Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Come into His presence with Thanksgiving…

Psalm 95:1-2 says “Oh come, let us sing to the Lord! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come into His presence with thanksgiving; let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms.” The psalmist is right target with his call to all of us to thank the Lord for the many blessings God has so graciously given to us.
I hate to admit it but it seems the older I get the faster holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas sneak up on me. I’m kind of in shock that Thanksgiving is next week and Christmas is right on its heels a few weeks later. The retail world and the advertisers want you to focus on Christmas and forget all about Thanksgiving; but I think the admonition of the psalmist is of critical importance for all of us. I hope that at this season of Thanksgiving, you will pause, reflect and truly give thanks to Almighty God for His incredible blessings to you and your family.
I’m thankful for many things this year, not just every year, but every day of the year. When I wake up I thank the Lord for the night’s rest He gave me. I thank him for the blessing of my family, especially my amazing wife Cheryl. If it is blistering cold outside like it was this morning when I awakened from my slumber; I’m thankful for the home He provided me with heat and indoor plumbing! The point is we don’t need to step too far away from where we lay our head at night in the morning to give thanks. When I lay down to sleep, I thank the Lord for guiding me through the day and allowing me to labor for Him. Paul wrote to the Thessalonian Christians in 1st Thessalonians 4:18 “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Oh dear friends, would you be vigilant to give God thanks?
I’m thankful for this church family and your outpouring of love, concern and prayers for my family with the promotion of my father to Heaven. I’m thankful for our many friends across the country that have cared for us and prayed for us in these days of sorrow. I’m grateful to God for giving me the opportunity spend a lot of time with Dad over the last year of his life here on earth. As the Psalmist said earlier, the Lord is the Rock of our Salvation. For believers, oh how we can thank God for the assurance of salvation so when we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we can rejoice and be glad our loved ones are safe in the arms of God!
The rock of salvation, the Lord Jesus Christ, is why we exist here at Moundsville Baptist Church. I want to encourage you to take careful note of the holiday schedule you’ll find in this newsletter. Begin to plan now to invite a lost family member, friend, neighbor, co-worker or just an acquaintance to church at this season of year. They will come if you invite them particularly to the Christmas Eve service, or the Sundays before or after Christmas. I promise I’ll clearly share the Gospel message and we’ll pray that your invited friend will come to know the Rock of Salvation, Jesus Christ…and that would be something to shout joyfully to the Lord with thanksgiving that because of your invitation, a precious soul trusted Christ!
At this wonderful time of year, don’t miss out on the blessing of giving thanks to the Lord Jesus Christ. I’m coming into His presence with thanksgiving, from my little corner of the world to yours…

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A long honeymoon...

On June 8th 2014, I had the joy of celebrating 29 years of marriage to my beloved bride Cheryl. After 5 children, 5 grandchildren, a lot of joy and the sorrows that life inevitably brings; I can tell you that my relationship with Cheryl is still fresh and exciting and there’s never a dull moment. We’ve always been adventuresome people who love to explore and try new stuff. We have a ball together and quite honestly we hate being away from each other. In many ways, I still feel like I’m on my honeymoon with Cheryl. Oh our honeymoon to Jamaica only lasted 7 days because we didn’t have the money to just stay and we had jobs to get back to in Texas. Our honeymoon didn’t end when our plane touched down in McAllen. Our honeymoon has continued through career changes for me from law enforcement to private business, and then to my being called by God serve Him as a pastor. Our honeymoon has continued through living in Texas, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Texas again, Maryland and now West Virginia. With every move I’ve said I hope my next one is to Heaven but God has had other plans for us. Someone here in West Virginia encouraged me that the Lord may in fact answer that prayer for me because now I’m in “Almost Heaven West Virginia.” Even though the scenery and the people involved have changed dramatically, my honeymoon status hasn’t changed because I’m in love with Cheryl. We love “doing life together” and we are confident God’s plans for our lives are good plans with our best interests and His glory at heart. Of course forging a new life together has come with lots of challenges, adjustments and changes as we’ve walked through the different seasons of life. Quite honestly, it has required a lot of work from both of us to make our relationship what it is today and one that still produces great joy for each of us.

On June 8th 2014, while celebrating my anniversary with Cheryl; I also began another honeymoon with my first Sunday at Moundsville Baptist Church as the Senior Pastor. We are a local church that is part of the Bride of Christ; and the honeymoon analogy is a solid picture of us “doing life together.” I have enjoyed getting to know you, learning names (which is an ongoing process), settling in and getting oriented over the summer. I have to say I love you and I am so humbled and am amazed the Lord has been so gracious to me to call me to serve Him as your Senior Pastor.

I want to encourage you by way of reminder that just like a successful marriage relationship requires commitment, energy and effort from both parties, our relationship together as a church family requires those same things. Commitment, energy and effort is not a chore to be endured, rather it is a blessing to be enjoyed. Cheryl and I have been serving one another for nearly 30 years and the things we do for each other are rooted in the love we have for each other. Sure there have been times of frustration for each of us as we had expectations that didn't get met; but I have never questioned whether Cheryl loves me or thought she doesn't care about me. We've learned that our relationship is something we each invest in as we live out our roles as husband and wife. Because we have differing roles, we also have differing responsibilities. Our faithful efforts in serving in those differing roles have made our family the joy and blessing it is today. We have worked through problems and challenges because we are committed to each other for a life-time. 
I want us as a church to enjoy a long honeymoon together. I want you to know I love you dearly and I am committed to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. I’m committed to helping us carry out the mandate Jesus gave us to “make disciples” and teaching them to obey what God has commanded us. I know very well I am not perfect by any means so I’m going to make mistakes. When I make mistakes I say I’m sorry and I own my mistakes. I hope we’ll all do that and we’ll recognize the need to be patient and forgiving of one another. Cheryl and I have learned to do this and we've also learned how to talk about things in our marriage and work through challenges together. We've trusted the Lord as He’s directed our steps and have embraced the adventure we’re on together.

Just this past Sunday, we celebrated our 113 year history as a church with our Founder’s Day. I am so thankful for the long-tenured church membership we are blessed with here at MBC. Seeing the numbers of people who've been members of this church for over 20 years is astounding. Having a great number of members who've been a part of this church family for 30, 40 and even 50 years is mind-boggling. Having at least 3 members present this past Sunday who've been part of this church for 76, 83 and 90 years respectively is beyond incredible to me. It is a wonderful blessing to have this stability among our church family, but we can never allow our stability to become complacency because there is another generation of people we've been tasked with reaching for the Lord Jesus Christ and His Kingdom.

Cheryl and I have learned to be flexible in how we do what we do, but our commitment to one another and to the Lord Jesus never wavers. I hope we’ll all be flexible as we make changes in how we go about our disciple making business recognizing we need to change some things but remain committed to one another in love and to the Lord as His children. As we do this and work through whatever comes our way while keeping the Lord Jesus Christ the very center of our relationship, we’ll enjoy a long honeymoon together. I’m so happy we’re on this adventure together, from my little corner of the world to yours…

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

A tribute to Dad Green on his 75th birthday...

Today my Dad turns 75 and I had this plan to head down to Virginia to hang out with him and take him to lunch for his birthday; but the pending blizzard squelched that. So I thought I’d share 75 things about my dad that may be known or may not be common knowledge in honor of his birthday…

1.     First & foremost, Dad is a Godly man who loves Jesus. Dad has spent his life for the Savior and has taught his kids and granddads to do the same by his amazing example to us.
2.     Dad led me to the Lord at the age of 5 in the front seat of his car. Thanks for making sure I’ll be with you in Heaven Dad.
3.     Dad lost his mom when he was 6 and his dad passed when he was 8. Dad was an orphan and was raised at Boys Home in Covington, VA. This helps explain why family has always been & continues to be so important to Dad.
4.     Dad has been married to my mom for 53 years. He has never loved her more than he does today from my observations.
5.     Dad played football in high school with a leather helmet & he and mom love football to this day. Well they love just about any sport that has a ball involved J.
6.     I can’t recall my dad missing any of my ball games growing up. I know that he must have because he traveled so much across the State of Va. for WOL Clubs; but I don’t remember any. What I do remember was every time I looked off the field at some point in the game, Dad was there cheering me on.
7.     I’ll never forget the day I turned 16 and we got home from the Richmond DMV and I had my new license, we got out of the car to head into the house; dad tossed me the keys to the car and told me to feel free to take her out for a spin! Thanks dad for trusting me that day. That small gesture from my father spoke volumes to me and probably did more for my confidence than anything else my Dad did for me.
8.     My dad is a brave man and I learned that an early age. When I was about 5, dad chased off some burglars who were attempting break into the church he pastored in Ohio. That was a scary night and mom was worried sick. My dad became a hero to me that night and still is.
9.     My dad likes to have fun. His sense of humor is legendary. I've been listening to his jokes for almost 50 years and he still makes me laugh.
10.  Dad taught us how to have fun. I remember as a 5 or 6 year old boy in Ohio, dad pulled me in a snow sled saucer under a full moon for what seemed like a mile or more. I remember he and I slid down that hill under that brilliant moon until we were numb from cold. I will never forget that night.
11.  Dad has an incredible whistle just by pursing his lip and his tongue. I could go anywhere in my neighborhood or the woods behind our house as long as I could still hear dad’s whistle. When I heard that whistle, it was time to beat a path home!
12.  I learned from my dad how to be a Mr. Fixit. I have helped my dad tackle just about any project you can think of. My dad taught me even if you don’t exactly know how to fix something, you shouldn’t be afraid to tackle a project. Pay attention to how it comes apart, figure it out, and ask lots of questions of the guy at the hardware store…prayer always helps when trying to put it back together if it’s not working. I’ve heard dad breathe many a prayer and then watched God come to his aid in fixing stuff.
13.  Speaking of projects, my dad repaired the gap on the roof of my VW bug convertible by taking a piece of pressure treated wood that was bowed just right. I watched dad whittle and chisel that wood to a perfect fit, stretch that canvas back into place and my car was better than new!
14.  I’ve watched dad drop the engine out of a VW bug with one of his buddies and rebuild it, put it back and drive that car till the wheels fell off.
15.  Dad taught me how to drive back when cars had bench seats, he’d let me scoot over close to him and steer the car – of course his hands where there on the wheel to keep control but I used to love driving with dad.
16.  Dad bought my first gun for me because I loved hunting. It was a double barrel shotgun; a real beauty. I killed my first deer with that gun and I still own it today. It will belong to my boys someday.
17.  Dad taught me how to be tough and tender all rolled into one. I learned how to get hurt (working on a project) and not say something I shouldn't – I never heard Dad swear once when he hit his thumb…or when I hit his thumb with a hammer. I’ve also learned its okay for men to cry and share emotions.
18.  I learned how to top a tree and take it down in sections – to this day, I can see Dad with “his gear” and “safety harness” taking off limbs with a chain saw. And yes I can hear him telling me “whatever you do, don’t let go of that rope and pull this away from the house…”. I’m not sure I’ll ever top a tree like dad and I did, but I know howJ.
19.  I learned once you cut down a tree, you better properly cut, split, stack and cover that wood so you’ll have plenty to burn in your wood stove or fireplace on a cold winter night.
20.  I learned with Dad how to build storage sheds…we built lots of storage sheds…
21.  I learned from Dad to measure twice, or three or four times and try to only cut once…
22.  I learned how to talk to people because my dad has never met a stranger. It is flat embarrassing sometimes to go to Walmart or the hardware store with Dad. He will have 3 or 4 employees following him around to find the part he’s looking for. By the time the scavenger hunt is over, he’ll know all of them by at least first name, and most likely will have told them about Jesus.
23.  I’ve learned from Dad that by talking to people, you end up with lots with friends and acquaintances and you can make a huge difference in people’s lives just because you cared enough to speak to them.
24.  I’ve learned from Dad how to witness for Jesus. Always have a gospel tract handy and be ready to share Jesus with everyone you meet. I can’t wait to see all the people in Heaven someday because my Dad told them about Christ and invited them to meet the Savior.
25.  I learned that my when my Dad is with any of my mom’s brothers or brothers in law, there will be all sorts of fun and laughter.
26.  I have learned that Dad is capable of some pretty hysterical practical jokes and that a simple bucket or Saran Wrap have the potential to create gut busting laughter.
27.  I’ve learned that my Dad, my Uncle Jim and the bench front seat of a car are the perfect recipe for scaring my Uncle Jim to death. All you need is for Uncle Jim to be snoozing in the passenger seat, Dad driving up to a stop sign, slamming on the brake while holding the adjustment lever for the seat so it slides forward…Poor Uncle Jim thought he was being launched through the windshield…
28.  I’ve learned that Uncle Jim will make sure to pay Dad back in a hysterically funny wayJ.
29.  I’ve learned that my accidentally hurting Dad by splashing gasoline in his eyes while pouring it into the lawn mower will be fodder for a lifetime. “What have you done to me son?” is a question I hope I never hear again…
30.  I’ve learned a rubber hose for a gas can nozzle is a terrible idea and should have never been invented…It should also never be in the hands of an 8 year old near his father.
31.  I’ve learned that when Dad is standing on a plank over a log and wants you to jump onto the other end to break it in half, Newton’s 3rd law: “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction” is sure to mean one of us is going to get hurt. Part of my lip 41 years later is proof of that lesson learnedJ.
32.  I learned from my Dad that a power nap either in the morning or the afternoon as needed is a wonderful blessing. 20 minutes of “resting my eyelids” as Dad calls it will help you have energy that has everyone in awe of your stamina.
33.  I learned from Dad the value of hard work and a strong work ethic. Every Saturday Dad and I worked on something together.
34.  I learned at an early age how to be the man of the house. I remember when Dad travelled; he made sure I knew it was my job to protect Mom and Rhonda.
35.  I learned to love my country and work to make a difference in our society. I learned that Dad is a Patriot and I must be too.
36.  I learned how to memorize Scripture because my Dad helped me memorize it. I learned it is important to help keep you from sin.
37.  I learned to love the Word of God from my Dad.
38.  I learned to love the Church and the importance of Church membership because of my Dad.
39.  I learned to be an involved and a committed, serving member of my church from my Dad.
40.  I learned how to sit still and behave in church. I learned there was severe discipline waiting for me if I miss behaved.
41.  I learned how to respect authority and to honor my father and mother by the way my Dad disciplined me.
42.  I learned that when Dad spanked me, he loved me because he would tell me he loved me. He would always make me pray to God and ask for forgiveness of God for doing something wrong. Dad made sure I knew what it meant to be forgiven and that God never quit loving me no matter what I did. Dad made sure I knew he would never quit loving me too.
43.  I learned to never back talk my mother or father, but especially my mother; and that if I chose to do so, Dad would ensure I would regret it for a long time.
44.  I’ve learned from Dad there are consequences for what you do wrong.
45.  I learned from Dad to take personal responsibility for what you do wrong and there is no one else to blame.
46.  I learned from Dad that the life of faith in God is an exciting adventure and to trust God no matter what He asks of you.
47.  I’ve learned that my Dad is proud of me and takes an interest in my careers and pursuits.
48.  I’ve learned that taking my Dad to work with me is a huge blessing. I remember taking him to the PD when I was police officer and every cop in my department wished their dads would take an interest in them the way my Dad did in me.
49.  I learned to love ice cream with my Dad and that keeping a freezer stocked full of it is a necessity of life. A little dab after dinner as a “chaser” is always special.
50.  I learned to never start a road trip without lots of snacks. Okay I might of gotten that one from my mother, but Dad taught me how to have a hand full of peanuts in one hand and drive with the other and how to consume the snacks in the car helps pass the time keep you awake.
51.  I learned from Dad that when sleepy while driving, rolling the window down and driving with your head out the window in the winter will help keep you awake the last 30 miles.
52.  I learned from Dad to always put stuff back where you found it so you never have to hunt for it when you need it.
53.  I learned from Dad to keep an assorted nut, bolt, screw and nail bin in the shop so you can fix stuff or finish a kit project because they didn’t include all the correct hardware needed.
54.  I learned from Dad the importance of prayer and how to talk to God about anything and everything on your heart.
55.  I learned from Dad that God is a God who answers prayer.
56.  I learned from Dad that gathering with other believers to pray about needs in church is a blessing and that it is important.
57.  I learned from Dad the importance of supporting, encouraging and loving on your pastor. I learned from Dad that Pastors need your support, encouragement, love and prayer.
58.  I learned from Dad that whatever I do with my life and career, I should do my very best to bring glory, honor and praise to God.
59.  I learned from Dad that chivalry is still important and that gentlemen should always open a door for a woman, particularly your wife. This is something Dad does for my mom every time they are getting into or out of a car.
60.  I’ve learned from Dad faithfulness and diligent work will be used greatly by God.
61.  I learned from Dad that good stewardship of the resources God has given you includes giving your tithes and offerings to your church.
62.  I learned from Dad you are never too old to love on, encourage and minister to teenagers.
63.  I learned from Dad that loving on teenagers, encouraging and ministering to teenagers will help keep you young yourself.
64.  I learned from Dad that when you are diagnosed with cancer, to keep trusting the Lord just like you have done all your life.
65.  I learned from Dad that your cancer or whatever life trauma comes your way, God will use you to be a witness for Him if you make yourself available to Him.
66.  I learned from Dad that it is important for us to talk every day on the phone no matter where you live and sometimes multiple times a day just because we can.
67.  I learned from Dad that you are never too old to join a “young marrieds” Sunday School class. It will help keep you young and you have lots of wisdom after 53 years of marriage to share with them.
68.  I’ve learned that when you are diagnosed with cancer, your young marrieds Sunday School class and your many church friends will feed you for a long time.
69.  I’ve learned from Dad that a life-time of investing in others and serving others is a life well spent for Jesus.
70.  I’ve learned that only Dad can get away with patting a stranger on his stomach and asking if he got enough turkey to eat on Thanksgiving Day while walking into Walmart.
71.  I’ve learned from Dad that when you get up in the wee hours of the morning, you can have incredible quality time with God but also this necessitates the need for a power nap (see #32 above).
72.  I’ve learned from Dad that if your kids and grandkids live in Texas or Korea and you live in Virginia, you are as close as a phone call and investing in plane tickets is always a good idea.
73.  I’ve learned when Dad is coming for a visit, have lots of coffee on hand and never throw out old coffee because Dad will microwave it and enjoy it.
74.  I’ve learned to have a list of several projects in mind for Dad when he comes for a visit. If you do not, he will dream up one.

75.  I’ve learned that my Dad is the most wonderful, awesome and amazing man I know. I’ve learned that I have been blessed far more than I deserve to have my father as my Dad. A man named Ralph Wilfred Green II. Happy Birthday Dad!