Tag Archives: faith

All I Want in My Cashew Chicken is More Chicken

We recently moved and we’ve been trying the local eateries. Today I stopped by a Chinese food place and ordered the Cashew Chicken (side note: it comes with fried rice, which explains the odd look on the server’s face when I ordered some supplemental fried rice). I got my takeout order and walked back to my study to enjoy my meal while, you know, pastorally multi-tasking.

Imagine my surprise when I opened the Cashew Chicken box and couldn’t see any, ummm, chicken. It was there; I just couldn’t see it at first. I had to dig for it amongst an array of ingredients that didn’t seem to need to be there: carrots (ok…yeah and yum), mushrooms (boo…who wants to eat a fungus?), water chestnuts (good for crunch), along with some other ingredient that I could not actually identify. And, of course, there were the cashews…enough of them to meet the minimum daily requirement for nut intake–if there is such a thing–outside Washington D.C., that is.

Overall taste…not too bad. But, man, I had to go looking for the chicken–and I wanted more of it.

Sometimes I think we get like that in our Christian life. We do lots of good things–some of them actually tasty–in our efforts to reach people and serve them. We try really, really, really hard to be Christianly “nice”–and, we sometimes pull that off (unless we’re in a curmudgeon-infested church board meeting). But those good things are not, in my view, explicitly Christian. They’re good and we’re nice but our niceness sometimes even masks the call we have to serve explicitly in the name of Jesus.

I know all about the ways in which we’re told to make our presence felt with genuine hearts of service. And I know that we are called to be relationally invested in people as people–and not people as objects for evangelism or church recruitment. And I get it. We have to actually care for actual people–love them the way Jesus did.

So, we serve, with our outreach and community investments and our willingness to be “present” with people. But, I think sometimes we cover up the chicken with our genuine “niceness.” The Kingdom is about more than being nice (though I wish the lady in the beige sedan had been nice and honored the crosswalk sign–instead of trying to run me down–while looking at me as if I was in her way).

Jesus needs to be front and center. He is the Way and Truth and the Life. He said that what we do, we do in His Name. And it’s highly likely that if we are more purposeful about sharing Him, that people will want more of Him.

So maybe we could just be a little more obvious about using Jesus’ name and sharing His Name while we’re being “nice” to people.

Or maybe we’re just chicken.

© 2018, All rights reserved.

Maybe Gene was Right and Failure is Not an Option; I’m Still Not Sure (Part 2)

I have had lots of input since my last post (link here).  Many, many folks have been insistent that, in Christ, failure is not an option–if (and this, I think, is a big IF) we are honoring His call and committing ourselves to His purposes.  They have said (as I noted last time) that we do, indeed, live by faith and not by sight.  They have reminded me that human perceptions and evaluations are inevitably incomplete…handicapped by a lack of data and obscured by the sinful nature that continues to blur the plans and purposes of God.

So maybe Gene Kranz was right (or, at least, the Apollo 13 screenwriter who had Kranz’s character say), “Failure is not an option.”  I’m still not sure.

Perhaps it’s just vocational or existential angst.  [Don’t you love the onomatopoeia of “angst”?  Don’t you love the onomatopoeia of “onomatopoeia”?]

Anyway, perhaps it’s just vocational or existential or even life stage angst.  I don’t know.  I do know that the feeling of failure still hovers–faintly whispering like the revolving rotary wings of a black ops helicopter–just waiting to touch down with its rapid assault team to confirm my fears.

But I have been deeply appreciative of the encouragement.  And that is definitely something.  Really, definitely, something.

And I have been prompted to do what I have encouraged so many others to do when faced with hard questions for which there seem to be no easy answers.  When faced with what I don’t know about the Christian life, I hearken back to what I do know.

I know this: God is good all the time (go ahead, you can toss back the response, “And all the time, God is good”).  It’s worth reminding myself that the God we worship is not arbitrary nor capricious nor tantrum tossing nor ignorant of our circumstances and peccadillos.  His goodness is who He is; His goodness is what He does; His goodness flows from His love; and His love is deeper, wider, and higher than we can comprehend.

I know this: God has resources–has them all, in fact. And, though those resources are most often arrayed just beyond our sight sense, that doesn’t mean they’re not there.  It simply means that we don’t always get to see them.  Sometimes we hardly ever get to see them.  And maybe it’s the “hardly ever” that makes it seem, well, hard.

It was panic time.  The ancient city of Dothan was surrounded by an Aramean army which had snuck in overnight.  It was a manhunt…more accurately a prophet hunt.  Elisha kept derailing the King of Aram and his plans to destroy the Israelites.  The King thought he had a double agent among his people; but Elisha was giving the Israelites divine intel about Aramean troop movements.  Aram’s King wanted Elisha…badly.

So Aram surrounded Dothan in the night.  Not a good next morning for Dothanites (Dothanians?).  Elisha’s servant was mess-your-pants scared. Elisha prays and asks God to show nervous servant boy what’s really there.  Massed in the hills–masked to normal human sight–the Lord’s horses and chariots of fire surround the Aramean army.

That time, a servant of God got to see all that God had at His disposal.

I have to confess that I’m envious of Elisha’s servant.  Not envious of his era with its lack of indoor plumbing and all things “i” (Phone, Pad, Pod, etc.).  I am envious of that real time get-to-see-it experience in the middle of what looked like failure.  Man, what a day!

But part of what marks that day as spectacular is that it was not the norm.  To be sure, hanging around with Elisha heightened the probability that supercalifragilistic things would happen.  But even by God’s-prophet-is-in-town standards (see ax, floating), the vision of the Army of God for the servant of God was blockbuster stuff.

But it was not the norm.  The norm: we live by faith, not sight.  Right?

And I highlight that on the list of things I have known about God and this Christian life.  I live in the tension between what I know to be true about God and what I see happening around me.  So, maybe Gene was right, “Failure is not an option.”  But I have to confess I still hear the whispering blades of that black ops chopper.  Sigh…

“Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29).

© All rights reserved.  Scripture from the NIV.

With Respect, Gene, Failure Is An Option


They made a movie about it; they called it, “Apollo 13.”  The film dramatized the heroic and herculean efforts by the ground and space crews to get three astronauts home after a malfunction that cost the Apollo 13 crew their moon landing and had real potential to kill them outright or leave them stranded to slip into a deep and cold space death.

When confronted with the breadth of multiple systems failures, Ed Harris, portraying Gene Kranz, the NASA Flight Director, crisply insists that “Failure is NOT an option.”

Ironically, the words actually came from the “Apollo 13” script writer, Bill Broyles, and not Gene himself.  Kranz later adopted the phrase (which certainly characterized the NASA mindset…and his own), and used it as the title for his autobiography.

But, with respect to Gene, it is actually the case that failure is, not only an option, but an all too frequent reality for many, many, many, maybe most, perhaps all.

I was still in high school and was, ahem, “mastering” piano playing of the: you-can-be-in-a-party-band-and-plunk-chords-but-don’t-get-any-professional-real-musician-ideas kind of way.  My piano teacher had been offered a gig at a small honkytonk in Vermont.  He was not available, so he offered me the gig.  Problem: they did not have a piano; they had a two manual (read keyboard) Hammond B3 organ instead.

Now, I had seen Hammond organs before and heard some folks who could play really well, but I WAS NOT ONE of them.  I had never, ever even actually sat down at an organ to try to play.  When I mentioned this to my piano teacher (who was, in the “by the way” department) COMPLETELY AWARE of this, he said (and I quote because the entire episode is seared in that part of my memory labeled, “trauma”), “No problem; come on over this afternoon and I’ll run you through the basics and you’ll be fine.”

Assuming he knew what he was talking about, I went to his studio and sat with him for (another “ahem”) WHOLE thirty minutes, during which I apparently grasped organ playing to a degree he thought would bode success way up there in Vermont honkytonkdom.  Vainly trying to adopt his confidence (but not his skill…really and truly), I got in the car for the two-hour trip to the aforementioned honkytonk.

[Aside number one:  assuming you can play the organ because you play the piano and they both have keyboards is like assuming you can drive a tandem tractor trailer rig for UPS because you drive a car and the car and the truck both have tires.]

[Aside number two: this was before they had “The Voice” or any of the other searching-for-new-talent-because-there-is-a-worldwide-shortage-of-superstars shows.  I suppose there could be a show called “The Organ” but I’m confident too many people would get exactly the kind of wrong idea you’re getting right now.]

I got to the honkytonk.  I took my place at the organ on what passed for a stage.  I went on at 8:00 p.m.  I left at 8:25 p.m.  During the intervening 25 minutes I slaughtered several songs–killed them dead, dead, dead–mashing them into unrecognizable pseudo zombie songs; notes falling off like appendages from the undead.

Faux music was flung from the defenseless Hammond B3 by the sad combination of my less-than-novice organ playing and my mist-like confidence that vaporized when a honkytonk patron said (upon sighting this then skinny high school kid with his BIG FAKE BOOK of music), “Do have any idea what you’re doing?  We’re partial to GOOD music here.  You don’t look like you know what you’re doing.  Get me another beer!”  [That last part was aimed at the barkeep.]

After 25 minutes of organ-based torture (since outlawed by the Geneva Conventions), the honkytonk proprietor (who was kind of nice enough but insistent…really, absolutely insistent) said (again, words seared into the previously mentioned trauma memory section), “You can go now; we’ll just drop quarters in the juke box.  You wanna donate some quarters?”  [I made up that bit about him wanting me to donate quarters…but with the look on his face, I could tell he wanted me to feed the jukebox on my way out.]

Failure is most certainly an option.  Since the “organ episode,” I’ve had a not exceptional, but successful military career, been moderately effective in the classroom, had an advancing business-world effort as a health care administrator, and, in my primary vocation, pastored not “mega,” but certainly (except for one purposeful “church hospice” experience) churches that moved in forward directions (by those things we can measure).  Some super sweet kids and a terrific wife and blessingly adorable grandkids round out the resume. [I know, these should have been first on the list…mark my list making fail as yet another, ummmm, failure.]

Now, I am beginning to feel “failure” again on the horizon.  It seems tantalizingly close by.  It is stalking me–I see its shadow and its reflective glimpse when I turn quickly.  But this time with much bigger stakes.  And it scares me…really scares me.

And it raises so many questions.

After mustering experience-based wisdom and genuinely seeking God’s heart and plans and purposes for my enterprise, what if I fail?

Or, can it not be failure and still look like failure?

And, where is God in the middle of the failures?  Are they lessons in humility?  If so, why do so many other people have to be affected or tainted by my failed effort?  I am most certainly handicapped by lack of eternal perspective in moments of failure.

And, how much of our failures are we supposed to own?  Because, honestly, my tendency is to own all of it–even those pieces well outside my illusory control.  But if I haven’t purposed to fail (and who, in their right mind, would), then it seems as if failure is a divinely permitted dagger aimed straight at the core of my spirit.

And I know that God is sovereign and that we are called to live by faith and not sight.  But how much faith?  And is any sight permitted in the process?  No sight?  Never? Never ever?

And I know that conflating what we do (for good or ill) with who we are is always problematic.  Lean in one direction and you get pride; lean in the other and you get despair.  Traveling the road of pride is a recipe for disaster; taking the byway of despair drains one’s physical, emotional, and spiritual energy.

I could (and do) run to the scriptures in these moments…but is there anyone else who is left unsatisfied with the delayed response that they most always offer?  I know I’m not supposed to think that or (certainly not) say it out loud.  But there it is.  How many “somedays” and “perseverances” and “patiences” is one soul called upon to endure?

And I know that this feels like a little (ok, maybe a very lot) of whining when people around the world lose their lives or their livelihoods for their faith.  But it is real; it is here; it is scary.

Failure is most certainly an option, Gene.  When I am on the cusp of one, I struggle with all of the above and more…and I do not know what to make of it.  Do you?

© All rights reserved.

The “Not So New Math” or When Does $29 Equal $1340?

Confession:  I am not a math whiz…adding and subtracting, simple multiplication and division; those operations pretty much exhaust my math skills.  I figure (get it? “figure”?) that, if God had wanted me to be a math whiz, He would not have overseen the creation of the MyScript Calculator app for my phone.  And, calculus?  Math with no numbers?  Why oh why oh why?

But, I am also not an idiot.  Stop:  put those hands down; I know you want to object to my self-descriptor, but you cannot.  Unless, of course, you post a comment; then I suppose you can…object…that is. 

So I was mildly (only mildly; I’ll unpack that momentarily) surprised when we were at the auto dealership last night.  My car’s lease had come up and it was time to make the dreaded decisions: purchase or lease; new or used; same make and model or different.  Some people love car shopping.  I rank car shopping down there with root canals (with or without Novocain) and expressing the slime from a MRSA infection.  [Yes, I know that was a gross mental image, but it’s truly how I feel about car shopping.] 

Meanwhile…back at the car dealership.  A nice chap (The Cheerful Car Chap or CCC) was very happy to see us when we arrived.  He held the door for us as we entered the showroom (partially to escape the ridiculous cold).  [On another note:  Polar Vortex, go back to the Pole or Poland, or wherever you came from; I’m done with the subzero wind chill.]  He asked us why we were there and that’s when I produced the ad his dealership friends had so kindly emailed:  the ad for a $29 lease!  I figured I could afford a $29 lease.  The CCC inquired as to our car preference. 

I shared with him that we were looking for something a little bigger than we’d had.  The compact I had driven for three years had been great: terrific gas mileage coupled with car doors that locked and unlocked electronically (that last bit is an entirely other story); that car had gotten me around town and up and down the East Coast. 

But it was a small car and I have, ahem, “girthed up” somewhat over the last few years. [Comments about my increased girth are not welcome and will be ignored.]  So I was looking for something with more ease of ingress and egress.  The CCC took us on a test run in a larger car and it seemed to be just the thing.  The CCC showed us the various available colors and we picked one:  blue (the lighter blue because the dark blue looks kind of purple in the dark under street lights; I know this because my friend has one and I had teased him about it.  Purple is fine for many people; just not me). 

We then sat down with The CCC to “do the deal.”  That’s when came the “math surprise.”  It wasn’t a complete surprise (as I mentioned earlier).  Unfortunately I have come to expect “car dealership surprises” packed into the fine print or hidden behind some obscure link on some not so crystal clear web site. 

The “fine print” (in this case) meant that $29 was just the beginning of the math problem.  To the $29, it seems, one must add:  the first month’s lease payment, dealer prep charges, documentation fees, taxes, tips, licenses, bonuses, flea dusting charges (threw that last one in there to see if you were paying attention), etc.  Final tally:  $1340 NOT $29. 

Since I had been half expecting additional fees and the final amount was in the price range we had anticipated, we went ahead and closed the deal.  My girthness now girths itself in a roomier ride. 

But the auto dealership is not the only place where very little can mean much, much more. 

When we come to the place where we recognize our need for Jesus Christ, we realize that we have very, very little to offer: broken and sin-scarred souls and a spiritual pauper’s faith (not even $29 worth, really…and…it turns out that the $29 we thought we gave Him, had itself been a gift).  He takes our $29 then does some Not So New Math:  grace “operations” that have been performed since eternity by a loving, Heavenly Father:  He turns our measly $29 into ever much more. 

Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know” (Jeremiah 33:3).

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every familyin heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:14-19).

Not bad…our meagerness being turned by God into a life that is much, much more than we dreamed possible:  wider, longer, higher, deeper.  Not bad at all for $29.

I think I’ll hoist my girth into the new car and go for a ride. 

© All rights reserved.  Scripture from the NIV, Zondervan.







Millennial Mania & Besetting Sins

Chatter about Millennials (Generation Y) seems to be running amuck these days.  At the risk of adding more heat and less light to an already angst-filled discussion, I offer the following…

Each generation has, I believe, a besetting sin or two.  (Full disclosure:  Born in 1955, I am a Boomer…no, not an “aging boomer,” just a Boomer.)  Many Boomers succumbed (after all the “Hey, You Want a Revolution” hype) to a monstrous capacity for acquisition.  Following the “Greatest Generation,” which had conquered various forms of totalitarianism and provided the baseline for Western society’s post-Depression stability, Boomers went out to conquer wealth.  And, by and large, they succeeded (albeit, with huge segments of the population not equally enjoying wealth’s effects).  Trading alienation for avarice, Boomers, as a group, constructed and enjoyed a massive acquisition project.

Churches, in their attempts to reach the Boomers, saw fit to tap into the Boomers’ consumer mindset with “Seeker Sensitive” worship services and church forms tailored to the “What’s in it for me?” approach common to the Boomer era.  (Yes, I know, Seeker Sensitive language is no longer in vogue.)   The era of the Mega-Churches, with their attendant “Mega Amenities” arose to feed off of (and, yes, to some degree, feed) this consumerism.  This leads me to conclude that the Besetting Sin of the Boomer era was (and is) Materialism.  Wanting more and “needing” more led to, well, more (or at least the appearance of “more”–even though at least one flagship Boomer/Seeker church has since discovered that appearances were deceiving and the actual depth of biblical engagement was less robust than thought). 

Be angry with me if you will, but know that I too have Materialistic Boomer bona fides and that I too have been in search of “more is better” attached to the next promotion, raise, or bonus (in both their secular and sacred manifestations).

I recognize that I speak in sweeping generational language and that generalizations are, well, generalizations.  I know that there were/are many Boomers not beset by Materialism; I know that many Boomers have given their lives in faithful service to Christ and humanity.  And I know that, even now, many Boomers are seeking to redeem their Materialistic years by energetic volunteer service in a variety of venues.  The fact that so many Boomers now seek to flee from avarice to altruism is, I think, itself evidence of Materialism as our Besetting Sin. 

Along the way, Boomers gave birth and those who had given birth gave birth and thus we arrive at the Millennial Generation (a.k.a., Gen “Y”—by the way, the “Y” is not a question; though in a moment we will see how it might be more characteristic of Millennials than previously thought).  Those born from roughly 1981-1982 (depending upon your Millennial expert) leading up to those born around 2004.  The oldest Millennials are now in their mid to late 20s or early 30s.  And they are everywhere.  Read the Christian publications (the books and the magazines and the blogs and the IMs and the Facebook posts and texts and the Tweets and…well, you get it).  Never, in this writer’s opinion, has a generation been so thoroughly parsed–and loved it so much. 

We read that they are looking for authenticity and hunger for deeper spiritual ways and want to be part of intergenerational conversations characterized by “reverse mentoring” (oxymoron candidate, anyone?).   As an aside, teaching grandpa to Skype does not rank alongside helping someone who has been wounded by life find their way through the mess to wholeness.  Being tech savvy is not the same as being wise.  Tweet that.

Millennials are special.  They are not special in the way every human is special:  created in the image of a loving and grace giving God; uniquely designed; called by God to Himself through Christ; gifted spiritually to serve the Body of Christ; and, in Christ, destined for eternity in the presence of God.  Nope; they are, well, “extra special.”   

They know everything (while in faux humility denying that they think so); they don’t think much of anything that has come before (hence the “Y”–not the genuine question, “Why?” but a perhaps more dismissive, “Why would I consider inherited wisdom?”); they are the innovators who know how to do life and ministry in ways that previous generations just don’t get.  They are extra special.  They have cast about for health and vitality in the church forms that surround them and have found them deficient at just about every turn.  Those churches are not missional enough or emergent enough (I know, these terms too fade in relevance–have you noticed the short shelf life of contemporary originality?) or hip enough or deeply satisfying enough or service minded enough or green enough.  Enough. 

Millennial leaders abound.  Many ministries have given themselves over to those uniformed in open-collar plaid shirts, tousled hair, and rumpled jeans precisely ripped at the knees because those who are extra special will show us the way to the promised land of authenticity in life and ministry.  (I write this while wearing the Boomer uniform:  buttoned down shirt [no tie] and Dockers–but I do like plaid–even though my brilliant wife is not a fan.)

I suppose all that is as it will be in a Western cultural atmosphere that values new and young above nearly everything.  But, does it strike anybody else as odd that those who hunger for deeper and more authentic expressions of Christian faith tend to dismiss the possibility that pretty much everybody over 35 can’t possibly lead the way there?

“Never trust anyone over 30.”  Boomers grew up believing that to be true and later discovered that the generation preceding them (that “Greatest Generation”) had notions of service and selflessness that the Boomers had run past too quickly (and therefore missed) in their quest for more stuff.  Boomers too left the institutionalized expressions of Christianity, went off on their own, and later returned when “life” broke in on them and they needed “life that is truly life” to navigate their way through the inevitable disappointments of Materialism.

So then, what is the Besetting Sin of the Millennials?  I believe it is Narcissism:  an intense self-focus (an intra-generational infatuation) that has the potential to mislead them into thinking that the entirety of human wisdom is confined to some kind of Generation Y mind meld (I know, Boomer cultural reference). 

Writing about C.S. Lewis, who chose to study and teach the classics of English Literature, Alister McGrath said, “[Lewis’s] point…is that the study of the past helps us to appreciate that the ideas and values of our own age are just as provisional and transient as those of bygone ages” (C.S. Lewis–A Life, 168).  Lewis said it thus, “All that is not eternal is eternally out of date” (The Four Loves, 166).  Teenagers from the time of Cain and Abel have thought they knew it all; the difference with many Millennials is that they seem to carry that notion well past its natural expiration date.

This probably sounds like the bitter rant of an aging (even though I told you I wasn’t) Boomer.  It’s not.  It is a call for some critical self-reflection on the part of both Millennials and those of us who may have too readily jettisoned the responsibility incumbent upon more seasoned leaders to cultivate genuine maturity in Christian leadership in those who must be there for the Church’s next season.

For, in the end, we are, I believe, the same.  Despite our generational propensities, we all hunger for authenticity and humility and compassion in our leaders.  We all yearn for genuine connection in the Body of Christ.  We all seek Larry Crabb’s “Safest Place on Earth.”  We all sense the shadow of shallowness that seems to have been cast over much of Western Christian life.  We all know that to be truly in love with Jesus means reaching for depth in understanding of His Word and His Ways–and then attempting to live that understanding.  We all know that “felt needs” are often just symptoms of aching chasms of genuine need to love the Lord our God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength and to love our neighbors as ourselves.  We all know that we will do better when we listen with a teachable spirit to the saints who have gone before (both generationally and historically).

I am ready to hear from my Millennial Brethren and Sisteren. 


The First Post

Of the making many books (and blogs) there is no end (Ecclesiastes 12:12), so why another and why from me?  I don’t know the answer to either of those questions.  I just feel compelled by some inner urge (trusting that it is not bad pizza) to write in bits and pieces about a little of this and a little of that–mostly about the things that occupy my attention in the Church.  So, here goes.  Tune in if you’d like; tune out if you must.  This one is very personal; they will not all be.

I watched my Mom step from life to life 25 days ago.  She had never thought of herself as remarkable; I had never thought of her as anything but remarkable.  She had it tough as a child and made it through the toughness without becoming hardened.  I’ve heard the stories from my Dad and still am awed by the understated power and overwhelming compassion of the woman, wife, and mother she became.

We shared a common faith in Christ.  I had the privilege of baptizing her (and my wallet).  That sharing is what made it possible for me to watch and listen (mostly from a distance) as she surrendered her earthly body to a most relentless cancer.  I was there the day she slipped away.  

I had arrived two hours before; I prayed with her; read to her from her very used Bible; listened with her and my Dad to her favorite Elvis Presley hymn collection (Elvis may have worn blue suede shoes and warned off hound dogs, but the boy could sing a hymn like few others–when he sang, “How Great Thou Art” there was no doubt about the greatness of God).  I slipped out of the room to make a five minute phone call and when I came back into the room, my Dad said, “I don’t think she’s breathing.”  She wasn’t.

I kept wondering why I didn’t fall apart.  I kept wondering if I was some hard-hearted weird boy who didn’t realize that his Mom had just died.  Why didn’t I cry?  I was sad.  I am still sad.  And I have cried since (the tears sneaking up on me like some stealth grief bomb) but I didn’t cry then. 

It has since hit me:  I didn’t believe she was dead.  This was not the disbelief of denial.  No, this was something deeper:  it was, I think, the disbelief of faith.  It was a disbelief that she was dead because I knew she was really not.  Certainly her body had quit.  Certainly the cancer had finished its ugly ravaging.  But she was not dead.

There are those “Oh, that’s it!” moments in the life of a follower of Jesus Christ.  This was one for me.  “We do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope,” said the Apostle Paul.  We do grieve; we do cry; we do know sadness (I would give anything to be able to have one of my weekly chats with her…to hear her pick up the phone and say, “Hi, honey.”).  But we do not grieve like those who have no hope.

In her last days, wracked with pain, she had cried out to be with Jesus.  Though it sprang from her pain, it was not the cry of the desperate; it was the cry of faith.  To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.  To be separated from my Mom because she has passed away from this life is not to lose her.  She’s taken an earlier flight.  I’ll catch up with her later.  She’s enjoying the rest from her pain and the joy of her Lord.  I can be sad that I am not with her now but I know I will be with her again.

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