Monday, May 26, 2008

Memories on Memorial Day

No, Linda was not in the service of our country - but, she was definitely in the service of our Lord. Linda Faile Talley was a true kingdom warrior. She was a servant like few I have ever known. She grew up in a pastor's home, so she knew what she was getting into when she married me. But, Linda saw our family as the real deal as far as kingdom service goes. The fact that we were at TVR and Grace Community Church only meant that those were the avenues - the venues - in which we served the Lord. I miss her today, deeply. I wanted to honor her memory, and I thank you for remembering with me. She was one of God's greatest, ever!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Link to a Joyful Wedding!

It struck me recently that I had not written about Michael and Laura's wedding - what a joyful weekend that was! Did we miss Linda - how could we not!?! Was it joyful, anyway? ABSOLUTELY! Some of our dearest friends, James and Jenny Tarpley, were the photographers for this occasion. You may know that Jamey was director of TVR for three years. Well, now Jamey and Jenny are at the absolute top of list as photographers. Not sure about that? Judge for yourself and I think you will agree that every word I have written in this post is true!

Monday, May 19, 2008


I am so very busy. In addition to preaching tonight (Monday) through Wednesday night at revival services in a local church, I will officiate at a wedding on Saturday, I am have a very difficult text for Sunday's message, and we have an elder's retreat on Sunday and Monday.
I covet your prayers. As I have said before, distraction has its advantages.

In spite of my schedule, I have been thinking about Linda quite a bit, which can be painful. The reason that those memories are painful is because she was so incredible and our relationship was so good. I am blessed - the memories could be painful as a result of regrets, but I have none. By that, I don't mean that I think I did everything right. Far from it, in fact! We live in a fallen world and we are going to make mistakes. Of course I think about certain things I did/said over 31 plus years and cringe, but I still have no regrets.

Bittersweet. Maybe that's the best way to describe my reverie that takes me back to more gentle days. I often find myself smiling through tears as I remember my sweetheart.

Well, not much more to this one. I find myself wanting to talk about my relationship with Linda much, much more than I do, but I do not want to burden others with my reflections while life goes on. I guess that's why I decided to do what I try to avoid - write for purely personal reasons with little attempt at encouragement or instruction. Thanks for reading.

Busy, I am, Yoda! Back to work.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

I Don't Want . . .

While I am sure that no one is particularly fond of needles that are stuck inside one's body, I positively loathed them as a boy. Now that I am in my fifties, I am aware of their value in delivering medicine to aid my body, so I endure them. You would have ejoyed the show I put on as a little boy, though, when I perceived the piercing of my skin to be imminent. I hated shots so much that when my mother said that she was going to take me to the doctor (which she would not do unless I was REALLY sick), I would cry and say over and over again, "I don't want a shot! I don't want a shot!" (Maybe that is one reason it was so terribly difficult for me to give Linda as many as eight to nine shots a day her last few months.) Unfortunately for me, I went to Dr. Crumpler who thought that penicillin was the panacea of all panaceas. The nurses would come out into the waiting room and give all present a shot, whether they were patients or not. It's not that I am lying, maybe I am just remembering big!

I still cry, "I don't want . . .!", but my heart is looking backwards, not forward. Sometimes when I think about Linda- especially when I see a picture of her - I will immediately cry out, "I don't want her to be gone! I don't want you to be gone!" But, she is gone.

Before I continue, I must say a word about writing in the first person singular. The person typing this post prefers not to participate in the "Age of Me." (Just in case, said person is moi') Well, since the heart is deceitful (Jeremiah 17:9), perhaps I should say that I don't like to be caught indulging cathartic ruminations about self. Anyway, the reason I feel compelled to write is that I have received so much encouragement from so many of you. You have told me how much it helps to identify with a fellow-struggler. So, the person typ . . OK, I will continue.

I have always been a rather emotional person. When I am "up," life is grand! When I am "down," life can be painful and difficult. Years ago I decided to attempt to regulate my emotions. That meant not allowing myself to get so excited in the good times, nor to allow myself to go to the depths of despair. Even though the difficult spots have been relatively brief through the years, they have been intense and I felt like I needed to limit them. Usually when I get down, I can listen to some melancholic music and feel better. Go figure. In fact, I could have written "Sometimes I Feel Like a Sad Song" if John Denver had not beaten me to it. Oddly enough, a little sad music makes me feel better.

Not this time. Not that I have quit listening to sad music, but I do miss by baby. I still have the ups and downs, so you may catch me laughing heartily. As I have told you before (maybe several times), soon after Linda died, I went to a place that I did not know existed. After about two weeks in the deepest hole I have ever experienced, I decided to manage my grief. I do not mean that I have built a wall and shut my true emotions off. I just didn't think it was healthy - physically, emotionally, or spiritually - to stay in that place. So far, I think it was a good decision. Even so, I frequently find myself crying out, "I don't want you to be gone!"

In all of my pain, I find God to be both patient, and drawing me to Himself. Since I indulge my grief, I am so grateful that He is patient. I want to "want Him" more than anything in this world. I am not there right now, but I sense His call and I am at peace, even when I am sad.

If you are grieving and you want to correspond directly, please reach me through our website: I would give you my personal e-mail, but several of you have not been able to get through to my embarqmail account. One of these days I am going to switch to gmail. Even now, I can hear the cheers from the under thirty crowd. God bless you - but only those under thirty, and those thirty and over!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

A Good Word

In fact, a very good word! Check out this link for a good word from one of my favorites, James McDonald.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

These Days

It has been just over two months since Linda went to be with the Lord. I am so grateful to be able to say that. I often do not think first about where she is - just that she is gone. These days are busy days - extremely busy days. I am back at work full-time and then some. It is not only a great privilege and blessing to be participating in kingdom service with my dear brothers and sisters in Christ, but it is a distraction from the pain of living alone now that my true companion is gone.

God's grace is ever present. When we consider God's grace, our tendency is to think of comfort and peace. In fact, I am certain His grace is the greatest when we feel as though we are barely hanging on. We speak of the need for grace to endure a difficult time, but somehow we have an expectation that all pain and sorrow will instantly be eliminated and smiles will slowly creep onto one's face. In the case of bereavement, time will certainly heal the deep wounds that once threatened one's well being and laughter will undoubtedly ring again (both a result of God's grace), but in the hours after the loss of someone so precious, God's grace may be very much on the scene, yet, indiscernible, in the darkest of places. We may feel utterly alone, yet His grace is sustaining us, even so. When we look back, we may wonder how we ever made it.

Thank You, Father, for walking with me even when I am unaware of Your presence. You are better to me than I could ever expect!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Our Mysterious God

Even though we live in a Postmodern Age, we are, nonetheless, children of The Enlightenment. We have inalienable rights, you know, like “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” We like our questions answered. Anything that can be scientifically verified – well, so much the better. We like mysteries – as long as they can be solved, or if there is expectation of a sequel. Mysteries that can’t be solved? Those kinds of mysteries tend to make us uncomfortable.

Our discomfort with the unknown may be the reason we feel such a compulsion to understand everything there is to know about God. It may be at least a partial explanation as to why so many “open-minded” men and women cannot get their minds around the discrepancy found in a good God allowing, or – logically and ultimately – causing, bad things to happen. When tragedy befalls a good person, it is even more alarming, and an explanation is demanded.

Rather than give an apologetic response to a theodicy (theological jargon for “God good, bad things happen”), let me simply ask – would you really want a God about Whom you can know everything? Since evil is a reality, would you want a God Who is unable to prevent catastrophes from occurring? NO! Or, maybe, sort of, sometimes.

Some things are absolutely unexplainable. God does not have to give account of Himself when things go awry. There is much that we can know about God, but there is much we will never know about God in this life. Ezekiel got a glimpse of God and described what he saw in the first chapter of the book that bears his name. Well, I suppose you could call it a description. It is quite fuzzy. The Apostle John had a similar experience that he described in Revelation 4. His description was very much like Ezekiel’s attempt. God is mysterious. Fortunately, the fuzziness clears in Revelation 5 when the Lion of the tribe of Judah appears as a Lamb that had been slain, but now reigns in power and glory.

Deuteronomy 29:29 reads, “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.” On which part of that verse do you usually focus? Most of us probably prefer to focus on the latter part of the verse because we want to know as much as we are allowed to know. That is a noble desire, indeed! Our challenge comes when there are no answers for the big questions of life, and especially when we happen to be right in the middle of one of those big question issues, such as when a personal tragedy befalls us.

“WHY?” That is the ultimate question, isn’t it? Why does God allow pain to envelope those who love Him so much? In our hearts we know that such a reversal is not borne of cruel intention, but, why?

The appropriate response for such a place is: trust. Remember, there are mysteries that cannot be known at this time. One day we will know as we are known (1 Corinthians 13:12). Until then, we must allow God to be God. When we are willing to do so, we begin to realize how much bigger He is than we are able to comprehend, and all of a sudden, mystery is not such a bad thing!

To accept God’s sovereignty and to acknowledge that He is mysterious does not mean that we should become content with just enough knowledge to function effectively as a Christ-follower. The best way to contemplate God’s mysteriousness is to think deeply about the things we do know (found in Scripture) about God. Do not be in such a hurry when you read and/or study God’s Word. When we are in a hurry, we may get the surface truth that God intends for us, but we may miss the richness of our sovereign God in our haste. As we meditate on what we do know, we become aware of a God Who is so much bigger than we are.

So, while the bulk of this article has been an encouragement to believe those things that you do understand, and to accept and trust those things that you do not understand, I want to close by letting you know that when you pass these first two steps, a world of wonder and amazement awaits as you contemplate our wonderful, powerful, loving, mysterious God.