Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Same Old Same Old?

What has been is what will be, and what has been done, is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun. Ecclesiastes 1:9

You probably already know this, but I will revisit it anyway -- all Scripture is divinely inspired, accurately transmitted, officially canonized, and has been miraculously preserved down through the ages. But every line from God's word is not meant to be a doctrinal statement or even a suggestion of how He would have us to view or live out our life.

That being said, Solomon's Journaling does not charitably reflect the Divine evaluation or translation of the human experience. Instead, Ecclesiastes is an autobiographic diary revealing the instability of Solomon's spiritual and mental health. Rather then conveying God's perspective, David and Bathsheba's brilliant son candidly vents his struggle in dark, brooding, depressing, and cynical words. My guess is -- as he put quill to paper -- he blunted many a nib!

So where am I going with all this?

In 48 hours we step into a new year. Good news! Solomon's words are patently wrong. They are aimless and empty words from a king who has lost his way. Think through his conclusions one hopeless phrase at a time. Consider them written 10 minutes ago, rather 3 thousand years ago. What has been [in 2007] is what will be [in 2008]. And then there is Tall, Dark, and Gloomy's next phrase, and what has been done [in 2007], is what will be done [in 2008]. Tell me it ain't so! The way things were is the way they will be?! What was done is what will be done?! Just throw me under the bus, and get it over with. Don't pitch me into another year exactly like this one.

If history's smartest man is correct, then God has not called us into spiritual adventures. No, He has incarcerated us in a chamber of horrors!

Exactly what tomorrow holds is a mystery, but we have Jesus' encouragement, That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life . . . look at the lilies of field and how they grow. They don't work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are . . [God] will certainly take care of you.

Life will unfold much differently in the next 365 days than the last 365.

And finally, There is nothing new under the sun [?] Sure, there will be some repeating events, but take the word of Solomon's dad, David: You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence, AND the pleasures of living with you forever . . . God's mercies are new every morning. 2008 promises much more than the same old -- same old!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Advantage -- Ours!

Now I am going to him who sent me, and none of you asks me, 'Where are you going?' But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. ~ John 16:7-8 (English Standard Version)

A couple of posts ago, I gave a brief explanation as to why I make it a habit to use different translations, It has helped me hear and see things that familiarity would keep me deaf and blind to. Look once again at the wording in Jesus' phrase, I [Jesus] tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away. Growing up hearing the King James Version exclusively, I never heard that phrase translated that way. Maybe it is just me, but the old English phraseology, It is expedient for you that I go away, left me with the impression Jesus was saying I know you hate to see me leave, but sorry, it is best for all of us if I get out of here!

But hearing Jesus' words this way, It is to your advantage that I go away, shifts the advantage of Christ's ascension from him to us. Notice he did not say, It is to my advantage that I go away. Although who would have blamed him if he did want to return to heaven for his own personal advantages: no more battles with the pious religionists and Satan, who, with no cause absolutely hated him; re-entrance into heaven where everyone loved and adored and appreciated him; and finally, to return to his Father's presence and reward for what he so dramatically accomplished. Who would have been shocked if with a jubilant smile he pumped his fists and said, I'm out of here! But no, the Advantage was to go to us! Jesus would ascend, so that the Comforter could descend and permanently reside at our soul's address. He would be a continuous help and comfort. With he Spirit's enabling we could decipher spiritual realities in our material world. The Spirit would sovereignly gift men in the Kingdom of Faith, and then give those men as a gift to us in the Kingdom of Faith. Submitted to the Spirit we would be equipped for works of service to one another. The Spirit would guide us to build up and not tear down the Faith (Ephesians 4). The Spirit would empower us to convincingly bring the message of the Good News -- a message that can save anyone who will believe and receive it (Acts 1-3).

I know, I know, we wish Jesus were here in his physical person to answer all of our questions. We wish he were here in person, so we would have his footsteps to follow. How great it would be to literally hear his soothing voice! But if he did all those things -- as hard as it is for us to fully comprehend -- those very things would put us at a disadvantage!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Reflection

Listen to my voice in the morning, LORD. Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly. ~ David, a man after God’s own heart

As the sun edged over the horizon—Israel's king swung his feet over the edge of his royal bed. His first words and activity of the day was to make his way into God’s presence through prayer. There was a pattern. Night-after-night the relief of sleep paved the way for the king’s soul to surface his needs. Day-after-day David brought those needs to the Maker of his soul. The Psalmist’s faith was confident and robust. With patience and expectancy he waited-He knew he had the ear of the King of the universe-his needs would be supplied.

I have been listening for a Word from God—a theme and compass for 2008—I believe I have found it, Listen to my voice, LORD, and I will listen for yours. If 2007 revealed anything it has shown me that my deepest needs are not money, success, promotion, or things of that nature. Life has taught me that that list is universally predictable as the fruit of hard work. Honestly? The overwhelming majority of people attain all of those things without giving one thought to God.

Then what do I request?

Here it is: Communication—with my God who never sleeps, even when I do; Confident—that an audience with God is available at the dawn of each new day; Clarity—to discern the author of the needs I seek; Character—a resolute and patient faith that expects to hear God’s voice.

With a, dry erase, chisel tip, Expo marker, I wrote David’s plea on my mirror above the vanity. In 2008, I want the reflection looking back at me, in reality, to be a man conformed to the image of Christ-a man after God’s own heart.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Starbucks—Help Wanted

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe. ~ John, the apostle Jesus loved


I am sitting in Starbuck’s. It is nearly empty. Background sounds of music, hissing espresso machines, and the chattering of three little kids deny silence a voice. In front of me my Bible is open—one of two new Bibles I purchased less than an hour ago. This one is the English Standard Version. For several years I have been reading from different translations. It has helped me to hear and see things that familiarity would keep me deaf and blind to.

Writing is one of the ways I try to dissipate the thick, heavy questions orbiting my inner space. Questions that sometimes form clouds black enough to bring about a total eclipse, and temporarily block out the brightness of life. I wish the nagging questions would go away, and I could just cruise through life with nothing but trivial, simple, and happy imaginations. Instead, it seems like I go through a perpetual “coming-of-age” spiritually. New layers of innocent trust are found—and then lost—run off by painful experiences. Cynicism and Confusion try to disguise themselves as Experience, and fill the vacuum left behind. But the Holy Spirit has been showing up too. With Jesus’ authority and determination, He causes me to revisit the journey behind me. The Comforter’s prompting is simple: Revisit your questions . . . I must take you back to them, so that they cannot bully you on your journey forward . . . remember what Jesus told you.

Sometimes I protest and ask God, Why are you taking me back there? Sometimes insecurity raises its voice and asks, Is it You, Spirit of God taking me back there, or do I need to let go of my questions? But He has to take me back to them, because if He does not, I cannot receive what He intends to speak into my life. His is always a journey of mercy—he is leading me to the Truth that will set me free. Recently, I was returned “involuntarily” to the passage at the top of this post. Keith asked me to bring a series of messages that would conclude with Christ’s Ascension, and John 14 is a primary source. Look at what Jesus said, Let not your heart[s] be troubled, neither let [it] them be afraid. No sense trying to spin it—the last several years has been fraught with fear and trouble-long stretches when I felt I was traveling in “parallel universes.” Enjoying the Adventure? Yes. But at the same time battling the fear that I would be found alone at the bottom of a spiritually dark ravine. I misstep during a time of blackness, and nobody is there to rescue me.

So the Spirit of God takes me back to Jesus’ promise: Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you . . . If you loved me you would have rejoiced. I am going away to the Father . . . and now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you might believe. I read those words and ask, Is my situation radically different than those to whom these words were spoken?

No.

Just like them, I love Jesus. A lot. I want Him at my side, but He is gone, as the ascension demanded. His departing words rub me the wrong way, If you loved me you would have rejoiced [at my absence]. And; I told you before it took place, so that when it takes place you might believe. His admonition exposes two startling truths: First, I see that Jesus promised me he would send another, the Comforter, who would replace the fear and trouble in my soul with peace. Also, Jesus lovingly gave me advanced warning that the days I am experiencing would come.

So even though I do not fully understand where my love for Him-that will replace fear and trouble with peace-is dammed up and unable to bring rejoicing in its current, I believe that loving Jesus and his ascension, not resenting and doubting him, is the road that leads to peace.

So sitting here in Starbucks I come to terms with the Truth and the Comforter and cry out—Help Wanted.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Whoosh!

I hope everyone had a peaceful Christmas day. We did. As promised, Josh put on a spread for breakfast. He enlisted Meagan's help and prepared a culinary masterpiece that will never make the South Beach Diet! Biscuits and honey, mounds of bacon, pancakes, and slushies filled us to the brim. After breakfast we opened our gifts, and Josh read the story of the Incarnation as told by Matthew.

Here in the southeast we did not have a white Christmas, but we did have a wet one. The inclement weather seemed to aid in helping everyone to just kick back and relax. I read from several different books, and began to prepare for next Sunday's message. Around noon I decided to go for a bike ride in spite of the intermittent showers and steady drizzle. Gear is of utmost importance on days like today. Although I got drenched to the bone I was never cold, and enjoyed the extra challenge of navigating slippery streets and squinting icy rain out of my eyes.

Do you find it hard to believe that we will soon be looking at another year through the rear view mirror. Momentum is building toward 2008. Soon the door will open, and the fresh air of a New Year will rush across the threshold. But today it may be best to forget about the inevitable "Whoosh" that is only a few sunrises away, and let this one slowly run out of steam and come to a gentle end.

Enjoy the Adventure!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Eve

Sandy and I just returned from the Christmas Eve service at Christ Community Church. It was standing room only. We were told it was the largest crowd ever. Jake and Judy Hess, along with their children, brought the music. Eric Kennedy, one of our pastors brought a timely Christmas message.

During the service all the little ones were invited to come down front and join Brian, Ruthie, and Abby Hite (Brian and Ruthie are mom and dad, Abby is 12) as they read the the Christmas story told with object lessons. Mobs of kids sat at their feet, and were truly angelic -- for that few minutes! Everyone loved it! I have always enjoyed the chaos that children bring into a Christmas Eve service. I wish you could have seen them.

Josh and Meagan will celebrate our Savior's birth with us. Justin is on his way to New York to spend Christmas with his bride Erika, and her family. Sandy and I are finding it gets harder each year to be separated from our family. But we will enjoy the day tomorrow.

I have started riding my bike again, and I have been out the 4 of the last 5 days. My goals right now are to maintain a high spin rate, burn lots of calories, and try to get back to health. Living in Dixie has made me soft. Tomorrow, I hope to ride for about 2 hours. I will need to -- Josh's gift to all of us is to prepare breakfast. Believe me -- Josh does it up big!

Sandy will leave for the northeast just after the new year to begin her low residency graduate work at Leslie University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The low residency means that she will only have to be on campus 2 weeks in the upcoming spring semester. When she finishes, over two years from now, she will have an MFA in Non Fiction, Creative Writing, which will enable her to teach on the college level. Also, I have little doubt she will one day be a well know author.

In closing, I hope that all of you will enjoy a truly wonderful time with family and friends. Joy to the world, the Lord has come. Let earth receive her King! Celebrate the birth of the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Imitation Or Incarnation?

One's real life is often the life that one does not lead. ~ Oscar Wilde

Believers probably understand Wilde's quote better than anyone. If Jesus communicated anything he was emphatic that he was the source of Real Life. Wilde's quote does not reveal original insight. Believers have long known -- One's real life is often the life that one does not lead. We know that the dynamic life that Jesus provided is not always the life we lead. Consider some of Jesus' statements:

Jesus assured a confused Nicodemus that a person could be reborn (and must be if they were to live with the King in his Kingdom).

He said, I am the way, the truth, and the life . . .

Jesus said, I am the resurrection and the life, if anyone believes in me, though he is dead, yet shall he live.

The thief comes to rob, kill, and destroy, but I have come that you may have life, and live it to the full.

Whoever believes in me shall not perish but have everlasting life.

This is eternal life, that we know the Father.

Why is that so few Christians live the kind of life Christ promised?

I believe that many believers are focused on the Christ that came to give his life for us, rather than the Christ who gave his life to us. The Incarnation brought us the Christ who lived his holy life and then sacrificed it as our substitute for sin -- that was Christ giving his life for us.

After Christ was crucified three days later God resurrected him to new life. The life Christ gives us is the life God gave Christ in the resurrection. As the apostle Paul said, I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live. Yet not I but Christ lives in me (Which Christ lives in me? The resurrected Savior). And the life I now live in the flesh, I live by the power (resurrection life) of the Son of God who loved me and gave his life for me.

What are we to learn from this?

If we try to imitate the life of the Christ (who gave his life for us) we have set out on a quest will will result in a draining, frustrating life -- Christ cannot be imitated for long. Full life will never be found in imitation. Only imitation is found in imitation.

If Real Life is not found there -- then where is it found?

Real life is found not in the life that Jesus gave for us -- it is found in the life that Jesus gave to us. One is the frustrated life of Imitation -- the other is the life of Incarnation -- Christ living his life out through us.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A Double Irony

Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was incensed; and he had all the male children in Bethlehem put to death from two years old and under . . .

~ Matthew 2:16

Pilate, when he had called together the chief priests, the rulers and the people . . . said to them for the third time, 'Why [put Jesus to death], what evil has has He done? I have found no reason for death in Him. Therefore I will chastise Him and let him go.' But they were insistent, demanding with a loud voice that He be crucified. And the voices of these men and of the chief priests prevailed.

~ Luke 23:22-23

Jesus did not die at the hands of muggers, rapists, or thugs. He fell into the well-scrubbed hands of deeply religious people, society's most respected members.

~Brennan Manning

During the month of December, Keith asked me to bring a series of 4 messages that focused on: the Incarnation; the Crucifixion; the Resurrection; and the Ascension. Last Sunday I focused on the Crucifixion. On Monday, when I saw Brennan Manning's quote on the blog of a friend, I sat and thought through his troubling conclusion for a while. The irony of Manning's musings doubled as it struck me: The well-scrubbed hands of deeply religious people, society's most respected members not only snuffed out the life of Jesus, but they succeeded where brutal Herod failed.

How could that be?

Monday, December 17, 2007

Trace Evidence

My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble mind. - Albert Einstein

Behold, He is coming with clouds and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him . . . - Revelation 1:7

The aged apostle John tells us in the Revelation that one day Jesus will make a return every bit as spectacular as was His Ascension. The Day will come when Christ will return bodily, visibly, gloriously, and intrusively -- Every eye shall see him -- even those who wounded Him -- wounds over two millenia old and still clearly visible!

Contemplating that some sort of omnipotence does exist, Einstein concluded that his own genius was frail and feeble in comparison. The scientist's statement is all the more magnificent when we consider that he could see but slight traces of a spiritual world in play, yet upon those scant glimpses he erected his religion that admired the mystical.

Today God continues to reveal Himself to us in the slight details. What a thrill it is to find those traces, perceive them, and venture out on the faint trail of faith. Often the traces we follow are not visible to the eye, but audible in the heart. They are little more than softly whispered invitations that dare us -- Follow Me!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

My Birthday And Other Stuff

Today is my birthday. It won't be long before I am in the ground, face up, with dirt being shoveled in my face. I turned 52 -- if you are wondering. Sandy bought me season 6 of the T.V. series 24! In just a few minutes we will have some birthday cake (that says "Happy birthday Phil. A little miscommunication) and then Sandy, Josh, Meagan, and I will watch a few breath-taking episodes. I think I may have told you in an earlier post -- I want to be Jack Bauer. When I get even older I want to be Hub McCann, the crusty old guy in the movie, Second Hand Lions (played by Robert Duval). Fifty-two doesn't feel much different than being fifty-one. Years 50-52 have been pretty dynamic for my bride and me -- not much grass grew under our feet.

Yesterday Jimmy Cook and I performed the wedding of Emily Cook and Randy Shultz. Jimmy is Emily's grandfather. He and I have done quite a few funerals together, but this was the first wedding we have done -- Jimmy did the vows and I did the charge to the bride and groom. I have a long history with Emily and Randy, so it was one of those stress free weddings. These two kids have been head-over-heels in love for years, but held off on marriage due to the threat of bodily injury by the parents on both sides of the aisle ;) Lots of old friends were in attendance, so for Sandy and me it doubled as a reunion of sorts.

All my family called from different parts of New England to wish me a happy birthday. Maine and Massachusetts are in the midst of another 1-2 feet of falling, swirling snow. Today's temperatures in Old Town, Maine will peak at a brisk 11 degrees!

Finally, I spoke at all 3 services at Christ Community Church this morning. I was blessed with a great sense of the Spirit's liberty. During the response time, one of our ladies brought a friend forward she had recently led to Christ. I was asked to go to God on behalf of my new sister in the faith. She had some specific needs and she was seeking intercessors.

Time for 24!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Grieved And Remembered: A Non-Politically Correct Post

Yesterday the remains of Captain Adam Snyder were cremated after thousands of people attended his funeral in Fort Peirce, Florida. His soul and spirit left us on December 5, 2007 shortly after the IED that took his life was remotely detonated.

As I sat in the large gymatorium that also serves as a sanctuary for Adam's home church, I felt a great deal of sadness and prayed to overcome some anger. There were two catalysts for my conflicting feelings. First there was the loop of pictures that covered the span of Adam's brief 26 years on this earth. You know---little league, football, and cub scout uniforms. A couple of dressy pictures with high school dates; snap shots from church youth group; hugging mom and dad and grandparents and little brother; moments from his days at West Point involving different ceremonies and events. Many, many pictures from Iraq---the real guy kind. He is decked out in uniform and armed to the teeth, or sitting behind the controls of an armored vehicle.

And then the pictures stop.

There will be no more pictures that capture such a young and vibrant young man: no wedding pictures of a dashing young soldier with his beautiful bride; no beaming new parents with their first precious child; no baby dedication or baptism; no first haircuts; no first day of school; and no first home. No time-lapse series of photos that show thinning or graying hair, the graduation ceremonies of the children, marriages of their children, and grandpa and grandma holding their first grandchildren.

I also battled absolute rage.

"Why?"

When we drove up to the church we were told that security would be needed to ensure that groups protesting the war in Iraq would not be allowed to disrupt Adam's visiting hours and memorial service. As soon as Zach and I heard that, we both agreed that we would consider it a great honor to God, country, and Adam if we had to spend a night in jail. We discussed whether or not we should unpack some clothes to fight in, rather than ruin our suits. I said, "Not me. I hope I rip out the knees of my pants and elbows of my suit coat. I hope my freshly starched, white shirt is prominently streaked with blood from my split lip, a gash over my eye, with a mixture of my adversary's. When I get out of jail---and I will refuse bond---I will put my tattered dress clothes in a glass case and display them for any and all to see!"

Just so you know. I have absolutely no problem with a person's right to protest, but not at a place where the honorable are being grieved and remembered. There are still things worth fighting over!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Is There Time To Change?

I cannot say whether things will get better if we change; what I can say is they must change if they are to get better. - Georg Christoph Lichtenberg

A great quote. One well worth remembering as we look at the evangelical landscape. We need change -- a change of direction. For several decades Churches that identified themselves as vanguards of the gospel have invested their resources in everything but the gospel: Politics; creature comforts for the converted; and a reckless pursuit of all that will one day perish.

Sometimes we wonder if the direction of the church is temporarily caught in an eddy and will soon break free into the current of God's Spirit. Some fear it is at a point of no return being carried away by a branch of the river that will take it over the falls. It is my opinion that change in Christ's church is desperately needed. It is also my experience that change in Christ's church is diabolically resisted.

Across the United States there are bursts of revival and renewal here and there. But in the majority of these instances resurgence is taking place in new and emergent churches committed to biblical paradigms. Absent in these movements are long established churches once committed to advancing the kingdom. It appears that the fear change represents has been enough to keep them from the even more painful process of actually changing.

Lichtenberg's quote reminds us of this paradox of which I speak: I cannot say things will get better if we change; what I can say is they must change if they are to get better. We live in a time of great opportunity -- but we must believe that if things are to get better we must commit to change.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

My Son -- The Potter


The potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him . . . Like the clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand. Jeremiah 18:4,6

Last night our son Joshua had his Senior exhibit. He displayed beautifully and artfully crafted ceramic pottery. Earlier in the day, during his evaluation, representatives of the Art faculty at Columbus State University said it was the best presentation they had ever seen. Josh is incredibly gifted in many other areas, too. He can train horses, he plays guitar, and is pretty proficient in many areas of the arts. We are incredibly proud of him.

Josh has an eye for designing pottery. Almost all the work of his hands is unique, which is his signature. Once I suggested he create something he could reproduce over-and-over to sell, and provide him with some income. Not a chance! He would remain committed to originality. Nothing in him likes redundancy -- he thrives in creativity.

Behind our house are buried the shards of pottery that did not yield to our son's touch.

Getting to understand Josh's heart helps me better understand our Creator's heart. Nothing in God finds pleasure in the redundant sameness that is the signature of our fallen state. Sin lacks creativity and originality (that is why we have become so desensitized toward it). Unless the hand of The Potter breaks us and then remakes us we are without any uniqueness. None whatsoever.

But The Potter is unbending in His commitment to originality, and from my potter son, I am reminded that The Potter actually disdains the cheap, assembly line reproductions of life-after-life marred by sin. So He puts us on the wheel. During this shaping process, it is easy to forget and even resent the fact that The Potter shapes us into what seems seems best to him.

Friday, December 7, 2007

A New Leg And Golden Moments

In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. - Martin Luther King Jr.

I did not sit in the assembly of the mockers, nor did I rejoice; I sat alone because your hand was on me. - Jeremiah 15:17

For the next four Sundays I will be bringing the messages at Christ Community Church. As I was preparing for the upcoming message entitled, Enter the Hero, I came across the above quote by MLK, Jr. and it seemed to touch something deep inside. I decided to stop and soak in it for a while. Immediately, it came to mind how at crucial points in my life I needed someone to step up for me (all of us come to these places in the epic). I am not speaking of those rare instances when we need protection from a physical attack. No, I am referring to those instances when your integrity is attacked, and you cannot speak up for yourself. It would be pointless to defend yourself. The deck has been stacked against you. You have been blindsided. In those instances, your only defense must come from your friends.

So you wait in expectation. There is silence. You are alone.

A friend or two eventually show up . . . after the tirade of untrue words have ripped through your soul like white hot shrapnel, and your attackers have dragged your name through the mud. Those who should have stood up, but instead went mute, explain why they did not; no sense of shame is visible or apology extended. Just a skewed, twisted, and unspoken logic that seems to say the libelous insults were necessary. Their silence is interpreted two ways: For the accusers the silence is validation for their venom; and for the accused the silence screams, You aren't worth fighting for or defending.

As I was writing this post, Sandy walked in and handed me a devotional and said, "Bill, read this." I did. Jeremiah's words immediately give us the God side when we feel deserted and alone. Look at the same situation from Jeremiah's point of view. Jeremiah is put in a place of circumstantial abandonment. But look how he interprets it -- it was God who had sent Jeremiah to the sidelines to be alone with him. For sure he was alone, but he was not lonely -- God's hand was on him. Both scenarios present the two-sided coin of God's sovereignty. Someone should have spoken up for Jeremiah, and the weeping prophet was broken by their silence. But God's man knew that in the down time God's hand was on him.

Jeremiah was in the calm that precedes a storm. God wasn't done with Jeremiah -- he was getting him ready for the next leg of the journey. The silence of friends can be golden moments!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

We Will Go Together

I will never forget the call I got from Butch late one night: Bill, Georgie and I are with Christina at her house. She just got a call that Kyle has been seriously wounded. We don't have a lot of details. Can you come over?

Kyle, an exceptional young Special Ops Ranger and good friend, lingered in the shadow of death after a car bomb detonated at a checkpoint. Three of his buddies were killed instantly, and shrapnel shredded Kyle to ribbons. His body armor provided just enough protection, so that after weeks of recuperation and rehabilitation he emerged from the shadows and numerous surgeries back to health. He is a daddy now living in Ohio with his beautiful wife. A story book ending.

This morning my cell phone rang, and I saw that it was an incoming call from a good friend. Hello DC! I said, expecting to hear her customary response, Hello BS! But there was not the usual playfulness in her voice.

Hey, what's going on?

Her broken voice responded, It's not good news . . . Adam Snyder was killed along with two others from his platoon. Their Humvee hit an IED (improvised explosive device).

I felt my heart sink and my eyes fill with tears. I searched for words and the ones that came out alternated between gasping prayers and cussing (Just as an aside, I don't trust people who say they never cuss).

After the phone conversation ended, Adam's last conversation with me came back. I can see him sitting across from me -- sharp, West Point trained, well over 6 feet tall, and a physique like it had been chiseled out of granite. He had already done one tour in Iraq, and he wanted me to pray with him after he explained how he had found a way to get back to Iraq to be with his platoon. At one point he looked down at the floor and uttered some serious and ominous words: I can't leave my guys over there. I've got to get back to them. If my guys die. . . we all die together. Anyone that knew Adam also knew that he was not a grand stander. Or glory seeker. He was quiet. He was the real deal.

DC told me that Adam was the last of his Ranger platoon to die. En route to Germany, burned over sixty-five percent of his body, Adam breathed his last breath.