Tag Archives: love

A Death Too Soon

It’s hard to know what to say at a time like this.  Everything is going along like normal, you’re in a routine, and then your phone buzzes with a text message saying that your cousin, 21 years old, just died in a car wreck.  Shock sets in immediately.  And then the utter feeling of helplessness.

I loved Colby Miller, and his sudden death still has me seriously shaken up several days later, but I’m way down on the totem pole of people who were affected by his death.  He left behind him the love of his life, and a three-month-old son, devastated parents, a brother, a sister, grandparents, and various other extended family members who knew him much better than I (a side-effect of not living nearby).  The congregation in Wetaug, Illinois is hurting as well, and is still in shock.  It was evident in the words which were spoken yesterday (at both services), the eyes filled with sadness, the hugs that were freely given and held longer than normal, the feeling that no one really wanted to say “goodbye.”

But still, I feel the immense loss, the pain that is pervading the family, especially now as the wound is still fresh.  As Jesse and I left the graveside where they laid Colby next to his hero—his (and my) grandpa Don—I couldn’t help but notice names, names of people I have known, names of family members who I once talked with, smiled with, laughed with, and loved.  Half of my family history is buried in that cemetery.

The past few days have got me thinking hard about many things, and I hope that somehow, through this, I can … I don’t know, do something.  So, here goes.

Take the time to tell others that you love them.

As was painfully driven home to me this past week, you don’t know that you’ll ever see a loved one again.  Something might happen to you.  Something might happen to him or her.  Brad Paisley sang a song about writing a letter to his younger self, and it includes the line “P.S. Go hug Aunt Rita every chance you can.”  The implication being that she wasn’t alive anymore by the time he wrote.  Don’t wait to tell and show people that you love them, and don’t assume that you’ll have other opportunities.  You don’t know that.  Take the time, make the opportunity now to let people know you care.

Be a friend to others.

At the visitation for Colby, there was an unbroken line of people coming in for over five hours.  I don’t know the exact number, but it was over 700.  Some were friends of his parents, others were friends of Colby himself.  But make no mistake, these people came because of friendship.  Colby was a friend to many people, had an impact on the lives of many people.  I’ve seen funerals before where hardly anyone came because the deceased didn’t have many friends.  Christians, more than anyone else, should have an impact for good on the lives around them.  Think of all the opportunities you have to reach out to others, to help others, to be a friend to others.  Don’t waste your time—make it worthwhile in reaching others.

Drive carefully.

Colby was lost, on an unfamiliar road, trying to get somewhere.  But he was also in a hurry, and wasn’t able to make a turn.  It’s then that his truck left the road, and … well, I don’t want to go into what happened next, but it is what caused me to receive the text mentioned at the beginning of this post.  When we got to Illinois and joined with the family before the public visitation began, my grandmother (and Colby’s) hugged me harder than she’s ever hugged me before, and said “Don’t let this happen to you.”  She knew that I used to have a lead foot.  She was begging me to make sure I drove safely.

I could go into the truth that a Christian is to obey the laws of the land (including the speed limit), but I also want you to realize that these laws are there to help keep us safe.  It’s most likely that if everyone drove the speed limit, I wouldn’t be writing this today.  But now, every time a car passes us on the interstate, I see it crashing, and I find myself praying a silent prayer that it doesn’t happen.

There are people that care about you.  If for no other reason, drive safely for their sakes.


Colby’s family could really use your prayers right now.  It will be a very long time before they approach anything even close to “normal.”  The congregation of the Lord’s church in Wetaug, Illinois, could use your prayers as well.  This hit them very hard too.

In the meantime, don’t assume that you’ve got tomorrow to tell people that you care—do it now.  Don’t wait to give a hug, to make a visit, to pick up the phone and call, to show that you love them, or that you are their friend—do it now.

And please, stay safe.

-Bradley S. Cobb

Sermon Wednesday – In Vain in High and Holy Lays

Welcome back to another Sermon Wednesday!  This week, we continue our series on “Singing with the Understanding.”  Enjoy and use it to God’s glory!


A realization struck me this week, that there was a song I knew, I sang, and I have even led—and I didn’t have a clue what the first line was even talking about: In Vain in High and Holy Lays.

What does that even mean?  Perhaps you have wondered the same thing.

The rest of the song is easier to understand, and we’ll be looking at it today.  It breaks down like this:

Verse 1 – The inexpressible love of Jesus
Verse 2 – The comforting love of Jesus
Verse 3 – The forgiving love of Jesus

Let’s join together and look at the Biblical truths expressed in this song so that we can truly follow the command to “sing with the understanding” (I Corinthians 14:15)

Verse 1 – The Inexpressible Love of Jesus

In vain

This phrase simply means that it is worthless, such as “In vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:9).

In high and holy lays.

The word “lays” is an old English word that means songs.  So, these are high and holy songs, the grandest, most serene songs of praise—the ones that can give you chills when you hear it.

My soul, her grateful voice would raise.

The grateful heart sings the most meaningful, heart-felt songs possible.  The first line here describes our singing with our hearts, with truly grateful emotion, the most awe-inspiring melody and most honest and true words…

And it still wouldn’t come close to accurately describing the wonderful love of Jesus.  It can’t come close to doing justice to the praise Christ deserves.

For who can sing the worthy praise of the wonderful love of Jesus?

Though we can understand part of it, there is no way for our human minds to fully express the love of Jesus Christ for us.  Though we can try with all our might, there is no way we can adequately express our gratitude for the love of Jesus.

This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try, but just know that the love of Jesus is so great, so wonderful, so overwhelming that we cannot ever adequately express it.

Jesus loved us in that while we were yet sinners, He died for the ungodly (Romans 5:6)  And we show that love for him through praise, worship, and obedience (Hebrews 5:9, John 14:15).

The full extent of the love Christ has for us is truly inexpressible.

Verse 2 – The comforting love of Jesus.

A joy by day

When you look at the Scriptures, you can see that people who truly came to Jesus had great joy.  The Ethiopian Eunuch (Acts 8:29) went on his way rejoicing after being saved by Jesus’ blood when he was baptized.  The people on Pentecost were glad to receive the instructions on how to come to Jesus (Acts 2:41).  John wrote Christians to remind them of the “full joy” they had in Christ Jesus (I John 1:4).

As we go throughout our daily routines, we should constantly remember the benefit of Christ’s death on the cross on our behalf and be joyful.  Even though troubles come in this life—sometimes extremely difficult ones—if we keep our eyes on Christ and continue to remember what He has done for us, we can truly be joyful.

Just remember Paul and Silas when they were falsely imprisoned after being beaten bloody—they sat there and sang (Acts 16:22-25).

What kind of joy do you show because of Jesus?

A Peace by night

When night comes, many people have anxiety—but that doesn’t need to describe Christians.  Every night when you lay down to sleep, you can have peace in knowing that you have come to the saving blood of Christ.  Every night, you can know that if you were to die in your sleep, you’ve got heaven awaiting you when you awake.

You have peace knowing that regardless of what happens, you’re depending on the One who matters most—Jesus Christ our Lord.  And when you get that, you have peace that surpasses understanding (Philippians 4:7).

In storms a calm

A massive storm was happening on the Sea of Galilee, and a group of lifetime fishermen were afraid they were going to die (Mark 4:37-39).  They stumbled down the steps in the boat as the waves covered the ship.  They found Jesus sleeping—SLEEPING!  How could someone sleep in the middle of that?

They woke Him up and said, “don’t you care that we’re about to die?”  Jesus spoke up and said to the storm, “peace. Be still,” and immediately the waves stopped, the wind ceased, and there was a pure calm.

In the midst of the storms of life, we can have the same kind of calm—as though we are under a protective shelter which keeps the storm from touching us.  We can have a calm, knowing that all things work together for good to them that love God (Romans 8:28).  We can have a calm, knowing that so long as we focus on God’s kingdom and righteousness, He will make sure we have everything we need (Matthew 6:33).

It is because of Jesus Christ’s love for us that He died, and gave us access to the Father in prayer—which can sooth our anxieties in the storms of life (Hebrews 4:16).

In darkness light

Jesus is described as “the light” (John 1:6-10).  In a world of darkness, Jesus is the light.  When all around us seems frightening, like there is no hope, Jesus Christ shines as a bright beacon lighting our way to heaven.  Jesus gives us hope and helps brighten our days.

We don’t have to grope around blindly—Jesus has provided the light for us to walk safely.

In pain, a balm

When we suffer hardships, emotional pain, we can look to the Great Physician (Luke 5:31) and He has provided the spiritual ointment needed to help heal our hurts.  We look to Him, and remember what really matters.

We look to Him, and realize that we’ve not got it as bad as we might think—after all, how many of us have been stripped naked, beaten bloody, publicly mocked and ridiculed, and then been nailed to a cross and left there to die?

Jesus brings healing to our souls, and cares about our lives.

In weakness, might

Leaning on Jesus, Leaning on Jesus, safe and secure from all alarms, leaning on Jesus, leaning on Jesus, leaning on the everlasting arms.

When we are weak, we lean on Jesus Christ who gives us strength; He lifts us up as we walk beside Him.  Paul said it this way, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).

He also said, “I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecution, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then I am strong” (II Corinthians 12:10).

Is the wonderful love of Jesus.

All of these blessings comes because Christ loved us enough to die for us.

Verse 3 – The Forgiving Love of Jesus.

My hope for pardon when I call.

For non-Christians, pardon from sins comes when they call on the name of the Lord—turning to Him and His authority in obedience.  Calling on the name of the Lord (done by obedience in baptism) brings about pardon from our sins (Acts 22:16).  Calling on the name of the Lord (which was described as “repent and be baptized“) saves us (Acts 2:21, 38, 41, 47).

For Christians, pardon from sins come when they go to God in prayerful repentance.  Simon the sorcerer (a Christian) was told to repent and pray to God for forgiveness (Acts 8:22).  John told Christians to confess their sins to God, and they would be forgiven (I John 1:9).

We can have boldness to go to the Father in prayer BECAUSE of the wonderful love of Jesus (Hebrews 4:14-16).  But without Christ, there is no pardon for our sins.

My trust for lifting when I fall.

When we stumble along the way, we have the help of Jesus to get back up again and keep walking with Him.  If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin (I John 1:7).

The sins mentioned in that verse are those times when we stumble. But so long as we keep trying, Jesus lifts us up to help us on our way.

Love lifted me, love lifted me, when nothing else could help, love lifted me.

We can trust in Jesus to lift us back up when we have asked for forgiveness.

In life, in death, my all in all.

We live our lives for Christ—and He helps us through it all by His word and the work that He has already done on our behalf.  And when we do that, we know that when death comes, we can embrace it, knowing that we will go on to be with the Lord, which is far better (Philippians 1:23).

Our entire existence, whether we live or die, should all center on Christ Jesus.


Wonderful love, wonderful love, wonderful love of Jesus!

It is through the love of Christ that we are saved, that we have hope, that we have comfort, and that we have forgiveness.

Remember that the next time troubles come along and you don’t know where to turn.  Remember that the next time you sing this song—The love of Jesus is what our entire existence depends on.

He loved you so much that He came here and willingly took your place—your death sentence because of your sins (Romans 3:23).  His love also revealed the way by which you can be saved—believe and obey the gospel.

-Bradley Cobb

…Without Works is Dead

Most of my life, I’ve heard sermons on “faith without works is dead.”  In case you’re unaware, that’s found near the end of James chapter two.  One can have all the faith in the world, but if it is not exhibited in works, that faith is useless.  However, in a recent Bible class, I heard a man make the point that faith isn’t the only thing that “without works is dead.”  Needless to say, my interest was piqued.

LOVE without works is dead.

Imagine a man telling his wife “I love you,” but never showing it to her.  Is she going to believe it?  There was a song back in the 90′s called “More than Words.”  In it, the songwriter said, “more than words to show you feel that your love for me is real.  Then, you wouldn’t have to say that you love me, ’cause I’d already know.”

We can sing the song “Jesus Love Me,” and know that it is true, because Jesus showed His love for us by His works of living a perfect life, undergoing ridicule, and dying the ultimate shameful death on the cross.  My friends, THAT is love!

MERCY without works is dead.

Some people have actually said these words, “I’ll forgive you, but I won’t forget.”  Truly, this attitude means that forgiveness has not actually been given.  If we forgive someone, it means we no longer hold that thing against them–we no longer take it into account.  But many times, people claim to forgive others, but are not willing to do the works that prove it.  That kind of mercy is dead–of no value whatsoever.

And why is that important?  Because we are told in various places that we will be forgiven by God in the same way that we forgive others.  So, if we forgive in word only, but still hold those things against others, then we can expect God to still hold our sins against us.  See Matthew 6:12, 18:34-35, and James 2:13.  My friends, this is a matter of eternal importance!

REPENTANCE without works is dead.

John the baptizer called out the hypocritical Pharisees for pretending to be righteous.  In his indictment against them, he said the words, “bring forth fruits [works] appropriate for repentance” (Matthew 3:8).  The apostle Paul said it this way, “repent, and turn to God, and do works appropriate for repentance” (Acts 26:20).

We can tell people, “I’m sorry.”  But if you’ve been around people very long, you find that many times what they mean is, “I’m sorry you found out.”  You know that because the person shows no signs of change.  If you truly have repented, then you will be showing the works of repentance.  That includes working harder to not mess up in that area.

When we ask God for forgiveness, are we putting in the works necessary to prove we are truly sorry for what we have done?

May your life be blessed as your works match your words!

–Bradley Cobb