Infected Saint, quit avoiding change because of what it will cost you and focus in on what you will gain. Following Jesus means losing yourself only to finally find who you really were created to be
1. What if I told you ten years from now your life would be exactly the same as it is now? Why are you afraid of change? God wants us to step out and take risks. Don’t stay the same because you haven’t arrived yet to where God wants you.
2. What if I told you that no one on Facebook really cares what you are doing today? We give people to much control in our happiness. We need them to approve of us to feel wanted. Why? We have the Lord who calls us His child!
3. What if 99 of the 100 things you are worrying about all the time never happen? Was it worth being robbed of life so you could be consumed with worry? Where has it gotten you? Instead, trust. Trust in the Lord who has you in His hand. He will see you through.
4. What if you woke up this morning and you only had left those things which you had given thanks to God for yesterday? Our selfishness makes us forget to be thankful for what we have. Are you content? You should be. God has blessed you!
5. What if you are trusting in a bunch of lies that you have convinced yourself are true? If we buy into the lie that this life is all about accumulating stuff, achieving, and having fun then we will miss the real purpose of life.
6. What if instead of thinking the grass is greener somewhere else you found value, purpose, and joy in where you are? Until we learn to be content in having the Lord nothing else will ever really satisfy us.
7. What if in all your struggle to gain your life you only get further away from ever really finding it? To really gain life you have to be willing to lose it. When we come to the end of ourselves we find out who we really are.
8. What if we set forth to accomplish things with no fear of failure? God wants us to live radically. He would have us seize the day and live adventurously. Quit letting fear paralyze you.
9. What if how we perceive a problem is actually the biggest part of the problem? Perspective is key. How we see things will determine how we respond to it. Make sure your perception lines up with the will and word of God.
10. What if you forgave yourself? How long you going to live in defeat for your past mistakes??? God forgives you if you look to Him. You can’t control anyone else’s feelings toward you. Move forward and quit reliving your failures.
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. Revelation 21:4
Being an Infected Saint means facing the reality that we are all going to die. Infected saints are positionally perfect in Christ but still battle with sin. Unless Christ returns first, death is inevitable. Rarely does anyone look forward to dying. As Christians we get much more excited about the thought of resurrecting with a perfect body. I can’t imagine me with a perfect body. That is Heaven! But seriously, you cannot know the joy of the resurrection without first knowing the pain of death. It is only out of death that something beautiful resurrects.
I read an article in Christianity Today (March 2016) recently on Christian trend towards “happy funerals.” Christian funerals are encouraged to have a positive spin: they are in a better place; they feel no more pain; you need to move on while cherishing the memories. More upbeat songs are being played at funerals. There has even been a change in clothing. Dark suits have been replaced with something more upbeat and casual. The goal is more celebration, more moments of joy. I get that. Jesus brings victory over death. Death is not the final word for a believer. That is cause for celebration. Yet, joy should not replace our grief. It is not only ok to hurt; it is necessary.
If not careful, we could be in danger of brushing over the truth about death. Death is loss. It is a time for grieving. Shortest verse of the Bible shows Jesus weeping over the loss of his friend, Lazarus (John 11:35). Was Jesus showing a lack of faith? Did Jesus not know death was not the final word for Lazarus? Why didn’t Jesus celebrate? Jesus knew that Lazarus would walk again in a few moments from then, yet He still wept tears of grief. Jesus felt great sorrow. His tears were not just for His friend but for the necessity of pain and death because of sin. Death is a constant reminder of the destructive nature of sin. Jesus wept for it.
Hope should be apparent in a Christian funeral. As the word says, we “grieve but not as those without hope” (1 Thessalonians 4:13). Yet, we are no different than any lost person who loses someone they care about. In fact being Christian means we understand better how to love and so our pain might be felt even deeper than the nonbeliever. That pain should not be ignored. Not letting yourself feel or express the pain is not a mark of spiritual achievement but a denial of the reality of loss. We need to deal honestly with our pain. We hurt because we cared. We need to feel that, experience it, and let it come through in whatever way it wants. Grieving is not a sign of doubt, but serves as evidence that you loved deeply.
Death reminds us of the tension between living in this age and the age to come. Infected saints know that this world is not home. We look forward to the afterlife but face the reality that we have to pass through death to get there. Death is necessary for resurrection. Resurrection is our hope. Death might be imminent but it is not the final word!
We should celebrate our hope in Christ at a funeral but not to the dismissal of our pain. So if you lose someone you love, grieve deeply. It’s ok. Don’t lose hope while you grieve, but do not feel guilty for hurting deeply. Jesus did and so should we.
Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Philippians 2:4
Good friends of mine lost their house in a fire this week. They lost everything but pot holders, a signed basketball, and a few pictures salvaged. Fortunately, their lives were spared. And of course that is really what matters. Nevertheless, I am hurting for them and the loss of not only their valuables but those things that cannot be replaced… pictures and awards and certificates that are precious to us as families.
Their loss ignited an outpouring. Our church rallied. The amount of prayers and support would inspire the greatest doubter that people can really care. It was inspiring to see. It reminded me of an absolute truth… We need each other. You really do need your church. You might think you don’t but I assure you God never intended you to go it alone. We don’t need the church only to receive but for us to give as well.
We need each other. The body of Christ was meant to be a group of people that do life together. That love each other and rally around its members when they are hurting. The body is not always perfect in this. There are times where people slip through the cracks and feel neglected. Sometimes it is because they Attend the church but are not connected to the church. There is a difference. God intended the church body to be a close, connected community that loves each other.
We need each other. We were never meant to do this life alone. We need those outside of our immediate family to love us. So often when something happens it effects our family and those outside of it are the ones who can comfort us and love on us in our greatest time of need. It shows us how much God loves us when church people rally to show us support. It is supernatural. It is God’s will for His body.
We need each other. We need each other to share our burdens with; to celebrate our joyous moments; to grow together in the Lord; to raise our kids together; to serve with one another. To come together as a community that we can be real with. It is an authentic community. I am accepted and loved just as I accept and love others in return.
We need each other. When life throws us a curveball, we need others to help hold us up; to help us find perspective; to hold us while we grieve; to help us pick up the pieces and move forward. God wants His body to take care of each other. Christ would have us reach the world with the gospel but if the church doesn’t care for its own, how will our message be received?
The church is not the church if it doesn’t care for its own in the name of Jesus.
Losing my Dad 4 months ago still bring moments of devastating pain. Dads are special and losing the one you have changes you. Whether your dad was a positive influence on you or not, losing your dad makes the world feel like an emptier place. There is a huge hole that nothing can fill. Sadness isn’t quite the right word. It is deeper than that. A loneliness that is part of you now. And no one really understands fully unless they have lost their dad. Don’t get me wrong, people’s support is appreciated regardless but losing your dad makes you understand this loneliness in a deeper way.
And you fight… You fight to keep your memory of them sharp. But time makes you begin to forget the small details. I find myself constantly looking at pictures of my dad to remind myself of the details. I try to remember what his voice sounded like. I don’t want to forget. I need to talk about him to others even though I find myself not wanting to because of the pain. My pain is not just for my own feelings of hurt. I hurt for my mom and can’t imagine how tough some days are now that her life has so quickly changed. For my brother and sister, especially my sister, who looked at dad as her hero, I feel pain for them. For my children and my nephew who have lost their Papaw. To see my daughter tear up because she misses her papaw and my son to no longer have the “fan man” to sleep with now that he is gone. To see them hurt over the loss feels like daggers piercing my soul. I want to fix it for them but I know I can’t. I can’t even take away my own hurt. And that’s ultimately ok. Pain reminds me how much I loved and to love deeply is worth the agony of loss.
Here are a few things I would say to those who have lost their dads:
1) Death can motivate– losing my dad was crushing but there is one thing that has come crystal clear to me: my family means everything to me and every day I have with them is a precious gift from God. I don’t want to take life for granted and look back one day and regret. Please, say those words of affection that you feel for your family members but have not said in a while or maybe ever. Give an extra hug to them. Make time for another visit. Squeeze every ounce of joy in being with your family for another day.
2) Be the kind of Dad your kids will want to remember- I want to be a hero to my kids. I want to be a knight in shining armor to my daughter. I want my boys to learn how to treat a woman by how I treat their mom. I want to earn their respect everyday. I want them to be proud that I am their dad.
3) Write down memories- don’t trust your ability to remember. Write down in as much detail as you can those things you want to remember about your dad. These are not only for you but for your children and your children’s children. Keep his legacy alive.
4) You need to embrace triggers not fear them- my dad loved golf. This weekend the Masters Tournament was on television. My dad and I would have talked several times discussing the scores and the course. We would have been so happy the course was tough and the scores low. Watching it this year was very emotional for me. From the mention of certain players my dad likes to seeing the golf ball he liked to use, triggers were set off. Triggers can happen anytime from the craziest things. They serve as reminders to us of our lost loved one. Triggers can lead to pain but if you train yourself, triggers can turn into a blessing. A reminder of good memories. A reminder of time spent together.
5) People grieve differently- since my dad died I no longer just sympathize with people but now I am able to empathize with them in their pain and grief. Empathy means you have been where they are now. I have lived it and that gives me a whole new perspective to better understand their hurt and pain. What Inhave learned is people grieve differently. My grief looked different than my sisters or my brothers. We all grieve in our own way. There are steps of grief that are common but people come to them at different times and in different ways. If you have lost your dad, take time to empathize with others who are going through the same loss. You can understand in a way some cannot and that gives you something to say. Be a support by being there for them.
For those of us who have lost our dads, I am so thankful for every memory, even the painful ones. I am thankful for the lessons they taught us. I am even thankful for their mistakes that we strive not to repeat. We would not be who we are without our dads.
I love you and miss you Dad. I will never forget.