No More Sickness

“For this corruptible [body] must put on incorruption; and this mortal [body] must put on immortality.” (1 Corinthians 15:53)

Sorta sounds like a script for the next Avengers movie, huh? “Regular person turns into super-hero.”

But, this is no movie script. This is Holy SCRIPTure.

Recently, I came down with something out of the pits of hell called a Stomach Virus (the dr said it may have been food-poisoning, he wasn’t sure). All I know is, for the most part, I haven’t felt like doing anything other than wishing I were dead.

I haven’t been this sick in years. So, naturally, there were a number of times (as I lay there moaning and groaning) I thought of the Scripture verse cited above.

Can you imagine?? One day, because of the Cross and the Empty Tomb – no more sickness of any kind – the old will be gone; the new will be realized! No more cancer or clinical depression! No more maladies that appear to stump the best of physicians causing them to say, “We’re just not sure what’s wrong.” No more disease or sickness at all! None! Nada! Zilch!

But it doesn’t end there…

Not only are we rid – forever – of mortal sickness, we’re given the “bodies” we were intended to have before Adam & Eve’s sin in Eden! In the preceding verse to the one cited above, Paul writes: “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet…the dead will be raised *incorruptible*, and We. Shall. Be. Changed.” [emphasis mine]

Hallelujah, Nick

“…that man who lost his son…”

Unbelievable.

I spoke three separate times on Wed., Jan. 21st, to regional high school students on the topic of clinical/chronic depression.

In each session, I made the following comment: “Having a son of my own who died as a result of clinical depression…., I must tell you, honestly, I did not want to do this. However,….if I can reach just one student early enough to prevent them from doing something tragic to themselves, thereby preventing their family from enduring what we, ourselves, have faced, I will do this a million times.”

Before I even got back to my office after the final session I received an email from a student thanking me and asking for help.

But then….the following day (Thursday) I got the following message from an area high school counselor:

“Nick, a student here, who heard you speak yesterday, came by today to tell us the following: the student shared, ‘Last night I swallowed an entire bottle of pills (to end my life.) But then i made myself throw up because ‘I couldn’t stop thinking about that man who lost his son.’ This student is now receiving help for their depression!”

When I first saw the message I couldn’t stop weeping.

The last thing the high school counselor said in their message was this: “God continues to use Jordan Blake Watts to change lives.”

For Narnia, Nick

Dear Jordan, Merry Christmas, My Son…

Dear Jordan,

Merry Christmas, my son.

We worshipped Jesus this morning (just like you did). Kelsie sang a mini-concert. She sang about the King you now see with your own eyes. (The photo below was taken after church this morning.)

I don’t have a lot to say. I simply wanted you to know something: we’re making it.

In fact, we’re not merely “making it”; we’re learning again, through Christ, to “live”, to “dance”, to “sing”.

Believe it or not, I’ve completed my first semester pursuant of a Masters Degree in Apologetics. It’s hard! These professors are geniuses. But, I’ve learned so much.

Remember almost two years ago when you and I went to Texas Tech and listened to Dr. Mike Licona discuss evidence for the resurrection of Jesus? (Remember, how I got a parking ticket, and you didn’t? :)) Well, Dr. Licona is one of my professors next semester.

You and I used to sit and have so many conversations about C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Middle-Earth, Narnia, etc. You loved adventure. Your small group from church met in our basement. You called our basement “the Shire.” That said, you cannot know how many times, after learning yet another timeless truth and/or principle this past semester, I’ve whispered aloud, “Oh Jordan – I would so love to know your thoughts about this…”

You would love what I’m learning. But, this I know, son: what I’m learning is mere shadow compared to the greater reality you now experience. I can only imagine kingdoms. You live in one!

By the way, in my studies I’ve “met” so many other brilliant apologists you would absolutely love, many of whom, like Lewis, are now in heaven. Wait a minute – I just thought of something – they’re with YOU! Oh, my son, I’m merely reading and studying their works – you know them! Perfectly! (Selah – wow, I’ve gotta pause and think about that for a moment.))

Our church family (Christ’s Body) has been the personification of the Good Samaritan Jesus described in the familiar parable. When they’ve seen us “beaten & bleeding on the side of the road,” they’ve not once grown weary of lifting our broken, bruised bodies, tenderly caring for our needs, holding us close, and helping us remember what is true (God’s mighty Word.)

A dear friend of ours named Joyce Rowe is one of the many who check on us all the time. Her son died too when he was young. She told us just last week that research shows that, after the first year (which is absolutely maddening), emotional breakdowns tend to become more infrequent. (This has been true in our case.) However, that same research shows that, at the 18-month mark, emotional breakdowns tend to spike for a little while. (This has also been true in our case.) The good news is that one rebounds much more quickly than they used to. Thanksgiving marked 18 months since Jesus embraced you and carried you to Paradise – as well as 18 months since I found you that day, forever changing our lives.

However,…. (and this is huge, my love…)

Jesus is blurring that image in my mind. No, let me re-word that: Jesus is redeeming that image in my mind.

Our faith in Christ is strong, my son. We are more sensitive to the pain and hurt around us locally, nationally and globally. It would be difficult to convey to you how many hurting people God has allowed us to minister to this past year.

Satan tried to steal our story. But, far from losing our faith, Christ has infused it with power. We have a story to tell. Not a story of sadness, but of Hope. And that Hope has a name: Jesus Christ; Emmanuel: God With Us.

The Lord continues to open up opportunities for me to preach and teach about this Hope. Next month, I will speak to hundreds of teenagers from high schools all over the region about depression. And your mom ministers to hurting boys & girls (and their parents) every single day as a school teacher. It’s absolutely amazing what Jesus is doing through her!

Well, I better go, my love. I just wanted you to know that the darkness that enveloped our home no longer exists. Sure, there are “moments”. However, we’ve made a choice to believe that God is not only good, but that He is trustworthyeven in the face of unspeakable suffering.

If you see Job, tell him his faith (after having lost ten children of his own) has helped me so much: “The Lord gives; and the Lord takes away; Blessed be the name of the Lord.” (I talked about Job at your Memorial Service :))

Paul (who you’ve possibly met) wrote: “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:18)

We profoundly believe this to be true.

The cross, and the empty tomb make it all possible.

We love you. So much.

Love, Dad (for Narnia!!) :))

watts fam - 2014

“Suffer With Me”

Those words cited in the title, written by Paul to a young Timothy, are sobering to be sure. (2 Timothy 2:3) But, they take on a new – painful – meaning when we suffer. I’ve always said that “suffering as Christians” is that side of the gospel we rarely hear preached about on Sundays.

Something has happened to my family since our son/brother, Jordan, took his life and walked into Paradise. We see the pain of the world. More than that though, we can feel it. (Just like Jordan did.)

But this has only made my/our purpose on planet earth more acute. For we’ve now experienced that, even in our most unspeakable suffering, Jesus is there.  My hurting friends – there is Hope. There is Peace. There is Love. There if Life.  His name is Jesus Christ. He suffered too.

When we hurt, Christ hurts. But, more than that, He absorbs our hurt retroactively from the Cross. From Isaiah 53….

“He was despised and rejected— a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care. Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed.” (53:3-5)

The Bible (as well as extrabiblical ancient history) tells us:  JesusDid.  Suffer. Horribly.  However, He now lives and reigns.  And because of this, Paul encouraged the suffering Roman believers, “Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later.” (8:18)

The photo here is today’s entry from the devo, Jesus Calling. To all who are hurting, weary, confused, angry, suffering…..Jesus is whispering to you, “I’ve got this. Trust Me.”   Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

photo (4)

Moving at the Speed of Grief

Weeping may last for a night, but joy comes in the morning.”  (Psalm 30:6)

The familiar Kubler-Ross Five Stages of Grief are intended to be a model, not a rule.  Grief is messy, violent, complicated and discombobulating.

People are unique.  The circumstances surrounding a person’s grief is unique.  So, it should be no surprise that the stages of grief are navigated differently by everyone who is forced to endure them.  There is no “gas/accelerator pedal” for the grief process. Duration for each stage is erratic, unpredictable.  And every individual moves at a speed that they are able to handle without losing their mind.  Despite the foolish statements by those “well-intentioned dragons” who suggest one “should be over it by now,” grief moves at its own pace. For example….

It’s been 16 months since I found my 19 year old son dead from suicide behind the locked door of his bedroom.  And just today (9/30) I took another “first step.”

There is a room in our home in which we stored Jordan’s belongings following  his death – his paintings and other works of art, his clothes, and all of those other items like his hats, awards & musical instruments that made Jordan “Jordan.”  I’ve not been able to enter that room without being seized with fear, sadness, anger, and loneliness – until today.  It’s taken 16 months.

I know that Jesus has walked with me every single time I’ve needed to enter that room.  I’m reminded of the Footprints in the Sand story.  Seeing the illustrative vision Jesus had provided of “two sets of footprints”, the individual asks, “Lord, why, during the darkest days of my life, are there only one set of footprints? Where were you?’ Jesus answered, ‘My love, it was at those times I carried you.”

In this crucible we call acute grief, I’ve discovered something:  there’s no going around our grief, nor under it, nor over it.  We must go through it.  For it’s in our grief that we find Jesus, who the Bible describes as “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.” (Isaiah 53:3)  Furthermore, it’s in our grief that we find a Man who not only empathizes with our grief, but a Savior who absorbed it on the cross.  “Surely He has borne our griefs.”

Why am I sharing this?  Because I want those of you who are grieving to know that though there is now weeping, joy is on its way.  Today, for me, a 16 month “night” finally, and unexpectedly, came to end.  And Joy, Himself, I discovered, was not only waiting for me – He had been with me the entire night.

Jesus is whispering to you, “I’ve got this. Trust Me.”  Be encouraged today.  You’re making it.

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

The Unforced Rhythms of Grace

I love this rendering of Matthew 11:28-30 from the Message Bible. I’ve taken this “prescription” for my various “maladies”many times over the years…..

[Jesus asked them], “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to Me. Get away with Me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with Me and work with Me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with Me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Let Jesus love and hold you today. nw

A Literal Picture of Amazing Grace: How I Forgave My Dad

The date was November 22, 1998, just south of Stamford, TX.

After going for 10 years without having heard from my dad or knowing where he was, the Lord brought us together at my granddad’s (his dad’s) funeral where I had the opportunity to tell him something very important: I’d forgiven him.

Next only to my profession of faith in Christ, this was the most important decision I’d made in my entire life. My story of “how I forgave my dad” is linked at the bottom of this blog. It’s my story of how, after having grown up in a severely violent, alcoholic home, Christ can take what the enemy intended for evil, and redeem it for His glory.

In the photo below is Jordan (5), Kelsie (7), me, and my dad holding Macy (2).

NOTE: This was the first time my dad had ever met my children.

Two short years after Michelle snapped this photo, alcoholism finally killed my father. My dad, a Christian tormented by this life-long addiction, is free today in Paradise.  I thank & praise Christ for making our coming reunion possible

Read my story of How I Forgave My Dad here.

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

Forgave Dad