Pop Pop Epistle #100 – About Covid-19

Pop Pop Epistles (Main)

Dear Grandkids,

I’ve been trying to decide what my 100th post should be – seems like a significant number. Finally decided to go with the obvious since we have NEVER experienced anything like what we are experiencing now in our country. So I am going to give you some of my reflections on this coronavirus pandemic that is presently re-designing what the culture of the United States will look like.

1) Even though I am an introvert (I am energized by my alone time) I am finding that I miss being around people. My three primary places to find community are church, Chick-fil-A, and family – all of these are compromised right now.

2) I tend to be a glass half full kind of guy, meaning that I have a very optimistic outlook about things. Regarding Covid-19, this means I think everyone else will get the virus before I do. I am learning that I need to be less of a risk-taker in terms of my social distancing practices.

3) The stock market has lost one third of it’s value over the last few weeks. As I approach my retirement years you would think this might give me cause to worry. Interestingly, I have no concerns about this. I haven’t even looked at my accounts. As I read on a placard this past summer, “Worry is just a waste of imagination.” This encourages me as it affirms my trust in a God who is sovereign and has everything under control.

4) I miss sports. Especially this time of year. Specifically I am missing the NCAA tournament, the start of baseball season, and golf. I have come to love the word “postponed” – as in “The Masters has been postponed, not cancelled!”

5) This pandemic has reminded me just how creative people are. Lots of stuff is popping up on social media everyday that is humorous, inspiring, and outrageous. People have lots more time on their hands and it is spurring creativity. Here’s one that I thought was really good.

We don’t know how long this is going to last. We do know that the world is changing right before our very eyes in short order. We don’t know what the long term ramifications are going to be. We do know that there will be a new normal once this is all over. We don’t know what the Lord is doing as He allows this pandemic to run it’s course. We do know that He is in  control…

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.
(Isaiah 55:8-9)

Never forget that you are very loved!

Pop Pop

Pop Pop Epistle #99 – Happy Birthday Ezra

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Dear Ezra,

Screen Shot 2020-03-22 at 6.56.06 PMHappy birthday. What a wild and weird time to celebrate your FIRST birthday. Perhaps when you are older and reading this for the first time the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) world-wide crisis will be ancient history. But for now we are right in the middle of it and it is effecting EVERYTHING – which is why you did not have a birthday party to speak of. We are learning a new term – social distancing and we don’t like it much at all. Nona and I are glad that we at least get to come over and celebrate with you, Asher, and your parents.

It just doesn’t seem all that long ago when we were celebrating your dad’s 1st birthday.

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This is going to sound strange to you but back in 1991 no one had cell phones. Few had personal computers. There was no internet. There was no such thing as Facebook or Amazon or Google or Spotify. Blogging was not a thing. People got their news from something called newspapers. No one had ever heard of Harry Potter or Tiger Woods or Ariana Grande.  The Batchelor was the single guy down the street not a long running reality TV show. Donald Trump was a real estate developer not the president of the U.S.

A lot has changed in 29 years. And a lot will change in the next 29 years. But one of the great truths of Scripture that we can hold on to is this…

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8)

“Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.” (Psalms 90:2)

As you grow up this will be a truth to cling to when the whole world seems like it is topsy-turvy like it is now. And I promise there will be times when your world (if not the whole world) will seem topsy -turvy. You can always count on Jesus and trust that He will be with you through whatever comes your way.

Never forget that you are very loved!

Pop Pop

Pop Pop Epistle #98 – About Defining Moments

Pop Pop Epistles (Main)

Dear Grandkids,

Defining moments would be defined as those moments in time that give shape to a person, or country, or group, etc.

You will experience many defining moments in your life. History will one day tell us if our country is in the middle of a defining moment right now as we deal with the declared national emergency known as COVID-19 or the Corona Virus. I am writing this on a Sunday morning instead of being at church because our governor has mandated that groups of 100+ should not gather. The term “social distancing” is new to us in 2020 but may be commonplace in your lifetime. We shall see.

In my lifetime I have lived through quite a few defining moments for our country:

  • The assassination of JFK
  • The 1964 Civil Rights Act
  • The assassination of Martin Luther King
  • The first moon landing
  • The 1969 New York Mets World Championship
  • Watergate
  • Vietnam
  • The fall of the Berlin Wall
  • September 11, 2001
  • 2008 economic recession
  • The election of Donald Trump as president in 2016

No doubt others could be added and these could be debated (certainly the 5th one but as a Mets fan I had to stick it on the list) but they are certainly significant “moments” that dramatically shaped our country.

About 10 years ago (in 2010) I wrote a series of blog posts that talked about defining moments in my life. You can read them as you have interest and time:

Here’s the thing about defining moments. Certainly there are moments that can and will shape the future and trajectory of your life. But they cannot and should not define who you are. Your life should be defined primarily by what the Lord says about you. Here are a few verses from Scripture to ponder often and deeply – especially when the world around you is going crazy and trying to shape you into it’s mold…

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.(Romans 12:1-2)

 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)

The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. (Zephaniah 3:17)

Never forget that you are very loved!

Pop Pop

Pop Pop Epistle # 97 – About Metamorphosis

Pop Pop Epistles (Main)

Dear Grandkids,

Metamorphosis is a big word. It means transformation. Which is another big word. Both words have to do with change.

You probably already know that I was a Student Pastor for 25 years – 10 years in Raleigh at Providence Baptist Church and 15 years in Durham at Ridgecrest Baptist Church. Back around 1987 I initiated a weekend retreat for our students at Providence which is commonly known as a D-Now Retreat but which we called Metamorphosis. We wanted God to use the weekend to bring about change in the lives of our students.

Little did I know how enduring the weekend would be. This past weekend we had our 25th Metamorphosis weekend at Ridgecrest – Meta2020. It involved about 70 students from our church plus about 12 other student groups. All total we gathered about 400 students from the Durham area for 3 awesome times of worship. Besides these large group times, students met in small groups at the homes where they were staying for the weekend to discuss God’s Word and have conversations about what the Lord was doing in their lives.

Your parents were a part of Metamorphosis weekends probably longer than any other students. They were involved because they were my kids even before they were old enough to participate and then they were involved as leaders for many years after they graduated from high school.They can probably tell you a lot of Metamorphosis stories.

Here are a few pictures from both the Providence and Ridgecrest events. See if you can spot your parents in any of these pictures.

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And here is a pic from this years Metamorphosis at Ridgecrest.

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I hope that as you grow up you have lots of opportunities to make fun memories with friends and that God also uses to create life-change. It has been fun for me to help create these kinds of Metamorphosis memories for about 33 years.

Never forget that you are very loved!

Pop Pop

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