Ken – Robert – Kat – Tio – Claude – Kevin – Monica – Scott – Richard – Allisa – Georgi – Kent – Meridith – Lyn – Lisa – Billy – my brother Todd & his family – Arianna – Tom – Ryan – Del – Karen – Julie – Glenn & Ericka – Landry – LeeAnn – my grandfather – Jose – Jr. & Cathy – Greggie – Mark & Sherrie & their three boys – Ian – Dan – Carl & Gabby – Sue – Derek & Jana – Nikki – Anson – Megan – Shannon – Judy – my sister…
The names kept coming by the hundreds. People kept getting out of their pews and walking down front by the dozens. I thought for a long moment it would never stop.
Ron & Debbie – Candice – Dorothy – Scott – Tom – Bailey – Britt – Jeff – Shannon & family – Bryan – Andy – Cobey – Jim & Patti – Georgellen – Kim – Zach – Chance – Scotty – Nanette – Ashley – Mohammad – Jackie – Corkey – Jacob – my ex-wife – Gage – my niece – Alyssa – cousin Leanne – Sherri – Katherine – Albert – Uncle Tom…
We were preaching the dry bones vision in Ezekiel 37 here at Legacy yesterday. God takes his great prophet and puts him in the middle of this valley “full of bones…a great many bones.” The bones represent to Ezekiel the spiritually dead “house of Israel.” They are a people who are “dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.” God’s servant is waist deep in these bones, surrounded by these dry bones as far as he could see. There’s no life in these bones. No hope for life in these bones. No spirit. No pulse. No organs. No heart. No nothing. And God asks Ezekiel, “Can these bones live?”
Brad – T.C. – our son, David – Jennifer – Breck – Aunt Cathy – Mark & family – Fred – Jared – my brother-in-law, Steve – Benjamin – Amy – George – Debbie – Chloe – Aunt Bobbie – Keith – Wade – Ray – Katie – Uncle Buck – Martha & Bud…
See, we’re still surrounded by these dry bones. We see these dead people every day. There are dead men and dead women and dead teenagers all around us. Sometimes I feel like I’m walking right through the middle of Ezekiel’s valley of bones. Spiritually dead people. Cut off from God because of their sins. No relationship with God. No salvation. No spiritual life. Some of these people are relatives and friends that we love very much.
Your son has left the Lord. Your daughter is no longer a member of a Christian faith community. Your husband has never submitted to the Lordship of Jesus. Your grandchildren have not been baptized into Christ. Your niece is living in sin. Your nephew doesn’t even believe in God. Your wife. Your aunt. Your best friend.
Kelli & Jeff – Shane’s family – Joshua – Blair – Gilbert – Spence & Keller – Ray – Chad & Christi – David – Jay & Misti – Johyne – my grandma – Heather – Kristina – my cousin, Dennis – James – Brian – Melanie…
Jim & Wayne put together and painted a massive mural of Ezekiel’s dry bones. Twenty feet long and eight feet high. Very impressive. We set it up on the stage, right in front of the baptistry. And it served as the backdrop to our lesson from Ezekiel 37. It served as the backdrop to this discussion about the people in our lives who are spiritually dead.
Can these bones live?
God says “yes!” God demonstrates in an unforgettable way his unflinching and unwavering determination to save his people. It’s not based on any good thing Israel is going to do. Israel can’t do anything. Israel’s dead! Israel’s resurrection as the cleansed and forgiven and restored and changed and fully alive people of God has everything — EVERYTHING!!! — to do with God’s power and his will to do it. There’s hope in these dead bones because of the love and power of our God.
Barry – Jeffrie – Martha & Bud – my whole family – Cindy – Sheri & Lynn – Aaron – Lloyd – Joanie…
So we determined to give these spiritually dead loved ones to our God in faith and in prayer. And before we prayed together as a church family, we wanted the names. We asked our brothers and sisters to write the names down on the stickers we provided and then walk to the front and physically place them on the board among the dry bones.
And here they came.
Old people. Young people. Whole families. Kids. People on crutches and using walkers. People who are unable to climb the steps but begged those of us in the aisles to take their names up there for them. At one point it was seven or eight deep on the stage. There were lines. We had to wait. It took a while. Almost four thousand total stickers. Well over five thousand different names. And we cried and we smiled and we hugged and we patted backs and we helped each other with stickers. We stood together and gazed at this wall of names. And then we prayed.
It was powerful. It was inspiring. I pray that God was glorified. I pray that we grew closer together as a church family as we realized that we are all carrying similar burdens. I pray that our faith was strengthened as we realized together that 1) only God can fix the people and circumstances that bring us so much sorrow and 2) it really is his holy will to do just that!
We can’t fix these people. We’ve tried. We’ve tried everything. Only God can change hearts and renew a person’s mind. “O Sovereign Lord, you alone know.” That’s what Ezekiel says. So we give these loved ones to God. In faith. And prayer.
“I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live.” ~John 5:25