Dear Northland Family,

I wanted to update you on our family’s situation. Late Christmas Day, Joannie’s sister Celeste and her husband were headed down to Florida to be with family when a drunk driver struck their car. Joannie’s sister was killed instantly; her husband, Ryan, was badly injured and is still in the hospital, but is expected to be released in the next couple of days.

Joannie, the kids, and I left yesterday to come be with her family. We will be here for the next couple of days spending time with family and friends. I constantly am remembering the message I preached a few weeks ago about a wonderful life with Jesus. While words cannot describe the emotional roller coaster of our family, we know at the end of the day that: God is still good, he is sovereign, his grace is sufficient, we live in a fallen world, and we have an unshakeable hope.

I have also thought of the scene in John (John 11:35) where Jesus is found weeping at the death of Lazarus. I could only image that as the divine man—our Savior and great Lord—wept, the tears that fell were tears of both grief and hope. There were tears of grief at the sight of death and the pain and hurt that death causes; but, at the same time, there were tears of hope at the prospect of resurrection, namely Lazarus’ that was soon to take place. That is exactly what is being shed at this time in the Madonna and Laxton family. We grieve the loss of Celeste, who was a young woman (27) who was full of energy, vibrancy, and life. However, at the same time we rejoice with tears of hope and joy as we celebrate her life that was one marked by the gospel and a sincere love for the Lord and the mission of God, and one we will see once again.   

Please know that we can sense your prayers that you are offering up to the Lord, and have sensed a great amount of love pouring forth through the phone calls, emails, texts, and facebook posts. The power of prayer, the power of a faith family, and the power of our great God are forces and strengths like no other. Joannie and I are very blessed to have such a wonderful and loving church family as Northland. The celebration service for Joannie’s sister will not be until January 11th. Again, know that we sense your love and the many prayers that are being lifted up!

With great love,

Pastor Josh