Who We Remember

            Today is Memorial Day, a day of remembering those who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces. There are many great Americans who paid the ultimate sacrifice for the freedoms we all share. As a part of remembering those who have served, two wounded veterans were recognized for their service at yesterday’s SEC baseball tournament’s championship game. My son Logan and I attended the game. In order to avoid getting caught in the traffic after the game, we decided to leave at the bottom of the seventh inning. On the way out of the stadium, we were walking behind and then beside one of the men recognized during the game. I don’t know the man’s name because I didn’t hear the announcer when he called it, but I do know this, we could use more people like him. I say this not only because of his extraordinary service to our country, but also because of what I witnessed. As we approached the parking lot, a lady pulled up in a shuttle and asked several of us if we cared for a ride to our cars. This man declined and instead just slowly and patiently made his way to his car, not slowly and patiently because he chose only to take his time, but because his injuries gave him no other alternative. I was struck by that. I was struck by the fact that this man, who not only could have used, but also truly deserved help, politely declined to take it. Wow!

            In small measure, let the sacrifice of so many made on behalf of our country serve to help us reflect on the One who made the ultimate sacrifice on our behalf. He is Jesus Christ, whose atoning sacrifice paid the penalty for our sin for all time. So as we honor our veterans today, honor that is rightly due, remember and honor Christ for His sacrifice. He is worthy! “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).   

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Why Teaching the Reality of Suffering Matters

“Have compassion on your servants. Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days” (Psalm 90:13-14) 

            Death happens. It happens as a result of the normal aging process, when disease invades the body, and it happens when tragedy strikes. In whichever manner death occurs, it causes a lot of pain and suffering for loved ones left behind. However, it’s hard to imagine any death bringing about questions of faith in God like a tragedy that takes a life seemingly way too soon. In those types of situations, how can we believe Romans 8:28? “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good…”  How is it possible that suffering can be a path to glory? Though it happens, we must never view death or suffering as natural. In God’s world, they’re not. But they are realities and as Christians, suffering is often a greater one. When we suffer in any circumstance, but especially under tragic ones, how is it possible to still find satisfaction in God? In an article entitled, Preparing People to Suffer: What Expectations Do Our Sermons Create? John Piper addressed from a pastor’s perspective that very question, helping us not only in the case of suffering due to tragic circumstances, but suffering due to any circumstance at all. 

            “Have compassion on your servants. Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days” In this section of Psalm 90, Moses appealed to God to pour out His grace so that people would find satisfaction in Him above everything, enabling them to rejoice all their days. Piper suggests that in times of personal suffering, the wise pastor cries the very cry of this passage and then preaches its truth to those he shepherds. This doesn’t mean that the hurt doesn’t hurt. It doesn’t mean that tragedy will not bring about questions. But what it does mean is that by the grace of God and by the Spirit of God we can accept the truths taught in Scripture, truths like Romans 8:28. It means we can be sure that God sees where we can’t, that His purposes are perfect, and that He is always working for our ultimate good.  

            Pastor’s have an awesome responsibility to preach the whole truth of God, including the reality of suffering. It may not be easy to preach and it may not be what people most want to hear, but it must be done. According to Piper, by teaching the reality of suffering and God’s sovereign goodness in and through it, when tragedy strikes, it leaves you needing only to embrace those in the midst of their pain.  I’m thankful for my pastor for his faithfulness in not dodging this difficult truth. I’m sure many in our congregation have been blessed because he didn’t. But this is not only a pastor’s responsibility; it is all of ours who minister in any manner. So be grateful for your pastor for preaching it and anyone else who teaches it. Because when they do, it not only better prepares you to deal with suffering in your own life, but also minister to others in theirs. And in times like today, we need it.   

 Prayer

Father, thank you for your Word and the faithful pastor’s dedicated to its exposition. It’s a struggle to grasp the difficult truth of suffering, but God, we know that you are good; you are good both in and through our suffering. The reality of suffering is a hard truth, but you have given us your Spirit that we may accept and praise you in the midst of these times. Help us to know that our satisfaction can only be found in you. Comfort all who suffer and embolden those who minister to them that you may be glorified.  Amen!

To My Graduate

Originally posted May 2012

Unveiled...

            A week from today, Kristin will officially be a high school graduate. One more summer is all that’s left before she goes off to college to begin a new chapter in her life. She has been a wonderful child and I know her time in college will be a great experience. Like most parents, I could see this day coming, but as it approaches, there are so many things running through my mind that I want her to know. Naturally, I want her to know how much Karen, Logan and I love her, how proud we are of her, and how much we will miss her being away from us. I’m sure as a parent, you share the same feelings about your graduate. As we get ready to let them go, I believe it’s normal to ask if we’ve done enough to prepare them. What more can be said that will…

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