The Mummy

The Mummy

September 14th, 2009

 

We went camping with all of our adult kids (except Emily) and five grandkids over Labor Day weekend to Rickett’s Glen in the Endless Mountains of PA. We had so much fun. The video clip below is of The Mummy.  The story of the Mummy began when John and Andrew realized that their tent was highly vulnerable to the attacks of the grandkids waking up early in the morning. So they hid their tent in the woods. The grandkids said, “Where did you tent go?” John said, “It didn’t go anywhere. It is still there. Only Christians can see it. If you can’t see it you must not be a Christian.” So the grandkids proceeded to hunt for the tent in the woods. When they finally discovered it John and Andrew told them that they had wakened the spirit of the Mummy. Hence the Mummy coming out of the woods! My son John is the Mummy and my other son Andrew is the narrator.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YoDNXQaCg1s

fyi. Rickett’s Glen is one of two old growth areas left in PA. So on the waterfall trail you see towering Hemlock trees that are hundreds of years old. It is like a small version of one of the redwood parks in California. 100 years ago the state was completely logged over. Oddly enough, the use of oil and coal for heating reforested not only PA but most of the US which was down to about 10% of its original forests. The wood was used for logging and heating.

Jesus Ache

Jesus Ache

September 9th, 2009

 

I’ve been thinking about Jesus a lot these days. I think the reason why goes back to three years ago when I began to pray daily that the church would “see Jesus”.

If you’ve read A Praying Life you know that I keep forgetting to pray about obvious things in my life. Beginning in the early 90s, I wrote the Love Course, The Person of Jesus study, Love Walked Among Us, and taught about 60 Person of Jesus seminars, but only in the last three years did I start praying regularly that the church would see Jesus! I’ve prayed for all the pieces of this, but I’ve not prayed for the whole enchilada, the big picture.

Only during this summer did I connect the dots between my praying daily for three years and this new ache in my heart. As usual, when God wants to do renewal he doesn’t begin with other people, but with me by deepening a 20-year old ache in my heart.

This summer I took two seminary professors that I know to lunch and asked them, “Has the church missed studying the person of Jesus? I know of only three books or articles in the last 500 years that have thoughtfully studied what Jesus is like as a person.” After about an hour discussion one said, “Yes, I guess it slipped through a crack.”  At which point I about jumped out of my chair, “A crack?! It is a huge hole! How could we have missed something so fundamental? The other professor and I brainstormed for almost an hour for some of the underlying causes on why Jesus is missed.

So would you join me in my daily prayer that the church world seeJesus? If the Spirit is going to reveal Jesus in new ways to his church it can only come through and be driven by a movement of prayer. I have a ten year old prayer card with just those two words scratched on the top “see Jesus”.

Please also pray for us from Sept 22-29 when we are doing three Jesus Conferences in a Muslim country. Our hope is that the growing house church movement will be equipped in a new way to share their faith and also mature their faith by looking at Jesus. A team of six of us is going: Bob Allums (PrayerLife), our International Coordinator (Person of Jesus), Julie Courtney (Women’s Ministry), Justin Wilson (Partner Relations), Doug Wallace (board member), and myself.

1,000 Lives

1,000 Lives

May 27th, 2009

 

I’m waiting for a meeting to start with our team that is doing a conference in a Muslim country this fall…so its a chance to write a couple of quick thoughts.

In the last six months, at almost every seminar I’ve done I’ve mentioned B. B. Warfield’s description of the Christian life in his sermon, “Imitating the Incarnation” as, “Instead of living one life, you live a thousand lives.” It has struck me as a perfect description the Christian life. If you were to describe the outer shell of a follower of Jesus that would be it.  1,000 lives.

Why? You are, like Jesus, constantly incarnating into the lives of the people around you. So you aren’t living your life as you are entering into the lives of others. I think our culture has taken the idea of “find oneself” to absolutely unheard of heights. So with death at the center of the Christian life–Jesus’ death as well as our own–then the new life that forms in me is the life of the other.

Several times in the last few months when I’ve been discipling someone, I’ll explain what it is to follow Jesus by taking them through my life and the lives I’m living in others. I don’t mean anything mystical; I simply mean that you are not just being attentive to others, but moving into their lives, letting their burdens come on you so that you begin to live their life in some small way. So you begin to live not one life but a thousand lives!

Family Photos

Family Photos

May 6th, 2009

 

Here’s some misc pictures I’ve taken from my camera phone over the last couple of months.

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This is my favorite. The lady who trims our two donkeys feet said that the donkeys were chewing on the barn because they were bored. So since we can’t teach them soduko Jill thought we should take them for a Sunday walk!

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My sister Roseann and I are taking our grandkids ice skating. Max is on the right and Claire is on the left. This was Claire’s first time…so two cones.

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I’m visting Emily at Cedarville where she goes to college. We are at the local Super Walmart and I’m making fun of Emily because she loves to eat. She is selecting breakfast for her discipleship group.

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This is about three weeks ago. I’m taking Claire to see the guy who won the Ididerod (big Alaskan dog race). Claire is getting his autograph.

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I was up in NH last weekend with a men’s group from the 1st Congregational Church of Hamiliton, Mass. It’s on Boston’s North Shore, right by Gordon College. This is trout that that David Rox caught. David teaches music at Gordon. We had a wonderful time doing Person of Jesus studies all weekend. Real Men, Real Jesus, Real Change was our title.

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I took this photo last night of Emily taking a photo of our dog Hessid (Hebrew for “coveanant love”) from Jill’s new cell phone. Jill’s old cell phone died after 13 months. The guy at the counter said it had been under water. I asked Jill how that happened. She wasn’t sure. I told the guy at the counter that once Jill had run over her cell phone in the middle of the driveway, which prompts several questions!

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These still might be there. It is not too late. I took the photo last Saturday. Used motel mattresses near our retreat center at the southern end of Lake Winnepaski of “What About Bob?” fame in NH.

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My grandson Max using his wheelbarrow to make his bike ramp steeper.

 

“Jesus and the Eyewitnesses” by Richard Bauckham

“Jesus and the Eyewitnesses” by Richard Bauckham

April 21st, 2009

 

I just finished reading this fascinating book. Bauckham (a Scottish scholar) makes the case that the gospels are eyewitness testimony. He reviews patterns in ancient historiography and personal names, using a recently published first-ever lexicon of 1st century Jewish names he does a careful analysis of the names in the Gospels.

What does this have to do with our study of the gospels? For the last couple of years when I’ve done the Person of Jesus study Lesson 6 on the sinful woman at Simon’s house, I ask the question, “Did Jesus’ rebuke get through to Simon?” There are several clues that it did. The first is that we know Simon’s name which suggests that Simon was the one who told this story to Luke, and was living in the 1st century Jerusalem church. The second clue is that Luke tells us what Simon is thinking. Who else but Simon could have told that? So it was fun to read a book that corroborated what I thought the text suggested.

Here are some of his fascinating tidbits:

  1. Mark describes the rather strange instructions that Jesus gives “two of his disciples” to “meet a man carrying a jar of water and follow his to a house where they are to prepare the Passover/Last Supper”. It is an odd passage. Bauckham analysis: Judas, at this point, is trying to find an evening local where he can report the location of Jesus and his disciples to the priests. If Jesus tells all the disciples where they are eating the Passover, then Judas will know. So Jesus arranges a clear sign that will direct two of the disciples without alerting Judas as to the location of the supper. It is a distinct sign because a “man carrying a water jar” would really stand out. Men seldom carried water jars in the ancient world. When I was in a remote corner of western Uganda over 20 years ago with a team from World Harvest exploring the Ruwenzori Mountains I was walking down to the steam to get water for us to boil. An old woman came up to me, took the water jar from me and went and filled the water jar. Men just don’t do some things!
  2. John mentions several eyewitnesses that the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke) are strangely silent about. Malchus, the high priest’s servant, Peter—the disciple who cut off his ear, and Mary the sister of Martha, the one who pours perfume on Jesus’ head and feet. Why are the synoptics silent? Bauckham suggests that since they were written while the witnesses were alive, the identity of some of the witnesses had to be kept secret. Peter is an obvious one. He was assaulting someone who was on official Roman business, and actually the object of the assault. Mary’s anointing was exactly what made someone a “Christ” or “Messiah”. The fact that is was spiritual would easily get lost on the Roman government.

What I didn’t like? He makes far too much of Papias (early 2nd century bishop who had known several of the eyewitnesses) comment of “the elder John”. Mainstream scholarship has been making a big deal of “the elder John” trying to say that he was the one who wrote John and not John the disciple. But creating a whole new disciple, a second John who is Jesus’ best friend, that no one anyone, anywhere else even mentioned in antiquity is just odd. The idea has been around for a while and is typical of the herd mentality that is so common in mainstream scholarship.

Modern scholarship has never understood something very basic about being around Jesus. It is this: you can’t see him without it changing you. You can’t be a neutral observor of Jesus. But it is more than that, when you are around him and discover what he is like, you just want to dissappear. You feel like a plain looking girl in a room with a beauty queen. All four gospels writers in their own way, but John especially, want to dissappear. So their names only appear on the front cover and no where else. When you see Jesus, you don’t want to be seen anymore!

Having said that, the book breaks with much of mainstream scholarship by looking at the gospels as eyewitness testimony. It is a brilliant and courageous book.

An Epiphany: Lover or Steward?

An Epiphany: Lover or Steward?

April 9th, 2009

 

I was asking a good friend’s advice this week to help me understand an old friend of mine who has now passed on to glory. This old friend was a wealthy man who was very concerned about being a good steward of his money. The good part of his wanting to be a good steward was that he wanted to make sure his money was well spent. The bad side was that he became judgmental and critical. He was so fearful of creating dependency on his money that he’d start giving and then pull back.

My good friend had some very helpful insights into this old friend of mine. He added, by way of balance, that he could understand my old friend’s concern about not wanting to create dependency. He gave an example of how he was concerned not to create dependency in his children by taking them out to dinner consistently so that it would create a pattern of dependency.

I had a check in my spirit at that point, and said, “If I had the money, I would love to take my daughters out for dinner at the same time every week. I would love for them to look forward to not having to make one dinner during the week.”

As I was getting out of bed Sunday morning I had what I think was a Spirit-moment, an epiphany, about the steward idea. I told Jill I had an epiphany and she said, “What’s that?” I explained and she said, “Oh you mean a God-moment.” Then she started calling it an apocalypse, partly because she forgot the word epiphany and partly to make fun of me for using such a big word. I told her that epiphanies came at the beginning and apocalypses at the end. You wanted epiphanies and you wanted to avoid apocalypses.

What was the insight? I realized that the central grid controlling how I view finances is that of the Lover and not merely the Steward. They are not opposed to one another, but I do think that Lover will sometimes trump the Steward. Or to put it another way, the world of Steward is a smaller circle inside the larger circle of the Lover. I actually wonder if there is some imbalance with so much teaching emphasizing the Steward but missing the world of the Lover. Much teaching on money focuses on being a Steward and not a Lover.

Scripture after scripture came flooding to mind.

1. The Prodigal Son. When the son came to his father asking for half his money, the father would have been an awful Steward to let him do that. But if the father is a Lover, then he wants to win his son by letting his son spend everything. The only way to win his son’s soul is to lose half his total assets. Otherwise the son will be “lost at home”, like the older brother. The father correctly sees the trajectory of his younger son’s life. So the father plants the seed by giving him half his money and then he waits for the harvest every day, every hour of the day, looking for his son, knowing full well that money will be all spent and finally the son will remember that his father is a lover and out of desperation come home. The father will lose the money, but gain a son. The father started planning the party the moment he gave him the money.

2. The Widow’s Mite. She is a bad Steward, taking all of her assets and throwing it away. And not only that, she gives it to a corrupt institution that is going to use that money to kill Jesus. And yet, Jesus commends her because she is a Lover. She loves God so she gives it all away.

3. The Rich Young Ruler. He is a good Steward. When he says he has obeyed all the commandments, it is true. This is a generous man. He doesn’t turn away the poor. He lives Deuteronomy’s love for the outcast. The Rich Young Ruler is the kind of donor that organizations dream about. And yet he is merely a Steward, he has not become a Lover of God and people. Money owns him. To encourage him to become a Lover Jesus tells him to give all his money away. Get rid of it. You can’t handle it. Let the poor be a steward of it. What is so striking to me is that this is exactly what happened to St. Francis of Assisi. He walked away from his inheritance when his father challenged him about his generosity. When St. Francis became a Lover, he and his Order, the Franciscans, changed the shape of medieval Europe.

4. God the Father is a Lover. Everything the Father owned or held precious was wrapped up in his Son. From all eternity they loved one another. And yet the Father was a Lover. He gave everything he held dear (his Son), so that he could transform the crown of his creation into Lovers as well. John 3:16 captures the craziness of the Father’s love for us. Likewise, the Son is a Lover. When he dies, he not only takes our sin upon himself, but he gives up his relationship with his Father.

5. The Lover delights to take the burden off the person he loves. He or she, like Paul the Apostle says to the Corinthians, “I will gladly spend and be spent.” Of course, I know some people who are good lovers, but weak stewards on a consistent basis.

6. Jill and I now have savings again. It is a wise and prudent thing to have savings with a mortgage and the responsibilities of Kim. We are good Stewards to do that. But after Kim was born in ’81, the pressure she brought into our home quickly put us under enormous financial pressure and we went through our savings. We used the last of our savings in the winter of ’83 to convert our heat because Kim was reacting negatively to the oil/hot air heat. For the next 25 years we lived paycheck to paycheck without savings. We were lovers of Kim so we spent the last of our money on her. I hope Jill and I will never forget how grinding that was. The lack of money was one of the things that taught Jill and I to be Lovers. We love to give people money quietly now because we know how hard life is.

9. Another old friend who has also passed on to glory who lived this idea of Lover with his money was actually a little unbalanced. This old friend was a pastor and loved the idea of giving so much that when his washing machine would break down instead of paying for it himself he would make it a matter of public prayer asking that God would provide the money for the washing machine. He wanted other people to become lovers as well. His heart was in the right place, but it actually came across as a bit self-centered. I think it would have been better if he had just asked for a raise. But I understand his Lover heart behind it.

(I shared this with my friend, and he rightly said that if we understand Steward correctly we will be lovers. Having said that, most godly people who think Steward say something like, “How do I be a good steward of this money which God has given me?” They don’t ask, “How can I be a good lover?” Steward ends up being a narrow category.)

Why I Believe in the Resurrection

Why I Believe in the Resurrection

March 31st, 2009

 

Six weeks before our little Benjamin went to heaven I did a PrayerLife Seminar at West Shore Efree church. During lunch I sat with a couple, professional photographers, who told me how they would donate their time to take pictures of children who had just died or were about to die. This consortium of photographers’ website is www.NowILayMeDownToSleep.org. I did not know that in six weeks I would be calling them to ask them to take pictures of our little Benjamin.

They did a beautiful photo album of Benjamin that we got a copy of last week. The picture of John and Pam holding him is like a photo taken at the heart of the valley of the shadow of death.

Easter will be very special this year. Here are some of my thoughts on the resurreciton. Why do I believe it?

1. Jesus’s Resurrection. Without question, this is the biggest reason for believing it. The interlocking pieces of evidence for it are best summarized at a popular level by Lee Stobel’s The Case for Christ and at a scholarly level by N.T. Wright’s The Resurrection of the Son of God. Wright’s book is brilliant. His interlocking arguments are so inrresistible that Anne Rice of vampire novel fame said it was one of the keys to her becoming a believer. Wright traces how the Greek world did not believe or want a bodily resurrection. Neoplatonism’s dominate culture shaping mold wanted, like Eastern religion, to be freed of the body.  Jewish thought affirmed the goodness of the original creation and thus was looking forward to a future resurrection that would happen to everyone, not one isolated person. So no one was expecting a resurrection. The Greeks didn’t want one and the Jews couldn’t imagine it. Wright and Strobel both discuss the multiple interlocking pieces of the Gospels accounts. My favorite one is that the women are the primary witnesses to the resurrection. The 21st century equivalent of that is me telling you that my grandson Benjamin is really alive and I have Martians who will testify that they’ve seen him!

2. The Spirit. In Ephesians 1 Paul tells us that the Spirit is God’s downpayment on the resurrection. That spark of unexpected joy that you see in your heart, the way your heart leaps at times into love, the way your spirit soars in worship are the Spirit of Jesus in you. The Spirit makes real the presence of the resurrected Jesus in your heart. Practically, this is why most of us believe the resurrection. We taste that resurrection Spirit every day.

3. The Creation. As I look out my window I see the lingering effects of an earlier resurrection in creation. Resurrection is just new creation. As I type I seen grass, trees, blue sky, and birds flying. Its a little dull and rusty, but it is still glorious. Resurrection simply means that God is going to do it again. So in Paul’s speech at Athens he begins with God’s first creation and ends with God’s re-creation. I am most indebted to N.T. Wright for this reason. Wright traces how the Jewish belief in a good creation is at the heart of the Jewish belief in a coming resurrection. In other words, the creation is not bad, it is just corrupted. Like our hearts, it too needs to be reborn.

4. Dead Bodies.  If you’ve know a person and then see their dead body, C.S. Lewis tells us that we are never confused between that dead body and the person’s existence. Yet our cultural elites would tell us that tell us that brain/body=person. Yet every culture that has ever existed has affirmed that body does not equal person. It was clear in seeing Benjamin’s dead body that this was not Benjamin. Like the ancient Chinese, like the Bantu, like the American Indians, I affirm that Benjamin was an embodied spirit. It is obvious to any observer.

5. Jesus Himself. This is the most subtle and I don’t know if I can quite capture this but let me give it a try. When Jesus says to Martha, “I am the resurrecion and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”, I am just riveted. At one level what is amazing is Jesus’ authority, his boldness, but those words don’t come close to capturing what Jesus is saying. Even saying that Jesus is claiming to be God doesn’t quite capture it. That is true, but that almost dumbs it down a bit. He isn’t claiming to be God, he’s talking like he’s God. I think you get closer when look at Jesus through the eyes of the temple guards who the chief priests had sent to seize him. They returned a little later empty handed and the incredulous priests said, “Why did you not bring him?” The officers of the guard said, “No one ever spoke like this man!” (John 7) I think Napoleon, who evidently became a believer while reading the gospels near the end of his life captured Jesus best, “I know men; and I tell you that Jesus Christ is not a man. Superficial minds see a resemblance between Christ and the founders of empires and the gods of other religions. That resemblance does not exist. Everything in him astonishes me. His spirit overawes me, and his will confounds me. Between him and whoever else in the world, there is no possible term of comparison. He is truly a being by himself.” (see. p. 274 of Person of Jesus manual). That gets closer. You can’t get your mind around him. As you listen to him, as you look at him, he fills you up, but your spirit can’t even begin to contain him. He overflows your spirit. It is like looking at a 1,000 Grand Canyons. You are touching, looking at, the center of the cosmos, the source. He is life itself. Life itself will never die. It will rise again.

And of course, this man Jesus, said that he was coming back. I heard a sermon a couple of years ago from one of my favorite teachers who preached a whole message on the 2nd Coming without mentioning that Jesus was the person coming again. The “2nd Coming” was its own entity. My friend David Powlison said that if you keep it simple, you just have to remember that the 2nd Coming is just the man Jesus coming back again, this time, though, without disguise. Like he did with his beloved disciple John in Revelation 1, he will need to reach down and touch each one of us so that we can see the glory.

Can’t wait to see Benjamin.

A Poem For Ben

 

 

A Poem For Ben

March 23rd, 2009

 

We just got back from doing a Jesus Weekend at Perimeter Church near Atlanta, GA. It was my first public ministry since Benjamin’s death and I was a little nervous especially since my opening talk was on a funeral, the widow of Nain. But the grief we’d been through these last few weeks, just seemed to make Jesus clearer to me. Suffering has a way of doing that.

My daughter Courtney Sneed who also works as an editor for seeJesus wrote this poem and read it at Benjamin’s funeral. It was her gift to John and Pam.

Son of My Right Hand

by Courtney Sneed, for John and Pam Miller,

March 10, 2009

Son of my right hand.

Son of my sorrow.

Son of my night,

You from our marrow.

What might have been,

Should have been

Is lost to us:

Your long fingers

And broad feet.

Your ribbon lips opened,

How wide your beak!

Your forehead sculpted round,

With hair so fair crowned –

Perfectly silent.

Oh stem this tide, these waves of grief.

Still them,

Hush them down to sleep.

O Son of Your right hand,

Son of Your sorrow.

Son of Your night,

Whom Death could not swallow –

Raise Benjamin in might,

With breath loud and sweet;

Raise Benjamin in power,

Perfectly complete.

My Son At His Son's Grave

My Son At His Son’s Grave

March 19th, 2009

 

How’s that for celebrating the resurection?

Reflections of a Grandfather on the Death of his Grandson

Reflections of a Grandfather on the Death of his Grandson

March 17th, 2009

 

John and Pam were lingering by the casket after the funeral was over.

Here is what I shared at the funeral service about the peculiar grief that my son John and and daughter-in-law Pam are going through:

A photographer came to the hospital just after Ben’s birth to capture Ben—his face, his hands, even his feet. This is my attempt to take a photo of our hearts.

I am struck by the peculiar grief that John and Pam are going though. Part of their grief will always be hidden to us. Proverbs 14:10 says, “The heart knows its own bitterness and no stranger shares its joy.” But from my limited perspective, what are some of the peculiar griefs that John and Pam are facing?

First, how do you grieve for someone you have barely know? John and Pam would have longed to have their baby alive for just ten minutes, to have seen his eyes or even have heard a good cry. John said, “I’ve never wanted so badly to hear a cry.” If they could have had their child for ten years, they would have wrung every minute out of those ten years. At one point John said, “I would have loved to have had a son with a disability.” So oddly enough because of love, Pam and John would have preferred to increase their grief.

The second peculiar grief is naming their baby. How do you name your son when the name was connected with promise, with hope, with life? Like Naomi, whose name means “pleasant”, do we change our name to “bitterness” so we don’t have the double agony of the loss of a son and the agony of a broken hope? Or do we like the Babwisi, the poor tribe in western Uganda where my mission worked, not name our children until they are a month old because so many of them die as infants? It seems inappropriate, out of place, to hope.

Finally, it is hard to grieve for someone who has already gone on. Pop Pop and Jill used to talk about getting rid of their spacesuits. As far as we know, Ben died on March 9 and was born on March 10. The natural order of life was reversed. We feel dislocated.

So what do we do with these three peculiar griefs?

With the first grief, “How do you grieve for someone we barely knew?”, by faith we make him known. We honor Ben. Like Eowen, the elf princess in The Lord of the Rings, who choses her love for Aargon over a safe, but plastic eternity, we chose to love even though it increases our grief. Ben looks like Pam. He has John’s blond hair. At the moment of Ben’s birth, Pam was happy at the gift of a son that God had given her. John said how proud he was of Ben. Courtney made Ben known through her poem. We don’t forget his memory.

With our second grief, by faith we name our baby. We name him Benjamin Edward Miller. Later in the day on March 10th, John emailed me this note:

When everyone left Pam asked me how I was. I told her that naming our baby Benjamin was the hardest and most important choice I’ve ever made in my life. I wanted so badly to name him something different than the boy we fell in love with. Giving him a name solidified that we lost, permanently, our little boy. Dad, I told her you changed the dedication in your new book to Benny and we both wept for joy. Pam had no idea. God doesn’t want us to forget him; he wants us to have faith in what we cannot see. There was never a boy like him in all history, and there never will be another. Here are some of his pictures. Here’s my son. I can’t wait to meet him.

Benjamin Edward Miller is such a big name for such a tiny man. Like our Benjamin, the Benjamin in the Bible never said a word. The tribe of Benjamin were warriors, the sling throwers of Israel. The Benjaminites we know well are Saul, Jonathan, and Paul, all strong men, warriors. Benjamin means, “son of my right hand”, the hand of power. Paul tells us in I Corinthians 1 that God always takes the weak things of this world to shame the mighty.

Benjamin is at the heart of the Bible’s first redemption story. The first family story in the book of Genesis is a murder. Cain murders his brother Abel. But Genesis ends with another brother Judah offering his life for his brother Benjamin. Judah releases the family curse by taking Benjamin’s place. Judah’s distant son, Jesus, would also offer his life as a ransom and break the curse that hangs over all the family of humanity. We are all Benjamin, in need of redemption.

What do we do with our third peculiar grief, “How do we grieve with someone who has already left?” The answer is simple. We leave with him. Our treasure is in heaven and, according to Jesus, hearts always follow treasure. I’ve lived with a woman who because of suffering in her life has for 27 years had one foot in heaven. Jill talks about heaven every day. Like Abraham, Moses, and Elijah, we look for a better country. We long to go home.

I’m so thankful that Jesus didn’t go through the stages of grieving. He never made it to the final stage of acceptance of death. He hated death. The result is that he messes up every funeral he goes to. He just doesn’t do funerals.

At the funeral of a widow’s son outside of Nain, he walks into the middle of the procession and tells the widow, “Be not weeping.” Be not weeping because in ten seconds I’m going to raise your son from the dead. Be not weeping because in two years I’m going to break the power of sin and death at the cross. Weep not.

At Lazarus’ funeral, he deliberately arrives four days late. After seeing Mary, Martha, and their friends weeping Jesus bursts into tears too, but John is at pains to tell us that is not Jesus primary emotion. Twice John says that Jesus was enraged as he began to move towards the tomb. Translators find Jesus’ anger so uncomfortable they always hide it. B. B. Warfield, the Princeton scholar summarizes Jesus’ feelings in his essay The Emotional Life of Our Lord:

The distress of May and her companions enraged Jesus because it brought home to his consciousness the evil of death, its unnaturalness, its violent tyranny. Inextinguishable fury seizes upon him; his whole being is discomposed and perturbed….it is death that is the object of his wrath, and him who has the power of death, Tears of sympathy may fill his eyes, but this is incidental. His whole soul is held by rage: “as a champion who prepares for conflict…” What John does for us…is to uncover to us the heart of Jesus as he wins for our salvation. Not in cold unconcern, but in flaming wrath against the foe, Jesus smites in our behalf.

Best of all Jesus messed up his own funeral by walking away from it when they were in the middle of the preparations! One day the sky will rip apart and the warrior, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, will return, this time without disguise, and destroy death once and for all. Death will never separate us again. We’ll get to know Jesus and Benny face-to-face. Come quickly Lord Jesus!

Benjamin Edward Miller

Benjamin Edward Miller

March 12th, 2009

 

Our grandson, Benjamin Edward Miller was born at 12:45, early Tuesday morning. We held him, wept over him, and loved his little body for a couple of hours. Above is a picture of his hand. It’s perfect.

Here’s a note that John sent me later that day,

Dad,

Pam and I have been sleeping since 6 and will probably sleep through the night. We are exhausted, and Pam did so well today. When everyone left Pam asked me how I was.  I told her that naming our baby, Benjamin was the hardest and most important choice I’ve ever made in my life.  I wanted so badly to name him something different than the boy we fell in love with.  Giving him a name solidified that we lost, permanently, our little boy.  Dad, I told her you changed the dedication to Benny in your new book and we both wept for joy.  Pam had no idea.  God doesn’t want us to forget him, he wants us to have faith in what we cannot see.  There was never a boy like him in all history, and there never will be another.

Here are some of his pictures.  Here’s my son.  I can’t wait to meet him.

John Edward Miller

 

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