• sonnyholmes


Today we're celebrating, remembering, and reflecting on the life of Brian Eliot Holmes, our son. Brian was born on Deember 17, 1977. He was murdered on July 18, 2011, on America Street, in the eastside of Charleston, SC. At this time his murder is unsolved.

His death has taken us to another place in life, a new level where see and process the moments of life differently than before. Today, we are thankful for his life and the many ways he touched us during his thrity four years. My prayers today are for the women in his life---Katherine, his precious wife; Harrriet, my wife and his mom; and, Liz, his big sister. He loved each of them in a special way.

Death is a relentless teacher. For us humans it is an unavoidable classroom as well. But, what we learn here is more about how we live this life than how we depart from it. When death is teaching us the lessons are impactful, ultimate. Each is a tutorial crafted from one life to another, a gift that can alter our direction and change our perception of things.

Today, we we remember the special moments of his life as we also continue to absorb the painful but important lessons his death is teaching us. What are they?

One. life is brief. In Scripture, the metaphors of shortness characterize life. It is a breath, morning dew, a vapor, a shadow, grass, a mist. We are sojourners here, transients, aliens, visitors. We're told to number our days so that our minds can attain wisdom (Psalm 90:12). Yet we live the procrastinators dream at the speed of thought. That's why the death of a young person registers with us so profoundly. Life is short.

Two. Values are important. For us Brian's death has been a lens through which our values are now filtered. His death has helped us weigh important things and unimportant things, how to view what really matters and what doesn't. Over the three years since his death we've learned to discern the difference between urgent and important. Much of life is determined by the clock, the calculator, and the calendar. We're learning to listen to the heart and let our biblical value system guide us in all things.

Three. Faith is real. I remember reading a Twitter post by Ken Whitten, a pastor in Florida on the day after Brian's death. It was a "grace ambulance" that shifted us toward Him in those hours right after learning the horrible news of his death. He wrote, something like this, "in tragedy we usually ask, How do I get out of this? We should ask, what do I get out of this?". They were certainly painful days. But, in them, asking the right questions, we knew He was there, and He would guide us through this tragic time. And, three years later, He has, and is.

Certain things about those days stand out. I remember sitting with the family at Dyal Funeral Home in Summerville, as Don Miller gently led us through the planning for Brian's service. My iPhone was on the table, set to vibrate, and it did. Brian and I had been playing a Words with Friends game at the time of hie death. The game was sending me a push message. On my screen it read, "Brian Won!!!". Did he ever.

So, his mother and I are remembering and reflecting on a life. There are many lessons from the last three years and I'll wrote a book about it one day. Now, however, we're thankful for that life and the great privilege of sharing it, and remembering in prayer those who shared it too.

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  • sonnyholmes


What a sober moment to realize you're not on the same team any more. Something or someone moved and the arrangement isn't the same strategic one you thought. Whether the sandlot, stadium, caucus room, church, dinner table, or neighborhood, few let-downs weigh as heavily as when you realize there's been a shift. The group or ideal or activity with which you've been aligned, to which you've given so much of your life isn't what it was. So, what do we do when we realize we're not on the same team anymore?

Your world-view will define it, if you want to get right down to it. If you're a secularist, that is, an adherent to the ever-shifting cultural layout, or even a nominal (Google that one if you want to know what it means), you'll just go find another team. Hey, it's a changing world and we just need to possess the most current model---spouse, circle of friends, smart phone, brand, vehicle, or maybe even church. We might even go with the flow here and line up with another political party if their current bullet-list isn't resonating with pop culture. In this world the answer about no longer being on the same team is an easy one: just change teams.

There's some in-between wiggle room in the world-view thing these days too. There are dozens of hybrids with arrows and pointers to help us decide what to do when the team lines get a little blurred. There are biblical humanists, secular biblicists, evolutonary creationists, freedom of choice lifers, and fifty plus shades of action to re-align my personal commitments when they seem out of sync. It's a DIY world and we've become adept at navigating it.

My biblical worldview lines up my affiliations. So, let's deal with the obvious. First, church isn't a team. It's a body and the parts are placed where they are by God. So, if I'm out of kilter with my church, my first question must be "when did I move?". Then I must get back where I was, where He placed me. Second, marriage isn't a team either. It's a covenant. I don't just walk away. My spouse and I review the covenant, discover what makes it work, where the weak points are, and then renew it till we're both where we're supposed to be. I mean, get real. We're seriously lowering the bar if we reduce HIs church and marriage to the dynamics of team-work.

Every other affiliation in my life---friendships, politics, work, family life, social commitments, civic involvements, music, where I spend my money, the places I go---all reflect adherence to the biblical standard, my worldview. If my politics don't line up with Scripture, I am in political, and spiritual, error. And, right on down the line, into every sub-set of my personal life. If and when I discover that I'm out of sync with the strategic partnerships He has arranged in my life, then my first move is to discover if I've moved. If not, then my job is to engage that affiliation with all my might to move it to where it was when I signed on.

I'm blown away by 1 Corinthians 12:18. I may be too literal here, but there it is, my biblical world-view showing again. Paul wrote, "But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose" (1 Corinthians 12:18, ESV). Yes, he could have been writing about the physical body at creation, God's placement of each part exactly where it needed to be so that the body could function. Or, he could have been writing about me being a part of the spiritual body, and being planted in life at this time and this place to influence everything around me. I'll opt for the latter.

Christian. Don't just change teams every minute. Tough it out, endure, engage, and influence. God put you right there right now for a reason.

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  • sonnyholmes


Jospeh's resume is meager. When we think about him being the husband of Mary, the mother of Jesus, our default setting is that he was a just, that is, righteous man. Much has been supposed about what this actually means, the measure of righteousness in that day. Our Western eyes would see a man made of the right stuff and for that reason, performing his duties in an exemplary fashion. We might include his personal piety, how he handled the delicate maneuvers of an arranged marriage, his work ethic, where he figured in community life, participation in the synagogue, and any number of personal attributes. Doing the right thing by young, pregnant Mary was certainly a notable asset in Scripture. He determined to handle the whole thing quietly. News flash! He wasn't self-righteous. He had a heart!

So, God sent an angel to speak to him about the plan, God's plan. I've often wondered why God chose such an unlikely candidate to be our Lord's earthly model. Of course, even a moment looking back over the history of Israel would have made such a question out of order. God had always chosen the foolish things and people of the of the world to make His plan happen. But, there is a unique thread that links so many of them, the unheralded people He selected to be the agents of HIs program. Surely there's something about Joseph that made him the choice.

Lineage? Yes, of course, Joseph was in the line, though a distant branch in the family tree. It did appear that he owned or had access to a donkey, one of the prophetic requirements. And, there were other links to the Old Testament expectation of the Messiah. They all fit Joseph. Every one. But, there's something else. You see, Joseph did everything the angel asked of him. His personal righteousness was a heart issue. Joseph had an obedient heart.

We probably would too if an unmistakeable angel appeared to us, even in a dream, and gave us instructions about a complicated family matter. Matthew wrote it clearly, "When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus" (Matthew 1:24-25). This sweet, righteous man, obeyed.

It is a mark of those entrusted with His plans. They weren't names, fortunes, traditions, or pillars of the church. They were obedient. Noah (Gen.6:22), Abraham (Gen. 12:4), Moses (Ex. 40:10),

Aaron (Ex. 7:6), Joshua (Josh. 11:14), David (2 Sam. 5:25), Elijah (1 Kings 17:5), and dozens of others did what the Lord commanded them to do. He entrusted the workings of HIs plan to people He knew would obey Him in them.

So, Joseph's righteousness wasn't about himself, his positon in history, the fortune and fame of being the man selected as the earthly father of Jesus, but of simply obeying Him.

Don't you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey---whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? (Romans 6:16)

Let's hear it for Joseph! And, learn from him the precious rifghteousness of obedience!

#thetimes #mission #pastoralministry

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