Someone recently commented in a joking manner that they were not ready to die. Well, of course none of us really are. Valentine’s Day is a reminder of Love that we have yet not given. We have loved ones here and things left to accomplish. I have LOVE yet to share with Vonnie. I have love to yet be shared with my children. I have grand babies that have yet to be born that I want to spoil. I am still working on my second million dollars (I gave up on the first million). There are goals and dreams and bucket list items that I have not checked off yet. Of course, I am not ready to die.
But in reality, that comment got me to thinking. And actually, I am ready to die. At least in a way. You see, I am a Christian. I have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ that I am certainly not ashamed to talk about. I gave my life over to Jesus long ago and it is due to this relationship with Him, that, well, yeah, I AM ready to die. For you see, to die simply means to move from this world into the next. The next world (heaven) is basically a place of no suffering, agape love, and the very eternal presence of Jesus! God loves me. And due to this love, He wants only my best. He wants me to be happy, joyous, and experience no pain and no suffering. That is what the next world will be like. And to be reunited with my loved ones that have gone on before! So why would I NOT want to be there?
Now, I know what some skeptics might be thinking: If God wanted that for you, He could do it here on Earth! Well, yes and no. God is all powerful and certainly He can do whatever He wishes. But let me explain….
God created me (and you) for basically two reasons: For worship and for fellowship. God’s very nature is one that must be worshiped. Not because He needs it or probably even desires it, but it simply must be. One who is total love, total power, total mercy, total Justice, total sovereignty, simply MUST be worshiped. It can’t be helped. That is one of the reasons that we were created – to Worship Him! And since that is our PURPOSE, we can never be truly fulfilled, truly happy, truly content, truly at peace, until we are abiding in the purpose that we have been created. So to Worship Him, well, it’s good for us also!
And God also created us for fellowship. He loves us and that love demands a response. We love Him back. We love Him because He first loved us. But He wants our love to be given freely to Him, by our choice. That is why He gave us Free Will. Free Will gives US the OPTION to choose to love Him or not. It’s not true love unless we CHOOSE to love Him. The only way to CHOOSE is to have an OPTION. So God had to allow EVIL in the world in order for there to be an OPTION. We can choose love or we can choose hate. We can choose good (God) or we can choose evil.
It’s that Free Will that opens the door for bad things here on earth. With our free will we CHOOSE not to follow God’s commands and therefore we must live with the consequences. God tells us to treat our body like a temple. Yet, we fill it up with processed foods, poisons, and then wonder why we get sick. We blame God for our own choices. We ignore the Spirit’s gentle pushings in one direction and go another. And then we blame God when the road that we pick is not the best choice for us. So yeah, this world has problems, but they are problems that OUR pride, OUR sin, and OUR choices have brought about. It’s really not fair to blame God for that. So life here can’t really be the perfection that Heaven is.
God is a JUST God. He has to be. He is perfect. An unjust God would not be perfect. Since He is just, then good must be rewarded (fellowship with Him) and evil (sin) must be punished (no fellowship with him). He is perfect. Therefore Heaven is perfect, for He cannot reside in Sin. But if I, being imperfect, died, I could not go to His presence because I would “corrupt” the place. It would no longer be perfect.
But God desires fellowship with us, yet, we are all going to sin because we are not perfect. And we can’t be perfect because we are not God. WOW! What a dilemma. God created us for fellowship, but in order demonstrate our love to him, we must make a choice. And since we are not perfect, eventually we will always choose sin, which means we cannot abide in his presence. And He knew this would happen when He created us.
Now some would argue, that He could just forgive us and that’s that. Well, no. Again, He is a Just God. Justice demands a price. Plato once philosophized that “Deity may can forgive sin, but I see not how.” See, Plato understood. While God can forgive, still Justice must prevail. Again, God knew this dilemma when He created us. So what is the answer? Spoiler alert: The answer (as always) is Jesus.
Before the foundation of the world (before He even created the world), He had a plan to resolve this problem. God Himself, (the creator), would enter His creation as a man (Jesus). He would live a perfect life. Then when Justice demanded a price be paid for my sin, HE would offer to pay that price. Only HE could do that. You could not do that for me because you have your own sins that need to be paid for. You can’t pay for mine when you need to worry about your own. But Jesus was sinless. He could offer to pay for mine. So Justice was served on the cross. Jesus paid the price for my sin. Mohammed could not do that for me. Buddha could not do that for me. Even my family could not do that for me. Only Jesus – 100% man, yet 100% perfect (God)!
Isn’t that awesome!! He took my sin and covered me with HIS righteousness. So when God looks down from heaven at me, He does not see a worthless sinner. He sees His Son’s perfection. His Son’s righteousness. Not because of ANYTHING that I have done, but because of what HE has done. Justice has been served and fellowship restored!
So the God that loves me. The God that created me for fellowship with Him, made a way (Jesus) to reconcile me and Him together. There is no other way! He loves me and wants only the best for me. So yeah, I can’t wait to abide 100%, forever, in that fellowship without my own sinfulness getting in the way. That’s what death is. And as great as things CAN be here – family, friends, joys, successes, triumphs – Heaven will only be better. To be able to see Him clearly, to abide with Him, to love him without ME getting in the way. WOW! Yeah, I can’t wait. I am NOT afraid to die!
And the exciting thing is that God is eager to be with me also! Can you imagine that? So, He could just take me home to Him at anytime and it would make us both happy. So why doesn’t He? Well, I think it is because He also loves everyone else that He created as well. And not everyone has put their faith in Jesus. So He is leaving me here (and other Christians here) for a while longer with the instructions that we are to tell the others about Him. If we tell them, then they also can reside forever with Him and enjoy that same fellowship. It’s OUR job to tell them. He could tell them, but then wouldn’t that violate the free will? I mean, because if He urged us, could that be resisted? (Okay, I am getting into Calvinism vs. Armenianism arguments here – beyond the scope of this post).
My point is this: If you are a Christian, Heaven will be wonderful and I can’t wait to experience that LOVE and that perfection and that AWESOMENESS without my own sinfulness getting in the way. I am ready! BUT, first, God has given us (if you are a Christian) a job to complete. We must tell others about Him.
If I have known you for any length of time, and I have NOT told you of my Savior, I apologize. I would love to introduce you to Him. Since you were created for Worship and for Fellowship, if you are NOT abiding in those purposes, you will never be happy or fulfilled here on earth or in the hereafter. You can be. You can be full of peace here and now as well as the hereafter. Being full of peace does not mean that troubles won’t occur. Remember, we live in a fallen, sinful world and there are consequences. However, He promises to be with us through those troubles. He promises to love us. He promises to love YOU! Just ask Him to be your Savior. Ask Him to forgive you and to take your sins upon Him and to put His righteousness upon you. That’s really all there is to it. Call me, email me, whatever, and I would love to tell you how – step by step!
Many of you may know me through my job or through family connections or through other social interactions. And I take pride in those connections. I love my job, I love my family, I love my friends. Many of you only know me through my silly postings on social media. But those things are SOOO secondary. First and foremost, I am a Christian. I am not perfect and I often fail to demonstrate that reality. I often fail to live a life that reflects positively on Jesus. But He forgives me and I ask you to do the same. I want everyone to know, that I AM A CHRISTIAN and I AM NOT AFRAID to die. For as Paul said, “to be absent from the body is to be present with Christ!”
If you would like to explore these topics in more detail, I would love to invite you to attend my Sunday School class at Broad Street Baptist Church, in Hawkinsville, GA. I teach every Sunday at 9:45 am. Just come in the back door, and our classroom is the second door to your left. We have 15 to 30 people each Sunday. Men, Women, Singles, Couples, Young and Old. You will fit in and feel welcome there – I promise. It’s a great group of imperfect sinners, just like me and you. Yet, we are all striving to learn more about our creator, for to KNOW Him is to LOVE Him. Come learn to KNOW Him better with us! If you’ll text me – 478-230-3538, I’ll meet you at the back door and walk you to the class!
Mom has many friends. I get lots of calls asking how she is doing. I appreciate that. However, I suppose I need to do a better job of keeping her (and my) friends updated on mom’s condition.
First a recap: A few weeks ago, mom suffered a major stroke. Her left side and her vision were impacted. We spent two weeks at the Coliseum Stroke Rehab Center, but then the Coliseum contacted us and said they felt that their rehab was doing more harm than good. They asked us for the names of three sub-acute rehab centers. We gave them three based on our knowledge and the recommendations of some friends. Pinewood Manor (Hawkinsville), Summer Hill (Perry), and Church Home Care (Perry). After calling all the centers, Church Home Care and Rehab http://churchhomerehab.com/ in Perry had the only opening.
Mom was transferred there on September 11. While our hopes and prayers remain that mom will get at least partially mobile again, to the point that we can bring her home to care for her, we are also trying to be very realistic. Church Home Care is both a sub-acute rehab and a long-term nursing home.
10/03/14 Update: I go and visit mom every day. I leave Hawkinsville as soon as I get off work and go straight to Perry. There I am able to feed her supper each day. Then I visit for an hour or so and make my way back home. Mom is on Pureed food due to swallowing issues related to the stroke. Mom has little to no use of her left side. Her speech is now often slurred as well. Her vision is really bad. If you sit on her right side, she can usually see you. If you get on her left, she has no idea you are even in the room.
Mentally, mom comes and goes. Her short term memory is really bad right now. People can visit, and by the time I get there each day, she has forgotten they came to visit. However, ask her about something from a year ago, and she can tell you more details than I can.
I ask mom daily if she feels good, “Yes, I’ve had a good day.” is her usual answer. Are they treating you good here? “Yes, they are so nice”. Are you happy? “Yes, I’ve had a good day”. How did Therapy go today? “I worked hard today”. Are you getting better, “I think I’m getting a little better each day”. So at least she seems pretty content.
She asks every day about her dog, Fetch. In fact, she asks about Fetch before she asks about me or Vonnie. But that’s okay. I’ve taken Fetch once to see her, I’ve got to do that again soon.
Bottom line is that she is doing okay. She is not yet getting better, but she seems as content as one can expect. Just keep her in your prayers.
Me: I’ve also had many of you ask how I am doing. Well, it’s been tough. I am an only child, so the decisions and bulk of the issues fall to me. But’s that’s okay. I am surrounded by an incredible support group. Vonnie has been by my side (and mom’s side) this entire journey. She has been incredible. My children visit mom and encourage me. My cousin Donna has been incredible. She visits mom often and is always available on a day that I am out of town and can’t visit. She has been such a blessing. My cousin Sherry and my cousins Rebecca and Jake have also been great!
The support from the community and churches (mine and mom’s) has also been overwelming. From email, to cards, to flowers, to visits, to facebook posts, I know you care and I appreciate every one of you.
My philosophy through all of this is this: I am praying for mom’s healing. I am praying as David did when his son was sick. In 2 Samuel 16-22, David prays and asks God to heal. But the boy dies. Then look what happened. (Verses paraphrased and shortened).
20 David got up off the floor. He went into the Lord’s tent and worshiped.
21 His officials said, “What are you doing? You went without eating and cried for your son while he was alive! But now that he’s dead, you’re up and eating.”
22 David answered: While he was still alive, I went without food and cried because there was still hope. I said to myself, “Who knows? Maybe the Lord will have pity on me and let the child live.” 23 But now that he’s dead, why should I go without eating? I can’t bring him back! Someday I will join him in death, but he can’t return to me.
I want God to heal mom, but God knows better than me. He also promised that ALL things work together for good for those that love God and are the called according to his purpose (Rom. 8:28). So if God does heal mom, then may He get the glory. If God does not heal mom, I will still worship him and give all Glory to God. Whatever happens, it is my prayer that God be glorified. That is our purpose on earth.
So, yeah, it’s tough. It’s the hardest thing I have ever been through. Dad’s death was tough, but it was brief. This is lingering and is tiring. I have new respect for the care-givers of this world. But God is good and I am just going through things that many of you either have or will go through. How people do it without knowing God is in control, I don’t know.
But I am good. Taking one day at a time. Please continue to pray for mom.
I am so excited. The Macon Small Business Development Center did an article on my company. It was featured in their September, 2013 edition. I just got a copy! Check it out! The link above is to a PDF copy of the article, or you can go to:
and click on SEPTEMBER 2013
You go on a mission trip with the proposed purpose of making a difference in someone else’s life. You come back with the profound knowledge that it’s your life that has been changed. My recent mission trip to Kenya proved this to me – again. In 1999, I went with a group to Honduras and that trip resulted just the same. Yes, we did some good, (building homes in Honduras and helping a church to grow in Kenya). But it is the personal changes that a mission trip creates that validates us going.
As I preparing for this trip, I honestly had mixed feelings. The total cost for 14 of us going on this trip was pretty high between airfare, lodging, vehicle rentals, food, and the donations to the church and orphanage while there. I was calculating this cost and thinking – could not that money be spent here in Hawkinsville? Was this a glorified vacation with a “mission” theme so that we could all rationalize the expense in our own minds? I was leaving behind a fellow that I had just met that had not eaten in two days – would not helping him be better than me taking this trip?
But by then, the plans were made, the money was paid, and the tickets were bought. So I went. And I can conclusively say – I am glad I did! I believe the change, the focus, in me has been permanently altered. A mission trip forces you to get out of your day to day life with your day to day perceptions. We see the same thing everyday. We talk the same politics everyday. We see the same needs everyday, and we become oblivious to them all.
Let me tell you of the trip:
We arrived in Kenya, got settled in, and then immediately went to Pastor Shaddrack’s Tea Village Church. This particular Tea Village is owned by one of the tea company plantations. They provide housing (a block house with no running water) to the family for helping to harvest tea. There were several hundred houses in this village. This church is a new church and we were going to help “disciple” the 30-40 members so that the church could grow deeper in it’s knowledge of Christian ideals. Personally, I was assigned to teach a two hour lesson on Prayer.
We also planned on teaching many Bible lessons to the children of the community. The children are the key to getting the adults to show up. On the first day, dozens of children arrived and probably 6 or 7 adults. We taught Bible stories to the children. We played with the children. And we taught our discipleship lessons to the older youth and adults that showed up. Then in the afternoon, we went to help with an orphanage that serviced 54 children. Most all of these children were orphaned due to the Aids epidemic that is in the land. BesAnn, a young 24 year old woman, cares daily for these children providing 3 meals and Bible lessons. She is a remarkable lady. Her only help is from a lady who helps cook and also some help from Pastor Shaddrack and his wife.
Both the tea village and the orphanage screamed poverty. The children had next to nothing. Some had shoes, others did not. Some had decent clothes, others had ragged garments. For the most part, they seemed happy (especially with all of us strange white people there, they kept wanting to see under our shirt sleeves to see if we were really this color everywhere!). We saw poverty, we saw situations that are unthinkable – yet they exist. It changes you. It makes you thankful, grateful, and humble at your life experience compared to theirs. It shows you what the courage, faith, and willingness of one 24 year old can do – it can change lives. Am I changing lives? Am I making a difference? A Mission trip FORCES you to ask yourself these questions.
We even witnessed a miracle We had bought 10 bags of 20 snicker’s bars each. (that’s 200 snickers bars for you mathmatically challenged). We gave out 161 at the tea village. A diabetic team member ate one. That left, to our counting, 38 snickers bars that should be in our bag. There were 54 children at the orphanage + two children visiting from the nearby village. We knew we had nowhere near 56 snickers bars. But someone suggested that we count. So we poured them all out on the floor of the van. And, you guessed it. There were not 55 candy bars. There were not 57 candy bars. There were exactly 56 candy bars. You could not help but think about Jesus and the feeding of the 5,000. All I can say is that God provided and taught us that HE is sufficient and provides for His children!
By the third day of visiting the church and the orphanage, interest in the community had grown. The children were showing off their Burger King crowns (we talked of sexual purity and explained that they were all princes and princesses of THE KING). We told other Bible stories. The children would go home and tell the others in their household. More children came daily. The adult participation grew. On day three, the day I was supposed to teach on Prayer, about 40-50 adults had arrvied. The pastor was excited, but said, “for the most part, these are not people of my church, they are un-churched, please do a lesson on salvation instead of prayer!”. I almost panicked. I had not prepared a lesson on salvation, I had prepared a lesson on Prayer. I was also thinking, “There are 3 full time preachers on this trip – Let them do it!”. But deep down, I knew. I knew that THIS was why I came. I knew that GOD was in control and my job was to obey! (I did grab one preacher to go with me though). So, I began sharing in a small 16 x 20 room, about Christ. About how he changed my life. About how he loves me. About how he loves each one in that room. I shared about God sending his Son to take the penalty for my choice of disobedience. Of God sending His Son so that I could have fellowship with a Just and Holy God. I shared the story of Salvation! In this church, they don’t “walk the saw dust trail” as revivals of years gone by. But many, many did raise their hand to indicate they understood and that they desired and asked Jesus to be Lord of their life. It was an awesome moment in my life that I will never forget.
By the time I finished (probably 20 minutes), another 40 or 50 had arrived. There were over 90 people in that small room. I asked the preacher that came with me, Robert Doughtery, (preacher at Antioch Baptist) to give his version of the salvation story. He did and assuredly more came to know Christ. Well, I thought it was over and I was through – but God had other plans. The pastor then asked us to “Tell them how to grow in Christ…”. So Robert and I each gave a 20 minute lesson on growing in Christ. Then the pastor said, “Question and Answer Time”. And all of this was through an interpretor – what an experience!
The interesting thing was that the questions that they ask are the same questions that we ask. “Do you HAVE to go to church?” “How does one KNOW they are saved?” “Is it a sin to get mad at my favorite football team?” “What about all the different denominations and different religions?”. We answered these and more the best that we could. Probably not 100% correct, but I believe that God honored the effort. Hopefully lives were changed, I know mine was. We TALK of missions. We send MONEY to missions. But it is so life changing to be an actual PART of missions.
At the Nairobi airport, as we prepared to come home, I met a young lady 22 years old. (the same age as my daughter). She was going home to Colorado after spending 4 months in Africa – all by herself. I talked with her for an hour and a half. She was a changed person. Her trip was not a christian mission trip, she was volunteering to teach English. But the trip had changed her as well. I asked her if she knew my Jesus, and she did. So while I did not get to share Christ with her, it was an accomplishment for me that I tried!
I tell you all this not to boast in any way. If any good was done on that trip, it was all God’s doing. Hopefully, I did not get in the way too much. But I tell you this story to encourage you. GO on a mission trip when you get the opportunity. Our own Paul Williams in this community has lead many mission trips through the Methodist Church. Dennis Phillips of the Pulaski-Bleckley Baptist Association leads yearly trips. Speak to your pastor, there ARE opportunities.
You go thinking you might change the world. But it’s YOUR world that gets changed. It’s your perspectives that are altered. It’s your attitude that is modified. It is your pre-conceived notions that get shattered. People around the world all want the same things; to be loved; to be accepted; to survive and even thrive. People attempt to fill those wants with everything imaginable, yet, only God can truly fulfill.
Hopefully all 14 of us will never be the same. Possibly it took traveling half way around the world, attempting to change their lives, that will result in us being willing to change lives back home. When asked, GO. If not asked, then ask your Pastor, and then GO.
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”