uncertainty. Don’t steer away from risk. Don’t always take the easy road. Take your cue from Sir Bilbo Baggins who famously said one day, “I’m going on an adventure.” And he did. (Read J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit if you want to read his story.)The story of your life is being written one day at a time. If you choose to wholeheartedly follow Jesus I can promise you that your story will be anything but boring.

“Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:30-31). 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. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Live each day with this biblical principle in mind: Obedience brings blessing! – When I choose to obey what the Word of God says I find that I experience His blessing. This has been true in all areas of my life. The two areas where I have especially seen people struggle over the years has been in the areas of finances and relationships. When God’s Word has been treated with contempt then I have watched people pay unfortunate consequences. Nona and I have sought to live our lives according to the teachings of Scripture and we have felt His blessing upon our lives. This is not to say that life is always easy but even when life has been hard we still enjoy His blessing. Hopefully this will have bountiful repercussions for you…

“Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who greatly delights in his commandments! His offspring will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed.” (Psalm 112:1-2)

Live the rest of your life with the end of your life in mind! – When I die how would I want to be remembered? What would I want people to say about me? Keeping these kinds of questions in mind can be very helpful when it comes to making choices today. I think this is why Jesus and Paul were able to endure all the hardships that they went through. They kept the end of their lives in mind and wanted their lives to be pleasing in the sight of God rather than the sight of man.

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:7-8)

You still have a few years before you are 16 years old. And I hope that I’m around to celebrate with you. And perhaps we can share a few adventures together along the way.

Never forget that you are very loved!

Pop Pop

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