Man Knows Not His Hour

Ecclesiastes 9.12 says:

“For man does not know his time. Like fish that are taken in an evil net, and like birds that are caught in a snare, so the children of man are snared at an evil time, when it suddenly falls upon them.”

I haven’t followed the situation of Matt Chandler closely, except for the blog updates on his health. Matt is the senior pastor of a very large church in Texas (that’s nearly a redundant statement). He’s much younger than I, has a wife and children.

A couple of weeks ago, it became known that he had a brain tumor and many thousands of Christians around the world were asked to pray. I may have offered up a quick, “Lord, be with him” and left it at that. I don’t know Matt. I watched the video of him at last September’s Desiring God National Conference and that’s about all I know of him (except what I’ve read on a few blogs).

The biopsy’s have come back and the tumor (on his frontal lobe) is malignant.

Again, this might slip past me without a lot of time in thought or prayer spent for one I don’t know. However, I’ve just gone through some of the tests that every 50+ year old man ought to have done every so often. The week of waiting for the test results was not filled with sleepless nights worrying and wondering what the outcome might be. In fact, there were a few times I thought to myself, “What if the doctor, in trying to look me in the eye, but not quite being able to, says to me, ‘I have some bad news, Mr. Sorensen’?” The scenario I wanted to run through my mind was, “Okay, bring it on. Let’s tackle this head on and deal with it.”

Oh the false sense of confidence we often have in our own abilities. The pride that wells up within us, hoping that we can face circumstances like this with the kind of aplomb that will garner attention and awe from all who look upon us. That’s really what was going through my mind – wanting the applause of men because I was tackling a disease head on, not allowing it to tackle me. The truly humbling thought is this: “When have I ever tackled something any in the neighborhood of “THE ‘C’ WORD without caving into my sinful nature’s desire to whine, moan, grumble and complain?” Answer? Never (well, almost never).

So, may God truly be merciful to Matt, his wife and family, his church throughout this entire situation. And may He be merciful to me in my wellness and health.

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We ought always to give thanks to God for you…

Last evening, Thanksgiving Eve, saw a small handful of the faithful gather at Cornerstone EFC to give thanks to God. We gather every Wednesday to pray, but this night was different. I had taken every household’s name and put it on a small slip of paper. Included on these slips were also every missionary family we support, every leader of our congregation, others in teaching positions, as well as service positions at Cornerstone. All these slips of paper were placed in a basket and stirred around a bit. Then, after I began leading us in prayer, we’d just pass the basket, take a slip and pray. Our prayers were short and concise – we simply wanted to thank God for each person/family/leader represented there. As we went on, it seemed the Spirit was pleased to work in us to produce such a sweet harmony of praying these notes of thanksgiving that no one was aware of the passage of time (a rare thing these days within the church). When we finished, we gave thanks to God for His many blessings upon us and our little church and headed off to our homes, in order that we might prepare to do the same again today.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Giving Us Cause To Be Thankful… And Prayerful

Tim Challies had a link to the Sacramento Bee’s website on Monday. The article, along with the pictures were stunning… and not in a good way. You may wonder why I’d post this on the day before Thanksgiving. Well, I link to this so that tomorrow, when most of us will be sitting around a table over-laden with the bountiful blessings of food, rejoicing with family and friends, we would remember to be truly thankful for the incredibly rich blessings God has lavished upon us. At the same time, I hope that we’ll be moved to pray for the world around us:

• that God would extend His hand into these situations, touch lives there and preserve these little ones

• that God would work in such a way among His people in places, like ours (that are so well off that we throw away enough food to feed such children for months at a time), that we would rise up out of our abundance and find ways to help

• that Christ’s name would be exalted through the work of the gospel because Christians are doing work that no one else will

Enjoy your day tomorrow. I don’t want to take away from that. Yet be really thankful, won’t you?

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“Happy Anniversary”

Yesterday was my anniversary.

Not my wedding anniversary (that’s in August).

No, this was the 12th anniversary of my very first Sunday as the pastor of Cornerstone Evangelical Free Church. Back in 1997, I’d been waiting for a call to pastor a church for over 16 months. Cornerstone had been working at calling a pastor for just about the same length of time. God saw fit to bring us both together. Fascinating is His sovereignty.

When Cornerstone was first without a pastor (back early in 1996), they put together a search committee to find their new pastor. It didn’t take them very long until they had a man they thought would work out. He came, he met, he interviewed & was interviewed, and he preached. He wasn’t called here. So, back to that proverbial drawing board. Another man was selected. As the weekend drew near for him to come & candidate, he called, saying he was withdrawing his name. Another setback. The search committee then committed themselves to seeking God’s face through prayer and asking Him to truly lead them along in this process. (I’m sure they’d prayed previously, but not as earnestly as now.)

The church plant I’d pastored in central Iowa had closed in July of ’96. (It’s a long story; maybe it’ll show up here sometime; maybe not.) The one other time I’d been in between churches, I thought the process would probably go quickly. It didn’t. Yet here I was, without a church and thinking that it might only take 3-6 months for a church to call me. It didn’t.

When CEFC first sent me a packet of information about their church, I read it and said, “Nope. No way would they want me and my doctrinal beliefs. And I’m pretty sure I’m not going to want to pastor them.” Yet they persisted. The committee chair called me and talked to me at length. I asked a lot of questions of them and they of me. They really wanted a face-to-face interview and Ann said that we might as well go. So away we went. Following the interview with the search committee, Ann and I drove home to Iowa, talking all the way and both of us thinking, “Well, that wasn’t too bad; but God can’t really want us there (because we didn’t really want to be there).”

God wouldn’t let us alone about Cornerstone, however. We continued on, praying and seeking His guidance in this. When Dennis called to talk about coming for a candidating weekend, we simply “had” to say we would. And we did. And here we are.

God knew this is where I needed to be with my family. God knew I was the pastor this congregation needed (I say this with all humility; there really isn’t anything special about me that could have helped bring this congregation around, other than a whole-hearted trust in a completely sovereign God who uses some pretty weak vessels to accomplish His will). And I’m still here and so are they. Twelve years. It seems to have gone by quickly (well, there was that one stretch in ’01-’02 that dragged on for a bit). How much longer does God want me here? I’m not about to try to guess that one. If He grants my heart’s desire, I’ll never leave. These are great people. This is a wonderful opportunity to serve and see what God can do. May He see all the glory go to Him however He sees fit.

Thanks, Lord. Thanks, Cornerstone.

Grace Upon Grace


My bride of 24 years!

Today is Ann’s birthday. Discretion and the better part of self-preservation causes me to forget how old she is today.

In most name books, her name means “grace.” It’s 100% spot-on right. I don’t deserve her.

She’s terribly loving of me and all my quirks. She shows incredible forebearance of my short-comings. Her patience seems to know no end. The care she provides for me and our family is almost tireless. Gentle, kind and good; that’s my wife.

Ann and I have known each other for 30 years now. I don’t know if it was “love at first sight,” but it’s hung in there for that long: over five years of dating/engagement and nearly 25 years of marriage.

I do not deserve her.

And yet, God, who is immensely more gracious than even my wife, has given her to me. To me! It is truly remarkable.

May we be blessed with another 25 years (at least!).

Happy birthday, dear one.