20131006_164332I was sitting in my window seat winging my way on a work trip, kindle in my hand, earbuds in with old southern gospel playing in my ears when the hijacker appeared. I don’t think anyone else noticed this interloper. He was benign enough. Was this a terrorist? An ideologue? Someone intent on my harm? No, the reason no one else noticed is that the hijacker was a song in my play list. You see, I was minding my own business reading when a song began to play in my ears that would hijack my thoughts for the rest of the day.

Lost in thought as I tried to finish a book I started months ago about the gospel my foot began tapping to an old friend, a song my mother introduced me to and one she requested sung at her funeral – The Uncloudy Day. As I cranked up the familiar melody in my ears and my foot began pounding out the beat to the point I was sure I was disturbing my seatmate on the flight I was transported back 16 years to the church where I grew up. It was not just any day I was transported back to, no I was taken back to the day my brother and I buried our parents. You see the only thing my mother had ever said about her funeral before she died was that she wanted The Uncloudy Day sung at her funeral so that is one of 2 songs we requested be sung that day. However this is not the memory that hijacked my thoughts.

No, the memory that arrested me at 30,000 feet was my memory of watching a man who loved my whole family dearly sing a song from a genre he hated just to serve my brother and I and to honor my parents. In my minds eye I was 20 once again, numb from grief, deeply desiring God to be honored through the Gospel being preached and that He be praised through the testimony of song, sitting on the front row in the meeting house of the saints and knowing as the first notes of this Southern Gospel staple hit the speakers that the only reason Brother D would be singing this song was because of his deep love for his Heavenly Father which poured out and overflowed in his love for me and my brother.

I remember watching his hands shake slightly as he took the mic from the stand and raised it to his lips to sing. I remember him fighting to keep his voice even as he began to sing and watching as his eyes closed so he could focus on the melody and the words so he could get through the song. Was this nervous stage fright in the face of the standing-room-only overflow crowd? 20131006_164518No, I had the privilege of watching him praise the Lord through song for over a decade at this point and it would have taken far more than that crowd to have rattled him. No, the shaky hands and those eyes closing were because D loves deeply and for whatever reason he had decided to love my family many years before therefore that love wanted nothing more than to “mourn with those who mourn”.

This choice D had made was not an un-costly decision. More than once one member of our family or another had caused him no small frustration, sometimes pain and more than a little confusion but he loved us anyway. Not only did he love my parents because they served with him in ministry and my brother and I because he served us in ministry, but D was one of our elders. He was charged with watching over our souls, a responsibility he took seriously and discharged with great joy. The only way D knows how to love and serve is with his whole heart. That is why he was one of the first ones to come to comfort my brother and I on that terrible Sunday morning. He did not come with many words but came with a hug that would not let me go as he sat next to me on the couch and cried.

So at 30,000 feet when The Uncloudy Day began to play my heart was overwhelmed and captivated with gratitude to God for D and for the privilege of being so deeply loved by him. Long had he preached to our stubborn hearts that we should strive to be “Jesus with skin on” and in that moment, like thousands before, as he struggled to sing a song he did not even like D demonstrated exactly what that looked like as he brought us into the presence of The Balm of Gilead who alone could bind our wounds and heal our hurts. I love you D!




Two Crosses

There are two crosses that have defined my life. The first is the one on which my Savior died to pay for my sins. This rough, wretched, beautiful, cruel, cursed tree is the punishment due me. Instead of requiring the last drop of wrath from this guilty hateful rebel, the very God whose justice I had transgressed in my murderous treason condesended to pour Himself out in satisfaction of His own Law. Here at the place of the skull outside the walls of Jerusalem heaven touched earth for the redemption of sinners like me and in a garden tomb a short distance away my Lord Jesus became the first fruits of the Resurection to give forgiven sinners hope and assurrance of their own future resurection.

The second cross is located along a highway in central Oklahoma. This cross marks another place where heaven briefly touched earth 16 years ago. It is here that my loving heavenly Father called my parents home to heaven. I loved my parents more than I even understood then. They had introduced me to Jesus and pointed me to him in everyway they could. In God’s providence it was their death that helped me begin to understand the hope of heaven that was already my birthright as a child of God. It was not until I began to understand experientially the deep pain of loss that I began to understand the joyful tears of the old men as they talked of heaven and looked forward to being there. When my Mom and Dad became my “deposit”, if you will, and as I was crushed by their loss – heaven became my real hope for the first time in my life. I understood for the first time the necessity and joyful hope of the Resurection – one I was sure of because Jesus was raised to give us sure hope both in this life and the next.

Two crosses – both reminders of a faithful, sovereign, loving God.

I love you Mom and Dad. I miss you and I am thankful you continued to be God’s instruments of training even in death. I am thankful I WILL see you again. Until then may I be found faithful, I hope you are proud.

The latest from the Pauper’s Hovel

Well it has been a bit since I posted (OK since Oct 2011 but who’s counting). So I thought it might be time to give an update and begin to tell the new story through which the KING has elected I must pass.

One of the reasons for my silence about issues on the homefront has been the journey into foster care that the Lord began taking us in Dec of 2010. The confidentiality rules made it very hard to blog and not get myself in trouble so I didn’t. Needless to say it has been a journey of increased dependence on our Father God and a journey of emptying of self (that part is often not very pretty). We are currently fostering a sibling group that we are praying the Lord will allow us to adopt but for that to happen very God-sized mountains will have to be removed into the sea as you will soon see.

All other issues aside, the single biggest mountain we face in this journey is Cancer. In January I found out that I had cancer. Initially they thought and began planning like it was rectal cancer (very bad stuff and not much hope). “But God” being rich in his grace and goodness saw fit that after 2 biopsies, 1 attempt at a bone marrow biopsy and losing over 6 units of blood that they should discover that I DO NOT have rectal cancer but rather Burkitt’s Lymphoma! Praise God for Lymphoma! (Still bad stuff – see the 6 unit blood loss; but very treatable and highly curable).

Due to the aggressive nature of Burkitt’s the Doctors must be equally aggressive so that meant I spent most of last week in the oncology ward of our hospital. Each day has a regimen of meds so vile that no one can use the same bathroom as me for about 3-4 days AFTER they stop giving it to me. I have had 2 lumbar punctures, 1 bone marrow biopsy, 7 units of blood and more medicine than I have had most of my life. This journey will be at least 9 – 12 weeks and due to the frequent hospitalizations, immune compromise and fatigue I will be out of work on short term disability.  Needless to say, we could use your prayers.

It is my hope to not waste this suffering and to testify of God’s overflowing goodness and mercy in all of this. God is so good and he is good all the time! From the way far flung friends have sent gift cards and tender words of encouragement, to the way we have been surrounded by our church family, to the way my mountain of a man brother continues to tenderly check on me, We have been so richly blessed!

I will leave you with but one of the tender mercies of Our God. After being in the hospital all week, my doctor came into my room late on Friday evening for what we thought was just a regular round of checks before she went home. However, she had come to discharge me since my blood numbers were so good. There was one small issue, there was a medication that I needed which we had thought we had all arranged, small problem – it was not arranged. We tried every pharmacy we could think of and it was no good, the medication was special order and would not arrive until Monday. So it looked like we were going to have to make the 45 min car ride to the doctor’s office each day until the medicine came in. That is until God sent one of my dearest friends to my room in the midst of this madness and reminded him of a pharmacist friend of his. It was after hours and getting later but my friend tried anyway, by God’s providence the pharmacist was in the office late and as a specialty pharmacy had exactly what I needed. A few minutes, a few phone calls later and I had the medicine and was on my way home. God is seldom early, but he is NEVER, EVER late.