Today I witnessed what a funeral service should be. I left that service celebrating the life of a wonderful man of God. We shared funny stories, touching memories, and a sense of honor for a man who faithfully humbled himself and served in any capacity needed. I hate funerals. I hate the dismal feelings. I hate wondering if the family feels hopeless. I hate wincing at the words of the pastor as he shares some good intentioned words of pathetic inspiration and “comfort.” To put it plainly, I hate it when people put on airs for anything, including honoring and remembering the dead. I couldn’t believe it when I heard earlier this week that Mike had died. I thought the person who told me was lying. My heart felt like it was being squeezed between icy, thin fingers. It felt to me like the world had lost a brilliant shining light, and was now all the more dingy, dismal, and hopelessly in despair. I entertained the idea that the enemy had won a major battle, robbing all of us of such a man. I thought it was a crime that he of all people should lose his life. I have so much to learn. All those passages of Scripture you memorize over the years do little good if they have not become alive inside your being. Here was a man who literally welcomed a whole new generation of people into our church with his welcoming smile and affirming hugs. I can’t tell you how many Sundays I was comforted by a big hand on my shoulder – Mike Cordova waiting to give me a hug and show me he was glad I was here. Just this past Sunday, in the massive new church building, he walked by and gave me a hug. It’s not that it fills the needs left from my parents. But it’s a feeling of being welcome and belonging that is comforting despite its subtlety. Week by week, month by month, year by year, he made me and hundreds of others believe that kindness can faithfully exist within the masculine heart. Services were held today, June 30, 2006, at the City Life Center of Shady Grove Church in Grand Prairie, Texas. It was a remarkable experience. I cried my eyes out. So many stories of love. People rescued from fire, souls brought to Jesus, children treated with love, and visitors greeted with warm respect. I never truly before believed that a man’s life could have as great or greater impact upon the world after death. But now I know that despite our feeble attempts to explain God or excuse His Will, I have now experienced the life and death of a man ministering to thousands. May God grant me the grace and humility to be like Mike Cordova. And may the Lord richly bless and comfort Cass Cordova and family.

I grew up in a charismatic church – not Pentecostal nor Assemblies of God – but charismatic nonetheless. I remember sitting in my chair, listening to the elder who oversaw the missions department. He briefly shared his testimony – explaining the life he lived before accepting Christ and the life after. I heard of drugs, hippie lifestyles, and rebellion against authority. I think his goal was to impress upon us that God can radically transform even the “worst” of sinners. He probably wanted everyone to see that if he could be forgiven of his sins, then they were eligible for forgiveness as well.

Maybe I’m just different, but I took a different moral from that story. A seed was planted in mind. An understanding that I could do whatever I wanted to do and still be forgiven of it later. The concept of free license entered my mind. After all, if a drugged up hippie could receive forgiveness and walk in purity, I could also get away with a lot of stuff before “reforming” into a godly man.

You see, when it comes to sharing one’s testimony, Christians think it’s really cool when a brawling, drugged up, alcoholic, blind, lame, deaf, and diseased person meets Jesus and finds forgiveness, healing and restoration.

Those people like to impress the audience with gory details of sin and depravity. The startled looks and gasps of shock on the people’s faces is wrongfully equated with conviction. Those personal testimonies are popular for the same reason that reality shows, COPS, and Ultimate Fighting Championship, and Howard Stern are popular: people like to see and hear about depravity. But the goal of sharing a testimony is to impress upon people that saving grace is available. So why do we focus so much upon the story of our sin?

I wouldn’t avoid those elements, just so you know. Most testimonies should tell of the pain, suffering, and misery of existence without Jesus. The gory details usually take up all of our time and attention and leave room for only scant mention of actual conversion, forgiveness, and life after.

What about abundant life? What about the Kingdom of God? What about abiding in Him? What about “greater works than these” being done by those who believe? What about healing, restoring, prophesying, encouraging, discipling, intimacy, praying, worship, adoring, and submitting?

The depths of the riches of knowing God cannot be fathomed by a simple “I was a sinner and now I’m going to heaven” message. The question remains: HOW THEN SHALL WE LIVE?

The Church must not fail to answer this question, both during Sunday services and in the marketplace. Real people want to know about real life. Real life is not a chick flick. The credits don’t roll when we accept Christ as Savior. That is not the end of the story. That is the beginning. That is what people do not know, because that is what people do not hear. THERE IS LIFE AFTER MEETING GOD! THERE IS LIFE KNOWING GOD!

Let’s think about that and discuss it more in detail.

is it a coincidence that the wisest people are always those who take advantage of stillness and quiet? when was the last time you met a sage that was “making things happen”? you don’t.

of course, you could pull the old person trump card and claim that those wise people are also old people, and thus more prone to stillness, quiet, and a slow-paced life. while that may be true, not all old people are wise, though most are slow and quiet.

the wise ones of which i speak are the ones who live a slower pace. they are the ones who don’t acquiesce to the impulsive and increasing speed of our culture. how they survive, i do not know. i doubt i could afford food, rent, electricity, and water if i refused to participate in the rush of societal commerce.

there are people who do it, though. maybe some farmers, ranchers, and homeless people in America, but i’m thinking more of normal people in places like Japan and Taiwan. i’m thinking of little fishing villages, where some old men and women grow and catch their own food each day, and have little use of urban anxiety. true, they may eat fish and rice with nearly every meal, but perhaps they see no problem with that. perhaps they live a quality of life i can only imagine.

for me, the thought of stillness causes feelings of shameful laziness. every day, i feel guilty for “wasted time”, which refers to time not spent actively doing something. then again, the kind of stillness i’m used involves a sofa and a television. that’s vegging. i’m not talking about that.

asian cultures have encouraged stillness in religious practices. meditation, zen, and yoga all deal with stillness or slow, deliberate movements. tranquility is one of their highest virtues.

jews and christians, though the westerners seem unaware of this, have similar principles, i.e. “be still and know that he is God.” sad how that command has been all but forgotten in practical daily American life.

even worse, in my mind, is how the opposite is culturally acceptable. “time management” is one of the bastardly uneducated ideas of our time. technology allows us to operate multiple machines at one time, all of which produce immeasurably more results than a single person could ever dream. with greater capabilities has come higher expectations. the “normal” bar is continually raised. a minor example is the cell phone. most people have one. now there’s no reason for being an hour or two late to work. flat tire? why didn’t you call? no cell phone? that’s irresponsible. you are now held to the new standard of normal. you either keep up and participate or you fall behind and risk extinction.

i’ve said all that before. it’s one of my biggest complaints against metropolitan life in this country. but technology and time management are not the main issue here. the question at issue here is this: is it okay to be still, silent, and unproductive? Think of Mister Miyagi or Yoda. masters or a failures? corporate America says failures. and yet we all know the simple truth.

wisdom says competing for top honors is wasteful. wisdom says serve others rather than try to rule them. wisdom says it is better to be poor and at peace within one’s self than to be a shallow, heartsick millionaire. the hard-hearted will disagree. that’s just the callouses talking.

time is a precious jewel. more precious than what most of us spend it on. what would you have to face if you were silent for one hour? what could you understand if you allowed yourself the time to reflect?

think about it. in silence.

can you handle it?