Pop Pop Epistle #20: About Squanto


Dear Grandkids,

Thanksgiving 2017 is over. It was awesome to have most of you in our home for several days to eat together and play together and just be together. We muchly missed Asher who was with her other grandparents and we daily await the arrival of grand-baby girl #2 who is now officially past her due date.

Perhaps this is a good time for a little lesson in history – the story of Squanto. This is how Charles Colson tells his story…

Historical accounts of Squanto’s life vary, but historians believe that around 1608, more than a decade before the Pilgrims landed in the New World, a group of English traders, led by a Captain Hunt, sailed to what is today Plymouth, Massachusetts. When the trusting Wampanoag Indians came out to trade, Hunt took them prisoner, transported them to Spain, and sold them into slavery.

But God had an amazing plan for one of the captured Indian – a boy named Squanto.

Squanto was bought by a well-meaning Spanish monk, who treated him well and taught him the Christian faith. Squanto eventually made his way to England and worked in the stable of a man named John Slaney. Slaney sympathized with Squanto’s desire to return home, and he promised to put the Indian on the first vessel bound for America.

It wasn’t until 1619, ten years after Squanto was first kidnapped, that a ship was found. Finally, after a decade of exile and heartbreak, Squanto was on his way home.

But when he arrived in Massachusetts, more heartbreak awaited him. An epidemic had wiped out Squanto’s entire village.

We can only imagine what must have gone through Squanto’s mind. Why had God allowed him to return home, against all odds, only to find his loved ones dead?

A year later, the answer came. A shipload of English families arrived and settled on the very land once occupied by Squanto’s people. Squanto went to meet them, greeting the startled Pilgrims in English.

According to the diary of Pilgrim Governor William Bradford, Squanto “became a special instrument sent of God for [our] good . . . He showed [us] how to plant [our] corn, where to take fish and to procure other commodities . . . and was also [our] pilot to bring [us] to unknown places for [our] profit, and never left [us] till he died.”

When Squanto lay dying of a fever, Bradford wrote that their Indian friend “desired the Governor to pray for him, that he might go to the Englishmen’s God in heaven.” Squanto bequeathed his possessions to his English friends “as remembrances of his love.”

Who but God could so miraculously weave together the lives of a lonely Indian and a struggling band of Englishmen? It’s hard not to make comparisons with the biblical story of Joseph, who was also sold into slavery and whom God likewise used as a special instrument for good.

The Bible tells us that everyone has been sold into slavery, having been captured by the evil one because of our sinful nature. But Christ the Redeemer sets us free because of what He accomplished on the cross on our behalf. When we put our faith and our trust in Him Christ redeems us – He sets us free. And just as He did with Squanto He can use us as special instruments for good.

So never forget that the Lord has special purposes for you – He desires to use you to bring about good in the lives of others, to bless this world that has been captured by the evil one, and to be a redeeming influence among a people that do not even know that they are enslaved.

And never ever forget that you are very loved!

Pop Pop

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Pop Pop Epistle #15 – About October 31, 2017


Dear Grandkids,

Today is October 31, 2017.

I could not let the significance of this day pass without writing to you about it. Most people in our country are celebrating Halloween. But for those of us who are believers we have much more to celebrate on this day as we commemorate the 500th anniversary of Reformation Day.

It was on this day in 1517 when a German professor named Martin Luther posted his Ninety-Five Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg. Now that might not mean a lot to you now but I promise that it was a very big deal. And it will mean a lot to you in the future.

Here is what Kevin DeYoung (an author/pastor that I hope you will  read much of as you grown up) wrote in his blogpost this morning about this day:

We give thanks for Luther, flawed and fallible though he was, for the role he played in igniting a reform movement that caught fire in the cities of the Holy Roman Empire, spread through the rest of Europe, and now reaches to the ends of the earth. Wherever we find Scripture alone as the highest and final authority, grace alone as the only hope for resurrecting spiritually dead sinners, faith alone as the only instrument by which we are joined to Christ and justified by the imputation of his righteousness, Christ alone as the only atoning sacrifice for sin, and God alone as the ultimate object of our worship—wherever we find these truths sung, savored, and celebrated, we have reason to rejoice in the Reformation….

And so on this momentous day when we celebrate the rediscovery of the gospel and the recovery of true worship, we commit ourselves once again to the worship of our triune God and the gladhearted declaration of this gospel. And if the Lord should tarry another half-millennium, our prayer is not first of all for another Luther, but that we may be an instrument in the Lord’s hands just as Luther was.

De Young mentions the 5 Solas that are paramount to the Reformation:

  1. Sola Scriptura (“Scripture alone”): The Bible alone is our highest authority.
  2. Sola Fide (“faith alone”): We are saved through faith alone in Jesus Christ.
  3. Sola Gratia (“grace alone”): We are saved by the grace of God alone.
  4. Solus Christus (“Christ alone”): Jesus Christ alone is our Lord, Savior, and King.
  5. Soli Deo Gloria (“to the glory of God alone”): We live for the glory of God alone.

I look forward to talking with you in the days to come about why these are so important to what we believe. I am so glad that I am your Pop Pop and very grateful for each of you.

Never ever forget that you are very loved!

Pop Pop

(By the way, today is your dad/uncle Tucker’s Re-birthday. Ask him to tell you about that day sometime)

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Pop Pop Epistle #10 – About Las Vegas

PP5Dear Grandkids,

Yesterday was a very difficult day for our nation. You will undoubtably hear about it as you grow up in connection with other such days that are yet to happen. 59 people lost their lives and over 500 people were injured in a random act of violence. And unfortunately, yes, it will happen again. Some other time. Some other place.

I wish that I could shield you from such things but I cannot. This is the world we live in. What I can do is share a few quick thoughts that might help you as you grow up in this crazy, messed up, increasingly more violent world. Hopefully we can talk about them more in depth in the days to come.

1) Fear not! – This is an often stated dictate in Scripture. Why? Because we are prone to fear. But it is easier said than done. The reason God can say this is because He usually accompanies the command with a promise: “I will be with you.” The presence of the Lord makes all the difference as we try to navigate our way through life.

2) Hold on to hope! – It would be very easy to give in to despair and hopelessness but by definition we Christians are a people of HOPE. Cling to the hope that the Scriptures give us that a better day is coming. Perhaps not in this world but in the world to come. And when that day does come, mortality will seem like a bad dream and we will forever find joy in Life as God intends for it to be.

3) Hold out hope to others! – People need the hope that we have to offer. Gun control is not the answer to our problems. Government is not the answer to our problems. The gospel is the answer because it is only in the gospel that the problems we face are sufficiently dealt with. People cannot live without hope and when they finally realize that the world cannot give them the hope they are looking for we can extend the hope of the gospel.

4) Pray! – The stuff that we hear about everyday, like Las Vegas, is not a surprise to God. Just read the Book of Revelation and you will see that things get worse before they get better. We are given a much neglected prayer in the last chapter of that book that goes like this… “Come, Lord Jesus.” Yes we should diligently pray for peace to reign in the hearts of men. Yes we should pray that God’s protection will be upon us. Yes we should pray that the joy of the Lord will be our strength in these difficult days. But let us not neglect to pray that the Lord will soon come and make all things right. Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus!

And never ever forget that you are very loved!

Pop Pop

Pop Pop Epistle #8 – About Singing

PP5Dear Grandkids,

Perhaps you already know that I love to sing. And perhaps you already know that I do not sing well… at all. But that does not stop me from singing to you  – just as I did to your parents. No doubt you have heard me sing two of my most famous songs – The Jonah Rap and It’s A Great Day To Be Alive. The latter song I used to sing to your parents each morning as I drove them to school. For me it was, and still is, a great reminder as the day is getting started. The chorus goes like this:

It’s a great day to be alive
It’s a great day to wake up and sing
It’s a great day to be a child of the King
It’s a great day to be alive.

I think one of the reasons I love to sing to you and over you is because God loves to sing over you – and over me. Did you know that? We don’t just sing to God in our worship but God sings over us. Check out this awesome verse in Zephaniah 3:17…

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.

I sometimes wonder what kind of song He sings over me – then my sanctified imagination goes to work. And these are the words of the song that I hear Him singing…

My Father heart is glad because you are my son;
Born by flesh and blood but also in the One
Who gladly gave His life so that you could then become
My son, my very precious son.

And as I sing this song I hope your heart will be
Contented by the fact that you belong to me;
And you will find delight knowing I delight in you
My son, my very precious son.

And when your heart is full and your spirit’s been refreshed
And when your joy’s replete and your soul has found good rest
Then you can gladly sing and express your love as well to
My Son, my very precious Son.

What song do you hear Him singing over you?

Never ever forget that you are very loved!

Pop Pop


Pop Pop Epistle #6 – Happy New Year

PP5Dear Grandkids,

Happy New Year!

Well, sort of. Today is not the beginning of the New Year as you generally celebrate it, but it is the beginning of the New Year nonetheless… the Jewish New Year. Today is what is known as Rosh Hashana. And since one fourth of the blood running through your veins is Jewish I thought you might want to know a few things about this other New Year. Even if you don’t, humor me, read on, and perhaps you will learn something about your heritage.

1) Today marks the beginning of the High Holy Days on the Jewish calendar. They begin with Rosh Hashana and culminate 10 days later with Yom Kippur. These 10 days are also known as the “Days of Awe.”

2) Rosh Hashana is also known as the Day of Trumpets. It is marked by the blowing of the shofar (or ram’s horn) in Jewish synagogues around the world. It is meant to be a call to repentance at the beginning of the New Year.

3) One of the themes of the Days of Awe is that on Rosh Hashana God opens the Book of Life but it is not closed and sealed until Yom Kippur 10 days later. Jews are given a chance to make things right with God and their fellow Jews and thus have their names inscribed in the Book of Life before it closes.

4) Orthodox Jews take part in a ceremony known as Tashlich on the first afternoon of Rosh Hashanah. They go to a creek or river (flowing water), cast bread crumbs from their pockets into the water and say a prayer from Micah 7:18-19, symbolically casting their sins into the water. 18 Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance. He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love. 19 He will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.

Here is what I want you to learn: Like ALL the Jewish holidays, Rosh Hashana points us forward to a greater day when the Messiah Jesus will bring completeness to the mysteries unveiled in the Hebrew Scriptures through the Jewish holidays.

One day there will be a trumpet blast that will usher in a new forever… 16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18)

One day your name will forever be inscribed in the Book of Life – when you call on the Name of the Lord and find forgiveness in Him.  12 Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. 13 And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. 14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:12-15)

One day everyday will be a Day of Awe as we gather before our God and worship…  Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory… (Revelation 19:6-7)Screen Shot 2017-09-20 at 1.28.28 PM

Happy New Year!

And never ever forget that you are very loved!

Pop Pop


Pop Pop Epistle #5 – About M&Ms

PP5Dear Grandkids,

If you have ever been in my office at church then you already know that I almost always have a big jar of peanut M&Ms sitting on my desk. They are there for anyone who walks into my office to enjoy. Truth be told, I actually don’t eat that many of them myself. But I do love me some peanut M&Ms. And I suspect that you do as well since my blood runs through your veins. Next time that you grab some out of my jar or open a bag at your house think about some of the things that M&Ms can remind us about regarding our faith in the Lord.

1) M&Ms come in lots of different colors yet they are all the same – You are going to grow up in a world full of people who are very diverse – that is they will be different colors with different backgrounds and different personalities. And yet they are all the same in that they are uniquely created by God to enjoy Him and fulfill His purposes. Don’t ever let somebody’s color keep you from discovering how unique they are in the sight of God.

2) M&Ms are filled with wonderfulness (chocolate) – Let this be a reminder that the wonderful and wondrous love of God fills you full to overflowing. The way that Ephesians 3:18-19 puts it is like this…

I pray that.. you may grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge.

Let His love fuel you for all the things that He has in store for you.

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3) M&Ms are marked – If you take a good look you will see that every M&M is marked with the letter “M”. Similarly, once you have put your faith in the Lord Jesus and become a child of God you are marked with a seal that designates you as belonging to Him. You are sealed with the Holy Spirit who resides in and presides over you. It is God’s Spirit that will enable you to  live the life that God has called you to live.

4) M&Ms are meant to be shared – Likewise, as believers, what the Lord has freely given to us is meant to be shared with others. In fact, it makes what we have that much better when we pass it on to others. So be generous with M&Ms and share them freely with your friends and be just as generous with the good news that God has rescued you from death and given you a life that is truly worth living for His sake.

The next time I see you it would give me great joy to share some of my M&Ms with you.

And never ever forget that you are very loved!

Pop Pop

Pop Pop Epistle #4 – Reyners Are Not Whiners

PP5Dear Grandkids,

“Reyners are not whiners!”

My guess is that by the time you are old enough to read that this is a mantra you are familiar with. And I am sure it is something that you have heard me say. I am not a fan of whining. No parent is. No grandparent is. Nobody likes a whiner. One day you will hate whining as much as I do. The problem is that it seems we are all hardwired to whine when we don’t get what we want. Whining comes naturally. We don’t have to be taught how to whine. But we do have to be taught not to whine. I have been around adults who have never been taught how not to whine and I promise you me that they are no fun to be around. No one likes to be around a whiner.

Which is why you hear me say this to you when you default to a whining mode. Grayson, I am very proud of you for picking up the mantra as a 4 year old and beginning to teach Bowen not to whine. And Bowen I am very proud of you for using your musical skills to put the mantra into a song to pass on to the next generation.


(Bowen singing his new hit song “Reyners Are Not Whiners”)

There is a story in Exodus 16 that demonstrates how easy it is to fall into a whining mode. The Israelites had just experienced one of the great miracles of all time and yet they were whining big time because… 1) they were tired, 2) they didn’t like the food, 3) they didn’t like Moses telling them what to do, 4) they were bored. They had quickly forgotten how blessed they were and all that God had done for them. Here are a  few things you might stop and do before you start to whine…

#1 – Remember – Take some time to remember just how blessed you really are. My guess is that this will not be hard if you stop and think about it.
#2 – Express thanks – I can promise you this: Gratitude will get you a whole lot more than whining ever will.
#3 – Learn patience – Waiting can be hard. Waiting can be very hard. But waiting patiently is so much nobler than whining incessantly.

Never forget that nobody wants to be around a whiner. Never forget that Reyners are not whiners!

And never ever forget that you are very loved!

Pop Pop

Pop Pop Epistle #3 – About a Rooster

PP5Dear Grandkids,

We recently had a rooster move in to the house behind us. Now as you know, we do not live out in the country but in a neighborhood. Yesterday Mr. Rooster and some of his chicky lady friends wandered into our yard – I’m guessing they escaped their pen or perhaps don’t even have a pen to live in. I have noticed that Mr. Rooster does his cock-a-doodle-do thing around 6:30 AM every morning. Now this does not bother me too much because I am usually up before then. But I suspect some of our other neighbors are none too pleased by the early morning wake up call.

Anyway, seeing Mr. Rooster yesterday got me to thinking about what I might can learn from him and his kin. Two things that I wanted to pass on to you…

1) Every morning, very consistently, Mr. Rooster wakes up and does the same thing. He has established a routine that helps him to get his day started. It will be a good thing for you also to establish morning routines early in your life to get your day off to the right start. Listening to and talking with God is a great routine to establish. This will mean taking time to read God’s Word and then talking with Him about what you have read. If you will do this consistently throughout your life you will be amazed at how God uses a simple routine to create an intimate, dynamic, energizing relationship with Him.

2) In Mark 14:72 the Lord used a rooster to bring about conviction of sin in the life of Peter –  one of the great leaders in the early church. The Scripture says that after hearing a rooster crow “Peter remembered how Jesus had said to him….” My takeaway from this is to let Mr. Rooster’s cock-a-doodle-do each morning be a reminder to me to confess any sin that I am aware of and to start the day with a freshness in my walk with the Lord.

Perhaps the next time you hear a rooster crow you will be reminded of these things and remember that your Pop Pop let a noisy old rooster teach him a thing or two.

And never ever forget that you are very loved,

Pop Pop

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Mr. Rooster and his lady friends in our back yard

Poland/Baltic Adventures

This past Wednesday, Linda and I returned from oversees having been out of the country for two and half weeks. Our trip was divided into 2 different adventures both of which were excellent.

Adventure #1 – For the 4th time in 5 years our church staffed a retreat for the missionaries (M’s) that are in the Germanic and Catholic clusters of Europe. This includes M’s from Germany, Austria, The Czech Republic, Hungary, Croatia, Slovenia, Slovakia, and Poland. We gathered in Jelenia Gora, Poland with about 55 M families  who came together for meetings, fellowship, worship in their heart language, and soul refreshment. Our job was to provide ministry to the M kids and students, lead worship, and create some fun surprises for the adults.

Linda and I, along with 7 others were in charge of the Student Ministry. Essentially we hosted a 4 day retreat experience for middle and high school students. It took me back to the 25 years that I spent in Youth Ministry and reminded me why I stayed so long and how much I enjoyed working with students. I did a series of messages entitled “Not Your Average Joe” and looked at 4 “Joes” in Scripture and what it was that made them not your average Joe: Josiah, Jonah, Joseph (OT), and Barnabas – yeah, Barnabas. See if you can figure out why he is not an average JOE. Here are a couple of pictures of the awesome students we had the privilege of hanging out with for the week…


This is after one of my famous “Shay hikes”. The next one is the group sporting our “Not Your Average Joe” tee shirts.


Adventure #2 – Our Poland retreat finished up on Saturday, August 5. We had flown into Prague but we were flying out of Berlin. We arrived in Berlin around lunchtime and since our flight home was not until Sunday morning we took a 4 hour tour of Berlin in the afternoon. Hit all the main tourist spots like Checkpoint Charlie, The Berlin Wall, TheBrandenburg Gate, the Holocaust Monument, and a few government places.


The rest of the team took off early Sunday morning but Linda and I stayed behind and took a train up to the northern coast of Germany where we boarded a ship and began a 9 day cruise with Norwegian around the Baltic Sea. It was AWESOME. We had great sailing weather – never really knew we were even on a ship. Incredible dining experiences. Perfect weather everywhere we went – sunny and 70-75 degrees. We enjoyed all the ports as well as the 2 days we were at sea. Norwegian did an excellent job of spoiling us and refreshing us. Here are a few pictures that will not do justice to our experience but will at least give you some kind of idea to what our trip was like…

Warnemunde, Germany – Day 1
Tallinn, Estonia – Day 3
St Petersburg, Russia – Day 4
St Petersburg, Russia – Day 5
Helsinki, Finland – Day 6
Stockholm, Sweden – Day 7
Copenhagen, Denmark – Day 9


And a few random pictures…



A few comments about the trip…

1) We enjoyed all the ports but Copenhagen was our favorite.
2) We loved walking around the Old Towns of Tallinn and Stockholm.
3) The Peterhof Palace and Gardens  outside of St Petersburg was incredibly beautiful.
4) We were unplugged for most of the trip which was kind of nice.
5) We got in over 23,000 Fitbit steps in Copenhagen.
6) The Danish danish in Copenhagen would be worth flying back for (see picture above).
7) I am now quite the selfie stick master.
8) Never underestimate the value of your favorite pillow.
9) It was great to be away together by ourselves for an extended period of time.
10) We loved the trip but we were glad to get back home.

And we would definitely recommend a Baltic cruise with Norwegian Cruise Lines to anyone who is so inclined – and I was not paid to write that.


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