Wonder What Its Like

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Wonder what it’s like to know that you are just hours, days from seeing Jesus face-to-face?

That was the question posed by wife as we drove to see a friend who is living out his last earthly days. Cancer has crept in upon him and left him in a swiftly weakened condition. He is now under hospice care.

As we entered his living room, now serving as a “hospital room,” we were greeted by a sedated, yet peaceful friend who managed a bit of a smile. His weakened voice spoke in soften tones. His dear wife stood on the other side of his bed tenderly stroking his arm and speaking words of encouragement to her longtime companion and friend.

After my wife and I shared, with tears, words of love and appreciation from our heart, I read 2 Corinthians 5:1-5 and Psalm 73:23-26, 28. Our friend drifted in-and-out as I read. His dear wife acknowledged certain truths here-and-there. I watched God’s Word bring sweet reminders and grace-filled assurances to both of these precious believers in Christ.

We concluded with prayer and then we sang two stanzas of Blessed Assurance. Our friend’s wife joined in as she said to her husband, “We know that song, don’t we?”

Before we departed, I reached down and touch my friend’s shoulder and reminded him again what he meant to us, that we loved him, and that we were praying for him. With that, he gave me a wink and softly spoke, “I love you. Praying for you, too.”

To answer my wife’s question, neither of us know personally because we are not in that condition at the moment. From watching my friend and his wife, I can say, there is grace for the journey, peace for the soul, a song for the heart, a balm for the hurt, truth for the mind, a glorious reunion to come, and a Friend that sticks closer than a brother, because blessed assurance, Jesus is mine.

Indeed, precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints (Psalm 116:15).

I’ll see you on the other side, friend; then I too will be seeing Jesus face-to-face.

Tom & Roger

March 18, 2007, I stood on the parcel of ground where Oak Ridge Baptist Church is now located.  There, Pastor Tom Craig, Pastor Gary Ledbetter and myself gathered in prayer for the future construction of their church building.  As we joined our expectant hearts together before the Throne of Grace, we asked God to do a mighty work for His glory.  God answered our prayers as well as the prayers of a host of others. Not only was the building constructed, but greater still, lives were and continue to be transformed and built for God’s glory.  Tom was sure that would happen.  He discipled, loved, cared, and ministered the Word of God with grace and balance.

Interesting enough, that March 18th morning, another individual who impacted Gary’s and my life through his music, Roger Bennett, passed into the presence of the Lord after a long bout with leukemia.  The connection with Roger and his ministry team, Legacy Five, was the primary purpose for Gary and I being in Oak Ridge that weekend.  I remember walking into the Hampton Inn to meet Gary and his family on that Friday afternoon.  There in the front lounge area was Tom and Bobby cheering on their UT Vols in the college basketball tournament!  How surprised he was to see us.  He thought he had missed some conference in the area.  🙂

Tom and Roger, two men from two completely different ministry orbits, but today in the presence of the Lord! Both involved in a journey with cancer now forever over. How thankful I am for those the Lord brings into our lives to edify, encourage, exhort, and enjoy!  Thank you, Tom, for being such a man.  Gary and I will continue to sing and preach the Word until we join you on the other side.  Until then, My Hope Is Jesus.

A God-Ordained Cancer Journey, Now Over

Last evening, our brother in Christ, fellow-discipler, and faithful servant of Jesus Christ, Tom Craig, left the night here to enter into that eternal day.  He left behind the weeping and entered into morning joy (Psalm 30:5).  He exchanged the crushing pain of cancer for the cheerful presence of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:1,6-8).  And, not too very long from now, we too will join him and the millions in the presence of our Lord (Philippians 1:23; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).  In the meantime, please intercede for his wife, Kim, his daughters, Aimee, Allie and Anna, and the dear folks of Oak Ridge Baptist Church.

Tom, we praise God for you.  Soon, we will once again praise God with you.

A God-Ordained Cancer Journey

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To hear the diagnosis of cancer is like trying to hold on in the midst of an 8.0 earthquake.  The sounds of that word sends rippling emotional effects through your mind and body as well on upon all those around you.  Imagine what effect it would have on a congregation when they find out that their relatively young pastor has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  Such is the case of Oak Ridge Baptist Church, Oak Ridge, TN.  Pastor Tom Craig is weakening physically day-by-day, yet in the midst of it all, ORBC, along with the Craig family are being strengthened moment-by-moment by the awesome grace of God.

One the members of ORBC, Brad Zockoll, has been giving us a very transparent glimpse into this church’s journey with their dear, beloved pastor.  Today, I share with you the link, august-week-5-the-hollowness-of-cancerPlease take the time to read Brad’s comments from Week 5 as well as the prior posts.

Intercede for Tom & Kim and the congregation of ORBC.  Learn from them as you read these posts.  Praise God for them and with them.

Remember your word to your servant, in which you have made me hope. This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life (Psalm 119:49-50).

A Cancerous Church

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My heart was greatly saddened to hear of the recent cancer diagnosis of Pastor Tom Craig, Oak Ridge Baptist Church, Oak Ridge, TN.  Today, I am sharing a blog post written by one of the faithful church members of ORBC.  This is powerful.  I beg every one of you to click on the link and read it.  May I ask that you read it slowly, prayerfully, and eternally with your gaze fixed on Jesus Christ (Hebrews 12:2; Colossians 3:1)?

Cancer Has Spread Through the Whole Church