Thoughts from Sunday

Happy Tuesday, all. Tomorrow is Wednesday, a big day for me personally. I have the Veterans’ Day program at school in the morning, and I have Wednesday Bible study at Calvary that evening. So this evening I’ll just share with ya’ll some of the blessed things that happened to me this past Sunday.

I began November 7 with a Sunday School lesson at Calvary—thank you to everyone who was there!—and then I went and preached at Macedonia Baptist Church. I preached on Ephesians 5:22-33, “How to Glorify God in Marriage.” You can listen to that sermon by clicking the link here.

Sunday afternoon, I went to Christian Schmidt’s Celebration of Life at Northport Baptist Church. No service had so continuously reminded me of the gospel since Together for the Gospel back in April. It was a beautiful, Christ-centered celebration. Before the Scripture reading began, we sang hymn after hymn. “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” filled the large auditorium. We hear the words to such great hymns as that all the time, but this Sunday, it was impossible not to listen to those words and internalize them personally. KJ Pugh of Open Door Baptist Church read various Scriptures after the first round of hymns were sung; his prayer thereafter was appropriate and moving. Brandon Hall sang “I Will Rise” by Christ Tomlin later in the service, and Christian himself spoke to us in a video, and in that video he did what he always did: he presented the gospel.

Christian’s Celebration of Life was truly a celebration of God’s grace to us in the gospel, but it was a sobering experience for me. As I said in my sermon that morning, Christian’s death reminds me that I am not invincible: that I, too, am mortal. Christian’s death reminds me that not even preachers—not even young preachers—are exempt from dying … nor even are exempt from dying young, as he did. That’s a sobering thought. A sobering thought. And in the week (it’s only been a week? Yes, exactly that) since Christian’s passing from this life to the eternal, one phrase has repeated itself multiple times a day in my mind: “Don’t waste your life.” It’s like a broken record I can’t shut off: “Don’t waste your life. Don’t waste your life. Don’t waste your life!”

And as I think about Christian’s life and about the legacy he left, I know he didn’t waste his life. He truly lived every day for the glory of God. His mantra to the end was “Soli Deo Gloria” … to God alone be all glory. But as I think about Christian’s life and legacy, I also stand face-to-face with all the wasted minutes and moments of my own life. His death stares me down and says, “You’re not promised tomorrow. You’ve wasted so much. Will you keep on wasting your time, or will you do something for God’s glory?”

You who know me may say, “You’re not wasting your life, Jordan.” You may point out that I’m a youth pastor, that I’m a “good example,” that I’m smart. But those are public things … those are outward things. And those things are all gifts from my Heavenly Father; I haven’t brought a single one of those about. I’ve wasted so much time in my life on trivial things that please for a moment but have no eternal merit. I’ve wasted so much time. And I don’t want to waste anymore. Will I? Yes, because I’m not yet perfect (and won’t be until I’m with Christian in heaven). But I don’t want to waste anymore time.

I’m a guy with hopes and dreams, and those are scary things. Because hopes and dreams are things of the future, things that may not even really exist. We hope, we believe, we trust … but we cannot know if a dream is from God or not until it is realized. That’s scary. That’s why there’s faith. I quoted Hebrews 10:35-11:1 in Sunday’s sermon, and I’ll quote those last two verses here: “But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls. Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” I have hopes, and I have dreams, but I don’t see them; they’re not real (yet). And so I have faith, that God will work all things to my good and His glory.

I love Mark 9:24 when the father with the son who has been demon-possessed from childhood says to Jesus, “Lord, I believe. Help me in my unbelief!” Last night I listened to a sermon by John MacArthur on this text, and Dr. MacArthur pointed out that “help me” literally means “run to me.” The father had faith, but he also had doubt—and he wanted Jesus to run to his doubt and overcome it. And Jesus did. Dr. MacArthur points out a helpful fact about how much faith is required. What kind of faith is sufficient to call down the power of God?

The Lord is not expecting you to be some person of great faith, magnificent faith, all pervasive faith. Or you’d have a hard time getting going in your Christian life, wouldn’t you? All it takes is the faith of a grain of mustard seed [Matthew 17, a parallel passage to Mark 9]. And you know who the model of that is? The father…the father. The miracle was done on the basis of the father’s faith. “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief. Lord, I believe, help my unbelief. I believe my faith is mixed with doubt. I want more faith. Run to the rescue of my weak faith. Help my unbelief.” That was sufficient faith.

Christian’s life and legacy exhorts me: “Don’t waste your life. Just do something! Take risks because God doesn’t!” And by God’s grace, I won’t waste my life, I will do something, I will take risks because He doesn’t. Even after an emotional roller coaster of a week, in which I have seen abundantly clear the grace of God in countless ways, I still nevertheless echo the father’s words of Mark 9:24: “Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief!”

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