The Hardest Year of My Life

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The last year has been a tough one to say the least. It has been hard in a number of different ways, but especially when it comes to my health. Over the past year, I have been to the emergency room 7 times (8 if you include my lime’s disease visit). I have had 4 overnight hospital stays in 3 different hospitals along with 2 surgical ablations on my heart. Along the way we moved our family of 6 to a different state as I transitioned to a new pastorate. This may sound like a lot to handle (and it was), but God’s grace has been with us every step of the way. As I tell our story of the last year, I will try to avoid getting too caught up in minutia and give you more of a big picture overview should you decide to continue reading.

 

By this time last year, we had already candidated at Mountaintop Alliance Church and had a pretty good feeling it was where God wanted us to go. I had already put in my resignation at our previous church and was scheduled to finish off December 27th, 2015. That was the plan, but things didn’t quite work out that way. On December 13th I was going through my regular Sunday morning routine when I noticed that my heart was racing. In the months leading up to this, I had noticed minor episodes where my heart rate would pick up, but it would always slow down after that. But this time was very different. I knew it was going extremely fast because it felt like my heart was beating through my chest. I laid down, hoping it would slow down, but it didn’t. Finally, I went downstairs and told Steph that she needed to take me to the emergency room. When we got there and they put me on a heart monitor, we discovered that my heart was racing at 265 beats per minute! The doctors were eventually able to get it slowed down. I ended up staying 4 days at the hospital and had an ablation done to my heart. As I talked to the doctors, they were quite confident that they had fixed the problem. I was relieved that this was behind me, and now we could focus on getting ready for our move.

 

Back in the Hospital

 

Originally, we had planned to move in early January, but after my surgery, Steph and I decided to postpone it to January 23rd instead, just to give us more time as I recovered. In the days following my surgery, I quickly realized that something was still off with my heart. Though not as serious, it was clearly racing again in a way that it shouldn’t be. Once again, this was quite scary for Steph and I. We knew that having an ablation was never a sure thing, but from what the doctors told us, we had been hopeful. Finally on January 8th, after doing everything I could to avoid going back to the emergency room, Steph took me in once again. This time my heart was (only!) racing around 200 beats per minute. The doctors were able to get it slowed down and back in rhythm. But instead of admitting me to the hospital (which is probably what they should have done in hindsight) they sent me home with a heart monitor. I was skeptical and sure enough, the next day my heart was racing again. I hoped and prayed that I wouldn’t have to go back in, but after several hours, I couldn’t take it any more and my dear wife took me into the hospital….again. This time it took quite a while (around 2 hours) for the doctors to get my heart slowed down. Not surprisingly, it was not a fun time for me, but I will never forget how I got a call from David Linn, our District Superintendent at the time. I am not sure how he heard so quickly that I was in the hospital, but Steph took the call in the emergency room because I was not in a state to talk. I praise God for his timely call. Thankfully, the doctors decided to admit me and I ended up staying a couple more days. The head doctor that performed my ablation was on vacation, so another ablation was out of the equation. The other factor that prevented anything further from happening was that we were planning on moving in less than two weeks. The doctors decided to put me on some more meds to hopefully get me through the move.

 

The Move to Central PA

 

It is amazing to think back on this time in our lives. Every moment of every day, we are dependent upon the grace of God to sustain us. Of course we know this as Christians, but during certain seasons of life, we are more keenly aware of God’s grace and this was one of them for our family. I am not quite sure how our move came together, but it did. We got a ton of help from lots of different people and we are so grateful to them. Around noon on January 23rd, we had our moving truck all packed up, but that was the weekend of the big blizzard that hit all over the country. We decided to postpone our move another day in order to get some rest and wait for better travel weather. The next day the move went really well and my health seemed to be holding up, praise God.

 

Settling Down in our New Digs

 

For the next 5 months, things went fairly well. With me now on medication, my heart seemed to be staying in rhythm and I was able to function in a manner that allowed me to continue to serve as a pastor. I was definitely not back to full strength, but God gave me what I needed to get by – His grace is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9). We started to settle down in our new town of Snow Shoe, PA and our new church and have really fallen in love with the place. In April we started to look for a new home (we had been renting) and by the end of May we had an agreement in place that would have us closing on our new home July 20th. We would be homeowners for the first time. The other event that is worth mentioning is that my new specialist in State College decided to take me off my meds. After a couple months of being weaned off, by June I was drug free and optimistic that my heart problem was now gone, and that I could finally focus on ministry and family and serving the Lord. Of course, I was quite wrong.

 

Another “Episode”

 

In mid-July we vacationed at our favorite family destination – Virginia Beach. We had a great time and I was definitely more active that I had been over the past several months, but my health seemed to be holding up. Then on the last day I had another “episode.” We were packing up and getting ready to leave when I noticed my heart racing. I tried to relax and see if it would slow down, but it was to no avail. I tried “bearing down” like the doctors had taught me to do, but it was met with the same result. Steph and I had a decision to make. Either we could go to an ER in Virginia Beach, knowing there would be a good chance I would be admitted. Or, we could try to make the 8-hour trip back home. I knew it would be hard on our family if we stayed, especially my dear wife, so I didn’t let on how bad I was feeling. Instead, I told her we should try to make it back home. I admit, it was kind of crazy, but what was even crazier is that I insisted on driving! I reasoned that it would keep my mind off of how lousy I felt.

 

About 9 hours later, by God grace, we made it back to State College and I checked into the ER. As I told the doctors what had happened that day, they were amazed at what they heard. During the whole trip home, my heart was racing, and when I got to the ER, it was still in the low 200’s. I discovered that day that I had a strong heart…..that was just messed up. They told me that most people would have passed out after a few hours or even less, but I had lasted 10 hours! This time, I did not get admitted but was sent home and told to set up another appointment with the specialist.

 

Another Move

 

Just two days later, on July 20th, we closed on our new home. We were officially homeowners, but our “new” 50-year-old home, needed some updates. For the next month we worked very hard to get it move-in-ready. Again, it was only by the grace of God that I was able to do what I did in terms of physical labor. With the help of several people from our church and some friends from New York, we moved into our new home on August 20th. Although this house has required a lot of work and investment, we have really grown to love our new home – such a blessing from the Lord. It was also during this time that I met with my cardiologist. He laid out three options for me – Another ablation, Get back on meds (likely for the rest of my life), or….. Nothing at all. Ever the optimist, I opted for #3. I was feeling good, doing lots of physical labor, and was confident things were on the up and up.

 

Another Episode

 

In late September, about a month after our move, I ended up back in the hospital. The day before, my heart had started to race, but on its own I came out of it. Once again, this gave me hope that I could get through this without either meds or surgery. But this hope was short lived as the very next day after several hours in tachycardia (racing heartbeat), Stephane took me into the ER. The doctors got my heart back in rhythm, but I was admitted and spent a couple more days in the hospital. It was now clear that something further had to be done. I didn’t want to be on meds for the rest of my life so we decided to go ahead with the ablation. For that I would have to travel 2 hours away to the Hershey Medical Center. They scheduled me for the earliest date available, which was November 10th. More waiting would be required, but I knew God was in this and that His timing was perfect.

 

The Lead up to Surgery

 

For the next few weeks, things went pretty smoothly. Once again I was feeling good and we even hosted my parents who had travelled all the way from Saskatchewan for a visit. Then on October 27th, it happened all over again. This was becoming an all too familiar pattern. We had been hoping that I could just make it to surgery without any other episodes, but it was not meant to be. Out of all my ER visits, this was the worst. One of our elders drove me to the hospital and during our half hour drive I started vomiting pretty bad, but at least I didn’t pass out. The doctors were able to get me down from 220 to about 110. However, like I had been for the past month (since my last hospital visit), I was not in sinus rhythm. In other words, my heartbeat was more of a “flutter” than anything, and the chambers of my heart were not working together like they should be. They sent me home that day, and later on we found out that my surgery got bumped up a few days to November 7th.

 

As I look back on this season of uncertainty in our lives, it is amazing how God gave us His peace, “the peace which surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7). No doubt we had our moments of doubt, but God always encouraged our hearts. We were also blessed with a loving and incredibly supportive church family, along with many dear friends that God provided during this difficult time. On November 6th, after peaching a sermon titled “Making Sense of the Election,” Steph and I were loading up the kids to head back home when, you guessed it, my heart started to race again. It felt like I was so close to the finish line, but I was not going to make it there without one more ER visit (If you count them up, this was #7). Steph and I decided that rather than going in to Mount Nitany Hospital in State College, we would just go all the way to Hershey, seeing as my surgery was scheduled for the next day. It was a beautiful drive down, but as you can imagine, very uncomfortable for me. When we got to the ER, I had to answer the same old questions for the umpteenth time, but it was kind of funny how I was able to tell the doctors something along the lines of… “that medication doesn’t work for me, but this one does.” Such was my knowledge of my heart condition, I guess. After getting my heart slowed down, I was admitted and it was just a matter of waiting until my surgery.

 

Surgery

 

The next day, right before they took me down for my operation, Steph handed me a card. It was an encouragement card from our church family and as I read through all the names and the little messages, I got a little teary eyed. I am not an emotional kind of guy, but God used this card to encourage my heart at just the right time. A minute later I was headed down to the operating room confident this surgery would do the trick. In addition to our church family, I knew there were people praying for us all over the place. People we didn’t even know were praying for us. One verse that the Lord continually brought to mind for me was 1 Peter 5:10: “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” Even though I was putting myself in the hands of the surgeons, I knew in an ultimate sense that Christ was my healer, and that He would be the one to restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish me.

 

The surgery ended up being a lot longer than the first ablation I had back in December of 2015. This one clocked in at about 4.5 hours. It turns out the doctors had a really hard time finding the problem area in order to ablate it. But their persistence paid off, as they were eventually able to take care of the problem. As you can imagine, I was wore out when I got back to my hospital room. I spent the next almost 24 hours resting and recovering, before Steph and I headed back home late afternoon on election day. I spent the next week or so recovering and by God’s grace, I was back in the pulpit on November 20th. Our prayers and the prayer’s of friends and family had been heard.

 

Follow-up

 

If you are wondering how I am feeling now, the answer is….great. It took me a few weeks to get my strength back and I am probably still not back to full strength, but I am feeling a lot better and my heart has not given me any problems. I know that our health is never a guarantee and that it is very possible that I could have recurring heart or health problems in the future. But I know that God is sovereign in the affairs of this world, including every detail of our lives, and this brings me great comfort and assurance. He will not give us more than we can bear.

 

In early December, I preached a 2-week sermon series on “suffering” that was well received. I praise God that when He takes us through the valley He often uses those experiences to minister to others. God doesn’t waste our suffering, not at all. As I reflect on the past year, it has been a hard year no doubt. But in many ways the hardest year of my life was also the best year of my life. Praise God for His grace and mercy in our lives. What an awesome God that we serve!

 

Romans 5:3-4: “we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, endurance produces character, and character produces hope.” James 1:2-4: “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials or various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”1 Peter 1:6-7: “In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith – more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire – may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

Bored With Jesus?

During my senior year of High School (way back in April of 2001), I was part of a group of students in our school that went to France. It was an amazing experience, although I can safely say I would appreciate it much more now than I did back then. I will never forget going to the Louvre museum in Paris, one of the largest and most famous museums in the world. We were given 2-3 hours to browse around, but you could easily spend many more there if you had the time. The first thing my friends and I did was to locate where the Mona Lisa was on the map, and then go check it out. We had all heard about this famous painting and so we figured we would go and see it. I will never forget walking into that room with all those people crowded in and being totally underwhelmed by the “ordinariness” of the painting. It was not a large painting and in my opinion at the time, not very impressive. I didn’t know what made for a good piece of art nor did I really care. Apparently, my friends thought the same because after a couple minutes, we moved on to something else (I think the Venice De Milo) and then after that we plopped ourselves down at the cafeteria and hung out for a couple hours before it was time to leave. In other words, we weren’t impressed by what the Louvre had to offer. Like me, my buds were more interested in sports and other things than “the arts” at the time.

 

There are probably a lot of people all over the world who would jump at the chance to go to the Louvre and see the Mona Lisa and other great works of art. They would probably think that my friends and I wasted an opportunity. Obviously, everyone is different and we all have different tastes and interests, and I am certain that High School boys do not make up the biggest demographic of museum visitors. But as I pondered this all, it made me wonder, why is it that Christians often seem to be bored with Jesus? We know that Jesus is the most amazing, wonderful, wise, compelling, loving, gracious, powerful, glorious, perfect and compassionate person to ever live, and yet it seems as though the world has all our affection. We tend to be captivated by the things of the world and we fix our eyes upon ourselves rather than the Savior of the world, the Lord Jesus Christ. How can this be?

 

To be completely honest with you, all too often I find that this is true of me. Even though I desire to set my mind on things that are above (Colossians 3:1-3), I find that my thoughts are set on earthly things. I can relate to the struggle that the apostle Paul talks about in his letter to the Romans. He writes, “For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing” (Romans 7:18-19). Frankly, this battle is real and it is something that every Christian must deal with. God’s will for us is to be sanctified (1 Thessalonians 4:3) and mature (James 1:2-4) in Christ. Therefore, we must fight for holiness, for without holiness, no one will see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14).

 

Real quick, let me share a few things that I have found helpful in my struggle against sin. First, remember that this is a spiritual battle and that Satan is out to destroy you and to keep you from the light of Christ. The antidote is fairly simple….resist him, firm in your faith (1 Peter 5:9). Second, meditate on the glories of Christ (Philippians 2:5-11, Colossians 1:15-20 and many more in the gospels) and remember that He has already won the victory over sin, death, and Satan. The Bible says, “Greater is He that is in you that he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4). Third, remember that “beholding is becoming.” I got that from John Piper, but He got it from 2 Corinthians 3:18 and the apostle Paul: “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.” In other words, as we gaze upon the risen Christ, we can’t help but be transformed. Fourth, remember that this is a work of God in the soul of the believer. “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit says the Lord of hosts” (Zachariah 4:6). We can’t live the Christian life in our own strength. No, we need all God’s spiritual resources that come by way of the Holy Spirit. Fifth, our citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20) and this world is not our true home. We are simply passing through on our way to a better place. How silly to live as if this world were our permanent home.

 

Friends, when you have your eyes fixed upon the world and all that it has to offer, I can pretty much guarantee that you are not going to grow spiritually. But when you have you eyes fixed upon Jesus – His glory, His beauty, His majesty, then I can pretty much guarantee you that you will grow. You will experience growth and sanctification in your life. And you won’t find Jesus boring. Far from it, you will find Jesus exciting, compelling, wonderful, and He will change your life. God’s Word reminds us that this world is transient and is passing away (1 John 2:17). But Jesus is eternal and one day He will return to this earth to reign and rule. Praise God!

What Is So Great About Being Weak?

2 Corinthians 11:30 “If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.”

 

The Christian life offers many paradoxes, one of which is the paradox of weakness. The Bible tells us that being weak is actually a good thing. Ironically, we all want to be strong. We want to be strong physically, mentally, emotionally, and in virtually every other way. But if we were honest with ourselves, we would admit we are not. We struggle to keep things together on a daily basis. For the Christian, however, being weak is a good thing. Let me give you six reasons as to why weakness is not the bad thing we often think it to be.

 

  1. Being weak reminds us that we can’t take any of the credit. Remarkably, God chooses to use His people to accomplish His purposes. But anything of lasting value that is done in our lives only happens through God’s strength and power. Paul reminds some of his fellow believers of this reality in 1 Corinthians 1:26-31: 26 For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 30 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” Like the apostle Paul, when we are used of God, we can’t take any of the credit. We are just ordinary men and women, being used by a very gracious God.

 

  1. Being used of God also points the world to Christ. Obviously, this second reason compliments the first. God chooses to use His people to accomplish extraordinary things, not so they can take the credit, but so that God will gain the glory. God does this to point the world to Him. I am reminded of Acts 4:13, where we read, “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.” Peter and John were not impressive by the world’s standards. They were just ordinary fishermen. But having “been with Jesus,” they were a force to be reckoned with and people could not help but notice these “common men.”

 

  1. Being weak makes us long for heaven where we will be given new bodies. The Bible tells us, “For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality (1 Corinthians 15:53). You don’t have to be a Christian to know that slowly (sometimes not so slowly) your body is breaking down. The older you get, the weaker you get. Yet again, this is a good thing because it makes us long for something more. For the Christian, that “something more” will one day be granted to us in the form a new glorified body.

 

  1. Being weak keeps us from making our bodies an idol. This is a big temptation, especially in our modern world where health and wellness are a huge focus. Safe to say that for many people, their body is their god. They are so focused and consumed with taking care of their bodies that little else matters. And granted that “while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come” (1 Timothy 4:8). As Christians, we want to invest ourselves in “the life to come” over and above everything else.

 

  1. Being weak helps us keep things in perspective. Yet again, this complements the previous point. Paul writes, “Indeed I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Philippians 3:8). There is infinite value and worth in knowing Christ while any value that the world offers is continually diminishing. The reason why we need to keep things in perspective is because we are constantly being told just the opposite. When we remember our own weakness, however, investing in this world and the “glories” that are offered is not such a temptation. I will never be a “mover and a shaker” in this world and I am glad for that. Jesus said, “How difficult it is for those who have wealth to enter the Kingdom of God” (Luke 18:24). Jesus didn’t say it is impossible, but He did say it is hard. The reason is simple – strength and riches tempt us to keep investing in this world. Weakness, on the other hand, is a continual reminder to invest in the world to come.

 

  1. Being weak is a sign of our identifying with Christ. Paul writes, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). Through His death on the cross, Christ humbled himself in the ultimate way. And now, Christ is inviting us to walk the Calvary road with Him by taking up our cross and following Him. In so doing, we are forsaking the way of the world, and embracing the way of weakness. The believer now lives “by faith in the Son of God” and daily relies upon His strength and not our own.

In summary, we can be content to be weak and satisfied to let Christ’s power flow through us. Turning once again to the apostle Paul, he writes, “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10). Weaknesses and everything else that Paul experienced were actually for the good because it forced Him to trust His Savior. Do you have that perspective today, in your own life?

 

Thus, the reason why weakness is a good thing for the Christian is because it compels us to turn to Christ. It forces us to walk by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). And it brings glory to God in extraordinary ways.

Entertainment Detox

Three years ago, Steph and I decided to cancel our TV subscription and try Netflix instead. We did this primarily for two reasons – we were getting tired of all the filth and profanity on TV and secondly, it would save us a few bucks. For the most part, we were happy with Netflix because we were able to watch our kinds of shows and without all the commercials. Last year we switched from Netflix to Amazon Prime, once again because it was cheaper. Still, we weren’t entirely satisfied. We were able to watch good, wholesome shows and movies, but something was still missing. Our solution was to take the month of January and watch nothing at all. That’s right – no TV for a full month (some of you are probably gasping right now).

One month later, having met our goal, I can honestly say we barely missed the TV at all. TV for us was almost exclusively an evening activity, after the kids went to sleep. It was our time to relax and kick back, but the problem was it was costing up precious time to talk with one another. The funny thing is that just this morning Steph was even talking about getting rid of the TV all together. I don’t think we will be going back to our old TV watching ways anytime soon.

In the book, Don’t Waste Your Life, John Piper offers the following:

Television is one of the greatest life-wasters of the modern age. And, of course, the Internet is running to catch up, and may have caught up. You can be more selective on the Internet, but you can also select worse things with only the Judge of the universe watching. TV still reigns as the great life-waster. The main problem with TV is not how much smut is available, though that is a problem. Just the ads are enough to sow fertile seeds of greed and lust, no matter what program you’re watching. The greater problem is banality. A mind fed daily on TV diminishes. Your mind was made to know and love God. Its facility for this great calling is ruined by excessive TV. The content is so trivial and so shallow that the capacity of the mind to think worthy thoughts withers, and the capacity of the heart to feel deep emotions shrivels.” (page 120)

I would encourage you to examine your entertainment viewing habits. I am not saying you should give up TV and entertainment completely, but simply to take a serious, sober look at your entertainment consumption. Our Lord only gives us a short time here on earth – may we use every moment to His glory.

The Difference Between Disciples and Apostles

“We read in the New Testament about disciples and apostles, and we tend to think that the two words are synonymous. They are not. A disciple is a learner, a student. An apostle is one who is commissioned by his master with the master’s own authority, then sent out in the master’s name. That distinction is critically important for us because the New Testament tells us that the prophets and the Apostles are the foundation of the church (Ephesians 2:20). That means the apostles had what we call “apostolic authority” over the church of all ages, which authority they were given by the One who sent them.

The first Apostle in the New Testament, the Apostle par excellence, was Jesus. He said, “I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent ME gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak” (John 12:49). Our Lord Himself is the supreme Apostle of the Father, for He carries in His ministry nothing less than the authority of the Father. The twelve, however, were Jesus’ Apostles, having been chosen from the much larger group of disciples who followed Jesus (see Luke 6:13). Thus, Jesus gave to them His own authority.”

Copied from pages 122-123 of R.C. Sproul’s commentary, Mark: He Taught Them As One Who Had Authority.

Christ’s Heavenly Session

Our twin daughters love “baby Jesus.” Before Christmas, we went to a parade in our community and one of the girls said, “I don’t want to see Santa Claus, I just want to see baby Jesus!” As Christian parents, Steph and I are glad for this, however, we have also tried to explain to our kids that Jesus did not stay a baby. The gospel writer Luke tells us that as a boy, “Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52). At age 30 he began his ministry, which lasted for about 3 years. According to the plan of God, He was crucified and buried, but He rose again on the third day. For forty days, Jesus showed Himself to hundreds of people through various post-resurrection appearances (1 Corinthians 15:5-8). Then Jesus culminated his earthly life with His ascension to heaven. “And when He had said these things, as they were looking on, He was lifted up, and a cloud took Him out of their sight” (Acts 1:9).

A Definition

The ascension is one of the most overlooked doctrines in Christian theology. It is important because it helps answer the question – where is Jesus now and what is He doing? As 1 Peter 3:21b-22 tells us: “through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.” This verse describes what is sometimes called “Christ’s heavenly session.” In case you were wondering, the word session comes from a Latin word that simply means, “sitting.” The Bible tells us that Jesus Christ is sitting (and reigning) at the right hand of God the Father. This is His heavenly session.

Another helpful verse is Hebrews 1:3. “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.” This is what we might call “session” language. Literally, the author of Hebrews writes, “He sat down at the right hand” of God. With the work of redemption accomplished, Christ could now return to his throne on high to reign and have dominion. And as Christ reigns, God works to accomplish all of his cosmic purposes. “The Lord said to my Lord: Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool” (Psalm 110:1).

J.I. Packer puts it this way: “Christ’s session will continue until all his and our enemies, including death, are brought to nothing. The last enemy of death will cease to be when Christ at his appearing raises the dead for judgment (John 5:28-29). Once judgment has been executed, the work of the mediatorial kingdom will be over, and Christ will triumphantly deliver the kingdom to the Father.” (Check out 1 Corinthians 15:22-28 for more on this).

Three Applications

So why does all this matter? First and foremost, we must remember that Jesus Christ is alive and well. The resurrection wasn’t just a hoax concocted by the disciples. Jesus Christ was truly raised to life and is alive and well even to this day. He conquered death and set the captives free. This gives us hope! As one hymn puts it, “because He lives, I can face tomorrow.” Or, because He lives, we as Christians can live. Praise God!

Secondly, we can take comfort in the fact that Jesus is interceding for us. “Christ Jesus is the one who died – more than that, who was raised – who is at the right hand of God, who is interceding for us” (Romans 8:34). This should be both exciting and comforting to the believer. In our weakness and in our times of need, our precious Savior is interceding on our behalf.

Lastly, we can know that everything is under the rule and authority of Christ. Whether it be angels, authorities, or powers. There is no realm of this universe that does not fall under the reign and rule and dominion of Christ. As Ephesians 1:20-21 reminds us, God raised Christ “from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but in the one to come.”

In short, Christ reigns and rules on high. There is no earthly power or kingdom that can compare with the rule of Christ. So when you watch the nightly news, or read on the internet about wars and rumors of wars, and government shutdowns, and corrupt leadership, and the national debt, and immorality, and whatever kind of news you encounter, just remember that Jesus reigns. He reigns and rules on high and is seated at the right hand of God the Father!

Some Parallels Between Discipleship and Nursing

A few months ago, my wife Stephane came up with some parallels between discipleship and nursing. I thought they were insightful and decided to pass them along to you.
1. Both must take place often.
Mothers know that every few hours, her baby must be fed. The baby only has a small stomach and therefore needs regular feedings to continue growing and maturing. The same could be said of the disciple. Ideally, the growing Christian will meet regularly with a spiritual mother or father who will guide them in understanding God’s Word and following Jesus. The Bible tells us, “Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation – if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good” (1 Peter 2:2-3).
2. Both require the right kind of nutrition.
Stephane quickly learned during her time of nursing that it is important to eat the right kinds of food. For example, oatmeal increases the milk supply, while cabbage decreases milk supply. The most obvious parallel to discipleship would be reading the right kinds of literature. For example, the Bible = oatmeal while a Joel Osteen or Joyce Meyer book = cabbage. I can almost assure you that a steady diet of God’s Word will result in a growing Christian. In contrast, a steady diet of your token pop-Christian book will result in a stagnant Christian at best.
3. In both, the relationship will eventually change.
Eventually, the mother will take steps to get her child off of the breast and onto solid food. We would be a little alarmed in a child was still nursing at 4 or 5 years of age. Unfortunately, many professing believers don’t grow up to Christian maturity (check out Hebrews 5:12-14). Many people who populate our churches today don’t want to leave behind their comfortable Christianity to take up their cross and follow Jesus (Matthew 16:24-26).
4. In both, the ultimate result is multiplication.
Years later, every parent has the hope that their child will eventually “be fruitful and multiply” and make them grandparents. In the same way, Christian parents want their children to grow up to be disciple-making-disciples. This is where the snowball effect kicks into play – disciples of Jesus Christ are being multiplied left and right as God gives the growth (1 Corinthians 3:6) and that’s exciting!
What about you?
Are you involved in an intentional, one-to-one discipling relationship? If you are not, let me encourage you in that direction.