Image-1.jpg Dear Harper,

HAPPY BIRTHDAY! You are 1 year old today. It’s so hard to believe. 365 days ago, you made your grand entrance and our world has not been the same since!

You are no longer “the baby” of our family. Baby Ellie was born a little over 2 weeks ago and that makes you “the middle cousin.” I think you will do just fine in that role. You met Ellie over the weekend. Everybody got along just fine and I bet ya’ll are going to be best buddies.

The title of your letter is a little different. I’m not even sure what a “hashtag” is, but this one has become your signature line when I post pictures of you. I think people use “hashtags” to call attention to special things they want lots of people to see. When Al Gore invented the internet I don’t know if he knew all the trouble he would cause, but when I post pictures of you, Hudson and Ellie…it makes the world-wide web a much happier place…I guarantee! You are the prettiest redhead I know and you certainly are #MyFavoriteRedHead.

You are still my “Little Bit” but in recent days you have discovered just how much fun it is to EAT! I haven’t seen anything that you don’t like. That’s good. Don’t be a picky eater. Food is just too good to miss out on things by not trying it. I’m having to buy extra Little Debbie oatmeal cookies because you really like those. You need to understand that I don’t share my Little Debbie cookies with just anybody — but you are just too cute and too special for me not to share with you.

You are a jumping bean! That’s your favorite thing right now. You hold on to my hands and jump up and down and laugh. Nana calls you Tigger (from Winnie the Pooh) because you jump so much. You are a bundle of energy and you are curious about everything — especially Rosie. Rosie is a sweet girl and she just lets you pull on her ears and play with her paws. She loves it when you and Hudson come over to play.

There is one more thing I want to talk to you about today. It’s been weighing on my mind for a while, and I want to make sure you understand this from the very beginning.

We live in a crazy world right now. People are not always nice to each other the way they should be. That makes Poppo very sad. I was taught that it didn’t matter what color your skin was or where you came from, God loves all people and He wants us to treat each other the way we would want to be treated. Our family has always tried to live by that rule.

Most of the time when you and I are together, we like to sing. And one of our favorite songs says, “Jesus loves the little children. All the children of the world. Red and yellow, black and white; they are precious in His sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world.”

That is not just a song to me. That is the way I always want to see the world and it is the way your parents and your grandparents want you to see it as well. We don’t judge people based on the way they look or where they come from. We are supposed to love all people because God made them. It is wrong for us to treat others differently just because they look differently or talk differently or come from a different part of the world from us.

Remember the Bible verse that says, “For God so loved THE WORLD” — that means EVERYBODY in the world is loved by God —  “that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). That means that Jesus came to this earth and died on the cross so that all of us can have a personal relationship with God. NOBODY is left out. Anyone who admits their sin and believes in Jesus will be saved. As you grow older, we will talk much more about that.

Right now, I just want you to learn early to treat everybody the way you want to be treated. Everybody will not always do things that are lovable — but we love them anyway because God loves them. Don’t ever treat people differently just because they don’t look like you or dress like you or talk like you. I think this is one of the most important lessons you can learn in life.

I’m sorry to tell you that people will not always treat you nicely. Sometimes they will talk about you and they may hurt your feelings. That is NOT FUN. When it happens, always remember that Poppo loves you more than anything and I will do my very best to make sure you always know that you are loved and that you are special to God. There is nothing that you cannot do if you trust God and follow Him. As you learn that lesson, always remember how bad it feels when people don’t treat you nicely. That will help you understand what other people feel like when they are treated unfairly. I pray that you will always share that special smile with everybody you meet. It will sure brighten somebody’s day!

Well, here we go. Today begins your second trip around the sun. I’ve made almost 55 trips and you, Hudson and Ellie have made the most recent ones my favorites yet. I can’t wait to see what happens to us this year. Whatever comes our way, always remember that God loves you, Nana and Poppo love you and there is absolutely NOTHING you can ever do to change either one of those things.

I love you Little Bit. You truly are #MyFavoriteRedHead.



Pastor Keith, What Are You Reading?

We’ve made it to September! This year is flying by at breakneck speed. Occasionally, I try to post about some of the books I am currently reading or have recently read. I thought today might be good for that. I hope some of these will be an encouragement to you.

Faith Crisis by Ron Dunn (currently reading)
Ron Dunn was a major voice in SBC evangelism prior to his death in 2001. In this book, Dr. Dunn walks you through a fascinating study of the nature of faith. My takeaway so far in this book…Faith is about QUALITY not QUANTITY.

“Success in the Christian life is measured by faith. Always the word of Jesus is, ‘It shall be done to you according to your faith’ (Matt.9:29). All our failures are failures in faith.” (Ron Dunn)

Son of a Gunn by Jim Henry (recently completed)
Dr. Jim Henry served for 29 years as the Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church Orlando, Florida. After “retiring,” he became the preaching pastor at Downtown Baptist Church in Orlando. This book is the autobiography of Dr. Henry.

I love biographies/autobiographies and this one did not disappoint. Dr. Henry has 56 years of pastoral experience, he served as president of the Southern Baptist Convention and he has served as a spiritual consultant to US presidents and national leaders. Those things…and many more…made this a very interesting book for my summer reading. You will especially enjoy it if you are a life-long Southern Baptist and remember the battle we fought for the inerrancy of Scripture 30+ years ago.

Firefall 2.0 by Malcolm McDow & Alvin Reid (currently reading)
John Avant, Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church, Concord, TN said about this book: “Firefall 2.0 is one of the most important books you will ever read because it is about the most important thing we need — a fresh move of God among us! Learn from God’s work in the past to prepare for God’s work in the present!”

I firmly believe that the greatest need in the American church today is a true God-sent, Holy Ghost revival. Not just a series of meetings where an evangelist comes in and preaches 4 or 5 sermons about how we need a greater commitment to God. I’m talking about a true move of God. I’m talking about preachers and people who flood the altars of our churches repenting of our sins and pleading with God to do a special work among us in these last days.

This book provides a wonderful history of true revivals from the Old Testament to our modern era. Especially interesting is the section about revivals during the Reformation period. There is also a section about modern revival movements from the time of the Puritans to today.

Dr. McDow was an evangelism professor at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and Dr. Reid is an evangelism professor at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Dr. Reid was a student of Dr. McDow!

I LOVE to read. I wish I had more time to read even more but here are three books that I believe will bless you and your walk with the Lord.

What are YOU reading? Share with me in the comment section.