Midweek Pastoral Letter for June 7, 2022

Dear Folks,

Happy midweek, this first part of June. Yes June! The month that summer begins and more sunshine is generally felt in the Northern Hemisphere. I am thankful for the blessing of daylight and sunshine which testify of our Creator’s love and care for this earth. God has made the sun to give physical light and warmth to all living. He has made it so that all the plants of the earth can be sustained by the light energy they receive from the sun. And with the help of water and earth, the living plants in turn give beauty to delight the senses of both animals and of human beings and precious oxygen that ministers to our required need for breath. It is this Creator God who first breathed into Adam’s nostrils the “breath of life,” so that man might become a living being. And it is this same God who stepped into the darkest night of man’s own sin to be our Savior. Jesus who was in the beginning with God, and through Him all things were made, and without Him, nothing was made that was made… Jesus stepped down from heaven to become a man that He might save us from sin. He did this even though it would cost Him everything! 

As you contemplate the things of nature during this month of June, please remember our Lord and our God. For He is our Savior and our Friend as well. Truly no greater friend could anyone of us have other than Jesus. He is now and always will be the true Light of the world. And, He is coming again! Soon every eye will see Him in glory… and the dead in Christ shall rise, and those of us who are in Christ and who are alive and remain, shall be caught up together with the resurrected saints to meet our Lord… where? In the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. (See John 1, Revelation 1:7 and 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)

I pray these words bring you hope, encouragement and comfort.

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Dean

Praying What You Believe.

For Memorial Day, I remember Jesus. I think of Him who is the image of the Invisible God, through Whom all things were made and brought into existence. He who created the worlds also became the Savior of our lost estate by coming to this earth and dying for our sins…

I have been away from the Thomaston Church for the past three Sabbaths, as I was preaching a 6-part series called “ORIGINS” at my other church in Griffin. I am a Seventh-day Adventist pastor of a two church district, and this ORIGINS series required my presence at Griffin for three consecutive Sabbaths. We had an excellent series of meetings there with several young people who came to all six presentations because they were invited by their friends. And they were interested in the topic. ORIGINS!

Did God really create the heavens and the earth like the book of Genesis portrays? Or, was life on earth, and all inanimate matter for that matter, the product of a random accident of chance known as the Big Bang, which over eons of time, then gave place to a primordial soup at some point on a prehistoric earth, which then somehow got energized enough to somehow spark the first form of life, a virus?, a complete cell?, or??, which then took off into an evolution of life, until… over 4.5 billion years or so we arrived at today?

Are we the product of genetic mutations that began in a primordial soup? Are the great apes and chimps our close cousins? Or, did God actually create human beings in His own image? What do you believe?

During the ORIGINS series which was written by Dr.Stan Hudson, I had the privilege of exploring the debate. It was Evolution vs. Creation. We explored the fossil evidence for the origin of mankind. We investigated the evidence for the origin of the oceans, and what the fossils and the geologic column have to say about that. We examined the opposing views on the age of the earth and the age of the Universe. Yes, we learned some strengths and weaknesses of radioactive dating and also of unconformities in the geologic column.

And we learned about the dinosaurs. Did Noah take some of them on the Ark? Were they wiped out by meteors? Could meteors have been involved in the great Flood? or its aftermath? For definitely, the great Flood of Genesis chapters 6-9 was a world wide catastrophe, that most likely involved rapid changes in the earth in a short period of time, as opposed to evolutionary science’s view of slow, gradual changes over millions and even billions of years.

We investigated both sides of the debate. And, we showed that the different interpretations of the evidence depend on and arise from the model that one uses to base his or her interpretation. Your model is your worldview. What is clear to me is that these two worldviews are not compatible. For if evolution is true, then the Bible is not. And if the Bible is true, then evolution is not. Even the basic atheist understands that point.

Why then do some, perhaps even many Christians amalgamate their belief about a Creator God with a belief about evolution? If evolution is true, then sin cannot exist, or at the very least it’s not our fault (not human fault). If evolution is true, then God did not create Adam from the dust of the ground, nor did He create Eve from one of Adam’s ribs. And, that would mean that the Biblical story about sin is nothing except a fabrication, and in fact the worst kind of deception. And, what’s more, if evolution is true, there is no God!

But… I believe in God the Father and in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and the Son of Man. I believe that Jesus is One with the Father, as the Bible teaches. You see, I do not morph my Biblical worldview to accommodate the evolutionary worldview. And what’s more, I believe Jesus and the Father made this world perfect. No sin. No death. No sickness. Nothing bad existed in God’s original creation of this earth, which the Bible emphatically states was accomplished in six, count them, six literal days. And on the seventh day, God ended His work and rested and was refreshed. And He gave Adam and Eve, and their posterity, the Sabbath Day as a memorial of creation. Thus Jesus affirmed that, “The Sabbath was made for man!” And, for that reason, He emphatically stated that He was “the Lord of the Sabbath!” (See Mark 2:2-28).

I recorded my presentations on ORIGINS; however, I cannot post them here, for, the material is copyrighted. The purpose of ORIGINS is to conduct the meetings in live venues around the world. Here is the link to my presentations so you can read what they are about: https://originsseminar.org/griffin. You can find out if there is a live presentation being held near where you live, by entering your city’s name.

However, the meaning of my blog post today is to grab your attention about what you believe. I have given this post the title, “Praying What You Believe.” Why? Because I believe that God originally created human beings in His image. And that sin has messed up that image. And I am praying that what I believe may be attractive to some of you, yes, even most of you, so that you might seek the Lord, and find Jesus and be saved. Most people don’t realize that Jesus came to be the Savior of the world so that He might restore us from our lost estate. And most people do not know that… God Is Love!

When Jesus comes again, He will come in the glory of His Father, with all the holy angels (Matthew 16:27), and the reward that the saved human saints will receive at that time is to be called forth from their graves if they have died, or, for those saints who are still living when He appears in the sky, to “be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet…” (see 1 Corinthians 15:50-55). Together, they will be caught up in the clouds of heaven with Jesus and His angels. The reward that Jesus will give to them is eternal life. They will receive new immortal bodies, and thus the image of God will be fully restored in those humans who are saved. Jesus also calls this resurrection “the resurrection of the just” (Luke 14:14). Revelation calls it the first resurrection, and states that these resurrected saints are “blessed and holy,” because “the second death has no power” over them (see Revelation 20:6). The second death is permanent death. The second death has power only over those who refused to accept Jesus’ saving grace when they lived on earth. The second death is the final reward of the wicked.

So, for Memorial Day, I am sharing the YouTube link to my sermon, “Praying What You Believe”, and I am remembering Jesus, the One who does not want anyone to perish. He came to earth so that we might know the truth, and be made free from the bondage of sin, because “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). He who died for my sins, is the same One who created this earth. For it is written:

“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.”

Colossians 1:15-18

Mothers for Evangelism

A Mother’s Day sermon by Pastor Dean Read. https://youtu.be/-26sLIeqogc

What is the hottest political button in today’s American news? It’s Roe-V-Wade…During this time of political and social strife in our country, and the heated controversy over the recently and illegally leaked Supreme Court opinions that threaten to overturn Roe-V-Wade, what does the Creator God have to teach us, about all that?

But Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me, And my Lord has forgotten me.” “Can a woman forget her nursing child, And not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely they may forget, Yet I will not forget you. See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands…”

Isaiah 49:14-16a

Do you remember the promise of the rainbow? My last sermon was called “A Rainbow to Remember.” Today, I want to connect something to the promise of the rainbow. Something very important! Remember, the rainbow is the Creator’s bow. He set it in the clouds as a sign of His everlasting Covenant, that God is love, and that He can be trusted because He keeps His promises.

I want to connect Mothers to the promise of the rainbow. Christian mothers! God wants mothers to give their hearts to Christ, and to raise their children with the help of Divine love. Do you believe that?

Pray with me. Lord Jesus, I pray today, for a special blessing on Christian mothers, those who have known the struggle to raise their children in the Lord. And I also ask, for a blessing upon all of Your daughters, O Lord, both young and old, that they may be filled with Divine compassion for souls. And that they may become workers in Your vineyard to seek and save the lost. In Jesus’ name, amen!

The title of my sermon is, “Mothers for Evangelism.”

Let me ask you, how familiar are you with the book of Isaiah? Specifically chapter 49? It is written to God’s church of the Old Testament, Israel, and there God calls Israel, “My servant.” Now the idea of God’s Servant in the book of Isaiah is really about the Messiah. There are many prophecies in Isaiah of the Messiah, and the Messiah, Jesus is God’s Servant. But God also calls His people, His servant. And here in Isaiah chapter 49, both the Messiah and Israel are to be “a light the Gentiles.”

In fact, God’s Servant is both the Messiah and His people, His church. There is an interplay between these two servants in this chapter. Both the Messiah and the Church are to serve God and to be a light to the Gentiles. 

But, there was a problem with God’s people, with Israel. Because of their sins, they thought God had forgotten them. So the Messiah had to take up the work of saving them too. Not only did the Messiah have to be a light to the Gentiles, He also had to be a light to Israel. A light to His church, because His people tended to get sidetracked and go astray.

 God has not forgotten us, we have been inscribed on the bloodstained hands of Jesus.

pastor dean read

May I tell you a story? A long time ago, a family whose surname was “Wunstherborn” came to this country seeking the freedoms and opportunities found here. They were not Christians, per-say. In fact many of them tended to shun religion as time went on and more generations of Wunstherborn’s were born. 

The newer generations became more and more diverse, and as a result, when you examine their family tree, today you will find them spread out amongst the various religions, politics and philosophies found here in America. 

What happened to the Wunstherborn’s and where will you find them today? Who are they?

“Mothers for evangelism” by dean read May 7, 2022

Who are the Wunstherborn’s? They are The hungry and the thirsty, The sick and the naked (those uncovered), The stranger and the prisoner, The widow and the orphan… They are all those who have been once born. They are found among all peoples and people groups alive today in America and throughout the world, for they have been once born (Once-they’re-born).

And God has not forgotten them. He has inscribed them on the palms of His hands, the very pierced hands of Jesus. He who died on the cross, given to the whole world by the Father God, a Light to the Gentiles, that “whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). And according to Jesus, those who desire everlasting life must be born a second time. They must be born again! For Jesus’ first words to Nicodemus are words to all humanity, and they are words of promise:

“Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

John 3:3

Everyone has been once born. Who among God’s servants will have compassion on them once-they’re-born? Who among “Christians” will be a light to others? The irony is that people on the political left are shouting for the right of a woman to choose abortion and people on the political right are shouting for the right of the unborn to become once-born. This controversy over the fate of Roe-V-Wade is taken up even by Christians. However, who among the Christians are advocating for them once-they’re-born?

God wants Christian mothers to raise their children to know God. To know the love of God. To know Jesus, so that they might choose to be born again. To raise them so that they might freely choose to believe in Jesus and follow Him. The hope of all true Christian mothers is that their children, once-they’re-born, will grow up and choose to be born again, that is, to be born of water and the Spirit. For Jesus made this point clear. That night that Nicodemus came to meet Jesus and find out who He was, Jesus made it clear who will be saved. Jesus’ answer is a promise to all humans who have been once-born, that they might know how to receive eternal life. Jesus says to us all,

“Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”

John 3:5

In Matthew 25 you will find the parable of the sheep and the goats being separated by Jesus when He brings judgment on the nations. The way Jesus tells the parable, only those of His people who serve Him, being a light to the Gentiles, are commended as His people who are truly saved. For He says,

to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’ “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’

Matthew 25:34-40

Christian mothers are those who should have compassion on their children and also on other children. God wants Christian mothers to be a light to the world. And what about those mothers who are not biological mothers, but are spiritual mothers? Spiritual mothers and fathers and spiritual brothers and sisters are those who will have compassion on the hungry and the thirsty, the sick and the uncovered, the stranger and the prisoner, the widow and the orphan… that they may be a light to the outcast and a a help so that they may find Jesus, accept His love and receive His saving grace.

Who will have compassion on the once-they’re-borns, that they may be born again of water and the Spirit? Who will have compassion on the once-they’re-borns, that they may be born again for the Kingdom of God? God has not forgotten us, we have been inscribed on the bloodstained hands of Jesus.

A Rainbow to Remember

The Rainbow! Who has not been fascinated at the site of a rainbow in the sky? We look for them on cloudy days, especially after a good rain. I remember seeing a most magnificent double rainbow while Tracie and I were driving on the mainland Highway 17, just as we were coming off the Sidney Lanier Bridge. God had stretched a reflection of His glory across the marsh and the inter-coastal waters in the Golden Isles of Georgia. It seemed to connect the two great barrier islands of St. Simons and Jekyll. What a sight to behold! In science class you will learn that a rainbow is a reflection of the visible spectrum of light. Give kids a prism to shine light through, and they can play a long time making rainbows in the air and on the walls. But, do you know from where the rainbow comes? In Genesis 9:13, God says, I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth.”

What do you think? Could God be calling you to watch this sermon that bears witness to Divine love for all the earth?

The Secret of Spiritual Health

Dear Folks,

Happy Tuesday morning to all in the Lord. It is good to acknowledge our belief in God. Everyday! To make mention of His name and to commune with Him. That’s what I find myself doing this morning, taking a break only to write this letter. And I’m feeling much better, though I’m still a little lagging in physical health, the Lord has lifted my spirit through my communion with Him this morning.

Tracie and I have struggled through illness for the past week or so. She seemed to have it first, the effects of hay fever, and I seemed to have only a touch of it. I was determined not to allow it to get the better of me, but it did. By last Thursday I was in a poor condition, beginning to suffer the effects of bronchitis. Illnesses like that can quickly cause plans to change, and I thank the Lord, that the First Elders of each church, Mort Kriigel at Griffin and Richard Respress at Thomaston stepped up to take the worship services. Thank you Richard and Mort, and praise the Lord.

And though this bronchitis still lingers in me, I am much improved in stamina and health. Hydrotherapy really does help. It takes an effort to do it, the hot and cold water treatments, but it certainly helps, especially when combined with rest. My voice which was lost to me has mostly been revived, so that I should be able to handle the prayer meetings tonight and tomorrow night. Those who attend already know, I am not the only one who has to talk during the prayer meeting. We all have a very blessed time together when we come together these midweek prayer meetings, each one being able to share something that is on their heart, a praise, a testimony, and thanksgiving, a prayer request and more.

Thinking back to my communion this morning with the Lord, and in regards to our spiritual health, notice this incisive statement from Ellen White: 

“Prayer is the breath of the soul. It is the secret of spiritual power. No other means of grace can be substituted, and the health of the soul be preserved.”

 Ellen Gould White, In Heavenly Places (Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1967), 83.

What a joy it is to contribute to the health of each other’s souls as we come together in prayer. I will be leading out tonight and tomorrow night in the prayer meetings for the two churches of which I have the privilege and the calling to be the pastor. I thank the Lord for technology such as Zoom, because even the sick may attend without risk. And now, since I am still a little sick, I will take the majority of the rest of today to spend in communion with my Lord.

FINAL THOUGHT: Perhaps the Lord allows such illnesses to come, so that His people will find opportunity to commune with Him. Selah!

Grace & Peace,

Pastor Dean

Evidence for the Flood

I will be watching and studying this video today. https://isgenesishistory.vhx.tv/packages/igh-student-educator-conference-2017/videos/sedimentology-of-the-flood-kurt

Evidence that supports The Flood in Noah’s day, therefore, also supports the historical genealogies of Genesis. These were real people whose stories have been preserved by the mercy of the Creator for all people today.

Noah preached for 120 years that it was coming. God warned all that The Flood would destroy the earth, and the only people who would be saved were those who chose to get into the Ark that God told Noah to build. Those who rejected God’s mercy did not get into the Ark. They perished!

The Flood was a worldwide Judgment from God because of the wickedness of humanity. You can read the story in Genesis 6…

“Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. So the LORD said, “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.” But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.”

Genesis 6:5-8

What about today? How many are spurning the mercy that the LORD Jesus has been offering to this world? You can choose to ignore the evidence, and not make your own investigation. But, what will you miss out on? A time is coming when everyone will stand before the Judgment seat of God. Everyone! Then everyone will be out of excuses.

Now is the time of grace, a period of probation that Jesus Christ has granted to this world.

“For He says: “In an acceptable time I have heard you, And in the day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”

(2 Corinthians 6:2)

Mercy is still reaching out to human beings, but there is coming a time when earth’s probation will close, and the Lord Jesus will come to redeem His people, as surely as the Flood came and surprised the unprepared.

“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.”

Matthew 24:36-39

From Easter to Origins, What Do You Believe?

Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

John 8:31-32

Good Morning Folks,

By the time I post this I suppose a better greeting might be “Good Afternoon.” Today is shaping up to be much warmer than the past few days. And I am thankful for that. Of course, if you lived elsewhere, like in Oregon, they received the first ever measurable snowfall in April just yesterday. There is a storm system out there that is threatening to bring “strong tornadoes” and “baseball-sized hail” in the Mississippi Valley and the lower Plains, while the northern Plains will get dumped on with 3 feet of snow. This severe weather is happening in Spring? Well it’s not the first time our country has seen such things. Friends of mine who now live in Michigan have recently shared about the colder weather and snow they received in April. Meanwhile, here in the heart of Georgia we are dealing with extreme pollen conditions, as can be evidenced by some of us who are a little on the sensitive side to that. And the weather last week or so was not the nicest, with quite a few of the surrounding counties under tornado watches and severe weather alerts. And when the rain was gone, the opposite of wet conditions became overly dry conditions with humidities of less than 25%. 

What will heaven be like? Perfect weather all the time! And no more wars! And no more pandemics, pestilences or diseases! We can praise God for what good things are to come for those of us looking forward to heaven.

And we can also praise God that He always provides a way for us to navigate the difficulties of life on this earth. He has not left us here alone. In fact, Jesus came to this earth and immersed Himself in our troublous situation, so that He might deliver us from sin and from evil and from falsehoods and lies. Hallelujah! Yes, oh how I look forward to heaven.

As a pastor, I care about people. I especially care that they should be able to know the truth, as Jesus had also hoped. Jesus said the reason that He came to the earth was all about testifying to the truth. And this in a conversation with none other than Pontius Pilate, who in the next few moments would give the permission and the order to crucify Jesus.

Here is the record of that conversation:

Then Pilate entered the Praetorium again, called Jesus, and said to Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered him, “Are you speaking for yourself about this, or did others tell you this concerning Me?” Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered You to me. What have You done?” Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.” Pilate therefore said to Him, “Are You a king then?” Jesus answered, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?” And when he had said this, he went out again to the Jews, and said to them, “I find no fault in Him at all.”

John 18:33-38

What? Pilate questioned Jesus about the accusations against Him. Pilate learned that Jesus was a King, but, “not of this world.” Pilate heard Jesus state His purpose for coming into the world, “that I should bear witness to the truth.” Then Pilate rejected that truth as if truth was not something to be grasped. Yet, Pilate admitted to the Jews, that he found no fault in Jesus, “at all.” No fault at all! And still he gave the order, and the permission to crucify Jesus.

What do you think? Many people today also might agree with Pilate’s careless answer to Jesus, “What is truth?” Many people, like Pilate also believe that truth is not tangible, not something to be grasped. But, Jesus affirmed that truth was something to be grasped, that it was something people could actually find. Jesus actually taught that it was knowledge of the truth that could and would make a person free (John 8:32). Yet, there is a condition. Jesus tied anyones ability to know the truth to a knowledge of His word. In fact, Jesus gave this promise solely to those who believed in Him. Jesus said to those who believed in Him, “If you abide in My word… then you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.”

Are you one of those who believe in Jesus? Especially at this Easter season, there are many who will come to worship at various churches around the world. But how many of those worshippers actually believe in Jesus enough to abide in His word? For I know that there are many Christians who also believe in evolution, as if they do not believe that God created the world in six days and rested on the Seventh day, as Genesis chapters 1 and 2 portray.

I would like to give a challenge to you, if you are one of those Christians that also believes in evolution. For the same God you worship at the Easter season, because Jesus went to the cross and died for your sins, this same God also claims to have made the world in six days, and rested on the Seventh. (Side-note: What other evidence is there for why we have a seven day week?)

This God who has testified to the truth wants you to have an intelligent faith. Is there evidence from science that would support the creation account in Genesis, or even the Flood narrative as written in Genesis chapters 6-9? And what about the evidence from scripture that Jesus fully believed in the literal creation account as found in the book of Genesis? If you would like to investigate the truth on this matter, to help you to abide in Jesus’ word, that you may also know the truth and be made free, then consider joining me in an investigation in the following seminar called ORIGINS, written by Dr. Stan Hudson, and presented throughout this year at various locations.

I will be giving a presentation of ORIGINS beginning on May 13 at the church where I serve as pastor. I will do six presentations, the first three on May 13 and 14, and the final three on May 20 and 21. I am hoping that y’all will pray about this and come (there will be a Zoom link for those who live farther away). Also, please consider inviting a friend who may be questioning whether or not he/she can trust the Bible.

People need to hear a different story than the world has been teaching. People need to be introduced to a different world view, a proper Biblical world view that will help them to understand the truth. And people need to understand the truth that God created this world in six days and rested on the Seventh-day, as surely as they also understand the truth that Jesus was crucified for their sins. Will you pray about this? Thank you.

Here is a link to the website created for these ORIGINS meetings: https://originsseminar.org/Griffin/

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Dean

Plant, Ponder, and Prosper

Good Morning,

And what a Tuesday morning it has become. It began with overcast skies, and I went outside to take some pictures of our side yard, where we had worked in the ground yesterday to plant four new blueberry bushes and two new blackberry vines. I got the pictures just in time, before the predicted rain began to fall. For, here in Griffin where we live, the predicted storm has now arrived. We are also under a tornado watch and this storm is going to hang around into the night season. We are thankful that we were able to plant those six fruit trees yesterday, and also thankful for the rain to water them today. Thank You LORD God!

We spent a good portion of yesterday digging and planting. I had to use my pickaxe to dig out some left over tree roots, and it took us a few hours of working together before we had finished for the day. However, it was a good feeling when we were done, tired though we were. Yes, even exhausted! We prayed and asked God to bless the work of our hands, even as Joseph (Genesis 39) was blessed because the LORD had prospered the work of his hands. Oh, and we found a new tree (a red oak) that had recently sprouted up a little too close to our neighbor’s wall, where it could cause some damage if left to grow there. So, we transplanted it to a more prosperous location where it will provide some shade and beauty as it matures.

I pray that as you read this midweek pastoral letter you will remember how the Lord wants to bless His people through their loyalty to Him and faithfulness to their daily chores. As you can read in Psalm 1:1-3: 

“Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful; But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night.

“He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper.”

Psalm 1:1-3

To “meditate” as it is used here in scripture actually means to “ponder by talking to oneself.” That is by memorizing and repeating God’s word back to yourself, and thinking deeply about it. Gardening surely creates an opportunity within your own mind to do that. And something unexplainable, except through experience, happens because this kind of physical labor, working in the garden has an uplifting effect on your outlook and on your mood. And the promises of God’s word become more enmeshed in the very fabric of your soul, and you feel truly blessed.

Moses wrote the “Book of the Law” to which the Psalmist is most certainly pointing as worthy of such meditation. In Genesis, the first book of the Book of the Law, we see the story of Joseph. Joseph was earnest and faithful to work even while serving as a slave in Potiphar’s fields and God prospered the work of His hands. Psalm 1 repeats the promise to those who like Joseph will endeavor to be faithful to God notwithstanding adverse circumstances. So that they may be planted and prosper, even as a goodly tree planted by the rivers of water is prospered by the Creator to “bring forth its fruit in its season.”

Even so it was for Joshua, as the LORD God instructed him in the day He called him to lead His people:

“Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go.

“This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”

Joshua 1:7-8

Would you like to be strong and courageous like Joshua was called to be, and to “have good success”? Like Joseph was even when he was surrounded by severe trials and temptations? Remember Potiphar’s wife, what she did to assault Joseph and falsely accuse him? Remember when Joseph was thrown into prison due to those false accusations? Then those of you who would like to be strong and courageous and to have good success, notice how strength and courage and success are intimately intertwined with the call to meditate upon “The Book of the Law.” That it should “not depart from your mouth” reinforces the idea that to meditate is “to ponder by talking to oneself,” by memorizing portions of God’s word and learning from His Law.

I have titled this blog, “Plant, Ponder, and Prosper.” To plant is to work in a garden, or to work with your hands or your mind at your daily tasks. Your job? Yes! And even in your home, in your community and also within God’s church. To ponder is to meditate on God’s word, thus to grow in character through believing in Jesus and knowing Him and thus to be freed from the slavery of sin. And to prosper… that is the Lord’s reward to you when He blesses your work for your loyalty to Him. Even as He blessed Joseph and Joshua.

As you ponder the meaning of the Psalm 1, I pray that your mental faculties will be quickened by the Spirit of God, and that you will be found among His people who are endeavoring to “keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus” (Revelation 14:12), being united together through the work of the Holy Spirit, in order that we will be blessed to prosper in our combined work to share His Everlasting Gospel to those who dwell in the earth (Revelation 14:6).

“Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”

Grace & Peace,

Pastor Dean

Be Still and Know–Through a Hike

March 28, 2022 Monday

Introduction: In Psalm 46:10-11 it is written: “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! The Lord of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah”

For Tracie and I, the experience written below is just one kind of way you can be still. Yes, you can be still in nature where the noises and tumult’s of the city are gone. Yes even when hiking in rough terrain.

Yesterday Afternoon & This Morning: Breakfast is now over. It is 11:20am and I am finally writing, comfortably sitting in a swivel-rocker in our 5th-wheel coach. We are camped at Sprewell Bluff, campsite #1, overlooking the Flint River Gorge. We arrived yesterday, setting up camp around 2:30 in the afternoon. It has been quite a pleasant and rewarding experience. Who would have thought? We will come again, as I have really been in my element.

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Yesterday Afternoon: We decided to go hiking yesterday with the dogs. Just a short trip, about a mile and a half, but very steep terrain. It is called the “Widow-makers Trail” for good reason.

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And Tracie was able to make it, though it was a little scary for her, being on this trail. This trail cuts its way downward, with switchbacks to reduce the angle of decline, yet you are definitely on a narrow ledge at times with a precipice falling off towards the Flint River below. After it had leveled off a bit, I actually left her and Rosie at one point where the trail once again began to drop quickly, and ventured on ahead with Jasper to see if I could scout a less steep way back.

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Together, we fast-walked and glided down the trail, and with each tenth of a mile, I felt the need to go another. Finally, about four-tenths out, though the trail had leveled out nicely alongside the river, and Tracie would have loved it, I thought it better to turn back as the place where Tracie & Rosie were was only four-tenths away from the trail-head above. Actually quite a ways above in elevation gain. But probably the shortest route to get back to our camp. And so we turned back, and moved as fast as my body would allow on the upward climb. It was an exhilarating experience for me, as I’m sure it was for Jasper. So, I went eight-tenths farther on this hike than Tracie because of that extra adventure. 

It was steep going and a strenuous effort heading back the final four-tenths, but Tracie did well. This morning she told me that she felt her bad leg (the one with the sciatica pain) was feeling like the muscle in the calf had done better.

And when I was done, and later after dinner, how good I felt. Yes, I am in my element when hiking. It was an exhilarating experience for me. And my knees remained strong. No pain and no swelling. Thank You Lord.

This Morning: The views here, both from our coach and on the trail are spectacular, because of the deep gorge carved out and sculpted by the river and winds through times past to present. After taking our dogs on their morning potty walk, then I decided to use the camp bathroom for my bowels business. There seems to be no dump station here, so we decided to use our coach for number 1 business only as that will make cleaning the tanks later much easier. 

When I returned from the bathroom, I stood just behind our coach at the precipice of the camp. Looking outward and downward towards the river. And I wondered if I could do it? I quickly decided to go. I headed down the mountainside, zigzagging, catching hold of trees as necessary to slow my descent and keep from falling. Down, down I went. Stopping only for a brief moment here and there to consider my situation. Should I keep going? Could I see the trail below yet? That would be the same trail we had hiked yesterday. And finally there it was. And the Flint River just below it. Yes, I wanted to get down to that trail as that would be an accomplishment. A reward in my mind. At least for me. It was fun to think about and even more of a sense of completion when I finally made it to the trail. Success! And oh how I love to succeed. It is one of my deeply held core values. I took a picture when I made it there and a selfie. 

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Having made it down the mountainside to the trail, now I had to turn around and climb up the steep way.

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Climbing, zigzagging as necessary, grabbing onto trees to pull and propel myself upward. My heart was beating much faster now. But I felt good. It was difficult going. My legs were pumped, and growing tired as I neared the top. But I made it. Another strong sense of accomplishment. Success! Yes! I was in my element. This is what I love to do.

Others may do more exciting kinds of things, hang-glide, water ski, golf or even race cars. Me? I like hiking and climbing in mountainous terrain. I’m a simple man. It’s what I love to do. And I am so grateful to my wife, and to the LORD for having this experience here at Sprewell Bluff, overlooking the Flint River on my day off. Thank You Lord!

Now, my wife is laying down, because she is waiting for me to finish this piece. She wants to go for a hike again. This time we will start the other way, going along the orange-blaze trail until it intersects with the purple-blaze, thus returning to the camp via the widow makers trail once more.

Oh Lord, as I walked around this morning, I thanked You and Praised Your name.  And I had read two devotionals from the revivalandreformation.org emails. Thank You Lord for those readings. Thank You for giving me the idea to come here and camp on my day off. What a good God Your are. As I wrote in the beginning of this piece, who would have thought? Certainly, we discover some things by trying out something new. What Tracie and I have discovered here is turning into a great reward. We will do this again, more often and soon.

P.S. During our breakfast, Tracie was excited that she had made a new bird-watch discovery. She thought it was a red-headed woodpecker. But she checked her bird book and looked more carefully through the binoculars and discovered… that it was actually a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. And there were two of them. This is the first time we have seen that species of bird. Thank You Lord.

God, Our Refuge And Strength

What is it about the war in Ukraine that many of us realize is so unjust? Where is God when war breaks out? When one nation unjustly attacks another nation? Let God’s faithful people look to Psalm 46 and God’s judgment of this planet. Written so long ago, can this psalm provide comfort now for God’s people, and hope for the future? Yes! Does it reveal how God will deliver His people “just at the break of dawn…” when Jesus Christ comes in glory? Yes!

And… what about God’s people in Ukraine who are currently suffering the ravages of war? Yes!

This Psalm has provided comfort and hope for God’s people since the time it was first written, this “Psalm of the Sons of Korah, who served in King David’s court in the land of Judah over 2,500 years ago.

This Psalm provided comfort and hope for the great reformer, John Wesley, as the night before he died, he was heard reciting: “The Lord of hosts (The Lord Sabaoth) is with us, The God of Jacob is our refuge.” Yes! In fact, Martin Luther wrote that great hymn, “A Mighty Fortress,” based upon this Psalm.”When Jesus appears in glory, perhaps God’s faithful will sing, “Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He, Lord Sabaoth His name, From age to age the same, And He must win the battle.”

I believe what I preach. I believe in Jesus Christ and His salvation. Do you want to know more? How Psalm 46 reveals the shaking and quaking of the earth and the seas? The voice of God will shake the earth and the almighty Lord and Savior will come and He will deliver His faithful people from this sin polluted earth. He will make the wars to cease, when He returns in glory.

Here is the link to watch and listen to the sermon