"Some day you will read in the papers that D. L. Moody, of East Northfield, is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it! At that moment I shall be more alive than I am now. I shall have gone up higher, that is all; out of this old clay tenement into a house that is immortal—a body that death cannot touch; that sin cannot taint; a body fashioned like unto His glorious body." -D.L. Moody, The Autobiography of D.L.Moody
Billy Graham used this quote as well, "Someday you will read or hear that Billy Graham is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it. I shall be more alive than I am now. I will just have changed my address. I will have gone into the presence of God." (according to Christianity Today article, "Someday You Will Read or Hear That Billy Graham Didn't Really Say That", Caleb Lindgren. click title for link)
What a mantra! If you can live these words to their fullest each day, I can hardly believe that you will regret the life you lived.
Billy Graham was a faithful follower of Jesus. You might not agree with all of his theology, but I dare you can say that he pandered to anyone. He simply lived to the best of his life for Jesus Christ and to share the message of Christ.
I confess I don't know a ton about Billy Graham. I don't really have to know much about him. All I need to know is how many have risen up to say how he used a message from God and his ministries as a tool to lead them to salvation. I'm sure he wasn't perfect. None of us are. He was a human on fire for God and never stopped sharing his faith to others. I have loved hearing different stories of him and how he pursued the gospel with his words and his life.
Thank you Billy Graham for your ministry to this world. Thank you for remaining faithful all of these years. You will be missed. May we all be dedicated to serving others and sharing the gospel message.
Someday you will hear that Michael Mercer is dead. Don't believe a word of it. I will be more alive than I am now.
And so will you.
Where were you 10 years ago?
I know where I was and will never forget it! I was in a hospital in Abilene, TX holding two brand new baby boys that fit perfectly between my hands and inner elbows. One was wearing a plain white stocking cap and the other a white stocking cap with a heart on the front of it. One was 11oz heavier than the other, which doesn't feel like much when they are both under 6lbs. The story of these two was amazing before they were born, at their birth, and a conintues today. Here's a bit:
Right before Leah and I left for a vacation we found out she was pregnant. We spent that week in awe and quite disbelief. The disbelief would continue through the next few weeks (which were some of the longest weeks of my life) until a doctor and a sonogram could confirm it. We met with the doctor and she was gracious, kind, and genuinely excited for us. We established in our short consult that if this were real, it would be our first pregnancy. On to the sonogram portion we go. I believe it is a spiritual gift given to OB/GYN doctors to be able to decipher those sonogram pictures/videos. Dr. M says: "Oh, there is your first baby." I must admit I lost a little confidence in her at this moment, because we had already established this was our first pregnancy, so yeah Doc that also means first baby. But before my foot could engage my mouth, Dr. M says: "And there is your second baby." Two things immediately happened with me. It was quite the swirling event. While these two things are happening, Leah is so enamored with the fact that there is something real living inside her; she totally misses the second baby comment. Not me. I don't have goo on my belly, no one is looking at my insides, and I lack the amount of nurturing ability to be that in awe of something I can't really see that looks more alien than human. So here come the two things as my head spins. 1. I say out loud, "What?! What do you mean second baby?!" Leah is still smiling uncontrollably at the fact she is pregnant. Dr. M says: You have twins. There is baby A and there is baby B. Now Leah is with us and looks at me and we stare at each other with amazement. I'm not sure what was happening in her brain at that moment. I'm sure it was maternal, beautiful, and full of love and compassion. Not me! At the moment the second thing is beginning to slow its swirl and I'm now processing what it was. 2. My mind hit the fastest rewind button you can find and as I stare at Leah, the sonogram screen, the Dr., my mind and somehow my entire being goes back to the summer of 1989 right before I reach 7th grade. I am sitting in a small group with a volunteer youth worker from Houston, TX at camp Iron Springs. He is telling us that he prayed for years to have twins, twin boys. Then like a video montage I see a year worth of prayers where my 7th grade self, inspired by this youth volunteer, prayed consistently to have twins, twin boys. Directly following this montage I spin back into the room and an unrelenting joy fills my being. That silly new dad smile that cannot be wiped off is there. That awe of God and what he does is there. And the only twinge of something other than joy that I could possibly feel in the moment is the idea of caution toward the power of prayer and then a quick memory search to think of other things that I might have prayed for during my adolescent faith. We leave the hospital with a great story to share and a time-release understanding of what just happened.
Leah and I arrive to the hospital around 5am a short 29.5 weeks following that initial appointment (I thought the few weeks was long). I found the fear center of my brain following the initial appointment and like a tightrope have walked life between worry and awe for too many months. We are sleepy, because let’s be honest, even the Lord doesn’t wake up before 6am. We enter our first room of the day to prep Leah for what will be a routine C-section. She is given her fluids, changes clothes, and they begin the epidural process. The nurses are prepped, the two doctors ready (because there are two babies) one which we don’t even know or even met, and we head to the operating/birthing room. I scrub in. I have one concern which I have at this moment completely fixated on, ok obsessed over, and that is to work the video camera to catch this momentous occasion without filming anything beyond the curtain that hides the actual surgical procedure. This was a rule that had been mentioned too many times not to be of crucial importance. The surgery begins and things aren’t great right away. Leah complains to me of pain and feeling the surgery. I share her pain with the doctors and nurses. Both doctors (because there are two babies) stop their work. Dr. M says nothing that I can remember. Other Dr. feels sure that Leah is being dramatic really only feels pressure. They begin again. It is getting worse. I have two choices. I need to get their attention. I can say it louder and more demonstrative or I can begin to video over the curtain. Trying to stay out of prison and the court system I choose the first option. At this point they believe us and make the call to have her go completely under. Told to us previously the rule was that if Leah goes under completely I must leave the surgical room. I chose not to bring this up, but that didn’t matter. They didn’t miss a beat and while giving her the anesthesia usher me out of the room, camera bag and worried husband face in tow. All I first thought was thank god I don’t have to worry about whether or not I mess up this video thing. Sorry, Leah, but that is true. I end up in hallway with another dad, whose wife was having their first baby and was involved in an emergency C-section at that moment. He didn’t look too good. I bet he thought the same about me. In fact, he’s probably writing a 10-year-old blog today and saying that same thing. Both of us hear a baby crying. We immediately look at each other, not knowing if it’s his or mine. The seconds and minutes that tick away between hearing a cry and receiving a child contain millions of lifetimes. A door swings open and a nurse with a baby emerges from an operating room. It’s mine. She’s coming to me. She is holding some subhuman offering into my empty arms. But it is only 1. Where is baby B? Or is this B? (They look alike you know). She shows me one of my sons, explains that they stimulated his breathing and stimulated his brother’s breathing, but have to stimulate the brother’s breathing once again. I look at this new creature that evidently belongs to me now and the nurse puts him in my arms. The other soon-to-be dad looks at me and since we have never met and never will again, gives me an air hug. Really he just stood there and looked at me, but I would like to think he wanted to hug me. I know I wanted to hug him. But I didn’t. It’s what the Bible describes as self-control. Soon another nurse and baby emerge from an operating room and again it’s mine. At this point I am praying prayers of thanksgiving. Not because Baby B is okay, and yes it was Baby B who needed two breathing stimulations, but because I’m grateful that I knew in this moment that there were two. Because if I had not know there were twins and the nurse emerges with a second baby, I will need to wait to see just how many are in our litter. Whew! The nurse now gives me Baby B and ushers me to the nursery. At that moment I could have literally counted on one hand how many times I had held a baby. And yet they are both in my arms and I am walking to a room 20 feet away. I hadn’t mastered at that moment how to walk and talk at the same time, much less carry two babies and walk. Luckily I made it to the nursery without any embarrassing or fatal incidents. Nurses who are also seasoned mothers take the two boys from me. The boys are weighed, measured, poke, prodded, and cleaned up a bit more. Then once again Baby A is given to me, and only Baby A. Baby B is having his breathing stimulated once again and his temperature regulated a bit (he looked like a Luby’s special under the heat lamp). After a bit of time, Baby B is given to me also and I am sitting in the nursery in front of the huge plate glass window holding the most beautiful baby boys I have ever seen. The nurses leave and there I sit. I sat there an hour performing like a zoo animal as my in-laws, sister-in-law, brother-in-law, a church member, and other passers by watch me. They take pictures, give me thumbs up, smile, and I am most assured wait patiently to see which one I will drop first. After an hour the babies are taken from me and put in a rolling cart and walk behind them and the nurses to find Leah. Leah’s has awaken from the anesthesia and when she first sees her brand new twin sons, is high as a kite because of the drugs from surgery. It was then and there we named the boys. Dylan Matthew and Brody Daniel. Which just proves your children can have normal, wonderful, great names even if one of the parents is not in their full faculties. The next few days are a blur as many friends and family came to the hospital to see us the new babies. We were prayed over and our earthly and spiritual families took great care of us. Eventually I left with that silly New Dad smile that cannot be wiped from your face.
10 Years Later:
It has been 10 years since that amazing day. The worry meter is at a reasonable level. I have yet to catch up on the sleep I lost when they were newborns. Maybe in 10 more years. The boys have grown immensely. Most things have changed. Some things haven’t. They are still beautiful, I still want to hug strangers when I’m proud of them, Leah is still an amazingly tough wife and mother, the physical and spiritual families are still incredibly supportive, and Baby B still from time to time has to have his breathing stimulated. I cannot complain. They are a great blessing from above. Probably the greatest blessing is theirs…the fact that a dad, who could barely walk and hold them at the same time, has somehow been able to not ruin them yet. Honestly, both of these boys are great leaders, compassionate, sensitive, humorous, passionate, honest, determined, intelligent, active, challenging, loving, merciful, forgiving, humble, and love the Lord with all of their heart, mind, soul, and strength. Leah and I couldn’t be more proud of them. They have made it to the double digits. Their 10 years have not been the most complicated, nor the easiest. They are learning something new every day and teaching us something every day. Sometimes they teach us patience and other times it is just the right lesson that God needs us to learn. I love them with my entire being and even though they were born at the same time, I love them equally and yet uniquely. It is a miracle that God gives us parents. 10 years later and I still have that dad smile that cannot be wiped from my face.
Not Complete Without This Word:
10 year olds don’t happen on their own. I love my kids, but honestly they wouldn’t love me as much and I wouldn’t be as an effective parent as I am if it were not for their mother. Leah is gifted with children. But even more than that, most if not all, of the characteristics of the boys above are due to Leah. She exhibits these qualities as well and isn’t bashful about teaching and guiding them in the boys as well. The connection that was created through the womb is one that has a lifetime guarantee. She is their mother. I have known them for 10 years. She has known them for 10 years and 37 and ½ weeks. Leah is an incredible mother and wife. We don’t go this journey alone, but I must admit that mothers never slack along the journey and when we fathers do; they keep their slack and take up ours as well. This isn’t just their 10-year-old birthday, it is hers too. Thank you sweetheart for all that you have done, do, and will continue to do. The things seen and unseen. I love you!
So Happy 10th Birthday Dylan!
Happy 10th Birthday Brody!
Happy 10th Birthday Leah!
We are blessed beyond measure!!!
Every year around Ash Wednesday I am convicted of the things in life that distract me from God. I try to give something up each year. My previous church practiced the placement of ash on the forehead in the shape of the cross. Something about that act made the commitment much more convicting. Even though that was 6 years ago, this time of year sill keeps my mind and soul together during the Lenten season as I think about what God is doing in me and how I can keep Him my focus.
Every year when Valentine's Day approaches I inwardly groan. Not because I don't have a Valentine. I do and she is far beyond what I could have ever asked for or imagined. It is because I cannot think of anything clever or romantic to show her my love. It causes me a bit of anxiety.
This year the two came together. Ash Wednesday and Valentine's Day. And what I see posted and written most is how Ash Wednesday is going to be difficult during a holiday known for its indulgence in chocolate and sweet things. All I can think about is our current culture and the climate of our society.
As I write this, it is only one day after 19 people were killed in a school shooting in Florida. We are close to war with Korea. Racism has risen in prominence. Our political landscape has more to do with what we think of the people in charge rather than what would be best for and ENTIRE nation. Selfishness is abounding. Words are hateful. Social Media posts are accusatory and judgmental. Racism is being defended. Sexual misconduct is being outed. An Olympic athlete wins gold in Winter Olympics at South Korea and all people want to fixate on is the fact that he accidentally dragged the flag on the ground and stepped on it. We love demonizing all sides that aren't ours. Capitalism is celebrated as our greatest victory or defeat. Refugees are being deported and walls are being planned to fence out our neighbors. We protest abortion and beg for capital punishment and call ourselves pro-life. Our answer to the world's problems, Nation's issues, or personal disputes is violence. We bail out corporations from debt and castigate those on welfare and do our best to block honest hard-working people from receiving a decent minimum wage, while hard-working CEO's receive millions in bonuses. We blame educational systems and teachers for declining education in our country and yet demand that only the rich should enter college or have those who cannot afford it, pay for college the rest of their lives. We claim freedom of religion when really it is just a freedom to practice Christianity. We talk down about other nations, especially 3rd world countries, and within their borders live an exceptional number of brothers and sisters in Christ.
Our country has been in a season of lent. That sounds good, but the thing we decided to give us is LOVE! Maybe having Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday on the same day can wake up the Christians in our nation. Instead of focusing on how hard it will be to celebrate romantic love without chocolate, we can focus on how we can give up judgmental attitudes, hateful speech, celebration of violence, covert racism, sexual deviance, and our worship of nationalism. And not just lay these things down, but for 40 days practice LOVE in their place. We have given up on LOVE! If we haven’t given up totally on it, we have at least decided to hide it in a deep crevice of our Christian toolbox. It is time to spend 40 days practicing LOVE! Maybe if every Christian in America did this, our societal climate would change for the better. No, not maybe! It would for sure!!
When we fast, we fast for the good of others, just as Isaiah says:
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter--
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
9 Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
“If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.
That will look much like LOVE!
7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
1 John 4:7-12
Don’t Give Up LOVE!
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