Enjoying the Journey

Recently NBC aired a special news report on the increase of loneliness in people around the world. The British government has now instituted a “minister for loneliness.” This new undersecretary in England has been commissioned to work on what the prime minister called “the sad reality of modern life.” How is it possible? We have more communication and more connection than ever and yet more people feel disconnected and alone. And it’s not just those living alone. Often those who are surrounded most by people – great crowds of people – feel very much isolated. In our own country medical professionals are now talking about loneliness as a public health issue. The former surgeon general went so far as to say…

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Preacher’s are engaged in the greatest work in the world. It is a work that will outlive this world!  1 Timothy 5:17 says, “Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.” Those who are engaged in such labor must also have times to rest and refresh their own souls. Friendship and fellowship is absolutely essential to keeping your own heart renewed. Even the great Apostle Paul rejoiced when he was given liberty to go to his friends and be refreshed (Acts 27:3). Three weeks from today we will be gathered with a group of preachers at The Preacher’s Rest in Hickory, North Carolina. This gathering is designed…

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As a boy I heard an older man say, “If you have a handful of true friends in life you are a wealthy person.” At the time I thought it was a ridiculous statement. I had a lot of friends! I planned to make more… Now, at middle age, I am that older man! And I am beginning to understand. There are many casual friendships in life, and even more acquaintances. But, true friends? They are rare, precious, priceless. And they do not come by accident. It is easy to make friends. It is harder to keep them. Some people make friends easily, but true friendship requires work. Someone has to work at it! The same is true for maintaining…

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It is inevitable that critics will come. If you obey God there will be some man who does not understand. And the critics are not always foes – sometimes they are friends and family. Even Jesus said to Peter, “Get thee behind me, Satan.” Sincere people can serve as the enemy’s mouthpiece. It is not your critics who make the difference – it is your attitude toward them. We all want to defend ourselves. To prove them wrong. To be right. But, what if the negative is actually a positive? Criticism is always hurtful, sometimes unfair, and occasionally exactly what we need to hear. Regardless, it helps if you can see the Lord at work in the midst of criticism and…

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The last few days have been filled with so many wonderful memories…and so much expectation for the future! As we pulled out of Knoxville, Tennessee on Wednesday I reflected on how good God has been to us in that place. We rejoice that He is not bound by geography! In fact, He is not bound by anything. I have made the drive from east Tennessee to southern West Virginia many times in the last twenty-two years, but this time was different. We were leaving home for home. Thoughts of home have consumed my mind this week as we have unloaded and begun to settle in Beckley. Permit me to share a few of my thoughts… Home is the place God chooses…

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Over the last few months several of my dearest friends have said goodbye to loved ones and watched them slip away to Heaven. Moments like these remind us all that this earth is not all there is. Our bodies are for a little time. Our spirits were made for eternity. I have stood by the temporary burial-place of many who I love. Gravesides are different for those who know the Lord. There is more to come…much more. A precious lady told me last week with tears of the many family members and friends who are waiting on her around the throne of God. Her tears were expressions of gladness instead of sadness. She rejoiced as she spoke! She was not…

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One of God’s priceless gifts is friendship.  Through the years I have begun to learn the lasting value of a true friend.  This week I was talking on the phone to a man who has been a constant encouragement to me when the Lord reminded me of this truth.  The right kind of friendships form a safety net for life.  They become God’s instruments to guard you from the wrong path and to guide you to the right one. This blog has become for me a source of sharing with so many friends.  An unexpected blessing has been the opportunity to gain many new friends along the way.  Some of my blogging friends I have never met in person, but…

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Recently I wrote a post on the discipline and joys of staying where God put you.  Like the Psalmist David we sometimes feel like we would like a change of scenery and circumstance.  He wrote in Psalm 55, “Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest.  Lo, then would I wander far off, and remain in the wilderness.  Selah.  I would hasten my escape from the windy storm and tempest.”  We have all been there. There are days when the word escape sounds beautiful.  The problem is that leaving does not always bring the peace that our pragmatic hearts promise.  There is a rest in the middle of the storm.…

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The wisest man who ever lived teaches us that “he that walketh with wise men shall be wise” (Proverbs 13:20).  Friends have tremendous influence.  For many years I have counseled teenagers to choose their friends carefully, not to let their friends choose them.  Standing near the mid way point of life (at least from my perspective) I suddenly have realized that this counsel is not just for youth.  It is for me.  It is for all of us. When you choose a friend, you are choosing the influencers of your life. Look for men who are wise enough to obey God.  True wisdom is the wisdom of obedience.  It is more than knowledge, more than talk.  True wisdom is seen…

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Goodbyes are hard.  I was standing in a security line at an airport not long ago preparing to go through the regular process that has become so much a part of flying.  In front of me was a young lady who was weeping.  Occasionally she would turn around and strain to see if her loved one was still there.  A faint smile.  A wave.  Another goodbye.  With all that has changed about travel through the years, some things never change.  It is not easy to say goodbye to those you love. My attitude was much different than the young lady who was in line with me.  You see, I was going home.  On the other end of my flight was…

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