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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Pop Pop Epistle #72 – About Memorizing Scripture

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Dear Grandkids.

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who is now at work in the sons of disobedience – among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. (Ephesians 2:1-3)

These are the verses that I am currently trying to memorize. My goal is to memorize Ephesians 2:1-10 by the end of this year so I still have a good ways to go. Ask me from time to time how I am doing.

Scripture memory is a forgotten discipline among believers. Yet I believe it is an awesome discipline to regularly practice if you want to grow to maturity in Christ.

There are at least 4 reasons why I believe this is true:

1) It will help you to triumph over sin. Psalm 119:9 says, “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you”

2) It will help you to triumph over the evil one. When Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness, he recited Scripture from memory and thwarted the schemes of the devil. (Matthew 4:1-11)

3) It will help you to encourage and comfort the saints. Proverbs 25:11 says, “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.”

4) It will help you to have a closer walk with God. Because His Word dwells within you, He can use it at any time to remind you things you need to know and He can use it to remind you of His awesome love for you.

Chuck Swindoll wrote in his book Growing Strong in the Seasons of Life …

I know of no other single practice in the Christian life more rewarding, practically speaking, than memorizing Scripture. . . . No other single exercise pays greater spiritual dividends! Your prayer life will be strengthened. Your witnessing will be sharper and much more effective. Your attitudes and outlook will begin to change. Your mind will become alert and observant. Your confidence and assurance will be enhanced. Your faith will be solidified.

I hope that as you grow up that you will make it a habit to memorize Scripture. I will be glad to help you as long as you are willing to help me as well.

By the way, ask your parents if they know the three keys to being able to successfully memorize Scripture. They should be able to tell you. If not, I did not do my job well.

Never forget that you are very loved!

Pop Pop

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Pop Pop Epistle #71 – About Poop

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Dear Grandkids,

I have noticed, especially with the grand-boys, that there seems to be an inordinate obsession with poop. Admittedly, poop is worthy of our conversation and often is the subject of funny stories and jokes and is familiar to everybody. I mean, let’s just go ahead and say it… everybody poops. But are you aware that there is a very interesting creature that has taken poop-fascination to an exponential level?Shamwari Wildlife

The dung beetle it would seem has one purpose in life: to collect dung. When they come upon a pile of dung they begin creating dung balls which they roll away from the pile – to keep their magnificent find from being plundered by other beetles. They can roll dung balls up to 50 times their weight.

Beetles generally work as couples. But usually it is the male that rolls the ball, with the female hitch-hiking or simply following behind. In some cases the male and the female roll together. When a spot with soft soil is found, they stop and bury the dung ball. They will then mate underground. After the mating, both or one of them will prepare the ball as a birthing bed. When the ball is finished, the female lays eggs inside it. When the eggs hatch, they feed on the dung.

I’m not making this up.

So what life lessons are to be learned from these architect’s of the poop domain? Here are a few that come to mind:

1) Like the dung beetle, are we fulfilling the purpose that God has created us for – with as much diligence and tenacity?

2) And like the dung beetle, are we investing our lives in the collection of  “dung” – stuff that really isn’t worth a poop.

3) Are we willing to share our “dung piles” with others – the stuff that we have worked so hard for – or do we hide it away for our own enjoyment only?

4) What do we hunger for – dung and more dung? Or do we hunger for the kind of food that will feed our souls?

Paul said this in Philippians 3:8: “I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them like dung (literally this is what the Greek says) that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own… but that which comes through faith in Christ.”

Never forget that you are very loved!

Pop Pop
(which at least one of you has mis-spelled “Poop Poop” on occasion)

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Pop Pop Epistle #70 – About Sunset Beach

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Dear Grandkids,

1987.

That was the year that our family starting spending a week together at Sunset Beach, NC. There have only been a few years that we have missed this annual tradition. It started with Nona’s parents and their kids and grandkids. So your parents have lots of memories at Sunset with their cousins and aunts and uncles and grandparents. Just to name a few that you can ask them about sometime:

  • Uncle John games
  • Lindsay’s poop story
  • Scott’s trip to the ER
  • Walks to Jellyfish Bay
  • Sardines
  • Rock Candy
  • Calabash Seafood
  • Putt Putt
  • Fun on the sand and surf
  • Finding pencil shells
  • Pushing Tucker off his bike
  • Aunt Jeanne freaking out
  • Family meals
  • Screened in porch talks
  • Tucker’s poop story (Outer Banks not Sunset)

We are keeping the tradition alive and hope that in 15 years you will have lots of shared memories of your own that you look back on and laugh together about. The pictures below were taken 25 years apart – 1994 and 2019. A lot has changed in 25 years – but we cherish the memories and find great joy in our love for one another and the times we get to spend together.

 

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Never forget that you are very loved!

Pop Pop

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Pop Pop Epistle #69 – About 8/1/81

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Dear Grandkids,

It was 38 years ago today that Nona and I got married. I’m sure that seems like a long time to you but for us it is a blink of the eye. August 1, 1981 began an awesome journey that I am grateful for everyday. I am blessed beyond measure to be married to your grandmother and hope that one day you find a helpmate as perfect for you as she is for me. There were also lots of memories leading up to our wedding day that I will tell you about sometime. Here is a poem I wrote and then read at our rehearsal dinner – it alludes to a lot of these stories.

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Memories of Love
Now that we have waited for this very special day
We can’t help but to consider memories –
Those times that we remember that have taught us how to love,
Those times which often brought us to our knees.

I remember on that first day when I looked into your eyes
And I wondered if that sparkle might mean love.
I could feel myself get flustered when I thought about your smile
But I wasn’t sure exactly what it was.
And I remember two weeks later when I tried to hold your hand
But I wasn’t sure the time was right to act.
You can’t imagine how much faster my heart began to beat
When I squeezed your hand then felt your hand squeeze back.

And oh how I remember the first night that we kissed
When that minstrel played that melody for us.
We had wined and dined for hours on ice cream and beignets.
And yet it seemed that we would never eat enough.
(So we ate until our bellies nearly bust).

Now those were the beginnings when our love was being made
Though we really didn’t know what love could be.
Somehow we were prepared for those rocky roads ahead
And now that brings back other memories.
What about the first trip you made back to New Orleans
When it seemed that we had only grown confused;
Yet when you left we realized that if love was to last
It would have to be a love that was pursued.

Do you remember all those times that year  we had to say goodbye
And I wasn’t sure that I could handle all your tears;
They made me want to smile since they were prompted by your love
Yet I could sense your face was often wet with fears.
And then there at the beach when we almost let love go
That was the first time that you ever saw me cry.
But now when I think back to the prayers I prayed that night
I realize that’s the night that love survived.

When you went off to school that Fall I knew I had to follow
So our love might finally have a chance to grow.
I spent three months in Raleigh getting turned down for a job,
But I learned some things I thought I’d always known.
And now we come to Christmas when our love fell into place,
But I remember those two times I almost choked.
I was nervous when I asked you if you’d like to wear that ring
But I was really nervous when I asked your folks.
Then I went off to Boston and you stayed here at home
But we both knew that we had to take that chance;
And when it all was over and we both were home to stay
We knew our love was much more than romance.

So now we stand before the alter and I take your hand in mine
And we begin our life together in God’s will.
We have a lot of hopes and we have a lot of dreams
But we know there’s nothing love cannot fulfill.

So now that we have waited for this very special day
We can’t help but to consider memories.
Yesterday is not forgotten, but tomorrow is our hope
As we look forward now to all that love will be.

“As we look forward now to all that love will be.”  When I wrote that 38 years ago I had no idea how prophetic it would be. There are 38 years of memories wrapped up in that one line that I will tell you about in future epistles. Memories that tell a great love story. And you are very much a part of that story.

Never forget that you are very loved!

Pop Pop

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Pop Pop Epistle #68 – Happy Birthday Keller

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Dear Keller,

CC807F04-0852-4D82-91B0-14FD6CB75AFEThis may be the only Happy Birthday salute that you get from someone out of the country this year. Sorry I am not there to see you on your birthday but as you know I am on mission with a team from our church in Eastern Europe.

We are working at a camp with about 100 students from around the country – many of them who have never heard nor responded to the gospel. Our mission is to try to build relationships and initiate conversations. We hope these will lead to an opportunity to tell them about our Savior Jesus and how He went to the Cross, offers forgiveness of sin, brings about reconciliation with God the Father, and gives them hope not only for this life but for the life to come.

My hope and prayer is that you will always live your life ON MISSION. You do not need to go out of the country to do this. You can do it wherever you are because wherever you are there are going to be people who need the hope of the gospel.

I hope that you have an awesome 3rd birthday. I will be praying for you as you celebrate with all the people that love you. Nona has been instructed to give you an extra big hug from Pop Pop. I will see you in a few days.

 

Never forget that you are very loved!

Pop Pop

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