Monthly Archives: June 2014

In Honor of Trey, for the Glory of God

We delivered the toys (9 boxes and 4 big sacks), circled up and prayed asking God to use these toys in many children’s lives, shed some “happy tears,” and hopefully were a blessing!

God, You are good! Thank You for continuing to use Trey! Please hug him for us! We love you Super Trey!!! We know you’re not missing out, we’re just missing you!

A big thank you to the ladies from the hospital who helped us, including our friend Lisa Hale!




Some thoughts for weary travelers like me

I know I’ve been posting a lot lately…but much is in my heart. Here are a few encouragements to my fellow weary travelers in this life…to those who have said or will say, “I can’t live like this or with this for the rest of my life”…for the one with chronic physical, relational, and emotional pain…BE ENCOURAGED:

Although God will bring 100% healing eternally, sometimes temporally, He chooses to hold us instead of heal us. Thank you Lord for this gift!!!

Without faith it’s impossible to please God, but faith’s focus must be Jesus Christ – and no one draws close to Christ who doesn’t first share in His sufferings.

Sometimes God delivers us from the storm and at other times He delivers us through the storm! It’s completely in His hands.

But I trust in You, O Lord; I say, ‘You are my God.’ My times are in Your hands.” Psalm 31:14-15

You can’t teach about suffering from a textbook!

Jesus is a battlefield Jesus who is at my side in the dangerous, often messy trenches of daily life. He is my rescuer, ready to wade through pain, death, and hell itself to find me, grasp me, and bring me safely through! The more intense the pain, the closer His embrace!!!

Our suffering is the key to helping God’s desires become our desires…why? Because His power is PERFECTED in weakness!!!

In God’s grace, He foresees your fear and doesn’t chide or scold you for it. He anticipates it and provides way out of it for you! Amen!!!

Many Christians don’t see God in their trials. If no dramatic miracles seem to be happening – if the floods aren’t receding or the cancer isn’t in remission, they think God must not be at work. If we could only watch God work behind the scenes, we would have a greatly expanded view of His miraculous work!

God is moved by your tears! He stores them in a bottle (Psalm 56:8). His compassion is so great that He remembers your afflictions for all time. He loves you and suffers with you. Keep trusting and resting in Him…one day you will be TOTALLY free!!!

As Christians, we have been totally and eternally healed of sin by Christ’s wounds (Isaiah 53), but He may not choose to give temporary deliverance and relief from your current pain…BUT whether he grants relief to the temporary pain or not, just remember, that healing is right around the corner in our Father’s house!!!

Bottom line: God can do as He likes. HE IS GOD! As Isaiah declares, “My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.” And as Job says, “He stands alone, and who can oppose Him? He does whatever He pleases.”

-I’m indebted to Joni Eareckson Tada. I’m reading her book, A Place of Healing, from where many of these thoughts come.

Carrying Us All Along

I wish I could say today was easier than it was, but it wasn’t. Today was a challenge for the whole family. It was very difficult going back to the hospital where Trey was born, the hospital where he was treated on and off for 7 years, the hospital where he spent over 200 days in 2012-2013, and the hospital where he stepped into eternity with Jesus! Medical City Hospital carries many memories, both good and bad, for our family.

It was particularly difficult seeing my oldest daughter grieve so hard today, my two sons shed tears remembering the times they spent with Trey in the hospital, and my youngest daughter grieve in her own way as she continues to try and make sense of it all…and to see my wife struggle so deeply as she remembered the countless hours she spent with Trey there and the precious memories she carries in her heart. I found myself asking, “How can I shoulder all this. It’s just too much. How can I heal, and minister, and preach, and lead, and on and on? God, I just can’t do it.”

And do you know what…it is in those moments where God shows up strong. He thrives showing Himself strong on behalf of the weak. He loves hearing his kids say that they cannot handle stuff because he knows that is when we begin really depending on Him. Well, that is what I was reminded of once again today…I don’t have to shoulder all this, I can’t shoulder all this, God does not expect me to shoulder all this. God simply asks me to trust Him and yield control to Him. He wants me to give it ALL to Him.

I was also quick to realize that God has been the one shouldering everything all along anyway. You probably are familiar with the famous poem “Footprints in the Sand”…well today, I realized that has been more than a poem for me, it’s been a reality. As the poem says, “In the hard times in my life, there was only one set of footprints.” But why? Why would God leave me during those times? He didn’t! As the poem says, “It was in those times that He carried me.” God has been carrying me and my family all along, even when we didn’t and still don’t realize it. His grace has been sufficient and His power has been perfected in our weakness. I am so grateful to God for the grace, patience, and strength He has provided to us.

Any way, today was tough…but, we made it through…just as we have been doing the last 9 months, one breath and one step at a time. I’m so grateful for my family. They are doing so well. They are each trusting in the Lord in their own way and I am so proud of each of them. We pulled together today…we asked the Lord for help…we received tremendous prayer support…and we are still standing. God has been so good to us and continues to take our shattered hearts and put them back together…something only He can do.

Oh how we miss Trey…all of us…but we rejoice that because of Christ, we will see him again. As I was driving this morning, I had this thought: “Death would be unbearably bitter if it weren’t for the sweet taste of heaven that comes only through the glorious hope Jesus Christ provides!” I can’t imagine having no hope. Jesus is our anchor and our hope today and every day. As the old hymn says, “Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow.” We are living the reality of that truth every single day.

Thank you for standing with us in prayer today. We love our extended family in the Body of Christ. So many of you have been such a blessing to us. We love you! Tonight, as I lay my head on my pillow, and remember the day Trey stepped into eternity, I am reminded of a few words from a new Stephen Curtis Chapman song called “See you in a little while” that means so much to me:

“I hold your hand and watch as the sun slowly fades; far in the distance the Father is calling your name and it’s time for you to go home

And everything in me wants to hold on
But I’m letting you go with this goodbye kiss and this promise

I’ll see you in a little while
I’ll see you in a little while
It won’t be too long now
We’ll see it on the other side
The wait was only the blink of an eye
So I’m not gonna say goodbye
‘Cause I’ll see you in a little while”

Thank you Jesus for the glorious hope of heaven…thank you for carrying Trey all the way home, and one day us too. Thank you that we will see him in a little while. We rejoice in You and worship Your holy name.

Father’s Day…Dad Life

In honor of Father’s Day, here is a video we made a few years ago. Trey loved this video and showed it to all the doctors and nurses. He thought it was hilarious! Love you Trey!

God keeps using Trey

Toby Robert Stewart went to be with Jesus June 12, 2013

Cynthia Ann McMains went to be with Jesus August 18, 2013

Trey Robert Freeman went to be with Jesus September 1, 2013

As I shared about Toby, Cynthia, and Trey last night and shared how Trey came to know Jesus, 21 children asked Jesus to be the boss of their life! To know that eternity was changed last night and that God used my 7 year old little boy’s journey to do it…just makes me smile!

“Life is less sweet, death is less bitter, heaven is more real.”

Pray for my family this week

Heading back to kids camp brings to mind a flood of memories from last year. This time last year, my brother and sister-in-law, Ben and Jeannie Stewart, had a rough week. On June 12, 2013, their 85-day-old son, Toby, went to be with Jesus. I remember driving back-and-forth from camp last year just praying for a miracle. Of course, Trey was in his own fight at the same time, along with my mother-in-law who was battling cancer as well. I remember getting the call that Toby had taken a turn for the worst and was close to stepping into eternity. I didn’t have long to get to Dallas, but I sped there as quickly as I could, and walked into the PICU in just enough time to be there with Ben and Jeannie, and my wife, as Toby breathed his last earthly breath, but took his first eternal breath in the presence of Jesus. It was a heart wrenching time, but the Lord was with us all, carrying us every step of the way.

Toby went to be with Jesus on June 12, and in August, his grandmother and my mother-in-law, Cynthia, went to be with Jesus, and not long after that, Toby’s cousin and my precious son, Super Trey, went to be with Jesus as well. Needless to say, the summer of 2013 was a difficult season of life for our family. Our hearts were shattered in many ways, but slowly the Lord is putting the pieces back together. None of us will ever be the same…we have all been changed forever…and every day, we are asking God to hold us, to carry us, and to keep making us more like His Son, Jesus Christ.

Please life up my brother and sister-in-law this week, as they approach the one year anniversary of their son stepping into eternity with Jesus Christ

Calvinism and the SBC…can we unify?

Anyone who has been following current events in the SBC, on even the smallest level, has heard by now of the issues surrounding Calvinism in the SBC. The SBC put an advisory committee together just to address the issues, numerous reports have been given, books have been written, panels and conferences have been held, and on and on. I’m not naive or stupid enough to think I will resolve the issues in this short blog, but I would like to offer a few thoughts, even if I’m the only one to benefit from them.

As I think about the future of the SBC, and with the annual convention approaching next week, there are a few things I would like to share that I think need to be in the minds of all people, especially leaders, in the SBC as we seek to move forward.

1. Definitive statements either for or against Calvinism are in and of themselves a part of the problem.

I’m a pastor and the church I shepherd is not immune from these issues. Any preacher who teaches the Bible seriously will have to address important doctrines. There is no way around election, predestination, foreknowledge, and most importantly God’s sovereignty. Likewise, there is no way around faith, repentance, Lordship, etc. Honestly, what faithful preacher would want to get around any of those doctrines? The only way to deal with them is by teaching straight through them. However, and this is where some of the problems begin, as you teach through them, you quickly discover there is not universal acceptance on some of these doctrines. We would all agree that election is taught in the Bible, but what exactly does that mean? Who are the elect?

As we know, answers for centuries have been given to these big and broad theological subjects, but the doctrine of election cannot be definitively defined, and to attempt to do so either way, leads to problems. It is okay to have a position, I have a personal position on election, but to attempt to say that one position is the definitive position is troubling. This is where the non-Calvinists say, “See, that’s my beef with Calvinists, they think they have it all figured out.” What I would say is, “Aren’t you saying the same thing though by declaring that your view is absolute also?” I am discovering that non-Calvinists are guilty of the same thing they accuse Calvinists off…which is, “My way is right and your’s is wrong.” So, what’s the solution? Well, that’s my second point:

2. Pastors need to get comfortable, as well as lead their people to get comfortable, living with certain tensions in the Scripture!

If Calvinism could be definitely proven or disproven,we wouldn’t be having the continued problems that we have…and I wouldn’t be writing this blog. The issues surrounding these important subjects will not be resolved this side of heaven, and we won’t care when we get to heaven…SO WHY DO WE CONTINUE ARGUING OVER THAT WHICH CANNOT BE RESOLVED????

I know it sounds like a “wishy washy” thing to do, but I honestly think it’s the most unifying thing we can do on these subjects. We must get comfortable living with these type of tensions in the Scripture…God is sovereign…PERIOD, but man is responsible…PERIOD! If we are to move forward as a denomination, we cannot drive unnecessary stakes in the ground, for when we do, we only further divide our denomination and get distracted from the Great Commission! This goes for people on both sides too!!! Non-Calvinists need to stop attacking Calvinists and Calvinists need to stop attacking non-Calvinists. Again, it’s okay to have a position, just don’t insist that your position is the only possible position and those that don’t agree with you must be idiots. Both sides needs to admit they could be wrong. Embrace the tension and focus supremely on the Gospel of Christ!

3. Pride needs to be repented of on both sides!

Whenever I see attacks from either side, there is always so much visible pride, and it’s so disheartening. Accusations are made, names are called, labels are attached, etc., and it’s just all so ugly. None of it reflects Jesus. People should be ashamed at some of the things being said and done. For the Calvinist who thinks all non-Calvinists are just stupid…REPENT of your pride! For the non-Calvinist who has the audacity to say that Calvinists present a false gospel representing a false god…REPENT of your pride! None of it brings glory to God and we are so foolish to engage in such pride-filled ego matches that only build ourselves up and tear others down. Jesus said we would be known by our love for one another, but we are far from that! May grace and gentleness be known among the brethren, especially as we deal with difficult things.

4. Nobody witnesses like they should regardless of their Calvinist or non-Calvinist position!

In my church, what I have discovered is that NO ONE witnesses like they should. Non-Calvinists love to say that Calvinists don’t witness, when in realty they don’t witness anymore than the people they are criticizing. Here’s an idea, instead of criticizing each other, why don’t you go evangelize together!!! If you’re so concerned about who is and who is not witnessing, why don’t you just resolve the issue and go witness together. Stop the name calling, labeling, and hypocritical accusations and begin doing the work of an evangelist together. What we’ve discovered in our church is that people from different positions on this, who serve and evangelize together, often have more in common than what they realize. Just get out and start witnessing together…it will bless you.

5. Really get to know people who differ with you on these issues!

So many people love to draw conclusions about people they don’t really know…we are all guilty of this. Take some time and get to know people who are different that you. If possible, pray together, study the Scripture together, calmly discuss things, listen to each other, and encourage each other. There is a certain level of respect you should have and develop for people who think differently than you do on these things…and yes, there will always be crazies and extremists on both sides, and you won’t be able to control them, but I’ve discovered many people to be level-headed on the issues, we just need to take the time to get to know them.

6. Finally, in all things, let NOTHING…NOTHING distract you from the Great Commission!

I love Philippians 1:27 which says, “Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel (Philippians 1:27).” Oh, if only the church would live this. We waste so much time fighting, debating, arguing, etc. Let us ALL stay focused on the Great Commission! Some need to stop trying to make a name for themselves in the SBC and start being a voice of wisdom! I’m convinced some people are thinking they need to stamp Calvinism out so one day Baptists can look back and say, “Thank you for saving our denomination from such evil people.” If that’s you, repent! Likewise, there are some who think, “Maybe I’ll be remembered for leading this denomination out of their theological ignorance and be responsible for getting the SBC to be Calvinistic!” If that’s you, repent!

It’s not about us…any of us…it’s about Jesus! Please, we need voices to rise in the SBC up who will keep us focused on Jesus and His Gospel…that is ALL that truly matters!!! May our denomination be known for a fierce love for Jesus and one another. We must stop the bickering and focus on the Gospel. As the annual convention approaches, Baptist brothers and sisters, please, let’s not embarrass ourselves…let’s come together, rise up, and focus only on what matters…JESUS and HIS GOSPEL!!!

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