Friday, November 29, 2013

Repent America

Thus shall I strip you naked, America and give your wealth to another nation,
for your sins of injustice upon the poor of this earth.

The cries against you have reached my ears
from the workers at Foxconn you have devoured whole;
from the families in Kenya you have stolen resources from;
from the men, women, and children working as slaves in China, Africa, India, and Mexico who make your clothing,
shoes, and luxuries.

Night and day they beg for mercy from you, but you will not listen.
They stand barefoot and naked while they make your shoes and clothing.

The Sins of Sodom are heaped upon you. The Sins of Laodicea are tattooed upon your heart.

I will show no mercy to the nation that wears my Name as they rape the weak and exploit the innocent.

With your lips you speak praises to my Name, but your hearts are far from me.

On the day of your Judgment - which I will bring swiftly upon you - you will say to me,
"Did we not invade nations in your Name and drop bombs on our enemies?"
And I will reply,
"Depart from me, you workers of iniquity. I never knew you."

Surely you will say to me, "We have grown rich and rise to power because the Lord our God has blessed our wars, our guns, our exploitation of the poor." 

But I will say, "Truly, you have never known me."

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

What About Hell?

Many Christians today believe that the Gospel is about helping people to escape an eternal suffering in Hell. But what they don't realize is that the scriptural evidence for an eternal hell is pretty hard to come by. In fact, there seems to be a lot more evidence for a hell that is limited and purposeful rather than punitive and eternal.
If your entire Christian walk centers on escape from hell, the suggestion that hell isn't eternal can be challenging, to say the least.
Moreover, if you're only a Christian because you don't want to burn in hell forever, you might not actually have any interest in following Jesus (which is actually what being a Christian is supposed to be about). You might only want to avoid endless pain, making your profession of faith little more than a totally selfish act.
But doesn’t Jesus talk more about Hell than anyone else in the Bible? Well, yes and no.

Jesus does teach that those who reject Him as Lord will suffer in Gehenna, which we translate as "Hell", but His contemporary hearers would have understood this as a reference to the garbage dump outside the city gates. At best, Jesus is using this constantly burning trash heap as a metaphor for what will happen to those who die without His life in them.

At the resurrection, when Christ returns, both the righteous and the unrighteous will be raised from the dead to face the Judgment seat of Christ. (See Matthew 25) Those who love Christ and who have followed Him will be raised to live forever with Him in the New Heaven and the New Earth. But those who do not belong to Christ will be raised for...what?

That’s hard to say.

Yes, Jesus warns that unbelievers will be sent to a place of torment – a place that should be avoided at all costs – but we do not know for how long these people will suffer in this way.  Jesus does say that the fire will be eternal, but we are not told that the people, or the suffering, will be eternal.

Jesus tells us that in Gehenna there will be weeping (Matt 8:12), wailing (Matt 13:42), gnashing of teeth (Matt 13:50), darkness (Matt 25:30), flames (Luke 16:24), torments (Luke 16:23), and "everlasting fire". (Matt 25:41)

As scary as this may be – and Jesus did emphasize that this was a fate to avoid at all costs – it does not specifically teach us that Hell involves eternal suffering.

We have to balance these statements with verses where Jesus warns us to fear God who:

"...can destroy both soul and body in hell." (Matthew 10:28)

For most of us the idea of an eternal hell is almost universally accepted as being what the Bible teaches. We almost cannot imagine any other view being taken seriously. However, that was not always the case. In fact, for MOST of Church history, there were 3 different views of Hell, and the eternal suffering viewpoint was in the minority.

Note this reference in the New Schaff-Herzog Christian Encyclopedia which says: 

 "The earliest system of Universalistic theology was by Clement of Alexandria who was the head of the theological school in that city until 202 A.D. His successor in the school was the great Origen, the most distinguished advocate of this doctrine in all time." (From the New Schaff-Herzog, page 96, paragraph 2)

"In the first five or six centuries of Christianity there were six known theological schools, of which four (Alexandria, Antioch, Caesarea, and Edessa, or Nisibis) were Universalist; one (Ephesus) accepted conditional immortality; one (Carthage or Rome) taught endless punishment of the wicked." (From the New Schaff-Herzog, page 96, paragraph 3)

So, what are the other two views? One is “Universalism” which teaches that those who die without Christ will suffer for a time in Hell but eventually everyone will accept Christ as Lord.

The other view is the “Annihilationist” view which teaches that those who die without Christ will suffer for a limited time in Hell and then be destroyed forever and cease to exist.

So, throughout the centuries, Christians have disagreed with which view of Hell is correct. Many Christians are also unaware that when Augustine attempted to refute the Universalist view of hell – which was the majority view in his day – he freely admitted that his doctrine of eternal suffering was against the grain.

What are we to make of this? If it seems that the Old Testament scriptures hardly mentions the topic, and if Jesus speaks mainly of the "death" (perishing, destruction, etc.) of the unrepentant sinner, and if the early Church had no grid for the concept of eternal suffering, and if both the Old and the New Testament Scriptures affirm that only those in Christ have eternal life, then the views of Annhilationism and Universalism (after a period of suffering/punishment) seem to be much more in line with the whole of Scripture.

At the very least, all of these facts certainly make the commonly held doctrine of Eternal Suffering seem very weak in comparison.

In the final analysis, Christians should have mercy with those who disagree with their view of Hell since all three views have scriptural support and on this side of the grave none of us can decisively claim one is more correct than the other.


Monday, November 25, 2013

Mortal Souls

Christians often evangelize by telling people that every human soul is eternal and that after we die we will continue to live in immortality. The only question, we suggest, is whether or not we will live forever with God in Heaven, or suffer forever in Hell.  But is this idea actually taught in the scriptures? I would say, no. Here’s why.

From the beginning, in the book of Genesis, why does God banish Adam and Eve from the Garden after they have sinned? He says it's so that they won't "eat of the Tree of Life and live forever." (Genesis 3:22)

So, apparently the only way that Adam and Eve would live forever is if they were to eat from the Tree of Life.

Remember, the punishment Adam and Eve received for eating of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil? It was this: "You shall surely die" (Genesis 3:2)

Now, if death was the punishment for their sin, and if they were prevented from eating from the Tree of Life because to do so would be to "live forever", then are human souls inherently eternal?

I don’t think so. For example, Jesus says:

“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life..” (John 3:36)

“For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it. “ (John 5:21)

Yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.” – (John 5:40)

“Very truly I tell you, the one who believes has eternal life.  I am the bread of life.” (John 6:47-48)

I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” – (John 10:10)

Paul and the other Apostles also affirm this idea that only those of us who are in Christ have life, and without Christ we have no life beyond this one:

"…your life is hidden in Christ" and "when Christ, who is your life, appears, you will appear with him also." (Colossians 3: 3-4)

"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)

“Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.” (1 John 5:12)

Therefore, the evidence of scripture seems to overwhelmingly support the idea that only those who are in Christ will enjoy eternal life. Those without Christ, will not live forever but will, as Jesus warns us, “perish”. (See John 3:16)



Friday, November 22, 2013

UNBELIEVABLE TRUTH #7 – Jesus Sets Us Free From Every Sin

My internet friend, Brant Hansen, said something the other day that inspired me to write today’s blog.

What Brant noted was that we tend draw the line between good people and bad people. If we do good things, God will accept and love us, but if we do bad things then God will hate us and punish us. But, as he wisely pointed out, Jesus never drew those distinctions between good people and bad people. Instead, Jesus seemed to always draw a distinction between proud people and humble people.

Humble people receive God’s mercy and grace, but God opposes proud people. (See James 4:6, 1 Peter 5:5, Proverbs 3:34)

What matters, then, is not “being good” or “being bad” but coming to God with humility.

See, God isn’t looking for a few good men. He already knows there aren’t any. Instead, God is looking for humble people who are willing to receive His wonderful gift of life and justification through faith.

I was also looking again at a series of verses in Acts 13:38-41 where Paul affirms something equally amazing, saying:

“Through Jesus, the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you…everyone who believes is set free from every sin – a justification you were not able to obtain under the Law of Moses.”

Most of us don’t really get that. In fact, that’s why Paul goes on to quote Habakkuk 1:5:

“I am doing something that you will not believe, even when someone explains it to you!” (quoted in Acts 13:41)

What’s the thing that we cannot believe? It’s the idea that Jesus has “set (us) free from every sin” and that we are now fully and totally justified under the Law of Moses – AS IF WE KEPT THE LAW PERFECTLY. Even though we don’t keep the Law perfectly (because we can’t), Jesus DID keep the Law of Moses perfectly and then (get this) He transferred that justification to every single one of those who put their trust in Him.


What if we actually believed this message? Well, if we did it would mean that we would live like people who were not condemned for their failures. We would live like people who really believed this:

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” (Romans 8:1-4)

Over the weekend I was sharing this exact verse with a brother in Christ and after we were finished he said something like this:

"How awful to miss what Jesus has done for us on the cross."

That is exactly what someone might say who hasn’t yet understood Romans 8, and Acts 13 because after hearing this truth our first reaction is to put ourselves right back under condemnation again.

Don’t do that.

The point for us is that Jesus has set us free from every sin and has justified us "as if we kept the Law of Moses perfectly" because Jesus DID do that in our place, and then He shared that work with all of us.

So, rather than being down on yourself for not seeing it - just see it and accept it and start walking in the light of a new day, rejoicing in the freedom that Jesus has given you and the FACT that you are set free from sin and from condemnation!

Go ahead and say, "Woo-hoo!"

You might even want to jump for joy. I'm serious. Find a private place where no one is around and jump into the air and say "Praise God!" because that's an appropriate response.

Try it! And then make it your mission to daily wake up and remind yourself of the Truth: I am set free to live without condemnation from God because Jesus has done what I could never do – kept the Law of Moses perfectly – and now I live in the reality of God’s Grace as if I had kept the Law perfectly. Not because I have, but because Jesus did and He gave that gift to me.

Keep saying it until you really believe it. Then spread the Good News.


Thursday, November 21, 2013


America is not the messenger of Jesus. America is the messenger of Death. She masquerades as an angel of light, but her hands are full of murder and bloodshed. She is the Angel of Death.

America kills more people around the world than Al Quaeda every day.

America spends more of its money on creating instruments of death than any other nation on Earth. More than the other fourteen largest nations combined.

No one loves death and war more than America.

America allows her own children to starve so that the most number of weapons can be built to kill as many people around the world as possible.

American is an Empire, and like all Empires, America rules by death and fear and the sword. All while pretending she is for freedom and truth and democracy.

America has more power than Rome ever had. America has the capacity to kill more people around the world than Rome ever dreamed of. She exploits more poor nations around the world and rules by intimidation and fear.

America is nothing like Jesus. She is not Christ-like. America is a bully.

America will kill children for financial gain.

America will exploit the poor to build greater wealth for herself.

America believes that if it can kill enough people, the world will become a better place.

America does not love freedom.
America loves money.

America does not love the poor.
America loves Herself, and money.

America's God is not Jesus. Her only gods are comfort, and safety, and luxury. War, and death and deception are in her heart.

America's God demands a human sacrifice, which Her citizens readily, even tearfully oblige.

We call them "Heroes". We say that they are fighting for our freedoms and defending our rights as American citizens. But the truth is, they are dying for none of those reasons.

Our dear sons and daughters are sent by the thousands to die on foreign soil so that our richest Corporations may earn Billions more in profits.

The rich get richer. The poor die, or get poorer. 

America is not beautiful. America is not christian. America is an empire that crushes, kills, exploits, destroys, and lies about with a smile.

"Behold, this was the guilt of your sister (America): she and her daughters had arrogance, abundant food and careless ease, but she did not help the poor and needy. Thus they were proud and committed abominations before Me. Therefore I removed them when I saw it." (Ezekiel 16:49-50)

"And I heard another voice from heaven saying, “Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues. For her sins have reached to heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities. Render to her just as she rendered to you, and repay her double according to her works; in the cup which she has mixed, mix double for her. In the measure that she glorified herself and lived luxuriously, in the same measure give her torment and sorrow; for she says in her heart, ‘I sit as queen, and am no widow, and will not see sorrow.’ Therefore her plagues will come in one day—death and mourning and famine. And she will be utterly burned with fire, for strong is the Lord God who judges her." (Rev. 18:4-8)

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:13-15)

11/16/13; 4:45 a.m.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


Early on Saturday morning I woke up around 4:30 am. I had two short phrases in my head and I knew that I could just go back to sleep and probably forget them or I could get up, find some paper and a pen and start writing down what was beginning to form in my head.

I got up.

The first thing I wrote was the post "Love Chapter (Remix)" which I posted later that same day. So far the response from that has been very positive.

The second thing I wrote was a little more controversial.

Because of the sensitive subject matter of what I'd written I decided to share it with my friend, Herb Montgomery. His response, while positive, was essentially that it would likely get me into a lot of trouble once I posted it for everyone to see. This only confirmed what I had also thought after I had finished writing it down and reading it back to myself out loud.

Today, partly as a joke and partly to prepare people for what I was about to post, I sent out a Tweet that said, "Just wanted to say goodbye to all those who will probably stop following me after I post my article on Thursday. It's been fun."

But seriously, I do expect that many of you will decide not to follow my blog after you read what I've written later this week. If so, that's OK with me. My prayers lately have been that the Lord would begin to speak to me more clearly, and I believe that this article is probably only the first of many such articles to come. So, if you don't like what I have to say on Thursday, you should probably go ahead and check out early.

Some of you might wonder why I am going out of my way to cushion the impact of the article in this way. Let me assure you, it's not because I am afraid of losing followers. It's also not because I want you to agree with me.

Here's why I'm writing this pre-post: Because I want you to hear me out before you judge what I have to say. I want you to prayerfully, soberly, take what I've written to heart before you decide that the things I'm sharing are coming from a place of arrogance, or (worse), from some sort of political perspective.

Once you've read what I have to say, you're free to disagree, to unfollow me, and to write me off as a nut job. Many have already beaten you to the punch. That's OK. All I ask is that you spend at least a day prayerfully considering what I've said and searching the scriptures to see if there might be any truth to what I've written.

If you can do that for me, I'll be extremely grateful to you.

Thanks for your attention.


Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Love Chapter (Remix)

And now I will show you the most beautiful way.

If I build a church that's larger than a football stadium but I don't love people the way God does, I am nothing.

If I write books that sell millions of copies and made Oprah's favorites list, but don't love my enemies, then I am worth nothing.

If I have a Television show where I take money from the elderly and the weak-minded and twist the scriptures around to promise endless health and a faith without suffering, then I am not of Christ.

Love is not violent. It does not kill. It does not carry a weapon. Love does not shed blood, unless it is bleeding for the sake of others.

Love is not arrogant. It does not insult. It does not carry a sign full of hateful words. Love never causes others to doubt God's goodness and mercy.

Love always transforms, always serves, always gives, always kneels down to touch the outcast, the homeless, the orphan, and the sick. Love washes the feet of the proud and the broken alike.

Love does not withhold mercy from those who do not deserve it. Love freely rains down goodness and relief and hope upon the hopeless.

But where there are wars, they will cease.
Where there is violence, there will be peace.
Where there is hate, it will pass away.

For we know full well that our Lord Jesus Christ has commanded us not to kill, and we know
that He spoke to us of loving our enemies, and turning the other cheek, and walking the extra mile, and blessing those who curse us, and doing good to those who hate us, and laying down our lives for others, and loving our neighbor - even if that neighbor hates us with all of his heart.

When I was a non-disciple, I thought like one, and I acted like one. But when I became a follower of the Prince of Peace, I put away violent things.

Now, we see but a poor reflection of Christ in ourselves, and in the Church, but one day we will see Him in our own face, and in one another, more clearly.

And now, these three remain: Hate, Arrogance and Love. And the greatest of these remains to be seen.


11/16/13; 4:45 a.m.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Little Seeds

There was no way I could have anticipated how my little suggestion would explode and impact the lives of hundreds of people on the other side of the country.

It was just another meeting at work. One of our vendors wanted to hold an event with our sales team in Buffalo to promote their “Build To Order” network during the week of September 11th.

A few ideas were tossed back and forth, and then I said it: “Why don’t we have our sales team build backpacks full of school supplies for low-income families?”

It was a winner. But I had no idea just how big it would be.

Weeks went by and I heard nothing. That, in itself, is not unusual. I almost never hear feedback about how these things go. It’s rare to even get a photograph after the fact. But then the news started coming back to me.

At first it was only a comment from the vendor rep who said, “Keith, that was the single best thing I have ever seen or been part of at this company.”

Wow. I was shocked. Then came the internal email which provided photos and details which were overwhelming.

Over 400 backpacks were stuffed with supplies by hundreds of associates in less than two hours. Two schools in the Buffalo area were awarded 200 backpacks each. Then it got really awesome.

Cisco, the vendor, donated $1,000 for every hundred backpacks we filled. So each school received a check for $2,000 in addition to the backpacks and all of the leftover supplies.

But the story wasn’t finished yet. Not by a mile.

When the principals for each school showed up to receive the backpacks they were stunned. One woman, when she saw what was waiting, burst into tears while describing how many of her students are Refugees. “Some of these kids barely have clothing and can’t afford school supplies,” she said. “This is a dream, how could they be so lucky?”

By the time she was done telling the stories of these children there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.

Then Cisco decided to make this an annual event. And then the Wall Street Journal did a story on it.

Best of all? Both of those schools will have funds freed up to fund other important programs that, without those checks, would have been cancelled completely.

Not bad for a simple idea at the end of a conference call on a random Tuesday.

Want to know what I love most about all of this? It’s that I have been asking God to show me the fruit of my ministry for a few months now. Mostly because I’ve been feeling as if I need to do more, or be more, or serve more. Then God shows me how much He can do with the most simple and random actions we take. Even when we’re not trying to bear fruit, He can do so much with so little.

It really is just about bringing our two loaves and a fish to lay it at His feet. He is the One who does the real work. He is the One who gets the Glory.

I keep seeing the picture of someone carrying a large sack of seed to the newly plowed field and every little seed that drops off along the way is springing up, growing stronger, bearing fruit – just as He designed every seed to do.


Saturday, November 09, 2013


Yes, 47 years ago today, the fabric of space and time pulled back to reveal this fragile and yet strangely troubled soul.

It was a day of wonder and tears.

Cigarettes were burned. Laughter echoed down the hallway. A mother's heart slid into gear.

The angel's sighed, and one of them farted, but no one knew which one it was so they pretended not to hear.

It was a day of love so great it hurt to breathe.

Glad to be here, my friends.

Hope to be here a bit longer before I join the flatulent angels.


Thursday, November 07, 2013

Repent Or Likewise Perish

“Now on the same occasion there were some present who reported to Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices.  And Jesus said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were greater sinners than all other Galileans because they suffered this fate? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:1-3)

Pilate, as a Roman ruler over Jerusalem, had essentially one job; to keep the peace. Sometimes that took the form of appeasing the Jews when they were angry, and at other times it took the form of putting down rebellion against the Roman Empire.

We know that Pilate was a cruel man, and history bears witness to that fact. But Pilate was not arbitrarily cruel. As one who had a vested interest in keeping the populace happy, he was not prone to using deadly force on a whim.

So, taking what we know about Pilate into consideration we can safely assume that those Galileans who were killed in the temple as they offered sacrifices were in the act of rebellion against the Empire. Especially since we know that this time in Roman History was littered with would-be Messiahs who routinely gathered followers and made attempts to overthrow the yoke of the Roman government.

It was not uncommon for these wannabe Messiahs to seek God’s favor before they launched their rebellion. This almost always involved offering sacrifices to God in hopes that His favor would rest on them – and not on the Romans – as they set out to free themselves from Roman rule.

This practice was also indicative of a mindset that Jesus often tried to correct in his teaching. For example, whenever someone got sick or experienced suffering the assumption of the day was that this was due to some sin the person’s life.

You might remember when the disciples pointed out a blind man to Jesus and asked, “Who sinned that this man was born blind? His mother and father, or him?” Jesus was quick to answer, “Neither.”

Not only did the Jews wrongly assume that suffering equaled God’s judgment, they also assumed that a lack of suffering equated to God’s approval or favor. Jesus tried to dispel that idea often. But he also tried to teach people that violent rebellion against Rome wasn’t God’s strategy.

He had already told everyone that instead of following the “eye for an eye” method of resisting their oppressors, the way that God approved of was quite unconventional:
“You’ve heard it said, ‘an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth’ but I say to you, do not resist an evil person (that includes your Roman occupiers). If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also…If anyone forces you to walk with them one mile (a common practice of Roman soldiers), go with them two….You have heard it said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy’ but I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you..If you love only those who love you what reward will you get? Don’t even tax collectors do that?” (Matt.5:38-47)

In essence, Jesus here is warning the Jews that if they persist in these attempts to overthrow the Roman Empire by employing violent rebellion, they would “likewise perish” which means, literally, that they would die “in the same way”, that is, by having the Roman army slaughter them while they are in the Temple offering sacrifices.

Sadly, this is exactly what did happen to the Jews in AD 70 because they did not listen to Jesus. They refused to accept Him as their nonviolent Messiah. They refused to let go of their “eye for an eye” method of resistance. They refused to love their enemies (the Romans) and therefore they perished just as those Galileans did.

Jesus goes on after this to point out the death of eighteen people who were crushed when a tower in Siloam fell on them. Several New Testament scholars have suggested that this tower was a Roman stronghold which fell when Jewish rebels attempted to tunnel underneath it to reach the stockpile of weapons stored there in hopes of arming themselves for yet another rebellion. The tunnel weakened the integrity of the tower’s foundation and it fell on them and killed them and others living around the tower.

Once again, Jesus warns them that unless they repent of this lust for Roman bloodshed they would “likewise perish”, that is, by having Roman structures knocked over to crush them beneath the weight. This, again, is exactly what happened to the inhabitants of Jerusalem who were destroyed when the Romans made Jerusalem desolate in AD 70. [And the parable of the fig tree in the vineyard that follows this verse verifies that this destruction is exactly what Jesus has in mind here.]

The point Jesus wants to make is that it was not the sinfulness or righteousness of those people that brought the calamity upon their heads, as they were prone to assume. Instead, Jesus wants them to see that their lust for a violent messiah and a bloody uprising is what brought them doom, and unless they repented of that way of thinking and began to trust the nonviolent, enemy-loving way that Jesus was preaching, the entire nation would be lost to violence.

We still have the same choice today. As followers of Christ, our choice is clear. We obey Jesus. We trust Him. We do not put our hope in weapons or violence or bloodshed. No, instead we put all of our hope in the way of the Cross.

We embrace the wisdom of Jesus and we refuse to trust in violence because we are convinced that love is more powerful than any weapon formed by man.

Aren’t we?


Tuesday, November 05, 2013


A few weeks ago I shared a little about my prayer asking God to show me the fruit of my labors. It mainly came out of a place of feeling defeated and doubting my effectiveness in the Kingdom of God. But still, the Lord was faithful and He began to encourage me through various people who had no idea about my inner struggles, and slowly I'm beginning to see a little of the fruit in my life.

One of the ways He's been doing that has been to reconnect me with people from my past. For example, over the last few days I've heard from two former co-workers whom I've not seen in over ten years who each (separately) are feeling called to start organic church groups in their area. Both had been reading my blog and my books and asked me to help them move forward.

Then, on Saturday, Wendy and I attended a memorial reception for a friend's daughter who had died very young. While we were there I talked to several people from our previous church and one of them was a woman who drew me aside and said, "You have no idea what you've started." She then proceeded to tell me all about how she had first been inspired to serve the poor and care for the outcast while we were leading compassion ministries at that church. Then she told me about how she had been mentoring young boys in juvenile detention and in local jails, and how she had been knitting blankets for orphans, and many other wonderful things since we had left.

"This is your fruit," I heard the Lord whisper to me in between this woman's amazing testimony.

"See what you started?" she asked me. But I knew that most of what she was telling me had nothing to do with me, really. I put my hand on her shoulder and looked her in the eyes and said, "It sound to me like this is what you and Jesus started." She laughed and nodded her head and then she gave me a great, big hug.

The pastor at the memorial service shared an illustration about how our lives are like a tapestry. On this side of things, it looks like a tangled mass of thread; all jagged, random and messy. But God looks at the tapestry from the perspective of eternity. He sees it on the side that is beautiful and intricate, and perfect; exactly the way He wants it to be.

We have no idea how many people we impact in our lives, or how. Sometimes the Lord gives us a glimpse, but only a glimpse. We still have to walk by faith and trust that He is working everything out for good, whether we see it or not.

One day all the unanswered questions will make sense. The apparent pointlessness of our lives will reveal hidden meaning. The mysteries of why young mothers die and leave grieving children and parents behind will be revealed. The question of our influence on the people around us will be answered in full. 

And on that day, all of it will make sense, and all of it will glorify the One who is even now at work on the tapestry of our seemingly tangled, jumbled and random lives. 

I can't wait to see the finished work.