Death

 

death Grunge TextI am not a fan of death. I recently experienced the death of a dear aunt and then two weeks later, her son died. Death is so permanent relative to my life here and now. In relationship to eternity, it more like a new chapter. I see eternity as “the long game” or “the big picture”. While death is the end of this life, it moves us squarely into eternity. The way I understand scripture, this life determines the destination in eternity.

This morning I read about the death of Jesus from John’s perspective. John was probably the closest of the 12 disciples to Jesus. He was standing at the foot of the cross when Jesus breathed His last. The death of Jesus “felt like” the end, but it certainly wasn’t. Jesus came to earth to fulfill His mission to conquer sin and death. His death on the cross accomplished both. He died for the sins of the world. His death was made even more significant because of how He lived, His teaching and His ministry here on earth. He was the promised Messiah and many missed that. Check this out…

25 Standing near the cross were Jesus’ mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary (the wife of Clopas), and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother standing there beside the disciple he loved, he said to her, “Dear woman, here is your son.”27 And he said to this disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from then on, this disciple took her into his home. 28 Jesus knew that his mission was now finished, and to fulfill Scripture he said, “I am thirsty.” 29 A jar of sour wine was sitting there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put it on a hyssop branch, and held it up to his lips. 30 When Jesus had tasted it, he said, “It is finished!” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. (John 19:25-30 NLT)

I’ve read the other accounts of Jesus’ death and they are a bit more dramatic. John’s version is pretty simple. I think John’s is feeling a lot of the weight of the earthly family of Jesus. His death was very public and at this point probably pretty humiliating. It’s hard to have the perspective that He is the Savior of the World during this dark afternoon.

I honestly dread death. I’ve been trying to prepare myself for that eventual “ending” to my life here on earth. I decided years ago that my best response to death was to connect with the Creator of Life and live inside His Plan for my life. He has given me opportunity to invest in others. I am blessed with 5 amazing kids who also desire to know the Lord deeply and understand His plan for their lives. I also know that my life here can “live on” through my relationships and my “investments” into eternal things rather than just temporary things. Not one human being on the planet can escape death, so I’m taking the route of planning for it and leaning into it. I want my life and influence to count for years to come through my investment into my children; their children and anyone who will listen. The Word of God is true and He gives a clear plan for “retirement” from this life – total trust in Jesus. I’m putting my hope in Him!

All My Hope Is In Jesus – Crowder

Pressing On!

Dwayne

A Different Kind Of Debt

Hand giving moneyI have confessed to many that during the recession that started in 2007 and caused financial hurt to many for at least 3 or 4 years, I also had debt. I almost lost most of my material possessions because I was way too leveraged financially. In other words, I was in debt up to my eyeballs and my income stream had shrunk significantly. I look back now with gratitude that the Lord guided me through that season of life. I have since sought counsel and wisdom on managing my finances so that hopefully, I never get that close to the brink ever again.

I am learning that I now carry a different type of debt. I am profoundly grateful to so many people who have invested in me over the years to educate and build me into the man I am today. I could make a list and it would not be short. I have been challenged to be more grateful as I reflect on my life journey.

Paul writes to Philemon, the owner of Onesimus (a slave) who had found Paul and is now a Christ follower. Paul sends Onesimus back to his owner with this 25-verse letter appealing to Philemon as a Christ follower and he wants the situation to reflect the fact that both, Philemon & Onesimus are Christ followers.

17 So if you consider me a partner, welcome him as you would me. 18 And if he has wronged you in any way, or owes you anything, charge that to my account. 19 I, Paul, write this with my own hand: I will repay it—not to mention to you that you owe me even your very self. 20 Yes, brother, may I benefit from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in Christ. 21 Since I am confident of your obedience, I am writing to you, knowing that you will do even more than I say. (Philemon 17-21 CSB)

Paul’s appeal to Philemon was from the basis of their personal relationship but also as a Christ follower. Philemon is in debt to Paul. Onesimus is in debt to Philemon & Paul.  Paul made it clear that he’s in debt to Christ. These are debts that really can’t be paid off. I will carry my debts to the people who invested in me until the day I met Jesus. I am also investing into people who will “owe” me – not really me – Christ in me.

I want to continue to push back on financial debt. I want to keep paying back the people that invested in me through the years.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Parenthood

 

Mother and sonMy heart profoundly hurts for young families who want children but for some reason can’t conceive. I believe one of the things that changed my life most profoundly is becoming a parent. I know that my selfish meter really read differently. I am convinced that I discovered more about God through becoming a parent than any other way. I understood some things about His love for me. I can’t possibly describe the depth of my love for my children.

The Israelites once again turned from the Lord and the Lord put a plan in motion that would deliver them from the Philistines. He begins with the announcement of a birth. Check this out…

2 A certain man of Zorah, named Manoah, from the clan of the Danites, had a wife who was childless, unable to give birth. 3 The angel of the Lord appeared to her and said, ‘You are barren and childless, but you are going to become pregnant and give birth to a son. 4 Now see to it that you drink no wine or other fermented drink and that you do not eat anything unclean. 5 You will become pregnant and have a son whose head is never to be touched by a razor because the boy is to be a Nazirite, dedicated to God from the womb. He will take the lead in delivering Israel from the hands of the Philistines.’ (Judges 13:2-5 NIV)

The young man was named Samson. I still remember first hearing the stories of his great strength. If Samson became a judge at age 18, then the Lord was preparing nearly 20 years earlier for him to serve the Israelites as their leader. The Lord used a barren woman to deliver a great leader. I love the fact that the Lord did this with other great leaders. He starts with a birth and builds the leader from the start.

As I reflect on the arrival of my kids into my family, I’m blown away with feelings of blessing. It is a powerful and deep feeling of love that I have for my children. I also feel the incredible challenge and weight of the responsibility to teach them not only with my words, but also with my life. Of all the leadership responsibilities I’ve had over the years, I can’t think of any that compare to my role as a parent. I’m thankful for the grace of God as I made mistakes many times over. I’m thankful that the Lord shaped my heart to be teachable as I did my best to teach the children He blessed me with. Parenting should be unselfish, as we love, give and serve these beautiful gifts from the Lord.

Pressing On!

Dwayne