And I Missed Her Deeply

My sweaty hands gripped the Super Nintendo controller as I maneuvered Mario through a land of falling platforms, fire-spitting plants, and lava-filled pits. My cousin Jonathan watched intently as he waited for his time to take control of the game. (This had become a familiar routine for us.) Just months before, our Grandma had went through Thyroid surgery in order to stop the cancer that was spreading through her body. Sadly, the surgery did not stop the cancer. So, most of our family spent every spare minute at my grandparents house. Since I lived near Grandma, Jonathan would come and play video games with me while everyone else became "bedside nurses." To be honest, I couldn't bare to step into her house anymore. The scent of freshly-baked apple pies and collard greens no longer filled her rooms. Instead, the smell of sickness and death permeated the air. It seemed better to remember Grandma like she used to be...vibrant and lively. Well, this particular day seemed like all the others until my mom and dad came into my room.

"Eric," my mom said with a deep sound of somberness in her voice, "I just got a call from your Aunt Sherry."
Then, there was a long pause–– the kind that makes your heart sink into the pit of your stomach, where you know that whatever follows isn’t going to be good.
"Sherry said your Grandma has just taken a turn for the worse."
I felt sick to my stomach. I knew that my grandmother was losing her battle with cancer, and I knew that her time was coming soon...but I wasn’t ready to lose her. (Are we ever ready to lose our loved ones?)

"Do you and Jonathan want to go see her once more before–-"

"No...I think that I’ll just stay here."

"How about you Jonathan?"

"I’ll stay here too."

"Okay. We’ll call you if anything changes."

After my parents left, Jonathan began playing Super Mario again. I stared at Jonathan, and I saw in him the same numbness that I felt deep inside of me. My heart ached. I felt like an immovable stone of sorrow had been laid upon me--and I was strangling–-grasping to breathe a hint of hope. But I felt lonely and cold.

Time seemed to creep for the next hour, until I heard the phone ring. As I lurked toward the phone, each ring pierced my heart like a cold knife because I already knew the words that were about to be spoken:

"I’m sorry...your Grandma just died."

I hung up the phone and I gave Jonathan a hug, but we didn’t speak. I wanted to mourn but death had emptied my emotions and taken my tears and locked everything deep inside. I knew that Grandma was a faithful follower of Christ, so I was joyful that she was now able to see God face to face and sing praises to Him. But sadness can accompany joy. Although I rejoiced in Grandma’s release from her earthly toil, I couldn’t escape the sadness of knowing that one of my best friends was gone from my life. I would never experience another Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter or any other holiday with her. She wouldn’t be able to see me graduate from high school, college, or seminary. Her seat at my wedding would be empty.

My Grandma was dead. And I missed her deeply.


At Odds with "under God"

Atheist Michael Newdow is one step closer in his journey to see the phrase "under God" removed from the Pledge of Allegiance. In an Associated Press article, Newdow is quoted as saying, "Imagine every morning if the teachers had the children stand up, place their hands over their hearts, and say, 'We are one nation that denies God exists,'" he said. "I think that everybody would not be sitting here saying, 'Oh, what harm is that?' They'd be furious. And that's exactly what goes on against atheists. And it shouldn't." So, what do you think the court decision and Mr. Newdow's statement? A history of the Pledge of Allegiance is available here from the American Legion.


Early Morning Conversations

When I was college, I loved the days when I had the opportunity to eat lunch with some of my professors. I always counted it a blessing to be able to sit and converse about ministry, theology, or whatever. Although I have graduated from the college, I still work there as a security officer. My relationship with the college has changed. This change has taken place because 1) I am no longer a student and 2) I work a strange shift (4am to 12pm). Now, instead of conversing with professors, most of my early morning interactions take place with the housekeeping staff. We do not talk about Hermeneutics or Missiology or Pneumatology, yet our conversations are just as important. Each day when I arrive at work, I always look forward to talking about family, work, faith, etc. with Jeanie, Audrey, Bonnie, Sue, and the other people that I have met. These are the people who are often overlooked or ignored. Most people cherish the time they are able to talk with their professors, mentors, and other people they hold in high esteem. (And there is nothing wrong with cherishing conversations with these people.) Yet, we often overlook those whom we perceive as "less glamorous." I pray that our hearts will change. May the Lord enable us to love and live like Him.


Aid Delay After Katrina: A Racial Issue?

During NBC's "A Concert for Hurricane Relief" on Friday, September 2, rapper Kayne West made the following statement: "George Bush doesn't care about black people." I, for one, was not shocked by his statement because anytime disaster strikes, cries of racial and social injustice usually follow close behind. Granted, there are times when injustice--both racial and social--has reared its ugly face. Yet, I do not think that racism was the cause for the aid delay after Katrina. But according to an MTV poll 38% of people agree with West's assessment. So, what do you think? Is this a matter of discrimination? No matter if you agree or disagree with West's statement, I believe that we can agree on two things: 1) Race and/or social status should never cause us to neglect others who are in need; 2) We must be active in helping the victims of Katrina. I pray that each of us truly "seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow's cause" (Isaiah 1:17). Let us live exemplary lives that reflect Christ, as we interact with a hurting world.

Tim Keller Articles

If you enjoyed reading Dr. Keller's article, "The Missional Church," then be sure to check out some of his other articles here. Special thanks to Steve McCoy for the article links.


The Missional Church

In his article "The Missional Church" Tim Keller discusses the need for and the elements of a missional church . Here is an excerpt from his article:

The British missionary Lesslie Newbigin went to India around 1950. There he was involved with a church living 'in mission' in a very non-Christian culture. When he returned to England some 30 years later, he discovered that now the Western church too existed in a non-Christian society, but it had not adapted to its new situation. Though public institutions and popular culture of Europe and North America no longer 'Christianized' people, the church still ran its ministries assuming that a stream of 'Christianized', traditional/moral people would simply show up in services. Some churches certainly did 'evangelism' as one ministry among many. But the church in the West had not become completely 'missional'--adapting and reformulating absolutely everything it did in worship, discipleship, community, and service--so as to be engaged with the non-Christian society around it. It had not developed a 'missiology of western culture' the way it had done so for other non-believing cultures... Most traditional evangelical churches still can only win people to Christ who are temperamentally traditional and conservative. But, as Wolff notes, this is a 'shrinking market.' And eventually evangelical churches ensconced in the declining, remaining enclaves of "Christendom" will have to learn how to become 'missional'. If it does not do that it will decline or die. We don't simply need evangelistic churches, but rather 'missional' churches.

The full article is available here.


Rest a While

While growing up my father often worked multiple jobs. He did this so that he could provide for his family, not so that we would become rich. He was keenly aware of the biblical truth that "if anyone will not work, neither let him eat" (2 Thessalonians 3:10). Although I admired his wonderful work ethic, I often feared that he worked too much. Even his days off were filled with washing cars, cutting grass, and other draining activities. (This is not to say that he did not spend time with his family, because he was-and still is-a devoted husband and father.) My point is that he took very little time for rest and relaxation. I would often ask him, "Dad, when are you going to slow down and take a break?" He would usually respond by simply saying, "I'm fine. I'm not really tired." Now I find myself much like my father. I am a husband, father, youth pastor, and security officer. On my days off (if I can really call them that) I wash cars, cut grass, and do other draining activities. My wife and I often talk about how our days seemed to be "filled to the brim." Although I know that I should take time to relax, I find it extremely difficult to take a break. This difficulty arises because I know that there are so many things (other than taking a break) that I could be doing. But isn't this the problem? No matter how much I do, I can never accomplish all that needs to be completed. There will always be another youth to counsel, another homeless person to feed, another meeting to attend, and the list rambles onward to infinity. Yet, should we feel guilty if we ever desire to break away from the day-to-day endevours? I think not. On one occasion the apostles came to Jesus to report to Him about all that they had been doing in His name, and Jesus responds in the following way: "Come away by yourselves to a lonely place and rest a while" (Mark 6:31). Mark goes on to explain why they needed to get away: "For there were many people coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat." We must all realize that we need to go to "a lonely place and rest a while." This is not a purposeless rest; rather, it is a time to reconnect with our Savior. If we fail to follow our Lord's instruction and example (Mark 1:35), we must be prepared for the consequences of our disobedience. Let us not be so unwise as to neglect our Lord's command.


My War with Procrastination

I must admit that Procrastination has been my enemy for quite some time. By successfully beginning this blog, I feel that I have won at least one battle. Yet, the war still rages onward. Will I be diligent in posting on a regular basis? Only time will tell.