At the funeral today I shared the Bible verses Lillian had selected for her funeral service. I promised to make these available online, so (gladly) here they are. Let these enrich your soul!

Bible Verses Requested by Lillian Hill for Her Funeral June 13, 2020

Psalm 23

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil,
for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

John 14:1-6

[Jesus says,] “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Romans 8:28, 31

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

John3:16

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Matthew 6:33-34

“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Matthew 11:28-30

[Jesus says,] Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

1 Peter 5:6-7

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things endures all things. Love never ends.

Proverbs 22:6

Train up a child in the way he should go;
even when he is old he will not depart from it.

Numbers 6:24-26

The LORD bless you and keep you;
the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

Deuteronomy 31:6

Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”

Colossians 3:17 (Lillian’s Confirmation Verse)

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Lillian’s memorial service was at St. John Lutheran Church in Cypress, Texas where she had been a member for many many years. I was honored to have served as the officiant for the service and to share God’s word with those present.

Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.

I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and  received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. – Philippians 4:1-9

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Water Bird | Anahuac NWR | May 2020

Enough! I haven’t done it on purpose, but I’ve managed to disconnect from most social media. So if you want me to know something, don’t count on Facebook. Don’t send me a tweet. Don’t try to connect on FB Messenger. I just don’t go there. It’s one of the few bad habits I’ve managed to ditch. I’m not tethered to social media. It also allows me to keep my mind on good, honorable, lovely, and commendable things.

But funny thing: I don’t always think on those things. It’s still all too easy to go down a less godly and less edifying path. The reminder to think of good things is very apropos for me. I can still manage to think of the more seemly things even without all the hype of social media.

Having said that, I do wonder whether an inventory on social media consumption is in order. I’ve noticed that a lot of people get worked up over Black Lives Matter, Blue Lives Matter, Confederate monuments, names, and flags. I see never-Trumpers rail against the President and Trump supporters return the salvo. It’s to be expected. But it’s not good just because it’s expected.

That brings me to “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” That’s a choice we need to make consciously. That’s an intentional effort. Couple that with the rest of his thought: “What you have learned and  received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”

Do you have an example to look to? Is there someone who embodies peace, grace, truth, love, kindness, and joy? Might you put into practice her habits? Maybe you could follow his example. In any case, there is a promise for those who take this urging seriously: “and the God of peace will be with you.” That’s a pretty good promise.

I don’t think the God of Peace is likely to be found in a social media post. The profound nature of his being cannot be limited to 244 characters. But when we think of good things, and follow good examples, his presence is not only promised, it becomes a wonderful blessing. 

Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.

I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and  received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. – Philippians 4:1-9

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Water Bird | Anahuac NWR | May 2020 (Perhaps my friends can help me identify what kind of bird this is.)

Last week, Diane and I watched the funeral of a dear friend, a pastor who preached his own funeral sermon. He had recorded it shortly before he died after a six-year battle with cancer. This week we watched the funeral of a young pastor who died very unexpectedly. They both left behind two children. Today we learned that a long-time member of St. John died. She is singing the praises of Jesus with the hosts of heaven (along with my two pastor friends). She has no more need for prayer. There are no more worries to cloud her vision. But our lives continue. And sometimes pesky little issues trouble us. Sometimes big challenges confront us.

But we have a blank check prayer offer here in these words: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Consider these four corners of this blank check

  • Anything: Don’t let anything cause your anxiety. That’s a pretty big order. After all there’s COVID-19, medical tests, job situations, unemployment realities, racial tensions, stresses at home and at work – to name just a few. None of these need cause us anxiety. God can handle it; no matter how big “it” is.
  • Everything: Perhaps you have a little niggling issue – spiritual or literal hangnail of life. It’s bugging you. It seems so trivial. But it won’t let you go. You might be tempted not to turn to God about it. But here’s that word: in everything let your requests be known to God. Everything. Nothing’s too petty for God to care. He is never put off by our trivial concerns. He may help us grow. He may help us become more patient. He also may just fix it. In any case, let the little things make their way into the throneroom of God’s grace!
  • Prayer and Supplication: Few of us would ever tell someone that they should spend energy worrying. “Just worry about it,” said no one ever. We can pray. We can ask God to supply our needs. We can call upon him. We can ask. We can petition. We can call out to God for things big or small.
  • With Thanksgiving: This may be the rub. It’s difficult to “thank God for the fleas” as Betsy Ten Boom told Corey to do. We thank God in the midst of our prayers and supplications because we know he will answer our prayers. We thank him because we have the opportunity to call on him. We thank God because he has so richly blessed us. We thank God because he commands us to do so.

There are a thousand things that cry out for our attention or unleash the cords of anxiety upon us. We can pray. About anything. God can deal with everything. We pray with thanksgiving for the ultimate victory that is ours through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.

I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and  received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. – Philippians 4:1-9

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Building his Nest | Anahuac NWR | May 2020

“Do it again, Daddy! Do it again! Again!” He was having a great time at my arms’ expense. I was tossing him into the air – this delightful little boy. And he was loving it. So was I. I was glad to do it again, and again, and again. Such is the love of a dad for his son. Such is the love of a child for a safe thrill.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say rejoice. Why this command? Why the “again”? It’s not because of the sheer glee of it. It’s not because it’s fun. In fact rejoicing in the Lord may actually be in the face of some very un-fun times and events. After all, these words were written from prison. This is not a fun time for Paul. These were not fun circumstances. Yet he urges joy.

Joy is the proper response to the presence of God. Joy is enhanced as we consider the great treasure Jesus is and offers. Joy is experienced in the deep love he has for us. Joy is expressed in a heart of praise and thanks for God’s gifts, God’s mercy, and God’s presence. It is expressed by acts of kindness and forbearance. Joy is embraced in the calm of confidence in God’s gifts and prayerful attitude. 

We need this reminder, for we live in a fallen world. COVID strikes. Friends and family members die. Tempers flare. Patience runs all too thin. Joy gets squeezed out of our hearts and in its place come frustration, worry, anxiety, hopelessness, fear, and pain.

The call to joy is a call to Jesus. He provides the reminder and the cause for true joy. He opens the door to God’s storehouse of blessing. He welcomes us in our time of need. He replaces broken hearts with a deep joy that cannot be explained only embraced.

Do it again, Jesus! Do it again! Fill our hearts with the joy of your salvation. Enliven us with the dancing that replaces mourning. Embolden us with courage born of your delight in place of the timidity of defeat. Do it again! Forgive us. Renew us. Fill our hearts with joy. Then we can sing with the Psalmist:

Restore unto me the joy of your salvation and uphold me with your free Spirit. 
Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you.

– Psalm 51:12-13

Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.

I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and  received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. – Philippians 4:1-9

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Poppy Study #4 | Brenham, Texas | April 2020

A friend was studying for his PE exam and shared this essential truth: The solution for pollution is dilution. Pretty catchy. It was just one of the significant things he had to remember for the test. Came the day for the test and he took his Bible in with him, set it on his assigned desk with a thud, and took the test, praying for God’s help. He passed the test.

There is an even more profound and far-reaching solution to the pollution of bitterness and strife. After appealing to the two women to agree “in the Lord” (which is certainly essential for godly relationships), he urges the people of Philippi to “rejoice in the Lord.”

What if Drew Brees and LeBron James made a concerted effort to agree in the Lord, and to rejoice in the Lord? What if Donald Trump and Joe Biden decided to agree in the Lord and rejoice in the Lord? What if Harris County judge Lina Hidalgo and Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick agreed in the Lord and rejoiced in the Lord more than anything else? What if the goodness and grace of God in Jesus colored everything they did and everything they fought for? What if every political issue took the back seat to unity in Jesus and joy in the Lord?

OK, maybe that’s asking too much. But how about your pesky neighbor, your unreasonable boss, your unreliable employee? What about the person in the next pew or on the other side of the board meeting table? What of your husband, wife, children, parents, friends, and even your enemies?

Our world is polluted by hatred, envy, bitterness, strife, fear, and anger. We see it on the news. We feel it in our hearts. Add to that the stresses of these days of the pandemic lock-down. Add to that our behind-the-lines enemy, our own sinful flesh. It all adds up to a troubled and polluted world.

The solution of the pollution of discord, strife, anger, fear, frustration, apathy, resentment, and sin of every kind is in Jesus. Rejoicing in Jesus. Agreeing in Jesus. Being reasonable in Jesus. Being aware that Jesus is at hand. Praying in Jesus’ name. Trusting in Jesus. Seeking his good will, favor, blessing, wisdom, and courage. All in Jesus. All in Jesus. All in Jesus.

 

I was led to this hymn today. It forms a prayer deep from my heart. Martin Luther – 500 years ago – said that one who sings prays twice. So let’s sing it!

Hibiscus | Back Yard | May 2020

God of grace and God of glory,
On Thy people pour Thy power.
Crown Thine ancient church’s story,
Bring her bud to glorious flower.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,
For the facing of this hour,
For the facing of this hour.

Lo! the hosts of evil ’round us,
Scorn Thy Christ, assail His ways.
From the fears that long have bound us,
Free our hearts to faith and praise.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,
For the living of these days,
For the living of these days.

Cure Thy children’s warring madness,
Bend our pride to Thy control.
Shame our wanton selfish gladness,
Rich in things and poor in soul.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,
Lest we miss Thy kingdom’s goal,
Lest we miss Thy kingdom’s goal.

Set our feet on lofty places,
Gird our lives that they may be,
Armored with all Christ-like graces,
In the fight to set men free.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,
That we fail not man nor Thee,
That we fail not man nor Thee.

Save us from weak resignation,
To the evils we deplore.
Let the search for Thy salvation,
Be our glory evermore.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,
Serving Thee whom we adore,
Serving Thee whom we adore.

Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.

I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and  received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. – Philippians 4:1-9

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Red Poppy | Brenham, Texas | April 2020

I call Psalm 133 the Watermelon Psalm. It says that it is good and pleasant when brothers dwell together in harmony. After an extensive search for food that is both good and pleasant I decided to choose watermelon as the food that is both good and pleasant. For example, Bacon: Pleasant-YES; Good (for you)-NO; Kale: Pleasant-NO; Good (for you)-YES. Watermelon (according to the internet authorities): Pleasant-YES; Good (for you)-YES. Good and pleasant.

When brothers or sisters fight it is neither good nor pleasant. When our sons fought it  was a distressing thing to me. I thought they were actually going to hurt one another. NOT GOOD. NOT PLEASANT.

Apparently Euodia and Syntyche were not in a good or a pleasant place. They were in a public disagreement of some sort. A domestic squabble (one taking the servant of the other)? A financial issue: She owes me 5 denarii! No! She owes me 10 denarii!!! A personal affront: She embarrassed me! I did nothing of the sort; I just told the truth. It might even have risen to a higher level of conflict.

Paul does not tell them how to solve their problem directly. But he does give a great insight: They are to agree in the Lord. The unity they have in Jesus held a greater power than the frustrations and tensions that held them apart. There are some things people of good character and good will can agree to disagree on. Apparently this was one of those issues.

Think Democrat or Republican. Liberal or conservative. Aggie or Longhorn. Yankee or Johnny Reb. Go deeper: White or black. Hispanic or Asian. Korean or Japanese. Let all these pale in comparison to our unity in Christ.

Paul will not yield one moment to the circumcision party. Their teachings contradicted the gospel. But he would become as one under the Old Testament Law or one completely free from it in order to win people to Jesus.

Is there an allegiance that is improperly superseding your allegiance to Jesus? If so, remember watermelon and put your allegiances behind your allegiance to Jesus. Agreeing in the Lord is both good and pleasant!

Psalm 7:1-2

Lord my God, in you do I take refuge;
    save me from all my pursuers and deliver me,
lest like a lion they tear my soul apart,
    rending it in pieces, with none to deliver.

Psalm 37:1-4

Fret not yourself because of evildoers;
    be not envious of wrongdoers!
For they will soon fade like the grass
    and wither like the green herb.

Trust in the Lord, and do good;
dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.
Delight yourself in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Psalm 67:1-3

May God be gracious to us and bless us
    and make his face to shine upon us, Selah
that your way may be known on earth,
    your saving power among all nations.
Let the peoples praise you, O God;
    let all the peoples praise you!

Psalm 97:1

The Lord reigns, let the earth rejoice;
    let the many coastlands be glad!

Psalm 127:1-2

Unless the Lord builds the house,
    those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
    the watchman stays awake in vain.
It is in vain that you rise up early
    and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
    for he gives to his beloved sleep.

I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. 13 No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.

15 Let all who are spiritually mature agree on these things. If you disagree on some point, I believe God will make it plain to you. 16 But we must hold on to the progress we have already made.

17 Dear brothers and sisters, pattern your lives after mine, and learn from those who follow our example. 18 For I have told you often before, and I say it again with tears in my eyes, that there are many whose conduct shows they are really enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 They are headed for destruction. Their god is their appetite, they brag about shameful things, and they think only about this life here on earth. 20 But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior. 21 He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control. – Philippians 3:12-21

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Columbine | Brenham, Texas | April 2020

We have moved 13 times in our nearly 45 years of marriage. Every time (except maybe for the very first time) we have wondered how we managed to collect so many unnecessary things! Mostly we agree about what is unnecessary. We have given away bags and boxes of clothing and household items. We’ve donated furniture. We’ve thrown out bunches of junk. And I’m not talking about “junque” either. This last move, I actually bought(!) a Bagster® bag. Check it out: it amounts to a heavy-duty bag the size of a small dumpster! Sadly, I nearly filled it before it was hauled to the dump.

Paul speaks of ridding himself of things that he no longer needs. He speaks of forgetting what is past and pressing on toward the goal of the resurrection and the life of the world to come.

In the verses immediately before these, he speaks of jettisoning the things that some might use to recommend themselves to God. He will have none of it. He has no righteousness of his own. He will rely on the power of Jesus to bring him to his eternal home.

We will move one day from this earthly home to our eternal home in heaven. We will experience the miraculous, gracious and good makeover power of God. We will be changed and glorified. The things of this earth will be left behind. We won’t need a Bagster® in order to rid ourselves of them. They will be left to someone else or completely destroyed in favor of the Father’s mansion and the place that Jesus is preparing for us, a place of life, bliss and joyful celebration.

A helpful image perhaps…A very wealthy man dies, but prior to his death he manages to make a deal with an angel to take his wealth with him to heaven. He puts gold ingots into his briefcase and lugs it to the pearly gates. St. Peter asks, “What’s in the briefcase?” The man opens it and proudly shows off his gold bullion. St. Peter asks, “Why did you bring pavement?!?” (cf. Revelation 21:21). Another one for the Bagster® to receive.

I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. 13 No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.

15 Let all who are spiritually mature agree on these things. If you disagree on some point, I believe God will make it plain to you. 16 But we must hold on to the progress we have already made.

17 Dear brothers and sisters, pattern your lives after mine, and learn from those who follow our example. 18 For I have told you often before, and I say it again with tears in my eyes, that there are many whose conduct shows they are really enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 They are headed for destruction. Their god is their appetite, they brag about shameful things, and they think only about this life here on earth. 20 But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior. 21 He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control. – Philippians 3:12-21

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Columbine | Brenham, Texas | April 2020

A young pastor died on Wednesday. Chris Nietubicz served as associate pastor at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Giddings, Texas. He was young, a father of two delightful children, son-in-law to members of the church I serve in Cypress, Texas, and one of the members of the PLI Leadership Essentials group I coach. I shake my head in disbelief as I type this. It is so very sad.

Elsewhere (1 Thessalonians 4:13), Paul reminds us that we grieve when someone dies, but we do not grieve as others do who have no hope. So, first of all, let us grieve. We will miss Chris’ to-the-point, unapologetic, and clear confession of the faith. We will miss hearing the expression of his sincere desire to serve faithfully. We will miss his willingness to share himself with us. We will miss learning of his afternoon road trip to see Texas wildflowers. We will miss his understated (but very real and present) sense of humor. I can see him now, chuckling and finding humor in the appropriate moments of life.

We will miss his friendship. We will miss his desire to see things move forward at his church, and learning of his work to that end with the leaders there. We will miss his serious engagement in learning about leadership and mission, faithfulness and family.

His family will miss their husband and dad. They will miss their son and son-in-law. His church will miss their pastor. The school will miss their advocate. The community will miss their model citizen.

We are sad. We have experienced a loss. Lord, help us!

We are grieving. But we are not without hope, for we believe that Jesus will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control (Philippians 3:21).

So we carry on. We learn to number our days (cf. Psalm 90:12), and recognize that to live is Christ, to die is gain (Philippians 1:21). God will win. He has won. He is victorious. Chris no longer suffers. Hope for him is realized. Ours, too, will one day be realized. Jesus died for our sins. He rose for our justification. Jesus reigns at the right hand of God. He will come again and take us to be with himself on the Great Last Day. Until then, we call out to God. Until then we do what we can to love and support people who have lost loved ones.

Until then we look to God for help, comfort, peace, and an abiding purpose. And we have that purpose, for we live on. God has things to do in and through us. And we wait…grieving in hope. Our bodies are weak to be sure. But we will be transformed, and in that we hope.

Addenda

One of the members of our PLI Leadership Essentials coaching huddle of which Chris was a member offered the prayer of Psalm 77 (below). It is most appropriate. Another offered this eloquent prayer:

Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

How my heart hurts for this family. Dear Jesus, please wrap these kiddos up in your arms. Draw them in close like their daddy would. Hold them tight. Speak words of hope to Lauren and comfort her as her husband did. Spirit, envelop this family, as they are part of Your own, and surround them with the family of Christ, who in hope look to the resurrection. Support them in all their needs, and forsake them not. They need you, Jesus, to be the rock of their lives. Christ is risen! You are risen! Proclaim your victory! Death is defeated. You are alive, and so to shall we live. Amen

Well done, good and faithful servant. Well done.

Pastor Mark Anderson, Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church, Omaha, NE

Psalm 77 

I cry aloud to God,
    aloud to God, and he will hear me.
In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord;
    in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying;
    my soul refuses to be comforted.
When I remember God, I moan;
    when I meditate, my spirit faints. Selah

You hold my eyelids open;

    I am so troubled that I cannot speak.
I consider the days of old,
    the years long ago.
I said, “Let me remember my song in the night;
    let me meditate in my heart.”
    Then my spirit made a diligent search:
“Will the Lord spurn forever,
    and never again be favorable?
Has his steadfast love forever ceased?
    Are his promises at an end for all time?
Has God forgotten to be gracious?
    Has he in anger shut up his compassion?” Selah

10 Then I said, “I will appeal to this,

    to the years of the right hand of the Most High.”

11 I will remember the deeds of the Lord;
    yes, I will remember your wonders of old.
12 I will ponder all your work,
    and meditate on your mighty deeds.
13 Your way, O God, is holy.
    What god is great like our God?
14 You are the God who works wonders;
    you have made known your might among the peoples.
15 You with your arm redeemed your people,
    the children of Jacob and Joseph. Selah

16 When the waters saw you, O God,
    when the waters saw you, they were afraid;
    indeed, the deep trembled.
17 The clouds poured out water;
    the skies gave forth thunder;
    your arrows flashed on every side.
18 The crash of your thunder was in the whirlwind;
    your lightnings lighted up the world;
    the earth trembled and shook.
19 Your way was through the sea,
    your path through the great waters;
    yet your footprints were unseen.
20 You led your people like a flock
    by the hand of Moses and Aaron.

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.