A wonderful Device

As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, my family has had to say good-bye recently to some very special people.  As anyone who has had to part with a loved one, I’ve continued to think about them and remember special times with them.  Nostalgia is especially strong as I consider the two dear men I miss.

I’ve had these thoughts:

I wish I could hear Dad’s voice again.  Not just one more time, but often.

I wish I could hear more stories about my dad, not just by waiting to visit with my aunts, but on demand.

I wish I could spend time in Dad’s presence, to just feel him near.

All of these are quite normal responses to missing my Dad.  As I’ve felt these emotions and desires, it occurred to me, shouldn’t I miss my savior in much the same way?  Shouldn’t my heart and mind yearn for Christ?  My dad was a great guy, a very good man, but he didn’t save my eternal soul.  He walked with me in the faith, but he didn’t put that faith into me, he didn’t claim me from the foundations of eternity.  Jesus did those things. So, what if …

I wish I could hear Jesus voice.  Not just once, but often.  Thankfully, I can.  I can sit and read Jesus words in my red-lettered Bible, and I can hear in my head Jesus talking to his first disciples, and all disciples, including myself.

I wish I could hear stories about Jesus, on demand.  Thankfully, I can.  I can sit and read about Jesus miracles, and his prayers, and his teaching; I can read about Jesus’ activities from the beginning of time to his ascension.

I wish I could be in God’s presence, to just feel Him near.  Thankfully, I can.  By reading the scriptures, by spending time in prayer, I can be in His presence.  Because of the work Christ has done, I can walk boldly into the throne room of God, and in my prayers and meditation on His Word, I can enjoy the nearness of my God and my Savior.

If I had a device that would allow me to hear my dad, to hear stories of him, and to help me feel his presence, I would use it, and often.  I have a ‘device’ that allows me to hear my Savior, to hear stories about Him, and allows me to be ushered into His presence, and it is called a Bible.  Because of its power, I do use it often, and I am able to enjoy my Lord all the better by using it.

Christian Grief

March and April were difficult months at the Becker house.  On March 26, my father, Steven Clifford Becker, Sr. passed away.  34 days later, on April 28, Donna’s father, Burl Franklin Lyons also went home to heaven.  The two men my family counted on as our indicators of Christian manhood were gone, where we could not see them or talk to them anymore.  I’m still brought to tears if I sit and contemplate these losses for too long.

I’ve had time to think about the things I’ve learned during this time, things I’ve learned about Christian grieving.  I think the things I’ve learned are important, and I thought maybe they would be helpful to those who read our Elder Blog.

  1. It is okay for a Christian to grieve. Just as we mourn or long for the Biblical Bridegroom, we can also long for reunion with those who are in their heavenly rest.  Paul says, “13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.”  [1 Thessalonians 4:13-14].  While we are not to grieve as if we have no hope – it does not say we cannot grieve.  We may cry, and ask for hugs, but our focus should always turn on the return of Christ.  I think this makes the longing for our loved ones bearable, that we are also longing for that heavenly land under that heavenly ruler, our God and savior Jesus Christ, because we know when He returns, He will claim his bride, the church, and all the saints will be resurrected for the wedding feast above.  We grieve, we long for that as Christians, because we know what a celebration that will be, and we grieve because we grow weary in waiting.
  2. There is comfort in mourning with family, with our Christian brothers and sisters. A time of grief is also an opportunity for your faith family to serve you – do not steal this opportunity from them!  As Americans, we for some reason believe we have to be strong, and as adults, we believe we always have to be the ones serving.  But God is made preeminent in our weakness, and the gospel can be made louder in our season of grief.  When we allow our brothers and sisters in Christ to serve us, we are allowing the unity of faith and the love in Christ to be seen by others, preaching a sermon that would otherwise not be heard or seen.  Funerals or hospitals are often an environment where we are on display as a church.  Paul recognized the caring spirit of others in Galatians, noting that his chance to preach to them came from his own physical ailments, and he noted that they would have given their own eyes if that would heal Paul.  Just so when we grieve, our family of believers want to treat their beloved members well during a difficult season.  Let them, that the world may know our love, one for another.
  3. “The pain then is part of the happiness now. That’s the deal.” This is a quote from the movie “Shadowlands” starring Anthony Hopkins as C.S. Lewis and Debra Winger as Joy Gresham.  Lewis re-visited the loss of his wife Joy in the book “A Grief Observed”.  I like the quote above because it reminds us, that if we grieve deeply at the loss of a loved one to heaven, it probably indicates there was much happiness in the relationship while living.  We cry loudly because we miss the joy our loved one brought us.  We laugh loudly because of the joy we know our loved one has in the presence of Christ.
  4. Our grief reflects our hope. We hurt because of the fulfillment, the return that has not yet come.  Our hurt reminds us that we should long for His return, and for the celebratory gathering of all the saints.  When someone dies, it reminds us once again of the curse of the fallen, and it reminds us once again of the price that was paid to keep us out of Hell.  Jesus Christ willingly went to the Roman cross, was pierced, and buried.  Three days later He rose from the dead, defeating death in the process.  “26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave[g] nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.” [Galatians 3:26-29].  We cry because we long for this:  “16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.”  [1 Thessalonians 4:16-17].

Grieving is a normal part of change, especially the change from Earth to Heaven for a loved one.  But we have hope in the resurrection when Christ returns, we have joy in the love shown us by our brothers and sisters, and we realize we feel pain because we have already felt great joy.  While none of us would wish grief on another person, we should not try to hide our Christian grief, but hope it will be another opportunity to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

SOME INFO ABOUT HAITI

Since many of you are contributing to our Haiti Church Fund, I thought I might pass along some information I ran across regarding some of their living conditions.  This information is provided by Haiti Bible Mission.

Haiti consists of a low income, peasant based economy. The people are mostly of African descent with the average Haitian making about $2.25 per day. Voodoo is widely practiced throughout the country.  The disparity between rich and poor is dramatic, with one percent of the population making forty-five percent of the total income. In addition, the Haitian government is plagued with corruption and mismanagement. The country also suffers from a very poor infrastructure of roads, communications and electrical power. All these factors have virtually eliminated foreign investment and tourism in Haiti.

Haiti is a densely populated island with an average of 989 people per square mile. Most of the Haitian people live in rural villages, consisting of gravel roads and footpaths surrounding a collection of single room homes.  A lack of clean water and sanitary sewers in both rural and urban areas causes many to die each year from disease.  A Haitian’s average life expectancy is only fifty years.

Because of the widespread poverty, many cannot afford to send their children to primary school. Only 73% will complete the six years of primary school and will do it in an average of sixteen years.  Only 15% of the children will complete secondary school. The adult literacy rate is only 60%.

The picture above was taken after Hurricane Matthew devastated the city of Jeremie in October 2016.

Baptism

Have churches become complacent about baptism services?  As people come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and accept him as savior, the next step is baptism so of course we still have those special services.

I would say that many members of the church body pay little attention to this valuable part of worship.  The common opinion may be that this service is only for the person being baptized.  After all, we’ve already been baptized.  This part of our Christian journey is out of the way.  It’s been checked off the list.  We come away saying, “Well, Joe was dunked this morning.  Isn’t that nice?” Continue reading Baptism

Coming Soon: Blog Posts from Ministry Leaders

Coming in the near future, you will start seeing articles and posts from the pastor, the elders, and other ministry leaders.  We will also start allowing you to register on the site and take part in discussions through the use of comments.

In addition to these articles being posted on the church website, they will also be posted automatically to the church Facebook page.  This will allow for much improved communication to both church members and non-members.

Please keep in mind that this is a family friendly church site.  We will moderate all comments in an effort to keep things Christ centered.

Loving God, Loving Each Other, Reaching Out to Others