The Tide Has Changed

There is a dangerous movement at work in America today; the tide has changed. In reality the tide has been going our since the sixties. You may hear the word progressive bounced around this election season. The progressive movement is nothing new but the newest iteration has the potential to be the most destructive if not stopped. On the surface being progressive sounds great. One description of a progressive is: people who are progressive favor reform and civil liberties. Well, who does not want those? To take it a little further: progressive people are interested in change and progress. You are a progressive thinker if you like to think up new ways of doing things and you are open to change. Still no problem here. I mean we should all be this way especially in the church. Wait there is one more: You have a progressive attitude towards gender if you dress girls in blue and boys in pink to challenge stereotypes. Well now you have gone off the deep end!

On the surface many of these ideologies sound safe and good but a deeper look tells us something more. This becomes especially true in light of biblical truth. The progressives want the rich to “pay their fair share”, “free education from preschool through as high as you want to go”, “limit wealth and share it equally” and “a global/open world”. Now not all progressives hold to the extremes and I believe something deeper is behind the progressive movement. What I hope to do is trace the outgoing tide and look at where we may end up. I also want us to see how the church needs to stand against the tide now more than ever.

It was 1962 and the landscape of religion in the United States was about to change. The Supreme Court heard the case of Engel v. Vitale. A New York state law required students to say the pledge and a non-denominational prayer at the start of school. Students could “opt” out of saying the prayer if they found it offensive. In an 8-1 decision the Court ruled the prayer to be unconstitutional thus removing prayer from school. One year later in June of 1963 the Court heard the case of Abington School District v. Schempp. Adding to this case, well-known atheist Madalyn Murray O’Hair joined in the fight with a case of her own. The problem was in Pennsylvania the schools began the day by reading at least ten passages from the Bible. Again an 8-1 decision ruled Bible reading as unconstitutional. So in one year prayer and the Bible have been removed from the public schools.

In the cases mentioned, prayer and Bible reading were removed because school officials lead. Today the Court says students can lead prayer but the reality is something drastically different. The first amendment says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” I will let you interpret this and see if you agree with the Court (I do not agree, in case you were wondering). Now that God has been removed from the school something will replace Him. The free love movement and the sexual revolution began to take off. Still this is just the first steps in a much grander movement.

Jump ahead to 1973. The Supreme Court is hearing the case of Roe v. Wade. Roe was a young Texas woman who was single and wished to abort the child. In Texas it was illegal to abort except in cases of medical need for the mother. Misinformation piece number one – ALL abortions were not illegal. If the pregnancy resulted in a health risk for the mother it was permissible to abort the child even back in the 70’s. The Court ruled the Texas law prohibiting abortion was unconstitutional by looping through the 9th amendment and the 14th. Now a woman has the right to an abortion prior to the viability of the fetus (usually by the end of the first trimester).

I know this is longer than my normal posts but please stay with me here. During the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and 90’s various challenges have occurred to each of the court cases. Each time the Court has upheld their previous ruling and often they have clarified or expanded the decision. During these same decades several other social changes occur. The divorce rates begin to skyrocket, sex outside of marriage becomes the norm (if you do not believe me just watch any movie from the 80’s, everyone was trying to have sex), and the women’s liberation movement gains in popularity. What was once taboo is rapidly becoming acceptable or even normal.

With the start of a new millennium a few more changes take place. Actually they began in the mid 90’s but reached normal status beginning in the 2000’s. It is funny but this change really did not seem all that bad at the time. I never liked it but I had no idea the ramifications it would have. It was so popular even churches adopted the philosophy. The idea that everyone is equal or everyone is a winner. I call it the era of the participation trophy. Children played sports and no one kept score, everyone must have a chance to play, schools instituted dress codes to eliminate bad feelings for those who did not have the name brand clothes, and teachers began giving credit for incorrect answers because, “little Johnny tried.”

Here we are in the second decade of the new millennium and the fruits of the progressive movement are starting to show. In June of 2015 the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage could not be banned by the states thus making it legal across the country. To make this ruling the Court had to redefine traditional marriage which means a redefining of biblical marriage. I will talk about this more in my next post but understand the importance of this. To the best of our knowledge, in all of history, man and woman have been the cornerstone of marriage. Of course we know same-sex relationships existed but not as a recognized union.

Gender identity is another area seeing change. A transgender person is someone whose gender identity, gender expression or behavior does not conform to that typically associated with the sex to which they were assigned at birth (according to the APA). I will discuss this more in the next post as well but I am guessing you can see a few problems with this statement. I do not think anyone should face persecution or discrimination (this needs to be clarified more) for any reason. Currently no laws are on the books regarding transgender people but President Obama did issue an executive order stating transgender people could not be discriminated against as federal government employees or contractors.

In 2016 the Department of Education issues a letter to all schools advising them to use a student’s preferred name and pronouns and to allow use of bathroom and locker rooms of the student’s gender identity. If they did not the schools might endanger their federal funds based Title IX. This quickly prompted several states to make laws both for and against certain aspects of transgender acceptance. Even large retail chains got in the mix. Target has issued a statement on more than one occasion saying transgender persons are welcome to use the restroom of their choice.

The final point became law in June of 2016. California passed a law called the End of Life Option Act. We, as Americans, watched the story of a young lady fighting cancer. Her cancer was terminal and she wanted to end her life. People from all over the country applauded her courage. They rallied to help her fulfill her wish by supporting her financially and sharing her story. There is another young man who is dealing with the same scenario which brought this law to light. Most states have a death with dignity provision saying a person has the right to refuse medical treatment as they desire (there are some caveats to this however). Now, at least in California, it is legal for a terminally ill adult to request an aid-in-dying drug to end their life when they chose. Again, there are many caveats to this law but I am guessing this will not be the last state to allow this.

Have you seen the pattern? Once God was removed from the educational system things took off. First, unborn life was redefined from a living being to a choice of the mother with no thought of the right to life of the child. Second, women left the home and went to work leaving a gap in the family structure. I do not have a problem with working women but what has happened as a result has been a redefining of the roles of husband and wife. As this grew so did the rate of divorce. We also see more women having children without a husband because, “who needs a man.” The gate was opened and morals became diminished. Equality for all is the mantra. This ideology is instilled in our youth through school and sports where everyone wins.

Each of these steps have opened the door to redefine marriage. Third, marriage is no longer between a man and a woman. We have moved even further with the fourth step, gender has been redefined. We also see a parallel attack here with the humanization of animals further diminishing the uniqueness of humanity. Fifth, adult life is now expendable. From the unborn to the elderly the choice to live or die is no longer God’s but in the hands of man. The progressive movement is continuing to push for “equality” through globalization and redistribution of wealth.

There are so many other steps in this process we could discuss. Mercifully I will not discuss them because I have been long in the writing of the post. Still, I think we need to see what is happening. Baby steps were taken along the way and much like the frog in the pot of water, we did not notice it getting hotter and now the water is boiling. I hope you will read the next post to see how the church can respond.

Seems Like Yesterday (Well Maybe Last Week)

Twenty-one years!! It is hard to believe Jennifer and I have been married for twenty-one years. I can still remember the wedding like it was yesterday…all the pictures had been taken and it was time to head over to the sanctuary. The pastor and I took the platform, all the groomsmen and bridesmaids were in place. I watched the double doors close at the back of the room and noticed the music slowly fade. It was as if time froze for a moment. Four notes rang out announcing the arrival of the bride. Both doors swung open to reveal the most beautifully stunning woman I ever laid eyes on. My breath was taken away. Her dad escorted her down the aisle and all I could think was, “Wow! God is awesome to put us together.”

You know I still think God is awesome for putting us together. Funny thing about how we remember our wedding day, it was perfect. If we really thought about it however, we would notice not everything was perfect. We have many humorous stories from our wedding day to prove it was not a spotless event. Right before they entered the room my father-in-law offered Jennifer a Tums. The pastor was incredibly sick but did not let it stop him. He did tell me to put “the finger on her hand” instead of the ring. One of our singers got too close to a candle and set her hair on fire. I am sure there is more but you get the point. None of those “issues” mattered. They faded into the background and are part of our story.

Why would I mention the imperfections of our wedding day? Because it is a perfect analogy of how our marriage would go. We have had our issues along the way. We have faced tragedy together. We have faced illness, life changes, work, and children (scariest of all). Battles have been fought. Some have been won and some lost. Through it all we stood by one another. For us it is simple, we are not the only ones in this marriage. On June 10, 1995, Jennifer and I stood before family and friends to declare our love. At the same time we entered into a covenant with God to be a husband and wife. Because of God the “issues” of life fade into the background and become part of our story. A story I am thankful to be a part of everyday.

It has been twenty-one years and it seems like yesterday. Well maybe it seems more like last week. As the years go by some of the details begin to get fuzzy in the memory. What is clear to me is how much I love you Jennifer Bailey! You still take my breath away and not because I am out of shape. You amaze me all the time. I am sure there is a special reward in Heaven for you putting up with me all these years. Let me leave you with three very special words….I am sorry. In all seriousness, thank you for being my wife. You truly are the perfect woman for me. God sure knows what He is doing. Twenty-one years have flown by and I cannot wait to see what the rest of our years hold for us. I love you!!!!

jenny wedding

 

I’m Not Perfect Either

I’m not perfect. There I have said it. My wife and children just uttered a collective, “DUH!” Okay, so my lack of perfection is not a fresh revelation to most. The reason I mention it is because I have promised the youth I would be “real” with them. That is what I want to do here, be real. As your pastor I feel I have let you down. Just over a year ago I came into your group with great expectations of how things would be. I saw things to change, adjustments that needed to be made and in my excitement I made them.

In all fairness, changes are not bad. Life would get kind of boring if things were the same all the time. I let you down because you were not properly prepared for the changes. We never had the conversations needed to keep us all together. It’s as if we went in different directions. I thought yanking the proverbial band aid off quickly would be best. I was wrong.

The rush to find an identity also fell flat. I, much like King Saul, encouraged using tools that were never intended to fit us. It looked good and I honestly thought it would work but it was not us. Saul put his armor on David so he could fight Goliath. Saul’s intentions were good but David knew he could not function in armor that didn’t fit right. My intentions were good too. It took some time but I realize we cannot function in an identity that doesn’t fit. Lesson learned.

Probably my biggest failure was in not sharing my expectations with you. I wanted to but the timing seemed off.  In many areas I rushed but here I hesitated too long. I never took the opportunity to explain how I saw things going. I never took the opportunity to make sure you understood your role in the youth group. At times I tried but it was too late. Perfection is not mine and failure stinks. I have let you down and I am sorry.

If we are going to be real however, you need to understand something. You are not perfect either. Each of you had a role to play in this. Many of you left without even saying goodbye. Many of you never gave this whole youth group thing a chance. I don’t want to sound like a clingy boyfriend/girlfriend but I thought we had a connection at camp. My expectations were high for how we would be able to grow and flourish together. My heart is literally broken.

There, I have cleared the air. I forgive each of you. Will you forgive me? I will never mention this again. Today is a new day and I would love for you to join me on a new path. Tonight I will begin to lay out our new direction and I am ecstatic about what God has shown me. Give me three weeks. Let me lay it all out for you and if you don’t feel led to be a part of it then God bless. It’s a new day, a new identity and a new start…. will you be a part of it?

I hope to see you tonight. Come one back, no questions asked just open arms and genuine excitement to see you. Don’t forget – I’m not perfect either so come to youth let’s be imperfect together….

The Table

Thanks tableHere it is, Thanksgiving morning and the business of getting ready for the meal is already upon us. Pies are cooling on the counter and while there is a pause between rounds of food preparation I thought I would take a moment and say a few words. Thanksgiving has always been a special holiday to me. If you saw me you might guess it is because of all the food, not really (except the pumpkin pie). For me Thanksgiving is more about gathering the family.

Growing up there were two times during the year we would pause and come together, Thanksgiving and Christmas. I can remember the smells wafting from the kitchen as my mom and aunt cooked what looked like a meal for an army. This began in the wee hours of the morning while I clung to sleep. Usually a combination of the aroma and of laughter that stirred me awake. We seemed to always have so much fun (I’m sure the memory of fights and times we got on each others nerves has just faded over the years).

I also remember the table, well tables. I can see all the dishes lined down the center like an exclamation point with the turkey taking its place as the point. If I close my eyes and really look do you know what I see? I see faces. It is as if we are sitting there all those years ago. My dad is sitting at the head of the table, to his right my Aunt Sharon and then my mom (they have to be close to the kitchen). To dads left is my Granny Carter, then Aunt Ora and Granny Bailey. Taking his place at the other end of the table is my Uncle John. It did not matter whose house we were at this was basically the set up with a few adjustments here or there. The children? Well we were all over the place, often in the kitchen where we could not make a huge mess.

As time moved on people began to leave the table. It all started because we grew up and began having children of our own. I guess this is a natural process and occasionally we would find a way to bring us all back again. The table was so full we changed to buffet style because there was not room on the table. Like the tide coming in and going out our numbers would change each year. I would take a mental roll call to see if I would have a spot at the grown-ups table or if I would be relegated back to the kids table. I would not trade one moment of it all.

Eventually those gathering at the table became fewer and fewer. This time it is not because of additions to the family. Sadly seats would open due to the passing of a loved one. Granny Bailey, Aunt Ora, Granny Carter, Uncle Buck, Kaitlin, Uncle John, and this past year my dad. I can still see them sitting there laughing, enjoying the family together and being thankful for all they have. I miss them all to be sure but this will be the first Thanksgiving without my dad. The man who taught me how to cook a turkey, how to carve one and how to cherish these moments we have because they do not last forever.

I know dad will not be the last loved one to leave the table. So for now I will enjoy the time I do have with those left. Still if I close my eyes even tighter…I can see a different table. This table has empty seats too but not because people are leaving. In front of the empty seats the table has been prepared, prepared as if the host is expecting others to come. There sits my dad, smiling like never before. I see Kaitlin, my grandmothers, aunt, uncle and so many I do not know.

The host I recognize very well. He is the reason I can be thankful. He is the reason I can see my loved ones waiting at the table for a feast to come. His name? Jesus! See my table may have a few more open seats but that is so I can fill them with new friends. Jesus’ table is never full. He is always ready to add another seat. I am sad my table is not as full this year but so blessed to have had the years I did with my family. I will cherish the memories and embrace the making of new ones. More importantly I am eternally thankful for Jesus because through Him I will one day sit at His table with my family again…Happy Thanksgiving!!!

 

Dads in Heaven

In honor of Father’s Day I thought I would post something I have been working on since January. My dad passed away this past January from cancer. He always loved reading my posts and was one of my biggest fans. This is a chapter from a book I am working on (and have been for a while). The names are different because of the book but the characters are real (I’m Rick Nelson, my dad is Leon and Katie is my daughter – you’ll figure it out). I hope you enjoy….

Chapter  – 

Leon Nelson had spent the last month in and out of the hospital. At first the doctors just thought he had pneumonia but the second visit to the hospital revealed something worse, cancer. Rick went with his mother, Hannah, and father to speak with the oncologist just before Christmas. A plan was put in place to treat the cancer and all were hopeful. Their hope faded two days after Leon was to begin his treatments. This was the day the doctors informed the Nelson family the cancer had spread and there was nothing more they could do.

The last week had been crazy. Family and friends came to the hospital to spend a few precious moments with the elder Nelson. Rick spent most of the week with his father allowing his mother to rest as much as possible. Leon had been in great spirits the whole time. He was often cracking jokes and reminiscing about old times. Sure there were moments of tears as Leon said good bye to many for the last time but to the outsider you would not know he only had hours to live.

At some point Wednesday evening Leon closed his eyes and never opened them again. Rick, his mom and his aunt Kay spent the last day with Leon Nelson. Grace wished she could have been there too but it was best for Leah and Sarah to spend as much time in school as possible. Not to mention they wanted the girls to remember their Pop-Pop as he was a few days ago. The day turned into evening and a new set of nurses came on duty. They were very sympathetic and gave the family as much space as they needed. Rick asked the nurse what his dad vitals were. She told him. Rick suspected it would not be too much longer and turned on the television to settle in for the night.

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Leon could hear the faint sound of a television in the distance. The sound seemed to diminish as if he were traveling away from it. For the past week Leon had been wondering when he would finally pass, could this be it, he thought. There was not a bright light like he had heard about in all the near death experiences but it was not dark either. More than seeing he could feel, he could feel a presence with him. It was the most peaceful experience he ever had. Actually he found himself getting so excited it felt as if his heart would jump out of his chest.

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It was just after ten at night. Hannah and Aunt Kay had been napping for twenty minutes or so. Rick was trying to keep his eyes open but the long hours of the last week were making it nearly impossible. His eyes had just closed when the nurse came rushing through the door. Startled, Rick sat up as the nurse said, “You may want to wake up it’s happening.” He quickly woke his mother and aunt up.

Leon’s breathing was very labored but Rick could tell his father was not in any pain. He watched as his mother stroked her husband’s hand. Tears were beginning to fall as Aunt Kay rubbed her brother’s feet. There was not a lot of words being said at the moment. All three just took in the experience knowing Leon would soon be with his Savior. Sadness was definitely present yet there was a sense of true peace.

Hannah leaned in, kissed her husband on the forehead and told him it was okay for  him to go. Aunt Kay told him she loved him. Rick placed his hand on his father’s head, leaned in and whispered in his dad’s ear, “You can let do now. Mom will be fine, I’ll take care of her. Jesus is waiting for you. I love you.” Leon took three deep breaths and on the third he exhaled breathing his last breath on earth.

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Leon’s pace seemed to quicken as he moved forward. In front of him was clearly an intense light. It was not any light he had seen before. This light did not blind him, no it more like enveloped him in a peaceful warmth. Behind him he could swear he heard the words, it’s okay to go and maybe even, Jesus is waiting for you. He definitely heard the words, “I love you.” For a moment he wanted to turn back but from in the light he felt the word, “Come!”

Stepping fully into the light Leon took a deep breath, something he had not been able to do for months because of his lung cancer. Just as the thought crossed his mind he saw the wall directly in front of him. It was covered with an amazing array of ivy and flowers. The smells were sweeter than anything he had smelled before. As he walked down the wall he came to a gate. It was better than he could have imagined. Leon had seen pearls before however, none were a large as this one and it was what the gate was made of. Inside the larger gate existed a smaller door which was open. Leon quickly stepped through into a miraculous garden.

Leon knew he was in heaven. In some respects in matched exactly what he thought it would look like based on Scripture. The reality is that all he read could never have done justice to actually being here and seeing with his own eyes. Leon wanted to look around but a more pressing desire drove him forward. He would have eternity to see all there is but Leon wanted to see Jesus now.

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The nursed allowed them to stay as long as they wanted.  Rick had begun to collect their belongings with the help of Aunt Kay. The messages had been sent announcing the passing of Leon Nelson. Each one took a final moment to again say goodbye. Rick was busy making sure the details were taken care of. He did not want to rush his mother but she seemed ready to go. She hugged her son. “Mom if you want to stay we can stay as long as you want.” Rick said. She smiled and replied, “I know but Leon is not here anymore, he is in heaven.” Quietly they left the room that had been home for the last two weeks of their life and headed toward the car.

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Leon saw what he thought might be the temple. It was a massive stone structure with several series of steps leading up to a gigantic door. A gathering of people formed two lines with a single figure standing in the middle. The figure began to walk toward Leon but Leon did not wait. “Jesus!”, he shouted and took off running up the steps. As he passed the waiting crowd he recognized many of the faces but Leon was not stopping to chat. He rushed right past everyone until he stood before the Savior.

He did not really stop. Leon more or less threw himself at the feet of Jesus. Joy, happiness, excitement, Leon could not find a word to describe this feeling. Awe. Yes that was it, awe. Worship poured from Leon’s spirit. He could not move, he was overcome. Jesus knew this and bent down to lift up His friend. As their eyes met Jesus threw His arms around Leon and they embraced for what seemed like eternity.

Jesus slowly released His embrace and with a smile that made the light even brighter than before He raised a hand. Leon had not noticed but the crowd had been cheering at the scene before them. When they saw Jesus’ hand rise they quieted in anticipation of His next words. “Leon Nelson, I knew you from before the beginning of time. I have been looking forward to this day since the day you drew your first breath. Leon, welcome home.”

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The tired trio arrived at the Nelson house. There was definitely a feeling of things being different here. Rick thought of all the memories this house held. It would not be the same without his dad here. Tomorrow would bring a whole new reality for the Nelson family. Plans will need to be made, a service planned and business to take care of but tonight they would rest in the presence of the Holy Spirit.

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Jesus was in no hurry to break their embrace. At some point, Leon had no idea how long, Jesus spoke again, “There are some others here who would like to welcome you.” Turning around the first face Leon saw was Katie. She jumped in the arms of her “Pop-Pop”. He told her how much he missed her and she smiled the smile he always loved to see. Together they stood as Leon was greeted by so many. He saw Kay’s husband and his brother-in-law. Leon asked him, “Have you found a good fishing hole yet?”. There was his mom, step-mom, her sister, teachers, friends from church, and many others. Katie introduced Leon to he and Hannah’s child who was still born. Leon was overwhelmed with all he was experiencing and he knew this was just the beginning of the beginning.

Another Year Down

The start of the new year is a funny thing. Television shows run their “best of” episodes. Radio stations play a highlight real of the previous year. News crews spend time recapping the biggest news makers. Then just as quickly each one turns their attention to how to make the most of the coming year. I can not tell you how many stories I have heard on losing weight and getting in shape (which I plan to do next year by the way).

“Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.’ Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.” (James 4.13-15)

I wonder how many of us really think this way. This is not a charge to never plan for the future. It is a charge to put the future in the proper perspective. We are not in control of how life plays out. If we are honest most of us would agree we had no idea 2014 was going to turn out the way it did. Sure we had hopes and glimpses of how things might have been but we never fully grasp the depth God’s plan. Situations we called bad become the most precious moments because of God’s grace. Areas we “expected” to be be good we find better than we ever imagined.

It is an hour or so before midnight and I could not have imagined being where I am right now. I sit here waiting to ring in the new year, not pigging out on the over abundance of food I prepared (as usual), not surrounded by friends, or even at home napping while trying to stay awake for the ball to drop (this happens at my age) with my wife and daughters. Instead I am hanging out in a hospital room watching football with my dad.

I am not complaining, as a matter of fact I count it a privilege to be able to be here. See just a few weeks ago I sat with my mom and dad as the doctor explained to my dad that he has cancer. We do not know how this whole experience will turn out and we are okay with that because we know who is in charge – God. For now we take each day as it comes and enjoy it.

My point is not all doom and gloom. What I hope you realize is the uncertainty of life at least from our perspective. Go ahead set goals for 2015. Dream big for the next year. Still do not forget those around you. Take time to love them well. Above all make God part of your plan because you are part of His and have always been. I have no idea what tomorrow, next week or the next year will hold but I know God is sovereign and He loves us like crazy.

So what will I do in 2015? Whatever the Lord wills….(oh and hopefully lose weight and get in shape)

It’s About Time…

There is coming a day when time will no longer be an issue. Seconds, minutes, days, or years will no longer exist we will just be. Until then we are bound by the confines of time and it’s effect on us. Time is something we worry about often. I know this is true because there are so many sayings relating to time. Things like: time waits for no man, time flies (or in Latin – tempus fugit), take your time, it’s about time, or time is ticking away -tick- tick – ticking away (sorry DC Talk moment). There are so many more I could choose from but you get my point, time is something we all have to deal with.

As a child and teen time seemed to drag on except maybe summer. The older I get the faster time seems to move. I know scientists would say that time is a constant and that may be true but it sure looks different from it used to. I mean it seem just like yesterday Christy was staring to walk and in a month she will be old enough to drive. It feels like I blinked and Jessica went from the hospital being born to starting middle school next year. The effects of time are catching up to me quicker too. I look in the mirror and can see what time is doing (gravity too but that’s a whole other post). I do not feel like I am getting much older but time reminds me I am. I tried to play basketball a little while ago. I knew I was not in the best shape but my mind told me I could still play like I used to. Christy took a picture of me trying to play like back in the day just in case I get the idea to attempt another basketball comeback. I mean in my mind I was six feet off the floor, flying to basket to block the shot. The reality was not near as pretty…. I was about six inches in the air and looked like a crab someone had tossed toward the basket. Time has stolen my youth.

Another saying is that time heals all wounds. In some respects this is true but just because a wound is healed it does not mean it is gone, scars often remain. Today is one of those scars. Seven years ago Kaitlin headed off to school, running late thanks to a long shower. There was not much time for morning conversation beyond a quick “I love you” as she headed out the door. She spent the day going to classes then showed her school spirit at the afternoon pep rally. Never once did I give a thought to the fragility of time that day and I would bet Kaitlin did not either. I mean the Sunday prior her Sunday school teacher asked a question we often use to drive the point home of not waiting to accept Christ, “If you were to die before we meet next Sunday, would you go to heaven?” A question Kaitlin enthusiastically answered, “YES!!” Never in a million years did we entertain the idea this would be put to the test. As she left school December 7, 2007, Kaitlin slipped the confines of time and met her Savior as her car left the road and collided with a tree.

Time has continued on for us, it did not stop to exist that day. God has brought us through so much. The wound is healed but the scar does remain and sometimes it is still tender but God is ever-present. Jesus said, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” We know the truth and reality of these words. It seems fitting the seventh anniversary is on a Sunday (seven is the number of perfection/God’s number in the Bible). We will take time today to worship God, not because He has been there for us but because He IS. We will also take time to remember Kaitlin. There will probably be moments of tears (I am a big baby) and for sure moments of laughter. No matter what happens today time will march on and that is a good thing. Ecclesiastes tells us there is “A time to weep and a time to laugh. A time to mourn and a time to dance.”[Ecc3.4-5] – so that is what we will do.

Time has its advantages too you know. It allows us opportunities to love, to make amends for wrongs, to do good and most importantly to reach the lost for Christ. This life is but a shadow of what is to come that is true but what an amazing shadow it can be. If there is one saying  I would leave you with it is this – use your time wisely. We can get so caught up in doing we forget to enjoy all God has given us. Take time to remember the past but do not live in regret. Take time to plan for the future but do not forget to live in the present. Hit the pause button long enough to let those you love know it. We are looking forward to the day we will see Jesus and those who have gone on before but until then we will live like there is no tomorrow. I do not mean a reckless life but a life that cherishes every opportunity  – “There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven – “[Ecc3.1] It’s about time…..