I Lost a Friend Today

My nephew Zachary James Smith, died today @ 3:05 pm.  One year ago, the day before Mother’s Day, he learned he had stage 4 colon cancer.  I have a feeling I’ll have a few things to say about Zac over the next few days and weeks.  A couple of weeks ago he called and asked my to give the eulogy at his funeral.  But tonight I simply want to say, a very dear friend of mine died. He left this world and joined Jesus in the next.

Tonight I went to the NewSpring service alone. Most of the family went this morning while I stayed behind with Zac and Mandy.  I loved every minute of my day.  As we arrived at his house, I couldn’t believe I had the chance to speak with him one more time.  More on that later, maybe.

As I walked into NewSpring, I suddenly realized how surreal this was going to be. To be at Zac’s church, without Zac. There’s really no reason I would ever be in Anderson, South Carolina, or NewSpring Church, or know a handful of amazing people who I now know because of Zac.  I sat in the back and wept through most of the service. This one time, I kinda liked the idea of being alone.   The music, the memories of walking around the campus and the auditorium with Zac. This is only my 3rd visit to this place, but I’ve felt a sweet connection with this part of Zac’s life.  I really wanted to walk upstairs to his office and see his coworkers and say hi.  I wanted to walk to where his desk was. But I didn’t. I’m grateful for the memories of Zac throughout that place of worship and work.  I’m grateful for the many people that made that a special place for Zac.

My thoughts are many tonight. But for now, let me just say, Zac was not just a nephew that I loved, he was a friend. A really good friend. I already miss my friend.

News and Thoughts

Resurrection Sunday is coming. I can’t wait.  Not just because most churches have a lot of people. And not because I get to have an extra special meal on that day.  I can’t wait because it really does mean something to me personally.  I get it.  Jesus rose from the dead.  If you’ve been in church-world very long you say and sing those words almost without thinking.  But stop and think about it.  “Because Jesus rose from the dead…”

Last Sunday I preached on the cross and my points each started with; “Because Jesus died on the cross…” I’m not done with my sermon for Sunday, it may or may not have that familiar sound to it, but I’m liking it.  So, what is different in your life ‘because Jesus rose from the dead’?  I’m thinking that’s huge.  Go ahead, think about  it and I’d love to read your comments below.

Here’s some news.  This morning I was told that Duane and Becky Witt’s daughter was on CNN.  Here’s the link if you want to check it out. I know her as Vanessa, but her name is now Giada! Pretty cool.  This is a great reminder to pray for her and many others that are serving in our military operations around the world.

As you pray this week, please pray for Mary Olson and her sweet family.  Mary learned yesterday that cancer has spread in her body, particularly to her bones. This is hard news, but they are confident of God’s love and care for Mary, as am I.  They are pursuing answers so they can make good decisions.

I noticed today Zac has a new blog update. You can click on it on the top right side of this page.

Thanksgiving and Family

Laurie and I are enjoying a few days here in Oregon with her mom.  Today, we’ll drive over to the coast and meet up with more family for the feast day tomorrow.

This Thanksgiving I’m very aware and grateful for my family.  I spent a few days in South Carolina early this fall with my nephew Zac and his great family.  I’m blessed with great family all around.  I have a great mother-in-law.  She’s easy to be around and is very grateful for the little effort I can put in to do a little clean up here and there.  Laurie comes from good people.

I’m also thankful for my side of the family tree.  I have lots of them to be thankful for. We don’t get to be together very often. But when we do, it is a highlight.  I could spend Thanksgiving with any of my family members and be a happy camper.

I’m reminded of how this all came about.  You see, my dad, and Laurie’s dad, came from what we would today call a broken, somewhat dysfunctional home. Had they carried on what they grew up with, I can’t imagine where I’d be today.  But, the Lord graciously saved them.  They single-handedly changed the world for a whole slew of us kids.  15 kids grew up in 2 Christian, God-honoring homes.

I don’t dwell on that very often, but when I think of it, I’m blown away.  Two young men came to Jesus.  Maybe later I’ll write more about that. Today…I’m just thankful.

Arrived in Anderson

I’m grateful for the opportunity to visit my nephew Zac and his family here in Anderson, South Carolina. I’m here for the weekend to explore more about his church NewSpring and spend some time with the family.

This morning Zac gave me a tour of the facilities @ NewSpring. http://www.newspring.cc/

I’ll give a few more updates through the weekend.

I’m excited for what’s happening at Grace this Sunday. Join me in praying even today, for God’s favor as the church meets this week. I’m praying for my bud, Greg Tonkinson, who will be teaching, and I’m praying for all the volunteers that make Grace happen each week. You guys are the greatest.

Headed to Atlanta

I’m currently in the air headed to Atlanta, where tomorrow I’ll begin my 2 hour drive north to Anderson, SC. I’ll be spending the weekend with my nephew Zac and his great family. We secured these plans some time ago. I’m thrilled to be able to enter his world for a few days. Zac serves at NewSpring Church in Anderson. I’m looking forward to seeing where he works and worships.

At Grace this weekend, I’m thrilled to have Greg Tonkinson as our teaching guest. Greg and I went to Phoenix Seminary together. He’s taught at Grace before. You DO NOT want to miss this. Matter of fact, do me a favor, and invite someone to come with you. Seriously, you’ll be blessed. Let’s have more in church when the pastor is out of town. Why not? Everyone expects the opposite. Go ahead, surprise me!

Remember this Sunday is the Children’s Ministry Orientation. It’s not too late to sign up for this amazing opportunity to serve the children of Grace. Call the office Thursday and let them know you’re in!

I’ll be checking in on this blog throughout the weekend with updates on my time with Zac. If you haven’t seen his blog recently, check it out on the side of this page.