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Archive for the tag “Made alive in Christ”

Finished the Race

Please forgive the silence of the last couple of weeks. I have been feeling a bit overwhelmed. My mind just hasn’t been able to settle down on one thing. In the past, I have been able to write through the grief; but in the last couple of weeks, the words were not there. This time something’s different. Lately, I just want to run away or crawl into a hole and wait until the world rights its self again. Do you ever have those times?

The last time I wrote, a storm was approaching. The eastern part of the state was devastated by the storm. I wasn’t affected but friends and family were. Because of the weather, I was a little concerned I wouldn’t be able to see my Dad. He had taken a turn for the worst that week. I thought he would die before I got back to see him. I didn’t want the last time I saw him to be my last. I wanted a little more time to be with him. God granted me the time I needed. It was hard seeing him though.

Dad was so frail. He was once so strong – he could do anything in my sight. He was a guiding force to me and my family. He helped us to navigate the deep waters. Dad and I never had really deep conversations. Our relationship was different. We did things together. His love language was spending time together. So I spent a lot of time with him throughout the years.

When I was younger, I did as much as I could just to be with him. I chopped wood, raked leaves, mowed grass, anything he was doing I wanted to help. We washed the cars every Saturday even changed the oil when needed, played golf when he would let me. There were only a very few times in my life that I ever played golf without him. I was always his little helper whenever he went to fix stuff – he was a good fixer – he could do anything.

As I grew older, my relationship didn’t really change with him. He has been central to my life. The thought of being without his presence has been overwhelming. However, the grief isn’t like what I experienced with my Mom. I have been grieving the loss for the last two or three years because my Dad hasn’t been the same since he had an infection. His mind was not the same after that infection. He no longer called to say hi. If I wanted to speak to him, I had to initiate the conversation.

This is truly when I lost my Dad. It was a drastic change to our relationship. That’s when my grief started. The time I spent with him over the last couple of years is still special. He still told me every time I was with him how much he loved me. He was still there just not in the usual way. I spent as much time as I could with him whenever I had the opportunity. So when the storm came two weeks ago, I was desperate to get to Dad.

I was able to spend three days with him. He wasn’t awake much, but I was able to lie beside him and just hold his hand or touch his arm. When I left that Tuesday afternoon, I had a feeling it would be the last time I saw him and it was. He died early this past Wednesday morning. I was okay with that last goodbye. I didn’t have a last conversation with him like I had with my Mom. But the one thing I wanted to do with my Mom was to lie with her and I did that with Dad. I was okay letting that be the last memory with him.

It has been heartwarming to see the tributes from my nephews concerning my Dad’s passing. Who knew when we were taking those annual family beach vacations Dad was making such an impression with those young men. Apparently, my Dad had some interesting conversations with them up on the crow’s nest – conversations they say they will never forget. Dad also taught those boys a few things about how to love a family well. They saw my Dad’s love for his daughters and his wife.

Everyone who ever met my Dad would say – Jack loves his girls – and he did, really well. Dad’s passing will be deeply felt by all of his friends and family. He loved well, but we loved him well too. He is home with Jesus and with my Mom. When he took his last breath here, he took his first real breath in eternity. What a celebration he had waiting on him. I can’t imagine all he has experienced in the last few days.

I may see his earthly shell for the last time today, but he is more alive today than he has ever been. It’s not a time of sadness but of great joy. My Dad finished his race. He completed the tasks he was assigned. The future will not be the same as it was before his passing. But we have been made richer by his presence and the things we have learned from him. Dad is still the central to who I am by what he taught me. I am forever changed because of him and I want to honor his memory well. I love you, Dad.

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. 1 Timothy 4:7-8

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Preach It!

Over the last few days, I have been listening to the Code Orange Revival from Elevation church in Charlotte, NC. There have been some great speakers with an inspired word given. However, it doesn’t remind me of the old revivals I went to as a child. The preaching I remember in those old revivals got into my business. It stirred up in me a great confession and a cleansing spirit. There were many times the altar would be filled with people coming before the Lord confessing their sins; asking for the cleansing spirit to wash them white as snow. At least, that was my prayer back in those days. Different time; different message.

On some Sunday’s, my pastor will speak a message that will mess with my heart. When he gets into that meddlin’ mood, we have a man in our midst that will shout out “Preach It!” and that just encourages the pastor to go deeper into my mess. When this happens, I know it’s time for confession and cleansing. It’s good to have an inspiring word to encourage, but we should also have a word that meddles in our business. We need to have our toes stepped on every once in a while.

One comment that was made last night that has left me a bit unsettled. The two pastors were kidding one another about their text messages back and forth to each other. The comment was that if their congregations saw their messages, the members would leave their churches. And they chuckled as well as the audience. It reminded me of a saying I have heard too many times lately “boys will be boys.” That too leaves me unsettled. It’s an excuse for anything that is done that would not be done before the Lord. And that’s what it’s all about.

Everything that we do as Christ followers should hold up in front of the Lord. I am reminded over and over Christ could be here at any time. If we are doing anything that would not be good when Christ returns, then we have some things to get right before that Day. If a text message is sent and Christ showed up right after we hit “send” would we face Him ashamed or confident that we were right before Him at that moment? Is our language God honoring or is it something that needs to be changed to reflect our true nature in Him? What about our actions? Are we doing anything that would not be good when Jesus shows up in His glory to take us home? Will we shrink back in that moment? We may not have time to confess those sinful actions when Jesus calls to us in those clouds.

James MacDonald is preaching about prayer breakthrough in his current series. One of the reasons we may not be experiencing breakthrough prayers is because of our hearts. The story is from Luke 18:9-14 about the Pharisee and the tax collector offering prayers in the temple courts. Pastor James points out two things that the Pharisee was showing that the tax collector wasn’t. The Pharisee was self-righteous and self-important. Pharisees were all about keeping the rules but their hearts weren’t right before God. Whereas the tax collector, knew his heart wasn’t right and had true heartfelt confession. He beat his breast showing his sorrow before the Lord. Pastor James point was that “True contrition results in a change of direction, which proves a change of heart – that person is ready for a breakthrough.”

When we have a true heartfelt change, that’s when revival begins. The rah-rah of revival will only get us so far. Once the revival is over and we’re back into the rhythm of life, the only thing that holds true is the word that made us beat our breasts and drop to our knees in confession before the Lord. We are to be committed to become who we are meant to be in Christ. Alive. Forgiven. Righteous. Holy. Living with the power of the Holy Spirit dwelling in us to do what is right in God’s eyes. No shrinking back for His people. And the breakthrough happens when confession is real.

But that’s no life for you. You learned Christ! My assumption is that you have paid careful attention to him, been well instructed in the truth precisely as we have it in Jesus. Since, then, we do not have the excuse of ignorance, everything—and I do mean everything—connected with that old way of life has to go. It’s rotten through and through. Get rid of it! And then take on an entirely new way of life—a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you. Ephesians 4:20-24 (MSG)

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