Mourning the Loss of a Giant

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I was sitting alone in a cafe, waiting for my friends to arrive, when I read the news for the first time. As I scanned the headlines on my phone, I read about further resignations of pastors, elders, and leaders from a ministry I once held dear (and still care about). Even though I continued with my day, I must admit that a haze clouded my day. In my own way, I suppose I was mourning for people I had never met personally, but who nevertheless had a deep impact on my life and ministry. I was also grieving the damage that has been done to the church of God.

I know it sounds weird to think of it, but many of those involved have, at one time or another, been my heroes in and of the faith. It reminds me the song Show Me The Way recorded by the group Styx recorded many years ago:

Every night I say a prayer in the hopes that there’s a heaven

But every day I’m more confused as the saints turn in to sinners.

All the heroes and legends I knew as a child have fallen to idols of clay

And I feel this empty place inside, so afraid that I’ve lost my faith…

Now, I haven’t lost my faith in God, but my faith in others, especially Christian leaders, has been shaken a bit. I’m still going to follow the Lord, and serve Him with all that I am, but I am mourning. I do feel an empty place inside. So what do I do?

I’m going to pray. James wrote the following in James 1:5 – If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and He will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. I need wisdom and God is ready and willing to grant my request.

I’m going to forgive. In Mark 11:25, Jesus said, But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in Heaven will forgive your sins, too. The Styx song above makes many points, but it’s got the order wrong in the first verse. Granted, some saints are considered to be sinners, but as Christians we know that we’re all sinners that have been transformed into saints only by the grace of our Lord.

EI’m going to refuse to put people, even Christian leaders and teachers, on a pedestal. I read an article this morning suggesting several up and coming Christian leaders to follow in the wake of the latest fall. It’s probably a timely article, but it irritated me that it’s just suggesting new human replacements for hero gaps that should really be filled by the Lord. The Apostle Paul wrote the following in Colossians 3:1-4 – Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all His glory.

I’ve learned from Ecclesiastes that there’s a time to mourn. I’m still doing that today. But I’m not going to let what’s happened destroy my relationship with the Lord or keep me from His people or from worship services or small groups. I’m pressing forward, holding tight to Jesus.

He is still God.

Jesus is still Lord.

And I will follow Him.

Meet Challenges Together, Celebrate With Bacon

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I looked across the kitchen and thought, “I’m not sure we’re going to pull this off.”

While on our annual staff retreat, the worship ministry team had the responsibility for cooking breakfast for the rest of staff. We had grandiose plans of preparing 72 eggs, 120 pancakes, 72 biscuits, a variety of fresh fruit, assorted yogurts, prepackaged granola bars, milk, juice, coffee, and (cue the music) 10 lbs of bacon.

We were prepared to knock it out quickly with the retreat center’s oven, stove top, microwaves, and electric griddles. Sounds reasonable, right?

However, when we arrived, there was no oven, there was no stove top, and the microwaves were broken. Our alternative equipment was a Crock Pot, two older electric griddles, and two coffee pots.

So, an hour before breakfast, we started cooking, using every outlet we could find, which worked well for about five minutes, when we threw a breaker.

Quickly, we rearranged the kitchen, borrowed a few cooking items, started cooking bacon in the dining hall, moved the coffee to the meeting room, found the breaker room, reset the breaker, and continued cooking.

We spent the next hour working as a team, taking care of issues as we found them and resetting the breaker from time to time. Right on time, our delicious meal was presented to the rest of the staff. As they enjoyed their meal, I felt a surge of satisfaction and munched a piece of bacon to celebrate.

At the end of the retreat, when we were asked to share our best memory from the retreat, I said that mine was making breakfast with our team. We’re used to overcoming the odds (and the clock) in worship services, but this was a real team building exercise for us, with better results than a professional ropes course.

Working as a team through difficult situations will either tear you apart or bring you closer together. Why not use them (or even create them) to bring you closer together.

Solomon, the wise son of King David, once wrote, Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.

My advice to all of us is this:

  • Do hard things together.
  • Create challenges.
  • Work together.
  • Be victorious.
  • Celebrate with bacon