Category Archives: Wisdom

Who I am – my personal testimony

Recently one Sunday morning at church I was asked by a friend to give my testimony that night during our evening service.  I am always glad to share the assurance I have in Jesus and how God is working in my life, so of course I agreed.  I also had a few other things on my mind that I wanted to share with the church, so I asked our pastor what direction I should go with my talk.  He said to just tell why you are the way you are.  Well I think I know what he meant, but it really got me to thinking how I got to be the way I am.  Those who know me know that I am a bit different.  But then again – so is everybody else I know!

So how did I get to be the way I am?  The accounts that follow will provide some insight…

John collage2

I was raised in a Christian home, and my family was in church on a regular basis.  I grew up in a Methodist church, went through the Confirmation class at 12 years old, and at the end of the class we prayed to receive Christ into our hearts.  Was I saved at that time – I am not certain.  But I do know that when I was 18 years old  I went to FCA Camp in Maryville, TN and I knew God was working in my heart that weekend.  I also knew I could not give a certain answer of where I would go if I was to die that day of May 5th of 1984.  Through the message given by Rev. Jerry Upton, the Holy Spirit convicted  me that I did not have a personal relationship with Jesus, and I responded by coming forward during one of the services and knelt down at the altar to asked Jesus into my heart.  I knew then in my heart for certain that I had: repented of my sins, told Jesus I believed He died on a cross and was raised on the third day as a sacrifice to cover my sins, I asked Him to save me, and told Jesus I would follow Him with my life.

I have in no way lived a perfect or sinless life since then, but know in my heart that I can always ask God for forgiveness and it is granted.  And I know that because that night I received salvation, and by the assurance in His Word, that I will be forgiven of things I do (sin) that disappoint Him.

Now it was not long after I accepted Jesus into my heart that I realized satan was really tempting me in a lot of different ways that I had not experienced before.  I went to college and the US Army facing attacks from satan, and I hate to say it but he won a lot of those battles.  I remember carrying my little green Gideon Bible in my cargo pants every day I was in the Army uniform, but I did not make reading it a part of my daily life.  I was a worldly Christian giving way to Jesus and the world at the same time.  So of course I experienced failures and disappointments as I tried to follow Jesus.

My wife was the catalyst to bring me to a closer walk with Jesus.  I knew in my heart that Jesus connected us for her to be my mate and to bring me closer to Him.  I saw in her something I wanted more of in my life – an active growing personal relationship with Jesus.  I am delighted to say that since our wedding I have been on a slow path of growing closer to Him!

As I grow older my faith increases through the trials I continually face and how I am able to handle them.  You have to know that satan will not leave you alone if you are trying to live for Jesus.  I am slowly becoming more obedient to Jesus by daily denying satan and the attacks he sends.  I am not always successful, but slowly getting better as I grow in my faith.  I know I will never live a sinless life until I leave this body in the grave and enter into my eternal home in Heaven!

I am amazed and humbled by the way God has used me over the years.  I have enjoyed serving Him in many leadership roles such as a youth minister and Sunday School director.  He has molded me through the daily trials as a leader, husband and father.  I have been fortunate to lead individuals to receive Jesus as their Savior  in Guatemala, during camps and Bible Schools, even by phone with my cousin in Ohio.

Jesus has led me on so many adventures, and they all started with a single step of obedience of saying yes  –    I will follow You and I will go where You send!

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Free Book: 90-Day devotion

I was fortunate to be asked to participate as a contributing author of a new Bible devotional book called All Time Verses: 90-Day Scripture Journey by the student ministers at First Baptist Woodstock.  I submitted two devotions for the project.

All Time Verses book

Since this is the first time I have been included in a book publication I wanted to celebrate by giving a copy away to one my blog readers.  So I thought I would have a little contest.

I will select one person to receive a free book who #1_will read the devotion and #2_tells me the most unique place they will read this devotion.   (yes – points added for creativity)

Simply fill out the information below to be considered.  You do not have to be a follower of my blog, but will be entered by submitting the form from this page.  Only one entry per person.  I will not give or sale your information to anyone – just using it as a reference.

Contest begins  NOW and will end at noon on Sunday, February 16th.  You must be a valid reader of the English language and the declared winner will need to provide a physical mailing address upon request.

Congratulations!

Terri Brooks is the winner of the free book contest!  Terri said she would read the devotion the first thing in the morning in her sun room.

You can find out more about Terri at http://facebook.com/theimprintdoctor

Thank you to everyone who entered the contest.

If you would like to buy your own personal copy of the book it is available on Amazon at All Time Verses: 90-Day Scripture Journey

A Great Defensive Driving Course for Teenagers: B.R.A.K.E.S. (updated)

B.R.A.K.E.S. — Dedicated to Saving Young Lives

This past Saturday I took my 15-year-old son to a BRAKES defensive driving school at Bristol Motor Speedway.  We really were not sure what to expect, but the experience proved to be fun and educational for both of us.

Bristol Motor Speedway
Bristol Motor Speedway

B.R.A.K.E.S. (Be Responsible And Keep Everyone Safe) is a 501(c)3 organization which provides advanced driver’s education in a program entitled the Teen Pro-Active Driving Course.  Over 5,000 teenagers lose their lives each year across the country in traffic accidents.  While conventional driver’s education is important and valuable, the Teen Pro-Active Driving Course goes beyond that level of training by addressing driving situations responsible for many traffic accidents involving teens.  The course is for teenagers 15-19 who have a learner’s permit or driver’s license with at least 30 hours of driving experience.

BRAKESWe arrived a Bristol Motor Speedway with apprehension and anticipation.   Neither of us knew exactly what to expect, but my son is about to get his drivers license and I felt he needed this kind of training.

We started the four hour course with a video and some classroom instruction.  I have to admit that we both learned something from the classroom instruction.

Then they took us out to the parking lot where a driving course had been designed.  Each of the students were assigned to a group with a leader for every three students.  The instructors even let each parent take a turn on the course.

BRAKES course video 1

The course consisted of five different real world situations: accident avoidance, a distraction exercise, drop wheel recovery, car control and recovery, and panic stop (anti lock braking).  At each exercise the students were shown my their instructor how to properly navigate the exercise, then took turns behind the wheel applying and practicing each technique themselves.  The amount of behind the wheel time was so valuable and allowed each student to try these accident avoidance techniques in a controlled environment with professional feedback.

BRAKES course video 2

If you are a parent with a new teenage driver, I highly suggest going with them to this course.  Look online for the next class near you. Continue reading A Great Defensive Driving Course for Teenagers: B.R.A.K.E.S. (updated)

How to find a “10” for a wife: 10 qualities of a good potential wife

I had the opportunity to talk about dating and potential wives with my son and a man I consider a real good friend last week.  In preparation to talk with them I determined a list of qualities to look for in a potential wife.  We agreed this is a pretty good list of qualities a man should look for in a potential wife.

I believe if the girl you are dating and intend to marry encompasses these qualities, then you are on the right track.

Wedding band

1.  She shares your beliefs

She should understand the Biblical role of a husband and a wife and be willing to fulfill.

Your potential wife should have the same beliefs you have. Now, you may think you can do some missionary dating, and turn that situation around so she will believe everything you do.  You’re probably going to be very disappointed with some bad side effects.  You need to understand your core beliefs first, then be sure she shares them with you.  If you don’t have the same core beliefs….you will be unequally yoked – not a good scenario for either person.

2.  She loves you unconditionally

If she’s trying to change you to be another person, it’s time to move on. Your future wife should love you just as you are. There are certain core characteristics that must be avoided, and you should identify those before you become too involved in a relationship.

3.  She is trustworthy

Can you trust her with her time, money, secrets, and most importantly – your heart.

If you have trust issues in your relationship then I feel you are not ready to move forward with any commitment.  Trust can be destroyed and built back, but you both should be in agreement with how trustworthy you feel with each other.  Also, once trust has been broken it takes a long time to restore.  You may trust each other, but in the back of the mind the offense will linger.

4.  She has ambition

Does she set goals?  Does she work hard?

She should have strength in character and carry herself with confidence. She should be a hard worker just like you. That doesn’t mean having a job is a requirement. I know women who are a stay-at-home wife with kids, and they work just as hard as some people with careers.

5.  She is selfless

She should have a servant heart and giving of her time, talents and treasures

She should care about others. Look at the way she treats her family and her friends. If she’s not close with her family, and doesn’t have any good friends, that’s not a good sign. Watch how they treat a waiter/waitress – that tells you a lot about how somebody treats people down deep in their heart.  Does she care about causes? Does she volunteer? Does she give change to the needy or buy them a meal? These are important characteristics to consider.

6.  She is attractive

In your eyes, she should be downright attractive – I mean put together!   Personality plays into attractiveness as well. Just remember, “charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting.”  She should be beautiful down to her soul because that kind of beauty lasts forever.  Physical beauty will change with time.

7.  She is wise

Wisdom means to have good knowledge, and then to know what to do with it.

She should be wise, smart, and give you good advice. Her woman’s intuition should be strong. I look to my wife all the time for advice. She is financially smarter than me, and helps guide me where I am weak.

8.  She makes you a better man

Your potential wife should elevate you to new heights. She should inspire you to make yourself better so you can serve her.  You can get a good idea from your friends and family. What do they say about you when you are around her?

9.  She is modest

She should be modest in her dress, conduct and words.  I don’t want my wife advertising what others can’t buy.  It is good for a woman to believe her private body parts are to be seen only by her husband.

10.  She gets along with your family and friends

She shouldn’t be critical of the people who you love and have been trusted by you.  She should be a good fit with the people in your life, and approved by your family – mostly your mom and dad.  Marriage is a joining of two totally different lives that existed prior to your meeting, but will become one after you two join them.

Reference:
Joshua 24:15
Proverbs 12:4
Proverbs 31
Ephesians 5:22-28
 

I would be interested in hearing if you agree or have different ideas.  Shoot them to me if you please to john@johndgrigsby.com.

Mary pondered these things in her heart: the art of pondering

And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened.  But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”  And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest,

And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”

When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, “Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.”  So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger.  When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child.  And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds.  But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart.  The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them.

Luke 2:7-20 (NASB)

One of my favorite verses in the Bible is that part in verse 19 where it said that Mary treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart.

What did it mean for her to ponder in her heart?

Ponder means to consider.  It means to take what you know, and consider what might be.

Pondering

So what do you think Mary may have pondered in her heart?

I think she pondered the fact that God had spoke to her and that she would no doubt hear Him again.  God had been silent in the Bible for 400 years until the arrival of Jesus.  So the God of the universe had spoke to Mary, gave her a baby, and now these shepherds were witnesses to the authenticity.  I think she just pondered what would be next.  Where would these events take her life next?  Who else would come to visit the baby and how did they know of Him?  Would there be a different way of raising this God child?  She had no idea what would be next, but I think her mind would race with expectations.

I think she pondered on the fact that the birth of our Savior was real.  The witness of the shepherds certainly provided a much needed witness.  She had no doubt heard the reading of the scripture about the promise of the Savior.  She had to have known He would come, but now realizing that those promises were fulfilled in her.  If those parts of the scripture were now confirmed, how much more of the scripture she knew must have totally new meaning.  It was not just tradition and religion, but now it was real!  He was REAL!

I also think she certainly pondered on what the future of Jesus would hold.  With what she knew from the scripture, she knew what was told to her by the angel, and she also knew what had happened with Elizabeth and Zacharia’s son John.  She knew that His life would be much different than any of the other children she knew.  Would they someday live in a different lifestyle?  What would God do with Him?  What exactly would become of this son of hers?  What would be required of him?

What a wonder as Mary pondered and treasured all those things in her heart.

May this Christmas allow you the time to ponder what wonder Jesus holds for your your life!

Christmas lessons from the shepherds

And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened.  But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”  And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest,

And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”

When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, “Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.”  So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger.  When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child.  And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds.  But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart.  The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them.

Luke 2:7-20 (NASB)

Flock by night

The Shepherds

During Christmas time I like to read the story given to us in the Gospel of Luke.  He tells of the story giving a highlight to the shepherds who were watching over their flock at night.  We are not told how many there were, but I picture three to five shepherds of sheep.

I noticed the shepherds did three things during this event that I believe would do us all well to follow.

First we see that when the angel appeared they were afraid.  Can you blame them?!?  Here are these shepherds doing exactly what they are supposed to be doing when an angel appears with the glory of the Lord shining, and of course they have never seen this their life!  I can imagine how they probably wanted to run for their lives.  But the angel spoke and said to not be afraid – good news was to follow.  What a tense moment they had to have experienced as they decided in their minds to stay still and listen to the angel.

We see next that the shepherds did in fact stay still and listen to what the angel had to say.  These are startled shepherds and I am sure that the details of what was being said had to be hard for them to remember in their state of uncertainty.  I think the angel waited long enough for them to gain composure and listen intently.  We are not told, but I have my thoughts.

Then after the angel had told them the good news of the Savior’s birth, they were obedient.  They got up and went in search of this baby in Bethlehem.  Notice they did not get their affairs in order, but the went just as they were told.

Two lessons from the Shepherds

I think there are two lesson we can learn from the actions of these untrained shepherds.

We all become afraid at times.  Some people do not like to admit this emotion, but we all have times we fear for our health, finances, death, family or future.  Some people fear these kind of situations on a constant unhealthy basis and some of us just fear them quietly in our heads.  I think the key is to recognize the emotion and determine it’s source.

Then like the shepherds we should take these fears and let the glory of the Lord shine on them.  For us that simply would look like committing it to prayer.  Ask God just what I need to do with this fear.  Is there truth in the sources of the emotion?

Once we consult and hear from God, then we need to follow the example of these shepherds and take action.  Take positive action just as God lays out for you.  Don’t add your thoughts to it, but be obedient to the Lord.

I think if we follow these two steps from a time of fear, then we also would be blessed by our actions.  The shepherds were blessed beyond measure by being a witness to Mary about the message they heard from the angel about the baby Jesus.  Then they were one of the first on this planet to lay eyes on God who had come in the form of a human to be it’s Savior!  Wow – how they were blessed!

Mount LeConte – view #1

Foggy view of LeConte Lodge
Foggy view of LeConte Lodge

In November my daughter, myself and a few friends hiked to Mount LeConte and stayed the night at the LeConte Lodge in the Great Smoky Mountains.  I had never hiked to Mt LeConte and had wanted to hike it for as long as I could remember.  Our friends who hike it every year posted they had a couple of openings in one of their cabins and asked if anyone wanted to go on short notice.  I jumped at the chance as that was a rare free weekend for me.

So there are a few facts I need to let you in on to put this story in perspective.  First you need to know that I agreed to go one week before the weekend trip.  Yep – one week to prepare for a long hike and overnight stay.  Like I said before, I have wanted to hike and stay at LeConte for a very long time, so I eagerly jumped at a chance to go.   Secondly I lead a sedentary lifestyle.  Exercise to me was a big part of my life at one time, but is not currently something I do regularly.  ……..Work, home, eat, sleep and repeat is pretty much my routine.

Also know that I am a former member of the 10th Mountain Division in the US Army.  I was a commando Infantry light fighter, which meant more than anything we walked just about everywhere we deployed.  My job required me to carry a 75 pound rucksack full of food, water, clothes, and mortar gear when we were on maneuvers.  We were stationed in the flat lands but were trained mostly to navigate mountains (hence the name 10th Mountain Division).  Our unit was designed to go to and fight in places that the normal Army units could not access.  We were trained to go no matter how I felt, or how bad the weather was.  So I know how to hike and take care of myself.

The Hike

Trillium trail 1
Trillium Gap Trail

Now given the fact that I was not physically in the best of shape I thought to choose the most gradual incline of the five trails that lead to Mt LeConte.  Trillium Gap Trail is a 6.5 mile trail and gains 3,300ft in elevation.  From what I had read it gained the least in elevation, so I thought it would be the best on my knees and body.

There was twelve of us that hiked together that Friday morning.  Before I lost sight of the parking lot I was already winded, and I knew this was going to be a long day.  So I kept a pace that was steady, but not really as fast as the others.  The first part of the hike was not too bad, but by the time we stopped at the half way point for a snack my knees were already hurting.

It wasn’t long after we started the second half that my left knee gave out.  So to compensate I used more of the right leg, but I also noticed that I was falling further behind the rest of the gang.  By now the weather was also turning colder with rain becoming more steady, but the mountain trail was beautiful.Trillium cross roads

Then if that were not bad enough I started getting a Charley horse in my calf – actually both calves!  I was in pain!  Apparently I had not drunk enough water at the beginning of the hike, and it was now showing in these muscle cramps.  I could not go 10 minutes until one calf or the other was convulsing in a Charley horse.  All I could do was wait for the pain to go away and try to keep slowly hiking.

Danielle stayed with me to encourage me to keep me going – she was a trooper.  But it was not long until she was getting frustrated with my misery and offered to carry my backpack.  Not only are my legs hurting really bad, now my pride is hurting because this 40 something year old man is needing his 20 something year old daughter to carry his pack.  But I did concede and let her carry it for a few minutes because I was in so much pain.

I look up and the rest of the gang is long gone by now, but our group leader Keenan came back to check on us.  He saw the pain I was in and offered to hike on to the top, drop his pack, and come back to help me.  I was in no shape to deny the help, so he took off while Danielle and I kept on moving slowly.  I tried to keep a positive attitude because I was enjoying the scenery, smells and adventure.  I was also thankful that Danielle was keeping such a good attitude through all my trials.

I am not sure how long he was gone, but about a half mile out from the top he met us again with a couple of guys with him to help me out.  I was about in tears because I needed the help, and these guys had come to assist me.  I was totally humbled at that point and glad to let Keenan carry my pack the rest of the way to the cabin.

LeConte cabins
LeConte cabins

Once we got to the top we met the rest of the hikers along with another group that came up another trail.  One of them was a friend Mike who saw what kind of shape I was in and helped me to our cabin.  Mike also went to get me some warm hot chocolate from the kitchen to warm me up (LeConte Lodge is famous for their hot chocolate!).  Over the next hour as I sat in the cabin resting and trying to figure out just how I was going to walk around on the top of this mountain the rest of the night, Mike would come by every so often to check on me offering anything I would need.

Of course, the next morning would be a hike down the mountain with another set of pains to endure.  But as I sat there before supper reflecting on the day’s events I was overcome with gratitude and humility.

I am so Thankful

I was totally humbled by my lack of physical ability to hike to the top of the mountain like I thought I could.  Thinking back on my experienced days with the 10th Mountain I realized they were close to 25 years ago.  My mind was strong, but my body had become weak.

I was also overcome with such gratitude for those who helped me especially Danielle, Keenan and Mike.  They gave so sacrificially and graciously to my aid that I just could not thank them enough.

It reminded me of Joshua fighting in Exodus 17.  While Joshua and Israel fought Amalek and his people, Moses would hold up his hands.  When his hands were raised Joshua would win, but as soon as he let them down Amalek would win.  So Moses had Aaron and Hur help hold his hands up so Joshua and the Israelites could win the battle.  Those three helped me win the battle of Mt LeConte against my body.  I did victoriously see the mountain top!