Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Pastor's Perspective - Nothing Even Comes Close


Pastor Bill Hybels in his book ‘Courageous Leadership’ wrote the following – “There is nothing like the local church when it’s working right. Its beauty is indescribable. Its power is breathtaking. Its potential is unlimited…Whatever the capacity for human suffering, the church has a greater capacity for healing and wholeness…No other organization on earth is like the church. Nothing even comes close.” Over the course of the last several months and particularly last week, Bill Hybels words have resonated with me deeply, as we as a congregation have been rallying behind a critically ill young man and his family.

Jonathan Booker is a hilarious ‘fireball’ of energy and faith-fueled zeal. He and his lovely wife Viola and their two sweet children simply love Jesus – and it shows. I have had the privilege of being their pastor for over 5 years now. Well over a year ago, my wife Michelle and I asked the Bookers to co-lead a brand new community (small) group) here at First Christian. We saw this as a way to meet others needs, groom ‘JB & Vi’ for leadership, and selfishly enjoy this dear couple we love so dearly. To the glory of God, over the course of 2009, we bonded tightly as a group and as a leadership team.

About midway through the year, JB began to acknowledge that something was causing him to lose both his sleep and appetite. Within a few months he lost over 50 lbs, something very unsettling for this work-out-a-holic and his wife. The source of his illness was a mystery no doctor could seem to pin-point. Finally, after an extended time in the hospital, he was diagnosed with lupus – a disease that randomly causes the body to attack itself while depleting the immune system.

After several weeks in the hospital, on Christmas morning he was moved from his private room to ICU, where his life hung in the balance. A few days later, aggressive surgery was performed to remove the source of his dire complications. As an update, last night he required another surgical procedure, with more anticipated. As of now, he remains in critical condition with bleeding challenges and a long road of recovery ahead.

Friends, if I was the ‘CEO of the Universe’, I would have never written this chapter in Jonathan Booker’s life – an unanticipated chapter filled with an endless parade of “Why’s?” However, as a believer in Jesus Christ and someone grossly unqualified to sit on Heaven’s throne, I am called to simply trust – and encourage others to do likewise. All I really know in this trial is that God is good, that God is in complete control, that God sees a grander picture we don’t, that God loves the Booker family more than all of us combined, and that God listens to pray and always answers. I also know that as the Almighty, He owes us no explanations; that anything we can ascertain is an exhibition of His grace.

Since last week I have witnessed His awe-inspiring grace. I have watched and marveled at the Bride of Christ in her most beautiful light. I’ve seen for several days now a hospital waiting room become a campground and rally site of JB and Vi’s fellow community group members and faithful church partners, all there to show support and love in its many glorious and selfless ways. Some bring food. Some sit silently and pray. Some simply cry with the crying. Some have spent the night and want to be available for any “what ifs”. We even had a spontaneous worship service on Sunday afternoon - right outside of the ICU! Tears streamed and voices sang ‘How Great is Our God’, and like Paul and Silas in a Philippian jail, patients and staff stopped and listened. Meanwhile back at the church, prayer vigils (spontaneous and planned) have been taking place daily. Every social networking avenue has been hijacked by our people as a clarion call for JB. Our FCC partners have been activating prayer chains all around the globe. Why? Because Jonathan Booker is our brother. We absolutely refuse to let go of the horns of the altar. We will not give in and we will not give up. We all know that if any of us were in the bed, the church would do the very same thing for any of us. We hold deeply that family doesn’t give up on family. We believe that there are no testimonies without trials, and we have a faith-filled vision of JB stand before us soon healthy and strong giving us his! Simply put, the church is leaning into our Father. The church is leaning into each other. The church is rallying in love. The church is taking off its bib and putting on a towel. The church is rising up. The church is being the church!

‘No other organization on earth is like the church. Nothing even comes close.’

Amen Bill!

**At 11:24 a.m. Sunday, January 3rd, Jonathan was ushered into the presence of his Maker...rewarded with the ULTIMATE healing! Although we are sad & we mourn... We are rejoicing in the ASSURANCE that he is with The Lord & we WILL see him again! PRAISE THE LORD... ALWAYS! Thank you to everyone who has prayed. Please pray for peace for his family.

10 comments:

Nicholle said...

WOW!! Well said Steve!! Thank you so much for writing this!!!

Hai said...

Awesome words bro...AWESOME.

Cheryl said...

What an awesome testimony to God's power and plan for the church. Praying fervently for the Booker family and the fcc family.

Crystal said...

well said...

Anonymous said...

Well said. It is great seeing how Gods people rise up!!

shan-Marie said...

Thank you Steve! Nothing compares to the love of an everlasting family! Praise God for the church!

Tim said...

Both Tim and I can account for the family that FCC truly is and what awesome Prayer Warriors you are...for we have been on the recieving end of prayer here in NC and feel it is an honor to be on the giving end of it now for both JB and Vi (and kiddos)

Patrina said...

This is my first read on your blog and what a very awesome and specific time to read. I am already in prayer for the Brooker family. Yes Yes Amen, Lord! Thank you for this post and allowing those of us not included in your circle to also gather around this family in prayer. I pray for healing everytime. The Lord tells us to ASK. "What do you want?", He says in Psalm 2. I fervently ask for healing of this dedicated husband/father/leader/servant. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven, Lord. We give you praise for what'd you've done in their lives already and praise for what you're about to do in the Brooker family and in the church, at Frist Christian and beyond.

Thank you, Lord for the awesome opportunity to come before you in prayer with our painfully stretched heart strings. We give you praise. In Jesus name - amen!

Patrina

Sue said...

Amen! Steve this is awesome. I have seen our church rising up and bonding together. Nothing could tear this church apart right now. I love being apart of the praying at the church for JB. God is bigger than all of this and whatever his plan is I know it is the most awesome.

Anonymous said...

BEAUTIFUL! Very well said! Ahhh, very touching!

Sarah Neisingh