Monthly Archives: November 2013

The Burden Bearer

The Burden Bearer

Long ago, in a faraway country village lived a hard working people known as the rock carriers. Their job was to remove the large stones that blocked the village farmers from plowing their fields. Day after day, year after year, the rock carriers labored at the heavy task of carrying these large stones out of the fields all the way to a distant valley. This was very hard work and the rock carriers grew tired. One day, the rock carriers were delighted to see one of their very own, a young boy, begin to grow and exhibit great strength. As he grew taller and his shoulders grew wider, the rock carriers began to have this strong young man carry their rocks. One by one, they piled their stones onto his shoulders. The larger he grew, the more weight he could carry. He was strong, he could handle the load. He worked tirelessly. Soon, the entire group of rock carriers relied on this one strongman to do their work. They became lazy. And he became tired. Yet they continued to stack up the rocks on his shoulders. After many years, they noticed that the strongman was walking slower now. He began to stoop over while he walked the road to the distant valley. This was no problem for them; in fact, it was easier to just place the rocks on his back rather than all the way up on his shoulders. He was saving them even more work. As the days passed, the strongman stooped farther and farther, until one day he was looking straight at the ground. He was completely doubled over. The villagers continued to pile on their rocks. They hadn’t noticed that the strongman was no longer moving forward. All they knew was that he was such a helper, their lives were so much easier now. The rocks continued to pile up until one day, someone noticed that the strongman had disappeared. How dare he take a day off? Had he gotten lazy and abandoned them when they needed him the most?  So the village rock carriers had to start carrying the rocks again. But they had to carry the rocks all the way around the huge pile of rocks that was now in the middle of the village road. How rude of the strongman to leave the rocks there!

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. (Jesus) Matthew 11:28


10 Things Not to Say to a Grieving Friend

10 Things Not to Say to a Grieving Friend

 

I recently spent the day with dear friends who, like my wife and I, have lost a child. The conversation gravitated to the pain we had experienced, the goodness of God and recovery. But part of the most poignant comments centered around the painful things that people have said to us following the crisis. Some people are well-intentioned, some don’t know any better and some are simply cruel. Regardless of their motives, few people actually know what to say to a grieving person, especially one who has lost a child.

So, while this may seem obvious to some, others need some basic advice. These are things you should not say to someone who has lost a loved one: Yes, I heard all of the things listed below:

Get over it. It’s time to move on and get your life back to normal.

Don’t worry, God will give you another child to replace the one you lost. You could always adopt.

If you had possessed more faith, God would have healed your child.

There must have been hidden sin in your life.

I know what you’re feeling; I lost my grandma, or my cousin, or my dog.

God must have been sparing your child from something worse to come later in life.

God took your child in order to make you a more compassionate person.

You should have prayed harder.

You should have taken your child to a miracle healer.

The reason that all of the above are inappropriate to say to a grieving person is, they are untrue and hurtful. Any attempt to minimize the pain, explain the reason for the loss or make the person feel better is out of place and unappreciated. My experience is, most people who want to fix my pain are trying to play God. They want to understand it all and explain it away. This is ludicrous. These efforts usually resulted in more pain.

So what can you say to a person who is mourning the loss of a child or a loved one?

If you must speak, just say, “I love you” or “I am sorry for your loss” or “I am praying for you.” Many times, it is better to say nothing. Just a hug or a smile will suffice.

When I was standing at the casket of my daughter, a causal acquaintance came up, patted me on the shoulder and handed me a small scrap of paper. On it were the words, Deuteronomy 29:29. This is a Biblical reference that says, “The secret things belong to the Lord.” Those words spoke volumes to me. This was one of those things that only God understood. I am OK with that.

These things belong to God. He understands. Let Him take care of it.


A Dirty Pulpit

dirty pulpit

 

For those who don’t speak churchy language, a “pulpit” is a piece of furniture that is sometimes utilized by preachers in a church. It holds a Bible and is usually placed front and center of the stage or platform. Other names for the pulpit are podium, lectern, or rostrum.

Recently, I was involved in a project at a church where we were moving some furniture around. I noticed that the pulpit had a lot of dust on it, mostly around the base at the bottom. Obviously it had been some time since the janitor had given it a cleaning. This is not an indictment of the janitor. In fact, I think those guys are the unsung heroes of most churches. I’ve always said that the best possible pastoral training is to serve as a church janitor for a while.

When I saw the dust on the pulpit, it struck me. I thought of what the desk represents: sacredness, purity, preaching the Word of God, the voice of God being heard by the people.  But the dust spoke to me of humanness, of failure and of sin. It is ironic that God chooses such imperfect people to represent and communicate His perfection.

Some people expect a perfect pulpit (or pastor). There is no tolerance for mistakes. There are too many stories of preachers who have sinned. Although gross immorality happens only in a minority of churches, these stories get a lot of coverage in the press. Truthfully, however, there is proverbial dust on every pulpit. Every pastor has a struggle. To err is human.

Regardless of how hard we try, we are covered with dust. Preachers can do the work of God with diligence, yet we are still guilty of sin. This is not an excuse to sin; and be reminded that the standard for Christian leaders is higher than for everyone else (see James 3:1). Pastors, never approach preaching with unconfessed sin in your life. If you are not a pastor, pray for your pastor. But we must be aware that God works in spite of the dust in our lives. We can’t tolerate the dust or accept it as the norm. We’ve got to clean ourselves often. However, part of the wonder of God is that He selects you and me to be His messengers – dust and all. Amazing.


A Prayer for Judah (our new grandson)

photo[240]

 

Dear Lord,

Thank you for sending Judah to us today, he is a gift from heaven. We are not quite sure what to do with him, since we never had a son. A grandson is a unique and precious gift. We thank You for entrusting him to us. We commit to do our very best in helping to raise him the way that You desire.

I pray for him on this first day of his life on this earth.

I pray that:

He will be strong and healthy and safe.

That you will provide his parents with everything they will need in order to raise him to honor You.

That he and his big sister, Sophie will have a wonderful childhood together and an even better relationship as adults.

That He will come to know You at the earliest possible opportunity.

That he will grow up to be a leader, not a follower.

That he will grasp the power of Your love and share that love with others.

That he will help the culture of his day to embrace the Gospel of Christ.

That he will be an earth-shaker for You, one who influences others to follow You.

That he will have courage, strength, confidence, integrity, passion, and faith.

But most of all, I pray that he will be a man of God, a genuine Christian, every day of his life.

Thank you for reminding us, by sending Judah to us, that you have not given up on the world. Our new baby assures us that there is hope.

All in the name of Christ,

Amen