Pop Pop Epistle # 155 – About Your Great Grandfather Tucker

 

(Written by guest blogger Nona)

Thomas Sutherland Tucker  
8/24/1926 – 1/18/2003

Dear Grandkids,

Today is my daddy’s birthday – he would be 95 today!    He died at the age of 76 due to Alzheimer’s Disease.  That’s actually ironic because daddy was a brilliant man (one of only 10  freshman inducted into the honor society in college)  He was also a very quiet man – but your Pop Pop knew how to ask the right questions and get him talking.   That’s a great memory for me.  (He was called Tommie – but he didn’t like having a nickname.  My sisters and I are all named so that there wouldn’t be any nicknames.)

Daddy was born in West Jefferson, NC and maybe the mountains just were always a part of him.   His family moved to Winston-Salem when he was young but he spent every summer from the day school was out until the day before school started with his Grandmother Sutherland in Ashe County on the family farm.   He helped his uncles and had great relationships with them.  He loved to take us to the mountains and show us all the things he loved. We could all see the change in daddy the closer he got to the mountains.   (His grandmother was very sweet – we all loved her!)

Daddy graduated from NC STATE in 1949 with a mechanical engineering degree.   He was drafted into the army after his freshman year and was able to finish college on the GI bill.   He always said he may never have been able to finish without that.   (He went to Germany as WWII was ending and was an MP -military police).  This began our love for NCSU – (Jeanne, Anne, John, Allison, Tucker, Danielle, and I all have NCSU degrees!)

Daddy worked for one company his entire life!  He was hired just out of college by H.E.Crawford Co. in Kernersville, NC (where I grew up) and retired from there in 1990.  He began as a mechanical engineer – drawing parts for the machines they made which made men’s socks and ended as vice-president in charge of production.   He loved the company and the people who worked there.   Jeanne, Anne and I all worked with him during the summers when we were in high school and loved getting to go eat lunch with him!   He knew everything about that company and everyone just came to ask him questions – it was easier than trying to figure it out!

Daddy planted a huge garden in the summer – much more than we could eat or Mother could can.   He loved to give away his vegetables – and took lots of them to the people he worked with.   Daddy’s thinking was always if one of something was good, then 25 would be even better!  He loved corn on the cob – he would do 4 plantings each summer so he could enjoy it for longer.    We would put one ear in the water to cook for each of us and then 4-5 for daddy!

 

Daddy had several interests – he researched his family tree (in a day without computers).  Pop Pop thought it was really funny when he would show him his tombstone etchings!  He started a huge pipe collection when he was in Germany even though he never smoked. You probably have some of his pipes around your house.  He loved photography and took lots of pictures over the years – we loved having family nights to look at old slides.   He collected coins and he started a stamp collection with me – I loved to do it because it was something daddy and I did together.   He loved sports too!   I learned all about football from him watching pro football games together when I was in middle school.  Of course we followed the Wolfpack too!

Daddy was quiet but we never doubted how much he loved us – and we knew he was proud of us.   He would have loved you so much too.   Scott carries his name (Thomas Scott) as does Haddon (Haddon Thomas), your parents’ cousin Ryan Thomas, and Tucker.   We knew he was the last grandchild and we wanted the Tucker name to carry on.  He came to faith in Christ in the summer of 1979 and quietly walked with God until he died.  It’s been over 18 years since I’ve seen him but I know I will see him again!

Never forget that you are very loved,

Nona

Pop Pop Epistle # 154 – Our 40th Anniversary

 

Dear Grandkids,

If you read my last epistle you will note that at the end I said, “Perhaps next year I’ll be blogging about the memories we created on our 40th anniversary.” But I thought that I might go ahead and do it since it is fresh on my mind.

We had an awesome day.

It started with church. We spent the morning with our faith family at Ridgecrest. Many of our friends knew that we were celebrating our anniversary and we got lots of congratulations.

We left church. Ran home and ate a quick lunch and then headed to Raleigh. Our first stop was Umstead Park where we spend an hour and a half doing some hiking We explored the Sycamore and Graylyn Loop Trail. Here are a few pictures.

Then we headed to The Umstead Hotel. It is a very upscale hotel  and not something we usually spend that much money on. But it was our 40th and we decided to treat ourselves and create a memory.

We went to supper at The Bonefish Grill and reminisced about our 40 years together and tried to envision what our next 40 years together will look like. I have a history of writing poems to recount our memories. I wrote one that I shared at our rehearsal dinner on July 31, 1981 called Memories of Love that talked about our courtship. I wrote one for our 25th anniversary called More Memories of Love.  And then at supper I shared one called Still More Memories of Love that recounted our last 15 years of memories. It went like this…

Still More Memories of Love

A lot of things have happened in the 15 years since last
I wrote a poem of memories about our storied past.

Christy was at App and Scott at UNC
Tucker was at Northern still at home with you and me.

‘06 would come and go and then our daughter got engaged
At a castle in Slovakia while everyone hurrayed.

The next year she got married on the day I turned 5-0
And thus began a decade that would see our family grow.

In ‘09 we went to Israel then moved to another home;
Both of these would help us learn a lot about shalom.

The next year we would travel to the country of Peru
And see the mighty Amazon unlike most people do.

The accident in India in two thousand eleven
Taught us much about our faith (since we almost went to Heaven).

We were very very grateful to still be upon this earth
Because the following November we were there for Grayson’s birth.

In the nine years that would follow 8 more grandkids would be born;
Bowen, Keller, Miller, Asher were the first next four.

Audrey, Ezra, and then Haddon all came with a hallelujah
The 9th one just arrived last week – his name is baby Judah.

Scott and Tucker both of course betrothed their wifely dreams;
Mary and Danielle joined Chad to flesh out our family tree.

In two thousand and fourteen and 20 years at RBC
We were given a sabbatical and went to Italy.

Rome, Sorrento, Florence and some time in Tuscany,
Pisa, Cinque Terre and then Venice by the sea.

Some time up by the lakes and then on to Switzerland;
Zermatt and then Lucerne the Alpine beauty never ends.

Lausanne and then Geneva where our trip came to an end;
I think we’d both agree that we would do it all again.

In ‘15 it was Poland and our travels with the Hicks
‘17 was Poland and our cruise to the Baltics.

You retired one year later, now we work at Chick-fil-A
They let us eat free food and not only that – get paid.

In ‘19 we went cruising to the great state of Alaska;
The beauty there I have no doubt is better than Nebraska.

So here we are at 63 and growing old together
With lots and lots of memories life couldn’t get much better.

 

Monday morning we hung around the hotel as long as possible ( getting the most bang for our buck) – we hiked around the pond on the hotel property and spent an hour or so by the pool. After we checked out we took another hike (gotta get our steps in) at Umstead Park – which is just across the interstate from The Umstead Hotel – and hiked the Reedy Creek and Loblolly Trail Loop. Then headed home. A quick but very memorable 24 hours.

Nona and I have fun creating memories together. But we are really looking forward to creating lots of memories with you.

Never forget that you  are very loved,

Pop Pop

Pop Pop Epistle # 153 – Where I Was 40 & 30 Years Ago Today

 

Dear Grandkids,

So a few weeks ago I posted where I was 50 years ago on that day. Today I’ll briefly tell you where I was 40 years ago today and 30 years ago today.

40 Years Ago Today – I got married. To my first wife. To my only wife. You know her as Nona. I have blogged about this day before HERE and HERE  and HERE, but here are a few things that I have not told you about that day.

  • We were married at Sedge Garden Methodist Church in Kernersville, NC – where Nona had gone to church as a little girl.
  • The ceremony was at 2 pm. We then had a reception in Winston-Salem at Pinebrook Country Club.
  • We flew to Atlanta that evening for our honeymoon night before we flew to Bermuda on Sunday.
  • I don’t remember the name of the pastor who declared us married – we didn’t really know him well (but as the pastor of the church he had to be involved) but one of my best friends did much of the ceremony – Jimmy Carr. He was a seminary student at the time and I knew he and his wife Vicki from my home town, Aiken SC. I had also live with them in Gloucester, MA during my first year of seminary at Gordon-Conwell.
  • One of the songs that we had sung at our wedding was called This Is The Day by Scott Wesley Brown. It was a perfect song for a perfect day.
  • It was a beautiful, sunny, awesome day as we were surrounded by friends and family.

30 Years Ago Today – Nona and I have always made it a point to get away by ourselves every year. This was especially true when your parents were still little. We knew that we needed the time away to invest in our marriage so that we could be properly fueled to invest in them. For our 10th anniversary we spent a few days on the island of St Thomas. Christy was 5, Scott was almost 4, and Tucker was 3 weeks shy of 1 year old.

One of my favorite memories from that trip was the meal we enjoyed 30 years ago tonight. It was at a seaside restaurant called The Chart House. The Chart House is a chain of steak restaurants that we have frequented whenever we could because it has special memories for us. The first one that we went to was in August of 1979 in the French Quarter in New Orleans. We had just met in June in Galveston Texas on a Campus Crusade for Christ beach project. When the project was over, Nona drove with me to New Orleans where I went to school at Tulane University. We spent 18 hours together in The Big Easy together before she flew home to North Carolina. It was soon after our Chart House meal that we kissed for the first time in Jackson Square. So any meal at the Chart House brings back that awesome memory.

40 years sounds like a long time to be married. But I promise that 40 years goes by very fast. As you grow up and as you get married take the time to create lots of memories that you can relive again and again.

We are going to do just that today and tomorrow. Perhaps next year I’ll be blogging about the memories we created on our 40th anniversary. Ask me about it sometime.

And never forget that you  are very loved,

Pop Pop

Pop Pop Epistle # 152 – Happy Birthday Keller and About LEGO Bricks

 

Happy Birthday Keller and welcome to the world of five!

Since you have become such a fan of LEGO over the last year I thought that I would enthrall you with a few LEGO facts that you probably don’t know. For instance, did you know that…

  • The plural of LEGO is LEGO. It doesn’t matter if you have one or one hundred pieces of LEGO, it’s still LEGO – although many people call them LEGOs (which I started to do in my opening sentence)
  • The tallest LEGO tower was 94 feet high and used 465,000 bricks. The tower was a pirate ship mast with a “treasure” made of gold, yellow and clear bricks on top and was built at LEGOLAND in California.
  • If you laid all of the LEGO bricks just sold last year end-to-end, they would stretch around the world more than 18 times, which equals about 448,000 miles.
  • You could reach the moon with a column of around 40 billion LEGO bricks. There are actually enough LEGO bricks to stack from the Earth to the moon – ten times… which is about 2.4 million miles.
  • In 2000, LEGO was named “Toy of the Century” by the British Association of Toy Retailers. LEGO beat both the common teddy bear and the Barbie doll.
  • There are about 20 billion LEGO bricks created each year. That’s a lot of LEGO.

LEGO bricks are really just building blocks. If you put a bunch of them together in an organized way then you can build some spectacular creations.

And speaking of spectacular creations – that is exactly what God has created you to be!

God also uses building blocks that not only provide a solid foundation for your life but also when combined together help create God’s “workmanship” in our lives. Here are seven of the building blocks that He often uses:

  • The Reading and Pondering of Scripture – If you want the Lord to work in your life this is probably the most important thing that you can do. Once you learn to read the Bible will be the best book that you will ever read.
  • Regularly Worshiping with Other Believers – Experiencing worship and the preaching of the Word of God with others doing the same thing really really important. In other words, stay in church.
  • A Small Group Connection – Having a small group of people where you can study the Word together, pray for one another, serve with one another, and care for one another is a vital building block.
  • Obedience – Doing what God’s Word says is integral to the building process. Disobedience will tear down what obedience builds up. For you, a key part of this while you are young is obeying and respecting your parents.
  • Loving God/Loving Others – Cultivating a love for God and people is imperative. But this does not come easily because by nature we are all selfish people.
  • Choosing Your Friends Wisely – As you grow up, “the voices you listen to will influence the choices you make.” Make sure you surround yourself with friends that help you make God-honoring choices.
  • Living Missionally – You are probably not even aware yet of how God has gifted you to serve His purposes. But be on the lookout for how the Lord specifically wants to use you to make a difference in this world as you invest in the lives of people.

Five years old is an awesome age to be. May your 6th year be filled with remarkable memories as you continue to grow up. And may the Lord use you  as the big brother in your family to Audrey and Haddon to set the kind of example for them that will draw them closer to Him.

Never forget that you  are very loved,

Pop Pop

 

 

Pop Pop Epistle # 151 – Welcome to the World Judah

 

Dear Grandkids,

#9 has been added to the clan. Judah was born yesterday. We can now officially field a cousin’s baseball team. Here are the deets:

Name: Judah Reyner
Parents: Tucker and Danielle Reyner
Siblings: Asher and Ezra
Born: July 23, 2021 @ 2:17 PM
Specs: 9 lbs, 3 oz., 21 ¼ inches

Just for a historical frame of reference, here are some of the things that are going on in our world as Judah makes his appearance:

  • The Coronavirus still abounds worldwide. Over 4 million people have died worldwide and over 600k in the US since it began. In the US we are currently dealing predominantly with the Delta variant.
  • The 2021 Summer Olympics kicked off in Japan yesterday… with no spectators due to Covid. Weird!
  • Joe Biden is President of the US. Kamala Harris is Vice-President (first woman VP)
  • The DOW is at 35,061. The S&P 500 is at 4,411.
  • Forest fires are ravaging the western part of our country
  • The New York Mets sit precariously in first place in their division

And here is my birthday prayer for Judah – grandson #6, grandchild #9…

Father,

Your Word says in 2 Peter 3:18,  But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” 

I pray that Judah will very early in His life begin to understand the concept of grace. May he recognize how amazing your grace is – that you would give the life of Your Son so that Judah might have Life as You created him to enjoy it. And may you fill him with your abundant grace – grace that overflows in him and through him so that he becomes an instrument of grace and a testimony of Your grace to others. And may you also fuel him with Your sufficient grace so that Your power is made perfect in his weakness and so that when life is hard and this world seems unbearable that he will lean on You knowing the incredible promise that You will be with him every step of the journey.

I pray also that Judah will grow in the knowledge of Jesus. But not merely a knowledge where he just knows a lot about Jesus but rather a knowledge that reflects knowing Jesus. A knowledge like Paul talks about in Philippians 3:8-11,  “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—  that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,  that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.”

And would you also use Judah’s mom and dad and sisters to create an home where he feels securely loved all the days of his life. May he be used mightily, as his name suggests (Judah means “praise”), to bring praise and honor and glory to You all the days of his life. Amen.

Never forget that you all are very loved,

Pop Pop

 

 

Pop Pop Epistle # 150 – Where I was 50 Years Ago Today

 

Dear Grandkids,

I’m at the point in my life where I can’t remember where I was last week and yet I have a very distinct memory of where I was 50 years ago today.

A little more than a year ago I did a post entitled I Miss Baseball. A part of the post talked about this but I wanted to go into a little more detail about that day.

July 13, 1971.

I had just turned 13 years old and was getting ready to go into the 8th grade at Kennedy Junior High in Aiken, SC. Richard Nixon was president. The United States was still fighting the Vietnam War. We were still sending Apollo missions to the moon. My folks were divorced and my dad would still be alive for another 4 months. I had not yet started attending church. I knew next to nothing about Jesus and His work on the cross. And my most favorite thing to do was to play baseball.

I have two converging memories about that day –  1) My Uncle Bob and 2) The Major League Baseball All Star Game

1) My Uncle Bob – Unfortunately you will never have the opportunity to meet him. He died over 20 years ago at the very young age of 63. (I say that to you as a very young 63 year old man). You may or may not have met his kids Dafna and Jason. They are my first cousins. My Uncle Bob (Talbert) was a larger than life kind of guy. He was a syndicated columnist for the Detroit Free Press back in the day when there was such a thing known as newspapers. He did a human interest column for 31 years about whatever struck him and he was hugely popular. He was also a huge baseball fan. Specifically a huge Detroit Tigers baseball fan. Tim Kiska said this about him as a columnist…

Talbert had an uncanny way of tapping into the city’s zeitgeist, with a great feel for what people might be interested in. And, of course, he was just outrageous enough that his arrival at a restaurant would get people talking. Nobody could figure out if Talbert’s weirdness — odd clothes, making sure everybody knew he was in the room — was for real, or something pasted on as a publicity-seeking proposition.

Talbert … wasn’t a Detroiter. But Talbert, always conscious of his status as an outsider, worked overtime at being a local. His omnipresent display of Detroit Tigers stuff was part of the package, as were his southernisms, which played well in a town with southern roots.

To give you an idea of his esteemed status with his beloved Tigers he was greatly honored in 2000, the year following his death. The old Tiger Stadium had given way to Comerica Park. The year that it opened (2000) they began a tradition that still continues. They fly a flag for every home game for a year with the initials of someone who loved and was beloved by the Detroit Tigers. In 2000, they flew the initials BT next to the American flag. His initial flag was the first one to fly in Comerica  Park.

 

He had taken me to several games over the years when we had visited from South Carolina and when Detroit hosted the 1971 All Star Game he had tickets and he invited me to join him. It is one of my greatest memories as a boy.

2) The All Star Game – Now first of all you need to understand that in 1971 the baseball All Star Game was a national event. It was looked forward to by fans and players alike and it was a great honor to get selected. It is much different these days. These days the All Star Game is sort of an afterthought. The Home Run Derby is the main attraction and if a player is selected he may or may not play depending on how he feels. That would have been unthought of in 1971.

The ’71  game was perhaps the greatest All Star Game ever played… for many reasons.

  • The American League had not won an ASG since 1962 and they would not win again until 1983. During that 20 year stretch, 1971 was the only year that the American League came away with a W.
  • There were 22 future Hall of Famers on the National and America League rosters. Twenty-Two!
  • The final score was 6-4. All ten runs were scored on home runs. And all the home runs were hit by future hall of famers: Johnny Bench, Hank Aaron, Roberto Clemente, Harmon Killebrew, Reggie Jackson, and Frank Robinson. That is quite a lineup of home run heroes.
  • The home run that Reggie Jackson hit is one of the most iconic All Star home runs ever. It was a 520′ blast that hit one of the light standards on the roof of the stadium. It was epically jaw dropping.
  • It was the last ASG that Roberto Clemente played in. He was selected in 1972 but did not play due to injury and then was killed in a plane crash on December 31 of that year.
  • Frank Robinson became the first player in All-Star Game history to hit home runs for both leagues over the course of his career.

One of my most prized pieces of memorabilia is the ticket stub I have from that game. Note the cost of admission: $8.00. A quick google search told me that the average ticket cost for this year’s game is over $400.00

 

July 13, 1971.  50 years ago. A day I will never forget. But stay tuned for a few posts later this year that will talk about other days that I will never forget  from 40 years ago, 30 years ago, 20 years ago, and 10 years ago. And in the mean time…

Never forget that you are very loved,

Pop Pop

 

 

Pop Pop Epistle # 149 – About My Ezer Kenegdo

 

Dear Grandkids,

Today is Nona’s birthday. #63 to be specific. So she is still a very young woman. One day you will understand what I mean when I say that the older you get the younger and younger 63 years old of age seems.

Perhaps you remember seeing the post I wrote on Nona’s 60th birthday – it was full of lots of stuff about her over the years. As we celebrate her birthday today I want to tell you why she is my “ezer kenegdo.”

My guess is that your first thought is “Say what”? But you are probably more familiar with those words than you think – or at least with what the words mean. Those are the Hebrew words taken from Genesis 2:18 where the Lord God says, “It is nor good that the man should be alone. I will make him a helper fit for him.”   Or, I will make him an ezer kenegdo.

The fact that God created a helper for the first man implies that God knew that the man would need lots of help. And this is definitely true for me. So here are just a few of the ways that Nona has been an incredible helper to me over the years.

She has definitely helped me become an organized person. She is very gifted organizationally. Me not so much. But I have learned much from her that has helped me so that nowadays most people think I am very organized. If only they knew what I was like 40 years ago when we got married.

She helps me do what is right. I am not really a rule breaker but I do have a tendency to be a rule bender. I have no doubt that Nona has saved me from multiple speeding tickets and parking violations over the years in addition to helping me do the right thing when it comes to caring for and looking out for people – which is kind of one of my main jobs as a pastor.

For the first 25 or so years of our marriage we were involved in Student Ministry. I can’t even begin to tell you how much she helped me be a better student pastor. She was always by my side doing whatever I asked her to do – whether it was teaching a class of girls or baking some kind of goodie or going on a trip because there were not enough other female leaders. Or in many cases just staying home and making sure that your parents were taken care of when they were little so that I could be off taking care of and ministering to other people’s kids. If I had any degree of success as a student pastor it was in large part because of her. And this has been true for our post student ministry years as well. She has been an incredible helper and does so without any recognition but has done so willingly because she felt just as called to ministry as I did.

But she has not just been an awesome helper (ezer), she has also been the perfect fit for me (kenegdo). In just a few weeks we will celebrate our 40th anniversary. Even though that sounds like a long time, I can easily remember how the Lord orchestrated our first meeting and made it clear from the beginning that He had brought us together. It was indeed a match made in heaven. Nona has been suitable for me in so many ways and hence our 40 years together have been a joyous blessing filled with much adventure and lots of great memories. Here are just a few ways:

  • She is just as called to ministry as I am
  • She motivates me to be a better pastor, father, grandfather and husband
  • She prompts me to think deeply
  • She models for me being a hard worker
  • She nourishes my hopes and dreams
  • She creates a restful home environment
  • She cares and provides for me in my neediness
  • She complements (or completes) me in a way that makes us together a perfect team

Your Nona is most definitely my ezer kenegdo. And I’m looking forward to how the Lord will be provide a helper suitable for each of you in the years to come. And perhaps I will even be around to welcome them to the family. But if not, tell them about the cool sounding Hebrew words from Genesis 2 that your Pop Pop taught you.

Never forget that you are very loved,

Pop Pop

 

 

Pop Pop Epistle # 148 – Happy Birthday Asher and the Significance of June 9

 

Happy Birthday Asher!

It sure is fun watching you grow up. So much personality in such a little girl.

I don’t think I’ve ever told you about the significance of your birthday – June 9. Two things happened on that day and had they NOT happened… well, neither would you have.

The first thing happened on June 9, 1929. The New York Yankees were the reigning World Champions and iconic baseball legends like Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig were national heroes. Greta Garbo, Buster Keaton, and Charlie Chaplin were stars in Hollywood. Herbert Hoover had just become president of the United States. And  the US economy was flying high – the stock market had reached all time highs of close to 300  – but it was only a few months away from a colossal crash that would signal the beginning of the Great Depression.

And June 9, 1929 was also, significantly for you, the day that my dad was born. Because of course if he had not been born then I would never have been born and your dad would never have been born and consequently you would never have been born.

The second thing happened on June 9, 1957.  The New York Yankees were again the reigning World Champions and iconic legends like Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra were the heroes this time. John Wayne and Katherine Hepburn were Hollywood stars and Elvis Presley was beginning to make a name for himself. Dwight Eisenhower was the president of the United States. The economy was in a recession. And Hawaii and Alaska had not yet become states.

And June 9, 1957 was also, significantly for you, the day that my mom and dad got married. Because of course if they had not gotten married then… well, you get the point.

But of course THE most significant thing to happen on June 9 happened on June 9, 2017 because that is the day that you were born. It was a great day for Nona and I as we finally were able to say that we had a grand-daughter (to go with 4 grandsons.) It was a great day for your mom and dad as they became parents for the first time. And it was a great day for the world because you make the world a better place and I have no doubt that your influence in the years to come will be incredibly significant.

June 9. Or 6/9. Here is a 6:9 verse to keep in mind as you grow up and grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ…

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. (Galatians 6:9)

May the Lord draw you near to His throne of grace and prepare you this year for the very significant role that you have in your family as big sister to Ezra and soon to be big sister to Judah. And may He give you a great joy in “doing good”  for the sake of the gospel and the blessing of those around you.

Never forget that you are very loved,

Pop Pop

 

 

Pop Pop Epistle # 147 – About May the 8th

 

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Dear Grandkids,

Today is what is known as V-E Day. Victory in Europe. It is the day in 1945 that the German army laid down their arms in surrender and officially gave the Allied forces victory over the Nazi war machine in World War 2. It is also a great day to remember the victory that has been secured for us at the cross  – and even though the enemy of our soul still fights a hopeless battle we take heart knowing that we have victory in Jesus.

May the 8th!

For the 4th year in a row I want to pronounce some benedictions over you – benedictions that reflect the great victory that Jesus won at the cross when He defeated death and the evil one.

May the 8th verse of Acts 1 remind you that as believers we are empowered by God via the presence of His Spirit to boldly proclaim the gospel wherever we go:

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.

May the 8th verse of Romans 5 help you to never forget the incredible depth of the love that God has for you:

But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

May the 8th verse of Ephesians 2 cause you to live gratefully knowing that it is the magnanimous gift of God’s grace that has granted you salvation and a restored relationship with the Father:

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,

May the 8th verse of Philippians 3 inspire you to forsake anything that this world might seduce you with because of the incomparable value of knowing Jesus:

Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ

May the 8th verse of Philippians 4 stir you to think great thoughts of God and fortify your mind against the assault of the enemy:

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

May the 8th verse of 1 Timothy 4 and may the 8th verse of James 4 energize you to pursue  daily disciplines that strengthen you unto godliness and provides nourishment for your soul.

For while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.

Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.

May the 8th verse of Psalm 34 reassure you of God’s goodness and blessing as you look to Him for refuge and refuse to find your identity in the eyes of this world.

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!
    Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!

 

And may the 8 of you (soon 9) never forget that you are very loved!

Pop Pop

 

 

Pop Pop Epistle # 146 – Happy Birthday Miller: God’s Not Dead

 

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Happy Birthday Miller,

It was lots of fun spending this past weekend with you and your family. It was fun to hear your excitement for your Chick-fil-A themed birthday. It was also fun to hear your enthusiasm for your new favorite song – God’s Not Dead.

I love the way that you contrast your loud voice and your quiet voice to emphatically proclaim that God’s not dead. Let me tell you a little about the backstory to your song…

It was the year 1884 when Friedrich Nietzsche famously said in his Parable of the Madman that “God is dead.” 82 years later, that quote  inspired one of the most iconic magazine covers of all time when Time Magazine published it’s cover that asked the question, “Is God Dead”? (April, 1966). The story, and the magazine cover, became a symbol of the tumultuous decade of the sixties (which your Pop Pop lived through) and inspired the movie entitled “God’s Not Dead” 48 years later (2014). It was this movie that featured the song that you are singing.

The song was written by Daniel Bashta in 2010 but made famous by The Newsboys when they covered it in 2012 and then released as part of the soundtrack for the God’s Not Dead movie. HERE is the YouTube version of the song from the movie.

The movie is about a committed Christian college student who is confronted  by his atheist professor and challenged to prove the existence of God. The student ultimately confronts the professor with the question, “Why do you hate God”? In my experience, it is hard to deny the existence of God. But most people who do deny His existence have dismissed Him because they can’t make sense of tragic circumstances in their life and have turned their anger and hate towards God into a complete dismissal of Him. It is easier for them to NOT believe in God than to believe in a God that allows catastrophic suffering to happen – especially when that suffering becomes intensely personal. Scripture tells us that the existence of God is the ONLY way to make sense of the evil and suffering in the world – not the other way around. I believe this wholeheartedly.

I promise that you will indeed experience suffering in your life. I can also promise that God is not dead and that he will be with you every step of the way through that suffering. May this song that you sing so passionately be an anthem for your life as you experience many more birthdays in the years to come.

God’s not dead – He’s surely alive!

Never forget that you are very loved!

Pop Pop

 

 

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