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You’d be 3 today.

June 20, 2017

Kai, today you’d be 3 years old. You were born straight into the arms of God. I can’t believe it’s been 3 years, although it feels like 10. I won’t ask how you’re doing…you’re in Heaven with the Lord… words can’t describe how good you’re doing! I miss you little guy. Your whole family misses you. I wanted to write and let you know how we’re doing. 
On the afternoon of June 20, 2014 I had a choice to make. Your brief life forced me to recognize that God is still a good, loving God in spite of the pain, sorrow, and loss. I had to choose to trust Him. I had to choose to acknowledge that He is always good. This is a broken world and one day God will put it all back together again. Until that time there will be pain, suffering, and hurt for every person.
In the past year God has given us another daughter. A little sister for you. Don’t worry, she doesn’t replace you! We still miss you every single day. You have 2 sisters and 3 brothers here. That’s more kids than most people have. However when people ask how many kids we have, the word “six” gets stuck in our throats and we usually say “five”. Every time we get that question we have to decide, “do I want to tell the whole story? Will it be awkward?” Kai, we think about you every day. We miss you every day. When we’re out somewhere we do a headcount and have to remember to count 5 and not 6. Your brothers and sisters talk about you all the time. Don’t worry, you’re as much part of the Glass family as they are.


People may say (and some have said), “move on, get over it.” We never will and that’s ok. Losing you was like having a leg amputated. We’ll still live, but always with difficulty. And that’s ok. We have learned to live with your death. We have come to expect the seemingly random times that we start to cry. That’s ok. We have seen God give us strength through very dark places. We have seen that He is still good. We know now more than ever that this world is broken and that pain and suffering is everywhere. We know now more than ever that this is not the world as God created it, sin came into the world and shattered everything. It was so bad that God sent His Son Jesus to the earth to die in order that all will be restored one day. We’ll never get over your passing. People who say “get over it and move on” have never lost someone close to them. 
I’ve been a follower of Jesus for 20 years. I’ve never looked forward to Heaven more than these past 3 years. I can’t wait to see you as we worship Jesus together for all eternity. Until then I want to be the best husband and dad I can be. Since you went to Heaven, I’ve been more intentional to be a better husband to your mother and better dad to your siblings. I’ve learned to treasure every moment. I’ve learned to slow down and be thankful in the little things. I’ve learned to laugh more…and cry more. I’ve learned how to love others more. Thank you Kai for helping me. Your brothers and sisters help me to be a better person…you do too.
I love you my dear son. I miss you. Happy Birthday. 

God’s Love Never Fails

June 15, 2017

God always loves you.  Such a simple yet profound truth.  He does love you.  Nothing can change His love for you.  You cannot be good enough to earn more love…you cannot be bad enough for Him to stop loving you.

This week at McElwain Baptist Church we are having our annual Vacation Bible School.  We are teaching the kids about Paul and the early church.  Each night they meet with Paul in his Roman jail cell to hear about God’s work and God’s love.  It’s been a great week!  dozens of volunteers have put in many hours for this week.  Our desire for the week is that these children (and us adults) learn the lesson of God’s love.VBS2017

We’re teaching children this simple lesson of God’s love.  Don’t be mistaken…it’s not a childish message.  I was watching a movie recently and someone commented to a priest, “if I want a child’s story, then I’ll come talk to you.”  We want these kids to learn of God’s love at an early time in their lives.  We as adults know that life gets harder the older you get.  When those hard times come we are prone to question God’s love.  Though this is a simple truth, there are misconceptions that we have.  The Bible says we have an enemy.  He is an enemy who lies to us.  He takes a little truth and mixes in a lie.  He has done that with the truth of God’s love.  When we misunderstand the love of God, it leads us to question His love altogether.  He are some truths about God’s love.

  1. God’s love won’t prevent bad things from happening.  In our churches we are quick to equate God’s love and God’s blessing with good things in our life.  The danger of this one-sided equation is that we can only draw one conclusion when bad things happen – He doesn’t love us.  We are eager to present the Christian life (or our own life) as being so happy and easy that we shy away from any talk of hardship.  When hardship comes, we don’t know what to do or think.  We cannot miss the fact that Paul, author of much of the New Testament, spent his last years in prison for his faith.  God’s love (and God’s work through Paul) did not diminish while in prison.  God loves you even when bad things are happening in your life.  He is always there with you, even in the worst of times.
  2. God’s love does not change.  His love caused Him to send His Son to die on the cross for you.  Nothing can change that level of love.  The Bible says that while we were sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).  His sacrificial death occurred while we were sinners…therefore we cannot be super-sinners that then cause God to stop loving us.  In our world of earned love, this truth is often hard to receive.  So often our love for one another is conditional.  Not so with God.
  3. God’s love is not a license to sin.  Some mistake God’s love as God’s agreement with any and all life choices we make.  God loves us despite our sin.  His invitation to all people says, “I love you, come to me, follow me, obey me.”  Parents love their children, but that doesn’t mean they condone or approve of every decision the child makes.  God loves us and wants the best for us.  The best we can live is in obedience to Him.
  4. God’s love doesn’t make Him a pushover.  Some think of God’s unconditional love and assume Him to be like Santa Claus, or a benevolent Grandfather.  The truth is that He is a righteous and holy God.  He is a judge.  The Bible is clear from Genesis 3 through Revelation 22 that God punishes sin.  He has made provision through His Son to take on the punishment for all who ask.  That’s His free offer of forgiveness and salvation.  But like any gift, you must receive it.  For those who do not receive it, they must pay the punishment themselves.  He is not a pushover.

Celebrate His love today.  It is a message for children and adults.  It’s a message of freedom for everyone.

7 Responses to Sin

April 4, 2017

Our biggest problem is sin.  It is universal.  Everyone sins.  Sins are different and we sin for different reasons, but we all sin.  The issue becomes how we respond to sin in our lives.  A few weeks back I celebrated 20 years as a follower of Jesus.  I have been in ministry for more than 18 years.  In my time as a Youth Pastor and Senior Pastor, I have seen many responses to sin in my life and in the lives of others.  The graphic above is a good picture of the truth that sin separates us from God.  What we choose to do about sin makes all the difference.

It’s not easy to talk about sin.  It’s not a pleasant conversation.  Sin is an affront to a perfect, righteous, and holy God.  As followers of Jesus we have a responsibility to help one another deal with the sins in our lives.  (Galatians 6:1).  Over the years I have observed 7 responses people have towards sin in their life.  These responses overlap and get messy.  They are messy because people are messy.  The first two responses don’t consider the reality of the sin or the consequences of sin.  The next five acknowledge the reality of the sin but differ in the remedy.

  1. People embrace their sin. When people are confronted with the reality of their sin, they embrace it.  They acknowledge it is sin, yet they continue with little to no regard for the consequences.  In Romans 1:21-32 Paul describes the downward spiral when people have no qualms with their sin and even invite others to join in.  Sometimes they embrace their sin because they think there is no hope for them.  They believe they will never change and so why should they expect for anything different in their lives.

 

  1. People deny their sin. This happens when a person denies the reality of their sin.  This can take the form of denying their role in it, or denying that it is sin altogether.  We live in a culture that seeks to label sin in other ways to give justification.  People confronted Jesus in His day for spending time with “sinners.”  Jesus replied in Luke 5:30-32 saying that He came not for the well but for the sick.  His point was those who believed they had no sin…had no need of a savior.  They were in denial of their own sin.

 

  1. People fall into self-hatred. For some people when they see the reality of their sin, they acknowledge it is sin, and they become angry with themselves.  With this response, a person acknowledges their own sinfulness and then begins to punish himself out of hatred.  The thinking is like this, “since I sin, I am a bad person.  Since I am a bad person, I should just continue to do bad things.”  This leads to further sin and despair.  It finds no remedy.  Paul addresses this in latter part of 2 Corinthians 7:10 “worldly sorrow leads to death.”  The choice to sin more spirals into death.

 

  1. People get angry at the truth-teller. This response acknowledges the reality of sin, but responds in anger towards the means of learning about the sin.  In some cases, people get angry at the Bible.  Few would say they are angry at the Bible, but it comes out in phrases like, “you can’t believe the Bible…you can’t trust the Bible…the Bible is an old book…the Bible isn’t relevant anymore…”  A more common response in many churches is to get angry at the pastor or teacher who talked about your sin.  In my 18 years of ministry, I have seen this response many times.  I have seen people angry with me for simply reading a Bible passage that hit on a sin in their life.

People respond in this manner to deflect their negative emotions on the person who caused the negative emotions.  It is an unhealthy response.  It is unproductive.  Being the target of someone’s anger can be frequent for those in ministry who seek to help people live the abundant life that Jesus offers.  Jesus said that would happen.  After all, He himself was crucified for proclaiming the truth!  Paul reminds Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:3-5.  He says people will turn from the truth and turn to those who tell them what they want to hear.  He then then reminds Timothy to endure suffering in his ministry.  If you seek to preach and teach the truth, you will suffer.  I have seen it.  I have experienced it.

 

  1. People blame others for their sin. When people respond in this manner, they do not deny their sin.  They do fail to take responsibility for it.  Instead, they place the blame with someone else.  If it becomes someone else’s fault, then they are off the hook to respond appropriately.  They may blame their parents, siblings, their boss, their neighbor, society, or you.  This is not a new phenomenon.  When sin first entered the world in Genesis 3:12, God confronted Adam about his sin.  Adam’s response was “the woman you gave to me did it.”  Adam blamed God and he blamed Eve.  We have been doing this ever since.  If you do not take responsibility, you will not do anything to remedy the situation.

 

  1. People seek out self-improvement. This is moving in the right direction, but is dangerous.  A person acknowledges their sin.  They know they must do something about it.  They turn to self-help.  This gets closer to a biblical solution.  But, it can lead to further sin and bondage.  This self-help can look something like this.  A person realizes their sin, so they decide to work harder at doing good things to make up for it.  They may sweep it under the rug to focus on the better things they are doing now.  The danger in this approach is that we can never do enough to bring about forgiveness and restoration with God.

 Other times this self-improvement turns into a competition.  Instead of dealing with their sin, they begin to look at others.  It goes something like this, “yes, I sinned.  But at least I’m not as bad as ________” This may make them feel better about their own sin, but it does nothing to deal with their own sin.

On other occasions the self-improvement turns into a person convincing themselves of a lie to deal with sin.  It looks something like this, “I’m a sinner…no I’m not…I’m worthy, I’m good, and  I’m beautiful.”  The Bible says we are not worthy and not beautiful in and of ourselves.  When we come to Christ, He transforms us.  This kind of self-improvement takes God out of the equation.  When someone responds this way, they often try to convince themselves that they are a good person and that they can fix themselves.  The Bible says we are sinful people who need a Savior.

This self-improvement response is dangerous since it removes God from the being the solution to our sin problem.  It looks good.  But it is a subtle danger.  In 2 Timothy 3:5, Paul warns Timothy about those who have an appearance of godliness but deny it’s power.  This is a dangerous response.  It is close to the truth, but it leaves God out of the equation.

 

  1. People respond with repentance. When someone responds with repentance, they have acknowledged their sin, there is a change of mind about the sin, and there is a desire to grow and be made whole.  The Bible says that we must repent and turn to the Lord.  This is when forgiveness comes.  In 2 Corinthians 7:10 Paul says there is a godly sorrow which leads to repentance.  This happens when someone says, “yes, I sinned.  It was sin.  I need forgiveness.  I don’t want to sin in that way again.”  In 1 John 1:9 the Bible says if we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  That’s healing!  That’s how to biblically deal with the reality of sin in your life.

 

Do you need to repent?  Are their sins you need to acknowledge and deal with in a biblical way?  The amazing truth is that God loves you even though you are a sinner!  The truth is found in Romans 5:8, “God showed His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  You don’t need anything more than the cross of Jesus to prove to you that God loves you.  You can embrace the ugly reality of your sin and find healing in Jesus.  You don’t need to deny, get angry, blame others, or look to yourself for the answer.  You can come to Jesus.  The man who took on flesh to die for your sins.

God is Working

March 22, 2017

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I just returned on Sunday from a 9 day trip to South East Asia.  Our team of 3 traveled 18,000 miles around the world and back.  We saw God at work in mighty ways.

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The country we visited has a population of roughly 50 million people.  88% are Buddhists and 5% are Christians.  I have never been anywhere with people so friendly and helpful.  However, in the midst of their goodness there is such hopelessness.  Buddhism is a way of life.  It teaches that you must earn enough merit in order to reduce suffering in your next life.  They believe that it is possible to attain nirvana, which will lead to a release from the cycle of rebirth and reincarnation.

There is a hopelessness to this endless cycle.  Most Buddhists pray regularly to the Buddha in their homes and at the Temples and Pagodas.  They have an intensity in their prayers.  I was struck by the despair.  They spend hours reading and reciting memorized prayers to golden statues that cannot hear, cannot see, and cannot act.

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While on our trip I celebrated an anniversary.  On March 15th I celebrated 20 years as a follower of Jesus!  I was a freshman in college when I became of follower of Jesus and submitted my life to Him.  It was only then in my life did I find peace, joy, and love.  This all came through the grace and mercy of a God who knows me and loves me.  He is a God who hears me, sees me, and acts in my life.

During our visit, I saw many people whose lives have been changed by Jesus.  They are finding true peace and hope in their lives.  The Lord is using many ways to reach people with the Gospel of Jesus.  Some are meeting in tutoring sessions and learn about Jesus.

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Others who are new believers are meeting for several months to study the Bible together and learn how they can be used to bring the message of Jesus to their people.

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The people here are hospitable and open to the message of Jesus.  Please pray for them that they would find freedom in Christ!

Piggin’ Out for a Cancer Cure

January 3, 2017

One of my heroes is Dr. Dave Black.  He’s 64 years old and began running less than 2 years ago.  On May 7th he will be competing in the Flying Pig Marathon in Cincinnati, Ohio.  Yes, he’s doing the whole 26.1 miles!!

He is also using this as an opportunity to raise funds for cancer research at UNC Hospital.  His wife, Becky Lynn Black, passed away in November 2013 from Endometrial Cancer.  Dave raised $25,000 last summer to further research being done at UNC.  As he sets his sights on this marathon, he is hoping to raise an additional $4,000 for research.  He is looking for 154 people to donate $1 per mile.  That’s a $26 donation from 154 people to the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer at UNC.  You can read more about this project and make your donation HERE.

Pray for Dave in this endeavor.  Help support this project.  I have written in the past about his wonderful wife Becky Lynn.

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One Month Old

December 15, 2016

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Karis Lynn is 1 month old today.  How can it both seem like yesterday and like a year ago at the same time?  It has been quite the journey for our family in 2016.

It was the last few days of March when Matthea and I learned she had become pregnant.  We were excited and scared all at the same time.  It had been almost 2 years since June of 2014 when our son Kai was stillborn.  He died 5 days before his due date.  We weren’t sure if we would have another child. We weren’t sure if we wanted to venture down the road of pregnancy again.  But, here we were with the news of another child.  We didn’t tell anyone for a while.  When we went to the OB doctor to confirm the pregnancy our 4 year-old son Christian sat in the corner of the room watching Netflix on an iPhone.  We didn’t think he was paying attention.  Later that day he proceeded to tell his siblings, “Mama has a baby in her belly and it’s a little girl.  I know it’s a sister.”  We swore our kids to secrecy.  We were all excited and scared together.  Our 4 older kids had been through so much we knew we were on this journey together.

To our surprise they kept the secret from everyone for 6 weeks!  When the day came to share the news publicly, we were excited and scared.  By this point we had spent 2 months trusting the Lord each day to watch over this little child.  Our doctor (who was wonderful the entire pregnancy) would say to us, “we will take it one day at a time, and today everything looks good.”  That was our reality every day for the entire pregnancy.  These were quite profound words!  In July we learned that this baby was indeed a sister!  Christian was right!  Everyone was so excited.  Everyone was scared.  Our 12 year-old daughter had long ago given up hope on having a sister.  After having 4 brothers, it seemed like a sister would never come.

Through the fall we went every week to the doctor.  They checked her heart rate and her growth with ultrasounds.  They took such great care of us.  Every day we were taking it one day at a time.  Every day she was doing great.  As we neared the end of the pregnancy, we were even more excited and even more scared.  We were trusting in the Lord more and more.  The doctor wanted to induce labor about 3 weeks early, so on the morning of November 15th, we arrived at the hospital.  We were excited.  We were scared.  Later in the day we decided for a C-Section, we wanted to be cautious.  She was born just before 6 PM.  Karis Lynn Mae Glass was finally here!  The name Karis means “grace”.  She certainly is God’s gift to our family.

It has been a real journey walking daily with the Lord through this.  He never promised another child.  He never promises a healthy child.  He DOES promise to never leave us or forsake us.  We have walked through the valley of the shadow of death, and He was with us the whole time.  Thank you for your prayer for our family and for little Karis Lynn.

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Reading

December 12, 2016

We had a great discussion in Sunday School yesterday about spending time with the Lord.  We talked specifically about Bible reading and prayer.  There was a common sentiment that we often go to the Bible and hope to have an earth-shattering reading time each day.  Then we get discouraged when that doesn’t happen.  Do you ever feel that way?

If you’re in the habit of reading God’s Word on a consistent basis you’ve had timely encounters.  But it doesn’t happen every single time.  I like to think of it like eating.  We eat 3 meals a day.  That’s what we need for sustenance.  Not every meal every day is amazing.  Sometimes it’s just to get you through.  Every once in a while we eat something incredible.  Maybe it’s a new recipe you try…maybe it’s a new restaurant that opened up.  Then we tell others about it.  We rave over it.  It’s good.  Then we eat our usual 3 meals the next day.  Regular Bible reading is like that.  Just read it.  Every so often it’ll knock your socks off.  You’ll talk about it.  You’ll post online about it.  You’ll marvel.  Then the next day, you read the Word some more.

One thing is for certain.  These encounters with the Lord through His Word will not happen if you’re not reading the Bible.  You’ll never have those big encounters if you don’t open your Bible and read it.

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