On Sunday July 31st I shared a message on the Lord’s Supper as a celebration.
Sunday July 17th I shared a message from Ephesians 6 on the power of God in Spiritual Warfare.
This past Sunday, July 3rd, I spoke about our freedom to worship. As we see in 1 Peter 2, we are free to worship at all times and in all places because of who we are in Christ.
Today marks 2 years since our lives were ripped open, torn upside down, and we joined a club no one wants to be part of. It was June 20, 2014 when we went to the OB Doctor expecting our son Kai to be born any day. His due date was only 5 days away and we were at our usual 39-week appointment. That’s when we discovered there was no heartbeat. Kai was dead.
Words still cannot describe the devastation. I cannot imagine pain harder than the pain of losing your own child. It isn’t supposed to happen. Today is the 2-year anniversary of his death. I can say the second year has been easier than the first year. It has been quite the journey. We had people who walked through the time with us and held our hand and prayed for and with us. We also had people who meant well but said very hurtful things. I may one day write a post in what to say and what not to say to grieving parents, but there’s plenty out there already. Our experience was like that of most others. I write about the journey 5 months in. You can read that post here.
These 2 years have taught us many lessons. One of the many lessons from the Lord is this simple truth…God is good. He is always good. In the American church we try to act like God’s desire is to be free from hurt and pain. We act as if happiness is the highest virtue. We are afraid of people’s sorrow and grief, so we avoid them. Or worse, we try to pray it away. The heart of the matter is this…we wrestle with the question of the goodness of God. The enemy, Satan, is a liar. Jesus calls him the father of lies in John 8. When we face hard times, he tells us that God is not good. It goes something like this, “God let this bad thing happen. You see, God is not good”. If we buy into that lie, we get angry at God for what has gone wrong.
The reality is that sin entered the world long ago. Sin brought with it death and destruction. When death happens we can confidently say “it isn’t supposed to be this way”. In God’s original design there was no sin, no pain, no death. But sin has affected everything. When we see sin, pain, and death it should remind us that this isn’t God’s original design. He is good. He allows sin, pain, and death. After all, His Son experienced pain and death on our behalf. Only Jesus sets everything right. The Bible says that one day, Jesus will set everything right. One day there will be a new Heaven and new earth. One day there will be no more tears and no more death. Until that time, we must hold on to the goodness of God.
In the midst of our pain some days the only thing we could hold on to was His goodness. We questioned it at times. But we always came back to the truth of His goodness. If you are in a dark place, remember that He is good. He is always good. He allows pain in our lives for His reason. He determines the limits. He does this for reasons that only He knows.
We are at the beach this week. In fact, the same beach where we were 12 months ago. I snapped this picture this morning as I walked on the shore. Several places in the Scriptures we are told that God sets the limits for the edges of the seas. It is a lesson in His power. After my walk I was reading the Bible app and the verse of the day was about His goodness. Whatever you are facing, thank Him because He is good.
Sunday we talked about the who should participate in the Lord’s Supper celebration. We looked at Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 10. The conclusion: the Lord’s Super is for believers.
In the spring of 2006 I attended a monthly pastors meeting in our local Baptist Association. The speaker that morning was Becky Lynn Black. She shared with us about work she and her husband had been doing in Ethiopia. She spent the first 11 years of her life as a “Missionary Kid” in southern Ethiopia. After many years away from that country she and her husband went back for a visit. She was sharing with us pastors about some of the work that they had begun with the churches in southern Ethiopia. Over the next decade, this partnership would include Bible Conferences, Scripture memory programs, Bible distributions, eye-glass distribution, a medical clinic, supporting indigenous missionaries, building church buildings, installing solar powered electricity in churches, and many others. A few weeks after meeting Becky Lynn, my wife and I went to their home for dinner and lengthy conversation about Kingdom work in Ethiopia. From that initial meeting we developed a close friendship, we became family.
There are many things I could say about Becky Lynn, or ‘Mama B’ as many called her. Perhaps I can sum it up by saying she made me want to love Jesus more. She had an engaging personality and an ability to make each person feel like the most important person in the room. She challenged everyone to a deeper walk with Jesus. In 2009 while heavily involved in this partnership work in Ethiopia, Mama B was diagnosed with endometrial cancer. We were all devastated. As saddened as we were, Mama B never let this slow her down. She trusted completely in God’s sovereignty and knew He made no mistakes. From the summer of 2009 until November 2, 2013 she endured the surgeries, hospital stays, chemo, radiation, and so forth with grace and strength. She used to say, “I’m not dying of cancer. I am living with cancer.” And she did!
Through her battle with cancer she never slowed down pouring her life into other people. She continued to visit Ethiopia and lead other teams to visit. She was always concerned for others and looked for ways to have a positive impact on their lives. During her 4 years with cancer she received some of the best medical treatment possible. The entire team at the Lineberger Cancer Center at UNC was phenomenal. Just recently her husband, David Black, has partnered with the Lineberger Center to establish the Becky Black Memorial Fund to Fight Endometrial Cancer. This fund will further research on endometrial cancer. Please take a moment and visit this page to learn more about Mama B, and how you can help those living with this cancer.
On Mother’s Day 2014, I spoke about Mama B briefly. You can hear my remarks in this 3-minute clip
Are you looking for something unchanging in this changing world? The good news of Jesus is unchanging. Salvation is available to all people because of God’s love. Romans 10 helps us see that our standing before God has nothing to do with our good works, but everything to do with faith in Jesus. This is my sermon yesterday on that very topic: