SOME THINGS I DON’T UNDERSTAND

SOME THINGS I DON’T UNDERSTAND                                                                                              Andy Hollifield 12-12-19
Proverbs 2:11 Discretion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee:

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. (6) In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

Proverbs 3:13 Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding.

Proverbs 4:7 Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.

Proverbs 9:10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.

Understand—-(1) to perceive the meaning of; grasp the idea of; comprehend: (2) to be thoroughly familiar with; apprehend clearly the character, nature, or subtleties of (3) to grasp the significance, implications, or importance of

 

I know I can’t elaborate on all 160 times that the word ‘understanding’ is used in the bible. I can’t even cover the 53 times it is used in Proverbs alone. Then, there is the word ‘understand’ which appears 91 times. And finally, the word ‘understood’ which is mentioned another 37 times. I can’t even do justice to the 6 verses that I have listed above. I also remember that I wrote about ‘understanding’ once. But this time I want to talk more about some things I don’t understand and probably never will.

I will start with the unsettling stuff first. For one, I don’t understand why babies are born with defects or get major illnesses, and even why they have to die. I can’t understand why that good, godly, people die young and it seems that heathens live long and happy lives. The only answer I have ever come up with for those two is that the good godly folks are ready to meet God and the heathens aren’t and God is just being merciful.

I can’t understand why churches have some of the problems they do except because the devil is trying to destroy them. I don’t understand why when someone gets hurt in church, they quit on God and stay home in disobedience to his command in Hebrews 10:25 to “assemble yourselves together.” God hasn’t ever done anyone wrong so there is no reason to quit on him. I can’t understand how in times of crisis and loss, folks get bitter on God when he is truly the only source of comfort they truly have. He is the only one that can give peace in times and situations where you shouldn’t have any. The kind of peace that passes all understanding.

I can’t understand why that we always want to fight with folks that believe different than us knowing that lost souls are caught in the crossfire. We need to be sound in our biblical doctrine and I know that the bible says in Amos 3:3 “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” The bible doesn’t say that we have to walk together but it teaches that if we have been born again, we are all walking the same direction. Jesus himself taught that he had other sheep “which are not of this fold.” We are not going to be segregated in heaven by our beliefs so we might as well learn to get along down here with those that are fighting the same fight. Paul tells us in 2 Timothy 3:5 “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” He didn’t say for us to crucify them but to turn away so that we aren’t associated with them and their false beliefs. He will judge them the same as he will us. I believe we should stand for what is doctrinally right and be “rightly dividing the word of truth” as it says in 2 Timothy 2:15. I just can’t understand why we think that everyone has to completely agree with us all the time. Everyone reading this has either a sibling, parent, friend, or spouse that you have differing opinions with. We don’t break off those relationships. We may choose not to discuss certain things because we do have different ideas about them.

Many times I have thought that when we get to heaven, I would like God to answer and explain this question or that question to me. The truth is that he owes none of us an explanation for anything and when we get there, it won’t make any difference anyway and we won’t remember those things because the former things will be passed away (Revelation 21:4).

I hope I didn’t bring anyone down with the last section. I also hope that you see that as preachers, we don’t have all the answers and we don’t understand everything, and we have ideas and opinions of our own just like everyone else does. WE ARE HUMAN!

Now to some good things that I can’t understand. I can’t understand why God allowed me to be born in a land of plenty while others die for lack of food. I don’t understand why he let me be born to good parents that loved me while others have to endure abuse. I don’t understand why both of my parents lived until I became an adult while other children became orphans. I can’t understand why God would allow his only perfect Son to come to this earth and die and rise again that I could have the opportunity to be saved. I can’t comprehend the love that he must have for me to put up with all of my junk and not destroy me from off of the face of the earth.

I can’t even comprehend why he has given me the ability to put my thoughts into words while others may not be able to. I cannot understand why he has blessed me with the family and friends that I now have. I for sure don’t understand why he would ever call me to preach his gospel knowing how much I would fail and how little ability I have. I can’t understand why he ever let the Holy Ghost speak to my soul and move conviction on me to the point that I wanted to come to him for salvation.

I can’t understand why he allowed me to sit under the pastor I had when I got saved and get back together with him after I started preaching and learn from him as Timothy did from Paul. I don’t understand why he has opened the doors to preach that he has or why all of his men that helped me did.

I don’t understand why he has placed the burdens on my heart that he has for unwed mothers and their children and victims of abuse when he knows there are far more capable people than me who could do a much better job than I can. I also can’t comprehend why he has let mission work and driving ability take me as many places as it has and be blessed by so many people when I was trying to be a blessing to them. I can’t understand why he spared my life and has blessed me with a transplanted kidney that has worked for over 36 years now. I can’t understand ‘why me’ and not somebody else.

I could go on and on about the ways that God has blessed me. Everything that we don’t understand is not a bad thing. When I look at all the years of my life, I have to say that God has been far better to me than I could ever even think about deserving and I can’t understand why. I don’t have to understand it, I just have to give thanks for it. “IN’ everything give thanks” is the instruction in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” Ephesians 5:20 says, “Giving thanks always ‘FOR’ all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” “IN all things” and “FOR all things” give thanks. For both the good and the bad because it is God’s will concerning us. We can take comfort in the fact that it is “according to his own purpose and grace” (2 Timothy 1:9). “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose… “(Romans 8:28). Like I said; I don’t have to understand it, I just have to give thanks for it. Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!

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THE PROPER PERSPECTIVE

THE PROPER PERSPECTIVE                                                                                                                 Andy Hollifield 12-11-19

Ecclesiastes 3:1 To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: (ALL SCRIPTURE USED IS KJV)

You’re blowing it way out of proportion! How many times have you ever heard that? It simply means making something a lot bigger in our minds than what it really is. How many times have you told someone that while trying to calm them down about something? That’s enough questions for now but think about it. Think about all the time you spend worrying over stupid stuff, sorry but plain talk is easily understood, that never comes to pass anyway. There is nothing better than tragedy or bad news to help us put things in the proper perspective.

The reason we sometimes get told we are blowing something out of proportion is always the same: we are not looking at the situation in the proper perspective. One of my favorite gospel songs is “He Calms Me” by the gospel group, The McKameys of Clinton, Tennessee.

HE CALMS ME
1. Troubled waters came my way, the angry storm grew near I prayed for God to speak the word, to make it disappear It seems the winds would not obey, the Masters call for peace But, then the Lord spoke to my soul, Reminded me He has control And said this time His words were meant for me

CHORUS:
Sometimes, He calms the storm And sometimes, He calms me Sometimes the storm still rages on But, I feel the sweetest peace Its such a joy to know that my Lord Knows just what I need Sometimes, He calms the storm Sometimes, He calms me

2. Circumstance may overtake and bring me to my knees That’s when I feel I cannot cope with this life’s troubled seas I call on Him whose voice can still much greater storms than these His words bring peace into my soul When He says child I’m in control and with one touch, He calms the storm in me

I don’t usually include the entire lyrics of a song but I somehow felt like someone might need it. That song is talking about how we sometimes blow things out of proportion and the Lord has to calm us down. Do you know why we get to that point at times? It’s simply because we get things out of their proper perspective. Instead of looking at how big our problem might be, we need to consider how big our God is. That is one of the benefits of being a child of God; no matter what comes your way you always have a God that is bigger than any problem we could ever have.

Look at it this way; we spend a great deal of time worrying about whether or not God can fix our problems. Instead, we should be reminding ourselves that he created the heavens and the earth in six days and that’s far more extreme than any problem that will ever hit our lives. Why would we ever doubt a God that could and did create all we see just by speaking it into existence? If you think that’s a good point, consider this: according to Wikipedia there are 72 common medical specialties worldwide with subcategories in many of them. There are 26 that are officially recognized in the US. Now for my point; God formed (to construct or frame, make or produce) man out of the dust of the ground. God took the most useless thing in his creation, dust, and actually constructed with his hands, and then breathed into our nostrils the breath of life and man became a living soul. He actually knelt down in the dust, formed us, and gave us life. Man is the only part of his creation he ever put his hand to. We sing about him sculpting the mountains and hollowing out the oceans with his hands but it’s not biblically accurate. But you, he knelt down and gave you mouth to mouth to start you breathing. Now for the real kicker; we have all of those medical specialties to study about what God made from dust in less than a day. Roll that around in your mind for a minute! No wonder the psalmist David wrote in Psalms 139:14 “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.”

I have to tell you, my soul knows that right well too. That’s how big and powerful our God is. Man has spent hundreds of years and has created all told probably hundreds of medical specialties to figure out how what God put together in less than a day works. The Lord knows I am not trying to minimize anyone’s situation but sometimes we need to stop and realize just how big our God is and what he is capable of. In short, we just need to put him in the proper perspective in our hearts and minds. Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!

https://wordpress.com/post/morningmannaanddailygrace.com/2413

121119                                                        841

A GOOD KIND OF TIRED

A GOOD KIND OF TIRED                                                                                                               Andy Hollifield12-10-19
Christmas is almost over. Not celebrating Jesus’ birth, that’s something we should celebrate every day. I am talking about Acts 20:35. The apostle Paul said, I have shewed you all things, how that so laboring ye ought to support the weak, and to “remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.” I can only speak for myself but I have been blessed far and above anything I could have hoped for during our shoebox project this year.

We were able to distribute 658 total to 19 different agencies. It started before the project when the daughter of one of our former board members wanted to do her civics project by helping us. What a blessing and an honor that she would think of us. Also, Jacky brought Sam to the shoebox assembly allowing a lot of folks to finally meet this incredible little dude and his momma who they have heard so much about. The first time he was there with her was when he was only 11 months old. That means for the first two years of his life he has been there on project day. She said she told him they were going to surprise Papaw and they did. She had brought him to Fairview for preaching one Sunday to surprise me. I am praying that it becomes a way of life for both of them and I am already praying for the Lord to save his soul when he sees fit. Seeing them come in just made my mind go back a couple of years ago when things were a lot different. God sure has blessed a lot in those two years, answered a lot of prayers, and improved a lot of things for the better.

I also took Sam to Tennessee, Virginia, and Kentucky on a trip taking backpacks to my missionary buddy in Virginia and also to Hancock County Children’s Outreach in Sneedville. Although some issues arose that made it an aggravating day, it was still a blessing because I got to spend the day with him. He also went to Bryson City taking boxes. What a blessing to get to show him off to the ladies there who made a fuss over him. It makes me look forward to a lot more of those days in the future and hopefully being able to take Hetzel when he is a little older and more mobile.

It has been all about shoeboxes for the last two months and with two more deliveries that I know of and the Senior Gift Bags, it will soon be over for another ten months. Physically it starts wearing on you after a few of those long days but when a little bitty blonde-haired girl at a school walks up and hugs you for no reason at all, it kind of ‘pays the bills’ as I often tell my board. It makes you want to start over again and do more. Do you realize what this shoebox project means? It means that 658 people and countless homes have received a copy of God’s word for Christmas along with a tract telling them about salvation. We will soon be giving bibles to around 215 nursing home residents. The opportunity to distribute that many bibles really pays the bills.

At one of the places we deliver to in Brevard, the lady there has insisted on paying for mine and Tyler’s lunch the last two times we’ve been there. It’s not the money but rather the fact that she thought enough of what we do to want to thank is in that way that means the most. I even got to see my former pastor and a couple of friends we had gone to church with that were a big help and support when we first started the ministry. I mentioned to my pastor, Rusty Rector, about the time he went to Kentucky with us on a mission trip. I remember riding home in the church van and him asking me just how far I wanted to take this whole mission work thing as he put it. I replied, “I would love to do it full time but there isn’t any money in it and a man has to make a living.” Now, here I am almost 18 years later, still not making money at it but the Lord has let me do it full time and provided me a living in other ways. I have heard folks say when asked how they are doing, “I’m just living the dream.” Well, I guess I truly am. God put me in full-time mission work and has allowed me to go more places and meet more people than I would have ever thought possible or done otherwise. He has grown the ministry far beyond what I would have ever realistically thought possible that sometimes it doesn’t seem real. I mean it doesn’t seem real that God would bless one man so much.

I don’t write all of this to lift up myself in any way. I just write about it because the work God has let me do, giving stuff where it’s needed, has been the source of an abundance of blessings. He has blessed me with good board members to work with, past and present, that have a heart for helping others. I not only do mission work with them but they have become friends and many of us have watched each other’s children grow up following in our footsteps. I have always told my board that we were training our replacements.

Someday, my body may fail me but God will bless us with someone to follow his lead to bless others hopefully in even greater ways.  Working for the Lord is like nothing else.  The pay is unbelievable and the benefits are out of this world. I am ever so thankful that God has allowed me to be in this position and receiving his blessings just for doing what he has put a love in my heart to do. Like our key verses in Matthew 25:35-40 say; God has allowed us to feed some and clothe some and visit some sick and seen him do mighty works to the amazement of doctors. We have been able to try to give comfort to those locked in prison whether it be in their lives or inside brick and mortar walls. And all this time, I thought we were helping others, God was just setting us up to be overtaken by blessings as he promised in Deuteronomy 28:2. When I think of all of his blessings, I have to admit that although it gets tiring at times, it’s a good kind of tired. Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!

https://wordpress.com/post/morningmannaanddailygrace.com/2411

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THE SOUND OF SILENCE

THE SOUND OF SILENCE                                                                                                                      Andy Hollifield 12-9-19
Many of you reading this have experienced first-hand what I am writing to you about. With my son being autistic, it is something I never thought I would ever experience. Before anyone pounces on me, I am not saying anything against autistic people or their ability in many cases to lead pretty much normal lives. My son has his own set of wonderful abilities and characteristics but leading a normal life is not among them.
I am talking about grandchildren. Since I have had the honor to become Papaw to Sam and Hetzel I have become acquainted with the sound of silence. It is the direct result of activity, laughter, and play. When all of that is gone when either of the boys goes back home, silence is what we are left with. Not total silence but the quiet stillness of what was only a few minutes before a bustling center of activity. I know it will change some as the boys get older and I don’t look forward to that part of it at all.

Though silence may not be the best word to describe it, it’s the only accurate word that comes to mind. It is that feeling that something is dreadfully missing and you ache to have it back but know you can’t. At least not until the next time they come. It is like the silence of Christmas night after the big meals are finished and the presents have been opened and everyone has returned to their homes. It is that time when you sit alone knowing Christmas is over and even though you may be worn out, you ache because of what you are missing and it is an emotional crash that you have to wait until next year to fully recover from. It is kind of like DT’s but without the physical trauma. Withdrawals from being continuously engaged with your eyes on a pint-sized tornado that you have to keep up with.

Think about it grandparents, as exhausting as it can sometimes be, when they are gone home, the emptiness and quietness immediately invade where the laughter had been only moments before. It leaves you longing to have that exuberance of youth back again and looking forward to the next time you get to try to rope the wind. I guess it takes getting older to fully comprehend what the bible means in Psalms 127:3-5 when it says, “Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. (4) As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are the children of the youth. (5) Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them….” My quiver now has three arrows in it. One that is mine which is Tyler and two that I have found which are Hetzel and Sam. I can promise you the scripture is right because I am most definitely “happy”.

There is nothing quite as great as the love of a child and their total dependence on you, and nothing quite as lonely as when that is gone until the next time they are with you. I had a double-dose during Thanksgiving by having Hetzel and Yaudy here for dinner and also getting to keep Sam overnight on Wednesday. I keep Sam fairly often and he spends the night, presumably to help his mom but I think I may be getting more out of it than she is. I have kept Hetzel a time or two and hopefully, that will increase as he gets a few months older. Right now I chase one and carry the other. It won’t be long till that changes since Hetzel found out on Thanksgiving day that he can walk.

Like I said earlier, many of you have experienced this. Not only is my little man Tyler still in the quiver and living at home, I now have two additions that I can’t thank God for enough. And now, as if having them all in my life isn’t blessing enough, not only do I get to have the title of daddy to Tyler, but now I get to be Papaw to Hetzel and Sam. What an honor and a blessing! For the joy they have brought to my life, it is definitely worth having to occasionally endure the “sound of silence.”

https://wordpress.com/post/morningmannaanddailygrace.com/2408

 

120919                                          731

A SKUNK UNDER THE PULPIT

A SKUNK UNDER THE PULPIT                                                                                                          Andy Hollifield 12-6-19
I am not talking about a preacher! This is just a story about how hard the devil will fight against the Lord’s work regardless of who is doing it or how or why. It also serves as an example of all the things he will use to hinder the work. Even though our lives are always a spiritual warfare, sometimes they also become an intense physical battle as well. It is easy to get frustrated and discouraged if you fail to recognize it for what it is. I don’t like to give Satan any credit but I will use the quote of a godly old woman. She was asked once; “Granny you never say anything bad about anybody. I bet you will now. What do you have to say about the devil?” The godly old woman paused for a minute and smiled at the young smart alec and said, “He’s good at his job.” I can promise you that is a true statement. I have always heard this said also; “The devil doesn’t bother anyone who isn’t bothering him.” Even though it is agonizing and almost unbearable to get through at the time, I am glad he lets me know I am doing enough for the Lord to bother him. I am not the only one and this is a story about the last 10 days or so of my life and the lives of some friends I know.

To begin with, our annual Christmas shoebox gift project is always a stressful time even when things go relatively smooth. Smooth is not the word I would use to describe this year. It is funny that when you really put forth an effort to be as organized and precise as possible, that is when you will screw up the most. That has been the case this year. As usual, a lot of the lists from agencies were late coming in and most had to have a reminder phone call but that’s an ordinary occurrence. I don’t think too much about it because I know the folks at our agencies have a lot on their plate and especially this time of year.

I decided this year I was going to get a portfolio type folder with pockets and a legal pad and keep everything perfectly straight this year. I realize my forgetter works better than anything else so I was trying to compensate for it. I call this folder my project bible. Everything I do is in this folder and I never leave home without it. I have kept my receipts, notes, lists, tally-sheets, and anything pertaining to all of our Christmas projects this year in that folder.

I remember a poster I had as a kid that listed several of Murphy’s laws. Edward Murphy was a researcher and scientist of sorts and was credited with making a statement saying; “If anything can go wrong, it will.” That was my situation this year. Even though I am an optimist, I get a little nervous when things come together to easy or smooth or according to plan. To me, that is the time the wheels are likely to come off. My big mistake with shoeboxes was apparently counting and shopping. There were a couple of age groups I simply didn’t buy enough stuff for. That meant boxes for those groups would have to be completed later by yours truly.

I wound up making over 100 boxes and wrapping them myself and still haven’t totally figured out how my count was so badly wrong. I had tallied everything by age group and gender and even premade the tags for them. I wound up making so many trips to Dollar Tree on Brevard Rd. that I had to go to the Weaverville store because I was too embarrassed to go to mine.

I had also not allowed myself enough days to shop and compensate for my mistakes. You better believe I will have that one fixed next year. All of this activity was going on at the same time I was volunteering to keep my two surrogate grandsons. That part ain’t gonna change. I love being around Sam and Hetzel both. Sam even made a mission trip with me last weekend. We made a trip to Rose Hill, Virginia for Help 4 Kids taking some school supplies to my missionary friend that is doing around 3000 backpacks for Christmas. We also stopped in Sneedville, Tennessee with stuff for the Hancock County Children’s Outreach. Delivering was the easy part. Getting there and back in the pouring rain proved to be a little aggravating.

I had noticed the smell of diesel fuel off and on throughout the morning. It got a lot stronger between Morristown and Tazwell. I stopped to check the truck and sure enough, the fuel filter was pouring out fuel. It was pouring the rain but it was a simple repair or so I thought. There is an O-ring on the filter that if it isn’t seeded properly causes the leak. I thought I would take it loose and check it. I repositioned the ring three times and each time only made it worse. Finally, after making arrangements with my missionary buddy Ryan to have a filter delivered to me, I prayed for the truck as I put it back in the last time and it had stopped leaking. As a matter of fact, it didn’t leak again until Monday. I wound up driving about forty miles or so out of the way to purchase a filter in Middlesboro, Ky. because all of the parts stores in the other surrounding towns close early on Saturday.

This took place while Sam was with me but he didn’t seem to mind and was a real trooper and was probably the only thing that kept me from blowing a gasket. Not the truck but me. We were already running late when the breakdown happened and Ryan had help waiting to unload us. One man was even in a lot of pain from a possible hernia but soldiered on. This was all after having to dismantle the latch on my camper cover earlier in the week after it broke while Tyler and I were delivering boxes on Monday.
I still haven’t finished my boxes and still haven’t figured out yet how I messed up so bad. I can do that after I am finished and sitting at home with my feet propped up. I made it through delivering boxes and making a lot of them, better than I thought I would even though it didn’t go as smooth as I had hoped for.

I received a text from Ryan Sunday afternoon checking to see if Sam and had gotten home all right. We had but the devil still wasn’t finished with me. Saturday night, when I took Sam home and visited with him and his mom for a few minutes, someone decided they needed my trailer hitch worse than I did. I had it on with a locking pin and had just pulled a trailer with it all day before I got home and parked the trailer. The hitch was on the truck then but when I went to Ridgeview in the rain to move my ministry trailer, I realized it was gone. Fortunately, the ministry trailer required a bigger and more expensive hitch that had been laying in the back of the truck inside the broken camper door. There is always a bright side but sometimes you just have to look for it. If the low-life thief had of raised the camper door, he could have stolen that one with far less trouble. If that had happened, Ridgeview’s folks would have shown up for church with my trailer taking up three or four parking spaces because I wouldn’t have been able to have moved it.

As if my week wasn’t rough enough, my buddy Ryan was enduring some tribulations of his own. He has about two more weeks to come up with the remainder of his 3000 backpacks and doesn’t yet know where all of them are coming from. It isn’t time for them yet because he isn’t down to the last minute and that is when God likes to work. It tries our faith but also makes us realize what a mighty God we serve.

If that wasn’t stressful enough for him, he had to call of church Sunday morning because he had so many of his members at the church he pastors sick with the flu. That is where the skunk comes in. Sometime earlier in the week, a skunk had gotten under his church I believe he said under the pulpit and sprayed its potent perfume. If his members hadn’t of been sick before, they would have been when they got to church.

To sum it all up, Ryan will get his backpacks in time because God never fails. One of my board members gave me the money to replace my hitch. I finally had time to fix the latch on my camper door and was even able to haul stuff for Help 4 Kids as they moved into the building that God finally blessed them with to rent. I even picked up a new agency that I am putting together some boxes for and all of the others have been delivered already. God even blessed us with some ministry signs for the truck and our collection barrels. Oh yeah, I did get the new fuel filter installed and was finally able to purchase new tires for the truck.  Also, while delivering boxes to a school this week, I saw a little bitty girl being signed out early by her mom.  As I stood by the receptionist’s desk, this little girl came over to me and for no good reason at all, gave me a hug.  That’s one of those moments that pay the bills and make it all worthwhile.

There you have it. That is as close as I will come to complaining. Actually, I was just making some observations about how good the devil is at his job and also how much better the Lord is at his. The lesson to be learned is this: the next time a missionary comes to your church and talks about all of the ways God has blessed him, don’t get jealous.  Lift him up in prayer because you have no idea what he may have been through before those blessings came. You have to admit, putting a skunk under the pulpit is pretty extreme and creative. Ryan must have really made the devil mad. Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!

CHRISTMAS GREETINGS AND STRANGE LOOKS

Christmas Greetings And Strange Looks                                                                                  Andy Hollifield 11-26-19

Proverbs 18:24 A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.  (ALL SCRIPTURE IS KJV)

Have you noticed the strange looks you get when you wish someone “Merry Christmas” the day after Thanksgiving? Just go around wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and watch. It’s like they haven’t been paying attention to the calendar.  Try it.  It will brighten someone’s day if only for a moment.

We all need those escapes from reality that come from an unexpected greeting, someone using good manners and being polite, a good laugh, or taking a trip down memory lane. You would be amazed at how many opportunities to witness that a greeting to a stranger will get you. When I went to Minnesota in the summer of 2016, I would speak to someone just because I knew with my significant southern accent I would get a lot of looks and a lot of conversations. My accent is so thick that I don’t have to go beyond our local supermarket or Wal-Mart for people to listen and grin when I start talking. Up north, I like to start conversations after I have spoken and got the look by saying “Would you believe I’m a local?”. Of course, everyone says “no” and the conversation turns to where I am from.  In Minnesota, it gave me the opportunity to tell them about the new Baptist churches we were working on. It was when I said the number one word that Northerners want to know if Southerners really say, “Y’all” that I gave everyone the good belly laugh.

I bet you have already smiled at least once. You probably laughed at the thoughts of a southerner ordering at McDonald’s in Minnesota or Illinois.  Try wishing everyone you see today a Merry Christmas with a big smile! It will not only help them, but you will find it made you feel pretty good too.  Jesus said “…ask and ye shall receive that your joy may be full” (John 16:24). We are supposed to be full of joy so the world can see Christ’s love in our lives. You might even get to tell someone what Christmas is really all about. Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!

IT DOES MAKE A DIFFERENCE

IT DOES MAKE A DIFFERENCE                                                                                                            Andy Hollifield 11-21-19
Jude 1:17-24 But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; (18) How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts. (19) These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit. (20) But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, (21) Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. (22) And of some have compassion, making a difference: (23) And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh. (24) Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless…

 

I love to read the book of Jude. Twenty-five verses that get straight to the point, no holds barred, and definitely no candy coating. Verse 3 says “Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” Jude, although it is a book of strong warnings, it is also a book of utmost encouragement. Some of the keywords and phrases in the book I feel like are; remember, remembrance, earnestly contend, exhort, building up yourselves, keep yourselves, compassion, difference, and able. You may have different ideas on it and that is alright. That doesn’t make either of us wrong. I have always believed that if a crowd of people saw a pack of dogs, some would pay attention to which one was biggest, others which one was meanest, still others which one was loudest or fastest, and so on. I believe and know that the Holy Ghost can show us exactly what we need in whatever we are reading.
My purpose for writing this is of course to encourage all that take time to read it. But also, to put you in remembrance as Jude said, that what you do does make a difference. I will give you just a few examples I know of personally with most of them involving me being the beneficiary of what someone else has done. I will begin by going back about 49 or 50 years. You may think that anyone can’t remember stuff that happened when they were only two or three or even four years old. I can promise you, that is not the case.
One of the people I want to mention is my mom. The first real bible truth I took to heart I learned from her. Although she wasn’t in church then, I remember her telling me sometime before I even started school, that nothing is hidden from the Lord and he knows and sees everything. One day when I was playing with a little green die-cast army jeep, I began to think about what mom had said. I decided I would hide that jeep in the back of dad’s record cabinet on top of the albums. After I did that, I was so proud because me and God were the only people in the world that knew where that jeep was. The story may be silly but I was a preschooler so you can’t expect much. But for all these years I have remembered the precept, “nothing is hidden from God.”
I also want to mention a couple of people from back then that made a difference in my life and didn’t even know it. The first is Francis Silver of Weaverville. If she knew I was writing about her, she would probably just blow it off and say it wasn’t a big thing: maybe not to her but to my brother and me, it was. It was in the mid to late sixties before mom and dad had gotten back in church regular, that Francis would come by and see if she could take us to church on Sunday mornings. Mom and dad let us go and for us, it was a real treat because being from the upper part of Herron Cove Road, we didn’t get out much. I can still remember her piling us in the car with her four kids and taking us to Fellowship Baptist Church in New Bridge which is in Woodfin.
It was there that another person had a profound impact on my life. In the little room beside the baptistry on the left side of the pulpit near the choir was the Sunday School class that me and Jim were in. I can’t remember the ladies name although I can still see her face vividly. I also remember the bible stories such as Noah and the Ark, Joseph and his coat of many colors, and also Jacobs ladder. I am not sure how many of us were in there, probably about 6 or 8. The reason I remember that is because as she would tell the stories, she would let each of us take turns placing a figure on the felt board. Now, nearly half a century later, here I am recalling those things. What you do does make a difference.
I know I have already written over a page but I feel like someone needs to be reminded or God wouldn’t have laid it on my heart to write about it. I also still remember a lot from my home church of New Hope in Barnardsville. I remember Ralph McClean sitting on the altar playing his guitar while I tried to sing. I also remember being so scared and would cry and Ralph would stop playing and rub my back and tell me it was going to be alright. Probably because of that, I have always had a soft spot for folks that were struggling regardless of what it was they were trying to do for the Lord. I can remember Pop Wheeler sitting by the woodstove in his usual spot and when the Spirit got rich he would get up and walk back and forth across the front crying those big crocodile tears and waving his handkerchief and praising the Lord. He couldn’t talk plain but he didn’t have to. Even before I was saved I knew there was something real about that man and that he must really love God. It left a mark in the memory of a little six or seven-year-old boy.
There was also the sign on the front of the pulpit that said, “if you must whisper, make it a prayer.” Forty-five or six years later I can still see those vinyl stick-on letters on that piece of poster board. Not only can I still see it, but I also try and still practice it. I also remember Monte Rector, not knowing a lick of music, went out and bought a guitar because he felt the church needed someone to play it and the Lord let him teach himself in an amazingly short period of time. What you do does make a difference.
I remember in my teen years that Benilee Honeycutt was my pastor over at Fellowship where I had gone as a toddler. I recall that after he had resigned and had gotten cancer or emphysema, I am not sure which, there was something about him that made a 16-year-old boy want to go sit by his bedside and visit with him. I think it was the fact that he had a genuine love for his young folk even though there weren’t many of us. I also can remember big Carl Robinson and his wife Vistula always coming to the third Saturday night singing at Fellowship. As a pre-teen and teenager, I remember seeing that Volkswagon coming down the hill and just dreading it because I knew Carl would get happy and preach 20 or 30 minutes even though he hadn’t ever announced his calling. Years later in my early twenties, Carl and I had both started preaching close to the same time. The man that I had dreaded to see coming became one of my dearest friends and biggest supporters in the ministry. That kind of love and admiration don’t just happen but it is cultivated over time of someone being real. What you do does make a difference.
I probably better wind it up but I can’t quit without mentioning my pastor Bruce West. I have learned as much out of the pulpit from him as I have in the pulpit. I can remember me and Jim playing church in our bedroom and we would take turns with one of us being Bruce and preaching and the other one being Dillard Ray and leading the singing. Little did we know back then that the Lord would call both of us to preach for real this time. Both of us also sing. What you do does make a difference.
You may never know it or if you do, it may be years down the road. No matter how big or how small you may think what you are doing is, God has a plan and a purpose for it. Sometimes you just have to “build up yourselves on your most holy faith” and “keep yourselves in the love of God” and encourage yourself because he is “able to keep you from falling.” But always, just keep doing what you are doing, it does make a difference. Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!

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