Archive for August, 2013

My Friend Died Yesterday

August 24, 2013

I hate to admit it, but this Christian maturity thing is hard.  Knowing that death is out there is one thing.  Losing a friend to death is quite another.  As with most things, the general knowledge of a thing is just not the same as a personal knowledge.

A friend died yesterday; a man I had been disicipling and encouraging to grow in Christian maturity.  And I could actually see the growth.

Like many of us, he was a refugee from Hillcrest Baptist Church.  He, like the rest of us, was feeling insecure and hurt spiritually.

But about a year and a half ago he just seemed to ignite.  We had been going over a couple of  Lewis S. Chafer books, “Major Bible Themes” and “True Evangelism” and he had ignited with respect to Evangelism.  Wednesday, we held a training session in preparation for going to Iverson Mall this past Saturday (24 August 2013).  He died Friday, 23 August 2013.

I won’t try to pass off the usual bromides.  I am certain he was, as Jesus called it, born again.  So yes, his sins were washed by the blood of Jesus and he had the righteousness of Christ.  And yes, the Bible promises that when we are absent from the body, we are present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:6-8).  But a personal experience with death helps us, helps me, to understand that those who are left behind will miss the one who is now present with the Lord.

The knowledge of salvation gives those left behind a reason to both mourn (however long we need to mourn) the loss of a loved one and to rejoice in knowing, with the assurance of the Bible, that the one we love has “gone to be with the Lord.”

That phrase, gone to be with the Lord, is not simply a euphemism for “died.”  It is, when used with any understanding on the part of the Christian, an affirmation of faith for the Christian.  It is an affirmation of the statements the Bible makes about the result of death for the Christian.  It is an affirmation of our faith in the truth of the Gospel and in the faithfulness of God.    It is an affirmation of our faith in the ultimate destination of the Christian.

If we believe Jesus died on the cross, if we believeHe was raised from the dead, if we believe He ascended into heaven nds sits at the right hand of God, then we can be comforted with the Bible’s assurance that when we are absent from the body, we are present with the Lord.

I don’t know what that presence looks like.  I don’t know what that presence feels like.  But I do know that we are promised that presence.  And given that God is faithful even when we are unfaithful (2 Tim 2:13), we can have the assurance that the unsaved lack.

My friend died yesterday.   I will miss him.  But I know, based on the word of my Lord and Savior, that my friend has gone to be with the Lord.

Calling All Men – Sort Of

August 1, 2013

Okay, I’ve decided to up my game yet again.  I got the P.I.M.P Temple going, but now I’m trying to get more men into the building.  I instituted the dance ministry with “Boom Boom “ Parker, the former exotic dancer, years ago.  On Sundays when she’s ministering, male attendance goes through the roof.  And all the wives show up too.   And offerings?  They are huge!  A couple of times, I was able to replace my Bentley with a newer one, paying in cash using the offering from one Sunday service.   All I have to do now is figure out how to keep the guys attending on the other Sundays and throughout the week.

Someone suggested I preach sermons that challenge them to be strong, aggressive Christian men.  You know, men who know who they are in Christ; men who are willing to take the challenge of giving themselves for their wives (Ephesians 5:25, 26), who know what they believe and are eager to teach it to their children, who are out in society making a rational and thoughtful stand for Jesus Christ no matter the cost; who are able to engage the culture, presenting a reason for the hope that lies within.

On the other hand, a couple of my close buddies suggested I fill my sermons with easy to remember phrases and soporific sayings.  You know the form.  I start a sentence by saying “God is good…” and get them trained to finish it with “…all the time.”  Or “When the praises go up…” they respond “…the blessing come down.”  It keeps them from thinking about the results of sin in the world, God’s sovereignty, or the purpose of suffering in the Christian’s life.

I’m kind of going with the second option.  If I do that, the men feel like they’re participating.  And they stay stupid.  If they stay stupid, the wives won’t feel intimidated by men who actually want to lead their families in stuff like devotion, bible study, disciplining the children, and who expect their wives to look to them for godly, spirit-filled leadership.  Right now, the wives look to me, and that means a good collection each and every Sunday – and sometimes for Wednesday night Bible Study.

If I go the other way, and actually take them through Scripture, several things happen.  First – I have to actually read the Bible and see what it says.  And who has time for that?  If I teach them what Scripture actually says, I wouldn’t be able to do and say the things I do and say.  I’d probably have to get rid of the dance ministry, or at least cut Boom Boom from the payroll.  I’d have to stop insisting that they tithe and give me a love offering.  And then I wouldn’t be able to dress in nice clothes, drive a neat car or stay in a house that not only is in a gated community but has its own gate and fence as well.

Yeah.  The more I think about it, the better the second option sounds.  I’ve been in It for the money for the last six years.  There’s really no reason to change now.  Besides, I have bills to pay.