“Remember that you are dust, and to dust you will return.”
Yesterday at our teen center, I explained repentance. To a bunch of teens that had no idea that Noah was from the Bible a few months ago, to teens that have no experience at “church,” I told the story of David and Bathsheba. I talked about the depth of sin, the stunning revelation of guilt, the even more stunning announcement of forgiveness, and David’s reaction to all of it. And then, I explained how for many years Christians have shown the state of their heart – their complete sorrow over their own sin – by putting ashes on.
The teens wanted to put ashes on that second. (more…)
His wife’s voice shook. “He’s in the ICU.” By the time she arrived at the last syllable, her voice thickened into a sob.
We left the party right then. Grabbed the children, coats, rushed out. I dropped everyone off at home and sped to the hospital. A few buzzes through security and I arrived at his room.
This giant of a man lay like a shadow on the bright white sheets. Wrists strong enough to break my hands atrophied to sticks. Blood crusted under his nose. He smiled to see me. “Pastor, you should have stayed with your family.”
“You’re worth my time,” I tell him. And he is. No doubt.
“You’ve tracked down this lost sheep. Go find the others.”
“I can do both,” I say, a stab in my conscience. I have not been terribly faithful in calling out to those who do not yet know their Savior.
And this giant who lays dying, this man known for strength who has become so weak, his heart overflows to me. “The children, pastor. The children. I think of all the children who hurt. And my wife! Who will take care of her? This woman who brought me to God. Who loved me, even though I sinned so much. Will she be ok?” His wheezes make each sentence come out one or two words at a time. And his heart… oh, his heart. Even in his great pain, he is so much more concerned for others.
This is a man worthy of respect. (more…)
That’s it. I’m done. The two-minute warning has sounded, and barring the refs making some outlandish ruling, the game is done.
I’m so freaking tired of playing on the losing team.
I know that God has put me on his team, and if God is for me, who could be against me? I know that all things work for his glory, and it pleases him to rescue me from this body of death. I know that he is the Lord of history. I know that in the end, I will see my Redeemer stand on this earth in triumph.
But in my frail eyes, he’s losing. The love of so many has grown cold. So many scurry to have their ears itched by something more interesting. (More interesting? What could be more interesting than God dying for losers like us?! But that’s the refrain: It’s boring!) It looks like we’re losing more members because they’re busy. Or church isn’t worth their time. Or I have the audacity to preach what the Bible says and not “stay out of it” when they talk about their own sin as if they’re proud of what they’re done.
And I tell myself it’s not that bad. I think of the new faces that now rejoice in the Gospel that I’ve met just this year. I bring up their faces in my mind, I see their smiles at the Gospel. The war has been won, and now the battles are fought. And God’s Kingdom will not allow the gates of Hades to overcome it.
But those faces offer little balm. (more…)