Mar 30, 2010

The Gift of Death

One year ago yesterday, my grandmother and the matriarch of our family, Alice McGahey, went home to heaven. I don't say that she went to heaven flippantly. I do not say she went to heaven just because she was a good person, which she was. Most everyone I know believes that the people that they loved so much on earth are in heaven. Most of the time this is based on the goodness they saw in the person. However, goodness does not get you into heaven, grace does. I know my grandmother is in heaven because she lived a life of grace. She loved the Lord Jesus. She loved to read about him in the Bible. She loved to hear good preaching about him. She loved to sing about him when she played her organ. My grandmother was the closest thing to a saint I have ever met this side of heaven.

However, my grandmother, just like everyone else on earth, had a sickness. She inherited a deadly virus at birth that affected her for many years. It came through the bloodline to her ancestors Adam and Eve. That virus is called sin. I don't know when my grandmother first became fully aware of her sin virus. However, like everyone else, her only cure was the grace poured out on Calvary by Jesus. My grandmother embraced that cross and received forgiveness for her sin.

We called her Mama Alice. My grandfather was Daddy Bert. They were two of the biggest influences on my life. Daddy Bert was a pilot in WWII and loved to fly. He took me to play golf the first time. He was a quiet man, but loved his grandsons. Mama Alice was a hard worker. For many years she sold Amway. Dozens of people knew her from that. Later on, she went to work at a jewelry store in the mall. She worked many nights until 9:00 PM and didn't get home till late. She was the best cook I have ever known. She first taught me that scrambled eggs taste better with cheese. She made a Chicken Casserole that tasted like manna from heaven. She knew how to make the most tender roast beef I ever tasted. And Thanksgiving was a celebration and feast like none other. Nothing in the world could compare to her cornbread dressing.

My grandfather died almost 20 years ago. After that, my grandmother continued to be the centerpiece of our family although she lost her soul-mate. Mama Alice had always been a frail lady, prone to bruising easily. The fingers on her hands began to twist up from arthritis. In her later years, she had to go on a full-time oxygen tube and her mobility was much more limited. She had a hard time keeping her weight up. She became dependent on others to bathe her and help her get dressed. Eventually, we had to make the difficult decision to put her in a nursing home. However, she never lost her sass or her determination to live. She continued to give it to me when I would come home and I continued to give it right back to her. As she lay in the hospital in her last days, she said to me "Don't stand over me." I replied, "I drove here from Birmingham and I will stand wherever I want." She didn't want people to fuss over her until the end.

On March 29, 2009, God gave my Mama Alice and our family a great gift when in his mercy he healed her suffering by taking her to her heavenly home. Death was a welcome gift for us. It was great comfort to see her no longer suffering in the fleshy tent that she occupied. There was no doubt in any of us that her body had been deserted and she was home with her Savior. The Bible says, "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints." (Psalm 116:15) God has given us a gracious doorway from the sin and stain of this world. God has given us a pathway that is free from cancer, oxygen tubes, disease, and suffering. However, that path is not on this side of eternity.

The doorway of death has two destinations. One is eternally free from suffering and sin and leads to the presence of the father. The other destination is infinite increase in suffering and torment. Both are eternal destinies from which there is no going back. Once you step through the doorway of death, your ticket is punched and there is no turning back. The question is, which destiny will your door lead? Good intentions, good works, really liking Jesus will not suffice. One day many years ago Alice McGahey looked upon a blood-soaked, sin-bearing, carpenter from Galilee and placed her complete faith in him to pay her sin ransom. Have you?

Mar 29, 2010

The Man Behind Easter

In preparation for Easter and Passion Week, here is a great video produced by Granger Community Church and featuring video clips from Passion of the Christ. The audio is from a famous sermon by S.M. Lockridge. Enjoy!

Mar 26, 2010

Coming Good Friday

Mark Driscoll and the guys at Mars Hill have produced a special film to show on Good Friday at their church. I have been a big fan of Driscoll for a while now. The guy is rock solid biblically and theologically and a challenge to me and my preaching. He is controversial, but he's also in a chiefly pagan city and culture in the Northwest. Here is a trailer for the film. You can watch online on Good Friday at 8PM here.

Mar 18, 2010

Mid-Week Check In

It's been a couple of weeks since I did a "Mid-Week Check In". Lots of stuff going on in my world and I find it challenging to make time to write or blog. Kids have started baseball and are on Spring Break this week. However, the main reason for lack of writing has been preoccupied with other church things and catching up on some reading. Here are some observations from the last couple of weeks.
  • We've finished up our "Going Public" series. I hope it was encouraging and practical for our people. I heard some great comments about the "bridge illustration" where you can share the gospel using a piece of paper and two verses. I also have had several church members tell me that some doors have opened for them the past few weeks. It's amazing when our hearts and minds get focused on witnessing how many doors we see that God opens.
  • Spring Break hit our attendance hard this last Sunday. I knew it would. I hope if you were on vacation that you didn't vacate from attending a house of worship. Our worship of God should never take a vacation. Whenever possible, my family and I try to attend a house of worship when we take a vacation. It's not always possible, but I think it helps keep my kids focused on Sunday as a day for God.
  • Although the crowd was low, we were blessed to have my friends Shawn and Katie Sandlin lead worship in Kevin's absence this last week. This couple has a unique and anointed way of leading worship together. They were very encouraged by the conversations they had with several of our Sixth Street members. We will have them back again soon.
  • In case you heard the rumor, I will verify it. Yes, the boys and I did go "sucker fishing" with Wade Davis and Harry Ward. We had a good time. It was fun watching Nathan and Drew get in that creek with nets and pull out those fish. Thanks Wade and Harry!
  • I'm really digging into our new series this week. We are doing a new series called "Unveiling Easter: A Glimpse Behind the Greatest Story Ever". We are going to try to look at the different events surround the last week of Christ. It is fascinating stuff and gives me a greater appreciation for the sovereignty of God and the suffering of Christ.
  • We have scheduled our Easter Egg Hunt for 4:00 on Easter Sunday afternoon. This will give our families time to go eat with extended family and then come back to the Airport Drive property for a fun time together. We will have some games and hot dogs for the kids. We need church members to donate plastic eggs and candy. We'll also need you to bring some drinks for the event if you can attend. Even if you don't have kids participating, plan to be there to fellowship and enjoy the afternoon.
  • Please make plans to be a part of our prayer-walk this Saturday at 10:00 AM. If you haven't signed up or been assigned to a team yet, just show up and we'll take care of you. It's going to be a blessed time as we walk our community and pray for spiritual strongholds to be broken and for the gospel to penetrate homes.
  • Congrats to Eric and Whitney on their wedding! It was a beautiful ceremony! Pray for Eric and Whitney as well as Kevin and Chery as they are all traveling this week.
Verse of the week - "I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I receive from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God." Acts 20:24

Mar 17, 2010

Latest Matt Chandler Update

Matt had an MRI on March 16 and meeting with the doctors to discuss the next step. Here was the video blog posted after that meeting. Continue to pray God's sufficient grace and healing on his servant.

Mar 10, 2010

I have absolutely nothing to say about this

Woman, 101, grows horn

Zhang Ruifang /Quirky China News

A 101-year-old woman has grown a horn on her head - and now fears she's growing another one.

Zhang Ruifang, of Linlou village, in central China's Henan province, noticed a small lump on her forehead last year.

But it is now six centimetres long - and a small lump has now appeared on the other side of her forehead.

Her youngest son, Zhang Guozheng, 60, said the horn started as a patch of thick, rough skin on the left side of her forehead.

"We didn't pay too much attention to it at first," he said. "But as time went on it just grew and grew.

"And now there is something growing on the right side of her forehead and it seems quite possible that it's another horn."

Zhang has seven children - six boys and a girl - and many grandchildren. Her eldest son is 82-years-old.

The family live in a rural area and don't have the money to send her to hospital - but they say she is in no pain and enjoys a peaceful life.

From Orange News website

Mar 4, 2010

Mid-Week Check In

It's been a busy, crazy week so far, but also a great time to be in ministry.
  • Sunday's crowd appeared to be radically affected by sickness and sinus crud this past week. The running theme appeared to be "Pray for ____, she's really sick this morning." It also appears that the stomach virus is making rounds too.
  • We started a new series called "Going Public" Sunday. We talked about having the faith and boldness to launch out into your relationships as a missionary. We want to have people with the boldness to say as Peter did in Acts 4 - "we cannot help but speak of what we have seen and heard."
  • This week we are going to give you simple, practical way to share your faith wherever you are with a piece of paper. Don't miss it.
  • It was awesome to see Landon Daniels make a public profession of Christ Sunday morning. We have been blessed to see several children ask Christ to be Savior and several other parents have talked to me about questions that their kids are asking. Praise God for changed lives! We have a tremendous responsibility now to shepherd and surround these young hearts with the gospel so that their faith is not just based on a "decision" they made as a little kid.
  • On that note, I am becoming increasingly burdened by our ministry to families. We need a team of volunteers to creatively brainstorm how we can build a first-class ministry to children and families. Right now, because of financial and staffing limitations, we are going to have to be volunteer led. However, I think we have a pioneering spirit developing here. Pray for me as we begin to research and work towards building a strong children's program.
  • Yesterday, we had a great moment. Gerard Bowles went in for a heart cath for a blockage and when they did the cath the blockage was gone! It was an amazing moment where I believe that God showed his healing power. Pray for Genie and Gerard as they continue on their pilgrimage to Russia.
  • If you haven't signed up to be a part of "Across Alabama" here, do so this week. It's going to be a great time praying for our community. Sign up also for our 24-hour prayer vigil.
  • Many of you have collected "Buckets of Hope" to feed a family in Haiti. I will be delivering them tomorrow to the Birmingham Baptist Association. Thank you for being the church.
See you Sunday!

Mar 3, 2010

John Piper on Mark Driscoll and John MacArthur

For any of you who are like me and have a great deal of appreciation for John Piper and John MacArthur while at the same time having a lot of excitement about new evangelicals like Mark Driscoll, here is a great answer from John Piper to a question posed about MacArthur's criticism of some of Driscoll's methods. This was a great answer and incredible insight from a guy who is close to both of these men that God is using. It's a reminder to me that we don't always have to choose sides when two people we know are having differences.

Piper on Driscoll and MacArthur - Watch more Videos at Vodpod.