In the last 3 years, I have wept deeply over four significant life moments:
1) For deeply hurting someone close to me
2) For the loss of a ministry position
3) For my Dad’s death
AND most recently 4) For the death of an unsaved friend

I have found in each of these life moments a profound sadness I have not experienced for much of my life. I also find myself weary, deeply weary of life’s disappointments and goodbyes. Upon reflection I find each of these life moments to hold a unique place in my thoughts. I do understand that weeping is truly an emotional release perhaps sort of a burst of deep sadness. Yet for each of the four life moments mentioned above that sadness has a different quality altogether.

Weeping as a result of deeply hurting someone close to me was excruciating, but I found forgiveness and truly that faithful are the wounds of a friend (Proverbs 27:6). On the other hand, my sorrow for a job loss proved to be momentary especially when I experienced a renewed sense of freedom along with the healing grace from family and friends.

No one can prepare you for the death of a parent. My sorrow increased from the moment I heard the news to the moment I saw his lifeless body in the casket prior to the funeral. However, my weeping was mixed with great hope of seeing him again in heaven. Even so, there are times I am surprised by a memory of him and find I am fighting back tears.

In all, these first three have a different ending that the last one will never have. These life moments I have already described have joy attached – forgiveness, grace, and hope. But this last one I’m fearful will linger with me in a wholly different way.

I knew Nick less than a year. He was friendly and outgoing. We were fans of many of the same sports teams and often kicked such subjects around. For the last three months he was my protégé at work. He was a good sales man and I knew he would do well as the months progressed. At age 32, he still wasn’t married, but looking for Mrs. Right. On the matter of spiritual things, he grew up Catholic but the importance of God and church had faded in his life.

Nick heard the truth that you can’t earn your way to heaven. He knew that Christ was essential to eternal life. Yet he felt he had enough religion for now. After all he was young and had much of his life ahead of him. He received a fair share of evangelism, even though I’m not sure how much he saw the truth lived out. I sought to be an example of Christ every day we worked together. At the end, it wasn’t enough. My friend, as far as I know, went to bed Friday evening and died in his sleep without trusting in God’s one and only provision for eternal life.

So my sorrow has an edge that cannot be undone. No do-overs in life after death. There never has been. The Bible says it is appointed for man to die and after this the judgment (Hebrews 9:27). I wish my friend had his judgment cancelled because of Christ.

As with any sorrow, I have but one thing to do: Rest in the sovereign, loving and grace-filled hands of our heavenly Father. He alone comforts my heart.

Atheism, agnostic, evolution, etc. culture humor theology

I Have A Confession…

I have a confession to make…in an ever-growing culture of sound bites and video clips, I find that my life reveals “clips” that show a side of me I prefer not be known. In my role as pastor and missionary, I want people to see nothing but a courageous, faith-filled follower of Christ. My hope is that no one can see my occasionally faltering faith. Perhaps I have done a good job so far… or have I? So whether those clips have been observed or not, I have a confession I must reveal.

Before I make my transparent admission, let me tell you about the last 24 hours. Here’s the gist – I have been pursued by a loving God to face a weakness in my walk with Him. Yesterday, after a 40-day ordeal with our aging mini-van, the car broke down again. (What’s sad is that I merely drove it away from the auto shop that just finished repairing the problem. Just 10 miles down the road…viola! ) Trust God is all things? At that moment to any observer the “clip” of my life would reveal anything but a man of faith. I’m amazed to realize how God gets most of the blame for a car not running. Been there and definitely done that!

Then it happened…a long time friend drove up, offered help. However, I politely dismissed his help due to the tow truck on its way (and partly out of embarrassment). He drove away and I sat back down in the van waiting for the tow truck. (I think the driver and I are on first name basis now!) After a few minutes I decided to text the would-be Good Samaritan to thank him for stopping and offering help. But at that moment, he drove up again, jumped out of his car and declared he was not going to leave me stranded. There in the pouring rain, he assessed the problem and sought to make the minor repair to get me back on the road.

After some elbow grease and finding the right tools, the van’s engine purred back to its rustic self. My friend had accomplished what he set out to do. He even followed back me to the auto shop to drop off the car. (I felt this was my only option since the gun shop was closed!) And then he offered me a ride home. Later that night I reflected on the fact that while I was playing the blame game with God, He Himself was already in motion to show His power and care for me. My friend embodied Christ’s love in the flesh for which I am very grateful.

This morning I listened to another long time friend teach from Matthew 6:25-34 about trusting God in all matters rather than worry. This was a timely encounter with God on the subject. As I reflected on this truth I discovered that the last 24 hours revealed a great weakness in my walk with Christ.

So I have a confession (actually two):
First – there are times in my walk with Christ that I act like a Practicing Atheist. Yes, really! I view God as if He does not have control of anything in this world. He might as well be powerless to work on my behalf. Then He sends a Good Samaritan by to prove His power. But that’s not all…

Second – there are times in my Christian experience that I become a Brooding Agnostic. I see God as if He doesn’t care about my circumstances. “Hey, Lord, we’re having a crisis here, jump in anytime you desire…preferably now!” Have I dropped down on His list of priorities? Was I ever on it? Then He sends a Good Samaritan by to show how deeply He cares for me.

There – I confessed it. Now what? Train my heart to trust God: trust Him more, trust Him deeply. In Matthew 6:26 we read the words of Christ “Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds.” (The Message)

Today, I’m just learning to be a trusting follower of Christ and be “careless in the care of God.”  How about you?

politics, economy, etc. praise theology World etc.

Rights?! What Rights?!

We live in a world obsessed with personal rights.   The recent political manuverings in Washington highlight a popular worldview that everyone has extensive rights, including health care.   Many wonder, how far do personal rights extend?   However, it’s nothing new.  It’s been with us since the curse.

Yet there was One Man who lived very differently.  We read in Philippians 2:6-8 that when Christ came to our world from the Father, he set aside his rights as God to fully incarnate into humanity.  The Apostle Paul tells us that Christ, though God Himself, gave up his rights to live like, look like and be treated like God.

Imagine a king leaving the glorious and lavish environs of his palace to live among the poorest of the poor in his kingdom.  But not just for a night (as if a publicity stunt), rather for years.  Regardless of the squallor in which he lives, where he lays his head or stale bread he feasts upon, the fact remains he is still king.  Christ, the King of Kings, did just that – He left his glorious, righteous throne and laid aside his rights to live as God.

What if you were to wake up tomorrow and be summoned to court only to learn that due to enormous debt you are now a slave of your creditors – for the rest of your life!  You no longer have personal rights – where to live, what to do for a career, ownership of personal property, access to a bank account, or anything that is yours.  You are now the one that is owned.  A bit frightening isn’t it?  The prophet Isaiah foretold the Christ would not have any form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.  Christ stepped in humanity not as a nobleman or into a well to do family, but as a lowly slave.  He gave up his rights to look like God.

To leave your rightful throne and live like a common slave is one thing .  To do so to sacrifice your life for wretched lost mankind is completely something different.  Scripture tells us that he humbled himself to the point of death on a cross.  The final hours of Christ leading up to the crucifixion was perhaps that most humiliating and excruciating experience anyone could ever face.  The betrayal, false trials, cruel beatings, mockings and jeerings would crush any man.  Yet Christ endured them all to rescue you and me.  He gave up his rights to be treated like God. 

What’s more amazing is that Christ gave up his these rights so that you and I would gain one of the greatest rights known to man.  In John 1:12, we read these priceless words, “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”

He gave up his rights so we could have the right to call heaven our eternal home. 

Thank God for the cross! 

Thank God for the empty tomb! 

Thank God he gave up his rights to rescue us.