The Daily Grind of Faith

The following is an excerpt from Graeme Goldsworthy’s, “According to Plan: The Unfolding Revelation of God in the Bible:

“The writers of most of the books of the Old Testament concentrate on those people (Joseph, Moses, David, etc) and events (the flood, the parting of the Red Sea, the fall of Jericho, etc.) that are central to God’s redemption of mankind.”

“However, the focus on these ‘heroes of the faith’ and the supernatural events surrounding them can cause us to miss something very important: often, whole generations of people are born, grow old, and die without ever meeting a ‘hero of the faith’ and without witnessing a single miracle.”

Life in ancient Israel was not ‘three miracles a day and a new holy war’ each week. Most people lived their lives while God did no new [observable-to-the-human-eye] thing. For every biblical hero there are thousands of Israelites who knew God solely through what was taught by the priests and prophets. As a result, they did their best to seek to be faithfully obedient to God in personal devotion, in home, in family life, in education, and in work.”

The excerpt (above) struck a chord with me, having just returned from Super Summer (a youth camp) – my favorite week of my year. Would i love to stay in the environment of Super Summer? Honestly, yes. But, Jesus modeled something quite different when He left heaven (the mountain top) for earth (the valley).

As Oswald Chambers notes a number of times in his collection of devotions, “My Utmost for His Highest,” we were created not for the “mountain top experiences”, but for the “valleys.” Chambers often refers to the “valleys” as the “mundane” i.e. the everyday grind of life.

Life in Lubbock may not be as exciting (spiritually) as living with 700 of my favorite Christian friends at Super Summer, but it’s where God has assigned me to be, to live, to “shine His light,” and share His love. The same goes for you and your hometown.

Interestingly, the book of Nehemiah doesn’t record a single supernatural event. What it does record is a story about our extraordinary God working through His people in ordinary ways. Just like He did through untold thousands of ancient Israelites. Just like He does today through us.

Soli Deo Gloria, nick

“I. Am. Here. I’ve Got This.”

“I. Am. Here. I’ve got this.”

That’s what Christ has whispered to me (and continues to whisper to me) over and over again since my son’s suicide in 2013. Jesus never gets impatient with me, or tired of telling me how much He loves me. His word (rock-solid & infallible) assures me, “His mercies are new every morning.” (Lamentations 3:23)

As I sit in the quiet of my thoughts, I ponder things I cannot grasp….I know He’s got “other, more important things to do”. But, from my perspective – the only way I know how to explain it – is that Jesus makes me feel as though….I am His “most important thing.”

“The LORD is my shepherd…..I will not be afraid…” (Psalm 23) “I have loved you with an everlasting love,” God says through Jeremiah.

And then there are the Gospels: when we get an up-close, front-row view of who God is. And what we see is beyond human comprehension.

What we see in the four Gospel accounts is a multitude of stories of Jesus (“God with skin on”) stopping what He was doing to give 100% of His attention to individuals: a grieving father (Mark 5:21-43), a grieving mother (Luke 7:11-17), grieving sisters (John 11), a sick woman (Luke 13:10-13), a pharisee searching for truth (John 3:1-15), a beggar searching for hope (John 9:1-7), and a broken/guilt-laden fisherman (John 21:15-19). The stories go on and on…. Jesus saved the world. But, it doesn’t take a career theologian to understand that the “world” is comprised of individual people – each one a treasure of the King on whom He has “lavished His love & grace”. (Ephesians 1:7-9)

Yes. This is Jesus Christ. The Alpha and the Omega. Terrifying Holy God. Lion of the Tribe of Judah. And Gentle Savior/Prince of Peace. He. Loves. YOU. And, regardless of what comes, He whispers to you now, “I. Am. Here. I’ve got this.”

Below is a photo of a “Jesus Calling” devo my awesome sister, Susan Watts Halgren, copied for me one year ago today – less than a month after Jordan Blake Watts walked into Paradise. May the truth of Jesus’ words “set you free”. (John 8:32)

I love you, nw

Jun 11 - Jesus Calling 2

Sometimes….I Just Miss Him

Sometimes….., I just miss him. The pain in my chest is constricting, and heavy. I shut the door to my office. And i cry. And then I cry some more. It’s not complicated. I. just. miss. him.

I want him to help me with Super Summer preparations. With planning. With ideas. Etc. I miss his sharp wit. His hilarious imitations of people. I miss his singing. His creativity. His “dancing.” His joy. His adventurous warrior-poet personality. And the sound of his voice.

I miss him calling me just to tell me, “Dad! I just finished Galatians! It’s awesome!”

But then…..

Truth.

All of a sudden. I am acutely aware of a Presence. An overwhelmingly powerful – yet gently loving – Presence. He whispers to me, “I. Am. Here. I’ve got this.”

“I am Jesus”, He tells me. “I am the resurrection and the life. Jordan believed in Me. Therefore, even though he died, yet he LIVES.” (John 11:25)

“Set your minds on things that are above, Nick, not on things that are on earth.” (Colossians 3:2)

And so I do. And, as the song goes, “the things of earth grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.”

soli deo gloria, nw

Redemptive Violence

I’ve supplied for my former Sr. Pastors dozens of times, as well as preached every Wed. night to students for almost 25 years. Truth be told, preaching & teaching are my #1 passions- far more than leading music. I’ve always seen myself as a “preacher disguised as a musician.” 🙂 This is why I continue to preach/teach on Sunday evenings here at BHBC.

When I was a full-time Youth Pastor, I was able to preach a lot on Sunday mornings. However, since I transitioned into the role of a Music Pastor, I tend to be “busy” on Sunday mornings leading the music. 🙂 However, in the Spring of 2011, my Sr. Pastor, Jerry Joplin, dropped by my office and asked me if I’d like to preach that April in his absence. I stumbled across the video of that sermon last week and watched it for the very first time.

It is interesting to listen to yourself trumpet the truths of the Gospel – what Christ made available to us through His life, death & resurrection – PRIOR TO horrific tragedy in your life.
(I refer to my son, Jordan Blake Watts, at the 3:45 mark. He was in the audience.) As I listened to what I said that morning – now on the other side of my son’s suicide – I had to ask myself, “Do I still believe this?”

My RESOLUTE answer: If possible, I believe it MORE now than I did then!
“The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away,” wailed Job. “Blessed be the name of the Lord.” (1:21) God is still God. And God is still good. And, because of “redemptive violence”, Jordan is more alive than you and i have ever been! And in the presence of the Risen Christ who made it all possible.

I’ve included the link to the sermon here. It’s from April 3, 2011. Significantly – and this is no accident – the sermon (given during the Easter Season) is about the redemptive work of Christ on the cross. After Pastor Rick Warren’s son also took his life last year, Warren asked the rhetorical question, “How do we make it through what we’re going through in this life?” He answered, “The answer is Easter.” Hallelujah, Nick

Separated No More: The Utmost “D-Day”

As I contemplate the heroic courage of the men who gave their lives 70 years ago today (June 6, 1944) on the beaches of Normandy, France – and where our world might be had it not been for their sacrifice (consider a Europe ruled by Hitler’s monstrous Third Reich into the late 40’s, 50’s & beyond) – my mind is drawn to a “greater D-Day.”

As God gave detailed instructions to Moses regarding the construction of the very first “temple” (The Tent of Meeting) while Moses met with God on Mt. Sinai to receive the Law, God said, “Hang the curtain (that will SEPARATE sinful man from God’s holiness) from the clasps and place the ark of the covenant law behind the curtain. The curtain will SEPARATE the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place…” (Exodus 36:33-34)

Fast forward some 14 centuries…..

Matthew, a disciple of Jesus, wrote, “And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice [while dying on the cross], he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple [the one described to Moses that day] was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split…” (27:50-51)

“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” (Ephesians 2:13)

Hallelujah, nw

How I Survived the Worst Day of My Life

I was approached a few weeks back and asked if I would write an article for the June edition of the Lubbock Metro Leader Newspaper. I went back and read the article after the magazine came in our mail. Honestly, there’s a part of me that still doesn’t believe any of it happened. Perhaps, that’s the Holy Spirit telling me just how alive Jordan is….I don’t know. It’s surreal. Anyway, everything I wrote, where the healing process is concerned, is, I’m finding, a lifetime of learning.

You can read the article here.

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick