Archive | October, 2014

LESSONS FROM MY FRIEND DAWN

21 Oct

My friend, Dawn, passed away on Sunday morning.

I had not seen her in probably close to 20 years other than on Facebook.  When we were in junior college, we hung around quiet a bit. I was over at her house or she was over at mine. We didn’t “date”. We weren’t “together”. It was never anything like that. We were just friends. Good friends. The type of friends that would talk to each other about whoever our crush was at the moment. That type of friend.

She was hard not to like. She loved everyone and probably didn’t have a single enemy. She had this infectious laugh. She snorted. She did a summer youth ministry in South Texas when she was in college and they gave her a pig cake as a going away present.

We all went our separate ways after that. I used to say “I’m going to get in touch with her” or “Wonder what she’s doing now”. But I never picked up the phone to find out. I never did anything to find her.  My best friend, Dan, caught up with her for a very brief moment when they were both at Texas Tech. But I never kept in touch. Not like I should have.

Then I found her on Facebook. It was honestly like picking up where we left off.  We talked through instant message and we joked around and found out what each other was doing. I saw that her last name was now “Jonas” and she had two boys so I said “Now, you’re the mother of the Jonas brothers!” She replied “Not only that, but I married one of the Jonas brothers!”.

But after a while, that communication also went by the wayside.  We both saw each others posts but we were too busy to keep up.  At least, not through direct communication.

Then one day I started noticing some particular posts.

“Praying for Dawn Sampley Jonas”

“Hang in there, Dawn Sampley Jonas! My family is praying for you!”

So I got to inquiring. A former youth of mine (when I was youth minister in Fort Worth) was a mutual friend of Dawn (it’s weird how Facebook works like that) filled me in on the details.

Dawn had cancer and it wasn’t looking good.

I lifted her up in prayer. I posted on her wall that I was praying for her.

But I doubt she ever saw it.

On the way home from a prison ministry weekend, I was informed by the same mutual friend, that my friend Dawn was now in Heaven.

I say that with no doubt. At all. Dawn is in Heaven. I know that because I know she had a relationship with Jesus Christ that now carries through eternity.

But it got me thinking.

She was my age.  Believe it or not, that’s still relatively young.  As my old high school buddy texted back when I told him the news “way too young”.

Shakespeare said that life is like a vapor. It comes quick and vanishes away.

Some country music artist said “we are only here for a little while.”

Both are right.

None of us have any guarantee of how long we will be here.

Proverbs 27:2 says “Boast not yourself of tomorrow for you know not what a day may bring forth.”

Hebrews 9:27 tells us “It is appointed unto man once to die and after this the judgment”

We have no guarantee.

We live life like we are invincible. And that is a good thing. I don’t believe that we should look for death around every corner. What a waste!

But when it comes to relationships?

Yes, we should.

Grudges. Unresolved feelings.  The idea that “I’ll take care of it tomorrow.” None of these should apply in our friendships.

Never withhold a moment to tell others how you feel about them. Never turn down an opportunity to bless someone with encouragement.

My goal in life? Few regrets in regard to relationships.

Never pass up an opportunity (when it’s clear that God is giving it to you) to tell others about Jesus. So many are lost, dying, and headed for Hell. Jesus said “I am the way, the truth, the life. Nobody comes to the father except through me.” Never turn down the chance to tell someone about Him.

They need to know that you are a sinner just like they are.

Romans 3:23 says “we have all sinned and fallen short of God’s glory.”

They need to know that the price for that sin is death .

Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death…”

But there is a way out.

Romans 6:23 “.. but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.”

All they have to do is understand that He came to give us eternal life.

John 3:16 “For God so loved the World that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believe in Him will not perish but have eternal life.”

And all they have to do is invest in a friendship with Him.

They need to know that. If God prompts you to do it, please don’t say “Tomorrow, God!”. You have no guarantee of tomorrow.

My friend Dawn knew Jesus.

But I have many friends who don’t.

And so do you.

Never pass up the opportunity to tell them.

And never, never, pass up the opportunity to encourage one another.

Never pass up an opportunity to give a kind word.

I Thessalonians 5:11:

“Therefore encourage one another…”dawn

Dear Ma

9 Oct

Dear Ma,

I miss you. It has been nearly six years since you left us for your home in Heaven. I well remember the day I got the call from Mom telling me that her mother, my grandmother, was now gone from our sight. I remember holding onto my wife and crying. For all of my growing up years, you had been larger than life. Oh, you had your times of ill health. But I never worried about it taking you.  I just kind of felt like you would always be here.

You taught me much just by how you lived. For you, family was everything. You would make calls and check on people that we only saw once a year at family reunions (if we came to them). You remembered birthdays, anniversaries, everything. And everybody heard from you buy a card, letter, or phone call. If you had ever owned a computer, I can imagine you would have burned up the email system.

I find it is something missing in my life. In fact, I have to tell you I’m kind of ashamed of myself. I have cousins that I was close to growing up that I honestly have not had a serious conversation with in years. Their sons and daughters are growing up, attending college, getting married, and they don’t know my family and I don’t know theirs. I can say that it is a two-way street but I could have learned from your example initiate contact. I know that it is not too late. And my resolution for 2015 is to try to bridge that gap . I learned from you. You never let people get out of your life. And I’m sorry that I did.

You and I would definitely disagree on the Baptist “political spectrum.” I still get email from “the other side” as a result of your attempts to “convert” me. I cannot bring myself to cancel it. I accept it every time in honor of you. To this day, I do not agree with you. But I respect your beliefs.

The same can be true for national politics. You voted always of the Democratic candidate for as long as I can remember. I, of course, did not. I remember getting literature from you trying to show me “the other side”. Nice try but it never worked.

But you were never hateful about it. You never labeled me because I stood for some things and against others. You knew I loved the Lord just the same as I knew you did. We disagreed on politics, styles of music in the church, styles of preaching… And yet still loved each other. The world could learn much from our relationship. In a world of labeling and stereotyping, I am glad I have your example to look to when running into disagreements with others.

And forgiveness? Wow, I hope I’ve followed half that example. At one time or another, we probably all hurt you with words and actions (in our immaturity and self centeredness). You would be mad… No question about that. But when we finally came to our senses and. Apologized, forgiveness was instant. Nobody had to jump through hoops. You just came and forgot,

In short, if I’ve never told you, you left a legacy. One that will live on for years to come.

See you in Glory someday,