Colton White

He Is Better

The Weight of Death

Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved. (Psalm 55:22)

As I was sitting in the sanctuary this afternoon, surrounded by family and friends of a little girl named Avery, who died this past week in a tragic accident. I was overwhelmed by several emotions. Every person deals with death in their own way, and each experience is limited or increased by past experiences. For me, I could not help but think of my own experiences with death. Four years ago my father committed suicide, as a son, you never see it coming. I experienced sadness, confusion, and A LOT of anger. The next couple years were a roller coaster. Fine one day, sad the next, and the filled with rage the next. In September of 2012 my mom died from a stroke, and this although different, still had the same sting to it. These events gave me a foundation for an experience with death. I have often wondered the questions we all wonder in times of death. “Why them?” “Why me?” “Why would God allow this to happen?” Today, a couple things are certain to me. (1) I will not know the answer to those questions this side of heaven. (2) Those event created a deep stirring in my soul for the gospel and the glory of God. (3) Jesus is much better than anything in this world, and if we hold on too tightly to things that will fade away, we will miss out on the full satisfaction that God brings.

I did not know the family of the little girl, but I was sitting in the funeral and  I could feel the weight of death. I wanted to help, to be a comfort, and if i’m honest I wanted the power to bring their little girl back to life. In my arrogance, as I was thinking about what was happening, I thought in my head, “God give me their burden! Give me their grief! I’ve carried the burden of death before!”

However, reality sunk in. I do not have the capacity to hold such a weight. No one does. If they were to attempt to “cast their burden on me” they would be so disappointed. I do not have the power or the goodness to uphold it. God is the only one who has that capacity, he welcomes the burden, and he delights in comforting his sons and daughters.

In his omnipotence we can rest assured that he will sustain us. I kept coming back to Psalm 63

    [5] My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips, [6] when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night; [7] for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.[8] My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.
(Psalm 63:5-8 ESV)

In death and suffering we cling, cling to the only one who can help, cling to Him who overwhelms us with his goodness. We cling because as sons and daughters, we have a God who saved us in the midst of our depravity. Surely that God is worthy of our burden.

My comfort is simply this: As a son of God, I have been adopted as one of his own, and in light of that, have full confidence in his faithfulness, both to me, and his church.

    [28] And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. [29] For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. [30] And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
    [31] What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? [32] He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?
[33] Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. [34] Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. [35] Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? [36] As it is written,
    “For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
        we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
    [37] No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. [38] For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, [39] nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
    
(Romans 8:28-39)

Please remember the Byrd family and keep them in your prayers. My hope is that we rally around them so that can know the satisfaction that comes in God alone, and God’s glory can be displayed for all the world to see,

We’s A Church Going Type uh Folk

Why Go To Church?

It’s a question we all ask? Why should I go to church? we all have our reasons. One of the biggest reasons we don’t go that none of us will say out loud is, “Church is boring”. I would say to you, well, yes it can be. But anything can be boring if you don’t have a desire for it. I really want to lose weight so I force myself to run, but the problem is I hate running. I was not wired to run. The difference is that we were wired to enjoy God and glorify him forever. You were wired to have a desire to know your savior and serve him well. 


I’ve never had anyone come up to me and say, “You know, I really wish I had two mouths”. Wouldn’t that be a ridiculous statement? Have you ever requested that? Probably not. Why? Because you can’t fathom a reason why you would need two mouths. Let me ask you this, why do you rage against the pain and suffering that is in the world today? Why do you get frustrated when things don’t work out? Because you can fathom a place where there is no more pain, no more suffering, no more tears. You can fathom a place where there is joy, hope, love, and satisfaction. You long for that place. That place is found in Jesus. It’s found in the church.

Another reason you may give for not going to church is, “church people are hypocrites”. And you are right. Church people are hypocrites, but so are you. We all are. In fact, scripture calls us out on that. All of our hearts have been darkened by sin, and the only hope for us is to rest in blood of Jesus that has been spilled. We are not called to live in perfection, but despite are imperfection, pursue the only name that can truly give us life. Jesus.

The most common reason I hear is, “I can pray and read my Bible outside of church so I don’t really need to go on Sundays.” This is true, and you absolutely can and should be praying and reading your Bible outside of church, but for us to truly be more like Christ we must surround ourselves with people who aren’t like us. Jesus did not call us to just surround ourselves with people who are exactly like us. We should be around people who don’t talk like us, looks like us, and act like us. Why? Because it teaches us how to love. It teaches us how to be like Jesus.

Fragile

Shortness of breath, moans, pain, numbness, restlessness, hospital bed, a helpless face, morphine, needles, nurses shift change, confusion, worry, the shadow of death, the simple fragility of life. As my mother lay 10 feet away, I have nothing to offer, no solution, but my prayers.  I have no power over her condition, and in this moment I can see fingerprints of humanities fall. Jesus is better

These are the things that have become my environment this last week. When the reality check of life comes you are forced to reflect on who the Lord really is. Sovereign. Faithful. Scary. Omnipotent. Gracious. Loving. Jesus is better

When our selfishness is revealed, and all the things we once cared about are put in their rightful place.  They are Irrelevant.  Indeed, suffering is the best hermeneutic.  It is the place where the Lord is most present.  The place where scripture is illuminated, when all is stripped away, and we see the magnitude of his glory and the depths of our depravity.  Jesus is better. Jesus is better. Jesus is better.  

Many of us have been in this situation, where life strips away all that we thought was worthy of our praise, only to have the Lord reveal to us that only he is truly worthy of our glory.  We are thieves, taking what is rightfully his, and whoring it out to foolish things.  Things that will never satisfy. We are drinking in sand and wondering why we are still thirsty.  Indeed, Jesus is better.  

Our story does not end in a hospital bed. No, praise Him. He put on flesh. Lived the life we could not. Died our death. Raised to live again. Amen, there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus. The stain has been lifted.  No more sacrifice necessary. Now we fill in what is lacking in Christ affliction- the spreading of this Gospel. Proclamation that Jesus is better

In my mothers death you are praised.  In her life you are praised.  You get the glory, and we get the joy. Chosen by you. Sons and daughters. Your beloved. Jesus, you are better.

My Story

My childhood consisted of two parents who loved me, worked to put food on the table, and taught me right and wrong. However, one thing that was absent in my upbringing was the presence of the gospel in my daily life. With the absence of the gospel also came the absence of joy. Going into my high school years, I was searching for a purpose, and for joy. I got heavily involved in a social group that participated in actions that were not at all God-glorifying. During this time, I was searching for satisfaction, for a purpose, and a place to belong. I found that truth during the summer of 2004 at a camp with the local youth group. I entered that summer without ever touching a Bible in my life, and without ever experiencing true joy. That summer, when I accepted Jesus as my Lord and savior, I experienced both.

This newfound hope and joy did not make my life easier, nor did it give me all the answers to life. Through the process of sanctification the Lord began to allow circumstances in my life to test, mold, and cultivate affection for him that is unapologetic. The first of these circumstances occurred my sophomore year in high school, less then six months after I believed the Gospel. My best friend was in a motorcycle accident and was paralyzed from the chest down. The Lord forced me to ask questions about his goodness and humanities suffering. Most of all, he began a journey that would teach me how to be faithful in scripture and trust the plans that he has for all of his children. The second of these circumstances occurred the summer of 2006. It was Father’s day and the whole family would barbeque in celebration of the holiday. However, when I got home I saw a note on the fridge from my father that read “Can’t do it anymore.” He was gone. I was devastated. I loved my father, and although he never fully supported my newfound love in Christ, he still supported me in every way. His departure started a long process of a messy divorce between my parents.

During this divorce the Lord continued to cultivate a passion in me, and in 2007 I felt it was time to begin putting that passion into action. I quit all athletic activities, and a friend and I began a community youth service titled “Live It Out.” This service would provide a place for the youth in our community to worship and learn about Jesus. I served as main speaker for Live It Out for a year.

I felt a call to ministry so I decided to attend the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor and get my Bachelors degree in Christian Studies. I spent my first three semesters at UMHB heavily involved in campus ministries such as Welcome Week, Missions Emphasis Week, Freshman ministries, and other Baptist Student Ministry organizations. By my fourth semester I felt as if the Lord was calling me to a position to where I would have more interaction with the lost. It is easy to get comfortable on a Christian campus and go weeks and even months without sharing Christ with the lost. I heard of a job opening as a Youth Pastor in a local church, First Baptist Church of Holland, and within three weeks I was giving my testimony in front of the church in view of a call to serve. At the age of twenty I was appointed to lead 40-50 youth in their walk with Christ. This would start a journey that would be full of joy and sorrows as I worked around thirty hours a week and went to school full-time. I have come to love my church and the students the Lord has placed in my ministry. I have been at the church for over two and a half years and the Lord has taught me much about the difficulties and joys of ministry.

My most trying moment would come in the fall of 2009. The morning of October 9 I received news that my dad had committed suicide. As you can imagine, this was difficult for me. Although we had been close throughout childhood and high school, the divorce had complicated our relationship. I took his suicide pretty hard, and the Lord used this time to allow the scriptures of his love and grace to illuminate in my heart. The most difficult thing to do during this time was to lead my students while I was trying to deal with my father’s suicide. The church was told that my father had passed away, but only the pastor and a few others knew that it was suicide. One night I finally came out and told my students the truth of what happened. I wasn’t sure how they would respond, but the response I got was one full of love and encouragement. Instead of God using me to teach and encourage my students, he used my students to teach and encourage me.

The Lord has brought me through a lot, and in the midst of the chaos I have seen nothing but his goodness and grace. One thing I will always be certain of, is that no matter what, Jesus is better than all else.

David Brainerd

How would you describe a missionary?

A person of zeal? A person of compassion? A person with little world attachment? How about a crazy person? Maybe a person with a purpose outside of themselves?

We all have our definitions, our own opinions for the taglines we include in our own description of the title, “missionary”.

My definition always changes, I am not sure why, maybe because we have made the term so broad in this day an age. Today, my definition would be “David Brainerd”.

Who or what is David Brainerd you may ask? He’s a man who had a story to tell. Brainerd was alive during the time of the Great Awakening, you know, the time of Jonathan Edwards (1700s). Edwards described this time, as a “surprising work of God”. People were experiencing the grace of Jesus and being changed by it. Jonathan Edwards church grew from 400 to 1200 in a month, and God was moving across America in an amazing way. The peak of this movement was when George Whitfield came to town, and he had a message of relationship. That you can have an individual encounter with Jesus. That had never been preached before, and it was noted by Benjerman Franklin that when Whitefield came to town, people showed up from all over. At the time, Boston had a population of 5000, but when Whitefield came to Boston, 10,000 showed up. This was the time of David Brainerd

Brainerd was a student at Yale University during this revival, but his time as a student was cut short. He was expelled for making this comment towards a professor, “(certain professor) has no more grace than a chair” and that he wondered why the Rector ‘did not drop down dead’ for fining students perceived as over-zealous.

Soon after he was diagnosed with Tuberculous, a disease that would take his life seven years later.

Brainerd, with little time to live, and a lot more free time after being expelled went on a journey to share Jesus with the Native Americans of North America. It is amazing as you read through the book published by Jonathan Edwards, “The Life and Diary of David Brainerd”. It is not a book of rainbow and ponies, but a book of struggles, struggles with depression, anxiety, and striving to stir affection for God’s mission.

The book is Brainerd’s journal and one of my favorite journal entries is when Brainerd says, “I was filled with sorrow and confusion in the morning, and could enjoy no sweet sense of the divine things, nor get any relief in prayer. Oh, the honesty! Sad? Yes. But it’s real. It was said that the following 100 years after Brainerd’s death that every missionary carried two books with him: The Bible and the Diary of David Brainerd. It is a story of struggle and success. Success spurned by an affection for Jesus that is undeniable, an affection that comes from looking at our lives, filled with hurt and depression, and looking at it through the lens of scripture.

If you haven’t read this book, you are missing out, it is a picture of the struggles that a missionary goes through.

“Ministry is an overflow of the heart”

A New Season

This last year has been an unexpected, but welcomed journey into my life. Three days ago I proposed to Katy Ralston, the love of my life.

The other part to this story is my new fiancee left for Guatemala yesterday. Which makes this season a little weird for me. I’m engaged, but I will not see my fiancee for months, and very rarely get to talk to her. I’m hoping, as Paul mentions in Corinthians, that this season will provide an undistracted devotion to the Lord as I prepare for marriage.

Pray for me as I begin this journey

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Augustine

I began a new series with the youth last week and I am finding myself so encouraged that I cannot help but share what the Lord is doing. The series is over people in Church history who have changed the way that we think as Christians today. You may think, really? Are you really teaching students about church history?

Yes, here’s why:

As I began to read about the early church leaders I began to see that they look a lot like us. They were ordinary people just like us, but God used them to literally change history. The church today has been shaped by these theological thinkers, and it has influenced the way we think today. We tend to think of them as these theological giants, but when you begin to see them simple as a mere human being that God displayed his power through, then you will begin to see the true glory of our God.

We started with Augustine last week, Martin Luther this week, and finishing with Jonathan Edwards next week. So I just wanted to take a second and share with you a few quotes from Augustine that I shared with the student’s last week.

1. Augustine’s biggest struggle was with lust, and if you have read “Confessions” then you know that his struggles between his desire for sex and this new idea of finding satisfaction came to a head in what we know now as, “the Garden Episode”. By God’s revelation in Romans 13:13. Augustine found a new hope in Christ, and was forever changed by the grace of God. This is what Augustine said as he looked back at the moment:

““How sweet all at once it was for me to be rid of those fruitless joys that I had once feared to lose, you drove them from me, you who are the true sovereign joy. You drove them form and you took their place, you who are sweeter than all pleasure, o lord my god, my light, my wealth and my salvation”.

So powerful and so full of truth. “Fruitless joys”. “You who are sweeter than all pleasure”. Augustine saw the Christian life as a radical change of affections for a holy and merciful God. He is our pleasure and our satisfaction, he sustains, and he fulfills us.

2. A question I get from student’s all the time is, “Colton, how do I know if I’m a Christian?”

Augustine said it this way, “the whole of a Christian life is a holy longing”.

We began to talk about how sometimes we may not feel like we love God, and feel like he doesn’t love us. it’s hard we are full of sin, and the presence of that sin distances us from God. However, as Augustine said, it’s about a longing, a pursuing of holiness. Sometimes we may not “feel” his presence, but if we want that, if we seek that, then that’s a good sign your His child. I love that picture of desire and pursuit to just want to be in his presence.

3. It is difficult to just love God sometimes with all of our heart, soul, and mind. It’s even more difficult to love “that” person that you just don’t click with. So how do we do it?

Augustine said, “Lord command me and then give me what you command”

So essentially, God you command me to love, so through your holy spirit (he pointed to Romans 5:5) give me that love. You command me to be joyful then give me that joy. We talked about the reason we don’t feel like we love God or rather we don’t feel like we our loved, is because we are simply, not looking in the right place. Love, joy, peace, all of these are fruits of the spirit, and that is the only place where we will find them. I can’t grow an apple off of my arm, I have to go to an apple tree or to the store. If we want love, joy, peace, than the only place we go to get those things is the Lord.

Hope your as encouraged by Augustine as myself, and the students of FBC Holland have been. Maybe next week I’ll share what Martin Luther has taught us.

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