On September 6, 2018 Botham Jean was shot in his own home by an off duty police officer. The trial for that officer began on September 23, 2019. On that day, I was blessed to participate in the prayer service calling for justice for our brother Botham. The circumstances of Botham’s death have troubled the hearts of many who now feel that an African American man can’t even be safe in his own home. His death is also tragic in that he was a Christian full of life and potential. He died just short of his 27th birthday. Though Botham is dead, his voice has not been silenced.
In Hebrews 11:4 the Bible says, “By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained the testimony that he was righteous, God testifying about his gifts, and through faith, though he is dead, he still speaks.”
Wow! “Though he is dead, he still speaks.”
Botham may be gone from this life, yet he still speaks. His smile still speaks of his joy for the Lord and for life. His hugs still speak of the love that he had for all, especially his brothers and sisters in Christ. His kind spirit still speaks of his belief in the goodness of people. And his voice still speaks of the goodness of God. He glorified God through the gift of music and, more importantly, through his life. Through his testimony of song, he still speaks. Through his faith, he still speaks.
We can have a testimony that outlives us. By faith we are declared righteous in Christ. God has gifted us, so we use our gifts for His glory. We should live our lives in a way that leaves a legacy that outlives us. Let it be said of us that by faith we offered to God a better sacrifice, through which we obtained the testimony that we were righteous, God testifying about our gifts, and through faith, though we are dead, we still speak.
God of Mountains and Valleys
Life can be summed up as a collection of highs and lows. It is a mixture of joys and sorrows. I have learned that in life, after a mountaintop experience, and sometimes during your mountaintop experience, there is often a valley.
In 1 Kings 20, the nation of Israel is at war with Syria. Israel’s King Ahab really didn’t have a strategy for fighting Ben-hadad. But in the midst of his uncertainty, there came a word of certainty from the Lord. God tells Ahab, “I’m going to give you the victory so that you will know that I am the Lord” (v. 13). This victory was a mountaintop experience for Ahab and the young men who defeated Ben-hadad. Israel was the underdog. They were smaller, had less experience and had already given up before they decided to fight.
After their defeat, Syria is wondering how they would have lost the battle. They figured that since Samaria was on a hill, and since its sister city, Jerusalem, was on a hill, then the God of Israel must be a god of the hills. So their strategy was to get Israel out of the comfort zone of its God and fight in the valley, instead of on a hill.
You can’t afford to get so caught up in your victory that you are unprepared for the enemy when he regroups and reloads to attack you again. While you are celebrating your mountaintop victory, the enemy is refining his strategy, reorganizing his troops and rehearsing his plans.
However, victory is not based on the strength, power and size of the army, but victory lies in the strength, power and sovereignty of God. God has already promised us the victory. Satan wants you to believe that God can’t handle your valleys. He wants you to believe that there are some areas of your life that are not God’s territory.
But the God of the mountain is still God when you are in your valley. The God who blessed you with a good job, is still God when you get laid off. The God who gave you your health and strength is still God in your sickness and weakness. The God you thanked when you got married is still God when things are so bad that you are thinking about a divorce. God is not just God of the mountains; He is also God of the valley.
Sunday, September 8, 2019 is National Grandparents Day. There is not much fanfare made about Grandparents Day. Most of our calendars don’t even recognize its existence. What a shame! It is unfortunate that we don’t make as much of a fuss about grandparents as grandparents do about their grandchildren. No cowboy was ever as fast on the draw as a grandparent pulling a baby picture out of a wallet.
Grandparents will go to war for their grandchildren. A grandmother or grandfather will even fight his or her own child for the sake of their grandchild. Grandparents are the God’s gift to the world. You are an integral part of family system. Perhaps now more than ever, grandparents are a critical part of the family unit.
At a time where the norm is for both parents to work outside of the home or for only one parent to be the primary guardian, grandparent support makes a significant difference in the life of a child. As grandparents, you provide a link to the past, while shaping the future. Through you, your grandchildren have access to their roots. In you, grandchildren are able to see how their parents were influenced to become the people that they are. You help your grandchildren create a sense of identity within themselves.
Tell your grandchildren your story. They realize who they have the potential to be, in part, by knowing where they come from. What’s your story? Is it the story of a country boy who picked cotton for 10 cents a day? Is it the story of an East Texas native who was the first person in her family to go to college, and then came to the big city in search of opportunity? Is it the story of a single mother who sacrificed her dreams in order to make the dreams of her children a reality? Is it the story of a boy from the South with only an 8th grade education who has a PhD in common sense and integrity? Is it the story of a young fool who should be dead, but God’s grace spared your life and turned your foolishness into wisdom? Is it the story of one who survived the Civil Rights movement, Jim Crowism, discrimination, segregation and voter intimidation? Maybe your story is not a pretty story, maybe you are not proud of your story. Is it the story of one who has come over a way that with tears have been watered?
Whatever your story, it is one that needs to be told. You need to tell your story because your story has an impact on your grandchildren’s story. Your story will impact generations yet unborn because your story is a story of faith. Your story is about the power and miracles of the Lord, God. The most important contribution a grandparent can make is imparting and modeling faith.
Minister Ross' creativity, wisdom, and insight have inspired community, church and corporate audiences throughout the United States.