Christmas Cheer

Hey y’all-

Last week, the church where I serve as Associate Pastor, GracePoint Church, participated in an effort to deliver food, toys, and clothing to those less fortunate in eastern Kentucky. We loaded up, headed out, stopped at Cracker Barrel for breakfast, and drove over 200 miles into the hills and hollers of Kentucky.

The day was a cold, rainy, cloudy day…perfect for delivering Christmas cheer to those who need it. And, a great day to show the love of Christ through a tangible expression of clothes and other goodies.

When we arrived in Lynch, KY, we met Lonnie and Belinda who head up a sweet little ministry empire (can I use that word?) called Meridzo Center Ministries. Lonnie told us about how they came to acquire their Solomon’s Porch Retreat Center.

Short version:

Lonnie and his wife were offered an opportunity to buy the retreat center. It was an office building that was built by a corporation in the 1920s. The owner wanted $85,000.He gave Lonnie and Belinda 30 days to buy the place.

Lonnie and Belinda had $0. So, they prayed.

Lonnie told us that he didn’t ask anyone for any money. They didn’t send out a letter asking for support. They didn’t do anything but pray. As God began answering their prayers, money started coming in. Over a period of three weeks, they had received about $25,000. This was good, but not enough.

One week before the sale was to happen, the owner called Lonnie and they made plans to meet and hand over the deed. The owner reminded Lonnie of the amount-$85,000. He asked how much money Lonnie had…Lonnie said, “$25,000.” The owner said, “Remember, you need $85,000.” Lonnie said, “Yeah, I do, but I don’t need it today. I need it one week from today and God will provide.”

During that week, Belinda was contacted by a benefactor who said he wanted to send them some money. He had been praying and God had told him to send some money to Lonnie and Belinda. She told him to send it on….

A few days later, Lonnie asked about the money the man was to send. Belinda checked and said he had wired it. Wired? Lonnie asked, “How much did he send?” They checked with the bank and he had sent $65,000.

Lonnie and Belinda had a cashier’s check for $85,000 waiting on the owner of the building when he arrived to sign the deed over. The owner was amazed. Lonnie told him that he lives by faith in a faithful God and the owner could have that same faith if he placed his trust in Jesus Christ…..

An awesome and amazing story of God’s provision. I walked through the 120+ room retreat center, built in the 1920s by Italian stone masons, with beautiful (donated) furniture and was humbled.

Note: The band I’m in The Long Run Players has a Youtube channel and a blog and we’re on Twitter and Facebook. Want to follow us?

Click here for Youtube.

Here for Facebook.

Here for Twitter.

Here for the blog.

Merry Christmas, y’all.

Uncle Jeff

 

Why Taiwan?

Hey y’all-

            Just wanted to drop a note and tell you a bit about the upcoming trip to Taiwan. Plus, I thought I might be able to answer some common questions I’ve been getting about the trip. So, here goes…

            Last summer I went to Newfoundland, Canada with a bluegrass band called The Long Run Players. We were part of a mission team sent there by Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and the North American Mission Board to assist church-planters with evangelism efforts. It was a great time and seemed successful.

            Some of you might remember my updates from there regarding great food, beautiful scenery, fun concerts, and whale-watching. A great, great trip.

            While there, we (the band) started discussing the possibility of doing a similar trip with the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. This trip would be longer, somewhere across the “great pond,” and most likely involve a new language. We were all game so we applied. And got accepted!

            The acceptance was cool because the program that we are under has an age-limit. The IMB had to waive that requirement to let ‘ol Uncle Jeff hit the road with The Long Run Players. So, we were accepted…now, where would we go?

            The missionaries in Taipei, Taiwan had been praying for years to get a music team to come and help them with evangelism. We hope their prayers have been answered….

 

LRP at a band workshop with Jim Hurst

LRP at a band workshop with Jim Hurst

 

 

            So, we are off to Taiwan for five months. We leave in July and come back in January of 2010. We will be taking seminary classes while there. Studying the culture. Learning Mandarin. Serving with the missionaries. Playing music. And trying to honor Christ with our words as well as our music.

The ultimate focus of this trip is to make the name of Christ known among the nations. Without Him, this trip would be unnecessary…even foolish. So, that’s the quick inside skinny….

 

Here are common questions:

  1. Where will you live? Not sure just yet. We may rent an apartment for the guys and the girl (Sarah) will live elsewhere. The team in Taiwan is getting us a place and we’ll just live there.
  2. What will you eat? McDonald’s. Doesn’t every American missionary live on McDonald’s?
  3. Will we hear from you while you are there? Yes. Gonna take my laptop and hit Starbucks for Facebook and blog updates. Plus, there’s always Skype.
  4. Do the Taiwanese like bluegrass? Don’t think so….well, not yet…but they will.
  5. What about your ministry in Kentucky and your house and stuff? Gonna keep renting my place while gone. And I’m resigning from my church so they can find a new guy. It’s only fair.
  6. How can we help? Pray. A lot. This is a spiritually dark place that needs the light of the Gospel. Pray.
  7. How else can we help? Money is always good. This is going to cost me several thousand dollars and financial support is always welcome. If you want to help in that way, shoot me a message and I’ll send my address. No hard sell here.

  Drop a line. Livin’ the dream….

  Uncle Jeff

Singing gospel music in a pub

Hey y’all-

  Our band, The Long Run Players, were given an opportunity to play in a pub in St. John’s called The Ship. Here’s a pic of the event…

Long Run Players playing The Ship Pub in Newfoundland

Long Run Players playing The Ship Pub in Newfoundland

I broke a string! And then another!!!

I broke a string! And then another!!!

  At this point in our performance, I had broken the A and G strings on my guitar and was beating out the rhythm while holding the remaning four strings dead in my hand. The banjo played on, the mandolin played on, and we sang the final verse and chorus of “I Saw the Light” to enthusiastic applause. It was fun.

  Here’s a video of our earlier song, “Will the Circle Be Unbroken.”

  Hope y’all dig it.

  Uncle Jeff

Whale watching

Hey y’all-

  When we were in St. John’s Newfoundland, we took a little whale-watching tour and a friend got this awesome video. There were two whales going under the bow of our boat….a little scary and very cool.

  Here’s the band jamming on the boat while we were still in the harbor. See the girl peeking around? That’s J-Riley from Tennessee…she’s a summer missionary in Newfoundland.

Long Run Players on the Iceberg Quest Boat

Long Run Players on the Iceberg Quest Boat

  This was an awesome whale-watching trip.

  Uncle Jeff

Newfoundland is awesome…

Hey y’all-

We are having a great time in Newfoundland. Our shows have gone well and we’ve been “blue-grassing” all over the place. Our show tonight has been rained-out, so I have a few minutes on a borrowed computer to post a bit…

We played our first show at Bellevue Beach. The place was pretty full. The two-hour show was well-received and I even had some folks ask for contact information. It was a good time. Bellevue Beach is a fishing village a ways out-of-town and it was a gorgeous drive.

Friday night we jammed in the rain and drizzle and wind at Bannerman Park in St. John’s. Less people came out, but we had a good time. Afterward, I had some fish-n-chips at an Irish pub. It was goooood!

Saturday, we played Topsail Beach. Another gorgeous location, but the rain got us after about an hour of playing. I hated to leave there, but we went to a chain called Jungle Jim’s for dinner and played a few songs in the restaurant. Met some more people and had a good meal.

I think I have a few photos I can upload. Let’s see…

Bay and boat at Bellevue Beach

Bay and boat at Bellevue Beach

Here is the place we played at Bellevue Beach. It’s the meeting hall for the local Roman Catholic church.

Church and meeting hall

Church and meeting hall

This is the band onstage….

On-stage Bellevue Beach

On-stage Bellevue Beach

Here we are at Topsail Beach.

The ampitheatre at Topsail Beach

The ampitheatre at Topsail Beach

That gives y’all a little taste of where we’ve been and what we’re doing. I’ll tell about more of our trip in future posts.

Take care,

Uncle Jeff

Gone to Canada….

Hey y’all-

  I’m leaving for Canada to play some bluegrass with The Long Run Players. We are going north to help with evangelism for a new church plant in Newfoundland called New Life Newfoundland. This should be a great trip.

  What can you do to help? Pray for us.

  Pray what? Pray that we will be well, have healthy singing voices due to weather changes (it’s chilly up there right now), pray that people’s hearts will be moved by the music, pray that God will open doors to speak the Gospel, pray that my attitude will stay good, pray that I won’t get too full of myself and remember why I am there (to glorify God and not myself), pray for the other team members, pray for the church planters, just pray….

  What else can you do? Go to Myspace and click on our band webpage. Add us as friends. Click on our recordings. Tell others. Build that site so that the people of Newfoundland will see it and want to listen.

  Here’s a pic of the band so you can know who you are praying for.

The Long Run Players

The Long Run Players

 

  I’ll let you know how it went when I get back.

  Uncle Jeff

DWYL Lesson 9 – Day 1

Hey y’all-

  I’m back in Kentucky and taking a class at SBTS this week. Paul David Tripp will be teaching Biblical Counseling and I’m excited to hear what he has to say and learn all I can to help spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ through counseling the hurting. Should be a good week.

  Also, we are on Lesson 9 in the Don’t Waste Your Life: Study Guide which corresponds to Chapter 9 in Don’t Waste Your Life. There are only 10 lessons, so we wrap it up next week. Very exciting….

  Let’s get to it. Chapter 9 is about world missions (we all live in the world, so we should all be involved in world missions) and John Piper asks, “In the space below, describe your current involvement in world missions. This would include prayer, financial support, mission trips, and current plans for the future.”

  My Response: This chapter is close to my heart because I have a desire to serve as a foreign missionary (Lord willing) sometime in the future. Where? Not sure. When? Not sure. Right now, my focus is my ministry at Bedford Baptist Church and loving these kids enough to tell them about Jesus and His love and holding them to the highest standard possible….God’s holiness. It’s where I am and where I want to be, but missions is always on my mind and in my heart…..

  This morning, I was in the gym at SBTS trying to work-out (I’m lame…and so are my workouts) when a friend from school walked in. He and his wife are leaving in nine days to serve as career missionaries in a primarily Muslim country that is closed to evangelism and the Gospel. They will be gone for at least three years before coming back for a visit and then, Lord willing, they will return and continue with their ministry over there. This world mission stuff is very close to me.

  Now, my involvement is not very extensive. As a Southern Baptist, I give to the Lottie Moon Offering for Foreign Missions and support the missionaries through prayer. Also, I try to tell my kids about missions and the need for our involvement…not just money and prayer, but going. As a youth group, we are taking a trip to another part of Kentucky to help build an emergency shelter in a few weeks.

  Personally, I am going to Canada this summer to help with evangelism and church planting. How? I’m playing guitar and singing with The Long Run Players. We’re jamming gospel bluegrass for the glory of God. Should be a hoot.

  What do you think we should do for missions? Foreign and local?

  Uncle Jeff