TIPS for the journey
And regarding the question, friends, that has come up about what happens to those already dead and buried, we don’t want you in the dark any longer. First off, you must not carry on over them like people who have nothing to look forward to, as if the grave were the last word. Since Jesus died and broke loose from the grave, God will most certainly bring back to life those who died in Jesus. -1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 (MSG)
This past week, I lost a dear friend - one of the finest men I have ever known. His name was Charles Hodges. He was seventy-eight. At 1:45 AM Tuesday morning, he succumbed to complications resulting from a courageous, near-decade-long battle with Parkinson's disease. The last time I saw him conscious was about three weeks ago. He was non-verbal by then, but his eyes lit up when he saw my wife and me, as he smiled and "squeaked" his excitement that we had come to visit. When we saw him again, he was in hospice care. He was not conscious. His wife and I laughed about a time, many years earlier, when I had accidentally "mooned" her while trying to play a joke on him. Thirty-two hours later he was gone.
When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: "Death has been swallowed up in victory."
"Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?" -1 Corinthians 15:54-55 (NIV)
I will see him again, just not this side of heaven. He was an elder at a church we used to attend, he was my next-door neighbor for several years, and he loved me and my family deeply and well. He was the kind of friend who frequently showed up unannounced, but was always welcome nonetheless. He didn't care what the house looked like - he was there to see us. As a result, we never felt we had to "straighten up" for him. He would not have seen himself as my mentor and the thought that he was "convoying" us would never have occurred to him. But he most certainly filled both those roles for me and my children when they were small. He always had time for us, was always willing to share anything he had with us, always listened more than he spoke. And when he spoke, his words were dripping with truth, hope, insight, and the perspective of experience. He knew God, and his abiding filled him up to a point that his spirit (should I say Spirit?) spilled over into everything and everyone he touched. I will miss him....
You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. -2 Timothy 2:1-2 (NASB)
Exposure to seasoned, veteran Christian men is one of the things that first drew me to Convoy (Man Church at that time). And it's a good reason to have men like Steve Lampkin share his TIPS for Abiding with us. (https://www.convoynwa.org/audio/2019/3/7/listen-to-me-with-your-eyes) When someone who has been through the battles is willing to invest his wisdom in me, I appreciate and respect that. Steve told us we need four things to ensure success in our abiding: Trust, Intentionality, Priority, and Solitude. He encouraged us to use the following to jump start our meditation on those things. I am confident that walking through these questions with your foxhole will be a fruitful exercise.
Why is a Trusting relationship with God essential to developing intimacy with Him?
Have you ever sensed that the Lord might be asking, "Do you trust Me?"
In what area(s) do you find your biggest challenge completely trusting God... and why?
For what things do you have personal passion... family, job, sports, recreation, hobbies, ministry?
Are you typically Intentional about building in time for those things?
How do you go about doing that?
Why do you try to make family a Priority in your life?
How would you describe what 'quality time' with your family looks like?
Does it stand to reason that our heavenly Father would have a desire for 'quality time' with us?
Have you ever experienced a special blessing from having invested in quiet Solitude with God?
How did that help you Relate to your heavenly Father, Renew your soul and/or Regain your sense of purpose?
So then... what specific action might you take today to make solitude with the 'God of heaven & earth' a passionate priority in your life?
Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. -John 17:3 (NIV)