Category: Death (Page 1 of 10)

The Triumph of Faith

“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines,

though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food,

though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls,

yet I will rejoice in the Lord,

I will be joyful in God my Savior!”

~ Habakkuk 3:17-18

At the Cross

Here’s a good read about scalp-cooling for chemotherapy patients and a call for health insurance companies in the U.S. to begin covering the costs for cancer patients. We are blessed / fortunate to be able to afford the cold caps for Carrie-Anne. Not everybody is. And it matters.


I’ve heard most of my life that Jesus died so I don’t have to. I don’t think that’s right. I believe Jesus died to show me how to. How to embrace suffering and rejection, how to faithfully deal with pain, how to understand sacrifice and death as God’s method for saving the world. We see everything much more clearly when we look at the cross.

When you are suffering, it may not always be clear to you why you’re in pain. You may not know the reason you’re suffering. You may be in a terribly dark place of pain and suffering right now and it doesn’t make sense to you. You don’t know the reason or the point. Just like Jesus’ suffering didn’t make sense to his disciples, you can’t figure out why you’re in so much pain.

When you see Jesus on the cross, you can at least know what the reason for your suffering isn’t. When you see how Jesus died, you can at least know what are NOT the reasons for your suffering.

It’s not that God doesn’t love you. He does. Very much. Jesus hung on that cross in agony, but the Father’s love for his Son was not diminished or compromised one bit.

And it’s not that God doesn’t have a plan for you. It’s not that God has abandoned you. The cross actually shows us God’s presence in suffering. And that God is at work and doing marvelous things, eternally significant things, even in your suffering. Even in the middle of your pain and darkness. Even when your suffering doesn’t make sense.

God is present. And he loves you. And he is at work.



The Way

“Jesus has many who love his heavenly Kingdom, but few who carry his cross; many who yearn for comfort, few who long for distress. Plenty of people he finds to share his banquet, few to share his fast. Everyone desires to take part in his rejoicing, but few are willing to suffer anything for his sake. There are many who follow Jesus as far as the breaking of the bread, few as far as drinking the cup of suffering; many who revere his morality, few who follow him in the indignity of his cross.”

~Thomas a Kempis, The Imitation of Christ

In Honor of Kim Scott

Kim Scott probably knows 500 preachers and each of them – all of them! – would have jumped at the chance to do his funeral. That I was the one to officiate that memorial service yesterday in Amarillo is one of the great honors of my life.

In some ways, it was a tough spot. I felt like I needed to tell a bunch of jokes. I felt like Kim would be disappointed if everybody wasn’t laughing the whole time. And you might say, “But it’s a funeral.” And I would say, “But it’s Kim!” The guy died in the church building during a Bible class on Wednesday night! He would want somebody to point out  the humor in that!

So we did. We covered the fact that Kim is right now probably bragging about dying in church on a Wednesday night and how that moves him to the front of the line to get into heaven. We covered the loud neckties and the outrageous family Christmas cards. We talked about Farm & Ranch Shows and Water Board meetings and LCU. We highlighted his sense of humor and his great joy. And I told some jokes. Straight out of Kim’s book.

Did you hear about the big truck that overturned on I-40? It was carrying peanut butter. Jars of peanut butter spilled out everywhere. But it went so well with the traffic jam.

What sound does a limping turkey make?
Wobble, wobble, wobble.

What do you call a cow who just had a baby?

I hear that membership in the Flat Earth Society is falling off.

People who identify as cake are really conscientious; they’re always running around saying, “You want a piece of me?”

I would love to write out all six pages of my eulogy to Kim Scott in this space. Instead, here’s a link to a video of the service. If you want to hear 650 people gut-laughing at a funeral, you might check this out.

On top of presiding over Kim’s funeral, it was a rich blessing to be back in Amarillo. It was great to see so many of the people we ministered with during our ten years there. I got to town early enough to stop by The PARC and hug Shelley’s neck and get caught up with Valerie and see the plans for their new building. I got gas at “my” Toot N Totem and visited with my longtime early morning friends Stacy and Gary and just missed Daniel, who I learned is Stacy’s new assistant manager. I found out the hard way that Burger Bar on Polk Street is now permanently closed so we had to move our lunch with Greg, Steve Nordyke, and the Coopers to the original Blue Sky on Western. (That Blue Sky has crispy fries, which we don’t have at the Blue Sky in Midland!) And I got to spend a couple of hours in that sacred Central church building.

Mixed emotions, man, I’m telling you. Tougher than I thought it would be. And much more of a deep-rooted joy than I anticipated. I thank God for that great church and the years we spent there with those wonderful disciples of Jesus.

And I praise the Lord for Kim Scott. Kim reflects our God’s glory in his kindness and generosity, his patience and grace, his love and great joy. I am a better man, a better follower of Jesus, because of my connection with Kim. I know God better, I see God better, because of Kim. I’m a little ticked off at him right now because he left without saying goodbye – that’s very unlike Kim. But I’m looking forward to seeing him soon. Sooner than I think. And I’ll see if he’ll let me cut in with him in line.


I made it home last night just in time to change clothes, grab C-A and Whitney, and make it out to the ballpark for the Midland RockHounds home opener. It was a beautiful night, the crowd was energetic, the nachos had a little extra cheese, and the RockHounds gave us a win over the Tulsa Drillers. They were down 3-0 in the first inning before they even got up to bat. But Midland exploded for six runs in the bottom of the seventh to win it 10-8 and maintain their first place position in the Texas League South.



Our Faithful Lament

Our GCR Church family is grieving this week. Three funerals in one day will do that. Tomorrow we will give Ashleigh Reedy, James Kennedy, and Dane Higgins to our Lord at three services – two in Lubbock and one here in Midland. And we’re struggling with some of this. All three of these deaths are tragic and unforeseen, all surprising in varying degrees. And we’re having a hard time.

I believe that open and honest struggling and wrestling with God is a sign of faith. I believe that even questioning God and arguing with God reflects a strong inner conviction in his power and goodness.

Think about it. To demand that God ought to act justly is based solely on a firm belief that God is just. If we don’t believe God is just, we won’t go to him when we see injustice. We’ll go somewhere else. What we believe about God – if we really believe it – is what leads to this kind of honest wrestling.

We believe in God’s omnipotence. There is only one God. He does not share his power with any other god. He made the whole world and everything in it. He is the sovereign ruler over all creation. So, every single thing that happens, good and bad, fair and unfair, happens because God either causes it or allows it. And that leads directly to our really hard questions: Why? Why, God, do you allow these things to happen? Why, God, don’t you intervene?

We believe in God’s righteousness. God loves the world he created, he is concerned with what happens to his creatures, and he’s certainly not wicked in the ways he deals with the world. But we’re faced with the reality of terrible cruelty and awful suffering in our world. And if God is omnipotent and righteous, that leads directly to these agonizing prayers: How long is this going to last? God, where are you?

The prophet Habakkuk doesn’t like God’s answers. He can’t stand what he and his people are having to endure. None of it makes sense to him. So he keeps arguing with God. He keeps coming back to God. He struggles and accuses and complains.

“O Lord from everlasting. My God. My Holy One.” ~Habakkuk 1:12

When God’s people in Scripture complain about their troubles, when they lament the injustices of life, when they seek answer to their questions about the evil and the pain in the world, they don’t write letters to the editor, they don’t hold court in the coffee shop, they don’t call the talk shows, and they don’t join a campaign. God’s people bring their doubts and their fears, their uncertainties and questions, their complaints and arguments straight to God.

And in the case of the Psalms and Habakkuk, they do so as part of their worship, in the presence of God, in the middle of the congregation.

We’re struggling together here at GCR. We’re struggling with Mike and Amy and their family, with Lisa and John and their family, and with D’Nese and Dale and their family. This is hard. We’re struggling. Together. We’re questioning and complaining, trying to make sense of things that just don’t add up with what we know and believe about our merciful Father. But we’re struggling in faith.

God bless us. Lord, have mercy on these sweet families and on our church. God, please honor our faithful lament.



Eternally Alive

“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?
Thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!”

Ashleigh Reedy passed from this life to the next Monday evening, surrounded by her family, wrapped in the loving arms of her God, and made whole by the blood of her Savior.

Ashleigh’s too-fast ordeal with cancer is sad in so many ways. It’s heart-breaking. Tragic. But in countless other ways it is so marvelously beautiful. Breath-taking. Inspiring in the truly Gospel way it’s played out. The way the Body of Christ has come together to minister to the Reedy family. The loving community that has been experienced in that Franklin house in Lubbock in the name and manner of Jesus. The burdens that were shared. The great faith that has been shown by Mike and Amy, not to mention Ashleigh’s Holy Spirit strength that refused time and again to give in to the disease that was robbing her from everything we think it means to be really alive.

Realizing that Ashleigh was more alive while she was battling cancer than I am right now. Or ever have been.

Ashleigh never stopped thinking about others. Right up until that moment almost two weeks ago when her condition took that awful and irreversible turn, she was concerned about others, worried about others, ministering to others. Talking to others about the Lord. Asking questions about family and friends at church she knew were hurting. Wondering aloud if her circumstances were taking away from the joy of others. Her unwavering belief and faith in our God. Ashleigh was truly alive, really living that whole time. Thinking more about others, regarding the needs of others ahead of her own. At her sickest points, Ashleigh was more alive than most of us have ever been because she was doing what she was made by her Creator to do. Serve. Sacrifice. Look and think and act like the Christ.

Realizing Ashleigh is eternally alive right now. Forever. In the intense face-to-face presence of our God.

Ashleigh’s eyes are open now. She’s made the trip. She’s on that other side. She sees everything so clearly now. She understands it all so fully. Everything makes perfect sense to Ashleigh right now. Praise God, Ashleigh is a conqueror today. She is an overcomer. She’s an eternal daughter of our God and wearing the beautiful crown of a righteous princess. She’s there! Fully alive! Eternally alive!

Bonhoeffer wrote that “those who have died are in reality those who live, and those living on earth are the dying. The cemetery is the place of life’s victory. Here lie those who live with the Lord.”

Hug your kids today. Kiss your spouse tonight. Call your parents. Express your love. Show your appreciation. And then get down on your hands and knees and thank God for the wonderful people he’s put in your life.

Like Ashleigh. And Mike and Amy. And McKenzie. And that whole sweet family.

While you’re down there, pray for the Reedys. Pray for our merciful Father to bless them with his grace and comfort and peace.

“On this mountain the Lord Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine –
the best of meats and the finest of wines.
On this mountain he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, 
the sheet that covers all nations;
he will swallow up death forever.
The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces;
he will remove the disgrace of his people from the earth.
The Lord has spoken.
In that day they will say,
‘Surely this is our God; we trusted in him and he saved us.
This is the Lord; we trusted in him;
let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation!'”

Lord, come quickly,


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