February Message from Pastor Blake

Taste and See that the Lord is Still Good
A little over a year ago I interviewed at Appleton Community Evangelical Free Church. Part of that process involved preaching a message on Sunday morning. I preached out of Psalm 34 and titled it God’s Goodness in Suffering. I used a friend of mine, Matt Bishop, as an illustration. Over the last 7 years he had cancer twice, had a bone marrow transplant, learned to walk multiple times, broke his back in a car accident, was put into a medically induced coma, had a rare blood disorder, and had countless other setbacks in his fight for life. I asked the question where is God in all of this? The conclusion of that sermon was God is good through it all! I had the invitation for all to “taste and see that the Lord is good.”
Matt Bishop died December 29th, 2020 at the age of 31. I want to invite you taste and see that the Lord is still good in the midst of suffering. This is my feeble attempt to write something in honor of my friend. Nobody here knows Matt personally, but I still hope you are inspired by his life.

I miss you! I said those same words many of times before you went home to be with your Savior. Life seemed to take us in opposite directions, but it was like old times when we got together. We quickly rekindled our friendship and started reminiscing about the old times and talking about God’s faithfulness in the present. Oh, how I wish I could go back to a simpler time with you! I miss the random movie nights at the cottage and half off apps nights at Applebee’s.
I still remember being introduced to you by Scott Thiry. You, Scott, Josh, and I went through the book Crazy Love while sitting in Atwood at St. Cloud State. I didn’t know that would be the start to a great friendship and partnership in ministry. You got involved with CRU and ministry at Calvary. It was a joy to watch you minister to those around you. You were the type of person who would light up a room when you walked into it. Your life was a giant party! I miss the energy that you brought with you!
I can’t tell people my testimony without talking about the impact you had on my life. I was discipled by you both in our everyday conversations and in observing you from afar. You were a person who outwardly displayed the fruit of the Spirit. You demonstrated love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. People often say that your true character shows when life gets hard. In all of your hardships in life you still displayed the fruit of the Spirit. Never once did I hear you complain. I told you many times that if the roles were reversed and all this suffering happened to me, I don’t know if I would be a Christian. You just smiled but I meant every word of what I said. God supernaturally empowered you to endure. You are a testimony to all who suffer. I feel like I understand the book of Job a little better after watching you in your suffering. You faithfully took the good and the bad in life and still blessed the Lord.
I long for heaven to see the fruit of your faithfulness in all the suffering you went through. Every doctor and nurse knew the story of Jesus because of you. They knew that your hope was not in any medical diagnosis, but it was in Jesus Christ. You counted it all joy to face suffering because you knew the end result would make you look more like Jesus. You truly lived a life of faith. The gospel was always on the tip of your tongue and I am sure many people have come to faith or will come to faith because of the life that you lived. You glorified Jesus in your life.
The author of Hebrews wrote chapter 11 to encourage the persecuted believers to keep the faith and lay aside every sin that is holding them back. The author showed how Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, and others lived their life by faith by focusing on a heavenly city and a heavenly reward. The author ends with saying, time would fail him if he recounted all the other stories of God’s people who lived by faith. When I think of Hebrews 11 I think of you, Matt. By faith you patiently endured suffering because your sight was set on something other than this life. By faith you kept preaching the gospel because you knew your life on this earth was short, but you wanted everybody to spend eternity with Jesus. By faith you focused on the heavenly prize to help you get through this temporary pain. Your faith points me to Jesus who is the founder and perfector of our faith.
I thank God that I knew you and that one day I will be with you in eternity. Your life is an example of God’s goodness in the midst of suffering. You are an example that good can come out of terrible circumstances. You are a reminder that we live in a broken world, corrupted by sin, but God is still at work in the midst of it. He is sovereign and in control.
Matt! You fought the good fight, you ran the race, you kept the faith. I know you heard the words well done good and faithful servant. Enter into rest, my friend. I will see you soon and once again reminisce about the old times and talk about God’s faithfulness through it all. I long for one of your hugs again. Maybe this time I will be a little taller, so I don’t end up hugging your belly button.
I love you Matt,
Your brother in Christ!

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