Pop Pop Epistle #26 – About Disappointment


Dear Grandkids,

This week as part of my Bible Reading Plan I was reading in Acts 1 and came across some verses that got my sanctified mind thinking. Jesus had just ascended into heaven. The disciples were down to 11 instead of 12 because of Judas’ betrayal  and they were looking to add another guy to their team. It came down to a choice between 2 people: Matthias and Barsabbas (also called Joseph). The 11 prayed,  cast lots (a way that was used back then to determine God’s will), and chose Matthias – who then became one of the 12 disciples.

As I was pondering this I started thinking about what was NOT in the Bible. Namely, how Barsabbas must have felt to have not been chosen… again. I say “again” because he was not chosen the first go round when Jesus made his original selection. Acts 1:21-22 indicates that he had been hanging around with Jesus from the beginning of his ministry.

So this is the second time he dealt with not being chosen. Now if this were me I would have been very disappointed, and no doubt Barsabbas experienced disappointment as well. So how did he did he handle that disappointment? There is a right way and a wrong way to handle disappointment. Apparently he handled it well… again. He handled it well the first time because he continued to follow Jesus and the twelve for 3 years after Jesus’ initial selection of the twelve. He handled it well the 2nd time because church tradition indicates that he continued to minister in Christ’s name and was eventually martyred for his faith.

Here is a Pop Pop promise: You will face much disappointment in  the course of your life and like Barsabbas others will be chosen at times over you even when you are just as qualified. So here are a few thoughts on constructive ways to handle disappointment.

Rejoice in the Lord’s sovereignty – As a believer, one of the great theological tenets of our faith is that God is in control. We can count on the fact that God knows what He is doing even when we do not. And therefore we can rejoice even when life is disappointing from our human perspective.

Rejoice with those who rejoice – We can be happy for other people when they are blessed in ways that we are not because we have confidence that God will also care for us according to His timetable – not ours.

Kill jealousy and envy in your heart – It is natural to be jealous of other’s success. But we are not called to live naturally. We are called to live supernaturally. John Owen has said, “be killing sin or it will be killing you.” When sin rears it’s ugly head in our life our job is to cut it off through confession, repentance, and a renewed commitment to pursuing holiness unto the Lord.

Continue to be faithful – When disappointment befalls us, the temptation is to want to give up and say what’s the point. But by God’s strength this is the time to step up your game and continue to do what the Lord has called you to do. He is working in your life through life’s disappointments. He is building your character and He will honor your faithfulness in due time.

Even though we don’t know much about Barsabbas, we know enough to follow his example in the wake of disappointment. Because rest assured, disappointments will be a regular part of your life.

Never ever forget that you are very loved!

Pop Pop

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Pop Pop Epistle #25 – Happy Birthday Bowen


Dear Bowen,

I’m sorry and I apologize.

Those are hard words to say. But I am sorry that I am 3 days late in getting this Pop Pop epistle written. It was supposed to be written to you on your birthday. And though I didn’t forget that it was your birthday I did forget to write this.

So perhaps you can think of this, to use a baseball metaphor, as sending your birthday into extra innings. But it also gives me a teaching opportunity.

Saying “I’m sorry” is very hard. It is for me at least. Ask your mom about the time when she and her brothers were young that I had to gather the whole family together and apologize to them. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.

I can already tell that you are going to be an incredible man when you grow up. You have energy and passion. You are very loving and you feel deeply. You are creative and gifted. But as is true for all of us, you are also going to have lots of opportunities to say “I’m sorry.” There is no shame in being sorry for something that you do. It is a mark of maturity and godliness. There is, however, great shame in feeling no sorrow and having no desire to make things right.

So, again, I will say to you “I’m sorry” and I suspect it will not be the last time that I have to do so. And as I rejoice with you that you are now 3 years old, here is my birthday blessing to you…

May the Lord energize you as you grow up to do great things in His Name. May He give you a tender heart towards people  and a passionate desire to please Him. May you understand how great the Lord’s mercy and forgiveness is towards you and may you daily grow in grace.

And may you never forget that you are very very loved!

Pop Pop

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Pop Pop Epistle #24 – About Last Night’s Game


Dear Grandkids,

I’m guessing that you did not stay up to watch the game last night. But let me tell you a little about it. It was the college football national championship game between Alabama and Georgia. Georgia took a 13-0 lead going into halftime which was pretty surprising. Alabama’s offense really did not do much at all in the first half so the ‘Bama coach, Nick Saban, replaced him in the 2nd half with a quarterback that had only taken a few snaps all year. ALL YEAR. And the QB that was taken out had led the team to back to back national championship games and a 25-2 record. Anyway, this true freshman QB, Tua Tagovailoa, comes in and throws several touchdown passes to get Alabama back into the game. The 2 teams are tied at the end of regulation and then after a 16 yard loss on a Georgia sack Tua throws a 41 yard touchdown pass to win the game and the national championship in overtime.

It was a game that I suspect will be talked about for a long time but here are a couple of lessons that I want you to learn early in your life.

1) Excellence requires preparation – How was Tua able to play at such a high level without any game experience? Because everyday in practice for the whole season he worked as if he was one play away from getting into the game. He prepared diligently so that he would be ready if and when the time came. Well, the time came and he was ready. You can apply this principle of preparation to just about everything in life. Sports. School. Work. Spiritual life. Learn to work hard and prepare diligently so that you will be ready to excel when “game-time” comes.

2) Disappointment requires humility and courage – Most people today are talking about the performance of Tua Tagovailoa. But I was equally impressed by Jalen Hurts – the quarterback who was taken out of the game after the first half. No doubt he was disappointed when he was pulled from the game. But you will find out along the way that life is full of disappointments. The way that you handle these disappointments will reveal a lot about your character. Both on the sidelines during the second half and in the post game interviews Jalen Hurts spoke with humility and courage. He recognized that the game was not just about him. He graciously deferred to his coach’s decision to take him out of the game and as a result he is a member of a national championship team. Learn this lesson early on in your life – life is not just about you. Our selfish sinful natures often makes this hard to believe. But believe it! And then when disappointments come – which I promise you they will – you can handle them with humility and courage and grace because you know the One that life IS all about, the Lord Jesus Christ.

3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:3-11)

Never ever forget that you are very loved!

Pop Pop

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2017: By the Numbers

2017 has been a good year – here are a few significant numbers that help to illustrate this.

6 – This has to be at the top of the list. Linda and I went into 2017 with 3 grandkids and as we leave 2017 behind we now have 6 grandkids. We still find it hard to believe that we are even old enough to be grandparents but we are very blessed by our kids and their kids.

5 – Linda and I were in Poland in August for a mission trip with our church and then stayed over in Europe to take an anniversary cruise around Scandinavia. 5 represents the number of countries we went to that I previously had never been to: Estonia, Russia, Finland, Sweden, and Denmark. This brings my total of countries visited to 47. My Mom built a love for travel into me as a young lad and it is something I still enjoy doing.

4,000,000+ – Just before 2017 started I got a Fitbit and set a goal for the year of 70,000 steps per week (10,000 per day). I am happy to say that I have eclipsed that goal by averaging 11-12,000 steps each day. My Fitbit has been a good motivation tool for me as I try to keep exercising in my older years.

59 – This is a huge number because it represents the fact that I am still alive. 59 years old. Or to say it another way – I am well into my 60th year. I know that by most standards I am an older man now but that does not stop me from still thinking of myself as a young man – and acting that way on many occasions.

24 – This is the number of years that I have served on staff at Ridgecrest Baptist Church in Durham. I serve with an awesome group of other pastors among an awesome family of believers that encourage me as I seek to encourage them. It has been said, “Find a job that you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.” This is how I feel about working at my church.

23 – This year I started a series of blog posts that I call “The Pop Pop Epistles”  – subtitled “Legacy Letters For My Grandkids.” To date I have written 23 of them. It is one way that I am trying to invest in them and leave something behind long after I am with the Lord.

And since I am talking about numbers, here are a great few verses from Numbers 6:24-26 that is my blessing for you as we move into 2018…

Numbers 6

Pop Pop Epistle #23 – About Chanukkah


Dear Grandkids,

Today is the beginning of the eight daylong festival known as Chanukkah. It is probably the best known of the Jewish holidays among the general populace but most people really do not know what it celebrates. Perhaps they know that it generally coincides with the Christmas season. Perhaps they know that it has something to do with a menorah. But most do not know about the history behind the holiday. So here is a quick history lesson.

The holiday of Chanukkah celebrates the events which took place over 2,300 years ago in the land of  Israel. It begins in the reign of Alexander the Great, who conquered Syria, Egypt, and Israel, but allowed the lands under his control to continue observing their own religions.

More than 100 years after Alexander, Antiochus IV (also known as Epiphanes) rose to power in the region. He began to oppress the Jews severely, placing a Hellenistic (non-Jewish) priest in the Temple, massacring Jews, prohibiting the practice of the Jewish religion, and desecrating the Temple by requiring the sacrifice of pigs (a non-kosher animal) on the altar. One of the groups which opposed Antiochus was led by Mattathias the Hasmonean and his son Judah Maccabee (known as “The Hammer”).

This small band of pious Jews led guerrilla warfare against the Syrian army. Antiochus sent thousands of well-armed troops to crush the rebellion, but the Maccabees succeeded in driving the foreigners from their land. According to historical accounts, Jewish fighters entered Jerusalem in December 164 BC. The Holy Temple, the Jewish religious center, was in shambles, defiled and desecrated by foreign soldiers.

The Maccabees cleansed the Temple and re-dedicated it on the 25th day of the Jewish month of Kislev. When it came time to re-light the Menorah (the multi-branched lampstand), they searched the entire Temple, but only one small jar of oil bearing the pure seal of the High Priest could be found. Miraculously, the small jar of oil burned for eight days, until a new supply of oil could be brought. From then on, Jews everywhere have observed a holiday for eight days in honor of this historic victory and the miracle of the oil. For these reasons Chanukkah is also known as The Festival of Lights or The Feast of Dedication.

It was during The Feast of Dedication, as recorded in John 10,  that Jesus made one of the most audacious claims ever. In response to the question, “If you are the Christ, tell us plainly”, that Jesus boldly proclaimed Himself not just to be the long awaited Christ but to be one with the Father. As a result the Jews tried to stone Him for blasphemy.

So either He was blasphemous or He was not. Either He was indeed the Christ that the Jews had been waiting for or He was not. Either He was God in the flesh or He was not. Either He is The Light of the World or He is not. I have staked my life on the fact that He is – for some very good reasons which we can talk about as you grow up. But my prayer is that you will do the same and then every Chanukkah will be a reminder that a great Light shines in the darkness and brings salvation to those who embrace Him as Christ the Messiah.

Never ever forget that you are very loved!

Pop Pop

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Pop Pop Epistle #22 – About Pearl Harbor


Dear Grandkids,

As you grow up you will no doubt become familiar with the significance of December 7 in the history of our nation. On December 8, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt famously said…

“Yesterday, December 7, 1941 — a date which will live in infamy — the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.”

It was a tragic day for our country. 2,403 Americans died and 1,178 more were wounded. Eighteen ships were sunk or run aground, including five battleships. But what our enemy had no way of knowing was that that horrific attack upon our country ultimately spelled doom and defeat for them. The attack on Pearl Harbor catapulted the United States into the throes of World War II, culminating 4 years later with the conquest of the Axis powers and overwhelming victory for the Allies.

The gruesome events of December 7 were soon memorialized by the motto “Remember Pearl Harbor.” It became a rallying cry for our nation as we set our focus on avenging what the enemy had done.

As Christians, we have another rallying cry: “Remember the cross!”  It was at the cross that our enemy mockingly thought he had surely defeated Jesus and God’s redemptive plan to secure freedom for those He loved. But it was at the cross that the enemy’s sure defeat was determined.

At the cross sin was atoned for
At the cross God’s wrath was satisfied
At the cross hope was restored
At the cross God’s mercy triumphed
At the cross God’s love was demonstrated
At the cross death was defeated
At the cross salvation was secured
At the cross the righteous were vindicated
At the cross God’s enemies were vanquished
At the cross God’s justice prevailed
At the cross God’s power was displayed
At the cross grace was victorious
At the cross God’s glory was revealed

Today is a great day to remember. Remember Pearl Harbor. But every day is a great day to “Remember the Cross” and to let this catchphrase be your battle cry as you seek to fight the good fight of faith.

Remember the Cross!

And never ever forget that you are very loved!

Pop Pop

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A Prayer for Audrey

Audrey Lynn Reyner

December 3, 2017
8 pounds 10 ounces
Durham, NC
Parents: Scott and Mary Reyner
Grandparents: Shay and Linda Reyner (aka Nona and Pop Pop)


Screen Shot 2017-12-05 at 9.34.12 AMThank you for this newest little blessing that You have given our family. You continue to pour out grace upon grace to us and we are very grateful. Grateful for her safe delivery. Grateful for her health. Grateful for her mom and dad and brother. Grateful for the life You have planned for her.

I pray that Your Spirit would fuel her with “joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory”  from the beginning of her life. That she would find delight in You and Your ways even as a little child and that there would be a demonstrative gladness that radiates from within her.

I pray that her life would reflect the meaning of her name –  noble strength. Noble in the sense that she is a living breathing reflection of the King of Kings. And that her strength would be “in the Lord and in the power of His might.” That she would understand that Your strength will be perfected in her weakness. That she find strength through humility. Strength through serving others. Strength through unselfishness.

I pray that she would experience You as Jehovah Shalom: The Lord is my Peace – that she would know a peace that surpasses all understanding; a peace that comes from knowing that she has been reconciled and redeemed; a peace that energizes her to live a life of contentment.

I pray too that she would experience You as Jehovah Roi: The Lord is my Shepherd – that You would guide her throughout her life. That she would joyfully follow You because You are the Good Shepherd. That she would rest knowing that You will provide for her and that You will protect her and that You will always prove yourself faithful to her.

And finally I pray she would always know that she is very loved by You. That she would know the all sufficient love of Christ no matter what happens to her in this life knowing that your love will sustain her with hope for the life to come. And too, may she always know how much she is loved by her mom and dad and the rest of her family. Care for this little girl and use her to be an incredible testimony to the glory of Your name.

Pop Pop Epistle #21 – Welcome Audrey Lynn Reyner


Dear Grandkids,

Today is an exciting day for our family. Well, actually the exciting day started at 10:28 PM last night. In case your parents haven’t told you yet, you have a new baby girl cousin – or sister as the case might be for Keller. By the time I write my next epistle that little sonogram blob below will be replaced by  a whole bunch of cuteness.

So this makes 6 times now that your Nona and I have welcomed a grandbaby into our family in just a little more than 5 years. Three of you have been born in a little more than 7 months. And at present, as far as we know, there are no more currently in the pipeline.

I hope you already know that you have been prayed for even before you were conceived and are the primary focus even now of the prayer times that Nona and I have together. Here are 6 Scripture based prayers that we will continue to pray for you in the days to come as we watch you grow up and wait to see how the Lord mightily uses you as an instrument of His grace:

“But to all who did receive (Jesus), who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12) – Our foremost prayer will be that you put your faith in the Lord Jesus as the One who reconciles you to the Father and become a child of God.

“And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming.” (1 John 2:28) Abide is one of my favorite New Testament words. We will be praying that you learn how to abide, how to be nourished and find your satisfaction in Jesus alone.

“Little children, let no one deceive you.” (1 John 3:7) There will be many who will try to distract you and steer you away from the Lord. Our prayer is that you will be thoroughly grounded in the truth so that no one will be able to deceive you.

“Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” (1 John 3:18) We will be praying that others will know that you love them not just because of what you say but more importantly because of what you do.

“Little children, keep yourselves from idols.” (1 John 5:21) This verse is the way that the Apostle John concludes his first letter. It was what he wanted them to remember. Our prayer will be that you worship the Lord alone and not the things of this world that can so easily become idols to us.

“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” (3 John:4) We will pray that step by step, day by day, that you will walk in the truth. The Word of God will light your path and lead you in the way of truth if you will devote yourselves to be students of the Word.

You can count on the fact that we will pray for you.

And never ever forget that you are very loved!

Pop Pop

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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 #19 – Happy Birthday Grayson


Dear Grayson,

So… you are the first grand young’un to have a birthday since I started writing the Pop Pop Epistles. Hence you get the first one of these to be addressed specifically to you and you will also note that your picture has been updated below.

Now that you are learning to read perhaps you can read this little story for yourself. If not, ask your dad to – since it has to do with fishing…

A father and son went fishing one day. After a couple hours out in the boat, the boy suddenly became curious about the world around him. He asked his father, “How does this boat float?” The father thought for a moment, then replied, “Don’t rightly know, son.”

The boy returned to his thinking, then turned back to his dad, “How do fish breath underwater?” Once again the father replied, “Don’t rightly know, son.”

A little later the boy asked his father, “Why is the sky blue?” Again, the father replied. “Don’t rightly know, son.”

Worried he was going to annoy his father, he says, “Dad, do you mind my asking you all of these questions?” “Of course not son. If you don’t ask questions, you’ll never learn anything!”

Maybe you know that one of the things that I collect is questions. Not many people collect questions but I hope that you will enjoy collecting them too. Question asking is a great skill to learn for at least two reasons:

1) It helps you learn stuff that you don’t know – I have found this is especially true as I study the Bible. When I don’t understand something I ask questions until I get a good answer.
2) It helps you get to know people that you don’t know – By asking people questions it lets them know that you are interested in their lives. And this is really important as you try to help them know about Jesus and the gospel.

Here are two things I want you to do. 1) Ask your dad what is funny about the fishing story up above if you don’t already know. And 2) get your mom to help you come up with 3 questions to ask me when you see me next week – questions that will help you learn some things about me. And I might just have some surprises in store  for you when you do.

In the meantime, I hope you have a super terrific birthday today and an awesome birthday celebration with your friends tonight. I will miss being there with you. But here is my birthday blessing for you…

May you always find joy in your walk with the Lord. May He fuel you each day with a contagious gladness as you get to know Him more and more. May He fill you with curiosity about this world that we live in and the people around you and may He teach you to ask great questions as you grow up.

And may you never ever forget that you are very loved.

Pop Pop

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