An occasion for boasting

I love boasting... not so much about myself as about other people -- people who are "getting it right." These are people who have their priorities in good places and who follow through on their commitment to the right things. Today I want to boast about our new church.

First I want to issue a caveat about boasting. The apostle Paul talked occasionally about boasting. He wanted people to remember that we are saved by grace, and that we can't boast about our own good deeds, as if they are saving us (Rom 3:27). He had plenty to boast about in his own pedigree, but he chose not to (Phil 3). However, he enjoyed boasting about what God is doing in the world. One of Paul's favorite verses is Jer 9:24, "Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord." Paul quotes this verse twice in his letters -- in 1 Cor 1:31 and 2 Cor 10:17. He talked a lot about boasting to the Corinthians, because they liked to boast about themselves. Bad idea. God was doing things among them, and they were boasting like it was all coming from their own greatness. Paul was trying to tell them that boasting is okay if it is confined to what God is doing. It's basically saying, "God is awesome! Let me tell you about what he has done..."

So I want to say today: God is awesome! Let me tell you that he has created a deeply caring community in Sanctuary Church. One of our guys, named Todd, has leukemia and has recently undergone his second bone marrow transplant. He has been in the hospital for about a month, and many people have rallied around him, his wife Jen, and their young daughter Darby. (You can read Todd & Jen's story at The Sanctuary community has history rallying around Todd and Jen. This is the second bone marrow transplant he has undergone; the first one didn't take. I don't know much about the process of receiving a bone marrow transplant, but I am learning. I found out that after a person receives the transplant, his white blood cell count is incredibly low. He doesn't have much of an immune system for a while. So when Todd comes home from the hospital this week, Jen must create an environment that is as free of germs and dust as possible. It's complicated and difficult to transform a normal house into a germ-and-dust-free environment. Yesterday I got to participate in that transformation at Todd and Jen's house, and that is what I want to boast about.

I got there late in the afternoon, and work had already been going on for several hours. I walked into the back yard to join the other guys in outdoor activities -- mowing the yard, pulling weeds, moving plants around, sweeping, and cleaning the exterior of the house. This included sterilizing exterior doors and surfaces that Todd might touch.

As I worked, I was struck by how many people were there. I joined a half dozen guys outside, and I kept seeing people walking around who were working inside the house. I remember thinking, "Oh, you're here too?" And then a couple minutes later, "And you too?" When we finally sat down to take a break and eat some food, there were at least 15 people. And that was after some of them had left. This isn't a large church, but the cleaning crew was numerous. At times I had trouble finding a job to do, because so many people were bustling around.

On the inside of the house, I got involved mopping rooms and a few other things. I was amazed at the extent of the operation! Everything in the house was being dusted, vacuumed, wiped down, and sterilized. That's when I realized that we weren't just cleaning someone's house. We were creating a healing environment for a very sensitive immune system.

I worked happily for a few hours, enjoying the camaraderie, but my thoughts kept coming back to the enormity of the task and the cheerful care with which everyone was undertaking it. At the end of the night, I remarked to one of the workers how amazed I was and how proud I am of our church community. She replied matter-of-factly, "Well, we love them." Simple. We love them. What else would we do?

As one new to Sanctuary, I am boasting, but in particular I am saying that the work people did and the way they did it are rare. It only happens when God is doing miracles in a community. That kind of love comes from the One who is love. It's not natural. Well, in a way it is. It becomes natural when God pours his love into our hearts (Rom 5:5). When that happens -- and when we drink deeply of the love he pours outr (that's our choice) -- of course we love. What else would we do?


  1. Thanks for the great recap of the night. It was a pleasure to help our dear friends out.

  2. I should read this post every morning because it makes my heart happy. Thanks for sharing, Pastor Dave! I'm so glad you guys are in such a loving community up there. God is awesome. Look what He's done!


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