On this Saturday Morning, I am sitting at the kitchen table in Raleigh. I am here with my family to celebrate the life of our sister in law – Lisa, who is battling breast cancer. She is the wife of Martha Jo’s brother – Bobby Austin, who is the Solo Pastor of a growing church in the Raleigh area. Lisa, only 39 years old, with two adopted children, has fighting this disease for almost two years now. The doctors have found lesions on her liver and a number of small growths on her lungs. At this point, her body has failed to respond to any of the drugs used to treat this type of cancer. She is now trying alternate drugs and we are praying together for a miracle. The The family has gathered in Raleigh to pray for Bobby and Lisa and celebrate their birthdays – both occurring this past week.
This morning, both Bobby and Lisa were struck with a violent stomach virus that has kept them from joining us.
Meanwhile, I believe in, I trust in, I cling to, I rest in, I hope in…the Sovereignty of God. I must believe that God’s hand is in all of this. I must believe that there is more than this life. I must accept that we are all here this weekend by God’s Grace. I must believe that Bobby and Lisa are exactly where Christ wants them to be. We are where He wants us to be. We are at His Loving Mercy. We are in His Grace Filled Grip.
This morning I am preaching on Matthew 7:1-5…
“How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
Lord Jesus. How can I preach this message without addressing the plank that is my own eye? I find in myself a dual desire that operates at almost the same time. On one hand, I try to ignore the plank. To say that I am not that bad. To pretend that I am not hungry, I am not thirsty, I am not poor, I am not angry, I am not evil. I compare myself to others – I am not as bad as him, I am not as hungry as her.
Jesus. Help us to love you. How often we say – ‘we love you’ – with no thought to what that means. It is so easy to say those words. Yet, were it not for your love for me it would be ridiculous to make such a claim. If I cannot love my wife properly – if I cannot love my children, my friends, a stranger, or my enemy – then how should I think that I can love you? To love your perfection. To adore your holiness. To extol your beauty. To worship your sovereignty. I should not love these, but hate them. I should hate your perfection because your perfection brings light to all my failures, your holiness reveals my wretchedness, your beauty unveils my ugly, your sovereignty magnifies my impotence. Who would want such a friend? Who could feel at home before your throne? I cannot say, “I love you, Lord.” Except that you first love me. I have too much pride, arrogance, anger, and unforgiveness. I cannot say, “I love you” – lest you, by your mercy, move upon my wretched soul.