Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving Thoughts - Milton Perry

Last Summer I was asked to speak on a Summer series at the Graymere church of Christ in Columbia, Tennessee. After the service, an older gentleman came to talk to me. His name was Milton Perry. Mr. Perry was 96 years old at the time that I met him. We talked for about 15 minutes and I know he would have talked longer if I could have stayed. He told me about the beginning of the Graymere church, his presidential appointment to postmaster in the Post Office, and his years of preaching the gospel.

A few weeks ago a friend of mine handed me a newspaper article that contained Brother Perry's obituary. On the back of the paper, his grandson had used a full page ad to print the final letter Milton had sent to him. Here is what it said word for word:

"Today is the day proclaimed by the Massachusetts Governor of the Plymouth Colonies, Gov. William Bradford, as a day of Thanksgiving on December 13, 1621. On November 26, 1789, President George Washington proclaimed it as a National Holiday. This day was when everyone in the U.S. were to give God thanks for their many blessings.

Today I am both mindful of, and thankful for, the many blessings that He has bestowed upon me. Foremost among these blessings is the gift of such a remarkable, loving and caring grandson. My life would have been truly a dismal abyss without you. Every moment spent with you has been a joyous occasion. I well remember the many trips that you have provided me to such places as Nantucket, Bermuda, Cancun, and various other enjoyable resorts, that I probably would not have been privileged to enjoy without you. Since the days of your infancy and teen-age years, you have been a ray of sunshine in my life, always flashing a big smile, an optimistic outlook on life, and a winning personality, befriending everyone you meet. I suppose the greatest joy that you afforded me was when you made the decision, at an early age, to obey the gospel and be baptized into Christ. I pray that you may always remember that your "Priority" must be (Matthew 6:33) and live by the two "Greatest Commandments " as stated by Christ in (Matthew 22:36-40). Then, finally abide by the admonition: "Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life" (Rev. 2:10).

To me, heaven would not be a true utopia for me if you were not there. So resolve to "Meet me in the morning" where we'll live forever where there will be no heartache or sorrow and no parting. This life is but a proving ground to qualify us for heaven.

My prayers are with you always. May God richly bless you."


Papaw (signed Milton Perry)

On this November 26, 221 years to the day after George Washington proclaimed a national day of Thanksgiving that inspired Milton Perry's letter, I would like to offer some Thanksgiving thoughts of my own:

I am thankful that we still live in a nation where we can rejoice about someone obeying the gospel in a full-page newspaper article.

I am thankful for Pawpas who love their grandsons enough to give them a Christian heritage.

I am thankful for meeting Milton Perry, and the opportunity I had to talk with him on a Wednesday night after services in 2009.

I am thankful for the fact, that as I begin a new preaching work, there will be more people out there like Milton Perry who will become a part of my Christian family. I can't wait to meet them.

I am thankful for the lesson Milton Perry taught the rest of the world, simply by living the Christian life, and loving God and the church more than anything else.

Thank you, brother Perry - I will "Meet you in the morning..."

"Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; and their works do follow them." ~ Rev. 14:13

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

From Realizations to Responses

Do people really know who God is? I am not asking if they know that he exists, or that he created the world, or that he sent Jesus to die for mankind. I am simply asking, do people realize just how big God is? Do they understand his omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence?

Most people cannot see God or be changed by God, because their knowledge and comprehension of his true being is too small. In order to illustrate this example, let's go back in time and visit the scene on a ship once headed to Tarshish.

The first chapter of Jonah gives the account of the prophet God selected to preach to Nineveh, but who chose to be a deserter instead. He boarded a boat that was heading in the opposite direction from his divinely appointed destination. God responded with a storm so terrible that it caused the ship's crew to eventually locate Jonah and demand some answers.

When Jonah was pinpointed as the cause, he told his shipmates about the God of heaven, the creator of both land and sea. He discussed his own disobedience to God's command. He finally got the men to cast him overboard in a last ditch effort to save their lives.

With Jonah gone, the sea immediately calmed down. Here we find the response to their realization. Jonah 1:16 reads, "Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows." This is a fascinating verse. It brings to mind what people do naturally when they get a true understanding of the nature and power of God.

This reminder from the Bible should cause us to ask ourselves a few questions and reflect...Do we need more storms? Do we need more calm? Do we need more Jonahs? What needs to happen before we realize how great God is? What needs to happen before we properly respond?

"For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality nor takes a bribe." ~ Deuteronomy 10:17

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Soul Winning

Have you ever been asked to define use words to represent who you are and what you believe in? Have you ever been asked to describe your dreams, and tell everyone what matters to you most?

If I were asked these questions, it would be very easy for me to answer them.

Where I live is inconsequential. How much money I make, not important. What people choose to think or believe about me - only significant as far as the gospel needs the proper support to make a difference in lives. Fame is completely irrelevant, because it is vanity and I know I will be forgotten eventually.

I want to be defined as a soul winner. When people think of me, I want them to know that I care enough about their salvation to help them work theirs out while I work out my own. I believe in the Bible. I believe in its saving power. I believe in God. I believe in His plan. I believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who accomplished the plan. I believe in the church. And, I believe in people. I believe they are changeable. I believe they need Jesus.

My dreams are simple. I want to affect eternity. I want to go to heaven, and I want everybody to go with me.

That, in my opinion, is the description of soul winning. And, if you ask me, I think it is the only thing that matters.

"For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel!"
~ 1 Corinthians 9:16