A Deadly Plane Crash (and Reflecting Upon Our Lives)

It’s not usual that tragedy strikes so close to home. A small passenger plane crashed and burned near my home in Northern Colorado, killing the only person inside of it.

This is shocking, to say the least. Children from nearby schools watched the plane crash, no doubt traumatizing them. It is a reminder to all of us that we are closer than we think to our last breath—and that tragedy can happen anywhere.

…for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.
(Psalm 103:14, NIV)

As you pray for those who were affected by this crash, I hope you take a moment, along with me, to reflect upon your life. Are we spending the time we have wisely? Are we being good stewards of everything that is given to us?

I’ll be the first to admit that I have not been a good steward of the time Christ has given me. But knowing I could pass at any moment 1) keeps my eyes on Christ throughout all things, and 2) encourages me to spend what time I have loving Jesus, and loving others. Most of all, it reminds me of the absolute importance of knowing Jesus as Lord and Savior, and gives me urgency to tell others about Him.

At the end of the day, these things are what truly matter. I hope that I, and you all, do them well.

black box (2).jpg


Do you know Jesus?

Approximately 2,000 years ago, God sent His Only Son, Jesus Christ, to save the world and to become the only way by which people can know the Father and be saved. Learn more about Jesus and what He has done for you, here.


Please pray (prayer sheet here)…

  • For those affected by this plane crash.
  • That unbelievers would come to know Christ, even through this.
  • For the Chibok girls and Leah Sharibu, who face trial, difficulty, and probably death everyday.

Thank you for your prayers!

Remembering Rachel Held Evans

38685502_1555949692636451_r-1-1024x683

Rachel Held Evans was a liberal Christian theologian who wrote many different books about the Christian faith. According to FaithWire, she passed away on May 4th after suffering seizures and brain swelling from an allergic reaction. She leaves behind her husband and two children. Continue reading

Dying for Christ

On October 30th, 2018, a Baptist missionary named Charles Wesco was killed in the country of Cameroun after moving there with his wife and 8 kids only two weeks prior. He was shot in the head in an area where there was much fighting between separatists.

Upon his death, Charles’ wife, Stephanie, wrote: “My Precious husband, Charles, is now

wescott

The Wesco Family.

with the Savior he adored and faithfully served for many years… His life focus was seeking to cause others to love Jesus and serve him. My prayer is that somehow someway Jesus will be glorified through my Precious Charles’ death and that God will not let his death have been in vain. He is receiving the Martyrs crown from his Lord. My heart is broken. I want to wake up from a horrific nightmare. Please pray for us.”

Men and women all over the world are dying for our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Charles died for the One he loved, and he is not the only one. In such a place of violence, innocent people, Christian and non-Christian, are dying every day—like the approximately 12 people who passed away after Boko Haram attacked two cities and one displaced people’s camp near the town of Maiduguri. “They killed nine people in Bulaburin, two people in Dalori, and one in Kofa and looted food supplies before setting them on fire,” according to the reporter.

flag2

Boko Haram’s flag.

We know that all of this non-stop, incessant violence in both situations is satanic in origin. Christ said that “wars and rumors of wars” would happen more and more, as we see His return approaching (Matthew 24:6).

This does not quiet the pain that Mrs. Wesco, or the families of the 12 who passed, though. Those who believe in Jesus as their Lord and Savior are one in body; when one part of the body hurts, the whole body hurts. Their pain is deep, and as brothers and sisters in Christ, we must keep their pain in mind and lift them up to Christ in prayer. These precious loved ones have died for the Savior; “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints” (Psalm 116:15, KJV).

DEath

***

This post is dedicated to Charles Wesco. May He rest in the arms of His Savior, and may His family be strengthened in Christ’s Love during this time.

***


Do you know Jesus?

Charles Wesco did not die to merely propagate a religion; He was not a salesman. He loved Jesus, and lived to share Christ with the world. Learn more about Jesus, what He has done and why it matters at all, here.


Please pray for…

  • The Wesco family. As they mourn the death of their beloved husband and father, may the Church step in and help provide them with financial, emotional, and spiritual support.
  • The countless people hurting after Boko Haram’s attacks. Pray that Christ would bring those who are hurting to Himself if they do not know Him yet; if they do know Him, may they know His Comfort, Strength, and Love deeply in and through this situation.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-5, NIV)

Thank you for your prayers and support.

Rest in Peace, Eugene Peterson & Thomas Keating

It is with a sad heart that I report that Eugene Peterson, who created the Message Version of the Bible, passed away on October 22nd after battling dementia and heart failure. Thomas Keating, a Christian monk, also passed away on October 22nd, 2018.

While many do not agree/believe in Peterson’s paraphrased version of the Bible, He is still an important part of many people’s lives and in Christian culture as a whole. Thomas Keating did much for the Christian community as well.

Please take a moment this week and pray for their friends, family, and loved ones. Thank you, brothers Eugene and Thomas, for all you have done.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Read more about the Jesus Christ, the God Peterson served, here.

Rest in Peace, Claire Wineland

Claire Wineland, a young woman with cystic fibrosis, past September 2nd at the age of 21.

Claire was a cystic fibrosis activist who was very popular on social media, and I was a YouTube follower of hers. She lived life knowing that she would die “faster than everyone else,” yet did not let that stop her from living. While I don’t know about if she had a relationship with Christ, I pray that she did know Christ—and that her family and loved ones do come to know Him.

Rest in Peace, Claire. May we live life as daringly as you did.

“Death is inevitable, living a life you are proud of is something you can control.”
–Claire Wineland

HE KNOWS

As I read my Bible this new, January morning, I came across a passage that speaks of much suffering: Matthew 26, the days (and nights) leading up to Jesus’ crucifixion.

I read of how Jesus’ death was foretold by Himself, and it dawned on me: Jesus lived life knowing He was going to suffer greatly, and die.

Now, I understand: No one wants to read a post about Christ’s death and suffering on New Years Day, a day chalk full of new life, new beginnings, and new hope. Yet, it is Jesus who said, “I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels–a plentiful harvest of new lives(John 12:24, NLT). It is in Christ’s death, and resurrection, that we as humankind can have any sort of Hope for a truly new life, at all.

At the same time, as people are celebrating the New Year, they are also plagued with the realities of living another day on planet Earth: Boko Haram has ravaged tens of thousands of people’s lives, including the parents of the 113 captive remaining Chibok schoolgirls. A news report from last night even read that 5,247 Muslims have been killed by Boko Haram in the past four years, alone (source)

It’s with these things in mind, that I wanted to share what Christ had me read, today.

  • In Matthew 26, the passage begins immediately with Jesus foretelling his death, and then with the High Priests plotting “to arrest Jesus in a sly way” and kill Him (Matthew 26:1-4, NIV). Afraid of the people, these Pharisees planned to kill Jesus after the Feast, so the people would not start a riot (Matthew 26:5). It boggles my mind to know that Jesus knew the thoughts and intents of the High Priests, completely. Not only did Jesus know He was going to die, soon; He knew the violent, murderous thoughts of those who were going to do it.

Jesus was hated, and He knew it more than anyone else on the planet.

  • Next, a woman comes to anoint Jesus’ head with extremely expensive perfume (Matthew 26:7). Jesus knew that she did this precious thing to anoint Him for his burial, and it was something Christ honored (Matthew 26:10-13). But His disciples did not. Looking at the woman’s actions with disdain, Jesus’ disciples complained to Him: “‘Why this waste?’ they asked. ‘this perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor’” (Matthew 26:9). John 12:1-8 records that Judas Iscariot was the one to have said this– “He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it” (John 12:6, NIV). Not only did Jesus’ disciples really take in that He was going to die soon; Judas was a completely fake friend. Those closest to Jesus did not understand much of what was going on, and in the case of Judas, one of those closest to Jesus was a traitor filled only with the love of money– a “love” that caused Judas to eventually betray Jesus over to death (Matthew 26:15).

Jesus knew how it felt to be completely misunderstood, and surrounded by fake love. 

  • During the last supper, recorded in Matthew 26:17-30, Jesus had his last meal with the same friends that He had spent three years with: friends that He Loved dearly, “to the end” (John 13:1, NIV). Yet, during a time that should have been filled with love of moneywarmth and comfort, Jesus said one thing that filled the entire room with tension and sadness. “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me” (Matthew 26:21). Can’t you imagine it? An abrupt silence filling the room; the disciples looking on their Rabbi and Lord with pain, then to one another– and to themselves– with sadness and suspicion. Think of the pain you as a disciple would feel, as you suddenly see each of your friends as being able to kill the One who told you to follow Him. Their sad replies in verse 26 were apt: “Surely not I, Lord?”  Judas’ reply was different. “Surely not I, Rabbi?”, refusing to call Him Lord. “What you are about to do, do quickly,” Jesus replied (John 13:27, NIV).
    Jesus then spent the rest of the night telling His disciples of a new covenant, that would be orchestrated by His own death. While it was a horrible, painful thing to bring up, Jesus was not afraid to do so.

Jesus had much conflict in His life, and knew how it felt to have to face it head on.

  • Then, in Matthew 26:33-35, Jesus had to look at His beloved friend, Simon Peter, and painfully tell him that through all of Simon Peter’s good intentions and loyalty, Simon Peter would end up denying his close bond with Jesus (Matthew 26:34). Yet, Jesus picked Simon Peter to follow Him, with all this in mind.

More than any other human, Jesus knew how it felt to have friends that go back on their word.

  • Jesus’ next words in Gethsemane would be striking. “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” Filled with deep, desperate pain, Jesus needed His friends to stay close to Him and pray for Him, more than ever. But they didn’t. Close to Jesus, yet fallen asleep, Jesus’ disciples left Him deeply alone, even when physically close to those who knew Him best.

Jesus felt the heavy sorrow of being alone, even amidst a crowd of friends.

  • Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will‘” (Matthew 26:39, NIV).

Jesus knew how it felt to grapple with the Father’s will for His Life, more than any other person on Earth.

  • And then, with His disciples sleeping, Jesus saw His betrayer coming up to Gethsemane (Matthew 26:45-46). With a kiss from Judas, and with Peter attacking a soldier who had come to arrest Jesus (John 18:10), Jesus knew the pain and chaos of being “kissed” to His Face, but hated secretly.

He knew how it felt to be surrounded by fallen, sinful mankind.

  • He was arrested by hateful men, though He did nothing wrong (Matthew 26:51-56). He was completely deserted by His closest friends in His darkest time of need (Matthew 26:56). One of his best friends, Peter, did deny even knowing Him (Matthew 26:69-75). He was unfairly prosecuted by corrupt men in power (Matthew 26:57-67). 

    Then He died. Not a quick death, nor a painless one. He died the most painful, yet slow death one could ever imagine, not only physically, but spiritually (1). He was slapped and punched; He was mocked as “King of the Jews,” and men so devalued Him that they gambled for His clothing (Matthew 26:67; Luke 23:37; Matthew 27:35).

Jesus knows how it feels to be marginalized, de-humanized, abused, and humiliated.

  • He knows how it feels to suffer: to be dehydrated, exhausted, bruised and beaten. He knows how it feels to sweat drops of blood and have his flesh cut and torn to ribbons. He knows how it feels to be killed. Killed by awful, evil men, touting His murder as proof of their righteousness before God.touted REAL REAL

Jesus knows how it feels to be wrongly murdered– having family and loved ones to grieve in His absence (Mark 16).

 

Hebrews 4:15 says, “For we do not have a high priest (Jesus Christ) who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet he did not sin” (“Jesus Christ” in parentheses, mine). This list of Jesus’ life could go on and on. In fact, I encourage you to take some time today, and read of Jesus’ Life with this goal in mind: To focus on what He went through, and how He understands where you are in life. Whoever you are, whatever you believe, and whatever you’re going through, God not only knows from watching you go through it; He, Jesus Christ, knows because He lived it, personally. Jesus does not only know what you are going through; He, the God of All Comfort, wants to comfort, love, guide, and help you through it (Psalm 68:19).

Jesus knows you. He Loves you. And, from the smallest hurt or pain to death itself, He completely understands what you are going through. He wants to help you through it.

As Muslims and Christians alike are being murdered by Boko Haram, let us pray that those who are Muslim realize who Jesus truly is: That He is truly God, perfect in Holiness, and truly man, entering into their world. And that, most of all, His death and resurrection are not just proof of His deity, but proof of His Love for them. It is in His death alone that they can have new, eternal life (John 12:24).

(1) http://www1.cbn.com/medical-view-of-the-crucifixion-of-jesus-christ



Do you know Jesus?

I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels–a plentiful harvest of new lives.”
(John 12:24, NLT)

In Matthew 26, as Jesus is kissed by Judas and arrested, His disciple Simon Peter takes out a sword, and lops the ear off of one of the soldiers arresting Jesus.
Instead of applauding Simon Peter for trying to protect Him, Jesus rebukes Simon Peter.

“‘Put your sword back in its place,’ Jesus said to him, ‘for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?'”
(Matthew 26:52-53, NIV)

The Truth is, Jesus did not have to suffer these things. At any moment, He could have stopped His suffering, forsaking God the Father’s plan for human redemption. But He didn’t.

Jesus suffered, and died, willingly— that you and I might be able to know Him personally, and be saved from eternal damnation (2 Thessalonians 1), all because He Loves You.

Learn more about this God, who chose to suffer and die for you and I, here.


Please pray for…

  • Those suffering from Boko Haram violence in Nigeria, Cameroon, Benin, and Chad.
  • Muslims, that they would come to know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, the One who understands it all.

Thank you for your prayers!