Pop Pop Epistle #93 – About My Story

Pop Pop Epistles (Main)

Dear Grandkids,

I don’t think I’ve ever told you my story of how I came to be a Christian. Since my story is a defining part of your story  let me tell you a bit about how I became a part of God’s story.

I was born into an awesome family. Both my mom (you know her as Bett) and my dad (who died when I was 13) had been raised in Jewish families. I would not say that either of them were devoutly Jewish but it was very much a part of their upbringing and heritage. I was born in Columbia SC, where my dad’s family lived and my mom and dad met. They loved each other a lot – until they didn’t. And as happens to many families, my brother and I became children of divorce when my folks split up when I was about 6 years old. My mom and dad turned out to be really good friends – they were just not good at being married to each other.

At this point my mom, my brother, and I moved to Aiken, SC which proved to be a very significant life event for me. This was primarily because it removed me from any Jewish influence upon my young life. Really from any religious influence upon my life as we spent many a weekend playing tennis rather than attending any kind of religious service.

When I was 10 years old we moved across town into a house next door to the England family. Chuck and Byron were about my age and we would become really good friends. They were very involved at First Presbyterian Church in downtown Aiken. When I was 14 they invited me to go with them to their youth group. So I started going pretty regularly for two reasons: 1) they made it sound fun, which it was, and 2) there were girls there that I was hoping to get to know better. Admittedly my motives were not spiritual but God has used worst motives to get a person’s attention.

The pastor of the church was a man named Jerry Robinson. His son, Tim, would also become one of my best friends and I would spend a lot of time at their house. In many ways Mr. Robinson was like the dad I’d never grown up with (and remember, by this time my dad had already died). It was at First Presbyterian that I began to be exposed to the gospel. Up until this time I really knew nothing about Jesus and who He was and what He had done.

Now during high school I had a lot of things going for me – at least by worldly standards. My family life was good. My mom did a great job of raising us as a single mom. I had a lot of good friends. I lettered in 3 different sports. I was a straight A student for the most part (graduated #3 out of over 600 students). And even though this was a culturally crazy time for our nation (it was the early 70’s) I was a fairly well balanced kid. And yet I knew that there was a level of discontent that I couldn’t quite put my finger on.

As I hung around 1st Pres over the next few years I began to hear things that resonated with my soul:

  • There was a God and He was holy. The idea of God made perfect sense to me. My analytical mind reasoned that there had to be a beginning to creation and therefore there had to be a Creator. And the way the Bible explained this seemed perfectly plausible.
  • The world was broken because of sin and a refusal to live according to God’s blueprint. This also made perfect sense not only because of what I saw happening in the world around me but also, and especially, because of what I knew was going on in my own heart.
  • There was nothing that we could do to fix the mess of our own making – but because of the immeasurable love that God had for the people He created, He sent His Son to bear the weight of our sin and to reconcile the broken relationship between us and the Father. The mystery of the cross still amazes and astounds me but to me it is undeniable proof of that great verse in John 3:16 that begins “For God so loved the world.”
  • The only “requirement” that God has for us to experience and enjoy this new life of fellowship with God is to trust that His ways are indeed right and good, to turn our backs to sin and our faces toward God, to trust that His Son has indeed brokered this new life for us through His life, death, and resurrection, and to trust that everyday is a new day to demonstrate our love for Him – for as the Scripture says, “we love Him because He first loved us.”

Screen Shot 2020-01-24 at 7.32.08 AMSo sometime during my junior year in high school I intentionally placed my trust in Him. I did not fully understand all that this meant at the time but it seemed like the prudent thing to do. And while I experienced many bumps and bruises and ups and downs over the next few years as I was getting my “faith legs” under me, I knew that I had made a decision that would change my life forever. I have never regretted that decision in the 44 years now that I have been a Christian and know unequivocally that my life would be much much worse for the wear had I not become a follower of Jesus.

There are more stories to tell of how God shaped my life in the years following my conversion but I will save those for other Pop Pop epistles.

Never forget that you are very loved!

Pop Pop

Pop Pop Epistle #92 – How Much More

Pop Pop Epistles (Main)

Dear Grandkids,

I think you already know this but one of the ways that I have found to express myself to God over the years has been through poetry and songs. Every now and then I come across a phrase in Scripture that captures my attention and I will often ponder the implications of that phrase by writing a song. Or at least the words of a song. Someone much more musically inclined that I will have to write the music. I am just a lyricist. Perhaps it is one of you that will one day put my lyrics to music. That would be pretty cool.

Anyway, I came across Luke 12:24 one day… “Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds.” The phrase “how much more” caught my attention and I turned it into a song. So here it is – for you to begin thinking what the music behind the words should be.

HOW MUCH MORE

How much more could Christ have done than what He did so long ago?
And yet today He fills my heart with  joy that overflows.

How much more could He have done than when He set this captive free?
And yet today I taste the fruit of His awesome victory.

How much more could He have done that when He rescued me from sin?
And yet today He gives me hope and helps me find my strength in Him.

How much more could He have done than save my soul eternally?
And yet I find that in this world I live with joy and power and peace.

How much more, O how much more could He do in you and I 
If Christ alone became the greatest treasure in our lives.
How much more, O how much more could He really do in us
If our hearts could fully grasp the mighty power of His love. (Refrain)

How much more could He have done than break the chains of doubt and fear?
And yet today when I despair I find that He is always near.

How much more could He have done than to create new life in me?
And yet He fills my soul with songs that I cannot help but sing.

How much more could He have done than make things right with God again?
And yet today He walks with me as if I am His greatest friend.

How much more could He have done than prove His love at Calvary?
And yet today I am reminded of His faithful love for me.

How much more, O how much more could He do in you and I 
If Christ alone became the greatest treasure in our lives.
How much more, O how much more could He really do in us
If our hearts could fully grasp the mighty power of His love.

Never forget that you are very loved!

Pop Pop

Pop Pop Epistle #91 – Happy Birthday Bowen and Clemson Football

Pop Pop Epistles (Main)

Dear Bowen,

Happy Birthday # 5 my young grandson! And it just so happens that your birthday comes the day after a huge game for Clemson fans like you. And unfortunately after a loss for the national championship. But here are a few takeaways from Clemson’s loss and the Tiger’s season that might help you as you look forward to many more birthdays.

1) It’s awesome to win. But your true character will be revealed when you lose. Coach Swinney did a good job of congratulating LSU on a great win and a great season. He didn’t whine about losing. He didn’t make excuses. He was thrilled to have been a part of an epic battle.

2) The shared experience that this team had over the course of the season will be remembered long after the sting of the loss fades away. As you grow up you will learn that shared experiences are much more enjoyable than solo experiences. I am looking forward to some awesome shared experiences with you in the years to come.

3) Last nights game was a metaphor for what life is all about. It can be incredibly exciting. It is undeniably hard and grueling at times. It can be very disappointing. It is often a fight just to make a little progress. At times people will be cheering you on to succeed. But there will be others who delight in seeing you fail. Mistakes will be made. There will be lots of victories along the way – as well as lots of defeats. You will experience a lot of pain in this life. But you will also find much joy. And there is always the anticipation of next year.

4) Clemson had a great year. And it was fun to watch them play. And it is fun to be a fan these days. But never forget that there are much more important things in this life than football. Never forget that you are a child of the King. Never forget that you have been created for His purposes. Never forget that He is much more deserving of our worship than a football team. Never forget to remember the cross and what Jesus did to offer you true life.

And never forget that you are very very loved!

Pop Pop

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