Last night I heard the news the Rev. Dr. Tim Keller was entering hospice. I spent part of the evening thinking of how this pastor has affected my life.

Moments ago on social media I saw this post:

It has been an up and down medical journey for Dr. Keller since he shared his cancer diagnosis. Now he rests in the Savior’s arms.

Like his life, it appears his death was a way for him to share his faith and model a Christian life.

Recently, I was blessed by his book Jonah: The Prodigal Prophet as I preached through the book of Jonah. In seminary Center Church was required reading. It impacted how I view the church and gospel in regards to the way they affect the city. My wife and I have the Meaning of Marriage Couples Devotional. While commuting to seminary I listened to a whole class of lectures on the now defunct iTunes University called Preaching Christ in a Postmodern World where he taught about his preaching method.

His New York Times Article Am I a Christian, Pastor Timothy Keller? with skeptic Nicholas Kristof is one of my favorite articles. I even quoted it in an article about the Future of Methodism.

In line with his brilliant mind and clear writing was his attitude. I always appreciated how winsome he was for the lost in New York City (and the wider world) without compromising Christianity. He was not afraid to talk about the tensions in faith for thinking Christians. He would have open microphone question and answer session on Sunday nights at his church in New York City for whoever wanted to attend. I never heard him get angry or talk down to anyone.

Christ has blessed me greatly through Dr. Keller’s work. I look forward to continued mentoring from Dr. Keller from his published work.

Over the next few days I will continue to pray for the Family of Tim Keller.

I will also thank God because I am a better Pastor and Christian because of Tim Keller.

How good is your geography?

That is what one city was left asking themselves. In a very public way the city of Newark was humbled.

The city of Newark had signed a sister city agreement. I myself was asking what exactly is this a sister city agreement? Here is what I found about the history of the program on’s website:

Sister Cities International (SCI) is a national initiative begun by Dwight D. Eisenhower shortly after World War II, to develop economic, cultural and technical exchanges between US cities, counties, and states with corresponding communities worldwide. The goal of the Sister Cities program is to involve people and organized groups at all levels of society, establishing productive, people-to-people relationships through global community partnerships and volunteer action.

Today, the SCI represents 1,200 US cities, counties and states and their 2,100 partners in 125 countries worldwide. As international cooperation gains importance, city-to-city programs continue to play a significant role in overall global development and cultural understanding.

So a pretty cool program. I saw in Georgia there are around 35 sister city agreements. And while Glennville does not have a sister city agreement we do share a high school with Reidsville does not count as a foreign sister city.

The reason Newark made the news is the signed a sister city agreement here is a quote from the story: 

“Earlier this year, Mayor Ras Baraka invited what he thought was the Hindu nation of Kailasa to Newark’s City Hall for a cultural trade agreement, but it turns out Kailasa is no nation at all; it’s a fake.”

This was from a CBS News story titled: City of Newark falls for Sister City scam: “Whose job was it to do a simple Google search?”

Series Recap

We have been in this series during the season of lent. Each week we are studying an aspect of Jesus’ prayer life. So far we have seen

  • In Luke 10 Jesus prayer of praise about God revealing himself to the disciples
  • Matthew 6:5-15 we saw how if we pray in public for praise that will be our reward, but if we pray sincerely to God he will reward those prayers
  • We saw Luke 18:9-14 and the juxtaposition of the pharisee’s egotistical prayers compared to the humble prayer of a text collector and our call to pray humbly.
  • Biblical Scholar Brian Russell taught about finding God in the stillness as we reflected on Psalm 46 “be still and know that I am God” and we also heard about Jesus withdrawing to secluded places.
  • Last week bringing God glory where in John 12 Jesus, even though his heart was troubled about his death on the cross, said, “God, Glorify Your name.”

Context of Today’s Passage

Today we enter the last two Sundays of this series (with a youth-led service in between). Both of our final lessons are words Jesus said from the cross.

Jesus had seven phrases said from the cross. Let’s lean in as we hear Christ’s words today from Luke 23:44-47:

44 It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, 45 for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46 Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last. [Read together]

47 The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, “Surely this was a righteous man.”

Where are you committed, really?

Today, I have one simple question. Where are you committed, really?

We all have things we are committed to.

  • I am committed to the Glennville Methodist Church
  • To my wife Brandy
  • To Luke and Lydia

Some of us are committed to

  • Getting out of debt
  • Our family (children, grandchildren, parents, siblings) and helping them flourish as humans
  • Some of y’all have bravely committed to serving in the US military and we thank you for your service.

But the question before us is what are we committed to, really? It’s the “really” at the end of a question I want us to ponder. If there were a documentary crew with multiple cameras (even a drone for overhead and location setting shots) what would the audience think we are “really” committed to.

The Trouble with Us

You see, the truth is, if I can be honest, if we all can be honest, we can admit there are times we have been committed to the wrong things.

We have been more committed to

  • Building our wealth (our own little empire)
  • Our careers over our family
  • Our own social standing with our peers
  • Our doing for God before we spend time with God

The Roman Soldier

This passage today is beautiful for so many reasons. One of those reasons is what happens with the Roman soldier mentioned. This soldier has an amazing opportunity. He is working for this up and coming governor Pontius Pilate.

If this soldier can keep his head down and do his brutal tasks he might be able to climb the ladder in the Roman military… maybe he might even be a governor or a general in his hopes and dreams.

Yet, something happens on the cross. What he sees gives him pause. He might even realize what he has committed his life to is conflict with what he is seeing and the God he is praising.

Jesus Changes Him

Jesus changes him with his dramatic prayer from the cross. When Jesus cries out, in possibly the hardest moment of the crucifixion, “Into your hands I commit my spirit”.

Jesus shows the greatest place we commit to, in the hardest moments of our lives, is God.

Jesus actually is quoting Psalm 31 which is this beautiful Psalm we can all pray in tough times.

1 In you, Lord, I have taken refuge;

    let me never be put to shame;

    deliver me in your righteousness.

2 Turn your ear to me,

    come quickly to my rescue;

be my rock of refuge,

    a strong fortress to save me.

3 Since you are my rock and my fortress,

    for the sake of your name lead and guide me.

4 Keep me free from the trap that is set for me,

    for you are my refuge.

5 Into your hands I commit my spirit;

    deliver me, Lord, my faithful God.

The Torn Veil

Finally, this passage describes how the temple veil was torn. The veil was what separated the Jewish people from God. Symbolically this is showing how nothing can separate us from God.

You have access to God. You have the ability to commit, to put your life in God’s hands today.


Friends, don’t be like the Newark city government and realize that you have been tricked and committed to the wrong things. Let’s ponder what we are committed to, really? 

Let’s put our entire life into Christ’s good and loving hands, let’s listen to the Spirit’s leading, and commit to serving, loving, and enjoying God our Father. Amen.