Boring? or Life Changing?

Jesus said, ‘If my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you.’

What a promise from Jesus? How does it work?

When I was 15, we had just moved to Norcross (outside of Atlanta) and my parents and friends from church encouraged me to memorize Bible verses topic by topic. I had a pretty boring summer job so it gave me something to do mentally while I picked up trash, cleaned carpets and scrubbed the pool at an apartment complex.

I don’t remember how many of those verses I memorized.

But lately I’ve been reviewing. And it’s amazing how many of them are still in my mind. And in my heart and life. I have had a pretty clear picture of who God is, how to live by faith in Christ, how to fight against temptation and live in Christ while in this world. I’m far from some super-Christian but I think I’m doing well.

It has something to do with God’s Word being in me, I think. Let me recommend to you the Navigators’ Topical Memory System. Or any system that will get God’s Word to abide in you.

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Going back to Jesus’ words I started with: I have not gotten every single thing that I have wished for – because often my wishes were flat out wrong and I didn’t know it – but I’ve grown to understand and celebrate what Jesus has done for me.

And I’m learning to ask for things that line up with His will. Like that you would memorize Scripture.

It might sound boring. But if you feel that, you’re wrong. It’s life changing.

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Hope Demonstrated in Tragic yet Joyful Death

I wrote a week ago and asked for prayer for my friend Carlos Rodriguez and his family in Virginia Beach VA. Their 17 year-old son, Mark, was shot and killed on his way home from attending graduation. A police officer and the shooter also died. It was a huge shock in that suburban area. Huge local story that ended up on Yahoo!, in the UK’s Daily Mail and national news sources. My first post has links to the breaking story videos. A lot of shock and dismay.

So what happened after the news broke? Carlos and Leigh Ellen demonstrated a sure hope in Christ and inspired thousands as they publicly shared their sadness and joy during a trauma that would knock most people out. They were real and inspiring. They had multiple TV interviews and both spoke at a packed funeral.

Mark’s online blog and journals were full of amazingly mature views about God, life and specifically heaven. You could tell this young man was well parented and well discipled. Hundreds of thousands have viewed his blog where six weeks ago Mark wrote a post entitled ‘Heaven’ that closes with the words, ‘God is super good. I can’t wait to be with him forever.’ Amazing. Sad. Joyful. Inspiring. Hopeful.

It appears to me that the whole community was caught off guard by the idea that a family would not be devastated by this news but, in fact, actually celebrate God’s goodness and sovereignty in the face of a tragedy. Eternal life is real to them.

It was a remarkable funeral. The news coverage was amazingly open to hearing the Rodriguez family and friends talk about God and specifics about the Christian faith that might normally be edited out. You can get a sense of their godly reaction by watching any of these.

  • 3 minute news clip after the funeral five days later
  • Carlos speaking at memorial two days after Mark’s death – news coverage
  • Carlos’ interview – WAVY NBC news
  • Leigh Ellen and Carlos’ interview – WTKR news – “I don’t bear any malice toward [Mark’s murderer]”  

Thanks and keep on praying for them. They are going to go through waves of emotion and grief. Pray for me too as I talk to Carlos as well. Pray for their church, Redeemer Presbyterian, as they grieve too.

We’re going to be mulling over the Rodriguez’ God-focused, gracious and faith-filled reaction to this tragedy for years. This experience has modeled for me and Elizabeth to trust the Lord in the face of suffering.

And to never doubt that He is good.