Another New Year. A year when several of my friends and me turn 70. As we take the time to reflect back on our lives we see places where the Lord has blessed. In reading the book “Reflections on the River of Life” by Ray Kincaid, I am blessed at how the Lord used him throughout his life. Ray was also a strong influence in my life for many years. He states that even though we may not be in active ministry we are still in ministry as we teach by our words and our lives. I trust that I can do that in the mentoring of students, leading the Boys and Girls Club Board, and participating in three Senior Golf Leagues. These are wonderful ways to continue to minister for Jesus.
May your New Year remind you that you are still ministers of Jesus Christ in all you do. God bless you each and every day of this New Year.
My first wife died in April, 2000. During the next several months I was able to establish an endowed scholarship in her name for female students at Toccoa Falls College. This is the fourteenth year to award this scholarship.
My wife, Donna, and I presented this scholarship to a young lady today who is majoring in Teacher Education. As she came into Donna’s Office she began to tell us that when she heard the news she began to cry because she needed help this semester and next semester. She is a graduating senior and was very grateful for the scholarship.
As my wife and I talked with her we heard her appreciation for the scholarship. She felt very blessed that the Lord had brought her this meaningful award. She showed that blessing with her glowing face and her big smile.
I am grateful for our family who helped finance this endowment along with the several alumni from our class. This scholarship made a difference in the life of this young lady. So on a very wet and rainy day in Toccoa Falls, Georgia, a miracle of blessing was experienced by this young student who will go from here to impact her world with the love and message of Jesus Christ.
For the past two years I have been involved with serving the local community through AmeriCorps and Communities in Schools as a Reading Tutor in an elementary school. I serve 1st through 3rd graders who have struggles with reading.
Serving in this way takes patience and forward thinking and a hope that what you are doing provides help to these kids. This week I have been blessed in talking with a teacher that a student she sent to me a month ago, who was having problems in reading and comprehension, is now passing all his AR tests and has moved up the ladder in his reading and comprehension ability.
I have heard several other stories like this over the past two years. One student who could hardly say the alphabet was reading on grade level by the end of the first year. I noticed that this year she has achieved the 50 point club in AR which is a good achievement. I am so proud of these students who have progressed well.
It is amazing what one on one attention and tutoring can mean to a young student. It sets their foundation for the future. I believe we have helped make miracles happen in the lives of these students because of our time here. You will always be blessed and encouraged when you make a difference in the lives of students.
Years ago I was privileged to speak in many churches and events concerning ministry and education. I have always believed that I am on earth to do what Jesus said of himself, “I have come to serve not to be served.” Then in Philippians 2:3 we read “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.” And then in verses 5 through 11 we read about Jesus being the servant.
Too often today this mindset is disappearing from the lives of Christians. Too often we are doing life for ourselves and have no concern about others, about their feelings, about their needs. If we are truly followers of Jesus Christ we will allow Him to live His life through ours. This means humility, caring about others and esteeming them better than ourselves.
I was speaking on Sunday morning in Seoul, South Korea a few years ago and preached a servant leadership sermon. Afterwards an alumna came up to me and said “I haven’t heard a servant leadership sermon since I left TFC.” May we never forget that we are here to serve, not to be served. And sometimes we make mistakes but may we be willing to forgive and help others become the person God intended.
May we serve God and serve people and allow Jesus to Shine through us. May we wake up to the “old ways” which is the good path and we will find rest for our souls.
Last week I had the privilege to officiate the funeral of a hero. Not many people knew that but this 91 year old man had made an eternal impact in the lives of his fellow marines and others who came across his path. He fought in World War II in three major battles in the Pacific, Guadalcanal, Tarawa, and one other. At one time, when a fellow Marine was hit, who was carrying the tripod for the machine gun, he left the safety of the sea wall, went out and dived in the water several times to recover the tripod. He did this even though bullets were hitting all around him.
He was known as “Deacon” among his fellow Marines and said prayers over his fellow marines and assisted in funerals. He was certainly a light for the Lord in war time. He made an eternal impact on the lives of those who knew him. And when he came home he would later served on the Board of Trustees at Toccoa Falls College for 41 plus years. Roy was a humble man, not seeking the glory but seeking to serve the Lord in everything he did. He was always looking to serve others and serve the Lord.
Roy was the first student to leave Toccoa Falls College after Pearl Harbor was bombed. He would go into the Marines as a private and retire at the rank of Major. He was a Marine to the end and I really appreciated the honor the Marine Corps gave to him at the graveside with full military honors. When the gun salute was given and then Taps I could see the Marines cared for this man and his contribution to the Corps.
Few people attended the funeral and burial. But that is not his reward. His reward came a bit earlier when his eyes opened in heaven and the Lord said to him, “Well Done My Good and Faithful Servant, Welcome Home.” It reminds me of the statement of R.A. Jaffray, a great missionary who opened Indo-China for the gospel, when, at the end of his life he penned these words, “One day your work here on earth will be finished, your feet will cross the last mountain, climb the last trail, reach the last person. Then Jesus Himself will say, ‘you did a good job, you were faithful in your work for me, nothing else really matters.'”
Major Roy Thaxton was faithful in his work for the Lord. And today he is with His Lord rejoicing in all the blessings of heaven. He is with the Lord he loved and served. May this be said of each of us.
Back in the fall I was asked to consider being a Reading Tutor for AmeriCorps at one of the elementary schools. I agreed and after training became involved in this fine and outstanding program. I meet with 14 students from Monday through Thursday each week and teach them as well as listened to the read. We played word games as well.
I was able to see progress in the lives of students as well as in their reading ability. Several earned awards and have moved up in their reading. One student, when he had finished his session, went to his next class. I walked in the hallway and he came up to me and gave me a hug. He was so appreciative of someone who would work with him to see progress in his reading.
We have heard over the years, “Leaders are Readers”. I try to impress on these young students that progress in life comes through being able to read well and absorb the knowledge for the future. I also model the servanthood before them. I believe that the students will be better in the future because of the care that tutors put in their lives.
In Exodus 6 we find God talking to Moses. God promises deliverance for His people. He says to Moses, I Care about the situation my people are in. I see their struggles, I hear their cries. He is certainly a Caring God and although deliverance may not come on our time table deliverance will come. He also says to Moses that He will Come down and deliver His people. He comes to us in our time of need and provides deliverance from our situation and circumstances. And then He says, I Commission you, Moses, to Go and tell Pharaoh to let My people go. What a wonderful passage of scripture to see that the Lord will provide.
As we go through rough spots in our lives, and I continue to be there at this time in my life, we have the confidence in the Lord that He will deliver us and provide for us. Even when our friends turn their back, even when no one calls, even when no invitations come, God is there and will provide a place for us and a ministry for us. He is a God who can be trusted unlike those who talk but never act. Remember, His words, “I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under burdens and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm.”
May the Lord bless you and keep you this day and may you find rest for your soul as you seek His calling. No matter how lonely we feel, we must remember that the Lord is there with us and will provide deliverance.
It was February of 1966 and I had just arrived at Toccoa Falls College to begin my second college experience. I entered the boys dorm named Forrest Hall and met the dorm parents, Mr. and Mrs. Troy Damron. Mr. Damron was the Dean of Students and Mrs. Damron, affectionately called “MOM” by the boys, was the dorm mother. She ran a tight ship and each of us appreciated her work.
In the hallway was the all hearing ear so that our conversations could be monitored and we had to clean our rooms every day because “Mom” would be around to inspect. But I didn’t mind that as I was preparing to be a minister of the gospel and follow Jesus for my life time on earth.
During the evening “Mom” would bake a cake or cakes and cook hot dogs and sell these to her boys. After all dinner was at 5:00 p.m. and by 9:00 p.m. it was snack time. And we all loved the cakes and hot dogs provided from her kitchen.
One day my room mate and I decided we would pull a prank on “Mom”. We didn’t make our beds, we left coca cola bottles on the floor, (a one point offense in that day) . I wrote a poem to her which began like this; “To us you are so very kind, our little jokes you do not mind, you make life so enjoyable here, your smiling face, your heart of cheer.” She was certainly an encourager. She took the poem but gave us points anyway. We had to work off the points at 30 minutes per point. We didn’t do that again.
At my retirement dinner she gave me the poem which she had kept for 45 years. WOW! I was astonished. This lady who had impacted hundreds of lives remembered and kept the poem. And now it is her 95 birthday. The family requested that I write another poem for her for the celebration on Saturday, March 9, 2013. And you know what, I did. This fine lady has been an encouragement and blessing to me for now 47 years. She has been like a hand print on my heart and she is my friend.
We all have stories like this and I would ask, have you told that person how much they mean to you, how much they have impacted your life over the years. Tell them before it is too late.
God Bless You.
It has been almost one year since I visited Cambodia for the second time. During these last eleven months I have been once again to Cambodia to view the progress of the work of EQUIPCambodia as well as teach and preach. The transitional youth I met were well on their way to learning English and learning more about Jesus. As I taught them one evening in the church, they all sat eagerly listening to the Word of God as we ministered to them about prayer. I left Cambodia in November excited about the wonderful things that the Lord is doing among these young men and women.
We would hear last month that at least four young men would be coming to join the ministry sometime in February, this month. They were eager to hear more about the Lord and further their education so that they could make a difference in the future of their country. A place was needed to house them, teach them, and provide a good home for them to finish their education and training.
About two weeks ago a new facility was found which was reasonable in rental price and would be large enough to accommodate four additional young men who would be arriving in May or June. Wow! We were seeing God work to provide the transitional youth and we were now needing funds for this future ministry.
Partnerships are being formed with others in the area of Cambodia to assist the ministry in planning for the future and providing some financial support but much more is needed. Cambodia is open to preaching and teaching and we must be ready to go forward by faith.
In Joshua 3 we find that as the priests went forward carrying the ark the waters of the Jordan parted and they went across on dry ground just as the Lord told them. But it took faith to take that first step. And when the first step was taken the waters parted.
We today are faced with a great challenge. It is up to us to step forward, step into the water and watch the Lord provide the dry, firm ground on which to walk. We pray for the provision of funds for the new facilities. We pray for funds to education the young men, but most of all we pray for faith to enable us to step into the waters and depend on the Lord to provide all that is needed for the completion of His Work.