From Shawn Kuykendall's Instagram Account

From Shawn Kuykendall’s Instagram Account

Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection!


“Behold,  the dwelling place  of God is with man. He will  dwell with them, and they will be his people,  and God himself will be with them as their God.  4  He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and  death shall be no more,  neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

Revelation 20:6; 21: 3-5

Last night our friend, Shawn Kuykendall died.

He fought a rare form of cancer for 8 months.  I was one of thousands of people who interacted with him during that battle and I agree with the words that were used to describe him over and over–  joyful, courageous, honoring to God.  His good friend, Mike Foss wrote an incredible testimony to Shawn’s character in this USA Today piece.

This quote that Mike included really captures Shawn’s heart during these eight months:

“So praise be to God. I’m not going to waste time being sad or worried or scared. I have to fight. If I trust in him and fight, everything else will take care of itself.”

A few years ago, Shawn reflected on one of Jesus’ last words from the cross during Restoration’s Good Friday service.  The word was, “I thirst.’  Shawn talked about being humble and finite.  During the last 8 months, Shawn slammed in to the finitude of his physical body.  But Shawn’s victory is that he remained faithful in his trust in Jesus, in his kindness to friends and family, and in his never ceasing declaration that only God is infinite and only God is good.  And He is.

I, like hundreds of people, am so sad about this news.  I wanted God to heal him in astounding fashion.  And I, like hundreds of people, am gripped by the pathos of human life and potential that is lost.  Those ‘why’ questions never go away.

But I am also thrilled that Shawn is done with this fight and that Shawn finished it well.  Shawn was faithful to God to the very end and that is an inspiration to me and to thousands of people who watched him persevere.

We will all die.  We will all give an account for our life.  We will all meet our Maker.  You cannot avoid this.

Some of us will meet our Maker with Jesus– who delivers and rescues and saves us from our sins–  at our side.  All of us can choose this.

Thank you Shawn for a life well lived.  May your rejoice in the presence of Christ whom you love.


Fear to Courage

Parting the Red Sea

On Tuesday night, men from Restoration gathered for our monthly, ManUp where we have been talking about our character.  We begin with a 20 minute lecture on the topic, then time in small groups to talk about it, then a 3 person panel shares their personal stories about how they have been growing in this area.  We’ve had 3 of these evenings and each one has resulted in significant conversations.

Last night we talked about courage.  Someone asked on the feedback cards:

Ok, courage is good.  Check.  Now how do you move from fear to courage?

That’s a great question.

Quick refresher on our working definitions of courage:

  1. Courage is the ability to do something that frightens you.
  2. Courage is strength in the face of pain or grief.
  3. Courage is doing the right thing at the right time in the right place.

Here is how the stories from our panelists answered the question–  how do we move from fear to courage.

We don’t.  In every story that was shared last night, no one stopped being afraid.  In Exodus 14, when God had Israel backed up at the Red Sea with the Egyptians bearing down on them, He made a singular way for them to be rescued.  God parted the Red Sea and said, ‘Tell the people of Israel to move forward.’  There is no way they stopped being afraid.  Walking through those walls of water was the only way they were going to be saved, but I am sure they were terrified.  Courage is the ability to do something that frightens you.  But the fear doesn’t go away.

We make a decision to do what feels terrifying.  So one panelist asked someone to marry him.  Another panelist quit his job and started his own business.  Another panelist drove to his parent’s house to have a conversation with his Dad.  None of those men stopped being afraid.  But all of them had a moment of courage when they said, ‘I will do this.’  For each of them, there was a pre-decision that helped to ‘lock them in’ to the decision.  For example, one guy called his parents so that they would be expecting him (and so he couldn’t just drive around skipping the conversation).  God gives us the strength we need for the decision we have to make.  He makes a way and invites us to trust Him, to depend on His Holy Spirit, to TAKE IT.  We don’t stop being afraid.

We put people around us.  Each of the men who shared last night talked about the role that their small group, their spouse, their friends played in bolstering their courage.  None of us can be the kind of people we want to be on our own.  We need folks who encourage us, pray for us, and tell us to obey the convictions of the Holy Spirit.  Thankfully, in our church those kind of people are easy to access.  Are you in a small group?  They all start on January 19.

Next month we will ManUp about sex.  February 11.  You won’t want to miss it.

I am very grateful for the men in our church.  God is doing good work in them.


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