Is this the Beginning of the End?

As the virus known as COVID-19 or Coronavirus continues to ravage its way across the world, this question has come to my mind on more than one occasion: is this the beginning of the end? The purpose of this blog post is not to discuss eschatology, the study of end times prophecy and events. The purpose of this message is to share a very important truth: regardless of when Jesus returns, we should be actively sharing the Gospel with the world. We should continually be discipling other followers of Jesus.

Anyone who has known me since I gave my life to Jesus in September of 2011 has likely experienced the passion and excitement I once had as I studied prophecy and end times events. There was a time where I spent countless hours reading prophetic news events from around the world, visited end times prophecy websites and forums, and studied the Scriptures thinking Jesus would return at any moment. Then, something happened along the way… I became almost consumed with “looking up” for Jesus that I became paralyzed with inaction serving Him here.

Lest you misunderstand me, the study of Scripture is of critical importance for every follower of Jesus and should be a daily discipline. So we are clear, Jesus thought His second coming was important enough to speak about the end of days on more than one occasion. Plainly said, I encourage every person to take a honest look at Matthew 24 and Luke 21 to understand an important truth: Jesus is coming again. The events that He said would happen are beginning to happen; and just as the “birth pains” increase until a child is born, so the events Jesus told us would increase in measure and intensity will continue to do so until His coming.

So back to my question, is this the beginning of the end? The answer is “I don’t know”. Only the Father does… (Matthew 24:36) When Jesus told us to “look up” because our redemption is drawing near (Luke 21:28), what Jesus was not saying was to become so mesmerized  by these events that we stopped serving Him. Is Jesus coming again? Without a doubt. Should that excite us? Most certainly! Should that change how we act or serve Him? Most definitely! It should increase our urgency, passion, and resolve.

The purpose of this message is to share from the painful lesson I’ve learned. To my brothers and sisters in Christ around the world, let the Master find us at work when He returns. If that’s this week or 100 years from now, let us be faithful in taking the Gospel to the nations. Don’t get so caught up on being “caught up” (raptured) that you forget the world that God so loved He gave His only Son (John 3:16) not wanting any to perish (2 Peter 3:9).

When Life Comes Crashing Down

There are some moments in life where life can come crashing down on us. Where our picture perfect lives and the daily routines come to a screeching halt. Where the unthinkable sneaks up on us from behind and changes our lives in an instant. For me this moment was March 11th 2017.

Today marks the 3rd anniversary of a car wreck that literally had my life crashing down around me. Through the screeching sounds of breaks, breaking glass, air bags being deployed (all sounds I don’t remember), every illusion I had was shattered that day. In an instant, my little girl Brynleigh left this life for the next and my wife, my son, and I stepped in to a nightmare we never expected.

Even three years later the pain is fresh. As I look at images and videos from the wreck, I still struggle to believe this is all real. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the wreck, I encourage you to watch a video I prepared called Cupcakes and Rainbows or you can read a seven day devotion I wrote called Cupcakes and Rainbows: Life After Tragedy.

On this anniversary of the wreck I feel like it would be a betrayal not to honor the memory of my late wife Cassie and my beloved daughter Brynleigh not to remember that day, to celebrate their life, and to use their tragic death as an opportunity to share these truths: life is short. Life is unexpected. Life is fragile. Sometimes our routine lives can lay shattered in ruins around us and no matter how loud we scream, how desperately we beg, or how broken our hearts, we don’t get a redo. 

Today as I write this blog post, I am comforted by the fact that God is still good. I have confidence I will see my daughter again, and hope that I will see my late wife Cassie again. Jesus tells us in Scripture that in this life we will have tribulation (John 16:33) but tells us to rejoice because He has overcome this world. I am thankful that this life is not the end of my story. It isn’t the end of Brynleigh or Cassie’s story either.

I would give anything to rewind the clock to March 10th 2017 and spend one more day with them both. I can’t go back but what I can do, what I must do, is share the truth: today may be your last day too. If today was your last day, what do you wish you would have done in life? Do it. Who do you wish you would have forgiven or made amends with? Forgive them. What do you wish you would have said to your spouse or your children? Tell them.

Scripture warns us that this life is like a vapor, here today and gone tomorrow (James 4:14). Stop waiting to make it right until tomorrow, do it now. Tomorrow may never come. Speaking of no more tomorrows… if you died right now, are you prepared to stand before God? Some of you may say “there is no God”… are you sure? Most of us won’t even buy something cheap on Amazon without reading the review… but you aren’t even exploring if there is a God or not?

Had I died on March 11th 2017 along with my beloved wife and daughter, we would have all 3 entered in to God’s presence together. Scripture tells us that God loves each one of us and gave His only Son Jesus so we could be forgiven and free (John 3:16). My greatest desire for you is not to remember my name, not to remember my story, but to know a God who loves you and gave everything so you could be forgiven and free.

To all my friends, family, and brothers and sisters in Christ who have supported us, prayed for us, and walked through this nightmare with us, thank you. Keep Cassie and Brynleigh’s memories alive by speaking of them and thinking of them often. To Cassie and Brynleigh, I love you more than I ever knew possible, I’m so sorry I didn’t realize the depth of that love until you were taken from me. Kasen and I both love you, we will see you again soon.

The Valley

Often I hear preachers, teachers, and speakers talk about “the valleys” of life. As they discuss the valley, the remind us that spiritually speaking this is a time in our life where God may seem distant as our suffering seems unbearable. They talk about becoming more intimate and getting to know God more in the valley than we ever could on the mountaintop, and they are right.

One thing that has often bothered me is hearing others talk about suffering in their own lives, yet feeling like they have no true perspective on real suffering. Time and time again I hear stories of times they have been in the “valley” only to think to myself… “if you only knew what a real valley is like…”

Before we all get our judgy faces out, I think these things, but never say them. The suffering each of us experience may be the worst suffering we’ve ever known. But today when I tell you that God is good, even in the valley, I need you to understand what valley I have walked through.

Often I see people say “God is good…” and I can almost hear the thoughts of those around me: “if you had walked where I’ve walked, you’d never say that.” My valley began on March 11th of 2017. If I’m being honest, the valley probably began some weeks and months before that day as I was consumed and overwhelmed by my own selfish failures.

On that tragic day, my family and I set out for vacation. Excited, looking forward to spending time together and experiencing new things. As we had so many times before, we found ourselves sitting in bumper to bumper traffic. In an instant, our lives changed forever.

I woke up inside a smoking car, blood running down in to my mouth. In a tragic moment, my four year old daughter was dead. The mother of my children would die several weeks later in the hospital. My son and I fought for life and eventually left the hospital a few months later. 

I may not be the world’s foremost expert on suffering, but I have the scars to prove that I’ve walked through the Valley of the Shadow of Death. I wish I could tell you that through each step in the valley I was faithful. I have not always been faithful. God however has never left my side, even when I screamed towards the heavens and demanded an answer He never promised to give.

Today I am thankful that I serve a mighty God. I serve a good God. I serve a patient, faithful God. I serve a God who enters in to my pain and suffering and doesn’t leave me in hopeless despair.

I don’t know what valley your walking through today, but you don’t have to face a step alone. Through faith in Jesus Christ we find forgiveness and reconciliation with God. It is through this faith that we have the promise that God is always with us, He will not leave us or forsake us. 

All those promises are beautifully true, but this promise is the one I want to leave you with today: Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Hebrews 4:16 NIV)

Are you hurting in your valley? Is your heart broken? Are you frustrated and angry? Do you feel alone? Have you been faithful but some how think God has forgotten you? Have you prayed and trusted God, but for some reason tragedy has still occurred? Trust Him. Go to Him. In your deepest despair, Jesus will meet you there and give you mercy and grace to help in your time of need.