A Time to Weep!

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By Pastor Jeff,

It’s been a while since I have done a blog mainly because I was in a very sorrowful state for the past two months as we were preparing the passing of my wonderful daughter. It is still very hard to believe that she is not with us in this present world but I know without a doubt I will see her soon.

John 11:35, “Jesus wept” the shortest verse in the King James Bible and probably one of the more popular scriptures used in sermons today. I find it amazing how men try to make it out to be something more than it says. We all are aware of the circumstance of this event in which Jesus’ good friend Lazarus has passed away. Jesus when he arrives He is met by Lazarus sisters Martha and Mary who are obviously grieving over the loss of their brother and why Jesus did not come immediately and heal him before he died.

John 11:33-34, “When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled, And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see.” Many have tried to read something into this as Jesus was weeping because of their unbelief or lack of faith that He could not of only healed Lazarus but could of raised him from the dead. Once again I don’t think anything should be added to this scripture to further dramatize the emotion Jesus shared with those there.

Jesus wept, something every person on this earth has done one time or another, we cannot place Jesus on some pedestal that excludes that He was both God and man. Jesus felt emotion, Jesus is not above feeling our hurts, Jesus is not a God that is not acquainted with our grief. The Bible tells us differently, Isaiah 53:3-4, “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.”

The last few months have been extremely tough on my family and me. I can count on one hand the days I have not grieved and shed tears over the loss of my daughter. It has been said the average person generates 1.4 ml. of tears a day, I have surpassed that by 20-100 fold. I lay in bed many a night crying before I fall off to sleep, I have had dreams in which I have been weeping and wake up weeping. I weep for my granddaughters who will grow up without there mother, I weep for her husband who will go on with life without his helpmate, and I do weep for myself over the thoughts of going on with events, celebrations, holidays without her, and I miss her so.

Jesus wept, and that gives me hope of a God who knows and shares my grief. I know one day joy will return in my life but today like Jesus did, I weep!

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Christian’s and Suicide

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By Pastor Jeff,

Will a Christian that commits suicide go to heaven? That is a question that is in much dispute and I must say that I will not come to a definitive answer in this blog, but I will share some thoughts and let you come to your own conclusion. The reason I can’t make that definitive answer is that I’m not God and I do not claim to have answers to every question that man seeks answers to. However like the Apostles Paul did occasionally I will deliver my opinion on the matter.

In our bible we can recall six suicides mentioned, Abimelech (Judges 9:54), Saul (1 Samuel 31:4), Saul’s armor-bearer (1 Samuel 31:4–6), Ahithophel (2 Samuel 17:23), Zimri (1 Kings 16:18), and Judas (Matthew 27:5). If we want to add Samson to this equation we find seven! Everyone is tragic in its own right and everyone, even Judas was done under extreme moments of depression, fear, and despair.

I have in the last few years and more heavily this past year have studied Mental Health and especially how it is handled by the Church. I found that my past thoughts on the subject were severely lacking and judgmental. I can easily blame those that have in the past blamed any mental health issue on a lack of faith, seeking attention, or worse declaring those affected as being demon possessed. But this belief is just a cop out that I had to come to terms with as a christian first, a brother in the Lord, and then a pastor.

I have found out that this area is very complicated not only in the world but also in the church, I need to admit that I don’t have all the answers, nor do I know all of the questions but I’m searching with an honest heart. In looking at the word of God with this new perspective I have found that though our God is awesome, He chooses people that are very flawed to do His work. The prophet Elijah is one that jumps out at me, in 1 Kings 18 we find Elijah part of a great conquest on Mt. Carmel against 450 prophets of Baal. When we look at chapter 19 we find this same prophet fleeing under the death threat from Jezebel, verse 4, “But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers.” Sounds to me that Elijah was severely depressed to the point of wishing to die.

The problem we have as Christians that the bible declares in Exodus 20:13, “Thou shalt not kill.” Could we not say that suicide is in violation of this commandment? After all you are taking death which is appointed by God into your own hands. I in recently years have seen extreme suffering by non Christians and Christians alike not only physically but emotionally. I in no way will defend someone that takes his or hers own life but I will not and cannot stand in judgment of them either. Jesus Christ is the one who has the keys, Revelations 1:17-18, “And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last: I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.” It is “He” that will open the books, Revelations 20:11-12, “And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.”

In most cases of suicide, no one is there at the time of the passing of the person, only God knows what the state of mind that person was in or the conversation they may have had with our Lord at the moment or time prior to them passing. Listen I don’t have the power to put anyone in nor take anyone out of heaven. That’s God business, I preach the gospel, do my best to love everyone, and keep studying the scriptures to have a reason of my hope. I take comfort in these words found in Romans 8:38-39, “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Let God be God!

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The Peace that Passes…

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By Pastor Jeff,

It’s been a while since I had a chance to post a blog and I must say its been a very busy past month. My wife, a few friends, and me took a well deserved vacation down to the Creation Museum/Ark Encounter for a Pastor/Leadership conference. I also took a three day training class in Green Bay WI for becoming a Chaplain for the Rock County Sheriffs Dept. which I consider a great privilege.

So as I write this I am also thinking on my Son, Jeffrey W. who our family lost unexpectedly exactly one year ago today. Last week was also the one year anniversary of a good friends death, Russ, as well, so you would think I would be relating about how awful I am feeling. Not So!

Philippians 4:6-7, “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” It has to be one of the worse events that any parent could ever endure in that he or she has to bury a child and I will not minimize the pain that comes from it. It’s been said that time heals all wounds but a situation like this will never heal completely nor would I want it to. Jeff was my son, I loved him and would gladly of traded my life for his.

I also have come to the point in my life that I desire to completely surrender to the will of God and the great part of that is that Jesus is there to help us in the rough times, Matthew 11:28, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” 

At times I must admit I feel guilty that I do not feel that horrible ache in my stomach that I have had at the beginning of all this. It’s not that time has dulled the pain or that I did not love my son or my friend. It’s only by the love of God and His peace that I can face this tragedy head on. This brings me to the thought of those who go through tragedies like this without Christ in their lives; I really don’t know how you can. No wonder people head to the bottle, pills, or even commit suicide to run from the pain. I implore you to seek Jesus Christ and draw to Him as close as possible, for that is the only true way you can get peace during these times!

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To Die is Gain…

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By Pastor Jeff,

I probably should at the onset of this blog state that I’m not suicidal so don’t call the professionals to have me committed. (There are probably many other things that could have me committed I must add!)

Philippians 1:21-25, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not. For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you. And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith;”

I don’t know if it’s a by product of getting older, or that this past year was not particularly a good year in that I lost a good friend and my oldest son, that this world is getting increasingly antagonistic to what we believe as a church, or just that this world has less of a hold on my life. But I find myself more in agreement to what Paul is stating here that death is not something that is feared as it once was and even is starting to have a certain attraction to it.

The more we understand the beauty of what heaven is going to be, Revelations 21:4, “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” It makes me desire to be there more, I know too many people that are suffering physically, mentally, and spiritually to not desire relief for them and as Paul says being with Christ is so much better! It’s getting tougher and tougher to digest the daily news of political unrest not just in other countries but in our very own. You see the disrespect to authority in our schools, law enforcement, and even in the churches that makes you shake your head in disbelief.

Yes, I’m definitely ready for the return of Christ, my cry often is Revelations 22:21, “He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.” I also know this that our world is lost without the message of Jesus Christ and until He returns or decides to take me Home, I will with all I possible can tell others of His love and sacrifice for us all and through that love, we can have eternal life. 2 Peter 3:9, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”

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Do You Know of Him or Do You Know Him?

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By Pastor Jeff,

Do you know Him or do you know of Him? That is the biggest question we can ask anyone who claims to be a Christian? We have people that wear t-shirts, crosses, go to church, carry bibles (that seems to becoming less and less of a thing), and even get tattoos expressing their Christianity but the fruit we are supposed to bear is not apparent!

Many years ago I was going through a very dry period in my walk with Jesus Christ. I was pretty much going through the motions, I was teaching Sunday School, going to service pretty much at every opportunity but inside my heart was far from him. I was baptized in His name, filled with the Holy Ghost but I had come to the point of knowing about Him, I could quote scripture, do a Sunday school lesson like no other. Inside I was dead which I unfortunately see in so many of so-called believers today. This reminds me of this parable in Luke 13:6-9, “He spake also this parable; A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none. Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground? And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it: And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down.” I’m so glad Jesus waited to cut me down for one day I made the decision to not just know about Jesus but to Know Him, the scripture that I fell in love with is found in Philippians 3:10, “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;”

I have fallen so much in love with Jesus Christ that I have run out of words to describe my passion for Him. I will declare to the world that I would surrender my life before I would ever turn my back on or deny His love for me. It deeply troubles me that shallow Christianity has become the norm in our world today. I don’t care if you can talk the talk, I care if you can walk the talk. That old phrase that says “I rather see a sermon than hear one any day” is so applicable in our circles today.

Remember this scripture found in Matthew 7:21-23, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” If that doesn’t send a shiver up your spine I don’t know what will!

Don’t be satisfied with knowing about our Savior Jesus Christ, please come to know HIM!

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Another First!

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By Pastor Jeff,

This past Fathers day was another first that I hoped I would never have to be part of the ever growing group of parents that have lost a loved one. My eldest son Jeff passed away September 28th, 2017 and I never realized that I would then be part of this group. As result our family will forever have an anniversary date that we would gladly trade for a day much happier. We also have to endure holidays, birthdays, family events without the pleasure of seeing and hearing him laugh or make a stupid joke.

My heart goes out to any parent that has had to bury one of their precious children for any kind of reason. In my conversation with some I realize that the heartache will always be there and in a way I’m glad for that. He or she was a part of your life and I can’t count the hours that were invested in raising up your child. We shouldn’t just cast it aside with the old saying, “time heals all wounds”, some wounds always leave scars that can be clearly seen.

I’m forever grateful to have friends that pray and support me, but they cannot nor do I wish that they can fully understand the pain the lost of a child no matter how they were.

I do and never have lost my faith in this ordeal, if anything my relationship with Jesus has grown stronger as He continues to remind me that He loves me, John 3:16-17, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” I love my son that much as well as any of my children that I would gladly do the same in that I would lay down my life as well.

Jesus was God’s first and only begotten, but He loved us so much that He gave His own life that we are not bound to this sinful and dying world for we have this promise, John 14:1-3, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” Jesus Christ is my comforter and though I have more first coming as my birthday, the anniversary of his death, I know I’m not alone and will give Jesus all my heart, soul, mind and strength!

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