I have a cousin who I grew up with. We’re both 35 years old. We went to the same school, were even in the same class together. We met our wives at the same time and same place, I was the best man in his wedding, and we married only 6 months apart. I have three kids 6-9, he has four kids ages 4-12. He’s a wonderful husband and dad. A month ago I was called and told he had a seizure at work. The subsequent scans showed possible tumors on his brain. He has since went through multiple doctors and hospitals, ending up last week at Mayo clinic. They have now determined that he has stage 4 glioblastoma brain cancer, multiple tumors throughout his brain, and the ones they can see/get to are only the tip of the iceberg. One of the main ones they won’t even be able to operate on because of where it is located. He just went through his first surgery on Tuesday to get a biopsy, and will soon begin chemo and radiation. Unless God chooses to heal him, my cousin and my friend Joseph won’t be alive for much longer.
The thing is Joe is well prepared for this. He one of the most rock solid Christian men I know. I talked with him on the phone the other day, and while he is concerned for his wife and children, he is at peace with his Lord, and is only concerned with using this situation to glorify God. I am totally heart broke for him and his family. I can’t stop thinking about it, and even dreaming about it. However, notwithstanding the emotions and family grief, I am almost jealous of what he may very well be getting ready to see and experience in heaven. More specifically who he is about to see and experience. I am excited for Joe in that he is a Godly man with a very real and very deep relationship with God. I wish I was half that man he is in that regard. As the news sinks in, it makes me think even harder about my life and my priorities. Most of the things we chase and pursue in life have no real value in eternity. They’re worthless longterm. They will have no value to us or anybody else in a hundred years. Even the memories we make and so thoroughly enjoy will not matter at that point. The amount of great hunts we had, the slammer bucks and bulls we killed, the awesome trips and sights we got to experience, none of it will matter. The only thing that will matter is what did we do for God and His kingdom. Our ultimate destiny rises and falls on the hearing of seven simple words at the end of our life: “Well done, you good and faithful servant”. For my cousin Joe, I have no doubt he will hear those words.
My question to everyone who reads this post is this: What are you doing to prepare? We all have probably experienced a lack of preparation come game time. It is not a good feeling, but that is nothing compared to the feeling of dread we will have if we are ill-prepared when we stand before the great and terrible Judge of the whole universe. I was recently on vacation and spent time with Bowsite’s Matt and Adam Pauls, both solid Christian dudes. As our conversation drifted between hunting, work, family, and God, Matt told a story and made an analogy I won’t soon forget. He told me of a friend that had went to prison for having a huge marijuana grow op on his farm. He told me how his friend relayed to him all the justifications he had made in his own mind over the years regarding his grow op. Never being able to get ahead in life, the government taxes, they’ll just legalize it anyway, etc…. Matt said his friend finally got busted for the grow op, and the friend relayed to Matt that as he sat in the courtroom about to be judged, all those previous, seemingly right justifications didn’t matter. They were hollow and insignificant in that moment. All that mattered was that he had been found with a $2 million dollar grow op on his farm and was standing before a judge about to pass sentence.
It will be the same with all of us. All the little justifications we have made over the years, from “I didn’t go to church or follow God because of the judgmental hypocrisy of Christians”, to “I didn’t believe because of the suffering I see in the world” or “If God was real He would, insert _”, "The man upstairs and me have an agreement" etc, etc…. they won’t matter at that point as we stand in the presence and under the scrutiny of God the ultimate judge, about to pass sentence. I would be lying if I didn’t admit that one of the hardest things for me right now is trying to wrap my mind around why God would allow Joe and his family to go through this, especially considering what a tremendous servant for God Joe is. I do know that we live in a cursed, fallen world that is the result of sin, but God is good, all the time. This life is hard, but what God has in store for those who love Him trumps it all. He said in His word that “eye has not seen, nor has ear heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man what God has prepared for those that love Him”. Here is the thing: You don’t have to believe. We have a free will. If you do believe you don't have to follow, we have free will. However, Jesus wasn’t interested in fans or even “believers” but fully committed followers. His words were “Whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take up his cross daily and follow after me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”
So I repeat the question. What are you doing to prepare. What are you doing right now, today, or tomorrow that you will be thankful you did in 100 years, or a thousand. What are you doing today that you will regret in 100 years or a thousand. I know we talk a lot about how short life is on the Bowsite, and how we need to enjoy the moment, etc…. but what about enjoying eternity? Are you storing up treasure there or trophies here? I’ve waxed on long enough, but when you go through a life experience like my cousin is, everything stops, and things come into an amazingly crystal clear focus. I hope for each one of us here on Bowsite, that focus will be clear now, not later. I can't say it plainer than this, I beg you to turn you life over to Jesus Christ and follow him.
“seek first the kingdom of God and it’s righteousness and all these things will be added unto you”.
I consider you a friend, so don’t take this the wrong way, but I will carry no guilt for enjoying the life and natural world that has been gifted me. I stand before God with a clean conscience. I’m worth more to my family being happy than being the miserable work-horse I was before I allowed myself to fall head-long into bowhunting. I’m the happiest I’ve ever been and there’s nothing shallow about that.
One thing I realized years ago, was that the only time I really pray and talk to God, is when I’m alone in the wilderness. When I’m in church, my mind constantly wanders to the outdoors. I’m not saying that I shouldn’t be in church, but my time alone in the woods is an essential part of my well-being, health, happiness, and spirituality.
I just want to hone in on the really important things in life, and make sure the "all these things will be added to you" part isn't taking priority over the "seek first" part. I'm not a huge book reader myself, but if you ever want to read a great one, read "Not a Fan" by Kyle Idleman. He says it way better. So does the link I posted.
To answer your question personally, not enough.
God Bless your friend. He can't lose, but I pray for his family and that they are able to pick up the pieces if God calls him home.
I’ll be praying for your cousin. That’s a hard road to go down. I lost a friend of mine a week ago. We weren’t close friends but we had known each other many years. She developed a blood clot and passed at 40 years old leaving behind a husband and 3 school aged kids. This life is short, all too short for some of us. Make every day count.
Respectfully, anyone who believes that Christianity is about about church attendance has a secularized 101 understanding of the faith. I state that as someone who very much had that impression for a time. BTW, according to the NT, Christians are "officially" absolved from observing the sabbath. That stated, I generally believe a sincere Christian will eventually and happily participate in the structural conventions of the Faith - to some degree- to further the kingdom of God. Regardless, Christianity is infinitely more about carrying Christ wherever you are than where you find yourself sitting at 10 AM on Sunday.
Another aside, I do not believe the "bearing of one's cross" equates to being miserable. Certainly not chronically. Frankly, if you find yourself miserable in anything you are doing, you are not doing it well, Scripturally speaking. Sure, life will have moments of acute worry, sorrow, grief and fear. I am not talking about transient emotion but entrenched psychological states of being. And applying God's wisdom is the antidote to spiritual privation.
I agree with you about the irrelevance of much if our priorities here on earth but my belief is every day offers multiple opportunities to impact others in tiny ways and big ways. Something that seems small to us could be a life changer to that person. That is our “present” mission. Present is all we have and will ever have on earth.
I agree with you about planning for the future life is critical but I believe the one and only way to do that is live in the present moment and impact others in any way you can.
I am a work in progress which I’ve come to believe is part of the plan as well. Just like being a great bow hunter there’s always room for much improvement.
You are the leader of your family and I can tell you are impacting them every day. C
"Whatever you hand finds to do, do all to the glory of God" that includes bow hunting! I am endeavoring to use it as a better vehicle to touch others than I did when I was a bit younger.
-Bowfreak, a favorite source of mine is fond of saying, "The purpose of life is to know God and make God known." I can't shoot holes in that statement, not logically, anyway.
As far as our salvation, one only needs to accept Jesus as their Lord and personal savior.
BUT....now the hard part....if we love Jesus we will obey His commands, we will feed His sheep and we will bear fruit. James tells us that our works don't save us, but if we have faith.....the works will follow. There is no limit on love. The cross is heavy and being a Christian is difficult and it doesn't get easier with spiritual maturity....the burden becomes greater.
Justin, you never mince words or, confuse the word. Its what I highly admire about you. You get it right concerning your relationship and duties as a Christian.
- I would disagree in that, with spiritual maturity, the "burdens" increase but the "load" gets much lighter.
Prayers for your cousin and his family.
Prayers are sent for the sick and weak, and I will pray for a miracle for your cousin!! But also for you all as well, we all need prayers, and we all need to support each other in ALL things, and lift each other up!
I will pray hard for your cousin tonight and pray Our Lord smile upon him. ...as far as preparation: I do not believe that we as mortals are able to prepare nor are we expected to prepare for “ PART 2” when we are wholly engaged our entire life unpacking the irrepressible “part 1”, never to be revealed may I add, save the foundation and depth of our Faith. Those who believe in God realizes that HE has forward and unquestioned information concerning “yesterday, today and tomorrow” and bestows upon us the strength required to walk the paths on that which He has placed us. The journey from the known to the unknown as we arrive presents God’s grace to us unconditionally, preparation not necessary. Our Lord Has instilled in us to see the best, forgive the worst, forget the bad and the faith that you carried throughout your life will be your reward when we enter His kingdom. Live your life on Earth according to your plans influenced by God and your afterlife in God's plans influenced by His own hand.
The Rock...I purposely made part 1 and part 2 as "part" of our lives....
A few that spring to mind are: “But each one should build with care. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames“
The interpretation of this is not difficult. The foundation we lay is Jesus Christ, afterwards we need to be building with gold and precious gems, in other words kingdom lives. Once we get in the door we have only made the first step. Interesting that Paul says there will be those whose works are burned up, but they themselves will be saved. It is clear that we are to be preparing for eternity, and storing up treasures in heaven. When my work is tried I hope not to suffer loss.
Another passage tells us to redeem the time, and again, Jesus tells us to store treasure in eternity. Another passage says that we will give an account for the deeds done in the body.
The book is full of admonition to prepare. As I said acceptance of Jesus is only the first step. So my question is to both camps. Those who do not know him nor are currently following him, and those who do, but are building with wood, hay, and stubble. I very often find myself building with that kind of material, but I’ve had a very abrupt realization of it this week. Leonard Ravenhill prayed “God stamp eternity on our eyeballs” That is how I want to live my life. If Christ followers were truly living our lives with an eternal mindset then our society would not be in the current state that it is in. Instead we’re more worried about our retirement than we are our eternity, and the eternity of those around us.
My goal was not to sidetrack this into a theological discussion. Those who read this thread and who need to hear it I pray and hope you will have your conscience pricked. I ask that God will move on your life and that you will be stirred to a greater desire for truth and for God.
Click the link I posted and watch it so poignantly explained.
...again, to highlight the genesis of this thread...
May God Bless and touch your cousin,