THERE IS MORE: Comforting Truth and Tears

THERE IS MORE: Comforting Truth and Tears


Glad you’re here, give a shout out over to
Etiwada Gardens, if you would. Etiwada Gardens. We’re in this series called, There is More,
and we’re showing that the Bible is able to speak truths into our lives … what we call
propositional truth. That means that the more we study the Bible,
and the more respect we have for its revelation. As we dig into it, that we will learn these
truths that will then be experienced in our lives. So for propositional truth to really matter,
you have to ask how that truth applies into your life and changes your life. We call that an existential reality. And so any truth that is known that is propositional
must also be experienced before it does any good in the human experience, so we look at
Scripture in an effort to learn what the Bible says about us, about our world, about God,
and then how all of that relates to us in our every day to day living, and that’s why
we go to the Word. And so what I want to do this weekend is I
want to do what Jesus often did. He would take a story in His time, and then
relate how that story impacts your life and the lessons you should learn from it. We call them parables. In some cases, they were real stories. True Stories like the one I’m going to have
you turned to today. In john chapter 11, the story with which most
of you are familiar where Jesus encounters the death of Lazarus, His friend. And most of you know how that story ends,
He’s going to raise Lazarus from the dead. So I want to take that story, and another
story of where I did the funeral of my high school basketball coach’s son just a couple
of weeks ago, he was only 25 years old. I want to take those two stories just to position
those side by side, and then show you how propositional truth does matter. But until it makes its way into our lives,
it’s really irrelevant. There has to be a propositional truth that
makes its way into your life that becomes an existential reality. And so a couple of weeks ago, I was in Denver,
Colorado, and I got a call from a friend of mine back in Tennessee that said, “Hey, man,
is there any way you can come to Tennessee because coach’s son just passed away?” And I didn’t have all the details then. But I knew even though I was in Denver, visiting
another church and I was supposed to fly back in Ontario. I knew that I should go on to Tennessee, so
I postponed my flight. That’s the beauty of Southwest you can do
that without having to pay a penalty, and I fly to Tennessee. The reason I did that is because coach Duggar
… my high school basketball coach probably had the greatest impact on my life other than
probably Jesus Himself, and my father as well. He was a tough dude, one of the toughest men
I’d ever met. Just mentally tough, and when he came to take
the job at Elisabeth high school as the basketball coach, we were like the Phoenix Suns man. We couldn’t have beaten anybody. He came and changed that program around by
sheer hard work, we didn’t have the most talent in the tri city areas. But he believed, he believed that every person
was responsible to develop the talents that God had given them to the utmost degree as
far as you can go with what God gave you. And so he had this incredible work ethic. I mean, he loved us, he loved his players. He really did. I mean, there were some of the players on
our team that came from poor families way out in the sticks of Eastern Tennessee, and
he made sure that they had food and clothing. He made sure they had three meals a day, so
he really did love us. But when you were in the gym, you belonged
to him. He believed that if you were willing to work
hard and give 100% of who you are, that you could defeat talent, that you could outwork
them and be in such condition. So when he came as the coach, I’ll bet you
that I thought about quitting at least 100 times a day because it was tough. He would take us out to this place called
C Street, and he would put ankle weights on us. And he would say, “Okay, we’re all going to
run from the bottom to the top of this hill.” And there’s a time, and he’d be standing at
the top of the stopwatch. If you didn’t make it, you had to go back
and do it again and there was no mercy. You had to do that five times. Then from there, he would take us to the track
… and this was before basketball season ever started. This is what we did in the offseason to get
in shape, that he would take us to the track, we would run five 100 yard sprints that you
had to do 11 seconds or less, which shouldn’t be that difficult when you’re 17, 18 years
old. Then he would take you to a two 220s that
you had to do in time, I think it’s 22 seconds. Then you would take you to one 440. By the time we were running the 440 at the
end we were all throwing up, and he would just kind of sit back and say, “Man that’s
good for. That’s weakness leaving the body.” Then we would go into the weight room. We’d go to the weight room. Now this is the kind of coach he was. 10 years after this, he said, “Jeff, I can’t
train the kids like I could you guys ’cause their parents would sue me.” And that was coach. He also was a deeply, deeply religious man. Not … religion is a bad word actually, a
great faith in Christ. And one of the stipulations if you played
for him, would that you would be in church on Sunday. You couldn’t get away with that today, could
you? And he would say, “Hey man …” he would ask
us on Monday, “Hey, were you in church on Sunday? Where did you go?” Some of the kids said, “Well, I don’t want
to go?” He said, “I know you don’t, but just go and
sit in the back row. Just go and send it back row. Just even if you don’t want to go, just go. It’ll be good for you.” And we all did. We all went to church because we had to, we
couldn’t play on the basketball team. Imagine that happening today. And that was coach. So coach did turn the program completely around. By 1983, we went to a state championship. He turned it completely around from the bottom
to the top, we started winning championships. But all of us who knew coach well, this tough
tough man, we noticed that he and his wife started drifting apart, and we could all see
it. We found out years later that what had happened
is Diane, his wife wanted a child. The coach did not because coach was afraid
he wouldn’t be able to be the good father to the child that the child with me because
he looked at his sons as the players that he coached. He was so invested in their lives and trying
to change their lives, he was afraid that he would ignore his own son. But she got pregnant anyway, and he didn’t
respond like he should have responded. Rather than joy and excitement, he was kind
of fearful. And then she lost the baby. And when she lost the baby, she felt incredibly
betrayed. It was only a matter of time, she left him. Now that devastated coach … and remember,
coach is no quitter. Coach said, “You know what? I am going to wait, and I’m going to do the
only way I know to do. I’m going to go to the altar.” And he called it the altar because he went
to a place called Pleasant Beach Baptist Church, and every Sunday you’d go up there would be
an altar time, and everybody would come up and kneel around the altar, and they would
pray and ask God for what it is they needed in life. So he said, “I did the only thing I knew to
do, I’m going to go up then I’m going to pray, ‘God, please bring my wife back. Please bring my wife back now.'” She was having none of it, she was not coming
back. She was that angry, but we could tell he was
growing closer to God because he was praying all the time. And then we could really tell that he was
getting closer to God because a couple of years went by and if you talked to him, he
would tell you, “Hey, this is all my fault. It’s not her fault. I’m an idiot, I’m only reaping what I’ve sown.” And you can always tell when somebody’s getting
closer to God because they stop blaming everybody else and put the blame on themselves, first
sign. Said, “I’m stupid, so I deserve what I’ve
gotten here. But I’m going to pray that God and His mercy
would bring her back.” And because he’s from that time and era when
you just didn’t give up, you were married. what God has put together, let no man put
asunder. So he said, “You know, I’m going to stay here,
and I’m going to pray, and I’m going to pursue her until she comes back.” And man, I’m talking years went by he said,
“I’m not going to date, I’m not going to marry, I’m going to wait ’cause God gave me this
beautiful woman and I blew it and who knows? One day she may come back.” well she was so upset, then another man came
along in her life that gave her the emotional support that she needed so she moved in with
him. That broke coach’s heart man, but you know
what? It didn’t deter him at all. He said, “Well, I brought this on myself. I’m still going to keep praying and I’m never
going to give up that someday she’ll come back to me.” He prayed, and he prayed. Man, he was a driven guy. He kept coaching, kept investing. But man, you could tell he just wasn’t the
same, he was begging God. But the more he begged God, the more he prayed,
the closer he was getting to God. His life was changing. People around him who would have never thought
about becoming a Christ follower looked at his example of forgiveness and thought, “Man,
maybe there is something to this.” So because he was such an influential leader
in our community, people around him started giving their lives to Christ. But years went by folks, 10 years, she still
hasn’t come back. Then her sister had a child. Coach’s wife Diane, who was living with another
man, her sister, who was a drug addict had a child and social workers moved in immediately. They were not going to allow her to keep the
child, Coach Duggar looked at this and said, “Well, I want a son and if I can’t have it
with Diane, I’ll at least keep it in the blood and the family.” He adopted the little boy within eight days,
and he took that little boy named Skylar, and we all saw the change in him. He treated that little boy as if it was his
own. He did everything with that little boy. I mean, God had humbled and so much, this
little boy gave him life. He took that little kid everywhere man, they
were doing vacations and holidays. Now, here’s what happened … a funny thing
happened along the way. His wife Diane, that was living with another
man always thought these things that coach was doing was just to control her. But now she saw firsthand, “This guy adopted
my sister’s young boy.” Now, It took about five years. So now we’re 15 years, she came back to him
and she was convinced maybe he has changed. She found that he had, that God had changed
this man. And everything was going so well. So for 16 years, they’re together. They’re going on vacations and holidays, coach
is winning championships. Diane’s right there beside him, a family. And then when Skylar turned 16, something
started happening and nobody could give coach or Diane an explanation. It was very frustrating for them. He would just go into these deep, deep, dark
depression days. And then coach was so frustrated because this
is one thing he could not control, he did everything he could. The depression was so deep, and dark in Skylar,
and then that would be followed by periods of anxiety. He knew something was wrong, so he would check
himself into places, he wanted help and realized needed it. But then it would only work while he was there. When he got out, it would come back again. And then the only way he knew to numb the
effects was alcohol and drugs, so he would go to alcohol and drugs to try to numb it. He got kicked out of high school, he had drugs
in high school. Another high school across town took him in,
he did okay for a couple years. Coach and Diane are going through this. When he would go on drugs and alcohol, he
would get violent. So they have to they had to change the locks
on their front door ’cause they were actually afraid of their own son, but they still loved
them. They still loved him when he wasn’t drinking
or not on drugs, they were involved in his life they kept pursuing. They pursued him like coach pursued Diane,
and never let go. One night, he had been drinking too much he
got a girl pregnant. The Coach and Diane looked at this as a blessing,
“Now we got a granddaughter.” They took her in too, and they continue to
pursue Skyler but their hearts were breaking ’cause they just didn’t know what to do. He was checking himself in, he was getting
help, but he would go up and down a roller coaster ride. He graduated from high school, moved from
job to job, but had a very difficult time. Just roller coaster. Then at the age of 25, he couldn’t do it anymore. And so he killed himself. When I got the call in Denver, I didn’t know
this whole story. I just knew that coach’s son was dead, and
I was so sad for coach. So I send them a text message that I’ll read
you in a moment, and then I got on the plane and went. When I got there, it was just in time to get
a call from Coach Carver, my assistant coach, and he said, “Hey man, Coach is about to go
in and view the body for the first time. Is there any way you’d walk them in there?” I said, “Sure. I’ll be right there.” So I went down to the memorial funeral home
there in Elizabeth, and then I walked him, in and here’s the strong tough man. I mean, strong, tough, driven man, and we
get about halfway through the aisle of the church and there’s the body, and he just buckles. And I had to literally hold him up. He gets there and he just gets down on his
knees, and then he just is weeping and crying like I had never seen. He stands up and he kisses Skylar on the head,
and he just keeps saying over and over again, “Why did they have to be you? Why couldn’t it be me? Why did it have to be you? Why couldn’t it have been …” he just kept
saying over and over and over again. I’d never … I’ve lived in a lot of places,
seen a lot of funerals, but this was a man who just … blaming himself. “What did I not do right? Why couldn’t I have prevented this? And if I can’t prevent it, why can’t it be
me in there? I’ve lived a long life, why did it have to
be you?” Over and over and over again. Within a few minutes, the funeral is going
to start and coach starts to talk to me. And at that point I realized why I was asked
to come. Coach needed answers. He needed to connect with somebody that he
had known for a while, and he wanted answers. “My son took his life, does that mean he can’t
be with Jesus? What happened? Can’t Jesus cure this kind of thing? I mean, we prayed. What happened here? Did we not do all that we could have done? Why did we lose this boy? I mean, he came in our lives. We did everything, help me understand.” Now don’t turn me out yet, I want to put that
beside what happens in John 11, and then I’ll come back to the funeral. But you stay with me. In John 11, something similar happens. Lazarus, Mary, and Martha are very close friends
with Jesus, they used to go to His house after church for lunch. So they were very close. Lazarus falls ill, and he’s very ill so Mary
and Martha, the sisters of Lazarus, send the word. If you look in John 11, when they sent word
to Jesus He was only four kilometers away from Bethany. It’s only four kilometers away. You can walk that and 30 minutes. Sent a message to Jesus that just reads like
this. “The one you love is sick.” doesn’t even then we have to mention his name. How would you like to be known as that, the
one Jesus loves? “The one you love the sick.” And then the Bible tells us that Jesus didn’t
drop everything and go, He purposefully waited two more days before we made a move, and He’s
only four kilometers away, folks. He’s only just around the corner. Okay? So Mary and Martha are waiting for Jesus to
get there and they’re very frustrated because Jesus isn’t making a move, until finally Lazarus
is so sick, Jesus doesn’t show up and Lazarus dies. So you can imagine Mary and Martha out on
the road, waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting. When Jesus is going to show up? And then finally, it’s time to bury him. And they go over and they’re about ready to
roll the stone over the tomb, and they look over their shoulder one more time. Maybe it’s not too late. It’s not too late. And then boom. No, Jesus. Every time I think of the story I think of
Adriana. How many of you remember Adriana? I told you I was gonna bring her up a lot
because I told her, I’d never let you forget her. She got this horrible disease, the hardening
of the skin and the hardening of internal organs. That only happens usually when you’re very,
very old. She got it when she was nine years old. She was an amazing young girl, and I remember
all the prayer meetings we had, and we went over to her house and would sing praise and
worship songs and pray and I’ll tell you, we were like Mary and Martha, we’re just waiting. When is Jesus going to show up? I mean, this is a young girl, come on, this
is a young life. “Come on Jesus show up.” And we prayed, and we prayed, and we prayed. Now, when Jesus finally gets to Bethany in
John 11, who meets him on the road? Martha first. Mary and Martha. Martha comes first. And what is Martha looking for when she gets
there? Martha wants propositional truth. She wants, “Jesus dude, where have you been? I just wonder, where have you been?” And then Jesus kind of says, “Chill now.” She said, “If you had been here, my brother
would not have died.” And Jesus said, “Martha, I am the resurrection
and the life. He who believes in me though he die, yet shall
he live in.” And Martha goes, “Yeah, yeah, I got that. I know that one day he will rise again.” And Jesus says, “Whoa, Martha you know who
I am. Why do I have to wait till the end? You don’t think I can do right now? You don’t think I got some purpose you can’t
see?” And somehow Martha … See, some of us need
… we’re just are like this. We need propositional truth. We need to hear something of truth when we
go through a difficult time, we need somebody to tell us no platitudes, “Oh, what doesn’t
kill you makes you stronger.” “Yeah, I’d about to kill you.” But you know, we don’t need platitudes. We need some propositional truth. And that’s what Martha’s like. There’s about 10% of you in here that need
that first. Now, you’re going to need it sooner or later,
but some of us can’t move forward until we have that. So some of us have to harmonize the powerful
God, a good God with pain and suffering. Until we harmonize that and work that out
in our heads, we can’t move forward. It’s just the way that we are. My father-in-law is visiting right now, and
every time he comes around … I remember a few years back, we were playing golf and
he got hit in the head top of the head with a golf ball from 250 yards away. And I mean when that golf ball hit his bald
head, it was like two bricks smashing it up, pow. Now, when that happened, my father-in-law
was playing golf with me and my brother-in-law. My brother-in-law and I are very different
people. When my father-in-law got hit with a golf
ball, my brother-in-law held him and started trying to help him, “Are you okay?” and nurse
back to health. What do you think I did? I went and I started running to find out who
did it. See, I need to know first, who did this. And then I can help my father-in-law ‘course,
he’ll be dead by then. But I got to solve that truth. The clue. Some of you are like that, you have to have
propositional truth. Jesus meets Martha, knew that’s what she needed. Gives her a theological pep talk, “Martha,
who am I? Come on, man. You’ve eaten a lot of lunches with me. You’ve seen what I can do, you know what I’m
capable of. You don’t have to wait.” And that’s good enough for Martha. She runs on the road to tell everybody. People like me make two serious mistakes. Number one, the first mistake we make is that
we think if we can’t see a reason in something, there must be no reason. The problem is Christians are people of the
cross, the worst evil ever done to humanity. And yet Jesus used it for salvation for the
world. When Job said to God, “God, I’ll tell you
what, You explain to me why this is happening in my life, and then I can handle it.” And God said, “Oh, really?” And then he started asking him that series
of 64 questions, “Where were you when I created the foundations of the world?” Basically what he’s saying the Job, “Oh, really,
Job? Job there’s 1000 things every day in your
life that you don’t fully understand that you readily accept, you don’t understand the
constellations, you don’t understand the depths of the ocean. Job there’s places on this earth you’ve never
been to, and there’s a big vast universe out there. You don’t even understand how the sun goes
up and down, or the Earth rotates. You have no idea, but you just accept it every
day and enjoy it.” God says, “Job, maybe you can accept your
limitations, you’re not God.” You know Evelyn Underhill has a great quote,
here’s what she says, If I can find it, “A God who is completely understood is too small
to be worshiped.” Just because you can’t see a good reason does
not mean a good reason does not exist, you’re not God. There’s a second part of this, though, that
we also assume, and that is the power of freedom. Once God decided … I know this is old to
some of you, but we have a lot of new people all times and it’s important you know that
once God decided that love was going to be the highest value in this universe, the very
reason you were made was a love relationship between you and the Creator. Once He decided that’s the highest value,
that He’s going to maintain the integrity of love. He has to maintain the integrity of free will,
for love to be true love, you’ve got to have the freedom to receive or reject it. And 99.9% of the pain and suffering in our
world is a result of what we do to each other. And the only way God could remove that is
if He removes you, or removes your freedom to choose to do the good or the bad. You put God in a no win scenario. We live in a world that is broken, it’s broken
because you and I have the freedom to choose or reject God. We reject God. We wreak havoc on one another. Now, when we came to the funeral Coach grabbed
me before the funeral was began. He said, “Jeff, can you help me please understand
this? Can you help me understand what mental illness
… what happened to my son? Why couldn’t I … where’s Jesus? What do I do? Does he forfeit heaven?” And when he asked me that question, I knew
exactly why God sent me there. You should have seen the look on his face
when I took him, I said, “Coach, let me talk to you before the funeral starts just for
a second.” I said, “Coach, I know you respect me, I know
you love me, but I need to tell you something. I take about 100 milligrams of Zoloft every
night around eight o’clock. I carry a little bottle of Xanax with me. I don’t often need it, and I know I have an
addictive personality so I avoid it at all costs. But sometimes it’s just good to know it’s
there. Coach, I have suffered from severe anxiety
disorder for three years and there were times I couldn’t even walk out on the stage.” And he looked at me and he said, “You?” I said, “Coach, don’t don’t think I have everything
together man. This is a fallen, broken world. We all have our burdens to bear.” You should have seen the look on his … “You? What did you do?” Now, I didn’t have time to go into that just
quite yet. But just hearing that from me, “You?” And then the funeral started. Now let me just relate to you what a sinner
I really am, Okay? You’d think I’d grown up a little bit, right? I have my moments, and I usually only tell
you my successes. I’m about to tell you have of a failure. What is the purpose of me doing this by the
way? Just so you know, just so you know we’re all
in this, okay? Because the funeral was starting, and I thought
to myself, “Man, I wish I was doing this funeral because I could really help these people,
and they’re probably going to have some country bumpkin pastor come up here, and he’s probably
going to not lead the room very well and he’s probably just going to give them platitudes.” Right? Now what would have been the right thing for
me to do? To go up to the pastor put my arm around him
and say, “I’m praying for you that God will speak for you know.” No, I don’t do that. I go sit in the Pew like this. What a pathetic, insecure … we’re pathetic,
aren’t we? We are just pathetic humanity. And so I sit down, and he starts preaching. The first thing he says, he looked out over
the audience and he says, “I know what you’re wondering, what a waste of life? 25 years old, so soon.” And then he looked over the crowd, he said,
“But wait a minute, we’re all going to die too young. Compared to eternity, everybody’s life is
cut short. The Bible says we’re but a smoke of vapor.” You remember I said that last week? I stole that from him. We’re but a smoke, a purpose smoke of vapor. I thought, “Man, that’s pretty good man. That’s not bad. That’s not so bad.” Then I’m thinking, “What else you got?” And he starts preaching. Now, I want to tell you what he said to them. These are not my words, I copied them word
for word, I got my phone out, “Hey this isn’t bad.” And so just know that these are his words
and he says, “We don’t know why some live 15, 25, 35, or 85, but it’s all short.” But then he said, “But I’ll tell you something
we do know …” see what he’s doing, he’s giving them propositional truth. He says, “Death can silence our joy on this
side, but not on the other side.” I thought, Dude that’s pretty good.” And I saw Coach and Diane just kind of sit
up you know, just, “Oh, okay.” And he read Psalm 35, “Weeping may continue
for the night but joy comes in the morning.” And as I watched Coach and Diane’s spirits
lifted, I thought again of Adriana. I don’t know why I always think of her in
situations like this. She was so young. I remember talking to Adriana a couple of
weeks before she died, I would go over to the hospital bed and pray with her and talk
to her. And one time I remember saying to Adriana,
I said, “Are you scared?” She goes, “Scared? Why pastor Jeff?” I said, “Well, you know.” She’s was, “Oh, you mean dying?” I said, “Well, yeah.” She goes, “Pastor Jeff, it’s like I’m five
years old and somebody told me that in a couple of weeks I’m going to Disneyland.” I said, “Okay, I hear you. But aren’t you a little scared?” She goes, “No, I’m not scared?” I said, “Not at all?” She goes, “Pastor Jeff, when you grow in your
faith, you’ll start to understand.” You had to know Adriana. She goes, “When you grow a little bit, you’ll
start to understand what life is really like.” I said, “Okay. Okay. All right.” I said, “You’re really not scared?” She goes, “No no. I know. I know where I’m going. I’ve seen things pastor Jeff you’ve not seen,
and you won’t see them until you walk where I’m walking.” At 13 years old telling me this. And then she said, “But don’t tell my mom.” I said, “What do you mean?” “Don’t tell my mom I’m in good spirits.” I said, “Why not?” “Because I’m really milking this for everything
I can.” I said, “Well, what do you mean?” She goes, “Well, I asked my mom for a cell
phone. She said no. And I said, ‘But mom, I’m dying.'” “Okay Adriana. Your secret’s safe with me.” The pastor said, “Death can silence our joy
on this side, but not on the other side.” Then the second … but he said, “Death can
divide our home and family for a moment, but not our mansion and beloved for eternity.” I thought, “Man, you are good.” I wanted to go up and say, “I’m going to give
you a little high five, a little high five. ‘Cause I would have done better, but I’ll
give you a little high five. He used the example of David. When David’s son died, David took a bath,
cleaned himself up, and all his friends came around and said, “Hey, man, you need to mourn
a little longer.” And he said, “Why? Why? My son has gone, he will not return to me
but I will one day go to him. And he was trying to say to coach and Diane,
“Hey, he will not return to you, but you will go to him.” And then he read this passage man, I thought,
“Man that’s a great way to look at that passage.” 1 Peter 1, this inheritance is kept for you
… ‘Cause Skylar had given his life to Jesus younger in his life, and there’s an inheritance
that’s kept for you through faith, who are shielded by God’s power. God will keep it safe until the coming of
salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. So whatever you lose in this life will be
replaced to an infinitely greater degree. It’s secure for you. And he talked about, “No eye has seen, no
ear has heard, no man has conceived how wonderful this place truly is.” And then there was this third point, he said,
“The sting of death is real, but so is the jolt of new life.” I thought, “Man …” at that point, I thought,
“Dude, you might be a country bumpkin …” and then it dawned on me, “Wait a minute, I’m
a country bumpkin. These are my peeps.” I said, “Dude, this is great.” ‘Cause he’s acknowledging that when you suffer,
it’s okay to weep and cry. That’s powerful and intense, but it’s not
as intense as the jolt of new life as you’ll one day receive. I saw coach and Diane just sit up, “Man, he’s
right. He’s right.” But man, that wasn’t even the best part. After he was finishing, he did a fantastic
job. Now, you know what I did, right? I went up to him after, “Man, I was praying
for you the whole time man.” You stinking liar. “You did so well.” you know, I didn’t actually say that but that
was thinking that in my mind. Hey, I’m pathetic too. Walked out to the … we did everything in
one day, so we went out to the graveside. And then coach Carver stood up. Now he had been wonderful, but Carver stood
up and coach Carver was the … when coach Duggar took to point guard, shooting guards
down on one end of the floor and practiced, coach Carver took the big man down, and he
just … oh man, it was brutal. And he used to point his bony finger in my
chest and say, “Vines you stink.” Now back then, political correctness wasn’t
that big a deal. So he would look at me and say, “Vines, if
you don’t get 15 rebounds or more you’re a little girl.” I know you can’t say that today, but back
then you just said it. And he said it. He stood up, coach Eddie Carver, and he said,
“Coach, I know what it’s like to be here.” Now as soon as he said that out at the graveside,
we remembered, “Wait a minute, coach Carver lost his young daughter at age of 16 through
a bee sting. They didn’t know she was allergic, and she
died at 16 years old. So suddenly it gave him a platform. But man, he looked at coach Duggar and Diane,
he said, “Coach, I heard that when you went in with Pastor Jeff that you kept saying,
‘Why did it have to be him? Why couldn’t it be me? I would have gladly died in his place.'” And coach Carver said, “Coach, you don’t have
to die in his place, somebody else already did.” And I thought, “Coach man, dude that was fantastic.” I wanted to go up to him and say, “Come on
Coach, high five for you. High five.” He said, “Jesus died so that Skylar can live
forever.” And man, that was it. Coach, Diane, and coach Carver hugged each
other man, that just the love pouring out. And this dynamic that I began to witness in
that story is the same dynamic I saw back in the story of Lazarus. Because if you remember, Jesus first encounters
Martha. And then later on down the road, he encounters
Mary. Mary asked the same question, “Dude, where
were you? If you’d been here my brother would not have
died.” And then Jesus doesn’t respond to Martha,
same question but He responds totally different to Mary. What does He do when He responds to marry? He doesn’t give her propositional truth. He doesn’t talk about the resurrection, and
the power of God to do whatever He wants to in the here and now. That whatever you lose in this life will be
replaced to an infinitely greater degree. And God is just because He who gave life the
first time can give life the second time. He doesn’t do any of that. What does he do? What does he do? He just cries. when Jesus saw her weeping
… this is Mary now, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, the Bible
says He was deeply moved in spirit and troubled, “Where have you laid him? He asked, “Come and see, Lord.” They replied, and the Bible says Jesus wept. Now, folks, this Greek for weep is the word
drakuo. This is not just a little tear down the side
of your face, this is weeping and wailing. It is almost losing control, because you are
so saddened by what you are witnessing. So Jesus sees Mary and her pain, and she doesn’t
need truth. Do you know what she needs? Tears. Just somebody to not give her platitudes,
but just a hold her. Now, the interesting thing is well if I would
have been Jesus, what would I have been doing? “Mary, watch this. You have no idea what I’m about to do.” Even though Jesus knows He’s going to do it,
He doesn’t do that. He just holds Mary, and the Jews who came
along with her they all started weeping. And Jesus says, “Mary, come here.” Same dynamic I saw when I went back to the
house after the funeral, we were all seated around us … now, stay with me here. we’re all seated around, and when we after
… after the graveside service, you go back to the house. This is traditional East Tennessee, everybody
goes back to the house and you have a cholesterol Fiesta. I mean there’s fried food everywhere. Deep fried, marinated for weeks in grease,
tastes so good. And then they bring in all the desserts, the
banana pudding, or banana pudding, as we say. And you’re obliged to eat, you can’t pass
up the plate. So I didn’t, two or three times. And then coach looked at me and he said, “Jeff,
tell me what you meant by your text?” And he’s talking about the text that I sent
him in Denver before I came that I told you I’d read to you. Here’s what I said, I said, “Coach, I’m praying
for you. You’re responsible to a great degree for the
man that I am today. You have been there for me, I’m here for you.” Now, he wrote back, he said, “What you just
said is so special to me. You’ve meant so much to me. coach Carver and I were just talking about
you the other day. I appreciate you and love you.” And then coach looked at me and said, “Jeff,
how did I influence you?” And what’s he really asking? “How have I made an impact in anybody’s life,
I couldn’t save the life of my own son. How have I helped other sons?” And it gave me an opportunity, man that just
started a wave around the room because so many of his ex players were there. And they all said, “Coach …” one would say,
“Coach, I don’t quit. I had a job, I was about to quit. I was going to quit on my marriage. I was going to quit on my kids. And I all I kept thinking about was what you’ve
taught us. I had fortitude today because you.” And I gave an example after example of kids
who were in poverty that he rescued, got college scholarships, “Coach, you have many sons and
daughters. These are just a few.” And I told him about during the anxiety disorder,
those three years that there were times I didn’t want to walk out on stage and all I
kept thinking about what C Street and coach yelling from the top of the hill, “Don’t give
up Vines. Don’t give up vines. Don’t give up.” And I keep hearing that still today, and I’m
54 years old now. But I can’t get it out of my head, “Don’t
give up. Don’t give up. Don’t give up.” “Coach. Coach, you have no idea what you’ve meant
to so many.” And I saw his demeanor just rise. But you know the best thing that happened? My friend Tony Bennett, who coaches the Virginia
Cavaliers, he read my Facebook post and he called me and he said, “Jeff, I’m so sorry
about your coach. I’ve never met him but I’ve heard you talk
about him.” Remember this Tony Bennett’s probably in the
top five coaches in America, I think they’re number one or two right now, probably two. Only have two losses this entire … very
well respected, such a man of God. He says “I’ll tell you what I want to do,
you realize that we are playing Virginia Tech, which is in Blacksburg on Monday night. That’s only two hours from where you are,
you go get Coach and you bring them over here, and we will give him the royal treatment,
premier parking, we’ll bring him back into the locker room. I’ll give them a seat right on the bench behind
the players.” And Coach Duggar has so much respect for Tony,
that Tony said, “Man we will get his mind off what’s happening.” So I told coach and everybody … “Man Coach,
you’re going to Blackaburg.” Then I drove to get him. I had to change my flight ’cause again, it’s
a second … third time I’ve changed because I was supposed to leave on Monday, but the
game is Monday night. I said, “I’ll wait one more day, I’ll come
back on Tuesday.” I went to pick up Coach to go to the game
and he said, “Jeff, I can’t go.” I said, “Coach, come on man, we’ll have a
great time. Coach Carver, come with …” “Son …” now,
this is how much he had grown. He said, “Jeff it’s not about me. I don’t want to leave my wife here. She needs me. I can’t just leave. Can we do it another time?” I said, “Man, of course we can coach.” Now I had to go because I had two tickets,
and it was premier parking. And so I drove two hours and I spent … I
think Alex showed you a photo already. We spent some time together that day at Starbucks,
and then Tony’s hotel room just reminiscing and Tony looked at me said, “Jeff, you got
your phone?” I said, “Yeah.” He said, “Let me have it.” And this is what he did. Hey, Coach Duggar. This is Tony Bennett and I’m here with Jeff
vines, and I first want to know … he says he was the greatest player to ever played
for you. Did he have any game or did he just talk a
good game? But no, I just wanted to tell you I hope I
get to meet you someday. I know the impact that you’ve had on Jeff’s
life and I’m so sad that it’s at this time that I’m seeing Jeff, but he said that you
have a deep love for Christ as did your son and your family, and I just pray that you’ll
be drawn to Him, and will be with you and provide a safe harbor during this time. But I sure hope maybe someday you always welcome
to come to UVA to watch a practice or a game. We’ll get your tickets, and I hope I get to
meet you and, I thank you for your influence as a coach. As we know it’s can make your hair gray and
a lot of crazy things happen, but I would certainly look forward that. Just wanted to say hello and again hopefully
we’ll meet at some point, bless you and take care. When coach Duggar received that text, video
text, coach Carver said he just wept that somebody would care that much about where
he is, that would take the time to do that. But that’s who we are, isn’t it? You need in your life … if you’re going
to make it you need truth, but you need tears, you got to have both. It’s not enough for somebody to tell you some
propositional truth, you need to know somebody is going to be around you and walk you through
whatever it is you’re facing. Folks, listen to me. You’re growing up in a generation of pluralism,
and you’re giving yourself every reason why there’s no exclusivity and why Jesus is the
only way to God. You are filling your mind with other things. I’m telling you, there’s only one who offers
us the truth, and the tears at the same time. Truth because He came from heaven, tears because
He came and lived your life, not so that He would know. So that you would know, He knows. There’s a passage over in Hebrews that says
this, let me see if I can find it. I lose it every time I do this. “For this reason, He had to be made like them
fully human in every way, in order that He might become a merciful high priest and faithful
high priest.” This is how you know you’re maturing … stay
with me. This is how you know you’re maturing in your
faith, that you are becoming a person that can give others both propositional truth and
tears because some of you are wired a little bit like me. You’re big on propositional truth. So when somebody suffering you think you should
just be able to go to them and quote a Scripture and they just feel fine all the sudden, and
you get angry and say, “Well, I told you the truth, why don’t you feel better?” So their pain becomes an inconvenience to
you. The problem is some of you are just tear people,
you cry over everything. But you’re also enablers ’cause you put your
arm around, you say, “Oh man, I’m so sorry. I’m here to walk this.” But you don’t have the courage to say, “Dude,
stop doing this. It’s killing you.” You see, it’s both. And the closer you get to Jesus, the more
you should become like Him to where you give people, truth and tears, man, truth and ears,
and you know which order it should come in. Mary needed the tears first before she hears
the truth. Martha needed propositional truth then the
tears, you know that is Christ is being formed in you. But here’s here’s the bottom line of this
entire message. You know we had this game we played with Coach
Duggar, the free throw competition at the end of a lot of our practices. He would choose us into the north and the
south teams. The North team will go to the north goal,
south the South goal, we would have a free throw competition who made the most free throws
in a certain amount of time. The winner got ice cream, the loser had to
serve the ice cream. When you’re 16, 17 year old that’s big competition. But if coach Duggar caught you in the ice
cream line and you hadn’t won, you were in big trouble. Can I say something to you? It appears to me you don’t want to guess about
eternity. You don’t want to just make a guess about,
“Well, I think it works like this.” Well, good for you. You want objective propositional truth. And don’t you want to attach yourself to somebody
who historically has been there, done that and come back to tell the rest of us what
it’s like? Because we can talk a good game all we want,
but sooner or later, you’ve got to decide who you’re going to serve and who you’re going
to attach your life to for all of eternity because life is short for every single one
of us. You want to be in the ice cream line with
the guy who gives you truth and tears. Coach Duggar sent me a text, these are the
last words … that’s not true that’s not true because I just got another text from
him between the two services. But the one before the last one, I said, “Coach,
hope you’re doing well.” He says, “Jeff we’re having a rough day.” And I knew that was going to happen, “Miss
you, and appreciate you, and love you.” He said, and I wrote him back, “Man Coach
I’m so sorry to hear that, but I knew it was coming. When everybody leaves you know funeral’s over,
everybody leaves then reality sets in.” I said “The truth about Jesus gives us hope
for the future, but our pain and loss is now, I wish I could be there to walk you through
this. Just don’t make the mistake of withdrawing
from everyone. Surround yourself with friends who will bring
joy and laughter. The truth is that God knows so much more about
Skylar and his struggles than we ever will, trust His mercy and grace, and take refuge
in His goodness.” And coach responded with one line, “I went
to the altar today to ask God for help.” Will you? I know some of you have lost people to mental
illness. Can I just say to you, it’s a real thing. Stop beating yourself up. You did all you could. This is the illness of our day and our time. Who knows why. But it’s real. Our world is broken, whether it be pesticides,
or the food we’re eating, who knows? But it’s real. But Jesus came to set the captives free. Skylar is free now. Those of you who are struggling with mental
illness, do not hide away and do not consider suicide is an option. There is a better way, speak about it, talk
to people who love you, don’t hide. It’ll just get worse, talk to them. Talk to them. Those of you who know people who are suffering
from it, you pursue them like Coach pursued his wife. Never give up. Go after them. Go after them. Go after them. And those of you who’ve already lost loved
ones to suicide, put them in the hands of God. Let God be the judge of all things, He knows
what goes on in the hearts and minds of others that you will never will. Please. And for heaven’s sake, get in the ice cream
line because all of us one day are going to need somebody there that we can trust to walk
us through the storms that will come eventually into your life. Father, I thank You and I praise You for a
powerful narrative that we find in John 11, and I pray right now over this entire congregation
that our eyes will be open to the reality of mental illness. We would seek to understand, we would be there
for each other, not judging one another, but having both truth and tears. I pray for anyone in this room who has not
yet gotten into the ice cream line and said, “You know what? I’m on the winning team. I know a Savior who has forgiven me of my
sins, I’ve dedicated committed my life to Him and He will walk me into eternity when
that day comes, and He will keep my inheritance safe by His power. I pray today would be the day, in Christ’s
name I pray. Amen. Thank you for joining us. We really hope God spoke to you. But we don’t want this conversation to end
here, we want to continue this conversation with you throughout the week. That’s why we have our online Facebook group,
CCV Online Campus, you can join today. Invite your friends to join, and we’ll continue
this conversation with you. I hope to connect with you really soon.

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