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a little man: donald trump

by Reggie Osborne II
Follow @reggieosborne on Twitter, friend me on Facebook or Google+. Listen to my sermons here or subscribe to my blog by Email.

The political machine of the United States has been hijacked by a celebrity who treats women with so little respect that he should not be electable at any level.  Yet he remains the heavily favored candidate of a republican party that, sadly, can’t see past its own frustrations to nominate anyone other than a celebrity salesman.

And yes, that is what Donald Trump has become (if he were ever anything else to begin with).  He is a salesman selling one thing: his own greatness.

Words like “braggadocios” are used to describe him in articles like this one from Politifact.com, an evaluation that tries to demonstrate what should be painfully obvious:  Donald Trump will not beat Hillary Clinton with American women at the polls.

(No kidding?  Women don’t like being objectified, belittled, and insulted over the course of decades on television and radio?  Imagine that.)

Donald Trump, more than any other candidate to have ever come this far in an election cycle, is consumed with the idea of his own greatness.  Now, he’s certainly not the first politician with a giant ego, but he is undoubtedly the first modern politician to make his own ego the centerpiece of his ever-shifting platform.

Is he pro-life or pro-choice?  Is he for weapons bans or not?  Should we have gone into Iraq or stayed home?  Torture?  Visas?  Refugees?  As TIME Magazine points out, Donald Trump’s convictions are very fluid concepts that seem to take whatever shapes suit the occasion.  But the singular stalwart of his political platform, the one anchor that never yields an inch is the constant pronouncement of his own unquestionable greatness.

Which should scare us.

It’s one thing when a quarterback calls himself “Super Man” or a boxer claims he’s the greatest.  These are the forgivable self-promotions of relatively harmless people.  But when the potential leader of western civilization and the commander of the most powerful army in the world is so unrepentantly full of himself, we should shudder.

We should shudder that a pompous campaign more befitting a North Korean tyrant than a democratically elected official has been met with such great success among a political party that once heralded humble values.

We should shudder at how a man so consumed with his own greatness might react to innumerable instigators around the globe after we’ve empowered him with a nuclear arsenal capable of destroying all civilization.

But most importantly for Christians, we should shudder at the blindness of a little man who believes he is great, fearful that we might be swept up in judgment should our God choose to put this man’s smallness on public display.

Before Nebuchadnezzar “thought it good to declare the signs and wonders that the Most High God” had worked for him in Daniel 4, he, too, was consumed with his own greatness.  And disregarding the warnings of a merciful God, the pagan king rejoiced in his own power and majesty – to his own demise.

As I survey the landscape of the current political situation, I wonder if there is a true servant of God to be found.  In all likelihood, we go forth this November to elect our own pagan king.  God help us to remember this:  whatever greatness is to be found in the coffers of Donald Trump is the stuff of kindling and ash.

His money is emptiness.  His fame is vain.  His fortune is fleeting, and his words will run dry.  His body will die and rot and ruin as quickly as the next man’s, and history will reduce him to a footnote that fades away as the wheel of time turns.

And Donald Trump will stand before God as a pauper, not a prince, having discarded the most practical teaching of our Lord Jesus: “Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, not on the earth.”

His gold is no good there.  His currency will not convert.  He goes to a foreign kingdom in which he has no part, and from which he will be quickly dismissed.  His only hope is the same as the common man on the street whom he looks down on from his lofty tower:  repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.

If you vote for Donald Trump, let it not be done out of a faulty faith in his greatness.  He is not great, nor is he capable of making our nation great through the engine of his own self-promotion.  He is the emperor with no clothes, and the Christian should have the boldness to announce this foolishness.  He is a little man who thinks he’s great because he counts his worth in pennies that will perish rather than the enduring gold delivered to the saints of heaven.

A little man, indeed, and it would be mercy if God showed him his own smallness on this side of eternity, as He did with Nebuchadnezzar, lest he face judgment on the other.

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Pondering Life With Your 401k Professional

by Reggie Osborne II
Follow @reggieosborne on Twitter, friend me on Facebook or Google+. Listen to my sermons here or subscribe to my blog by Email.

Several years ago I made an interesting discovery:  I like magazines.

Allison and I were flying to Tampa, and I really didn’t want to start reading an entire book, so I picked up a copy of Time Magazine, the August, 2014 edition.  Great magazine – still sits on the filing cabinet beside me.

I loved it.  I read the whole thing.  There was something comforting about having real, printed paper in my hands as opposed to a digital screen.  The craftsmanship that went into this publication was so far above the mixed bag of nuts you find on an internet website.  It was really good.

After church last Sunday evening, my family drove to town to grab some dinner. 1843 While my wife and kids picked up some food, I went shopping for a magazine.

I made a mistake.

I thought I was buying The Economist.  What I ended up with was 1843, a spin-off of The Economist.  It even said “The Economist” right at the top!  I thought the “1843” was just some historic thing they were doing.  A cruel trick…

I’m not going to review 1843 directly, but the fact that I’m writing about the advertisements inside the magazine rather than the magazine itself pretty much betrays my lack of interest.  Not that I have
anything against “The Fine Art of Millinery” (hat-making – I had to google it).  It’s just that my idea of a good hat is a red one with a white “C” on the front.  I’m not exactly a connoisseur of stylish things.

By the time I realized my error it was too late.  I had already purchased a magazine that contained absolutely nothing remotely interesting inside.  But never one to admit defeat, I began to flip through the pages more carefully, looking for anything redeemable.  And that’s when I found these:

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These advertisements were everywhere.  I must say, in a magazine that dedicated significant real-estate to the topic of “Pouring money down the fine-wine drain”, these metaphysical questions seemed somewhat out of place.

“How do we pass on our values?” That’s the question posed to us under the image of a middle-aged mother with her young child.

“Am I good father?” asks the businessman in his high-rise office overlooking the city.

“Can I truly make a difference?” asks the woman who, for some reason, seems to have driven her sedan into the middle of a lettuce field.

There were about five of these full-page advertisements in 1843, drawing the reader in and climaxing in one, final ad.  It was a white page near the end of the magazine with big, black font that read:  “For some of life’s questions, you’re not alone.  Together we can find an answer. – UBS”

Huh? UBS…the financial planning company?!

Now, if it’s not immediately apparent to you how a financial planning company is going to help you figure out if you’re a good dad, then you’re not alone!  I, too, was somewhat bewildered at the thought of calling my financial adviser (assuming I had one) and saying, “Hi, Jeremy…can you tell me how to pass on my values to my children?”

I can almost hear him reply:  “Sure.  We’re going to begin with a diversified investment in the S&P 500.”

That oughta’ keep those kids on the straight and narrow!

Now, I am not against sound financial planning.  But does anyone else think that UBS – an investment company – might be overplaying their hand a bit?  How is my financial planner (assuming I hired one) going to know if I’m a good father?  How is he going to help me pass on my Christian values?  How is he going to help me “truly make a difference”?

Please…spare me any attempts at answering these ridiculous questions.  He’s not.  Because these questions cannot be answered with financial planning.  Period.

Now, if we ask, “How can I leave something behind for my children?” or, “How can I give money to a charity that represents my values,” then possibly a financial planner might help.  And I’m sure that’s what UBS has in mind.  I certainly HOPE that’s what UBS has in mind…

But these advertisements are trying to tap into something much deeper than these surface problems.  Each question acknowledges an inadequacy: I haven’t passed on my values; I’m not a great dad; my life hasn’t amounted to much.

Now, whether or not you can relate specifically to those problems is really beside the point.  We all have serious areas of life where we feel as though we’ve failed.  These admissions are hard for us, and from time to time we stop to think about what might be done to address them.

  • I didn’t love my children like I should have.
  • I really blew the majority of my career.
  • I have disappointed the people that I love.
  • I shouldn’t have quit _________.

You get the point.

The real question here is, “How do we deal with the reality of our own shortcomings?”

They’re right in front of our faces, so there’s no point in denying them.  We have tried.  We have failed.  “To err is human…”  What now?

Well – we can either call UBS and see if there’s a mutual fund out there for lousy fathers, or…we could ask God for help.

I advise the latter – which might lead a Christian to pray like this:

“Father, I want to be a better father to my own children.  Can you help me?”

What might happen if we prayed such a prayer?

Well, God, in His mercy, might show us our own sin and selfishness, our laziness and neglect, our careless words and our inexcusable tempers.  He might show us the places where our sin crushes our parenting.

And we might read from His word about the transformation that comes when a Christian begins to think differently about life and the world around him.  We might start working – making an effort – to see the world through the eyes of Jesus.

According to the Apostle Paul who wrote, “Be transformed by the renewing of your minds (Romans 12:2),” this new, Spirit-filled view of life might actually begin to change the way we live…the way we approach our responsibilities as fathers.

Through prayer and the accountability of Christian fellowship, through confession to Christian brothers and a strong desire to repent, we might actually become men who are worth looking up to.

And as our children observe in us a life very different from the self-centered, ungodliness that used to be so common, then maybe they would begin to see qualities worthy of admiration.  Perhaps they would listen to our words of counsel, spoken with humble tenderness from a gentle spirit.  Perhaps these words, flowing from the love of Jesus in our hearts, would ring truer to them than the callous and foolish ramblings of the ogres we used to be.

And maybe, if the Lord so blesses, a younger generation might come to respect the way their parents have lived for Jesus.  And our values would be passed on.

Perhaps, one day as we lay in our hospital beds with the shadow of death hanging over us, the measure of our lives will be weighed in something other than dollars and cents.  Just maybe, when that day comes, godly children, thriving churches, and service to others will be worth a great deal more to us than our 401k’s.

And maybe, then, we’ll look death in the face with boldness, knowing that the presence of Jesus awaits – confident that we will hear the words, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.  Enter into the joy of your Lord. (Matthew 25:21)”

And closing our eyes to the pain of the world, we might open them to the joy of another.  In that eternal kingdom, the Lord will reward the many good things we did on the earth, things for which this present world would not pay a penny.

Gathered there with the family of God we will see the impact that our lives had upon those whom we loved, and we will take joy in knowing that our lives truly made a difference.

I don’t know if you’ll get those kind of answers when you call UBS, but if you want my advice, take your questions to God.  He’s got a plan for your future peace and security that’s worth buying into.

 

A Strange Week

by Reggie Osborne II
Follow @reggieosborne on Twitter, friend me on Facebook or Google+. Listen to my sermons here or subscribe to my blog by Email.

Well, I made it to Friday.  And as soon as this is posted, all of my attention shifts to Sunday.  But while this week is fresh in my mind, I wanted to write about it.  I don’t think there will be another week like this any time soon.

I’m really a “nobody”.  I mean, I’m a “somebody” to Jesus, and I’m a “somebody” to my wife and my kids and my family and my church.  But outside of that, I’m nobody.  I was nobody at the beginning of the week, and I’m nobody at the end of the week.

But this week, I got way more attention than a “nobody” like me is used to getting.  This happened because of the article I published on this blog: She Only Said “Yes” Once.

I wrote this article 5 months ago and saved it as a draft.  I honestly didn’t know if it was any good, and besides that, no one reads my blog anyway.  So posting a provocative commentary on sex in our culture really doesn’t make sense when this website is only checked by my wife and a few of my more gracious friends.

But after five months of posting nothing, I figured…what the heck?  You know?  I posted it here and shared it on Facebook.

Right away I got Facebook shares from my church family.  That’s not unusual.  They love me, and they probably feel sorry for me that I seem intent to write things that no one has ever read or ever will read.  “Sympathy Shares”, but I always smile at them because they come from love.

That night I got an email from a lady who works for a website I’d never heard of, Foreverymom.com.  She was very kind about my article and wanted to know if she could put it on her website.

This was new.  To my knowledge, no one who wasn’t already my friend had ever really read anything I’d posted on my website.  And the numbers backed that up!  I get statistics for how each of my articles are viewed…so I’m well aware of the fact that they’re NOT viewed.

I thought about it and I agreed.  I gave her a profile picture.  I wrote up a short bio.  And I simply asked that none of the content be altered.  In hindsight, I should have let her alter it.  There were a few grammatical errors that I’m sure she would have caught!

When the article posted to her website, it did well.  50,000 views the first day, up to 100,000 views on the second day, and it hit 210,000 somewhere since then.  I don’t know if I can describe how weird that felt.  I’ve been writing since I was a kid.  I usually have to ask people to visit my website when I write something…like, pick up the phone and ask them.  As far as the internet is concerned, reggieosborne.com doesn’t really exist.

These views led to many Facebook shares…somewhere around 30K.  Last night it started sharing on Twitter.  A person who I admire very much, Tony Reinke from DesiringGod read it and tweeted:

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Huh?  I almost cried when I read that.  No one has ever wanted to publish anything I’ve written before.  I’m from New Paris, Ohio – population 2,000-something.  We’re poor…we’re country…we’re pretty much as insignificant to the rest of the larger world as an American village can possibly be.

This was really strange.  I almost became prideful!  Prideful about a tweet!  That should tell you how little I expect anyone to notice my writing.

On my own website, the traffic spiked for three days…people spilling over from other sites and shared links.  I still don’t know what to make of it.  As of this writing, the article has been viewed 5,700 times on my little site.  To put that in perspective, consider Easter Prayer, a meditation I wrote and cried over last year.  It has 1 official view.

Or how about Proof of His Love, something I actually tried to get people to look at!  I even created a banner for it and changed my Facebook header!

89 all-time views.

Before this week, the most popular thing I’d ever written was Sadness, Loss, and Hope at Clyde’s Passing, another emotional entry after a dear friend passed away last year.  It was viewed 1,037 times.  But let’s be honest…those views aren’t mine.  Those views are Clyde’s.  I wrote it and people read it because of their love for him, not my writing ability.

The bottom line is, if you have a few minutes on the internet at Easter time, would you rather read Reggie Osborne’s “Easter Prayer” or whatever John Piper has posted?  Come on…even I would pick John Piper…and I’m Reggie Osborne!

But now this.  Viewed at least 217,000 times.  This will probably be the most read piece of writing I will ever write in my entire life.  I’m serious.  That’s really strange to me!

If I ever write a book, 217,000 people aren’t going to buy it.  If I pour my guts out writing a sermon…maybe 200 people will hear it.

If you had told me that 200,000 people were going to view something and then asked me to pick something I’ve written to show them…I wouldn’t have picked this!  I’d have picked something directly about Jesus.

I guess you don’t get to choose what people are going to like, though.

Or not like…

I should say that when you write something about sexual morality, you don’t find too many people in the middle of the road.  What I mean by that is, my article has met VERY strong reactions in the positive and the negative.  This doesn’t surprise me, and it hasn’t offended me.  Not everyone will agree with me, and that’s okay.

The only difficult part of it is to see the sheer number of people who seem to have read an entirely different article than the one I wrote.  There were many people who just assumed I was against sexual education.  I’m not (entirely).  My article never decries sexual education.  Others thought I was actually advocating for spousal rape!  I’d rather die than do that.  Thankfully fewer people came away with that opinion.

And there were many people who admitted that they didn’t even read the whole thing (not that I can blame them; I’ve never been a man of few words).  So they read the part about my wife, they assumed I was just being “holier than thou” and railing against people who have sexual sin in their past, and went straight to the bottom of the page to let me know how they felt about that.  (Not well.)

Altogether, though, I’ve tried to respond graciously and thoughtfully and kindly.  I’ve posted every reply on my website, except one which was nothing but insults.  I don’t have a monopoly on wisdom.  If I were a better communicator, maybe that would help, too.

The page views are leveling off.  I think this article has about run its course.  Normalcy resumes.

So now I go into sermon mode once again, and I have no idea how long it will be until I post something else or write something else that isn’t going to be preached from the pulpit.  And whenever I DO write again, I doubt very seriously that more than a handful of people will be reading.  I’m okay with that.  Obscurity in the world is not obscurity with the Lord.

I am precious to Him.  Glory to God.

But before I do, I want to close this out by trying – as simply as I can – to explain what She Only Said “Yes” Once was supposed to be.

When I read about the legislation in California that mandated teenagers be taught to ask for consent…I just found myself asking, “Have things gotten so bad that we have to make laws…just to make sure…that our kids know…that they shouldn’t rape people?”

So I started doing some research.  I found the study that showed 1 in 4 female college students claim they were the victim of sexual assault.  Then I found where the authors of that study tried to clarify their results in TIME Magazine by saying it was actually closer to 1 in 7.

Going from 1 in 4 to 1 in 7 didn’t make me feel any better.  In fact, it made me feel worse that these researchers even assumed that it would make me feel better!

And I thought to myself, “Wow.  I guess if I were a California legislator and I was trying to find a way to stem the tide of that kind of sexual abuse in college, I could see myself passing a law that mandated the teaching of consent to teenagers.  Because apparently, they don’t know to ask!”

And then I felt sick.

Sex – the physical and emotional union that brings two people together as one – should be intuitively understood to require CONSENT from BOTH people.  You shouldn’t have to teach this in a healthy society!  You shouldn’t have to make laws to make sure that it’s taught in a healthy society.

I mean, it should be the most basic thing, right?  Sex should be okay with the other person!

And to me, the passing of this law was like passing a law that required teachers to tell students, “Hey…it’s wrong and illegal to shoot your classmate in the face.”

To my knowledge, we don’t have any laws that require teachers to tell their students that it’s wrong to shoot people in the face.  We expect students to understand this intuitively.

But we have laws that require teachers to tell their students that they shouldn’t rape their classmates.  Why?  Because it’s not intuitive to them anymore.  They don’t get it.  I mean, some of them get it…but not enough of them.

Their view of sex is so messed up that they assume a kiss is consent for the whole 9 yards.

As a culture, we have to own that.  That’s on us.  We are responsible.  And that makes me sick.

So I didn’t write the article to rail on sex-ed.  I didn’t write it to condone spousal rape.  I didn’t write it to tell everybody how holy I am and how bad they are.

I wrote it because we’re all victims and perpetrators alike.  We need to take stock of what sex means in the culture around us.  We  need to re calibrate.

What I wrote was meant to be provocative to that end…to get people to pause for a second of their day and think about sex and culture.  It worked.  It worked more than I could have possibly imagined.  For that, I’m grateful.

Alright…back to normal.

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She Only Said “Yes” Once

by Reggie Osborne II
Follow @reggieosborne on Twitter, friend me on Facebook or Google+.  Listen to my sermons here or subscribe to my blog by Email.

I stood on a stage in the church I’d grown up in.  I can only vaguely remember my wedding, but I’ll never forget seeing Allison emerge from the hallway at the back of the sanctuary.  Beautiful.

Looking up at me through her veil, she smiled.  She has always been a shy person, so she should have been intimidated by all of those people looking at her.  But this wasn’t her shy smile – the tight-lipped, head-hung, eyebrows-raised smile that meant she was embarrassed.  No, this was a “nothing-else-in-the-world-matters-right-now” smile.

We all stared at her, a couple hundred people in a full sanctuary. But she stared down the aisle at me as if we were the only two people in the room.  I’ll never forget that moment.

Her hair was special.  I’d never seen it like that before.  She was wearing make-up, a small thing, but it stands out in my mind because she wears it so rarely.  I remember the veil.  I remember the dress.

We stood before the pastor, and we went through the motions of the service.  It feels sacrilege to says this, but they were just words at that point.  The promises had already been made.

Finally:  “You may kiss your bride.”

We kissed.  A real kiss…nothing obscene…but not a peck either.  My wife is so shy about showing affection in public, that even to this day we don’t really kiss when we’re out and about.  But we kissed right then and there, with no shyness at all.

And in that moment, on that stage, when we were married, my wife – Allison Lynne Osborne – said, “Yes,” to me. 

Before that moment, the answer had always been, “No,” – “no” in my heart and “no” in hers.  “No” in parked cars, in movie theatres, in empty living rooms – “no” to all of those emotions and desires that threaten to sweep away young people in love.  The answer had always been, “No.”

Not anymore.  On, July 28th, 2001, the answer we gave each other before God and everyone was: “Yes.”  “Yes,” until the day that we die.

Yes, I could kiss her.  Yes, I could sleep with her.  Yes, I could steal glances of her in the shower because I think she looks great even after 5 kids. She said, “Yes,” to me, forever.

I wasn’t asking for a one night stand or permission to touch her after a party.  I was asking for forever, and that’s what she gave me.  That’s what I gave her.

She has never had to say it again.  She said “yes” only once.  She meant it to last.  I meant it to last.  It has lasted fourteen years.  It will remain in effect until death parts us.

Last October the New York Times published an article describing what sex education is like for tenth graders now in San Francisco.  A new law requires that teachers give lessons on something called “affirmative consent”.  These children are taught to ask for consent at every point in a sexual encounter.

Do you want to kiss her?  Ask for consent.  Do you want to touch her breasts?  Ask for consent again.  Do you want to take her clothes off?  Ask for consent again.  Do you want to penetrate?  Ask for consent again.

If that’s too graphic for you, just remember, this is 10th grade material. If it makes you uncomfortable, then just imagine being one of the 15 year-old kids in that classroom who are hearing those words (and many that are far more graphic) with other boys and girls their own age…the same boys and girls they used to finger-paint with in kindergarten.

One student, upon hearing that he needed to check with a girl before touching her in certain places or doing certain things, asked, “What does that mean – you have to say ‘yes’ every 10 minutes?”

“Pretty much,” the teacher answered.

Somehow that seemed extraordinarily out of place to this young man, that one would have to pause the progression of an intimate encounter to ask, over and over again, “May I do this now?”

Those aren’t exactly words of passion and romance, are they?

So the teacher gave the kids an assignment.  Come up with better ways of asking for consent, ways that won’t seem so awkward and weird.  The fifteen year-olds put their heads together and brainstormed.  They spent their class time trying to invent less awkward ways of asking each other for permission to have sexual experiences.

They wanted to come up with a way of asking, “Can I do this to you now?” without actually sounding like an alien from another planet.  Many of their suggestions were too vague or nonspecific, but finally they settled on one that they could all agree on.

Two simple words: “You good?”

A boy is about to take the top off a girl:  “You good?”

He touches her underwear: “You good?”

Before kissing her body:  “You good?”

Before taking her virginity…before losing his own, he asks: “You good?”

The answer is no.  I’m not good.  You’re not good.  None of this is good.  This is not what sex is for.  This is not what love is for.  We’ve ruined it.

Sex has become so detached from anything meaningful, personal, and private, that Playboy is no longer even bothering to print nude pictures anymore.  People won’t pay for them because every sexual act imaginable can be freely viewed on the internet at any moment. Our most popular TV shows, from Game of Thrones to Two and a Half Men, are full of sex, either explicit or implied.

One generation…two generations, have grown up in a culture where sex means practically nothing on TV and media, and so they’ve actually embraced the idea that it means nothing in real life!  They’ve heard the message and believed it:  “Sex is no big deal”.  They feel totally inadequate and unfulfilled if they aren’t having it.

And we have done such a good job teaching that message, that now 1 in 5 women who attend college for four years say they’ve been sexually assaulted.  Or is it 1 in 7, like the authors of the study tried to clarify in TIME Magazine?  Am I supposed to feel better about 1 in 7, as opposed to 1 in 5?  Is that supposed to comfort me?

Virtually every single major publication in our country, from Sports Illustrated to the New York Times has written extensively on the dangerous places that college campuses have become for young women.  The violence of sex has become so undeniably prevalent in our culture that now governments feel they must act, they must do something – ANYTHING – to teach young people the one truth about sex that should be the most common, basic, intuitive part:  it should be CONSENSUAL.

Think about that for a moment.  We have so RUINED our image of sex that we now have to PASS LAWS requiring teachers to explain to our children that they must be sure someone wants to have sex before they go through with it.

I have worked with youth for 16 years as a leader and a teacher.  I have mentored youth and cried with them when their worlds have fallen apart on them.  I have given them my money, my time, my vehicle, and my home at various points.  And I can tell you this:  in my experience, the number 1 reason why children leave their homes and wreck their lives is a desire for sex that our culture has SCREAMED that they must have.

And their parents see it and warn them and plead with them and try to help them – all to no avail in so many terrible cases, because if there’s anything the culture has screamed at children more than “SEX IS FOR YOU”, it’s “YOUR PARENTS ARE IDIOTS”.

Buried behind each act of rebellion is the personal belief that he or she knows better than the parents who have raised them from birth.  These kids are convinced that they know more about life and sex than their moms and dads.  They are bolstered by their familiarity with sex, a familiarity not based in actual reality, but based on what they’ve seen in movies, music, television, and the internet…what they’ve talked about it in school with their friends after health class.

They are tragically mistaken.  They have overestimated their own wisdom.  They have embraced an understanding of sex that is deliberately deceitful.

Deliberately deceitful.  Adults know that sex is not REALLY like the movies or the TV or the music make it out to be.  The adults that make their money off of selling sex KNOW that their version of it isn’t honest – not in it’s portrayal, and not in it’s consequences.

But those profiteering off of “selling sex” aren’t there to help pick up the pieces when they come home diseased, abused, traumatized, pregnant, or addicted.  The culture isn’t there to help them after an abortion.  It’s not there to help them as a single parent with a baby. “Here’s some food stamps and some government assistance.  Good luck!  Make sure you buy my next song on iTunes or watch my next show on HBO!

The culture isn’t there to help them with child-support payments for the next 20 years, made to a young lady you don’t even know outside of a one-night stand.  The culture isn’t there to help the young lady who never gets a child-support payment because the father doesn’t love her and could care less about being a real man.

The culture isn’t really “there” at all. 

“Culture” is an abstract thing, an illusion that tells us how we should think and feel.  It’s built through actors, actresses, singers, rappers, advertisements, porn-creators, and the like who glorify sex outside of marriage as if it’s some penultimate experience to achieve.  And when the illusion is stripped away by the cold realities of life on the other side of these sexual experiences, these kids are left to try to piece together a life that’s been gutted by a society more concerned about the dangers of “censorship” than the dangers of the culture we’ve fostered.

And the proposed answer to all of these problems is: education.

“We just have to teach them about contraception.  We just have to teach them safety.  We just have to do a better job handing out condoms.  We have to do a better job making abortions available.  We have to increase social support programs.  We have to come up with medication for the diseases and vaccines and protocols for treatment.”

It’s like running around with a garden hose trying to put out a fire that’s burning your entire house down.

We have ruined sex.  We have taken what was sacred and made it casual, pretending that is won’t hurt us.

We ought to mourn what we’ve done, but instead, we glory in our own shame.  We boast about the sexual revolution as if it were an accomplishment.  We mock those who believe that it belongs only to marriage, where consent has been given and relationships rest in promised exclusivity.  We laugh at the happily married couples who have never known another partner as if they somehow “missed out” on all the fun.

What fun?  Step out of your little world and look at what this trivialization of sex is doing to our people!

Let me pose to you the same question that those kids came up with in San Francisco…a question, by the way, that no one’s ever asked in a porn scene:  “You good?”

Sexual violence dominating college campuses: “You good?”

19 year-olds with three abortions:  “You good?”

Pornographic websites becoming the main source of a child’s first sexual experience:  “You good?”

Sex addiction being a real and tragic thing: “You good?”

No…I’m not good.  Excuse me while I go throw up.

EDIT 4/8/16 – So after a crazy week, I’ve written a follow up response to this.  If anyone’s interested in how this article came about, or what it’s meant to convey, you can read it here.

EDIT 4/22/16 – This article has now been shared more than 50,000 times and has more than 500,000 views from around the world.  By contrast, I have published one article since this one, and it was viewed less than 100 times.  For some reason, God used “She Only Said ‘Yes’ Once” to reach a great many people.  I continue to receive emails of testimony and encouragement from parents who have taken this as an opportunity to talk with their children and spouses about sex.  It is so humbling, and I am so grateful to God for being even a fleeting voice against sin for His sake.

worried woman

godslove

Proof of His Love

by Reggie Osborne II
Follow @reggieosborne on Twitter, friend me on Facebook or Google+.

Life is troublesome, which is to say that much of life is incredibly painful and can cause us to question our most rock-solid convictions.  Christians are not immune to troubles.  Jesus told us plainly that we would have them.

“In this world you will have trouble…” (John 16:33)

I have had my own troubles over the last year, some of which I have written about, but many others that I haven’t.  These often keep me up at night. They distract me at work. They cause me to stare blankly into space at the dinner table with my family until a child asks, “Daddy, are you okay?” They bring out emotions in me that I’d rather not feel and thoughts that I’d rather not think.

I would like to face all of my problems directly, to confront them and reconcile them.  I would like to deal with them and put them to bed.  I would like to be rid of them quickly and cleanly as soon as they come.

But not all troubles can be fixed and not all wounds heal the way that we’d like them to.  It’s these things, these lingering pains and blights, that bring out the worst in me.

And the worst is not anger.  God has spared me from that disease.  It’s not retaliation. I don’t attack others or lash out at innocent people.  It’s not fear.  I’m not afraid of life’s darkness, to which we’ve all grown accustomed.

No, all of those responses would be bad, but the one that most often threatens me is the one that is worse than all of the others.  It is, I will confess, “doubt”.  In times of trouble, I am often tempted to doubt God’s present love for me.

 

This happens when I begin to wonder whether or not my suffering will do permanent damage to my life – an unbiblical idea, I know, since I will receive a new, incorruptible body and life one day – but a discouraging idea, nonetheless.

Enduring temporary suffering is easy, if we can be confident that no lasting damage will be done.  But when it seems as if the damage will follow us all the way to the grave, we are particularly vulnerable to doubting God’s love.

How could God love me and take me from my small children?  How could God love me and let someone destroy my reputation for offenses I did not commit?  How could God love me and take away all that I’ve worked for in His name?

And though there are perfectly sound doctrinal reasons for trusting God’s love, and though there are many biblical examples of godly men and women who have experienced things far worse than these, this is the wound in my heart that Satan threatens to rip open during troubling times.

And so it is helpful to remember this fact, that God does not set out, each day, to prove His love for me anew. He is not like the man who feels, each day, as if he must convince his wandering wife of his affection.

True, everyday brings infinitely new displays of God’s grace and goodness.  Each breath is a demonstration of God’s longsuffering with sinners who deserve to die.  Every molecule of oxygen that we breathe, every boundary of gravity that orders this universe, every force of friction that keeps tectonic plates from shifting into global apocalypse…these are all displays of God’s grace and kindness toward us.

But when we speak of God’s love, we speak of something that He set out to prove, once and for all, long before I was ever born.  When we speak of God’s love, we need not look to the skies for rainbows or stare into the healthy faces of our children.  When we speak of God’s love, we need only close our eyes and imagine a Righteous Man, sinless, guilty of nothing whatsoever, tortured and crucified in our place.

This act, barbaric and gruesome, is not merely a display of divine grace or kindness or patience (though it is all of those things and more).  This act, as exposed as the naked body of our Lord, is God’s proof to all – ONCE & FOR ALL – that He loves sinners.

And on my darkest day, after sleepless nights, when all my noble goals and desires appear to be crumbling apart through no apparent fault of my own…in my darkest hour, when I am tempted to surrender to doubt and ask, with Job, “Why has the Lord taken away my righteousness?”…

In those times of pain, I must take my eyes, for a moment, OFF of my suffering and tell myself, “This cancer, this trial, this attack, this depravity…this is not the test of God’s love for me.  His love does not hang in the balance of today’s uncertainty.”  He proved His love for me, once and for all, at the cross of Jesus the Christ.

God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son… (John 3:16)

In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. (1 John 4:9)

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom 8:38-39)

It’s amazing to me that God’s justice, kindness, goodness, graciousness, and mercy are shown in many different ways throughout the Bible, and these qualities are also plainly evident in the world around me.  But when God set out to prove His love for me, He did it once and for all in the death of Jesus on my behalf.  And over and over again in His Word, He means to tell me plainly, “I love you, Reggie, and I proved it there.”

So I cling to this, and I fight doubt with this.  I bolster my faith and stand firm in my life.  Why did I have cancer?  I don’t know.  Why do I suffer?  I don’t know.  Why is this so painful? I don’t know.

But I know this:  God is not my enemy.  He is my Father who loves me.  And He need not prove His love to me through healing, alleviation of pain, financial prosperity, or towering achievements.  Though I may ask for all of these, His proof of love does not depend upon any of them.

His love was proven in Christ.  It is confirmed by Christ in my heart.  It will be affirmed by Christ when I stand before Him and am welcomed into His kingdom.

That is all we need, Christians.  No other demonstration of love is necessary for us. The cross of Christ is proof enough.

godslove

Sadness, Loss, and Hope at Clyde’s Passing

Our brother, Clyde Hampton, has died.  Our brother, Clyde Hampton, lives.

Today, Friday, October 29th, Clyde won his battle with cancer.  He won his battle with failing kidneys and fatigue, with pain and heart-trouble.  Clyde defeated every enemy with his final breath.

He had been at war for so long.  Like you and I, he fought this enemy called Death from the day he was born.  But unlike most of us, Clyde was constantly harassed by Death.

We, in all of our healthy bodies and day-to-day activities, try to ignore Death.  We act like it’s not there, like it will never come.  We put it out of our minds.  But Clyde fought Death for decades.  It stared him in the face with all of its horrifying and morbid intentions, demanding his attention in the most painful ways.

Death attacked his body.  It struck at his possessions and dreams.  It often stole jobs and joys.  And whenever, by the grace of God, the storm cleared long enough for Clyde to feel normal again, Death reappeared on the horizon with new threats and curses.

And Clyde, with Linda beside him, fought Death for all its worth.  He fought with transplants and medicines, with prayer and faith.  He fought with laughter and game and simple pleasure.  He fought with the Word of God, and he fought with determination – God was in control and had forgiven him and loved him, and nothing could take that away.

Surgeries and medicines and organs failed, but faith was a shield that never did.

Now Death has done its worst.  It has robbed Clyde of his body, stolen away the created flesh that gave him a place on this earth.  The body has died…given out…succumbed.  It can carry Clyde no further.

But as Clyde breathed his last breath and the heart stopped beating and the nerves stopped firing and his body went silent, Jesus was there.  And as the body failed, Jesus did not.  Flesh and blood could carry him no further, but Jesus could.

He is not dead.  He rests with Jesus.  He is absent from the body and present with the Lord (2 Cor. 5:8).

But he will not be absent from the body forever.  There is a new body, a redeemed body, coming to Clyde.  He will have a body untouched by cancer; a body with no chance of failure; a perfect body; an eternal body.

And we will see our brother again.  At the return of the Lord, the dead in Christ will rise and meet Him (1 Thess. 4:16).  We will be with Jesus, and we will be with Clyde. And we will always be with Clyde, from that point on, forever and ever.  That is the promise of the Lord Jesus, Himself.  It can be trusted more than any promise from any other person in the world.  A reunion, joyful and never-ending, is coming.

The Bible says that Death has been swallowed up by life through the victory of Jesus, and that we, Christians, are more than conquerors.  Jesus has stood over Death, crushing it and Satan under his foot, taunting them with the words, “Death, where is your sting?  Where is your victory?  I have won!”

And so has Clyde.  Clyde has won.  And we will win, too, if we persevere in the faith to the end.  This is the love of God toward us, through Jesus, His Son.

Clyde has died, but Clyde lives.  And we will be with him again soon.

Please pray for all the families Clyde called his own.  Pray for Linda and Clayton and Tiffany, for the Byrds and Rutans and Belchers and Hamptons.  Ask the Lord to lead you in loving gestures of kindness and compassion.  Hold onto Jesus and trust in God’s goodness to us, His people.

Fan Chat with Sports Illustrated

This won’t be for everyone, but I had the honor of being invited to a fan discussion for Sports Illustrated’s MMQB website.  The discussion was on the Cincinnati Bengals, of which, I am a fan.  If you’d like to read my comments – which are totally about the Bengals – here’s the link:  http://mmqb.si.com/mmqb/2015/10/14/voice-fan-cincinnati-bengals-undefeated-andy-dalton

My Brush With Cancer

As I write this, I’m very sensitive to the fact that a very good friend and brother in Christ is dying from cancer.  He is suffering in a way that I hope I will never suffer, a way that I had hoped he would never suffer.  So I do not want to be melodramatic about my own brush with cancer.  I am not suffering, and I am not (as best we can tell) dying.

But I did have cancer.  That’s what I learned yesterday morning.  This was an unparalleled shock to me and to Allison.  I have never been anything but healthy, and even though I know that previous good health is not an assurance of continuing good health, I think it’s human nature to just assume that if you have always been healthy, you will continue to be healthy.

Unfortunately, that’s not how cancer works.  This post is to update you on what has taken place in my life so far as it concerns this cancer.

As I wrote before, on Labor Day weekend I went to the emergency room with bad stomach pain.  It was determined that I had appendicitis – not the worse case appendicitis, but it needed to be removed.  So, that night they did an emergency appendectomy.

I spent a few days in the hospital.  I recovered quickly.  I went back to work that Friday, and as of today, I feel pretty good.

Yesterday was my scheduled post-op visit with the surgeon who removed my appendix.  He came into the room with another person, which I thought at the time was odd. He checked my incisions, which were fine.  Then he sat me down in a chair, and told me that they had found cancer in my appendix.

Without going into several paragraphs of text here, this had an immediate and unexpected impact on me.  I write this just to help others who may hear the words, “You have cancer.”  I was not at all prepared for feeling the things that I felt and continued to feel over the next 24 hours.  Be very gracious to someone who has recently heard these words.  They are not themselves.

The cancer that I had was extremely rare, called “carcinoid”.  Appendix cancer in general is very rare.  It is normally not discovered unless someone has an appendectomy.  Otherwise, it grows unnoticed, with no symptoms, until it is too late.

Today I learned from my doctor that my carcinoid tumor did not cause my appendicitis.  That developed due to some other infection.  So, both of the surgeons I spoke to, as well as my own local doctor, agree that my appendectomy probably saved my life.  Without the appendicitis and the appendectomy, the cancer would have continued to grow, unnoticed, in my appendix, eventually spreading to my colon and/or my liver.  At which point, the symptoms would have become apparent, but far too late for any reasonable treatment.

“For most cancers,” the doctor told me, “by the time you have symptoms, it is already too late.”

I have learned a lot about myself over the last 24 hours, and I have grown in my faith and understanding of my God, but I will save all of those observations for another day.

What’s important for all of you, my friends and family, to know is that I had cancer, but it was removed with my appendix.  As far as the doctors can tell, I do not have cancer anymore, and there is not a logical reason to anticipate having cancer in the future.  There will be no required testing or scanning moving forward, other than whatever my family doctor decides to pursue.

I am always very hesitant to explain why God does the things that He does.  The truth is, we do not know all the reasons why God does what He does, and the Bible does not encourage us to guess.  It encourages us to trust in His goodness and His promises.

But I will say, that it might be true that God, in kindness to me and my family, allowed me to have appendicitis so that a cancer tumor we knew nothing about would be removed from my body.  If that is true, praise the Lord who is good beyond all measure to His people.

Alternatively, it might be true that this is the beginning of some great trial in my life…that cancer, or something worse, resurfaces in my body in the years ahead.  If that is true, then praise the Lord who is good beyond all measure to His people.

What else am I to say?

God has always been good to His people, and He will always be good to His people.  There is suffering, and then there is death, but both are swallowed up by life, eternal and incorruptible (1 Cor. 15:54).  We are all dying, but those who have trusted Jesus for forgiveness and life, will live.

So please pray for me, and I will pray for you as the Lord brings you to mind.  And thank God for His goodness to us in both life, and then death, and then life again.

emergency

Emergency Surgery: My Story and Observations from Labor Day Weekend

by Reggie Osborne II
Follow @reggieosborne on Twitter, friend me on Facebook or Google+.

I had a big weekend, and I know a lot of people have been praying for me, so I wanted to write something up to explain what happened, but also so that I can have some record of my thoughts and feelings from this point in my life.  This is important to me, because as I get further and further way from Labor Day 2015, my memory is going to slip a little.  I want to have something written down…something out there.  I want write a blog post about it while it’s fresh in my mind.

So this might be a little long and a little boring.  You don’t have to stick with it to the end.  It’s as much for me and my children as it is for anyone else.  I’m not going to go back and do a lot of editing to clean it up and make sure it flows well.  I’m just going to write it and see what comes out at the end.

Saturday, 9/5/15

I woke up Saturday around 7:00 AM and went to work.  I’d had dinner Thursday night Eric Derr.  I had premarital counseling with Tim and Lydia on Friday.  This hadn’t left much time for sermon preparation, and Sunday morning often feels like a ticking time bomb when you know there’s work left to do.

I already had a pretty bad draft written for the sermon, so that was good and bad – good that I had 11 pages of something to work with, bad that it was in such a rough state.  I went to work for about 2 hours on Saturday, hammering things into place and cutting out the junk.

At 9:00 AM I started to get ready for the cross country meet.  Halle was running in Greenville, and I was really looking forward to it.  On a whim, I decided to go out and do a little running of my own.  I’d been running 1-mile intervals since Monday morning, and I knew it was only going to get hotter as the day went on.  So I threw on some clothes, went outside, and ran a 7:37-mile.

So awesome!  I can’t tell you how long it’d been since I’d run a sub 8-minute mile.  I’ve been secretly hoping to get back to the 5:25 mile I ran in middle school, and this was real progress.  I showered, threw on some new clothes, bragged to my wife (who seemed to care less) and we went to the meet.

Cross-country was great.  Halle was great.  The team was great.  Mickey, Jalynn, Evan, Hannah, Lauren…everybody did well.  We came home, I went back to work on the sermon.  And I started eating.

Now, I’ve been eating healthy…really healthy…for months now.  I’ve lost 30 pounds this year.  But I didn’t eat healthy Saturday.  I had a double cheeseburger from Wendy’s with way too many fries.  I drank a ton of diet pop.  I ate fried foods that evening.  I had nachos with beans and cheese.  I had lots of chips.  I ate bad.

I do this a lot when I’m getting ready for Sunday because unhealthy food is a nice pick-me-up.  It gives you a quick calorie surge of energy, and it breaks the monotony of writing and editing and preparing.  But this was overboard into gluttony.

I went to sleep Saturday night already feeling bad.

Sunday, 9/6/2015

I wasn’t surprised when I woke up at 3:15 AM on Sunday morning.  My stomach didn’t feel good, and with all the calories I’d eaten, my mind was running immediately.  I tried to go back to sleep, but gave up after about 20 minutes and went out to the living room with the laptop.  I worked on the sermon for another 3 hours…overhauled everything.  I felt good about it at the end, and thanked God for getting me up to do the work.

The family started coming awake around 7:00 AM, so I showered, got ready, and went to church.

There were a lot of people at church for a holiday weekend.  Normally, Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day spell low-attendance…but not the case that Sunday.  We weren’t packed, but there was a good crowd.

I preached hard on Sunday morning, and didn’t feel bad.  I was sweating a little, but I wasn’t too uncomfortable.  However, when I sat down from the pulpit, I felt sick right away.  Nathan asked us to stand and sing a song from the hymnal in closing.  I sat and sang.  When the service ended, I wanted to stay in the pew, but I made myself stand up front in case anyone was ready to make a decision for the Lord.

After about 10 minutes of standing and talking, I found Allison and asked her to take me home.  My stomach was cramping badly.  I was kicking myself for eating so poorly the day before.  She took me home.  I laid down in bed with some audio commentaries and began to prepare for Sunday evening service.

The pain got worse.  At about 1:30 PM, I decided to close my eyes and try to sleep this off.  Sometimes, if I can sleep on a Sunday afternoon, my body will do a sort of “reset”, and I’ll wake up feeling strong, because I’m usually pretty wasted after preaching the morning service.  However, when I woke up around 2:00, things weren’t getting better.  They were getting worse.

I texted Rodney to see if he’d cover the evening service.  Of course he would, he said.  I should rest.  I thanked him and told him I’d still try to be there.  I felt like a sissy.  This would be the second Sunday evening I’d miss in a few weeks span, and this time I had no one to blame but myself (I thought).  If I hadn’t eaten so poorly the day before, I’d be able to do my job better.

That afternoon the pain in my stomach began to intensify.  I tried to go to the bathroom, but couldn’t.  I tried to throw up.  Couldn’t do that either.

Now, to be honest with you, my stomach has been a real burden for me over the last several years.  And so the pain I was feeling was not unusual.  In fact, the pain on Sunday was not even close to the worst pain I’d had in my stomach – but it was strange that nothing was happening.

Allison went to church with the kids that night at 6:00, while I rolled around in bed.  I kept getting up to throw up, but it was just more heaving with nothing coming out.  The pain was slowly increasing.  At 6:15, I called her home.  I was starting to lose it emotionally.

When Allison got home around 6:30 I was in bad shape.  I was praying for God to take away the pain, and yet, the pain was causing me a sort of panicked hysteria at times.  I had not been able to eat anything since 2:00pm.  I couldn’t go to the bathroom.  I couldn’t throw up.  I didn’t want to be sick, which added to the frustration.  It was Labor Day weekend!  We had a picnic, basketball, games, a nice day with my kids…but this wasn’t going away.

She sat in bed with me in the dark and gently comforted me.  When I am very sick, she does this for me.  She will sit beside me and run her fingers up and down my back, or across my forehead, relaxing me and helping me go to sleep.  That’s my approach to sickness.  If I can just go to sleep, I’ll wake up and things will be okay.

By 8:15, it was clear that the pain was not going to let me go to sleep.  It had now been about 6 hours of intense suffering, and still no change.  At this point, I was beginning to think of the hospital.

I hate hospitals.  I spent months in a hospital as a little boy.  It was traumatic in more ways than one.  I hate paying hospital bills.  But I was getting desperate.

My hope was, if I went to the hospital, they could give me something to help me sleep, and I’d be better the next morning.  I wasn’t running a fever, and I didn’t have any of the pain normally associated with an organ issue, so I wasn’t concerned about it being something more serious.  I just had to be able to go to sleep, or else Labor Day would be ruined.

At 9:00 PM, I crawled out to the van and Allison drove me to Reid.

The staff at Reid took my illness quite seriously, which surprised me.  I’m used to long waits in the waiting room when I go with other people…and honestly, I can’t remember ever going for myself, so I just anticipated it would be a long wait.  It wasn’t.

They immediately put me in a wheelchair.  While we waited a few minutes, a little boy beside me named Angel cried.  I asked his mother what he was there for.  She said it was an ear-ache.  I prayed for him.  I told him, “I’ve prayed for you, little buddy.  The Lord will take care of you.”  He kept crying, uncomforted by my words.  Hopefully he will remember God’s goodness to him at some later point.

In five minutes I was in an emergency room.

By this point, the pain was so bad that I could only sit in one position, keep my eyes closed, and wait.  I was waiting to throw up, or have some bowel-movement, or SOMETHING to alleviate the pain.  The nurse who came in was wonderfully kind.  I was able to tell her about my faith and my pastoring.  She ran through tests, and then she brought back drugs.

I’ve never take drugs before.  I’ve never smoked, drank, or been on a narcotic.  I did not understand the appeal.  However, when she injected this drug into my IV, the pain from my stomach was gone in seconds.  My legs, which had been tensed and shaking, relaxed.  My neck and back relaxed.  I reclined the hospital bed and was able to lay down.  The discomfort in my stomach was still there, but the pain was gone.  It was the most amazing physical thing I’ve ever experienced.

At this point, I believed that I would be able to endure the night…finally go to the bathroom or throw up…my stomach would settle-down, and I would go home.  This was naive, of course, but I still wasn’t running a fever or anything.  I believed my problem to be the over-eating on Saturday.

The doctor came in fairly promptly.  I shared my faith in God with him, invited him to church in New Paris.  He asked me about my sermon that morning.  I told him about forgiveness in Jesus.  He was very kind, and ordered a CT scan.

Before I left for the scan, he placed his hand below my right hip bone and pressed down.  Immediately I felt enormous pain.  That was the first time I began to think, “This might be more serious than stomach sickness.”

The scan went well.  I told both technicians about being a pastor and invited them to church.  I had never been scanned before, but under the relief of the narcotics, it was perfectly fine.  I returned back to the room, and a little while later the doctor returned as well.

My appendix being pulled up through my belly button.

My appendix being pulled up through my belly button.

A bad appendix is 6-mil in size.  My appendix was now 12-mil in size.  I would be having surgery as soon as possible.  Everyone had already been called in.  There was no choice in it.  The doctor left.

Monday, Labor Day, 9/7/2015

There is something strange about having no choices left to make in your life.  I had never been at this point before.  I was in the hospital, and surgery was an hour away.

There was no time left to call anyone, or do anything else with my life.  If surgery went bad, I had seen my children for the last time, my parents for the last time.  And it’s not as if surgery could be delayed.  If I did not have surgery, my appendix would rupture, infection would spread throughout my abdomen, and I would most likely die.

My life had reached a break-point…a stop sign.  That stop sign was surgery.  It was immediately upon me.  I would either continue beyond this stop-sign, or the earthly part of my journey would end here.

I asked Allison for her phone.  I asked her to look away, and then I wrote this email to my own address:

Subject:  In Heaven

As morbid as this may seem, I’m getting ready to go into surgery, and wanted to write something to be read should something go wrong.

Which is silly to say because nothing can truly go “wrong” for me.  My life is hid in the promises of God, who has determined to work all things for my good – even my death, which I hope is still some way off.
And yet, in the event that I’m wrong, let it be known to all that my faith was never in surgeons or hospitals.  I’m grateful for both, but these are just gifts of grace from the Giver of all good things.  My faith is in the hands of my God, and should I see His face for the first time later tonight, it is my enduring wish that all who read this will serve Him with all their hearts.  Let’s look forward, together, to that eternal reunion which we await in hope.
Love and be gracious to my wife and children.
In heaven,
Reggie

I sent the email to my own address and told Allison not to read it, confident she would find it eventually if something awful happened.

As I we waited for surgery, we prayed together in that little room and thanked God for the 14 years of marriage He’s given us, the five children, and the kindness of financial blessing and healthy provisions.  I then thanked Allison for urging me to go to the hospital.

Normally, when I am sick, I go off by myself so that Allison and the children won’t be disturbed.  I then suffer through the night, and recover the next day.  If not for the Labor Day picnic, this is what I would have done on Sunday night.  I only went to the hospital because I wanted to get better in time for the picnic.  I wanted to at least sit in a lawn chair and enjoy the day with God’s people, even if I would be too weak to actually play.

If I had not gone to the hospital, I might have died.  At the very least, my suffering would have been tremendously worse, with much longer consequences.  I was now very grateful for God’s kindness in compelling me to go.

Then I had a visitor.  Jack, friend for decades, was working at the hospital and had seen my name on a chart.  He had seen that my condition was serious, and so he had come to my room.

I mentioned earlier in this writing that I had eaten dinner with Eric Derr on Thursday.  During that dinner, we had talked about Jack once again.  Eric and I usually talk about Jack when we meet, as we both have prayed for him and longed for him to return to serving the Lord.

On Thursday, Eric had told me that Jack had repented of sin, and was returning to the Lord.  Eric said that he was supposed to be at church on Sunday, and so, Sunday morning I had looked for him eagerly, but he had not come.  Now, during the early morning hours of Monday, the Lord had brought Jack to me through the most phenomenal circumstances.

So Jack and I and Allison sat and talked about him and his life and us and our lives.  We talked about sin and suffering and how much I missed him.  I asked him about what Eric had told me and he said it was true.  I prayed with him.  We fellowshipped together for the first time in years.

Then he was gone.  The nurse returned.  I received more narcotics, mercifully, and soon I was off to surgery.

As I went to surgery, I was in very good spirits, not because I was in an altered state of mind, but because the pain was totally gone.  I talked with the nurses who wheeled me around about church and invited them to come.  I made a point of thanking everyone involved.  I held Allison’s hand.  I even joked occasionally.

reggie-hospital

Allison took this picture minutes before being taken back for surgery. I wanted the kids to know I was not afraid, but was trusting the Lord.

We stopped in a dark room in the heart of the hospital where I was left alone with Allison while final preparations were made.  I held her hand.  We prayed again.  She kissed me…really kissed me.  She has not kissed me like that in a public place since the day we were married.  It is good to be loved like I am loved.  I told her to trust the Lord, to be happy in hope, and to always do what was right.

We did not say “goodbyes”.  We are Christians, and so there are no “goodbyes” for us.

They took me back to the operating room.  Once again I told the staff I was a pastor and invited them to church…”the big church as you come into New Paris down the hill”.  The lady asked me if I had hair on my belly – which seemed strange, but then made sense.  She said they’d shave it off.

She brought out a board and put it on the right side of my bed.  “Put your right arm out here.”  I laid my right arm on the board.  She strapped and tied it down.  “This is so you don’t move it during surgery,” she said.

“I saw this same thing in Braveheart,” I said.  They all laughed.  Those could have been my last words, looking back on it.  I probably should have chosen them more carefully.

They put the oxygen mask on – an uncomfortable thing to be sure.  And I was asleep.

Then I was awake.  Was that it?  Was the surgery over?  It was, they told me.  Okay, then…not dead yet, I guess.

I was not fully conscious for the next several hours, but I remember them taking me to a room.  Nathan, my brother, was there, waiting with Allison for me.  Allison pointed him out to me by saying, “Nathan is here.”

“Sorry to hear that,” I said, jokingly, and I trust it was received the same way.

A fine friend to have, who will come sit with your wife in the middle of the night.  The secondary blessings of being raised in a Christian home continue to pay dividends in my life.  My parents never had money, but their investments in the Word of God have been worth more than gold.

Allison has said that I continued inviting nurses to church after my surgery.  Nathan told me that he expects half the hospital to be there on Sunday.  I don’t remember this after my surgery, but I’m grateful that in my groggy state of mind I spoke God-glorifying invitations to others instead of angry words of frustration and anger.

My dad came to replace Nathan and sat in the room with Allison and I until well into the day.  My mother had watched the children all through the night, undoubtedly praying for me without sleeping or stopping.  On that I would bet my life’s savings.

I slept mostly until the afternoon.

At one point on Monday afternoon I experienced the most pain I have ever had in my life.  When they do a surgery like this one, they blow air into the body so that they have room to operate.  Of course, this air has nowhere to escape after surgery, and has to gradually be absorbed into the body before it can pass out of the system.

A significant amount of air was in my body, or at least, it felt significant.  The pain was unbearable.  I was convulsing, shaking all over, biting down on my lips, begging for help from the nurses who did not have permission to give me any other drugs.

“Please,” I said.  “You have to do something,” I begged through chattering teeth.

They left the room to call the doctor.  Allison held my legs down to the bed so I would not hurt myself.  I closed my eyes and prayed for help.

A few minutes later they returned and gave me two shots of a different drug – a narcotic.  Within seconds the pain was gone, just like it had been the night before.

I have to be honest with you.  I have never understood drug addictions in the past, but I believe I get it now – or at least, I get part of it.  To be given immediate peace and rest, within seconds, is fairly incomparable to anything else I’ve ever experienced in my life.  I even said to Allison, “I wish I had some of those shots on hand for when i get a migraine.”

I will never look at drug addicts the same way again.  It is baffling to me that we have medications that can relieve pain so instantly and thoroughly.  I remained on that narcotic for the rest of the day.

Tuesday, 9/8/2015

There is not much to tell beyond this point.  I began to feel much better the next day. I am generally strong and healthy, and I was not surprised to recover quickly.  The nurses seemed to like having me as a patient.  I was kind, patient, complimentary, and well-mannered.

All day I got up to walk the halls of that hospital floor, and many times I heard the nurses being treated badly, or being asked to do things that would have made me gag.  I felt a lot of sympathy for them.  It struck me that I was probably the rarity, not the norm – that most of their patients were probably not kind, gentle, well-mannered people who are trying to live godly lives to honor Jesus.

Suffering sinners can be brutal people.

Late Tuesday night I was sent home.  No lifting objects of any kind for 6-weeks.  No exercise, except light walking.  It’s going to be a while before I run again, but all in all, not too shabby.

Final Thoughts

My plan is to take this Sunday off, and possibly next Sunday as well.  After that, Lord willing, I will resume preaching God’s Word.  Allison and I are very blessed to have Christians praying for us and supporting us in times of need.  Our hope in the Lord Jesus has always prevailed, and it always will.

It struck me that if I had been born during Jesus’ day, I would have died at 32 years old.  My appendix would have ruptured, and I’d have died of a fever like so many others did in ancient times.  Inside my body was a ticking time bomb.  Though everything else was healthy, my appendix had a lifetime of 32-years.  I’ve never smoked, drank, or abused my body at all…but that little organ would have been the end of of me.

Thank God, I’ve been granted more time than that to make a difference for His kingdom.

Don’t waste your life.  You never know when it will be over.  You never know when it will hit a stop sign.  Live every day as unto the Lord of Glory, and die at the appointed time, tired and spent, with no regrets.

-Reggie

emergency

new hebrides

The Life of John G. Paton

by Reggie Osborne II
Follow @reggieosborne on Twitter, friend me on Facebook or Google+.

I have been remarkably blessed by the story of John G. Paton.  The lessons about parenting and prayer alone have been worth the investment of my time.

I first heard about Mr. Paton from Desiring God.  John Piper delivered a powerful biographical message on his life and spurred my search for the autobiography of the man.

I found a free digital version of the book at Amazon.com which you can access by clicking here. I enjoyed it and think it’s well worth your time as well.

john g paton illustration