Archives For May 2008

I was on break, sitting in the corner of the restaurant eating my dinner. The dining room was pretty empty – quiet, calm. I looked up to see a family walking in. Dad, Mom, and three boys. I chuckled to myself as they reminded me of ducks, all in height order. Dad, the tallest. Mom next, then the three others. All in a straight line.

They ordered their food, and sat down a few booths away from me, across the aisle. Two boys on one side, mom and another son on the other. Dad at the head of the table.

I saw another family glance at them, chuckling among themselves. I wasn’t. I was watching what they did next. All of them reverently took off their hats, closed their eyes, and thanked God for their food. The other family starting whispering again. I was convicted.

I totally forgot to thank God for my food! I thought to myself. Okay, well…I just flat out didn’t do it because I just didn’t feel like it.

The family concluded their prayer, returned their hats to their heads, and began eating. I really wanted to walk over and thank them right then and there for their example to me and to others in the restaurant. People may think it’s old and cliche to talk about being a witness by praying in public. I don’t think it is at all. Something was working in my heart right there, and the Holy Spirit was working through this family.

—-

Fast forward to the night after. I’m driving home. The sun is setting, a faint moon can be made out in the blue sky. Music plays quietly the background with the faint sound of tires on the road. I was thinking about that family. What exactly was God trying to tell me? It couldn’t simply be “Tim, you didn’t ask a blessing over your food.” I knew it was much, much deeper than that.

It became pretty obvious to me as I saw that sunset in front of me and I drove towards home. I was ungrateful for what God had given me – I wasn’t thankful to God that I was driving a car I own, I wasn’t thankful for my job, my family, a home to return to, a church family, life, salvation, or the cross. I had been moping around worrying about finishing school, whining about having to work, and complaining about the situations I found myself in. The praying family stopped me dead in my tracks.

Thank goodness God is “kind to ungrateful and evil men.” I was acting just like those evil men described in 2 Timothy 3:2, the men who are “lovers of self…arrogant…ungrateful, unholy…[and] holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power.” Paul tells us to “avoid such men as these.”

I should not act like these sinful men, but instead should give thanks to God for his infinite mercy to me first of all through the gospel. The truth of the cross does not allow for ungratefulness. Secondly, I must thank God for his grace through the Holy Spirit, shown to me daily. Last, I must thank God for common grace – life, sun, rain, oxygen, etc. With these things in mind I should never stop giving thanks to God.

So, it’s not that I broke some rule about praying before my meal. The issue is much deeper than that – things like that can quickly show us a much deeper problem in our lives. My prayer is that none of us will allow ourselves to overlook that truth.

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, His love endures forever.

We Cry With Hope

May 22, 2008 — 3 Comments

scc.jpg

I was shocked and stunned by the following message this afternoon.

NASHVILLE, TN…5/21/08… At approximately 5pm on the afternoon of Wednesday May 21st, Maria Sue Chapman, 5 years old and the youngest daughter to Steven and Mary Beth Chapman was struck in the driveway of the Chapman home in Franklin, TN. Maria was rushed to Vanderbilt Childrens Hospital in Nashville, transported by LifeFlight, but died of her injuries there. Maria is one of the close knit family’s six children and one of their three adopted daughters.

I’ve been a fan of Steven Curtis Chapman for 18 years, and like thousands of his fans I have to ask “why?” How can God allow such a tragic accident to occur? The pain is so deep – it’s so deep for so many of his fans. I can only imagine how much deeper it is for Steven, his wife, his kids – and especially for his son. But Steven has answered the question of “why” so clearly in his song, “With Hope,” when he says:

This is not at all how
We thought it was supposed to be
We had so many plans for you
We had so many dreams
And now you’ve gone away
And left us with the memories of your smile
And nothing we can say
And nothing we can do
Can take away the pain
The pain of losing you, but …

We can cry with hope
We can say goodbye with hope
‘Cause we know our goodbye is not the end, oh no
And we can grieve with hope
‘Cause we believe with hope
(There’s a place by God’s grace)
There’s a place where we’ll see your face again
We’ll see your face again

And never have I known
Anything so hard to understand
And never have I questioned more
The wisdom of God’s plan
But through the cloud of tears
I see the Father’s smile and say well done
And I imagine you
Where you wanted most to be
Seeing all your dreams come true
‘Cause now you’re home
And now you’re free, and …

We have this hope as an anchor
‘Cause we believe that everything
God promised us is true, so …

We wait with hope
And we ache with hope
We hold on with hope
We let go with hope

This accident was not at all how it was supposed to be in our finite plan. Yet we know that God is sovereign, and that although the pain is great, this accident was not outside of His control. We can rest assured that “all things work together for the good for those who love God and have been called according to His purpose.” Even through this tragedy, God can be and will be glorified.

I once heard an analogy of a pond that you’ve thrown a pebble into. You see all of the little circles coming from the rock, which represents your view of life. God sees all of the pebbles thrown into that pond by all people and is orchestrating each and every one for His purposes and His ultimate will. For now, we only see through a glass darkly. Someday we will see why God allowed this to happen. For now, we must rest in His arms knowing that His good and perfect will shall be done in due time.

We cry with hope because we know our goodbye is not the end for those who have put their faith in the one, true, good God who is working out His good and perfect plan even amidst such pain and suffering. Our hope is not in this world. It is in Christ, the perfect sacrifice for our imperfections, who has saved us from sin, and has made us perfect before a Holy and Just God.

I don’t know why Maria was so tragically killed in this accident. I wish with all my heart it didn’t happen. Yet I will trust in God during this time. I know the Chapmans will do the same, and I hope that you will continue to pray for them during this terrible time. I’ll end with this note from Jim Houser:

Your prayers are needed for all in the Chapman family. This is a family who has so generously loved and given to so many. Just hours before this close knit family was celebrating the engagement of the oldest daughter Emily Chapman, and were just hours away from a graduation party marking Caleb Chapman’s completion of high school. Now, they are preparing to bury a child who blew out 5 candles on a birthday cake less than 10 days ago. These words are unthinkable to type. And yet we trust in a God who was not surprised by this and because of Jesus I am certain through faith in Him we will see Maria again. – Jim Houser (Manager)

// In Memory Of Maria (2003-2008) //

The Boundless Show

May 20, 2008 — 1 Comment

I’m a huge fan of Boundless Magazine, and now, I’m a huge fan of their relatively new podcast, The Boundless Show. It easily makes it into my “top five” podcasts to subscribe to. Their latest episode includes a great interview with Joel Rosenburg.

“What if Jesus is coming back a lot sooner than we all thought?” Rosenberg asks listeners. “Are you ready to see Jesus face to face? Are you living a life of holiness? Are you living a life of spiritual impact? This is the moment we need to get in the game.”

An evangelical Christian from an Orthodox Jewish heritage, Rosenberg was a Washington insider before leaving that fast-paced environment to write books, primarily novels. His success has come in part due to a knack for writing storylines that tend to “come true.” The plot for The Last Jihad, written before 9/11, mirrors that day’s tragic events.

If you have internet, subscribe to this podcast. It’s well worth your time.