Category Archives: Dead Heroes

Reflections on dead heroes and books I have read.

A Tribute to Jenae Tilley, An AWANA Cubbie

(This is the message I preached in honor of Jenae Tilley who went to be with Jesus on Thursday, November 3, 2016. I share it to honor her and make much of her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.)

“We are AWANA Cubbies, we’re happy all day long. We know that Jesus loves us, that’s why we sing our song. We hop because we’re happy and we jump and shout for joy! Jesus is a friend to us, He loves each girl and boy.”

jenaeJenae Tilley, the AWANA Cubbies leader for Eagle Heights Baptist Church, would have sang the aforementioned song an untold number of times over the years since she first began battling the cancer that ultimately took her earthly life. She would have sang it week after week to children who were ages three to five years. She would have sang it to children like my four-year-old daughter, who taught it to me.

Let me break this song down because I believe it embodies Jenae’s  winsome and difference-making life.

“We are AWANA Cubbies” AWANA means: Approved Workman Are Not Ashamed and is taken from 2 Timothy 2:15: “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.” Jenae was a 2 Timothy 2:15 Cubbie.

“We’re happy (joyful) all day long.” Again, she would have sang this over and over through good days and bad in her fight against cancer. Can there be any doubt that she meant it when she sang it? When I would see her, all I ever saw was joyful optimism. According to her family, she would say: “Don’t feel sorry for me. Don’t give up on me. God is not done with me and He is going to use my to make others believe in Jesus.” Jenae was joyful in the Christ who could use cancer for good. She trusted in the Jesus that made her hop and jump and shout for joy.

Her spirit was compelling and attractive and motivating. She was, and is, inspiring. She was the kind of person who could make you want to live and die well.

But how? How could she be so joyful and optimistic with so much life in front of her? She had a trip to Hawaii planned. She had a daughter who had not yet graduated from high school. She had another daughter who is to be married in July. She had her first grandchild on the way. How could she be so optimistic and joyful through the ups and downs of fighting a relentless disease?

The answer is in the song. “We are AWANA Cubbies, we are joyful all day long. We know that Jesus loves us, that’s why we sing our song.” There it is. There is the answer. She sang the song because she knew that Jesus loved her and does love her. Let’s keep going. “We hop because we are happy (joyful) and we jump and shout for joy. Jesus is a friend to us, He loves each girl and boy.” There it is again. She had joy in trial because Jesus is a friend who loves.

Some may wonder how a God who loves could allow a disease to take the life of someone who was loved so much. If ever you wonder whether the LORD God loves people, all you have to do is remember that God sent His only son to be ravaged by sin and death on the cross, that whoever believes in Him, would live forever, even if he or she dies (John 3:16 and 11:25-26). Jenae knew the love of Jesus. Jenae knew that Jesus was, and is, her friend.

Jenae’s favorite verse was Philippians 4:13. You know it. It’s on the Christian list of most-oft quoted verses. It also frequents t-shirts, mugs and wall decor. “I can do all things through Him (Christ) who strengthens me.” But here is the secret to this passage; Paul is writing in the midst of trial. Most people won’t mention it because they probably don’t know it. Paul is in prison. Four times in chapter one, he reminds the Philippians he is in prison for the gospel of Christ, and if you read the verses (4:10-13) around verse 13, you hear Paul talking about contentment in the face of trial.

But not only can he be content in all circumstances, but he can be joyful in trial too. Paul is writing this letter from prison, but over and over again he talks about joy and rejoicing and gladness – like Jenae did when she sang the Cubbies song. In Philippians 4:4, Paul commands rejoicing. In 2:17-18, he speaks of being offered up like a sacrifice for the Philippians – sacrifices get hurt – and yet he says that he rejoices and urges them to do the same.

What on earth was wrong with this guy? Did he like pain and suffering?

What was wrong with Paul is the same thing that was right with Jenae. Despite her battle and affliction and trial, she had unwavering hope in Christ because she knew Christ loved her with his life and death.

What would Jenae say having now been in the presence of the one who made her sing, hop and jump for joy with little children every Wednesday Night? What would she say to us, having seen face to face the one who died for her sins and rose again, overcoming sin and death?

Jenae would say what she was already saying: “Don’t feel sorry for me. To live is Christ, but to die is gain and to be with Christ is very much better (Phil. 1:18-23). So join me! Turn from your sin and your own way. Turn to Christ and God’s way and trust the one who died for you and rose again, overcoming sin and cancer and death.”

Jenae’s life pleads with us to this day, to follow her example and know the love and friendship of Christ.

Jenae is in her lasting home with Jesus, which is far better. Won’t you trust in Christ so that you can know this Cubbie, Philippians joy, that Jenae knew and sang about? Wont’ you join her?

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Inspiration For Those Who Feel Prone to Wander

Wanderer

“Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it…”

Do you? Like me, do you feel the fierce tug to want to quit or move on to something else?

Sometimes its time to quit and move on, but what we need more often than not is the conviction to stay and move forward. Where do we find the inspiration to grind life out when everything in and around us is saying it would just be easier to give up?

Let’s always start with Jesus, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross and finished God’s redeeming work of atoning for our sins (Hebrews 12:1-2). But there are others, both alive and dead, who might challenge us to fight wandering and premature quitting.

John Piper points us to such a person and explains why we have need of seeing this example of endurance. Read. Be challenged. Be encouraged.

Charles Simeon (1759-1836) was the pastor at Trinity Church in Cambridge, England for 54 years. In the first 12 years there was so much opposition from his congregation that “pewholders” locked their pews, stayed away, and forced him to preach to a standing congregation who fit in the building where they could. John Piper

I need very much this inspiration from another age, because I know that I am, in great measure, a child of my times. And one of the pervasive marks of our times is emotional fragility. I feel it as though it hung in the air we breathe. We are easily hurt. We pout and mope easily. We break easily. Our marriages break easily. Our faith breaks easily. Our happiness breaks easily. And our commitment to the church breaks easily. We are easily disheartened, and it seems we have little capacity for surviving and thriving in the face of criticism and opposition.

A typical emotional response to trouble in the church and life is to think, “If that’s the way they feel about me, then they can find themselves another…..” We see very few models today whose lives spell out in flesh and blood the rugged words, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you fall into various trials” (James 1:3). When historians list the character traits of the last third of twentieth century America, commitment, constancy, tenacity, endurance, patience, resolve and perseverance will not be on the list. The list will begin with an all-consuming interest in self-esteem. It will be followed by the subheadings of self-assertiveness, and self-enhancement, and self-realization. And if you think that you are not at all a child of your times just test yourself to see how you respond in the ministry when people reject your ideas.

We need help here. When you are surrounded by a society of emotionally fragile quitters, and when you see a good bit of this ethos in yourself, you need to spend time with people – whether dead or alive – whose lives prove there is another way to live. Scripture says, “Be imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises” (Hebrews 6:12). So I want to hold up for you the faith and the patience of Charles Simeon for your inspiration and imitation.

Roger Hobart – An Isaiah 43:7 Man

Jason Denney wrote a wonderful blob about Pastor Roger Hobart. You should read it if you haven’t already. Jason’s Blog: Remembering a Friend…..Roger Hobart

This past Saturday we had a memorial celebration that was really more for family and friends. We wanted to give thanks to God and remember a life well lived. The text I spoke from was Isaiah 43:7, “Everyone who is called by My Name, and whom I have created for my glory, Whom I have formed, even whom I have made.” This was one of Roger’s favorite verses and Roger’s life was a testimony that resonated the truth of this verse.

Roger believed that he was created for the glory of God through Jesus. I can recall Roger saying this many times over the last several years and I saw him act like this was true in many different ways. Roger was an inspiration to me and many others and he leaves a God-exalting legacy that the rest of us can strive for while we still have breath.

On Saturday I jettisoned a bit of what I had prepared to say for reasons that need not be mentioned in this blog. I had intended to share what his daughter, Phyllis, wrote about him, but I didn’t and so I wanted to make sure her words were shared for the glory of God and the encouragement of others. As you read, dwell on Isaiah 43:7 and see if you see the truth of this verse in the life of Roger Hobart. Phyllis wrote about her dad:

I can tell you that Dad wants only to glorify God. period. I have never known anyone else like that. He made sure we all went to church since we were babies, in the Methodist church. We knew that God was important, that church was important, that serving the church and obeying God was important, because of his example.

He sang in the choir. That is impressive to a kid, to see their dad up there singing..especially a solo. “Sweet Little Jesus Boy” has always been my favorite, since that is the solo that I remember him singing. His father sang that solo, too. We have it on cassette tape.

Dad surprised me one day about 20 years ago, when he called and expressed his regret and sorrow at not being the Christian father he should have been, and asking my forgiveness. I had no idea he was not a Christian. He explained that he had been born again, into new life in Christ, and had realized that all of his church participation over the years had nothing to do with his salvation, that he had been headed to hell.

He became a student of the Bible and began tirelessly working for the Lord in many different ways, living out his new life in Christ. He exhibited great patience with people, kindness, generosity to all who asked for help, and always had a listening ear. He did not speak quickly, and I’m sure he prayed while listening, so that he would be able to give an answer full of wisdom and truth.

Because of the time he spent with God, he , like Moses, had a radiant countenance about him. If I ever saw a hint of impatience come from him, he would get quiet and then after a few moments offer words of kindness instead of impatience or critical comments.

What an example! How he glorified God with his life. He was humble, quick to forgive, and quick to apologize. He was generous with his “I love you’s”. He loved unconditionally, especially when we didn’t deserve it, just like Jesus. As I read Bible verses, I often think, “that is just what Dad did”. He truly exhibited the life of Christ, even if he couldn’t see it in himself. He loved to sing praises and hymns. It filled him with joy and satisfaction.

I know that his big ol grin is permanently fixed on his face now. I can only imagine what he must be experiencing!! wow. Thank you, Jesus. How can we ever thank You enough??

What a legacy! So I write also to give thanks to God for Roger Hobart and that I had the privilege of knowing him and partnering with him in ministry. He was an Isaiah 43:7 man.

The Danger of a “Malbrain and Unlearned Idiot”

The Apostle Paul writes in Galatians 1:6: “I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel.”

This morning I was reading Martin Luther’s  (1483-1546) commentary on Galatians and his thoughts about Galatians 1:6, and more specifically concerning the phrase, “that you are so quickly”. Luther writes:

That work which is built up of long labour, may be overthrown in a night.  A man may labour half a score of years to build up some little Church to be rightly ordered, and when it is ordered, there creepeth in some malbrain, yea, a very unlearned idiot, and he in one moment overthroweth all.

Luther doesn’t beat around the bush and I like that about him. And though his choice of words might seem offensive, being an “idiot” is the least of a person’s problems who distorts the gospel, because in Galatians 1:8-9 Paul says that the malbrain who teaches a false gospel is damned or cursed.

The presence of malbrains and idiots who disturbed (V. 7) the Galatian chuches and who continue to this day to disturb other local churches, begs many questions for me. For instance, why is a “malbrain” and “unlearned idiot” in the position to “overthroweth” sound doctrine in any church? Why is he/she tolerated? Who gave this person a platform? Why is he/she a member of the church?

There is no uniform or easy answer to any of these questions because every church and situation is different. What we can learn though Paul and Luther is that we should be very protective of our churches by proactively teaching sound doctrine.

Here are some ways we can protect the church:

  • We must thoroughly know sound gospel doctrine ourselves. It’s hard to imagine a malbrain would be very clever, but the idiotic error that harms the most is the error that looks the closest to the truth. Leaders must excel at gospel details and discernment to protect the church.
  • We must be diligent in equipping and training others. Perhaps the malbrain was never rightly trained in sound doctrine. Maybe the church was never trained and that is why they allowed the malbrain to have a platform of influence. Either way, equipping in sound doctrine is the work of the church and it must not be neglected. Additionally, if the leader(s) equips and trains others in sound gospel doctrine then the leader(s) won’t have to fight the malbrain alone.
  • We must take local church membership seriously. This is why we do interviews at Eagle Heights; to protect the front door. We want to protect our faith family by being careful about who has member responsibilities and privileges.
  • We must determine to please the Lord and not cower to the opinions of people. In our hyper-sensitive and non-judgmental culture, I believe one of the greatest challenges we face is the challenge of doing the right thing and accepting the criticism that will come with it. Standing for the truth will put leaders at odds with people, and the leader must be willing to stand for what is right, even if it cost him his ministry life. I’m not saying other people’s opinions don’t matter. We should listen to people, but if their opinion is at odds with the truth, then we must stand for God’s truth.

The sobering thing about the Galatian churches is that Paul probably did all of these things and error still crept in and corrupted. We are in a war and all we can do is be faithful with the time that has been given us. But we better do it with urgency and do it thoroughly with the strength that God supplies (1 Peter 4:11). Because no right-minded Christian wants a malbrain and unlearned idiot deceiving people and leading them to be damned.

Should Christians Feel? And What Do Feelings Tell Us?

We worship what we enjoy. Is joy not in-part a feeling? Can a person rejoice and  not be joyful (Phil. 4:4)? I suppose they could fake it but then would it really be joyful rejoicing? Is there such a thing as a joyless rejoicing?

John Piper says it like this: “Where feelings for God are dead, worship is dead.”

In his book, Whatever Happened to Worship, AW Tozer concurs:

Those of us who have been blessed with our own beings would not join any crusade to ‘follow your feelings.’ On the other hand, if there is no feeling at all in our hearts then we are dead.

If you wake up tomorrow morning and there is absolute numbness in your right arm-no felling at all-you will quickly dial the doctor with your good left hand.

Real worship is, among other things, a feeling about the Lord our God. It is in our hearts. And we must be willing to express it in an appropriate manner.

We can express our worship to God in many ways. But if we love the Lord and are led by His Holy Spirit, our worship will always bring a delighted sense of admiring awe and a sincere humility on our part.

Of course we ought not to make decisions based on feelings. Feelings are a fickle guide and that is why we must worship in truth, or according to the truth –  it is the truth that sets us free. But we ought not to think that following God is a feeling-less exercise.  Speaking of exercise –  if you exercised and never felt anything as a result of the exercise, then you might wonder whether you were doing any good. So it is with worshiping God. If we never feel anything as we respond to his works and excellent greatness, we should at the very least be very concerned about the condition of our heart. After all, it was Jesus quoting Isaiah 29:13 who said, “These people honor me with their lips but their hearts are far from me.”

There are many ditches that we might run into concerning this topic, but the main thing I want to keep us from is diminishing or even completely dismissing the importance of feelings as a part of the life of the Christian. God feels and God gave us feelings and so we should want to have Godly feelings.

The truth is that feelings are important, and if we feel nothing for God we should seek God and examine ourselves to see if something is wrong in us. Feelings are not the point of being a Christian but they may well point us to the truth about our hearts.

“If there is no feeling at all in our hearts then we are dead.” AW Tozer

The State of Christianity – Is This Guy Just a Grumpy Old Man?

AW Tozer lived several decades ago (1897-1963), but it seems not much has changed since then. In his book Pursuit of God, (First written in 1948)Tozer unloads on contemporary evangelical Christianity saying generally it is devoid of people who know how to long for and seek God. See if you his analysis of his own time applies to today. He writes:

The failure to see this is the cause of every serious breakdown in modern evangelicalism. The idea of cultivation and exercise, so dear to the saints of old, has now no place in our total religious picture. It is too slow, too common. We now demand glamour and fast flowing dramatic action. A generation of Christians reared among push buttons and automatic machines is impatient of slower and less direct methods of reaching their goals. We have been trying to apply machine-age-methods to our relations with God. We read our chapter, have our short devotions and rush away, hoping to make up for our deep inward bankruptcy by attending another gospel meeting or listening to another thrilling story told by a religious adventurer lately returned from afar. 

The tragic results of this spirit are all about us: Shallow lives, hollow religious philosophies, the preponderance of the element of fun in gospel meetings, the glorification of men, trust in religious externalities, quasi-religious fellowships, salesmanship methods, the mistaking of dynamic personality for the power of the Spirit. These and such as these are symptoms of an evil disease, a deep and serious malady of the soul.

For this great sickness that is upon us no one person is responsible, and no Christian is wholly free from blame. We have all contributed, directly or indirectly, to this sad state of affairs. We have been blind to see, or too timid to speak out, or too self-satisfied to desire anything better than the poor, average diet with which others appear satisfied. To put it differently, we have accepted one another’s notions, copied one another’s lives and made one another’s experiences the model for our own. And for a generation the trend has been downward. Now we have reached a low place of sand and burnt wire grass and, worst of all, we have made the Word of Truth conform to our experience and accepted this low plane as the very pasture of the blessed.”

Was Tozer out of touch? Was he just a grumpy old man that is now dead and gone – and thank goodness.

-or-

Was he right about his own day and is he still right about ours?

I’ll speak now only for myself; I sense a lot of his critique in me. I see this in me.

We have the best programs and experiences that budgets can buy, but do we seek after God? Or do we simply live like the god we have created?

I think it is worth thinking about.

Do You Have Bibline Blood?

My whole person (heart) resonates with this sentence:

“It is blessed to eat into the very soul of the Bible until, at last, you come to talk in Scriptural language, and your spirit is flavored with the words of the Lord, so that your blood is Bibline and the very essence of the Bible flows from you.” Charles H. Spurgeon quoted by John Piper in “When I Don’t Desire God

Yes! I desire this in my life, in the life of my family and the lives of those in my church family. I want the Spirit-inspired word to overflow from me. I want to have Bibline blood. I want the Spirit that wrote the word to control my life through the word.

Thanks to John Piper and Charles Spurgeon for articulating what is stirring in me. May the essence of the Bible flow from some to many, for this is what a Christian should be and do.

“Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day.” Ps. 119:97

Gutting It Out; Do You Give Up Too Easily?

Insert yourself into this bit of history: You are appointed/called to be the pastor of a church and for the next 12 years  the congregation locks their pews and they stay away so that those who want to hear your sermons are forced to stand or sit wherever they can find room. You are so unpopular as a pastor that your sermons are frequently interrupted and you are publicly insulted on the streets.

Would you have stayed? Would you have gutted it out in the strength that God supplies (1 Peter 4:11)?

Charles Simeon (1759-1836) stayed 54 years at Trinity Church in Cambridge, England.

This is definitely an exceptional example but one that is worth noting in an age where there seems to be fewer people who tough life out when life gets tough.

For example, today’s 20-somethings will change jobs an average of seven times, the estimated average tenure of pastors is about three years and an estimated 50% percent of first marriages, 67% of second and 74% of third marriages end in divorce.

It’s not always wrong to quit or change and sometimes it may be necessary to have a change of scenery.  However, some quitting is inherently wrong and people seem to be doing a lot of it these days.

What if William Wilberforce would have quit? It took 45 years of political work and leadership for Wilberforce to emancipate all slaves in the British Empire. What if Jesus would have given up on the will of God in the garden of Gethsemane when He agonized over His impending crucifixion (Luke 22:39-42).

I sense in me and many (especially men) the tendency to throw the towel in the first time we take a punch. I sense that we too quickly want to bail out our children and those around us when a little difficulty comes or they experience tension.

Are we too soft?

Aren’t we all in need of endurance (Hebrews 10:36)?

Here is an introspective and helpful word from John Piper based on the life of Charles Simeon as it relates to our fragility and the need for endurance:

I need very much this inspiration from another age, because I know that I am, in great measure, a child of my times. And one of the pervasive marks of our times is emotional fragility. I feel it as though it hung in the air we breathe. We are easily hurt. We pout and mope easily. We break easily. Our marriages break easily. Our faith breaks easily. Our happiness breaks easily. And our commitment to the church breaks easily. We are easily disheartened, and it seems we have little capacity for surviving and thriving in the face of criticism and opposition.

A typical emotional response to trouble in the church and life is to think, “If that’s the way they feel about me, then they can find themselves another…” We see very few models today whose lives spell out in flesh and blood the rugged words, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you fall into various trials” (James 1:3). When historians list the character traits of the last third of twentieth century America, commitment, constancy, tenacity, endurance, patience, resolve and perseverance will not be on the list. The list will begin with an all-consuming interest in self-esteem. It will be followed by the subheadings of self-assertiveness, and self-enhancement, and self-realization. And if you think that you are not at all a child of your times just test yourself to see how you respond in the ministry (or any part of life) when people reject your ideas.

We need help here. When you are surrounded by a society of emotionally fragile quitters, and when you see a good bit of this ethos in yourself, you need to spend time with people – whether dead or alive – whose lives prove there is another way to live. Scripture says, “Be imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises” (Hebrews 6:12). So I want to hold up for you the faith and the patience of Charles Simeon for your inspiration and imitation.

Deciding whether to gut something out is not always simple. It requires wisdom and awareness concerning a number of factors. But I am afraid we too quickly hit the eject button at the first sign of turbulence, assuming that God only wants us to be happy and safe. God may want neither in the now time. He may want you to gut it out like Jesus, Simeon and Wilberforce. Have you considered that?

Have Men Changed?

Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892) was a great leader and great leaders have the ability of getting people to give themselves to a better and bigger mission and future.

I was recently reading Lectures To My Students by Spurgeon and was surprised (though I probably should not have been) to find that Spurgeon had to “plead” for men to be on mission.

Men not being on mission; has anything changed?

Probably not since Adam failed to take responsibility for the mission given to him by the LORD God (Genesis Ch. 2-3).

In 2009 the Southern Baptist Convention had 457 Journeymen (single missionaries serving 2 years) all over the world and126 were men. That’s a 3.5 to 1 ratio. In West Africa, where access is difficult and conditions on the ground are hot, arid, poor, and radical Islam is prevalent, there were 50 Journeymen serving but only two were men. Shouldn’t the men be going to the hard places? Not that women can’t, but where are the men? Is it true that they are leaching off of mom and dad, sitting on the couch, living in a video game fantasy world acting like they are doing something adventuresome when King Jesus has called them to the greatest mission in the history of the world. Whatever the problem, the numbers don’t lie and not much has changed in the past 150 years.

Spurgeon spoke this to the young men at his college:

I plead this day for those who cannot plead for themselves, namely, the great outlying masses of the heathen world. Our existing pulpits are tolerably well supplied, but we need men who will build on new foundations. Who will do this? Are we, as a company of faithful men, clear in our consciences about the heathen. Millions have never heard the name of Jesus. Shall we let them perish? Can we go to our beds and sleep while China, India, Japan, and other nations are being damned? Are we clear of their blood? Have they no claim upon us?

I put it to you man to man.

We must have the heathen converted; God has myriads of His elect among them, we must go and search for them until we find them. Many difficulties are now removed, all lands are open to us, and distance is annihilated. The danger incident to missions ought not to keep any true man back, even if they were very great, but they are now reduced to a minimum. Who will go? Then men who ought to go are young brethren of good abilities who have not yet taken upon themselves family cares.

Each student entering the college should consider this matter, and surrender himself to the work unless there are conclusive reasons for his not doing so. It is a fact that even for the colonies it is very difficult to find men, for I have had openings in Australia which I have been obliged to decline. It ought not be so. Surely there is some self-sacrifice among us yet, and some among us are willing to be exiled for Jesus. The mission languishes for want of men… and yet there are not the men to go. I shall never feel, brethren, that we, as a band of men, have done our duty until we see our comrades fighting for Jesus in every land in the van of conflict. p 217-18

I’m not down on all men. Some are fighting for king of Jesus. I’m not unappreciative of women who are willing to run to what men have avoided. But we need men to be on mission and until we see men on mission here and to the ends of the earth I believe we will continue to see the church lag in the mission for King Jesus.

Where are the men on mission?

A Tribute to My 100 Year-Old Grandmother; What She Saw and What She Sees

Yesterday I had the privilege of giving the eulogy/sermon for Hattie Bell Seabolt. She lived 100 years on planet earth (September 15, 1911 to March 4, 2012). I’ve never personally known someone who lived to see 100 so in my mind my grandmother was somewhat of a celebrity.

Soon after I learned of her death on Sunday Night I began to think about what she must have witnessed and known about from 100 years of life. She saw and experienced a lot of good and a lot of bad. Here are some memorable historical moments she lived through:

What She Saw

  • 1917 – The Panama Canal opens and the U.S. enters WWI.
  • 1920 – Prohibition begins and women receive the right to vote.
  • 1927 – The TV was invented and Lindberg crossed the Atlantic.
  • 1929 – The stock market crashed and the Great Depression ensues. My grandmother actually lived the Grapes of Wrath, traveling from Oklahoma to California with her family to escape the dust-bowl.

  • 1933 – Prohibition is repealed.
  • 1940s – WWII and the atomic bomb is used on Japan.
  • 1948 – The U.S. recognizes Israel.
  • 1951 – The First Electric Computer is made.
  • 1959 – Alaska and Hawaii become states.
  • 1960s – The Civil Rights Movement becomes prominent.
  • 1963 – JFK is assassinated.
  • 1969 – The U.S. puts a man on the moon.
  • 1991 – The U.S.S.R. is formally dissolved.
  • 1990s to present – The rise of the Internet and the proliferation of technology and information.
  • 2001 – 911.
  • She outlived three of her own children.

My grandmother had seen and witnessed much and she had experienced a lot of change. This gives some perspective on why she was the person I knew.

What I Saw In My Grandmother

I knew this woman well for many years and I realize now that she was a gift to me and those who knew her. As I looked at her face one last time all I could do was say to my Lord, “Thank you for the life of my grandmother.”

I have several fond memories of my time with her but several things stood out to me about her life.

  1. She was a tough Woman. This is evident by the long life she lived. For the last several years it seemed as though there were several times she would die, but she just kept on living. She was probably resilient because she lived through tough times like the Great Depression. I, as do many others, whine about how hard it is now, but most of us know nothing of hardship compared to what she lived through.
  2. She was a caring and sensitive Woman.She loved her children and grandchildren and spoke of them affectionately. She always wanted to be fair and swore me to secrecy if she gave me something she didn’t give everyone else. One time I went to visit her in the nursing home and she tried to convince me to load her stuff in my car and take her home. She was adamant and she pulled out all the stops. She told me that if I didn’t take her home she wouldn’t like me anymore. I couldn’t help it,  I started to laugh at her because I knew this wasn’t the woman she was. After a second or two she started laughing with me. She knew she couldn’t mean it, even if she did really want to go home.
  3. She was a loyal Woman.Even when I was very young, I would spend the night with her and she would start crying when she would think about her husband, who she married in 1926. On one occasion she took me fishing to a pond that was known to have a lot of big fish in it. I asked her to take me there a second time but she refused. When I asked why she told me that she was concerned that the man who owned it would think she was looking for a husband. She was true to the covenant she made to her husband.
  4. She was a woman who was committed to King Jesus. She was a faithful member of Enterprise Baptist Church. When I would go to her house she would always have her big black KJV Bible out. Many times I would come in when she was reading it. She talked about Jesus and the Bible. She was unashamed to do so. My mother said to me that there was “no doubt about her salvation.” My Nanny trusted and lived for her Lord as best she knew how.

I’m not saying she was perfect. I do recall her spanking me a time or two so that settles that, but  she knew the scriptures and she knew she needed a righteousness that she could not provide. She knew she was not perfect but she knew the one who was and she trusted Him as her Lord and Savior.

This was her ultimate hope in a world that she saw change so very much. This is the bedrock of what made her the woman I saw.

She had seen so much and I had seen a tough, sensitive and loyal woman who loved King Jesus.

What She Sees Now

John records the words of Jesus in John 3:36: “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life….”

My grandmother is now seeing eternal life. In Christ, our loss is her gain (Phil. 1:20-21).

Revelation 21:1-7 gives us a glimpse of what my grandmother now knows and sees in a way that we can only imagine. She sees her Lord and knows no more pain, tears, sorrow, murder, oppression, decay, etc. She sees the Lion and the Lamb, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the Alpha and Omega.

She saw so much on planet earth, I saw her life and now she sees the Creator of the heavens and the earth and everything in them.

What Would She Want For Us?

What is my grandmother saying to us with the legacy of her life. What would she say to us now? What would she want us to see and do?

I think she would say: “Meet me here by running to the mercy seat of God and surrender all of your life to King Jesus. Believe in Jesus and obey Him for He is the Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:6).”

I think she would plead with us like the apostle Paul in 2 Cor. 5:20: “I beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”

With the little we know from Revelation 21 and 22 how could we imagine she would say anything else?

If we believe and obey Jesus we will see my grandmother and heaven, but without radical abandonment to Jesus, we will see or have neither.

I have written this with the hope that my grandmother’s life will be a testimony that seeing and savoring Christ is everything. Her life continues to teach me as much.

“Only one life, it will soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last.”