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His Way

From Tragedy To Triumph

Brian Denney

On Thursday, April 19, 2012 I was sitting in a large sanctuary of a church in Charlestown, Indiana with a few of my brothers who are waging a war against addiction.  We were there to mourn the loss of one of our fallen comrades, who had tragically and suddenly lost his battle the previous Sunday morning.

In January, Brian Denney had come from Indiana to The Way in Huntsville with hopes of finally beating his demon of drugs.  He brought a brand new Bible for the battle and kept a daily journal describing his internal struggles and the victories he was experiencing by God’s grace.  Brian was a very likeable, talented, outgoing and energetic young man.  He quickly became everyone’s friend in his newly adopted home.  And while Brian made great progress, he also slipped along the way.  Eventually those slips led to his early departure from The Way.  But remaining in Huntsville and staying with a dear family friend, his battle continued.

Easter weekend, his father came to pick him up to take him back for a weekend visit at home.  They had the best weekend of Brian’s adult life.  His parents loved the rediscovery of their long lost son.  Brian and his father enjoyed their long talks in the car as they covered over 630 miles on the interstate.  It was truly a time of reconciliation from a very long season of conflict.  Malachi envisions the impact of the coming Messiah as a time that, “He will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers.” (4:6) Truly the Denney’s were experiencing this promise!

But tragically one week later, Brian would be found dead in their family friend’s bathroom in Huntsville.

As I watched the cycle of pictures pass by on the screen in the front of the sanctuary, I sat in my lonely pew personally absorbed with thoughts of Brian, his history and what might have been, what could have been, maybe even thinking what should have been.  But as the service began and Brian’s cousin, his father, and his pastor began sharing from Brian’s Bible and journal, I began to be filled with joy.  The hidden story of Brian Denney in his journals and private thoughts revealed a man coming to faith and learning to trust in Jesus.  The message of the funeral was based on Brian’s highlighted Bible verse, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:36)  And a congregation of friends and relatives began not to grieve the tragedy of a 31 year old son, but the triumph of a faith in Jesus that took root and bore fruit.  As his father said, “God took Brian home at just the right time.”

My sadness turned to overwhelming joy to see that the vision of The Way, to sow the seeds of recovery (the seed of the gospel) into everyman’s life, had born fruit.  And that not only was Brian’s life eternally changed at The Way, but an entire community over 300 miles away was celebrating today because of God’s work through The Way.

As the life of Jesus is a story from tragedy to triumph, so are the lives of all who choose to follow Him.

A fund has begun at The Way in Brian Denney’s memory to help Brian’s victory become the victory for many more.  We invite you to join in fighting the good fight and helping others discover triumph out of their tragedy.

Tom Reynolds

A Righteous Man

Joseph was a righteous man.  That is what Matthew 1:19 says about the earthly father of Jesus.  But what is righteousness and what do righteous men do?  Oh, I know all the definitions of righteousness, but what does righteousness look like, how do righteous people act?

Joseph, engaged to a young teenage girl in Nazareth, was probably busily building their future home imagining the day when he would wed her and take her to their new home as his wife; when she broke the news to him.  She was pregnant.  The news shocked him.  All of his thoughts of a future, a family, a life dashed upon the rocks of this news.  Her explanation was outlandish, she claimed she was pregnant by God’s Holy Spirit and the child she would bear would be the Son of God!  This may not be the first time a young girl in Nazareth has come up pregnant, but it is the first for such a contrived story as this.

The consequences for such blatant sin would be stoning to death and Joseph would lead this execution of God’s justice.  But Joseph is a righteous man.  He not only contains within him a deep sense of reverence for God and His law, but also a compassionate heart for mercy.  So the scriptures state that Joseph intended to divorce Mary quietly in order to avoid the wrath of execution because he loved her and deeply desired to show her compassion.

This is where righteous people live…between an abiding respect for God’s justice and a heart filled with   God’s love and compassion.  Righteousness is living within these two poles, in the tension of justice and mercy.  Righteous people desperately crave God’s wisdom and discernment while remembering as James says in 2:13, “Mercy triumphs over judgment!”

So Joseph shows us the path of righteousness and in the end enjoys the privilege of providing for and raising God’s one and only son.  What a privilege God gives His righteous ones!

Tom Reynolds