How Do You Say Goodbye to your Mother?

momHow do you say goodbye to your mother? My mother passed away last week. I kissed her the night before she died, told her I loved her, and told her that she would soon see Jesus. It was a sad time when she died the next day, but our sorrow was not for my mom. It was for us. My mother loved Jesus with all of her heart. The scripture is clear that “to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8). Even with Alzheimer’s, my mother lived out her faith. Just months before her death, she was not able to talk about much, but she could carry on a conversation about the Word of God. She would sing hymns and pray. A month before she passed, I was at my parent’s house doing some repairs, and my mom walked into the kitchen and said, “I need to pray for you.” We bowed our heads, and she started a prayer. My mother didn’t get past “Dear Heavenly Father,” but God knew exactly what was on her heart. I am confident that the Holy Spirit finished her prayer somewhere in the portals of Heaven.

My mother was passionate about sharing the gospel with everyone in the world. She lived out her passion and influenced thousands and thousands of people all over the world. I know that she personally led over 1000 children to Christ during the 13-year period she was a camp director. I learned last week that she had written a song or chorus. I can’t believe I didn’t know that. Many of the grandchildren knew it. All of the grandchildren and great grandchildren (at least those who were old enough to sing) sang her song at her funeral:

Everyone, everywhere needs to know of God’s love; for everyone, everywhere, Jesus came from above
To die on Calvary; His great love for all to see. Everyone, everywhere needs God’s love.

My oldest daughter told me yesterday that her two-year-old daughter asked her daddy to sing to her Grandma’s song. I am confident that my mother’s heart and life’s passion will continue to influence my family and the world for generations to come.

How do you say goodbye to your mother? If you and your mom are Christians, you don’t have to. The Bible is clear that we do not grieve as those who have no hope. Our hope is in Jesus Christ. I have no doubt my mother is in Heaven. I don’t have to say “goodbye” but rather “I’ll see you later.”

Amazing Churches

Church of the Intercession of the Mother of God, Pokrovskaia Tserkov, 1764. Church of Transfiguration, Preobrajenskaia Tserkov, 1714. Tower clock, 1874. Kizhi Island. Onega lake, Karelia. Russia.

I just read an article entitled “Ten of the World’s Most Stunning Religious Buildings.” The article presented a list of ten architectural masterpieces that really are amazing edifices. For example, one of the structures (see the picture) was made entirely with wood, but the builders did not use a single nail. Here’s what troubles me about this article. Most of them were not used for Christian purposes, and only one of the buildings that was used for Christian services is still used for anything other than a museum. The one building that is still in use is a Greek monastery called Metéora, which means “middle of the sky.” This monastery was built on top of a sandstone pillar about 1200 feet off the ground. When originally built in the 1500’s, no stairs were included. Monks had to be pulled up into the structure by rope, and the old ropes were not replaced until God showed the monks they needed to be replaced. How did that happen? You guessed it. A rope would break. I would hate to be the monk on the lift that convinced the250px-Holy_Monastery_of_Rousanou guy in charge that they needed a new rope.

I have at least two problems with this whole concept. First, nine out of ten of these buildings are not being used for the purpose of making Christ known to the world. Even the ones originally built for this purpose (though most of them were constructed to honor a particular monarch) are now simply museums. The one remaining structure still in use is for the purpose of getting away from the world instead of being used to reach the world. The second problem I have with them is that a church is actually a living organism (not a building) that exists for the purpose of carrying out Christ’s mission in the world: making disciples. This involves evangelism and spiritual mentoring as new believers become more like Christ. Disciple making requires us to be busy and in the world (but not of it). I would enjoy visiting these buildings because I am fascinated with architecture – especially of old buildings. While these ten buildings are stunning indeed, they are also heart breaking. Maybe we should be stunned that something so beautiful is so ineffective. The real question is are we the church God wants us to be? Regardless of the place of our church membership, if we are Christians, then we are called to embrace the world (people), love the world (of course I’m speaking of loving the people of the world regardless of their background, beliefs, or life-styles), and lead the world to faith in Christ. If people looked at you or at the building you go to for church services, would they see something or someone who is passionately in love with Jesus Christ and working tirelessly for His cause or would they see a dusty museum? Just a thought.

Time Change

I hate losing things, and I especially hate losing an hour. Daylight savings time is about to hit us again, and we are all about to have to go through the struggle of giving up an hour. True, we’ll get it back on November 2, but in the meantime, Sunday, March 9, could be a bummer. How many people will get their hour back by sleeping in and skipping church? How many people will physically attend church but mentally check out during the sermon because they are too tired to really engage? How many people across America will glibly go through the motions of worship but actually not really be present because they would rather be taking a nap? Okay, so maybe I’m approaching this thing like a preacher. I can’t help it. I’ve got something really important to share on Sunday, and the potential for disconnect is even greater than normal because we all lose an hour the night before.

 

When I think about it, this hour of worship on Sunday, March 9, is not the only important hour of our lives. The truth is, we lose hours all the time. We may be present at an event, but we’re really not present. We disconnect as a habit and miss the golden opportunities God gives us for life-change and ministry. We may cheat on a night’s sleep, and when we really need to be alert and engaged, our brains have checked out. Maybe this transition to Daylight Savings Time needs to be a not so subtle reminder that we have to choose to engage with our mission and purpose every day of our lives. If we do not make this conscious choice, we may be present but not really there. We might be present at a spiritual encounter with God but not really there when it comes to realizing this is a Kingdom moment. We might be present at a divine appointment but miss it because our spirits were not engaged in the moment, and we therefore miss the opportunity to impact a life for eternity.

 

These thoughts underscore that every day is important. Losing an hour this Sunday makes me even more aware of how important every Sunday is, and for that matter, it underscores the importance of every day. Our motto should be: “Wherever you are, be there.” Maybe we should spend some time reflecting on Psalm 90:12 as we prepare for time change Sunday: “So teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom.”

The Spirit of Cain

“Am I my brother’s keeper?” This was the familiar response of Cain upon God’s inquiry about his brother Abel. Cain knew he had killed his brother, therefore he was responsible for his brother’s demise, but he used this reply to shirk his responsibility. Sadly, we do the same thing. We have allowed our lives to become so encumbered with unimportant things that we cannot focus on the most important thing.

It is estimated that of the 6.7 billion people alive in the world today, 2.7 billion of them live in unreached people groups with little or no access to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Are we responsible for reaching these unreached groups, or do we reflect the spirit of Cain – Am I my brother’s keeper? We have convinced ourselves we can do nothing about reaching these people because our lives are full of other things that distract us from the real needs in our world. The path of materialism engulfs us and causes us to think extravagance is normal and acceptable, and in so doing, it enchains us to a way of life that restricts us from fulfilling one of the main purposes for which God has left us on this planet. The busyness of our technological age steals from us the energy, passion, and time needed to do something about the lostness in our world. If we could only see ourselves from the perspective of most other people in the world, we would be embarrassed at our wastefulness and luxury. Our garages are bigger than most people’s homes in the world! Our animals are better fed than many children across our planet.

While the plight of unreached people groups should burden us and call us to action, we do not even need to look overseas to be stirred by the needs of an unreached people. We live among them. While the people of Coweta County do not compare to the Yucatec people of Central America, the reality is many are still lost and going to Hell. Hell is just as real whether you depart from Newnan or from the Yucatan Peninsula. On any given Sunday, less than 20% of the people of our County are in church. Of course that doesn’t necessarily mean they are all lost, and for that matter, the 16% or 18% of those who are in church are not necessarily saved. The reality is if you are a Christian in today’s world, you are in a small minority.

So here’s the question. What are we going to do about it? Are we our brother’s keeper or not? Why not spend a few minutes in prayer and thought about how God wants to use you to reach someone who is unreached? Allow your thoughts to not only include people like you (in our County), but also people not like you (Africans, Asians, etc.). What changes will you make in your life so you can fulfill God’s commission handed to you to make disciples of all nations?

 

(These thoughts have been on my mind for a while but were prompted once again by reading an article by Daniel Kenaston: .)