Wednesday, March 19, 2014


The first funeral I remember was my Aunt Libby's, my paternal Grandfather's sister.  I think I was 6 or 7, either in kindergarten or first grade.  She was Catholic so there was a lot of fan fair to her church funeral.  My mom cried.  I drew her a picture in an effort to make her feel better.

Since then, I can't count the number of visitations and/or funerals I have attended.  The hardest funeral I ever went to was the service for a one-week-old baby of a family connected to the school where I taught.  He just looked like he was sleeping in his tiny casket.  I started crying and had to excuse myself because I couldn't stop.  I remember an intense feeling of anger.  Anger at sin.  No, not any sin this sweet baby or his parents ever committed, but anger at the fallen, sinful condition of the world in which we live.  You see, death, was not supposed to be part of our lives.

Before sin entered the world, death did not exist.  Death is the punishment of sin.  But for the Christian, the one whose sins have been forgiven, death is not to be feared.

Today James preached the funeral of Bro. Bill, one of our (two) deacons at church.  He was 80 and had suffered the past six weeks; his body desperately trying to recover from open-heart surgery.  But as of Saturday morning, he was struggling no more.  Rather, he was seeing his Jesus - the Jesus he met spiritually many years ago and had spent the decades of his life worshiping, obeying, and serving.  James preached a rather nontraditional funeral message on the brief snapshot Scripture gives us on the life of Simeon.  Simeon had waited his whole life to see Jesus, believing the promise God had given to him.  The Holy Spirit prompted Simeon to go to the temple the very day Mary and Joseph were there to present baby Jesus to be dedicated.  Though he was old he obeyed, went to the temple, and immediately recognized his Savior even as an infant.  In his burst of praise he declares, "Sovereign Lord as you have promised, you may dismiss your servant in peace."  He was ready to go, to die, because he had seen his salvation.  James then called those there to grieve Bro. Bill to examine their hearts and determine if they were ready, prepared to die, knowing their salvation was in Jesus.  Bro. Bill was confident in his salvation because he, too, had "seen" Jesus and was eager to see him anew.  Such a beautiful picture of the gospel, of trusting the Lord.

Between our house and the church stands the community cemetery.  I've had several remark that it must be creepy to live next to it.  I'll admit that one of our first nights here it was a tad scary as one of those solar flower things was putting out random lights in the dark - thankfully I have a husband who isn't easily frightened so he went to check out the random lights.  But it really isn't.  It's a reminder.  A reminder that we are mortal, finite creatures.  A reminder of our sinful condition that screams for a Savior.  A reminder of the forgiveness I have in Jesus, a forgiveness that stretches beyond any grave.  A reminder of the resurrection to come, when Jesus will make all things right and death will be no more.

Thursday, March 13, 2014


This week my sweet friend Rachel sent me an email with a link to an article from the Missouri Baptist Convention about evangelism demographics in our state.

When I saw it, I was immediately struck and somewhat humored by the "Population Density" map.

Do you see the top right (northeast) corner where it's all dark?  Yep, that's where we live!

It's a rural area for sure.  The cows outnumber the people by the thousands.  There is a lot of land but few houses and few families - hence the literal darkness on this map.  It is beautiful here at night, the stars are amazing and the sounds of frogs, crickets, birds, coyotes, etc...can be heard clearly especially in the Spring which I hope is right around the corner!

But there's another map that's indicative of the area we now call home and in which we serve.

Look again at the top right (northeast) corner.  
We are on the line between Lewis and Clark counties.  

So somewhere between 45 and 84% of our neighbors do not know Jesus.  Not only is it physically dark here; it is spiritually dark here, as well.  Very dark in fact.  And it's not the "Everybody loves Jesus" Southern culture I grew up in.  This is an aggressive out in the open rejection of Christ.  

Just this week alone I have encountered two women - one Catholic background Agnostic and one New Age who denies Jesus' exclusivity.  It has been an exhausting week for me spiritually as I have spent hours just this week sharing the gospel, answering questions, and practicing scriptural apologetics with these women.  I have spent a good part of this afternoon in tears and a tummy ache, physically sick, after these encounters.  And that's just me.  James, as the pastor, carries the brunt of the work in this community and encounters the darkness much more than I do.  I really don't get out of the house that often - haha!

I would love to do an exposition of verses on Jesus being The Light of the World, but honestly I am tired.  Hudson has been cranky all afternoon save a short hour of playing at the park so that hasn't helped.  So instead, I point you to this sermon by John Piper as encouragement.

Please pray for us and our little family and the ministry we are seeking to do in this area.