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Challenges

I’m tired of them.  I know they have their place and purpose in God’s economy, but I’m tired.  The challenges of life can get overwhelming.  Owning a business, raising 7 kids (three of whom are teenagers now), trying hard to be a good and godly husband, while following Jesus and wanting to honor him is sometimes so wearying.  I really don’t have any good reason to complain.  I am blessed more than I deserve.  I realize that this world can offer many pleasures, but none so satisfying as those which may had in God’s presence.  Money is temporary.  Prestige a vapor.  Friends are fickle. The church is flawed. I can’t even be happy with myself, a sinner.  Only Christ brings perfect peace.  So as I take on daily challenges, tired as I am, I rest in this:  If I seek happiness in anything other than Christ I will have only a vague impression of what true joy is, BUT if I seek him with all of my heart I will find “joy inexpressible and full of glory!”

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My First Funeral Sermon…

I was thinking about my friend Chad Watson today.  Many have been following me on Facebook as I’ve updated during the tragic events that took his wife and 8 of his 9 children home to be with Jesus when their home burned to the ground.  I’ve decided that a moment like this is only redemptive if Jesus is honored through it so I’ve decided to post my unedited notes from my sermon at the funeral in hopes that many would come to faith in Jesus through this tragedy.  The following personal sketches are of Nikki and the three eldest girls whom I knew best. I interviewed Chad and asked him to tell me about them because he knew them best.
 
 
I have a solemn conviction of the grandness of the Gospel opportunity offered to us in this moment. This obscure moment which began in tragedy in a small rural town in Kentucky. A moment when only a relatively few people who have had the opportunity to know my Lionhearted Brother Chad and his beautiful wife Nikki and his quiver of exquisite children got to see the strength, courage, and grace we all know for. This obscure moment which has exploded into a worldwide showcase for the Glory of Jesus Christ. The true power of this obscure moment is having an eternal impact on people around the world. 
 
Today is the day The Lord has made I will REJOICE and be glad in it!
 
I offer praise to the Father in the name of Jesus through power of the Holy Spirit for this tragedy of earthly death and the symphony of grace and life extended to those under the judgement God for their sins, who are being made new creations through this Gospel!
 
Nikki Watson was All about the kids. She would have died for them and she did. 
Proverbs 31 woman
Always trying to make something for the kids
Always looking for deals to clothe them. 
Awesome cook. Loved cooking
Loved having people over
Believed in Chad. Always. Confidence in doctrine teaching. She was an unwavering rock of comfort to him second only to Jesus. 
Searched scripture for validation of his teaching. 
Nikki knew the gospel meant taking care of the babies, loving and respecting her husband, and honoring God. Her life was a testimony of Gods transforming grace through Jesus. 
 
Madison loved to invent things. Her approach to every situation was to think creatively to innovate to not say no. It wasn’t a worthy answer to be considered. 
She believed there was a solution to every problem.
Wanted to please mom and dad. 
She so wanted to work with animals. Whatever poor animal she found, found a home with her loving caring heart. She was just like her daddy that way. 
All kinds of pets. 
She was growing into a lady a beautiful godly young woman. She wanted more than anything to Please her daddy. And God. They are both fully pleased today. 
 The Gospel through Madison was embodied by a definite sense justice. She wanted things to be fair and just in an unjust world. Now through Jesus justice is served death is dead. 
 
“Death is swallowed up in victory.” 
“O death, where is your victory? 
“O death, where is your sting?” 
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, awho gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
 
 
Kenzie had become a beautiful woman. Inside and out. 
Was mature could read people she knew how to speak wisdom into other’s lives. Even her daddy’s. 
Loved talk and play and act goofy with her sisters, but had an uncanny sense of the moment. 
Loved to mother the babies. She had a servants heart and depth of compassion. 
She along with her sisters would never stay mad each other. They were best friends. 
Loved her books. Always reading. 
She loved God more, more than any other person. 
Kenzie’s gospel example was one of settled faith. Her faith ran deep. Her heart was filled with God’s word. She wants you to have faith. 
 
Morgan was very passionate
Life was about feeling, about expression. 
Would have made someone a hot wife. An excellent wife. 
She knew no matter what she was safe in God’s hands. She had no fear no worry. 
The Gospel through Morgan is this:
God created us for life. Live it without worry. 
There is only one way to live without worry. That’s through faith in the son of God. 
 
 
 
Chad’s Gospel call
This entire family will be raised in the end. They are without question being comforted this very moment by a loving God. They have come into the presence of the prince of peace. The lover of their souls. Jesus Christ The True Son of God. 
Parents you cannot bring your kids to Jesus. Don’t even try. Shepherd their hearts until The Lord saves them. You can’t save. Only the gospel can save. 
 
My gospel call. Take care not to ignore this moment. In God’s mind there are no obscure moments, no obscure people, no obscure sins. God is beckoning every sinner to come. Do not leave here unchanged. You are sinners in need of salvation. You are fallen. You can do nothing to save yourself. Jesus fulfilled all righteousness on behalf of all who call upon his name he lived a life you could not live. He died a death you should have died. He rose on the third day to prove he was the son of God in power. He offers eternal life for you today if you will only believe. 

 

“Now then, whatever God has said to you, do.”

I came across this statement in my morning reading a couple of days ago and thought it was pretty interesting.  It’s the second half of Genesis 31:16.  I want to be careful not to take it out of context or be misleading in talking about it, but I think there are two or three things that can be said about it.  This verse comes to us in the middle of the story of Jacob’s departure from the house of his father-in-law Laban.  Jacob had been swindled, tricked, and mistreated by Laban.  He worked 14 years for the hands of Laban’s two daughters Leah and Rachel.  Rachel being the only daughter he wanted in the first place.  Then Jacob worked a number of years more for constantly changing wages.  Finally Jacob decided it was time to move on.  Laban had profited long enough from God’s blessing on Jacob, so God told Jacob to go.

As Jacob prepared to make the Journey back to his homeland he told his wives all that the Lord instructed him.  That is where we see this phrase: “Now then, whatever God has said to you, do.”  These are the words of Jacob’s wives.  Here are the few things that hit me reading this passage.   First, Jacob’s wives were faithful to God in affirming Jacob’s decision.  They were confident that Jacob was acting in their best interest by following God’s will.  Second, the wives were willing to submit to “whatever” God was saying to Jacob.  There weren’t any qualifiers in the statement.  They were fully committed to the path of God.  It wasn’t I’ll follow you BUT.  Thirdly, they were followed because they believed in the power of God in their lives.  If they had no settled faith in God’s ability to provide the for the journey or his promises the will to leave their home surely would lack.  Finally, there affirmation was simple, “Do.”  I cannot tell you how much easier it is to lead a family when a wife is fully committed to God.

What struck me here is that I have practically seen in my life, through the loving support of my wife, how this has worked out over the last 19 years of my life.  When through scripture and prayer we have come to believe what God’s word is for us Tara has said many times almost these exact words to me.  I remember making the decision to pack up everything and head to bible college many years ago.  I told Tara I really thought that was what God wanted me to do and she said well lets do it then.   I didn’t have a job or a place to live, but had everything packed up on the trailer knowing God would provide.   That was one of the first of many great adventures on our journey.  Tara’s birthday was yesterday and I would just honor her by saying, thank you.  Thanks for saying “whatever God has said to you do.”

Kid’s Adapt

Just a quick thought for the day.  I joined my wife and my daughter (I call her babygirl or sweet cheeks) at the prosthetic/orthodic facility today to have her foot cast for a brace.  Babygirl has spina bifida and it has caused her to have some weakness in one leg which is causing her foot to stay crooked.  So we are there and listening to the tech and the therapist talk about how she just takes what she has and does with it what ever she can to do what she needs to do.  It never ceases to amaze me how this little girl adapts and overcomes all of the challenges that life throws at her.  There is a lot I can learn from her.  There is a lot all of us can learn from her and others like her.  It’s great how she just keeps reaching the next milestones of development, maybe not on the normal schedule, but she makes it.  Whatever comes your way just adapt.

Give me caffeine!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I know that sounds desperate.  It’s not really that bad, but I’m definitely feeling the effects of a little withdrawal. You know the stuff, if you haven’t felt it you’ve heard of it, headache, tiredness, maybe a little crankiness.  That’s what I’m feeling today.  It makes me realize how easy it is to slip back into a previous way of doing things almost Unnoticeablly. I’ve been down this road before, but somehow I always get to this point where I look and I’m drinking way too much coffee and such.  It kinda suckers me in slowly then bam! here I am again.  It’s so important to realize that anything you put into your body has the capacity to affect the way you feel both physically and emotionally, and even spiritually.  Time for me to say goodbye to something that tends create more anxiety on top of anxiety.  Remember?  Anxiety itself is a functionally amoral emotion.  God gave it to us so that we can have an elevated state of emotional and physical being.  Which is great when its necessary, but can create all kinds of problems when it isn’t necessary.  Suppose though you are in a state of high anxiety and add say 1500 or 2000 mg a day of caffeine on top of that.  You see caffeine does the very same things to the body as anxiety.  Physical things like faster heartbeat, more oxygen, and mental alertness.  Those are the same things that a sense of anxiety produce.  Yeah seems kind of like a no-brainer, but oh well.  Being a human means very often that we lose sight of whats good.  We have a tendency to wander off because of that abiding propensity to sin.  So from here on out I think I am going to just lay off that stuff for the most part.  I believe that caffeine can be a gift from God, but I also know we (I) can turn a good thing into a god thing.  One of those little “g” gods that keep us from the peace of the one true God.

Thought of the Day

I was thinking today.  For those of you who know me that probably scares you.  I have always been a thinker.  This is good and bad.  It can be a blessing and a curse, but nonetheless its me.  Here is what I was thinking:  “do I really want to live today like its the last day of my life?”  Be careful how you approach that question.  A cursory, pat answer of yes may lead you astray.  Here is my point.  If we think that we are about to lose something or someone very dear to us we will probably live life in a way that may not be best.  I know for sure that if I lived every day thinking I was going to lose my kids or wife it might lead me to be overly focused on them for personal and selfish gain.  I may just want to be with them and mourn and cry and know them one last moment.  Here’s the thing.  I think that is how we live when we know something is going to happen.  Get it.  That’s not the everyday reality.  The everyday reality is that in all likelihood those people you most care for are going to be there tomorrow.  I think there is a reason that God doesn’t give us these kind of details.  We need more than anything else to live everyday for God’s glory, not our own personal pleasure.  Strangely enough our own personal pleasure is realized most fully by living every day to the Glory of God.  God wants us to live in uncertainty or we wouldn’t be living life.  Uncertainty is one of God’s tools to drive us to him.  So today I just want to re-commit to not live life like today is my last day, but like it is the day I will live as well as I can for the glory of God.  Doe anyone want to join me.

Day Three..

That’s how many days in a row I am about to complete in my blogging journey.  It may be the most blog posts in a row ever for me.  Oh well.  Day three.  The third day…………. there we go!  The third day was the very day that Jesus rose from the dead.  There is a significant event in the history of the world.  It is also a significant day in the History of Brad.  You see that’s the day my sins were dealt with.  I believe the historic christian doctrine of penal substitutionary atonement.  That’s a mouthful right?  Lets break it down really quickly.  Penal- as in paying a penalty.  The truth in scripture is that all human beings are sinners by nature (Romans 5, Ephesians 1) and by choice (Romans 3.)  God is holy and holds an account for every human for his/her sin:  “God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses,by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.”  Christ died to pay the debt I owed God the father because of my rebellion. Substitutionary- Jesus died in my place: “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  Atonement-  The death of Jesus was a sacrifice that satisfied the wrath of God on my behalf: “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”

Among those sins he dealt with on the cross is the insecurity that led me to where I am today.  You see there is no more security to be had for any human being than the security that Jesus provided through his death on the cross.  I have been teaching my kids lately how the folly of security will lead them from a real deep relationship with God.  When we seek security in this world we sacrifice the effectiveness that God may grant us in taking the gospel of Jesus to other sinners.  We’ve been working through the book Risk is Right by John Piper.  He is careful to point out that the worst thing that can happen to the believer in Jesus is to die and go to be in his presence.  Talk about Perspective huh?

So part of this embrace of weakness that I have undertaken is to recognize that God wants me to risk it all for Him.  I don’t have to live looking for security in this world’s things, in my kids, in my wife, in my friends, in my business.  No I am eternally, unfailingly secure because of what Jesus proved he did for me when I rose from the grave on the third day!

Was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, Romans 1:4