Rick Burgess – Liberty University Convocation
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Rick Burgess – Liberty University Convocation

November 27, 2019


>>DAVID NASSER: I believe that if the Son
has set us free that we are free indeed. Do you believe that out of Galatians 5? That
Christ did not just set us free from sin, right? He didn’t just set us free from sin;
he set us free to love, to worship. What an incredible truth. Tonight we’re really unpack
that again. Make sure you’re here for Shane & Shane tonight at Campus Community at 7:30.
I really believe that this morning the Lord is going to unshackle; the Lord is going to
set free some people from bitterness. There are times in your life where you find yourself
waking up in a day knowing that what’s on you iCal is probably not going to be the very
thing that you’re going to remember. There are so many times you wake up, and as the
day begins to play itself out you realize that God had predestined, God had ordained
a very different route than what you thought. And until a few years ago, I would’ve said
to you that one of the most charmed lives I know, one of the greatest opportunities
to live a really blessed life that I know would be our friend who’s going to be with
us today: Rick Burgess. Rick can be heard every morning on the radio airwaves of the
world over 50 stations across the world. That’s not including XM and the Internet. Over 17
states- millions and millions of people listen to what they call the two sexist fat men alive,
The Rick and Bubba Show. And for about four hours- this is not a show that there’s music
usually- this for about four hours a day these guys get up and just talk about whatever is
happening right in front of all of us. So whether it is the election, whether it is
at that moment the economy, whether it is. Whatever at that moment- ACC Football- or
whatever the world is facing, these guys just talk about it. And honestly, millions and
millions of people just listen in. If you were to ask me about this man I would say
to you that he just gets to have a lot of fun, and gets paid a ton of money for it for
four hours a day. It’s basically a show where two Christian guys, Rick Burgess and Bill
Bussey- they call him ‘Bubba’- just get to be out there, just out loud about the very
things– and sometimes honestly they say the very thing a lot of us are thinking but are
afraid to say. They get paid to get to say it. So it’s what a lot of people phrase ‘country
smart.’ It’s just one of those shows that’s witty, and you’ll find yourself listening
and you’ll be late to what you’re going through, because you’ll be in the parking
lot and you need to go in, but you stay on the radio because you want to finish that
segment because it’s just that good. Well a few years ago the very thing that Rick
was known for, which was really being a commentator of life, became a very surprising moment in
his life where tragedy just took place in their life. And at that moment, although Rick
had an incredible platform, God just widened his platform to a whole other level. Rick’s
going to back with us at other times to speak. You’ll want that after you here him open God’s
word for us on different topics. But I’ve asked him to come, and the very first time
he’s with us here today I’ve actually begged him to bring his beautiful wife Sherri Burgess
with us to hear, for us to hear as well, because I wanted them to share a little bit about
the journey that they’ve been on in the last few years of their life and what God has been
teaching to them and through them just through tragedy being turned into testimony. They
have a brand new book that’s being released right now. Rick is already the author of seven
books- several of them on the New York Time’s bestseller list- but today I really do believe
that the topic that they’re going to speak into your life is very timely for some of
you right now who are in the valley, in the valley. But if you’re not I do want you to
bookmark this theology that’s going to come out of this moment, because the Bible always
says to us, right, reminds us in all honestly, that in this world we will have trouble. The
question is not “if” but “when.” And when that moment comes, you’re going to want
to be reminded of what God is going to teach you at this moment. Can we just put our hands
together for the great Rick Burgess? Come on up, brother.>>RICK BURGESS: What an honor it is to be
here. It truly is an honor, and it’s interesting what David talked about and mentioned a few
words from John 16:33, which, you know, if people ask me what my favorite verse is I
almost want to say it’s according to what time of life I’m in in. You know, I mean,
some people say they have a life verse, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but I have
found that the Bible speaks to everything that we face. So if you ask me what my favorite
verse is I always have to say, well, it’s according to what I’m going through at the
time. It was 2008. I had been asked to come speak
at a student conference, and David’s done many of these, and others here have, and I’m
sure Shane and Shane have done these where they move you around into different arenas
and you give your message and you’re whisked of the stage, you get in the van, you drive
to the next one, you walk in, you teach to a different group, and this repeats itself
two times through. And you know at the time I was looking at John 16:33 much differently
then, and let’s just land on – this is the last verse that I was talking about before
I would exit the stage. At this time my wife and I had been married since 1996. We had
five wonderful children. Our youngest was William Bronner Burgess. I had nicknames,
and still do, for all my kids. And we have five, and to many that’s Brandy, Blake, Brooks,
Brody, Bronner, but for me it was Jojo, it was Boomer, it was Big Love, it was Taz, and
it was Cornbread. And they all had their Daddy nickname from me, and so I left my home to
go and speak at this conference. My wife was at home, and it’s not like we had been on
some free ride to that point, but to the rest of the world, as David mentioned, it looked
like God had given us this tremendous marriage – which he had. He’d given us this beautiful
family – which He had, He had redeemed us from our sin. When Sherri and I were married
we both went from being believers of Jesus in some garbage cultural Christianity, we
actually had become followers of Jesus, submitted to His Lordship, and we saw Him blessing that.
And we saw even though this secular radio show, and at times we had different TV deals
and all this, and we saw Him honoring that. Every station we’re on is secular, and there
is wonderful praise and worship and growth that is provided through Christian radio,
but I just felt like that God had called us into the secular entertainment business, but
to never compromise who He was, but to boldly proclaim what He had done in our life, and
even to talk about the things that we were facing in the world and in our country from
a biblical worldview. And so all this was being blessed, and I was getting off of one
of the sessions, and I was doing John 16:33. Let’s unpack that for a minute. I love that
the first thing Jesus says is, “I say this so you’ll have peace.” Now if I were to ask
every brother and sister in this room what do you really want? Now you might come up
with a bunch of answers that are worldly-like I wish I had more money, or I wish this person
would finally go out with me, or I wish that I had this, and I wish that I passed that
test, and I hope I get this job, and I wish I’d had this. And all that, those things are
fine, but deep down at the core of every single person in this room or watching around the
world right now, every single person, if you said I want you to be honest with me, what
do you really want? If you’re honest, everybody would say, Rick I want peace. I want to know
that everything’s going to be all right. And Jesus said, “I say this so that you will have
peace.” I think the next thing he says then is pretty important. He says in this world,
not “you might;” He says, “You will face tribulation.” He didn’t say you’ll
face some tough things. He said tribulation. You know the latest version of the Bible that
I’ve been studying is the English Standard. It’s not as pretty as some of the other English
translations, but it’s literal. It is Hebrew, English, Greek, English. And tribulation is
the word used here. And He said, but when you face tribulation, and you will. And everybody
in here either has been through it, you’re going through it, or let me give you a heads
up. It’s coming, because we’re in a fallen creation. This is not heaven. He says, “but
when you face it, you take heart.” Other translations say, “Have joy, because I’ve
overcome the world.” Boy, land on that for just a minute now. The peace that we all should
have who claim the name of Jesus Christ- what Shane and Shane have just incredibly proclaimed-
is we’re free. We’re free from all this garbage, and He says I’m going to abandon you in the
time of tribulation. You keep remembering, in that time of tribulation, that I have overcome
it. Whatever you’re facing, at the end of the day, Jesus Christ went to the cross, and
walked out of that tomb, and He’s overcome it! So when I walked off the stage after proclaiming
that for, I think on that day, the fourth time, my phone had been vibrating while I
was up there speaking. This was not uncommon. Having five children and a wife where somewhere
else sometimes the kids would call. “Daddy what are you doing?” Sometimes Sherri would
call and say, “Whenever you get home don’t forget to go by the grocery store and get
this.” I mean it might be something, how you doing? So I really was not alarmed by it at
all. I really thought I would get in the van to go to the next venue and simply talk to
the family. But when I called this time my wife asked me if I could have everyone pray-
the 7,000 something students that were there. She said, “I don’t know how it happened. Somehow
the baby found his way out, has fallen in the pool, and drowned, and they’re trying
to revive him.” Now wait a minute. So I prayed over my family
before I left. Everything that we were doing with our show and with our platform we were
trying – not perfectly, but our intentions were, and we were seeing fruit – point people
to Jesus, and I’m preaching. And my son has passed and they’re trying to bring him back?
But you know what I began to remember that God never takes us through anything that He
doesn’t prepare us for. Don’t miss when He’s preparing you for something. Rewind nine years
before this moment. The third child was born. Sherri gave birth, was giving birth, to Brooks
Burgess. She had the perfect pregnancy. There was no flaws in it, none. She did exactly
what the doctors told; she was the picture of health. You know women when they’re carrying
a child, there’s nothing more beautiful. And we go up to the hospital because we know the
time is near, and we think we have so much time because she had not progressed very much,
that we told the family, the rest of the kids, hey, take your time. We’re going to be here
a while; we’re just getting started. she’s a keeper, but she’s not very far along. And
then they decided they would give her Pitocin to try to accelerate the labor, and unbeknownst
to us she had a bad reaction to it. I knew immediately this was not normal when she went
from very little labor pain to massive labor pain, and you begin to watch all the medical
team scurry and run, and I remember asking the nurse what’s wrong. She said we believe
the baby has been cut off from oxygen. There’s been an abruption, and the baby and your wife
are both in danger. What? I’m only three years into being a follower of Christ at this time.
I’d been a believer of Jesus for a long time, but I’d not seen much victory in that. But
as a follower of Christ, I’d seen Him begin to change my life, and change it radically.
And I looked at the doctor and I said, “Well what am I supposed to do?” And he said, “Well
you need to pray.” So I began to pray, Lord please, please don’t. I know you well enough
to know that You’re the giver and taker of life. You have not hidden that from me. I
know You’re sovereign. I get this, and I’m asking that you don’t take him. I want my
wife, and I want my child to live. That’s my desire. And as the doors flew open I saw
the doctor holding this beautiful baby boy and he points to the baby and he gives a thumbs
up. He points down to my wife and gives her a thumbs up. He said, “Hey, it’s not as
bad as we thought. They’re going to be all right. They survived.” And I remember walking
out in the hall as they were getting the baby ready for me, and I began to praise the Lord.
“Thank You Lord. Thank You Lord. You are great. You are merciful. You are wonderful.
You are the giver and taker of life, and I celebrate you. And I felt in my spirit, nine
years before, the Great I am speaking through the Holy Spirit to someone as lowly as me:
“What if they had died? Would I be any less great? Are you celebrating me because you
got your way? Would you celebrate me just as much if I had a different plan? Would you
trust and obey that I was right? Am I only great in this scenario?” And I thought that was a good lesson, and
I remember sharing it with people, and I thought, you know, this is the depth of this. And it
just sounded, and people would just gasp. And now I’m on that phone, and it’s nine years
later. And I hear in my spirit, “what if they had died? Would I be any less great?”
See He didn’t do that to me three years because He knew that my reaction in his sovereignty
might not have been what the advancement of the Gospel needed. I wasn’t ready. But after
9 years, from that point 12 years, of being a follower of Christ, standing at that pool,
I can see it in the sovereignty of God. Because if you don’t think that God allowed my son
to come to Him, that you have to believe that you couldn’t stop it. Any of you serve that
God? I don’t. I mean you don’t have to look much further
than the book of Job. What’s the first thing we find out about Job? He was upright. And
I mean it said that Job had done everything he was asked to do, that he was the kind of
man that would be an example of someone who walked with God, right? But what did Job say
at the end of his suffering? You know what we found out? As in sync with God, and as
good as Job thought he knew God at the beginning of the book of Job, we find Job admitting
this pain and suffering has only drawn me closer to God. Before I heard you with my
ears, but now after my suffering I see you with my eyes. Even though he would slay me,
I find my hope only in Him. So can we come off this, “I just don’t understand
why we have to suffer?” Hey, can I tell you? I’m nauseous with that. Hey, where are
all these good people? I’ve got news for you. Ain’t nobody in this room going to strut into
heaven. At the foot of the cross every single one of us become equal at the foot of the
cross. There ain’t nobody here going to earn there way to heaven, nobody. When you get
to the foot of the cross everybody in this room has to be redeemed exactly the same way.
Exactly the same way. Let’s look at Romans chapter eight if you
have this with you. It’s a very incredible book of the Bible. As a matter of fact, I’m
going to bring my wife up here in a minute who God has spoke through in this book, about
what we went through. And I love this, called A Journey to Understand, and you’ll here from
her in just a few minutes. And she is a masterful writer, and just loves the Word of God. Her
Bible, her book has 230 verses in it, so it won’t be a lot of commentary. And you know
why it has 230 verses in it? You know why? And y’all get this today. When it comes to
the topic of pain and suffering, and why we suffer, God has never been silent on this.
Why do we act like He’s silent on this? He has never been silent on this. Can I tell
you, when you’re standing in front of a baby blue coffin, that’s not very big, and here
come your brothers and sisters coming to you – Not the lost – Your brothers and sisters
in the church are coming down the aisle and you’re saying, “Come on, brother, come on,
sister; give me something. Give me something right now. Hey, I’m broken. I’m crushed. I
am seeking God’s face, and here you are. You’re ready to bathe me in the Word of God, tell
me what the Lord has to say about this.” And what do we hear? “You know sometimes
we don’t know why.” Hey, can I tell you something? That falls
a little flat. You know what people say that say that, “Sometimes we don’t know why?”
They might as well say, “Sometimes I don’t read the Bible.” That’s what they should
say. “Sometimes I haven’t read the word of God, and I’ve got nothing for you. I didn’t
know this was going to happen.” He’s never been silent on this. And you’ll
see that in the book, and you’ll hear some of that of what we’re going to talk about
tonight. Let’s talk about Romans chapter eight. Many people say if they had one chapter that
they could have from the Bible if all else was taken away they’d tell you Romans chapter
eight. And my beautiful wife on the morning after our beautiful son went to heaven- she
was sitting at a couch with our older daughter at one end. She was at the other. And to see
this beautiful scene of my wife telling our daughter to read her Romans chapter eight,
and when she would finish my wife would simply look with tears running down her face and
say, “Again.” And she’d read it again. And when she’d finish my wife would look at her
and say, “Again.” I remember our pastor at the graveside service. Sherri wanted our daughter
to read Romans chapter eight, and the pastor said, “Which part?” To which our daughter
said, “All of it. What would you like us to leave out?” But for time’s sake I will skip
to some of the points that I want to make. So let’s look at heirs with Christ. Verse
12 of Romans chapter 8. Because this is- we get fired up. “So then, brothers, we are debtors,
not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh
you will die.” Don’t miss that. “But if we live by the Spirit you put to death the deeds
of body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” Hallelujah. “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery
then to fall back into fear.” Back to Shane & Shane’s song that we declared. “But you have received the Spirit of adoption
as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father'” Meaning we have a relationship now with the
great I Am that we can call Him Abba, our daddy. “The Spirit himself bears witness with our
spirit that we are children of God” Hallelujah! “And if children, then heirs- heirs of God.” With Jesus, hallelujah! “Fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer
with him.” Uh, oh. Uh, oh. The health, wealth, and prosperity gospel
just left the building. You know the only problem with the health, wealth, and prosperity
Gospel? There’s just one problem: It’s not biblical, but other than that it sounds fantastic.
“Provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with Him.” So how
will we be glorified with Christ? If we’re willing to suffer with him. So we’re going
to be exempted something that was not exempted the Son of God? And look at 18. “For I consider
the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with he glory that is to be
revealed to us.” Praise the Lord. 1 Peter. I know the point about where the
Bible is not silent on suffering. 1 Peter, 1:6-7. Who’s with me? 1 Peter, here comes
the why. Never again should you leave this convocation- never again utter the words,
“You know sometimes we don’t know why.” Now we might not know every intricate detail or
every situation, but to say we don’t know why we suffer is not correct. Look at this:
“In this you rejoice, though now for a little while.” Don’t miss this: “If necessary, you
have been grieved by various trials.” Let me land there for just a minute. You know
what God said about our situation? You know this little boy that they love so much that
I gave them, that was really mine anyway, that I’m allowing them to have for a time?
That when I wove him together in his mother’s womb, Psalm 139:13-16, I knew the number of
his days before he had ever lived one. I had them written in my book. So when people say,
“You know, you’re son was taken too soon.” No he wasn’t. He was taken exactly when God
was going to take him. And God knew that when He wove him together in Sherri’s womb. He
came for two and a half years so I’d be standing at the convocation right now, and this book
would be going out all over the country. That’s why. And you know what He says. He says, “Rejoice,
though now if necessary…” You know what that means? God found this necessary. Don’t
miss that. Do you trust and obey him? Do you want God to be who you want to be, or do you
want to worship Him for who He really is? Do you trust that He’s doing what is right?
I’ve got news for you. My wife and I pray every night. We lament over the four children
that are still with us. We don’t lament over Bronner. You know why? He’s where the rest of us are
trying to go. You know, I don’t have to worry about him getting his heart broken by some
idiot at school. I don’t have to worry about the coach not letting him play when maybe
he was the better player. I don’t have to worry about what disease might grab hold of
him, and him slowly die through some horrible, just grueling situation. I know where Bronner
is. Are we separated from him? Yes. Does that hurt? Absolutely. Are we being refined by
it? Let’s get to that. Yes we are. “So that” – look at seven – “So that the tested
genuineness of your faith- more precious than gold that perishes if it’s tested by fire-
may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Why do we suffer? To test your faith. To refine
you. I will tell you this. David talked about it. On a worldly stage I have been greatly
blessed. I’m a, hey, I’m a small town boy from Calhoun County. Sherri’s a beautiful
young lady from Guntersville, Alabama. We ain’t ever had anything. Because of what God
allowed us to do through the show I have experienced things I’d never experienced before in my
life. I’ve been a lot of cool places. I’ve been able to buy things that I never could
buy before. I’ve been able to advance the Gospel like I never could before from a monetary
standpoint. But you know what? I will tell you this. The affluence He’s allowed me to
experience has taught me very little about God. My pain and suffering has taught me much,
has taught me much. My affluence hasn’t taught me very much at all. The affluence is a stumbling
block. The pain and suffering actually gets me back where I have a proper perspective
on what matters and what doesn’t. Do you think that we worry about the little things? How
many times do you think we say at our house, “Oh my gosh! This is a tragedy!”? We stop
and go, “No. No, it’s not. I’ve seen a tragedy. This isn’t it. This is not it.” He cares about our pain and suffering, but
there’s a reason that it happens: to refine us and test the genuineness of your faith. All right, let’s talk about this: who thinks
I’m more effective of a speaker? When I go to men’s conferences- I do a lot of those-
do you think I have more impact when I talk about burying one of my sons or less? Much
more. You think when I went back on the air the first time after we buried our son, you
think anybody was listening? They wanted to see if it was real. They wanted to see if
it was going to result in the praise and the glory of Jesus Christ or we were going to
reject him. Just like with Job Satan says, you take this stuff away from him and he’ll
reject you. You know what? Satan was wrong. Satan said to God, you attack this family,
they’ll reject you. And the angel’s standing there at that pool. Here’s the demon standing
at the pool. God’s sitting there, and He’s got the call. He’s sovereign. He says I’m
going to allow it, and I’ll be glorified. I’ll be glorified. Satan and his demons said,
they’re going to turn against you. How about this: Satan doesn’t know the future! So let’s
stop acting like Satan and his demons are the dark side of God. No they’re not. Lucifer
was created by God. He don’t have anything like God does. Now I’ll tell you one thing;
you don’t want to battle him without Jesus Christ. But as far as his comparison to God,
he’s dead! He’s going to be destroyed. He’s trying to take you with him. And pain and
suffering is one of the ways you’ll leave- how about this. And my wife said this. We’re
about to bring her up. One of the things she said in the book, and this is really it. When
you face difficult trauma you’ve got a choice. You can turn your back and run away from God,
or you can run to God in that pain and suffering and be transformed by it. That’s the choice.
It ain’t nothing grinding you out like pain and suffering. Ain’t nothing bring you closer
to Jesus like pain and suffering can do. Before I bring her up I’ll tell you one of
the things we’ll talk about. Another thing that pain and suffering does according to
the Apostle Paul, and I’ve seen it in my own life- it humbles you. Think about this, back
to the health, wealth, and prosperity garbage. Think about this for a minute. So the Apostle
Paul didn’t have enough faith? The Apostle Paul says to God, “Hey, this thorn in my flesh-
I’m tired of it. This demon that keeps harassing me- I’m done with it. I have asked you three
times to remove this thorn in my flesh, and to remove this torturing demon from me and
you haven’t. So if I believe the health, wealth, and prosperity gospel I go, well, gosh. Paul
didn’t know how to pray. He didn’t claim it. So the Apostle Paul didn’t have any faith?
He didn’t have enough? But see Paul didn’t leave us hanging. What did he say? See this
is back to this. Why don’t we just look? It tells us. What did Paul say? You’ve done this
to keep me humble, to remind me that Your grace is sufficient. It’s a reminder for me.
Well I will tell you, when I was sitting there ready to go back on the air for the first
time after we had buried our son I was just sitting there and I couldn’t tie my shoes.
Couldn’t do it. And I said, “I don’t know who you think I am.” See that was my first
mistake. It’s not, wow, what a Rick. It’s, wow, what a God. It’s not, wow, what a Sherri.
It’s, wow, what a God. It’s not, wow, what a book. It’s, wow, what a God. And I said,
“You want me to go do this show. When’s the next time I’m supposed to say something
funny? I’ve got to go out there and stand in front of all these people again, and I
can’t even tie my shoe.” And I felt in my spirit God saying, “Now, you’re ready. See
you problem, Burgess, wasn’t that you weren’t strong enough. You were raised by a football
coach. You’ve got all this toughness. Your problem is that you were never weak enough,
and now I’ve broken you down to the point of weakness that you need me to tie your shoe.
Now I can use you like I never could before.” So the Scriptures are not silent on this,
and my wife- you will see I have married well. One of the things that is also a misnomer
is that somehow this pain and suffering destroys marriages. Well, it destroys weak marriages
that are not biblically bound. But you know what? Strong marriages that are based on the
word of God- they don’t get weaker. They just get stronger. And you know, Sherri, you’ve
written this incredible book, and I know we have it here today, and it’s changing lives
all over the country. And you call it, “A Journey to Understand.” We’ve been on that
haven’t we? So tell them. What’s some of the things you’ve learned>>SHERRI BURGESS: Well, you know, that night
as I saw my baby there lifeless I knew where his spirit was. I knew that his spirit was
with God, and that God had the ability to send him back to me. And so, like you say,
instead of running away from God, oh, gosh, of course I run to God, and I say God please.
Please don’t do this. Please give him back. All I wanted was my son. As a mother that’s
all I could pray. Father, please give my son back. Don’t do this. Please send him back-
over, and over, and over again. As we were rushing to the hospital, and when we got into
the emergency room I fell prostrate before the Lord on my face just continuing the same
prayer. Lord God please don’t do this. Please don’t take my son. And I would look up at
the heart monitor to see if they had gotten anything, and they never did. But that last
time I leaned down over a chair and was praying again that same thing, but this time something
started stirring down, like deep, within me, and it came up into my mind almost as if I
were hearing it rather than praying it myself. And it was this: “Not my will, but Thine,
O, Lord be done. Not my will, but Thine, O, Lord be done.” And at that moment there was a peace that
came over me that did transcend all understanding, and I stood up. I looked at the doctor on
charge, and he looked at me and he said we’re going to have to stop. And I just looked at
him and nodded and said, “OK.” That’s how I knew that this was God’s will. I believe
that the Holy Spirit prepared me right then and there, knowing, yes, this is God’s will.
But my thing was, why? Why was this God’s will? Why would He do this?
Why would He allow it? I knew that this was from His hand right then and there I had confirmation.
But the Bible speaks to that as well, that not even a sparrow falls, apart from the Lord.
And Psalm 139 tells us that all of our days are numbered before there were even one of
them. So I knew this was from God’s hand, so I begged Him to tell me why. I needed to
understand this. And I, like Rick said, love the Word of God so much, and I ran to it.
And I saw, that as Rick said, the Bible’s not silent on this subject. For some reason
those Scriptures, like in 1 Peter when it says, “expect the fiery trial when it comes
to test you,” when right over my head until I needed it. And then I went back and I saw
the Bible talks about suffering from Genesis chapter two all the way to Revelation. The
Bible is covered with it. From the sacrificial system to Christ’s suffering on the cross.
The Bible tells us in Hebrew 12:1 and 2 that Jesus went to the cross for the joy that was
set before Him. Joy in knowing that He wouldn’t be the only one to come out on the other side
of it rising from the dead, but that all of us would as well. So what I learned through
scripture was that, yes, we’re going to have to go through suffering in this life and in
this time, but this life is not what it’s all about. There’s something greater, something
better, something higher out there waiting for us. And the Bible tells us to be behold
it. To hold it in our hearts. Heaven, the great promises of God. Yeah, we’ve got to
walk through some bad stuff here, but, as Rick said, in the end we can have peace because
we know that God is going to work all of it together than our good here and now. To me,
for me, it was refinement. I saw God melting away the dross of worldliness, pride, self-reliance.
I thought I was the best mother in the world. How could this happen to me? But see, in that
moment when I saw my baby without life in him- he was two and a half and he was gorgeous,
beautiful child filled with life- the apple of my eye. I saw that I could do nothing about
this. I can’t change it, but God can and He will. You know death, real death, is separation
from God. Bronner’s not dead. I hate that word, and I hate when people say that, because
he’s not. He’s in the presence of God. That’s the opposite of dead. Sin separates us from
God, and what God wants to do through our suffering is to refine us, to make us holy
like Him. I looked up to heaven, and this was one of the ah-ha moments for me, and I
said, “but we were so happy, God. We were so happy!” and I heard that still, small
voice say to me, “But I want you to be holy. I want you to be holy.” And then later on God took me to 1 Peter 4:1
and 2 that tells me that, “Those who have suffered have ceased from sin, so as to live
the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions, but for the will of God.”
For the will of God. So I am to walk this out with God, going wherever He asks me to
go, writing whatever He asks me to write. It took me five years to hash all of this
out with God. Rick kind of got it right away. He was just ready to go and ready to take
on that warfare. But as a mother, I was crushed, and God had to pick me up and nurse me back
to health through His word, through His scripture, and through prayer, and lots of time alone
with Him. And I learned
the big picture is eternity. It’s not about the here and now. You know, again, it takes
a long time to process something like this if you’re a mother. I know, probably, not
many of you are mothers and fathers just yet, but you will be. And you will understand what
I mean, but this is a crushing blow to lose a child, very crushing. And so, you know,
even though I knew that this was about refinement, about making me holy like God, making me be
in awe of the One who can make all of this right again – fearlessness and boldness for
my husband. I knew all of that, but as I’m searching and seeking God’s face in this I
asked Him, “Lord God, why the children? You know, couldn’t you have done this some
other way? Why did it have to be the baby?” I got this book in the mail one day by a pastor
whose son had also drowned. And I just couldn’t believe it. I burst into tears and I thought,
“why, why this man’s son who had devoted his life to you? Why my son who I loved and
wanted?” I looked to God and I said, there is nothing worse than losing a child. I know
you lost Your son, but You got Him back after three days – three days! And I heard, again,
that still small voice of the Holy Spirit speaking to me. “But what about the others?
They’re all mine. You’re going to get this glorious reunion with your son, but I don’t
get that with all of mine.” And at that moment I understood. At that moment, I think
for the first time in my life, I had compassion for God. I know what it’s like to lose a child.
It hurts. It doesn’t matter that I still have Brandy, Blake, Brooks, and Brody. Bronner’s
missing. He’s not here with me, and that hurts. It’s the separation that hurts. I know I’m
going to get him back, and that is going to be a glorious reunion. I can’t wait for it,
but it hurts to be separated – even for a short time. And I know that time for me is
going to be short, so I understood that my broken heart must pale in comparison to God’s
broken heart who has to send some of His – people that He created, who He breathed His very
life into, His spirit – He’s going to have to say goodbye to forever. Forever! I can’t
imagine that. I couldn’t imagine if I didn’t have hope on the other side of this saying,
“Bronner is going to run into my arms, and I’m going to hold him again, and he’s going
to be my baby.” I know that day is coming. But for God it isn’t. And it made me see that
this wasn’t just about me, and making me holy, and refining me, and melting this dross of
sin away from me – although it was. It was about that, my own personal growth, but it
was about so many other people as well. It was about bringing people to Christ. It matters.
It matters, because this is about eternity. It’s about forever. And, if I have to give
up my son for a short time so that some other of God’s children could come back to Him for
all of eternity, it is worth it. It is.>>RICK: You know, one of the things that
we, Sherri and I, have talked about, and you’ll see this, is we feel we’ve been called to
prepare you for what’s coming. That the time we’re living in right now as Americans, we
have pretty much been exempt from being persecuted as a church. That time is changing, and it’s
changing rapidly. And it’s only going to get worse. Your generation will be persecuted
in this country like no generation before you. And frankly, you need to get ready for
it. You need to understand what it all means. And the Scriptures are not silent on it, and
one of the things, and we’ll get ready to close, is the point that the Apostle Paul
came to in his life. This really is the key to life.>>SHERRI: What I think, Rick, this has made
for both of us come, just the truth of this word, come back so clearly is Philippians
chapter one. And Paul’s words to us: “To live is Christ, and to die is gain.” I believe
that. We believe that. We believe that Bronner is in a place that’s far, far greater than
here. There’s no darkness. He’s in the presence of God. It’s the Kingdom of light. No evil
can enter there. He is surrounded by joy, peace, and love constantly. No fear, no persecution.
So, yes, that place is a far greater place. And I see that, and I’m looking forward to
that, but as we know that if we are in the flesh, if we are still here that means fruitful
labor for us. That we are continuing to work for the Lord, and I just pray that for you
today. I pray that you will see that. I pray that you will see that to live is Christ – meaning
that we’re living for Him. Everything we do, everything we say impacts this world either
for good or for bad. And I pray you don’t miss these opportunities to help bring some
of God’s children back to Himself. Anytime you can go, go. Anytime you can speak, speak.
Anything you can do for the least of these, do it. You are the hands and feet of Jesus
in this generation. We’re it. Be His mouthpiece. Be His hands and feet.>>RICK: Amen. Now some of you here though,
the reason you haven’t been able to get there yet is you don’t know Christ. You don’t know
Him, and I want you to listen to what the Apostle Paul is saying. That’s not a “give
up” verse. That’s not. To live is Christ, and to die is gain. Now God will decide when
your life ends. It’s not up to us to decide when we’re done, but He said as long I’m still
taking breath, the Apostle Paul said for us, then it’s going to be about what my wife just
said – Christ. And I have found that I’m not afraid to die. That has completely been taken
away. But you know what is difficult? To live. I don’t ever say this thing – hey you better
watch out; you might die. You know what I say? Hey you better watch out; you might live.
But because now you’ve got to endure. We’ll close with this, Phillipians 4:13, one of
the most misunderstood verses in the Bible. There’s nothing wrong with using it to be
a motivator. There’s nothing wrong with that. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens
me.” That’s fine, but it’s not about winning a ball game. It’s not about doing well on
a test. It’s not about getting a job. It’s not about doing well. It’s not motivational.
Paul’s in jail. He’s suffering again, and you know what he sees that as? And opportunity
to what? Bring the guy he’s chained to to Christ. What he’s saying is, the proper interpretation
is, I can endure all things through Christ who strengthens me. And I pray as we get read
to wrap up and give it back, that you’ll take an opportunity to get to meet Sherri today.
And you know, I think this is a book that can be very beneficial to the church. It’s
not a grieving book, even though that is part of it. It will definitely help. This is about
what we’ve talked about today, that the Bible isn’t silent on pain and suffering, and if
you will embrace it and be transformed by it, it actually draws you closer to Christ
and makes you more powerful than you were before. Thank you so much for having us here
today. We appreciate it.

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