Posted by: Rex Boyles | April 8, 2012

The First Sunday Morning

I don’t know much about Mary Magdalene … but I know something of how she felt as she walked to the grave on that first Sunday morning. To say that she felt sad doesn’t begin to reveal the anguish of her heart. She was broken-hearted … devastated … forever marked by her grief. She had lost the one man … the only man, who would ever love her the way He loved her … the only man, who could have ever rescued her from hell on earth. How does she let go of Him? How can she go on without Him?

There is no easy answer … but there is a very simple truth. The grave is empty … except for a used shroud and an alarming promise: “He is not here. He has risen!”

She will not have to “let go” of Him for long. She will not have to go on without Him.

Jesus is alive …
Jesus lives in her …
Jesus lives for her …
Jesus lives and waits to bring her home.

I don’t know much more about Peter … but I know something of how he felt as he ran to the grave that first Sunday morning. To say that he felt guilty doesn’t begin to reveal the anguish of his heart. He was broken-hearted … humiliated … forever scarred by his shame. He had lost the one man … the only man, who would ever love him the way He loved him … the only man, who could have ever rescued him from swamping storms in or out of the boat. How does he ever get over this shame? How does he ever make things right again?

There is no easy answer … but there is a very simple truth. The grave is empty … except for a used shroud and an echoing reality: “He is not here. He has risen!”

He will not have to “get over” it. He will not have to “make things right”.

Jesus is alive …
Jesus forgives and forgets …
Jesus invites him to go for a walk on the beach …
Jesus calls him to follow … “in His steps”.

I don’t know you … but I know something of my own grief and shame. And I am grateful today … this Sunday morning … for this simple truth:
Jesus is alive!

Posted by: Rex Boyles | December 24, 2008

“Merry Christmas, Sinners.”

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”  (Luke 2:8-12, NIV)

I do not know what day Jesus was born … but I am grateful that so many in the world have found a day to celebrate His birth.

I do not know how many wise men came from afar to worship Him … but it would make sense that any wise man, who came that far, would bring a gift.

I do not know if the cattle were lowing (but since that is what cattle do, I would assume that would be the case) … but I would be surprised at any baby that “no crying he makes”.

I do not know just how silent the night was with angels singing … with shepherds worshiping … with a baby crying … (and yes, those cattle lowing) … but it was a holy night. (Pretty sure, too, that Mary would not have let any little drummer boy bang on his drums while she was trying to put her baby to sleep.)

I do not know if He was born in a barn … a stable … or a cave that served as a stable … but I know that there was no room for Him at the Inn and His first crib was a manger.  

There are many things I do not know about that day … but I do know that He was born to be a Savior. And if He was born to be a Savior … that would imply that He was born … for sinners.

Merry Christmas to you and yours … from this sinner.

Posted by: Rex Boyles | December 9, 2008

“… a new life …”

On Sunday afternoon, November 23, 2008 … Josh and Zimri confessed their faith in Jesus and were baptized into the name of the Father – the Son – and the Holy Spirit. Kelly baptized Josh, and then Josh baptized Zimri. They began their new lives on the same day.

They began another new life together – as husband and wife – on December 6th.

Please welcome them to the fellowship of God’s people and share a word of encouragment with them. (Offer a blessing for their marriage, as well, please.)

Knowing that Josh and Zimri are now our brother and sister is reason enough to “bless them”, but it might inspire you … as it did me … to hear how Josh appreciates life.

On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving … I asked our folks at the OPEN to tell me something that they thank God for (and to be specific). Before I was finished asking the question Josh had his hand up … eager to share.

“Every morning when I wake up I thank God for my life. The fact that I am alive is all because of God. I was in a gang … and I have taken drugs … been shot at … gone to prison … over-dosed on drugs … even tried to take my own life. I could have been dead so many times. I thank God that I am alive.”

And now he thanks God for his new life in Jesus … and his new wife, who walks with him as they walk with Jesus.

Posted by: Rex Boyles | November 19, 2008

“… God sent me an angel.”

When Abigail needed a friend the most … she met Brian.

She told me … “When I met Brian, it was like God sent me an angel.”

She believes meeting Brian was a moment of “divine intervention” (her words) in her life.

I agree … and I will tell you why.

I don’t know all of the story … don’t know all of the dates … but I know that on Wednesday, May 28, Brian and I got to open the Word and learn about Jesus. It was obvious that he wanted to follow Jesus – even then – but he needed some time to think … and to talk to his fiance, Abigail.

He would come back from time to time … to visit … to ask another question or two.

Last night (Tuesday, November 18) … he brought his wife, Abigail, with him. They both had some questions. The first (and most important) question was, “What do you have to do to go to heaven (and not go to hell)?”

We opened our Bibles … and let Jesus answer that question. We discussed several things … but in the end we just looked at the answer Jesus gave those Jewish religious folks in Acts 2, and that Jewish terrorist fellow in Acts 22 … when they all asked the same question, “What shall we (I) do?”

Once Brian and Abigail read what Jesus had to say, they decided to listen to Him. So … they got up and were baptized, washing away their sins. (That is what is promised in Acts 22:16.)

Brian was baptized by my friend and brother, Bart. Then Brian baptized Abigail.

As they hugged each other … still dripping wet … I thought of what she had told me about when they first met, ” …  God sent me an angel.” – a moment of divine intervention. I agree. How else do you explain that a girl, needing a friend – finds one that becomes her boyfriend … her best friend … her fiance … her husband … her teacher … and her brother in Jesus?

Please welcome Brian and Abigail to the family of God.

Posted by: Rex Boyles | November 4, 2008

“God bless America … please!”

What is your prayer for the United States of America?

Posted by: Rex Boyles | October 21, 2008

“Are you okay?”

I was broken and bruised by my own sin. I was so ashamed of myself that I felt like I could not breathe … and I would not talk to anyone who knew “what I did”. I was hiding … not so much from God, but from anyone who had any connection with church.

I was living in a one bedroom apartment. Kept the lights turned off. I sat in my “special” chair (the only furniture that I had) and stared the same blank stare that most hopeless people stare. I would not eat … could not sleep.

I did not answer the phone or the door … 

Until she knocked. A sister in Jesus. I had helped her walk back home to the Lord and was there when her husband was born again. She knocked. I did not answer. She continued to knock. I did not answer. She began to cry – I could hear her through the door. “Please, Rex … let me in.”

I did.

As she moved toward me – to hug me. I stepped back. I ducked my head …  began to cry … and kept backing away from her. She stopped me … put her hand under my chin - lifted my face … and asked, “Rex, are you okay?”

How do I describe to you what happened? It was like my heart exploded in relief. Someone cared. She cared. She was not there to remind me of my sin – to add to my shame – to make sure that I knew that I deserved to be stoned to death. She wanted to know if I was okay.

Of all of the good things – comforting things that were said to me by people who loved me – even then – I do not believe that there were any more powerful healing words than, “Are you okay?”.

So … today, let me ask you – what I would ask you – if I could lift your face and look into your eyes: Are you okay? You can tell me. (If you need for your reply to be anonymous to those who are reading - okay – just change the name on your post.) And I really do want to know. I make no claim that I will understand … no claim that I can do anything to make it better … but I will care for you.

I want you to know the relief that I received that day, when Lee cared for me.

And I want to be the friend to you … that Lee was to me. (Thank you, Lee.)

Posted by: Rex Boyles | September 28, 2008

“He came home, but …”

When the prodigal came home …  there was a hug, a kiss, a pair of sandals, a robe, a ring, a fatted calf, and a celebration waiting on him. I am sure that his welcome home included a hot bath and a haircut. By the time of the “Welcome Home Son” party began, his makeover was complete … no more stench or stain from the pig pen, only the haunting memories in the runaway’s heart.

However, sometimes when the prodigal comes home, a hot bath and a haircut will not remove the stains or consequences of those wasteful years. Sometimes … there are legal consequences that remain on account even when the sin consequences are blotted out.

How do you “deal” with that brother?

Well, first … you treat him how the Father would. Welcome him home! Celebrate that the one that was lost has been found … the one that was dead is now alive. We want this brother to KNOW that we agree with God … and that we are going to “forgive” him … “comfort” him … and “reaffirm” our love him, so that he will not be overcome by “overmuch sorrow”.

Then, of course, we want to “Barnabas” him. Barnabas means “son of encouragment”, and that is exactly what Barnabas did for Saul … as he helped him find his place in this new fellowship. Consider (Acts 9:26-31, NIV): “When he came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles.” In being Saul’s advocate Barnabas helped the disciples to begin to trust this new brother, reassuring them that he (Barnabas) believed that Saul really was a disciple … and he helped Saul by standing with him, reassuring him that he (Barnabas) believed it and that he would help Saul convince the rest of the disciples.

Such an encourager – advocate – friend is needed by any brother or sister, who is coming home – but especially by those who have some residual consequences. Jesus accepts that role (1John2:1-2) … and would be pleased if we would see fit to do the same.

Now … such a role is not without risks, because the disciples still might not trust … and the prodigal might falter and fail again. Therefore, the “Barnabas brother” must be one who is strong in the Lord (for the Lord) … for it is the strong that “bear with the failings of the weak“. And though it is a difficult task and even a treacherous place – “caught in the middle” – it is needed by more people than we want to acknowledge. They wait outside the fellowship – outside the celebration – waiting for someone to “Barnabas” them inside.

p.s. Cline Paden was such a Barnabas to me. For the rest of my life … I will thank God for his strength to face my accusers and his courage to believe in me.

p.p.s. Did you have a Barnabas?

Posted by: Rex Boyles | September 21, 2008

a letter from home

Eight years ago … I confessed my sin and shame … broken-hearted and in despair I went home. My mother and father – along with my brothers – received me … unashamed of me.

My first Sunday home I went to church - to the people … who loved me, as I grew from an infant to a teenager … who taught me, as I sat in Bible classes learned about Noah, Moses, and the missionary journeys of Paul … who rejoiced with me, as I was raised to a new life … who sang with me, as I lead my first song … who listened to me, as I preached my first sermon … and who supported me, as I began a school of preaching and even taught in that school.

When I met with the “home” elders, they were accepting, forgiving, and encouraging. They welcomed me home. The love and fellowship of those men and women – and many others in the “family” gave me a relatively safe place to rest and to heal.

But things changed. I am not sure that I know all that happened … but things changed. I was no longer made to feel “welcome” at home. Even my family sensed that they were considered “unworthy”.

Please understand that I am not blaming anyone – no one but me – for any of the awkwardness or tension. But it was a source of heartache for me that I had become a shame to the people who had once taken such pride in my ministry. It was also a source of concern that Christian people, especially those who knew me and mine, could appear so unaccepting – unforgiving – unloving.

There is no need for me (or them) to “fuss, cuss, or discuss” what changed or why. It is, however, worth considering the letter that I received last week. Please read it …  and rejoice with me. Please read it … and thank God with me for these good men and their willingness to reaffirm their love to this prodigal. Please read it …  and pray that God will multiply that spirit among elders and churches across our brotherhood.

Letter from the Sudan Church of Christ to me: 

 Brother:

Luke 15: Thinking of the lost son coming home. It was the responsibility of the wayward son to ask for forgiveness, and it was the father’s responsibility to forgive.

Rex, you have openly confessed your sin and it is our responsibilty to forgive. When you were here in the early part of the summer we surmised that you thought that we had not followed through with our part to forgive. We were not aware of what was said and how you were told about your relationship with Sudan at an earlier date.

We, as elders, are in agreement that we want to make things right before any further damage is done. We welcome you and your family to worship with us. You have never been ashamed of Sudan and hope you never will be. By the evidence of your present service to the Lord you haven’t given up on Him, and we want you to know we have not given up on you.

May you graciously accept our gratitude for what you stand for and accept our appologies for hurting you.

(Signed by all of the elders.)

Posted by: Rex Boyles | September 14, 2008

“Welcome to the family, Ester.”

“Saturday, August 30, 2008 @ 11:30a … Ester Rodriquez was born into the family of God. Enough said! Let’s welcome her home!”

I wrote these words last week … and used them to intoduce “an unfinished story” … which is a realistic testimony of the incredible grace and providence of God … but I disagree with what I said above, when I wrote, “Enough said!”

I could never say enough about Ester.

You know how I came to meet her … but you should really get to know her.

On the day that she first heard the words of life about Jesus … she realized that she needed to “listen to Him”, but there were some issues in her old life – that she wanted to “clear up” before she accepted her new life.

I am not at liberty to discuss those issues here … serious issues that demanded serious lifestyle changes … but you should know that Ester began to live and pray in such a way that it was obvious that she was bearing “fruit worthy of repentance”. So … when the day came for her to receive her new life, those of us who know Ester, were almost as thrilled as she was.

And since that day … we have seen her walk with Jesus through traumatic and stressful situations … with the dignity of the Queen from whom she got her name - to fulfill God’s purpose for her life.

Please welcome Ester to the family of God.

Posted by: Rex Boyles | September 7, 2008

“an unfinished story”

Saturday, August 30, 2008 @ 11:30a … Ester Rodriquez was born into the family of God. Enough said! Let’s welcome her home!

But you need to hear this story …

Dennis and Theresa worked at a children’s home, when we first started meeting as an “official” church. One of “their girls” was Lisa. When Dennis and Theresa moved to Cozumel to direct the children’s home there … Lisa continued to enjoy the teaching and fellowship at the OPEN. (Note: She was dating a boy named Adam; eventually they broke up.)

On February 3, 2008 … Lisa decided to be baptized into Jesus. She invited Adam’s family – Teresa and Jason, as well as his little brothers, Brian and Christian – to witness her new birth. After we all welcomed Lisa home, Teresa came up to me and said, “I have never been at a church like this. I just feel so welcome.”

Well, Teresa and her family began enjoying the teaching and fellowship at the OPEN. She even invited her sister, Francis to come with her. Each Sunday Francis brought her granchildren, Brianna – Micah – Julia; and each time we prayed for her daughter, Ruby, the mother of these children. Ruby’s husband, Rick, began to come with Francis.

Eventually, Ruby starting enjoying the teaching and fellowship at the OPEN. She especially enjoyed the “For Ladies Only” class that meets on Saturday morning. On May 10, 2008, Ruby was baptized along with her mother, Francis, and her Tia Teresa. (Then a little over a month later – Ruby’s husband, Rick, was born again on June 20, 2008.)

By the way … Ester’s son and daughter-in-law, Josh and Zimri … along with their children, John, Alexis, and Paul … and Ester’s daughter, Samantha, and her son, Jayden, are now enjoying the teaching and fellowship at the OPEN. 

By the way … Francis’ grandson, Angel, comes with Rick and Ruby’s children to the OPEN. 

By the way … Teresa’s son, Adam and his new girlfriend, Angel, are coming to study the Bible with me now.

By the way … this story is still being written … by the grace and providence of God.

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