Happy Birthday PunkinDoodle

IMG_4906.jpgDear PunkinDoodle…

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! You are 3 years old today (8/21). That’s unbelievable to me. Three years ago, Nanna and I came to Raleigh, NC and on the day you were born there was a total eclipse of the sun. I knew right then that you were going to be a special little girl. I WAS RIGHT! You light up the room just by walking in. You love to snuggle (and Poppo loves that), you love to read (and Poppo loves that), and you LOVE Rosie (and Poppo loves that)! We have a lot in common.

I don’t like that you live so far away and I don’t get to see you as often as I would like, BUT you love to call me and Nanna on Facetime and that makes the distance seem not quite so far away. I love how you always take the phone and show me all your toys. I love it when you put the phone on the table and I get to watch you eat your supper.

The bigger you get…the more like your momma you become. Your strong-willed personality is in full display and I giggle every time you try and assert your dominance with your parents. It reminds me of the days when your momma would do that to me and I would think to myself — “I sure hope you have a little girl JUST LIKE YOU one day.” I’m convinced that your personality is going to help you be a success in whatever you do.

2020 has been an interesting year to say the least. It has made me think a great deal about what is really important in life. People can’t go to work or church and children aren’t able to go to school right now. It’s been pretty depressing! So I thought about what I might say to a 3-year-old that would help you (and Poppo) feel better about this crummy year. So…here’s three things this almost 58-year-old would like you (the 3-year-old) to know.

  1. Enjoy being 3! Seriously…if you feel like dropping down and taking a nap — DO IT! If you want a waffle and peanut butter for supper — DO IT! Grownups think way too much about working long hours and having to eat certain foods so we don’t get “too fat.” We struggle with stress and headaches and worries. We spend too much time worrying about what other people think. I often wish I could just say, “Hey…I’m going to eat a half-gallon of Blue Bell and take a nap. The work will be here when I wake up!” At 3, you can do that — so DO IT!
  2. Get messy! You want to jump in the mud puddle? DO IT! Somebody else is going to wash your clothes anyway. You want to spend the afternoon finger-painting? DO IT! Make a mess. As an adult, I’m way to concerned about keeping things clean and tidy. Making a mess is fun and it helps relieve stress.
  3. Work on your hand-eye coordination. I wish somebody had told me that at 3. If I had spent more time on that, maybe I could have succeeded at sports. Work on it now so you can play hockey or soccer or baseball or whatever you want to play!

Here’s my point PunkinDoodle. I don’t want you to get to 58-years-old and look back and wish you had done things differently. Enjoy life — every day, every minute. Treat your time as a gift, because that’s exactly what it is — it’s a gift from God. He has created everything (waffles, peanut butter, ice cream, mud puddles and sports) — and He created it to bring JOY to your life. So enjoy it. Make it a habit now to enjoy life and then grow that habit as you grow older.

I know 2020 hasn’t been what we might have wanted it to be, but we aren’t going to concentrate on the past. We are going to look to the future! God is in charge. The Bible says that God knows everything and He is in charge of everything. That means you and I don’t need to worry about that. Let Him take care of those things and we will just enjoy life — snuggles, reading, Rosie and ice cream. I’m going to try and do a better job of doing that myself. I’m going to try and take lessons from you, Benny, Hudson and Harper. Let’s have FUN. Let’s enjoy life and most of all let’s thank God for the time He is giving us.

From a 58-year-old to a 3-year-old — life is shorter than you think so make the most of the time God gives to you.

Remember this…no matter what happens in your life — Poppo and Nanna will ALWAYS love you — unconditionally. I may not always agree with the choices you make, but I will NEVER EVER stop loving you.

Happy birthday PunkinDoodle. Let’s go get some birthday DONUTS! We can do that and get away with it because IT’S YOUR BIRTHDAY and YOU ARE 3!!!!!

Living for Today or Eternity?

“By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ great riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward.” (Hebrews 11:24-26)

It’s Wednesday (January 15, 2014). Have you taken just a minute to view your life this morning? 

“Well, Pastor…what in the world does THAT mean?”

I mean as you begin this new day — are you living for TODAY or are you living for ETERNITY?

“Ummmm, I had not really thought about that. I’m just trying to get the kids ready for school and myself off to work. I can hardly think about this very minute much less the rest of the day or eternity. Pastor, you must have more time than me.”

Not really. Edna and I struggle with the same things you do — except we don’t have kids at home getting ready for school anymore. It just seems to me that the more I look at my life, the more I realize that ultimately — even at its longest, life is short in comparison to eternity. What are we doing today that will outlive us? What are we doing today that will impact others long after we have exited this world?

The more I think about that, the more I realize that many times I waste my time with things that don’t really matter. I have learned that when my primary focus is on earthly things, I tend to become more disheartened and cynical.

Think about the life of Moses. He lived in the palace as the adopted son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He grew up with all the benefits that come with being royalty. Moses had to have known that if he remained loyal to Pharaoh, to Egypt and their gods, he would never want for anything. He would have had great wealth and honor throughout the world. Moses also knew that if he identified himself with the Hebrews and with Yahweh — the God of Israel, he might be killed. At the very least, he would certainly be persecuted.

Somewhere in his early upbringing, Moses had been introduced to the One True God and he made the choice to cast his lot with his people — the Hebrews. He left Egypt in all its glory to follow the Lord God. In the end, the glory of Egypt faded, but the name of Moses stands out in the pages of Scripture as one of the great servants to God.

I read about a man who was passing a cemetery one day. He paused to look at the inscription on one of the tombstones. He read these words: “I STILL LIVE.” After scratching his head in puzzlement for a minute, the man was overheard to say, “Gee whiz, if I was dead, at least I’d be honest enough to own up to it.”

When I finally experience physical death (and I will unless the Lord returns first) — I will truly be able to say, “I STILL LIVE” because I have placed my faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. And when I say that I STILL LIVE — it won’t be a lie because I will have come to understand that life is to be lived and choices are to be made not just for TODAY but with ETERNITY in mind.

Do something TODAY that will impact your world long after you are gone!

Have a great Wednesday.

Make Me a BEREAN

“now these were more nobleminded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.” (Acts 17:11)

In Acts 17, Luke (the author of Acts) introduces us to the Bereans. Their name “Berean” comes from a Greek word that means “noble, generous, free from prejudice or fair-minded.” What a great description of these people! They were eager to receive the good news of the Gospel. Acts 17:12 says, “Many of the believed, including a number of the prominent Greek women as well as men.”

I find the description of these folks in verse 11 quite convicting. Could those words be used to describe MY Christian walk? There are many people today who SAY that they believe the Bible, but their actions and their words certainly don’t bear witness to that. They attempt to marry the cultural issues of our day to what the Bible teaches and it comes out as a muddied mess that would confuse even the most astute observer. I personally don’t have a problem at all with saying that there are issues in today’s world that are absolutely black and white — right and wrong. The Bible is plain in it’s condemnation of certain behavior and action. When the Bible speaks, there is no need to try and make it say something that it doesn’t say.

For example, here in North Carolina, the leader of the NAACP, Rev. William Barber, has organized protests recently at the state capitol in Raleigh. These protests are in opposition to the actions of the members of the legislature. Rev. Barber and the protestors disagree with policy and legislation being passed in the House and Senate. These protestors along with Rev. Barber have every right in America to register their disagreement and I will fight for their rights to free speech. That’s not my problem.

Yesterday (July 8, 2013), the “Moral Monday” protest (as Rev. Barber has called them) took up the issue of abortion. They attempted to once again make the abortion issue about a woman’s right to choose and all the nonsense that follows those arguments. If you listen to Rev. Barber and others, you would believe that legislators desire to kill our women folk and simply have them barefoot and pregnant all the time!

Let me say this without stammer or hesitation. Abortion is murder. Don’t try and make it into something it is not. Don’t call it “a choice.” Don’t say, “they are going to kill the babies anyway, we should at least make it safe.” Don’t argue that God really doesn’t care what happens until after the baby is born. Read Jeremiah 1:4-5. It says, “The word of the Lord came to me: ‘I chose you before I formed you in the womb; I set you apart before you were born. I appointed you a prophet to the nations.'” Do you see it? God had planned Jeremiah’s life even before he was conceived! You can’t tell me that it doesn’t matter about those unborn babies.

You can believe in the abortion and you can believe that it should be legal and you can express that opinion — BUT at least be honest enough to admit that you can’t use the Bible to prove your position. God is a God of LIFE and the sanctity of life must be preserved from conception to natural death. That is what the Bible teaches — PERIOD.

My point today is really simple. When you listen to folks as they espouse their own beliefs, go back to the Word of God and see what it says. Acts 17:11 says that the Bereans examined “the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.” They didn’t look to commentaries or TV evangelists or politicians — they looked directly at the Word of God. These Bereans were literally Bible students.

Notice the frequency of their study. It was DAILY. These folks were serious about their study of the Scripture. They didn’t put their Bible in the car so they would have it for Sunday School next Sunday morning. They read and studied it every day, making sure that the things Paul and Silas taught about Christ were true. It may seem odd that someone would doubt Paul or Silas, but I contend that every Christian ought to be testing what they are taught — regardless of who teaches it.

When Billy Graham preaches a sermon — make sure that what he preaches squares with what the Bible teaches. When your pastor rises to preach or teach, you should have your Bible WITH YOU and open it to make sure that he is true to the teaching of Scripture. You see, I’m not afraid of the Bible. I’m not embarrassed by what the Bible teaches. I’m honored that God has called me to be a preacher of this Blessed Book. And it is my intention to continue preaching it — from cover to cover — until such time as God sees fit to call me home.

It is not enough to SAY you believe the Bible. Anybody can say that — and many people do — including many people who put the title Rev. in front of their name. But when what you say or teach or preach doesn’t coincide with what the Bible teaches, then I have to question whether you actually believe it or not. 

The Bible doesn’t just CONTAIN the Word of God — it IS the Word of God. Many times, you will read in the Bible — “He who has an ear, let him hear.” That simply means that you and I are responsible for what we hear AND we are responsible for what we would have heard if we had been listening! Listen to what the Lord says in His Word and make sure that you say you believe the Bible — you actually teach what the Bible really says.

Dear Lord God. I pray today that I would be like the Bereans — searching diligently what the Scriptures teach so that I might be a true servant of YOURS! Amen.