Archive for the category “Pop Pop Epistles”

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

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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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Pop Pop Epistle #79 -About Camels

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Dear Grandkids,

Camels are very unique creatures. Not the most attractive of God’s creatures but certainly very unique. I have had a few up close and personal encounters with camels. The picture on the left is when Nona and I were in Egypt in 1995. We went for a camel ride across the Sahara desert. Well, at least across about 100 yards of the Sahara desert. The picture on the right is when we were in Egypt in 2009. We were hiking up “Mt Sinai” when I had some face-time with my good friend Melvin. Melvin had some great advice for me. He encouraged me to persevere all the way to the top of the mountain where I would be rewarded with a magnificent view of the surrounding mountains.

So what is it that makes camels so unique. Here are 10 fun facts that you may or may not already know:

  • There are two types of camels: One-humped or “dromedary” camels and two-humped Bactrian camels.
  • Camels have three sets of eyelids and two rows of eyelashes to keep sand out of their eyes.
  • Camels have thick lips which let them forage for thorny plants other animals can’t eat.
  • Camels can completely shut their nostrils during sandstorms.
  • Thanks to thick pads of skin on their chest and knees, camels can comfortably sit in very hot sand.
  • Their humps let them store up to 80 pounds of fat which they can live off for weeks and even months!
  • When a camel finally does find water, he can drink up to 40 gallons in one go.
  • Camels are very strong and can carry up to 900 pounds for 25 miles a day.
  • Camels can travel at up to 40 miles per hour – the same as a racehorse!
  • Don’t make a camel angry – they can spit as a way to distract whatever they think is a threat
Camels are a great reminder to me that God has created each one of us to be very unique as well. You guys are still very young as I write this but I can already see the fingerprint of God upon each of your lives. And not only are you unique in your personalities but you are unique in the ways that God has purposed you for. He has a unique story to tell through each of your lives which I am very much looking forward to reading.
It is a joy to be your Pop Pop.

Never forget that you are very loved!

Pop Pop

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Pop Pop Epistle #78 – About My Tulane Years

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Dear Grandkids,

I know very little about my grandparents when they were younger – especially their college years. Just so you know a little about my university days here are my Top 10 memories from those years.

I graduated from Aiken High School in 1976. The Bicentennial year for our great country. I applied to 4 colleges: Duke, Cornell, Clemson and Tulane.  I got put on a wait list at Duke. I did not get into Cornell. And I got accepted to both Clemson and Tulane. I chose to go to Tulane for several reasons: 1) At the time I wanted to go to a school different from where all my friends were going (I’m not sure that I would make that same decision today), 2) It had a very good Engineering department, 3) my granddad went to Tulane, and 4) New Orleans – it seemed like a fun place to do college.

I was at Tulane from August of 1976 through May of 1980. Here are ten of my memories from those years… in no particular order.

  1. tulane_logoI majored in Biomedical Engineering – Biomedical Engineering was still a relatively new field in those days. I had always had an interest in medicine and I had always been pretty good at math and science so it seemed like a good fit. I had no problem with the book side of the major – finished with a B average, but I was not very good at the application part – which is pretty much what engineering is all about. So while I enjoyed the major, it was clear to me by my junior year that I would not make a living as an engineer.
  2. Sigma Alpha Epsilon – Many of you reading this will be surprised that I was a frat guy. Me too. Here’s how it happened. I knew exactly zero people when I arrived at Tulane. My roommate became my first friend. He had been impressed with the guys he met during pledge week at SAE and encouraged me to go by the house and check it out. Which I did. They extended me an invitation to join and I accepted along with my roommate. I was pretty active for my first 3 years but then was inactive my senior year. I never lived at the frat house but enjoyed getting to know a lot of the guys over the years.
  3. Intramurals – The fraternity gave me an opportunity to be involved in sports while at Tulane. Back in the day I was a really fast runner. I still remember several fly patterns I ran for touchdowns during football season. I also played softball and soccer – having played baseball and soccer in high school. Good times. Fun memories.
  4. Running – It was while I was in college that I began running. One of the nice things about New Orleans is that it is flat. And one of the nice things about Tulane is that it was right across from Audobon Park – a great place to run that took you down by the Mississippi River. I set a goal for 1979 to run 700 miles – which is only about 2 miles per day but it meant that I had to be disciplined to get it done. Which i am proud to say that I did. I ended up running until I was about 45 and then realized that I had never really enjoyed it like some people do – so I became a walker instead. Which I still do.
  5. Andre, Pete, Jason – I finished up my high school days with a lot of good friends, many of who I am still connected to today – thanks to Facebook. I had three guys that I would consider good friends while I was at Tulane. Pete – my roommate freshman year, Jason – my roommate sophomore year. And Andre – my suite-mate sophomore year and fraternity brother. Both Pete and Jason transferred away from Tulane and I have lost touch with them – haven’t been able to find them on FB. Andre, a Louisiana cajun, moved to South Carolina not long after college. We still stay in touch and occasionally see each other.
  6. New Orleans – New Orleans was an interesting place to do college. But it is not a city I would want to live in. Way to hot and humid for me. Still, lots of fun memories: The French Quarter, jazz music, great food, Cafe Du Monde and beignets, Mardi Gras, streetcars, Audobon Park, the Mississippi River, the Garden District, and sporting events…
  7. Sporting Events – I was able to attend two once in a lifetime sporting events while I was in college: 1) I went to Super Bowl XII in January of 1978 between Dallas and Denver. I got to see Roger Staubach lead the Cowboys to a 27-10 victory over the Broncos. Andre and I were able to scalp tickets outside the Superdome – face value was only $35 back then. I got my ticket for $50. 2) I was also able to see Muhammed Ali win the heavyweight title for the 3rd time in September of 1978 in a unanimous decision over Leon Spinks. History and a sporting icon at the same time.
  8. Cru – My first full day in my dorm freshman year there was a knock on my door – A Campus Crusade for Christ staff guy introduced himself and so began my involvement. I was a very young, immature Christian when I went to Tulane and the Lord used this ministry to disciple me and help prepare me for my future. I was able to be involved in leadership in several ways over the years. Josh McDowell came to our campus when I was a sophomore and I had a chance to give him a ride from school to his hotel. But the transforming highlight of my involvement was participation in CCC Beach project following my junior year.
  9. Hearing God’s Voice – I have detailed this experience HERE. But suffice to say that it was while I was at Tulane that God spoke to me loud and clear in ways that changed the trajectory of my life. I am very grateful that He  intervened in my life in supernatural ways rather than letting me follow my own path. I suspect that my life would have turned out far differently if God had not stepped in. I have been incredibly blessed over the years and take great joy in knowing that the Lord is guiding my way.
  10. A Song and a Kiss – Nona and I met in Galveston, Texas and began dating while we were both on the CCC Beach Project. At the end of the project she traveled with me back to New Orleans before flying home to NC. We had a magical night together that featured supper in the French Quarter at The Chart House, yummy stuff from Cafe Du Monde, our first kiss in Jackson Square, and me telling her I loved her for the first time – as we hung out on one of the quads at Tulane and I sang and played on my guitar Jim Croce’s song “I’ll Have To Say I Love You In A Song.

Good times! Good memories! Should you go to college – make the most of those years as they will be defining years in your life.

Never forget that you are very loved!

Pop Pop

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Pop Pop Epistle # 77 – About October 15, 1969

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Dear Grandkids,

You already know that I am a New York Mets fan from Pop Pop Epistle #43.

It started when I went to see my first major league game in Atlanta between the Braves and the Mets. I started following the Mets that day. They were laughable losers. Their first year in the league was 1962 and they only won 40 games out of 160. Which means they lost 120. They did not get much better over the next 6 years, though in 1968 they did manage to win 73 games, finishing 9th out of 10 teams in the league.

In 1969 the league expanded and went to two divisions per league. In mid-August the Mets were 9.5 games behind the Chicago Cubs but went on a tear the rest of the year. They finished with 100 wins, won their division, and then swept the Atlanta Braves and Hank Aaron in the playoffs to gain their first World Series appearance against the mighty Baltimore Orioles.

Everyone picked the Orioles to win the series and after they won the first game 4-1 it was pretty much a foregone conclusion. But nobody told the Mets. They won the 2nd game 2-1 and the 3rd game 5-0.

The 4th game was played 50 years ago today – October 15, 1969. Cy Young Award winner Tom Seaver was on the mound for the Mets. He took a 1-0 lead into the 9th inning. Future Hall of Famer Frank Robinson singled and got to third after another Orioles single by Boog Powell. Future Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson came to bat not knowing that he would make a very historic out.

Now at this point you need to know that my favorite player on the Mets was their right fielder Ron Swoboda. He was better known as a hitter than a fielder but here is his play by play of what happened next…

Swoboda’s catch has been called the greatest ever World Series catch – which is saying a lot when you consider the catch that Willie Mays made in the 1954 Series. The Mets went on to win the game in extra innings and then won game 5 the next day 5-3 and their first World Championship. They were dubbed the Miracle Mets or The Amazing Mets.

I was 11 years old in 1969. I can still remember watching the World Series. I still have a bunch of baseball cards from those days. I’ll show you my collection some day – especially if you swear allegiance to the New York Mets for life. And if they ever make it back to the World Series maybe I’ll let you take me to a game.

Never forget that you are very loved!

Pop Pop

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Pop Pop Epistle #76 – About Holy Curiosity

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Dear Grandkids,

I hope you know that I pray for each of you every week. By name. Specifically. I don’t necessarily pray the same things for each of you. But one of the things I am going to start praying for all of you is this: Lord would You instill within _____________ a “holy curiosity” as he/she walks through this day!

It was Albert Einstein who said…

The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existence. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity.

Leonardo DaVinci, the amazing artist and inventor who lived 500 years ago, would carry an “idea journal” with him every where he went. He said, “I roamed the countryside searching for answers to things I did not understand”.

It was the Apostle Paul who said… “If anyone thinks he knows anything, he does not yet know it as he ought to know it.” (1 Corinthians 8:2 CSB).

Here are a few curious facts just to whet your curiosity appetite…

  • If you shuffle a deck of cards, chances are that the new order of playing cards has NEVER existed before.
  • Of all the people in history that have reached 65 years of age, half of them are living right now.
  • You replace every particle in your body every seven years. You are literally not the same person you were 7 years ago.
  • Goats have rectangular pupils.
  • If you put all the earth’s ants in one pile, and all the earth’s humans in another pile, the pile made of ants would be bigger.
  • Turtles can breathe out of their butts.
  • A pencil has the potential to draw a line 38 miles long.
  • If a man never cut his beard, by the time he dies it would be 30 feet long.
  • If you keep going North, you will eventually go South. If you keep going East, you will never go West.
  • A banana is actually a berry. A strawberry isn’t.

Interesting, but nothing holy about those curiosities. So what is the difference between curiosity and holy curiosity?

  • Holy curiosity begins with an understanding that God is creator. That He made everything and called it good and then He created people and called them very good.
  • Holy curiosity is motivated by a desire  to know God better – by better understanding the amazing world He has created.
  • Holy curiosity recognizes that people are uniquely created in the image of God and have stories that are worth learning about.
  • Holy curiosity delights in the joy of discovery and is able to see the sacred in the midst of the mundane.
  • Holy curiosity  keeps awe and wonder alive in a world that seems to create new ways to be bored every day.

Father, I ask that you would indeed instill a holy curiosity in my grandkids that they might stand in greater awe of You and be used by You to help others live with a sense of sacred wonder.

Never forget that you are very loved!

Pop Pop

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Pop Pop Epistle #75 – About Kyphoplasty

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Dear Grandkids,

So it turns out that I am not as young as I used to be. It also turns out that my body does not handle well some things that I used to take for granted – like running and jumping.

A little more than two weeks ago I tried to prove to myself that I was only 61 years old chronologically. I went out and played Ultimate Frisbee with a bunch of 15-25 year olds. I promise that I was the least active guy out on the field but was more active than I had been in a while. The next day I started having back and abdominal muscle spasms. These kept up for 2 weeks and after they started intensifying I went to see my doctor.

spine_noflashApparently I have a compression fracture in the T-11 vertebrae of my spinal column. The nerves are sending out a message to the muscles of my core that is causing all the pain. It would seem that these muscles are very angry with me for trying to play Ultimate and are encouraging me to never play again. I just might listen.

So sometime in the next week or so I will go to the hospital and have a procedure known as kyphoplasty. Supposedly it is minimally invasive, but get this – the doctor will inject cement into the fractured bone to strengthen it. Cement. The stuff they make sidewalks with.

So what have I learned through this so far:

  • The joy of the Lord is my strength!
  • Pain is exhausting.
  • The human body is pretty amazing.
  • Don’t act 21 when you are 61.

I am also being reminded that when one part of the body of Christ (the church) is hurting that it affects the whole body. I love my church and hope that this will make me a better pastor who is more compassionate and more caring when people are hurting.

Also I would encourage you to remember what 1 Corinthians 6:19 says – “your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you.” Take care of your body.

Never forget that you are very loved!

Pop Pop

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Pop Pop Epistle #74 – About Genealogy

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Dear Grandkids,

I am currently pondering my way through the Gospel of Matthew as I spend time in the Scriptures each day. I was reading through the genealogy in Matthew 1:

And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah,  and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asaph, and Asaph the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah,  and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos, and Amos the father of Josiah,  and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon.

Nothing terribly excited about reading a bunch of names. But as I pondered the practical implications of this list I thought about this…. Everyone of those names represents a life lived. Every one of those lives has a corresponding story. Some of those stories are inspiring and faith-fueled. Some of those stories are sad and forgettable.

One of these days my name will just be a name in a long list like this. When your great grand-kids (who will never meet me or know me) hear my name will it bring to mind stories that spur them to live courageous, faith-filled lives or will it be a name that provokes them to do nothing – that is essentially forgotten in time.

My hope is that when you hear the name Pop Pop that it will remind you of fun, and faith, and laughter, and singing, and generosity, and adventures.

And as you write the stories that will be associated with your name don’t forget the words of Proverbs 22:1 which says, “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold.”

Never forget that you are very loved!

Pop Pop

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Pop Pop Epistle #73 – About The Sandlot

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Dear Grandkids,

Baseball season is winding down. My New York Mets are not going to make the playoffs… again. So this is a baseball related epistle about a classic baseball related movie that will help you be happy when you are sad because your team keeps losing.Screen Shot 2019-09-23 at 3.50.26 PM

The movie is The Sandlot.

It came out in 1993. It was about a kid named Scotty Smalls and the baseball team that took him under their wing in the summer of 1962. When you watch the movie you will be introduced to some unforgettable characters like Benny the “Jet”, Yeah-Yeah, Ham, Mr Mertle, The Beast, Wendy Peffercorn, and my favorite, Squints.

You will want to be on the listen for some classic lines from the movie.

  • You’re killin’ me Smalls!
  • First you take a graham. Then you stick the chocolate on the graham. And then you roast the mallow. And when the mallows flaming you stick it on the chocolate. Then you cover it with the other graham. And then you stuff it.
  • Remember kid, there’s heroes and there’s legends: Heroes get remembered, but legends never die.
  • He had kissed a woman and he had kissed her long and good.
  • Some lady named Ruth. Baby Ruth.

And there are some classic scenes that will be forever embedded in your mind. It is a fun, funny, memorable movie that you will enjoy best probably when you are an adult even though it is about kids.

One of the great lessons to be learned from the movie is about friendship. Smalls is new to town. He has no friends. And he is terrible at baseball. Benny invites him to join their baseball team because they need one more player. All the other kids make fun of him and call him an “L-7 weenie.” But Benny stands up for him and helps him get established in the group.

You will have opportunities as you grow up to be the kind of friend that Benny was to Smalls. There will be people who will need you to come alongside them, stand up for them, and stand by them. Jesus was this kind of friend. Just read Luke 19:1-10 and the story of Zacchaeus or John 4 and His encounter with the woman at the well. Never underestimate the significant influence you can have in a person’s life just by being a friend.

Never forget that you are very loved!

Pop Pop

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