The Great Commissioning

June 19, 2017

In just four days our team will load up on a bus and hit the road for Detroit.

Yesterday, on this Father’s Day morning, our Calvary family prayed over us. They prayed for our safety as we travel, as we step away from the comfortable confines of Stephens County.

They prayed for our smooth navigation and safe arrival and return. They prayed that we would serve well the people with whom we come in contact. They prayed that we would grow and stretch and put the gospel of grace into action. They prayed that we would go and serve and make a difference. They prayed that Jesus would shine through us.

They prayed that we would grow and that the kingdom of God would be grown through us.

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I’ve been praying for little girls for about 25 years.

You may know that I only had one daughter born to me, my One and Only SweetPea. But even before I had her, I was praying for little girls.

Four years ago today, the fulfillment of many of those prayers came to pass as my oldest son took vows to love and protect and provide for one of those little girls for whom I had been praying day after day for his entire life. You see, when you love your kids, you pray for the most important and powerful provisions for their lives.

As I look back on that day four years ago and wish Mickey and Jessica a happy anniversary, I remember a day just a few months later when we met another one of those little girls for whom we had been praying for so many years. We knew who she was when we met her and I believe it is because of the uncountable hours we had spent praying for who she would be and how she would grow and how passionately she would love Jesus.

Mickey and Jessica on their wedding day!

One month from yesterday, my Lion Heart will take a similar vow to pour out his life in sacrificial love for his precious Kathleen. Tori and I will sit on the front row and see that beautiful girl walk the aisle and make that boy with the biggest smile and over-the-top hugs absolutely melt with her very appearance at his side.

These precious little girls, all grown up into beautiful, godly young ladies, have added such depth and love to our family that overflows with rowdy, messy, boisterous love. They just seem to belong. Perhaps it’s because of the ways we have prayed for them over and over and over again for all of these many years.

Of course, you may be wondering if we were really doing all that praying for someone we did not even know. I was out for a walk a few days ago, thinking, praying, reflecting, when the soundtrack in my brain pulled up a song I had not heard in many years. It sounds just as cheesy and 80s-ish as you might imagine, but I remembered the many moments over the years that I have watched these growing boys and wondered where that little girl for them might be.

I encourage you to give it a listen.

Those words so often worn out in Proverbs 31 ring out:

An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels.

To my two oldest sons I must simply say, well done. You’ve found her – now love her well.

To my two newest daughters, know that I have loved and prayed for you far longer than you have known my son and I am so immensely grateful for you.

To the rest of my sons, run to Jesus… that’s where you’ll find her.

He Nailed It.

March 24, 2016

It’s been a hard season in our neck of the proverbial woods. There have been so many heartaches and headaches and crises galore… and layoffs…collapses…and lives coming to an unexpected end.

And in the midst of the struggles I find myself reflecting on the perpetual question in hard times…”why?”

And as soon as I ask it the answer comes pounding through my mind. The world is a broken place because of the innate self-fixation that is a part of us all. And that makes me think about my own failures. My sin.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that every bad thing that happens is the direct result of some poor decision or sinful choice or thought on my part. I am saying that the hard or bad things in this life make me very conscious of my sin.

But I’ve been exploring the passion week of Jesus over these last few weeks. That exploration coupled with this greater consciousness of sin has combined in another of those “soundtrack moments” that I write about from time to time.

This time the song doesn’t show up on my easter-themed playlist. It’s  not even the chorus or hook of a song. It’s the third stanza of a classic hymn:

My sin, oh the bliss of this glorious thought

My sin, not in part, but the whole

Was nailed to the cross and I bear it no more

Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

“It Is Well With My Soul” by Horatio G. Spafford

I can’t get over this lyric and the profound truth it reflects. In the midst of this powerful hymn that resounds, “It is well with my soul,” the author recognizes that, despite the tragic reality of this human existence, it truly can be well with my soul because of what Jesus did for me on the cross.

Pipe dreams, you think?

Horatio Spafford, as he wrote that song, had just crossed the place on the Atlantic Ocean where his wife and daughters had been shipwrecked just a few weeks prior and only his wife survived. He knew the heartache that is a natural part of this life and is the byproduct of this sin-cursed world.

Yet, those words… “Oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!” How he rejoiced to consider it! That thought, “my sin, not in part, but the whole is NAILED TO THE CROSS AND I BEAR IT NO MORE,” stirs the greatest recognition in my soul of a reality so far beyond the confines of this world.

My sin.

My sin is the reason life is hard. And my sin – the whole lot of it – has been nailed to the cross with Jesus and I no longer bear it.

I look around and see the heartaches around me…and I am conscious of my sin…but then, when I look for it, I always go back to Jesus.

He nailed it. All of it. Every last hideous drop. He nailed it to the cross and I bear it no more.

And, indeed, because of this truth, despite the chaos that seems it would swallow me up sometimes…it is well.