A Tribute to My Mom

Earlier today my mom died of a heart attack. She would have been 70 years old later this month. She was a special lady. She loved deeply. She forgave. She taught. She encouraged. She believed in the importance of a biblical foundation and Christ-centered education. She prayed for her children and grandchildren to follow Jesus. She encouraged me to grow and use my gifts for God’s glory.

I’m writing this tribute because she encouraged me to write. In elementary school I used to write short little stories about sharks and boys and heroes. A few years back she gave me a box for Christmas. It contained some of those stories and many other things she kept from my childhood. It was one of the best Christmas gifts I ever received. You see, she kept everything out of love for her children.

While she can’t come back and tell you anything in person, I’m pretty sure I can speak for her on a few things.

My mom would tell you she was far from perfect. And that is true. She had her faults. We all do. But her faults were forgiven. Now her faults are no more.

My mom would tell you that her relationship with Jesus is better than ever. She used to say she was not a deep-thinking theologian. But she did know her Savior. She prayed and had a vibrant relationship with Jesus Christ. Her prayer life is an inspiration to me. No other person taught me more about prayer and God’s faithfulness than my mom.

My mom would tell you that her children were God’s gift to her. After having children of my own, I think I know what she meant. This afternoon I sat down with my boys, Will (7) and Nathan (3), to tell them that their “Meme” had died and gone to heaven to be with Jesus. I said that I was very sad and would miss her deeply. Will spoke up with a bright smile on his face and said, “You don’t have to miss her. She’s right here” (and he pointed at my heart). I burst into tears of sadness and joy. I know what she meant. My children are God’s precious gifts.

My mom would tell you that it is wonderful to be better. Her last few years were filled with aches and pains that few knew about. She lived in constant pain. But not anymore. I am deeply saddened by her death. But I am so happy she will not cry out in pain tonight. I’m so happy that her knees and hips and ankles and back no longer hurt. I am so happy that she got to see her mom and dad. I am so happy that she got to see Jesus.

My mom would tell you not to be sad for her, but to pray for her family. She always told me she was praying for me, for my family, for others. If you are reading this and want to take one thing from the life of Elaine Hefner, would you pray? Pray for those in your family who need Jesus. Pray for those who need strength. Pray for those who are suffering. Pray for those who need to sense God’s peace and presence tonight. I am proof that God answered the prayers of my mom.

Thank you mom. Love you. Will see you again one day.

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Is Your God Big Enough in 2018?

We all are entering this year with specific challenges and opportunities. Some of us have made bold resolutions that we hope will change our lives significantly. Some of us are facing sorrow and sadness due to death and disease. Others of us are optimistic and hopeful about our prospects in 2018. There is one question that we must ask ourselves over and over again. Is our God big enough?

By that question, I don’t mean that you have your own individual god. Rather, do you have the correct perspective on the God of the Bible? If there is one thing that would drastically affect your 2018 positively, it is your view of God. In the last chapter of the book of Isaiah God speaks,

Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool; what is the house that you would build for me, and what is the place of my rest? All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be, declares the Lord. Isaiah 66:1-2a

I’m convinced that our view of God is the most important thing in our lives. Too often our view of God limits him to a genie in a bottle, or a violent judge, or a jolly old man not so different from Santa Claus. God is rarely anything like our visions of him. When we learn to believe his own self-revelation from the Bible we are rightfully awed and gloriously encouraged. The challenges of earth sit cleanly underneath the feet of the Sovereign Lord. The location of God’s presence is not limited to a church building, but he is everywhere. And all that we see, well God made it all. So none of our challenges are challenges for God. None of our difficulties are difficult for God. None of our ambitions are ambitious for God. He is far grander, far greater, far more powerful, and far more glorious than we could ever imagine. And God tells us what our response to his grandeur should be.

But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word. Isaiah 66:2b

When we see God for who he reveals himself to be, we can only be humble. When we see God for his holiness, we must be contrite. When we learn to read and heed God’s self-revelation from the Scripture, we must tremble in awe and application.

I cannot tell you what 2018 will hold. I cannot anticipate all the opportunities, challenges, and difficulties you and I will face. But I can tell you that if you want God’s presence and guidance through this year, you need to follow his admonitions. See his glory and humble yourself. See his holiness and be contrite. To see his glory and holiness, read his word and tremble. Tremble in fear at his astounding glory. Tremble in sorrow at your sin. Tremble in wonder at his forgiving grace. Tremble in joy at his offer of relationship.

May this year be for you the year that you see God for who he really is!

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Is Christmas Alive to You?

I know the holidays are a busy. We are finishing up all the details related to the end of the year. We are preparing for or going to Christmas parties. We are buying presents or helping out others. We are working, serving, going, and doing. But in those quiet moments when nothing else is going on, what is it that you feel?

Do you have moments where hopelessness pervades? Maybe you are in debt and can’t see where your next bill will come from much less Christmas gifts for the family. Maybe you’ve lost someone you love and can’t imagine how you will get along without them. Maybe your health is deteriorating and you can’t see how things will get better.

Do you have moments of trouble and discord with family and co-workers? Maybe there are unreconciled actions and emotions going on in your home. Maybe your work situation sows constant discord. Maybe you’re just worried about all the political and international tension that seems to only ever build and never heal.

Do you have moments where fear and foolishness pervade your life? Maybe your internal fears are paralyzing you. Maybe your constant activity, fretting, and discord has made you ill or led you to make reckless decisions. Maybe you just can’t get your mind off yourself, your troubles, and your needs.

Do you feel like you need a break? Do you feel like you need some hope? Peace? Joy? Love? Wisdom? KNOW this–Christ came at Christmas to meet us where we are and provide for us what we need. His life, death, and resurrection offer us biblical hope (absolute certainty) that we can have eternal life. He is the Prince of Peace and wants to calm the turmoil in your life if you will but trust in him. He is the very embodiment of joy itself and the reason so many familiar Christmas tunes are hopeful and joyful. Sing them with meaning. His arrival and gift of his life is the very definition of love. His love will change you, erase your fears, warm your heart, and make you generous. It is the first Christmas story that forms the basis for all the other Christmas stories where Grinches and Scrooges become joyful and generous. He is God’s wisdom incarnate. Will you look to his word and discover the wisdom to make the choices that are ahead of you?

You see, Christmas is alive because Jesus lives. He came to live for us, in us and through us. Will you allow him to bring you what you really need this Christmas? If you’d like to know more, join us for our Advent series at Wilkesboro Baptist Church. We’d love to have you visit the church or you can follow us online. You can find out more on our website. Wilkesboro Baptist Church

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Will you join us as we pray for revival? 

Beginning this Sunday, Wilkesboro Baptist Church will host Dr. Greg Mathis in revival services. We look forward to Dr. Mathis joining us and anticipate what God will do as we meet. While we will have meetings, only God can grant a revival. Revival carries the idea that God pours out his Spirit of conviction and holiness, his people confess, repent, and experience the cleansing grace of God. 

According to 2 Chronicles 7:14, we (those who are called by God’s Name) must humble ourselves, pray, seek his face, and turn from our wicked ways. These conditions–humility, prayer, seeking God, and repentance are what we can do if we hope for God to send his Spirit during our meetings. Would you consider taking the time to pray during the next few days as we prepare for the series of meetings beginning on Sunday? 

  •  Pray for the Lord to fill Dr. Mathis with the Holy Spirit during the revival.
     Pray that WBC members and attenders would be receptive to God’s Word. 
  •  Pray for opportunities and boldness by WBC members and attenders to share the gospel and invite people to attend the revival.  
  •  Pray that the Holy Spirit would uncover and convict WBC members of sin
    that we might confess and repent.  
  •  Pray that the overflow of changed lives in our church would attract sinners to
    the gospel and that they might be saved.  
  •  Pray for church unity, love, and growth as we seek to make disciples.  
  •  Pray specifically for lost or wayward people.  
  •  Pray that God would send us outward to our neighbors and to the nations to
    share the gospel.

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We Need Each Other

I’ve been reminded recently how important it is to have others around. That’s not so easy for some of us. After all, we are Americans. We tend to be independent. We can manage. It is clear though that we are not to operate individually as a part of the body of Christ. Paul explains in his letter to the Galatians: 

Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. – Galatians 6:2

In order to love others, we are to bear their burdens. Paul’s expectation is in the context of correcting sinful behavior. Because each of us is flawed and sinful, we need each other. We need people to lovingly correct us. We need people to come alongside us and teach us. We need others to care for us. We cannot afford to walk this Christian life alone. 

If you are trying to walk with Jesus alone, let me encourage you. Don’t. Find a group, like a Sunday School class where you can belong. Find a friend or a group of friends who you can get to know and can share yourself with. Search out an accountability partner or partners. I can say with utmost honesty that other Christians who have born my burdens by challenging me, encouraging me, or helping me have shaped me spiritually. 

I need others. You need others. Will you bear someone else’s burden? 

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When You Can’t Stand a Miracle

One of the most amazing stories in the Bible is when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. To have the audacity to stand before a grave, with an audience where everyone knew the man was dead, and command him to rise from the dead is no little thing. A failure from Jesus at this miracle would have been catastrophic. Imagine if he had commanded Lazarus, and Lazarus did not rise? I mean why even try to raise the dead. 

But Jesus’ purpose extended beyond even this event. He was revealing to his followers, the crowds, and even his enemies that he had authority over death. Jesus claimed, “I am the resurrection and the life.” Not only did Jesus make this claim for Lazarus’ resurrection, but more importantly, his own. The resurrection of Lazarus caused many to believe in Jesus, which is not surprising. 

But not all believed. Lazarus’ resurrection caused many religious leaders to hate Jesus even more. Because people were following Jesus, he represented a loss of power, influence, and control for the religious leaders. They plotted not only to kill Jesus, but also Lazarus (John 12:10-11). How upset do you have to be to plot the murder of someone raised from the dead and someone who could raise the dead? They couldn’t stand the miracle. 

But they are not alone. The religious leaders of Jesus’ day are representative of many in our day. Atheists and evolutionists reject the miracle of creation. Muslims reject the miracle of the incarnation and Jesus’ deity. Others simply reject the possibility of the miraculous because they can’t rationalize it. 

But the issue is not really one of evidence or argument. It is ultimately an issue of authority. You see if there is a God who created everything, who came in human flesh, who died for the sins of the world, and who holds power over death, then that God has authority. We will have to answer to him. We are accountable to him. What it means when people can’t stand a miracle is that they don’t want to answer to the one who can do the miracle.

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The Tragedy Of Art As An Expression Of Reality

Francis Schaeffer recognized forty years ago that philosophy and theology follow art. Today, art comes in all forms. Rap songs that glorify sex and violence. Plays that depict the President being assasinated. A comedian holding a mock severed head of the President. Media and movies that stylize filth, debauchery, violence and murder. These are forms of “art” we are told. It is argued that “artists” and “comedians” are supposed to push boundaries, to cross lines, and to challenge comfort zones.

However it is frightening to consider these pieces of “art” might just be real. After all Picasso opined, “When we invented cubism, we had no intention of inventing cubism, but simply of expressing what was in us.”
Are these modern expressions of “art” mere self-expressions? If so, we are in deep trouble. Marcel Duchamps, another 20th century postmodern artist claimed, “It is the viewer that completes the artwork.” Could it be? Could it be that the politcal violence witnessed today with the shooting of a congressman, aides and police officers is the extension into real life of art?

Our only solution is real change. I don’t mean coming together for short moments of unity. But rather a geniune recognition that the deep seated problems with culture, art, politics, and individual citizens are all the same. We were created in God’s image, but have chosen to reject his right to rule us. We chose self, sin, violence, evil. We do not need togetherness. We do not need diligence. In our sinful condition that will ultimately lead to more diligent, unified sinfulness. We need the transforming power of Jesus Christ and his gospel to change us-to change our culture. It is high time we as Christians begin living, expressing, declaring in art, work, politics, philosophy and everyday life what is in us–Jesus Christ.

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