Archive for the category “Pop Pop Epistles”

Pop Pop Epistle #47 – About My Feet

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Dear Grandkids,

I’ve been thinking about my feet a lot lately. I know that sounds kind of weird but there is a reason why.

For the better part of my life I have taken my feet for granted. I never thought about them when I walked or ran. And as you know I do a lot of walking. For the last few months, though, my feet have been bothering me when I walk. Which made me think about them with every step. So I tried getting a new pair of shoes. But that didn’t really help. So I exchanged those shoes for another pair (which my 30 day return policy allowed me to do). I just did this yesterday so the verdict is still out but here is what I found out from Mr. Shoe Guy…

Turns out that my two feet are different. My left big toe does not do what my right big toe does. And my left foot is shaped different than my right and is not as strong. It has a tendency to collapse when I come down on it. This makes walking very uncomfortable. I basically have a “roll bar” in my new pair of shoes to try to help. I don’t like thinking about my feet. There are so many other things that I would rather think about.

But as long as I am going to think about feet I might as well think about what the Bible says about feet. So here are a few choice verses worth pondering about feet.

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”Psalm 119:105

“Ponder the path of your feet, then all your ways will be sure. Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil.” Proverbs 4:26-27

“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!”” Isaiah 52:7

“The Sovereign LORD is my strength; He makes my feet like the feet of a deer, He enables me to tread on the heights.” Habakkuk 3:19

So perhaps the next time you are washing your feet, or tying your shoes, or clipping your toenails, or squishing your feet in the sand at the beach – think about what God’s Word says about feet and rejoice with great joy that He has given you two feet to use for His purposes.

And don’t ever take your feet for granted. I sure won’t anymore.

Never forget that you are very loved!

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Pop Pop Epistle # 46 – Happy Birthday Audrey

Dear Audrey,

It has been awesome having a front row seat to your first year of life. I love the way that your face lights up whenever you catch me smiling at you.

Having just finished up Thanksgiving I am very grateful to be your Pop Pop and to have a chance to see you grow up. It came very close to not happening.

Just a little more than 30 years ago, on November 28, 1988 a very powerful tornado came through the neighborhood where we were living in  Raleigh. It was 1 AM in the morning and we were sound asleep. Your daddy was just a little more than 1 year old at the time and was also asleep across the hall as was your 2 year old Aunt Christy. We were woken up by our golden retriever Cassidy who was scared to death, by the roaring sound of a nearby train, and by the pounding of stuff hitting our house. Turns out that stuff was from other houses in our neighborhood that had been torn in half as well as the remnants of K-Mart from 3 miles away that had been wiped off the face of the earth.

We were very fortunate and had minimal damage but just a block away dozens of houses were completely destroyed and a little girl was killed when a chimney collapsed in on her while she was sleeping.

The horrific F4 tornado stayed on the ground for 84 miles. It destroyed 425 homes and 78 businesses, left 157 people injured and killed 4 people in total.

So you can see what I mean when I say that I am grateful to be your Pop Pop. I am excited about what the Lord is going to do in your life in the years to come and anticipate that He is going to use you to be an incredible blessing to others. My prayer for you is this…

May the Lord fuel you with His abundant grace and give you more joy than you could ever possibly imagine. May your life overflow into the lives of others in such a way that they are overwhelmingly blessed as God’s Spirit produces bountiful fruit in your life that is used to nourish and nurture the people around you. And may the joy of the Lord always be your strength.

So Happy Birthday #1. I’m looking forward to celebrating many more with you along the way.

Never ever forget that you are very loved,

Pop Pop

 

Pop Pop Epistle #45 -About the Gettysburg Address

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Dear Grandkids,

You have probably noticed that I enjoy using some lessons from history to pass on some of my Pop Pop wisdom. I hope that you will grow to love history as you get older. There is so much that history can teach us. For instance…

Screen Shot 2018-11-19 at 2.19.33 PMIt was 155 years ago today that Abraham Lincoln gave what many believe to be “the most eloquent articulation of the democratic vision ever written.” His “little speech,” as he referred to it is known to us as The Gettysburg Address. The year was 1863 and our country was being torn apart by civil war. He used a mere 272 words to brilliantly share why the Union had to fight and win the tragic war between the states. Lincoln’s speech followed a two hour address by Edward Everett, one of the most famous orators of the day. It took Lincoln less than 3 minutes to say what he had to say. And yet it is one of the most famous speeches ever delivered.  (And does anyone remember what Everett said?)

Here is the lesson I want you to learn. Words have incredible power. And you don’t have to use a lot of words to say a lot. Choose your words carefully, whether you are talking to one person or speaking to thousands – which I believe some of you are destined to do.

At the end of the movie The Darkest Hour, the Viscount Halifax says of a speech just given by Sir Winston Churchill a quote worth remembering: “He mobilized the English language and sent it into battle.”  I love that quote. It will be something I will always keep in mind whenever I have the opportunity to preach. Churchill was an oratorical master. He used language to motivate and embolden people to greatness.

This is also what is so awesome about Jesus. As you read the Bible note that He does not have to say much to say a lot. He has a bunch of one-liners that have been quoted and re-quoted for over 2000 years.

But, alas, I fear that I am using too many words to make my point. But if you remember nothing else, always remember this…

Never forget that you are very loved!

Pop Pop

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Pop Pop Epistle #44 – Happy Birthday Grayson

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Dear Grayson,

Happy birthday. This is going to be an awesome year. It has been really fun to watch you grow and learn and change over the last 12 months. I love the fact that you love to read. And I love the fact that you are becoming a song writer. A few years ago I wrote a song that you have probably heard me sing to you but it seems especially pertinent now as you celebrate another birthday. The name of the song is It’s A Great Day To Be Alive and the refrain goes like this:

Each day is an adventure
Another new surprise.
A chance to watch God do His thing
Before your very eyes.
And those who say they love Him,
Who call upon His Name
Will find joy in the journey
And strength for each new day.

I love the fact that you are always up for a Pop Pop adventure. I love that you love fun surprises. The Lord is already doing a good work in your life and I can see His joy evidenced in you. No matter what comes your way in the years to come – whether they are fun surprises or challenging surprises – may His joy always be your strength. It is indeed a great joy for me to be your Pop Pop.

Never forget that you are very loved!

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Pop Pop Epistle # 43 – About October 26, 1986 and Those Miracle Mets

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Dear Grandkids,

It is World Series time and once again the Boston Red Sox find themselves in the Fall Classic. They are hoping to win their 4th championship in the last 15 years but there was a time when it had been for-e-ver since they had won. 100 years ago, way back in 1918, when Babe Ruth played for the Sox they were winners. Then they traded him away to the Yankees and endured the “Curse of the Bambino” for 85 years. My favorite year to relive the curse is 1986 when my favorite team, the New York Mets, wrote an awesome chapter in the storied history of the BoSox.

It was about 1 AM when I woke Christy (aka Mom, aka aunt) up because I was screaming with exuberant delight. She was only about 7 months at the time but she and her mom have not forgotten the reason for the scream. History.com tells the story like this…

metsBoston was one out away from the championship in the sixth game of the 1986 series against the Mets, when the Sox defense managed to bungle a series of easy plays so badly that they lost the game. At the bottom of the 10th, Boston had a 5-3 lead. Pitcher Calvin Schiraldi retired the first two Mets who came to the plate. But then Gary Carter hit a single; so did Kevin Mitchell; and then Ray Knight did, too. The score was 5-4. Bob Stanley came in from the Red Sox bullpen and immediately fired off a wild pitch. Mitchell scored, and the game was tied. Then outfielder Mookie Wilson stepped to the plate. On the 10th pitch of the at-bat, after he’d knocked six pitches foul, Wilson poked a ground ball right to Buckner at first. Buckner bent to field the ball, but it bounced right over his glove and kept rolling down the right-field line. Knight headed gleefully for home. The Mets had won.

And that’s when I screamed. At 1 AM. With my heart racing wildly. With no one else around me. It was a great day to be a Met’s fan. It was a very sad to be a Red Sox fan. Just ask your great uncle Kent. It was another epic reason why the Met’s were called the Miracle Mets.

Victory is always just one miracle away. One of the things that is great about sports is that there is so much hope. Hope at the beginning of a new season. Hope at the beginning of each game. Hope even when your team is down to their last strike. There is always hope until it is over. And that is one of the great things about the faith that we believe in Jesus. There is always hope. And Scripture tells us that “hope does NOT disappoint.” We know this because even when we are down to OUR last strike our hope is the greatest. 1 Corinthians 15:55-56 says this:

Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Every day I face my own mortality. But one day I will stand face to face with Jesus and my mortality will be a distant memory because I will have victory in Jesus. Tonight might be a good time for your parents to sing you “that” song as you get ready for bed.

Never forget that you are very loved!

Pop Pop

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Pop Pop Epistle #42 – About Yom Kippur

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Dear Grandkids,

yom-kippurSince one fourth of the blood running through your veins is Jewish I wanted to tell you a little about today. Today is the most solemn holy day of all the holy days on the Jewish calendar. Today is Yom Kippur, also known as the Day of Atonement. It commemorates the annual day that the Jewish High Priest would enter the Holy of Holies in the Jewish temple in order to offer sacrifices for sin on behalf of the Jewish people.

Interestingly, these sacrifices stopped being offered in 70 AD because the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed by the future Roman emperor Titus. So the question can legitimately be asked, “How are sins for the Jewish people now atoned for?”  The Older Testament is clear that without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness for sin. And yet blood is no longer shed.

Nowadays, the Jewish people believe that forgiveness of sin is obtained through repentance, prayer, and good deeds. But the fact remains that blood must be shed – not only for the Jewish people but also for everyone else in order to have our sin forgiven. So is forgiveness even possible?

Here is the very good news…

Jesus came as THE High Priest to offer Himself as a blameless and pure and undefiled sacrifice to secure redemption by the shedding of His own blood on the cross. Forgiveness of sin is available for all who look to Him and trust in the sufficiency of His sacrifice. God accepts the sacrifice of His only begotten Son as satisfactory to secure our eternal salvation and to bring about reconciliation in our relationship with the Father that sin had destroyed.

There is no longer a need for an annual Day of Atonement because atonement was made once for all when Jesus died on the cross. There is no longer a need for sacrifices to made in the Holy of Holies of the Temple. There is no longer a need for blood to be shed because blood has been shed. So how are believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, Messiah  of the world to regard Yom Kippur?

Today is an awesome day (as is every day) to thank God for sending His Son to be the Savior of the world and for rescuing us from the kingdom of darkness and bringing us into the light of the Son. Today is an awesome day to remember the gospel. Today is an awesome day to pray for our Jewish kin that they will recognize Jesus as the Messiah they have been looking for. Today is an awesome day to celebrate and rejoice in our salvation.

Never forget what Jesus did for you!

And never forget that you are very very loved!

Pop Pop

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Pop Pop Epistle # 41 – About The Greatest

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Dear Grandkids,

Screen Shot 2018-09-15 at 9.12.41 AMOn this day in 1978, September 15, boxer Muhammad Ali defeated Leon Spinks at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans to win the world heavyweight boxing title for the third time in his career, the first fighter ever to do so.

And I was there.

At the time, I was beginning my junior year at Tulane University. I was a Biomedical Engineering major and still trying to figure out what the Lord wanted me to do. The Superdome had only been open for 3 years and had begun hosting some major sporting events. (The previous year I had gone to the Superbowl between Dallas and Denver.)

Ali was considered to be, at least by his own admission, The Greatest boxer of all time. Humility was not his greatest characteristic. Contrast him with the man who was indeed the greatest to have ever lived – NOT by his own admission but by the testimony of millions throughout the last 2000 years… Jesus.

 Jesus said in Matthew 23:11-12, “The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” And it was said of Jesus by the Apostle Paul in Philippians 2…

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, He humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Here is a lesson that Jesus taught and that He lived and that I hope you learn early on in your life: If you aspire to greatness, which is not a bad thing, first of all learn to look after the needs of other people. Learn how to serve others. Learn obedience to the Father. Learn humility. Then you will have no need to exalt yourself because the Father will exalt you and give you a position of influence in the Kingdom – not so that your name will be great but so that you can make His name great.

Never ever forget that you are very very loved!

Pop Pop

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Pop Pop Epistle #40 – About Verse 8 on 8/8

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Dear Grandkids,

Today is 8/8/18. August 8.

And it just so happens that in my Bible reading this morning I came across a verse that I love – which I wanted to share with you. It is verse 8 in 1 Peter chapter 1.

Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory…

This one verse pretty much sums up what a relationship with Jesus entails. 3 things that I want to show you:

1) True believers love Jesus “Though you have not seen him, you love him.”  When a person grasps the full extent of what Jesus did on the cross for them it would be impossible NOT to love him. 1 John 3:1 says, “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” I hope that as you grow up you will think often and think deeply about the great great love of Jesus that he expressed for you and that this will cause you to love him greatly in return.

2) True believers trust Jesus“Though you do not now see him, you believe in him.”  There is a saying that goes like this: Put your money where your mouth is. We live in a world where many people SAY that they believe in Jesus but ACT otherwise. True faith will be demonstrated by your actions. Do you trust him? Then obey him! Obey his Word even when it is goes against what the rest of the world says or even what your feelings are telling you. Do not ever follow your heart – it will lead you astray. Follow Jesus and do what he says.

3) True believers find their joy in Jesus“and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory”  Finding your joy in Jesus is the only way to make sense of a verse like James 1:2 – “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds.” I mean, who does that? Who finds joy when life is hard and lonely and exhausting? Only those people that have their joy rooted in Jesus and not in the things or circumstances of this world. Joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory is a joy that first of all exults in the beauty and the wonder and majesty and glory of God. Ponder that statement and ask the Lord to help you understand it’s profundity.

May the Lord fill you with a fathomless love for him, an abiding trust in him, and a deeply satisfying joy in him.

And never ever forget that you are very loved!

Pop Pop

 

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Pop Pop Epistle #39 – Happy Birthday Keller

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Dear Keller,

Screen Shot 2018-07-27 at 11.37.51 AMHappy Birthday! Two years old already. Well that went by pretty fast.

I want to tell you a story that I hope you will always remember. 37 years ago today there was a royal wedding that took place in England between Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer. It was a wedding that was doomed from the start because Prince Charles loved someone else – another woman who was a third party in their marriage. The marriage lasted 15 years but was over long before the divorce took place.

3 days after they got married, on August 1, 1981, there was another royal wedding that took place in Kernersville, NC. It was between Prince Shay and Princess Linda – also known to you as Pop Pop and Nona. You see, they were indeed royalty because they were children of the King of Kings. And as it turns out there was a third party involved in their marriage as well. But instead of dooming their marriage this third party invigorated and strengthened their marriage and enabled them to love each other more than was humanly possible. That third party was the Holy Spirit of God.

The Holy Spirit dwells within everyone who has surrendered their life to the Lord – those whom the Lord has rescued from the dominion of darkness and brought into His kingdom of light when they acknowledged His death and resurrection on their behalf.

One day you are going to be thinking about getting married yourself. My hope and prayer is that you will look for a woman who is led by the Holy Spirit. Someone who’s first priority will be to the Lord and who loves Him with all her heart, soul, mind, and strength. Someone who can be as awesome a wife to you as Nona has been to me.

Again, happy birthday to you. It has been a joy having you live with us this past year. And I am looking forward to lots of memory making in the years to come.

Never forget that you are very loved!

Pop Pop

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Pop Pop Epistle #38 – How I Met Your Grandmother (aka Nona)

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Dear Grandkids,

The year was 1979.

– A group called The Bee Gees had the #1 hit at the time
– M*A*S*H*, Dallas, and Three’s Company were 3 of the top TV shows that year
– Jimmy Carter was president
– The Pittsburg Steelers and the Pittsburg Pirates were both World Champions
– A gallon of gas cost 88 cents
– A house that would cost $200k today would have cost $70k then
– Adam Levine, Pink, and Kourtney Kardashian were born that year
– McDonalds introduced the Happy Meal
– There was no such thing as Google or Facebook or Twitter or Instagram or Snapchat or Yahoo or email or the internet.
– No one had a computer in their house or owned a mobile phone.

I had just finished my junior year at Tulane University in New Orleans, LA. She had just finished her junior year at UNC-Greensboro. Our parents were living 25 minutes away from each other in NC. (My folks had moved to NC after my high school graduation but I was still living in my home town of Aiken, SC.) But we didn’t meet in either NC or SC. We met half way across the country in Galveston, Texas. Here’s how the Lord orchestrated our meeting way out there…

During my time at Tulane I had been involved with an organization called Campus Crusade for Christ (these days it is just called CRU). They offered projects during the summer all over the country where college students would come together for 2 months  to do evangelism and discipleship. Nona had been introduced to CRU by her sister Anne who had been on a CRU project in Panama City, FL during the summer of 1978. Both of us applied to go on the same project – to Myrtle Beach, SC, which was only a few hours from where we both lived. Both of us were turned down. Both of us were offered the opportunity instead to go on a beach project in Galveston, TX. She immediately accepted. I immediately declined.

And we would have never met unless the Lord had intervened in a way that I will never forget. There have been several times in my life where God got my attention in a very unexpected way. This was the second time.

In the Spring of ’79 I was lying on a couch in my dorm room one afternoon after classes and listening to a song by Keith Green when God spoke to me in perhaps the loudest “still small voice” that I have ever heard.  He very clearly said to me, “Go to Galveston! I’m not going to tell you why, just GO!” I was stunned because I had already made up my mind NOT to go. I had already told CRU that I wasn’t going. But I wasn’t going for my own selfish reasons. I had not really consulted the Lord on my decision. Now I was being forced to choose obedience to God or follow the waywardness of my fickle heart.

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One of the 1st pictures of us taken together

So I went. And it was in Galveston that I met this cute little blond gal who loved God and who wanted to serve Him and was willing to put up with my eccentricities. We were both working day jobs – she was a waitress at a pancake house and I was behind the counter at a McDonalds. After work one day we started chatting while sitting outside of the school house where we were lodging. And so it began.

The Lord took us 1150 miles away from where our parents were living so that we could meet, fall in love, and begin our life together. And here we are almost 37 years later still going strong with lots of memories to look back on and lots more still to be made.

So here are a few takeaways that I hope you will ponder as you grow up and grow older:

  • Learn to discern God’s still small voice – He generally speaks quietly. Which means you need to practice a discipline of quietness and solitude to hear Him.
  • Don’t make any decision apart from the Lord –  I almost didn’t meet your Nona because I thought I knew what was best for me instead of Him.
  • Expect the unexpected – God will often drop unexpected blessings in your lap when you are serving Him and following His ways. I did not go to Texas looking for a wife. But that is where God provided for me because I chose obedience.

Never forget that you are very very loved!

Pop Pop

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