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Melting Man of Snow

It was very good to see you Sunday morning and Wednesday night! God blessed us with two great services and times of fellowship. I enjoy a good snow but I don't enjoy being homebound. And I especially enjoy a church full of life!

Watching the snow gradually melt I was reminded of C.S. Lewis' description of his own conversion:

Early in 1926 the hardest boiled of all the atheist I ever knew sat in my room on the side of the fire and remarked that the evidence for the historicity of the Gospels was surprisingly good: "All of that stuff about the Dying God...It almost looks as if it had really happened once." To understand the shattering impact of it, you would need to know the man (who has certainly never since shown any interest in Christianity). If he, the cynic of all cynics, the toughest of the toughs, were not—as I would still have put it—"safe," where could I turn? Was there no escape? ...I became aware that I was holding something at bay, or shutting something out...Then came the repercussion on the imaginative level. I felt as if I were a man of snow at long last beginning to melt. The melting was starting in my back—drip-drip and presently trickle-trickle. I rather disliked the feeling.

Praise God that snowman melted! I suspect most of us can identify with Lewis. We've all held God at bay, or tried to, but the Lover of our Souls eventually melts our cold hearts and brings us into the warmth of His unfailing love where He subsequently leads us to still waters and green pastures.

I'm pleased that so many of you are returning to church and others promise they will attend in the very near future. Easter isn't far off and I yearn to see every one by then, if not before!

Posted by Jim Bachmann

Solitary Conceit?

It seems that winter has come in one week this year! Snow, ice, and very cold temperatures have forced most of us to stay home and practice an even more severe form of social distancing.

That said, I love the beauty of God's creation. Kristen and I took a long, cold walk in the snow a few days ago, through the woods behind our house (lovely, dark, and deep), down to the little Harpeth River. Snow was falling and it was beautiful. This is where I used to practice my sermons by preaching to the trees and my two dogs. I missed the dogs but found Kristen to be far more conversant than they ever were.

Being isolated this week has made me appreciate the psalmist who said, "These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I would go with the throng and lead them into procession to the house of God with glad shouts and songs of praise, a multitude keeping festival," (Ps 42:4). Some of you have been far more isolated far longer than I so you readily identify. Perhaps one lesson God is teaching us is the beauty of corporate worship.

Sometimes people get cynical about the church and her worship. Maybe it was caused by a bad experience or maybe it is just the presence of an independent, self-sufficient spirit. C.S. Lewis began his Christian pilgrimage this way: "When I first became a Christian, about fourteen years ago, I thought that I could do it on my own, by retiring to my rooms and reading theology, and I wouldn't go to the churches and the Gospel Halls...I disliked very much their hymns, which I considered to be fifth-rate poems set to sixth-rate music. But as I went on I saw the great merit of it. I came up against different people of quite different outlooks and different education, and then gradually my conceit began peeling off. I realized that the hymns (which were just sixth-rate music) were, nevertheless, being sung with devotion and benefit by an old saint in elastic-side boots in the opposite pew, and then you realize that you aren't fit to clean those boots. It gets you out of your solitary conceit."

We will be back at it this Sunday, thanks be to God, and our hymns won't be sixth-rate! And even if the preaching is...come worship with us anyway! We need each other. And we need the Lord's presence which He promises when we gather in corporate worship.

Posted by Jim Bachmann

Fear of Death

Are you afraid of dying?

Sorry for the morbid start to this article! But it is a worthwhile question we seldom ask ourselves. Almost twenty-five years ago two doctors told me I had cancer. I immediately discovered I wasn't nearly as brave as I thought I was.

In modern history we have made a practice of isolating the sick and dying. For the most part we confine them to hospitals, nursing homes, hospice care, etc. We do so believing they will get the best care possible. But in the "old days" people often spent their last months, weeks, and days at home, on the farm, with the family close by at all times. Life was very fragile and death was an ever-present reality.

David, Heath, and I were recently talking about this. David shared that the great composer, J.S. Bach, had 20 (!) children. Only 10 of them survived to adulthood. He suffered through much personal tragedy. Heath shared that John Owen, the great Puritan chaplain to Oliver Cromwell, had 11 children but 10 of them died in infancy. The daughter who survived later married but died shortly after her wedding. (I'm grateful to be surrounded by such smart men!)

Paul said that Jesus has taken "the sting of death and victory away from the grave." The author of Hebrews is even more direct, "through death He [Jesus] has destroyed the one who held the power of death, that is the devil, and delivered all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery."

The fear of death is slavery. We can be so fearful of dying that we stop living. Conversely, once we are ready to die we can really begin to live!

I was very blessed that both my doctors were wrong. How vividly I remember one of them telling me afterward, "You should live to a ripe old age."

He was wrong again. I plan on living forever, by the grace of God.

P.S. To learn more about heaven, join us on Wednesday nights during Lent, starting next Wednesday.

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