Dear Friends -
Carol Kuykendall tells a poignant story of the death of her close friend. --“Doubt sometimes wins over faith in my life, too... like the day my friend Lois died. The ringing telephone sliced through the early morning darkness, and jolted me awake. The clock said 4:22. I knew that Lois’ struggle was finished. The day before, I had sat by her bed and told her good-bye. ‘I’ll be right there,’ I told her husband. But I took my time... reluctantly trying to connect the stark work death with Lois. The two words still didn’t go together as I got in the car. By the time I reached her neighborhood, the first fringe of dawn glowed on the horizon, and I pulled over to watch the sunrise. As the light overcame the darkness, I began to remember what Jesus said and did. He didn’t promise that a good life was a long life - He was only 33 years old when He died. What matters is how we purposefully choose to live each day. And He didn’t promise a life without suffering, but He promised to walk with us and give us strength sufficient to meet our challenges. And most importantly, He didn’t say that death is an end, but a triumphant new beginning because we have eternal life in Him. As I watched the night turn into day, death gave way to a victorious new beginning.” (1990 Daily Guidepost, p.113)
Doubt does sometimes win-out over our faith. We struggle with the difficulties in life, especially the death of a loved one. We’ve had that happen in our congregation this year, of course. It has happened to members’ extended family of our congregation. We’ve seen tragic deaths in our community. In every case we struggle. That stark word death shouldn’t connect with any of them.
There was a dark dawn 2000 years ago in Jerusalem. Friends walked through the dark city streets to the place of death, struggling to connect that stark word with the one they loved.
As the sun began to pink the eastern sky, they reached the place. The ground under their feet began to shake. It was an earthquake to change the world. Because the Son of God broke the bonds of death, and rose to life that never ends. As the sun began to overcome darkness, the darkness of death was overcome by life in Christ.
Paul wrote, “Christ has indeed been raised from the dead” (1 Co 15:20). He states the fact. Christ is alive. But he goes on. It’s not only Christ, it’s you, it’s me, it’s all who belong to Christ. “Christ has indeed been raise from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” If Jesus is firstfruits, there must be more to come.
The days are longer now but dawn isn’t too early. Watch the sun come up and chase away the darkness and remember the Son has come up and brought the light of life.
~ Pastor Byron
For the last two weeks in worship , we’ve focused on Christ’s call to “follow me.” I’ve asked you to evaluate the state of your own soul. Is your love for Christ warm and vital, or have you forsaken your first love? (Rev. 2:4)
Christ first forgives our sin, restores our relationship with the Father, and gives us new life. From that beginning, Christ wants to lead us so that our entire lives, our thoughts and desires, our words and actions are all submitted to his lordship.
In Matthew 28:19,20 Jesus commanded the disciples to “Go into all the world and make disciples... teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” ‘Everything’ is a big word. It is a high standard.
Paul wrote, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength” (Phil 4:13). In other words, if Christ commands it, then he also makes the way for me to do it. Maybe the possibility of actually satisfying Christ’s call is more daunting than hearing the call itself. If I can persuade myself that the goal is unattainable, then I can be satisfied where I am.
However, if we expect to reach this goal in one step would we be doomed to failure. We would also be missing the point of discipleship.
Discipleship is not a one time decision. Conversion can be, but discipleship requires the decisions of a lifetime. Discipleship is starting where I am right now, and taking the next step in following Christ, and then doing it all over again. Paul wrote in Philippians 3:12, “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on...” That is discipleship, the willingness to press on. This is why the regular practice of nurturing our souls is so essential. The disciplines of Bible reading and study, prayer and worship are all means by which God provides the desire, strength and guidance to “press on.”
In a sense it is like an athlete and a coach. An athlete has a coach to improve their performance. Once the coach is on board, the coach becomes the boss. At each practice, every fitness training, at each meal, the coach decides what is to be done, and the athlete follows.
In a similar way, the Bible becomes our coach, giving constant guidance and correction. Prayer becomes our link of our spirit to the Holy Spirit. Worship puts us regularly in our proper place as followers of the God we worship.
So if you are taking seriously the call of Christ to “follow me,” the essential ingredient is his training. When we give ourselves to his training on a regular basis we are giving ourselves to him, one step at a time. And after all, that is the only way to follow.
Yours in Christ, Pastor Byron
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.