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Reflecting God’s Glory

with Ed Underwood | June 12, 2009
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Where is God when it hurts? Pastor Ed Underwood shares what he’s learned about God and life as he’s walked through the valley of the shadow of death battling chronic leukemia.

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  • Where is God when it hurts? Pastor Ed Underwood shares what he’s learned about God and life as he’s walked through the valley of the shadow of death battling chronic leukemia.

Where is God when it hurts?

Reflecting God’s Glory

With Ed Underwood
June 12, 2009
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Bob:  He stinketh.

Ed Underwood:  The old King James.  By now he’s ripe.  But if you do research on that you’ll find that she’s saying he’s a four day man.  The way the Jews did it back then you had to get them in the grave because after four days the face decomposes and you can’t recognize them anymore.  So she’s been frantic to get Lazarus in the grave.  He’s finally in the grave at least I got that done and Jesus says remove the stone.  And she looked at him and she said you can’t do that behold he’s a four day man.  I don’t want to look at his face.  Jesus looks at her and he says have I not told you that if you would believe you will see the glory of God.  She had to believe that the son of God was saying remove this stone and that’s going to be a good thing.  And that went against all of her control and all of her Marthaness. 

Bob:  And you’ve been in the situation in your own circumstance where you’ve had to believe that a rash over 100 percent of your body is a good thing.

Ed Underwood:  Over and over again.  I can take you back to this morning just before I came in.  I looked at myself in the mirror I got these new rashes.  It brought me right back to this verse.  I had to say Lord I believe that I am as alive today as anybody who is alive and you’ve got something for me to do today.  That’s my belief.  

Dennis:  I want you to unpack the concept of the glory of God because I think those of us who have been in the Christian community for a number of years throw this term around.

Ed Underwood:  Oh, we do yes.


Dennis:  It’s almost slang to us.  I don’t want to minimize the glory of God.  But unpack it for a third grader who’s listening right now.

Ed Underwood:   Okay, for a third grader it’s easy.  I had to believe that God wanted me to go out in public. And I was hideous.  I look like Jabba the Hutt if you've ever seen the Star Wars.  I had to wear skater clothes.

Bob:  You mean just covering every part of your body.

Ed Underwood:  I had to cover every part of my body.  I couldn’t stand the sun being on my skin.  Besides that I had to cover by body or people wouldn’t be around me.  It looked so bad because it’s falling off and all that.  I had to believe that God wanted me to serve him that day and when I would go through that day I would see the glory of God manifested in all the ways that God did that he never would have been able to do I believe if I wouldn't have trusted him enough to move forward with my life.

So I would just see him do things.  Then even in my own life.  One of the things people always told me is pretty typical Dallas Seminary. I love your preaching.  I love how good you are in the text but you’re kind of not warm.


Dennis:  That’s never been said about a Dallas Seminary guy. (laughter)  That’s never been said.

Ed Underwood:  I think Mark Bailey just tuned out. 


Bob:  In fact that endorsement check he was going to send you it’s been cancelled.

Ed Underwood:  But after that in fact Judy my wife will listen to the tapes that I did before I got sick and she would say I can tell right away that before you sick and I listen to them and I’d go Good Night I was clueless when it came to the warmth.  Now I speak at a conference and people come up to me and say I’ve just never had anybody who moved my heart.  You seemed so warm to me.  And I’m a hugger.  I’m speaking truth into people’s lives and praying with them out in front of church.  Things I never did before.  That’s the glory of God.

Dennis:  So what I hear you saying is when we get real…

Ed Underwood:  Exactly.

Dennis:  And share of God's work in our soul…

Ed Underwood:  Right.

Dennis:  The good the bad and the ugly and when you’re authentic…

Ed Underwood:  Right.

Dennis:  You are declaring the glory of God.  So when a third-grader…

Ed Underwood:  Exactly.

Dennis:  Who is listening right now is who may be going to school or coming back from school it's a matter of representing God.

Ed Underwood:  Right.

Dennis:  To his peers, to his family, to his neighbors.  It’s being a reflector of who God is. 

Bob:  And part of what we talked about this week is we sometimes have the idea that we have to get God dressed up.  If we’re going to reflect God we going to put the best clothes on him so he looks best out in the culture. What I hear you saying is when we show our own mess God gets glory because instead of trying to get him dressed and making him look perfect we see him at work taking messes and redeeming them.

Ed Underwood:  Yes.  Let’s talk about the third grader.  The third grader who doesn’t come from a nuclear family who mommy and daddy are in a horrible flight or daddy just left.  That third-grader can go to school knowing Jesus Christ loves him or her and Jesus is at school with him today same day he was yesterday before daddy left.  That’s pretty glorious.

Dennis:  And he is near the broken hearted.

Ed Underwood:  That’s pretty glorious. That’s the kind of Jesus that my Bible lifts up.

Dennis:  There’s at least one third-grader listening to the broadcast right now.  You know what I want you to listen to these words because you don’t have to be ashamed.  You can delight even as a young person in what God is doing in your life and mommy and daddy's life.

Ed Underwood:  Right.

Dennis:  Just because you’re faithful and obedient. If you’re one of those third graders who is listening I want you to write me.  Write me and tell me how God used this to help give you purpose.

Ed Underwood:  Just remember Jesus loves you.  Daddy left.  Jesus says hey I’ll sit with you.

Bob:  Ed we were talking before we came on the air today about the church where your pastor.

Ed Underwood:  Church of the Open Door

Bob:  It’s an historic Los Angeles church.

Ed Underwood:  It’s a great church, yes.


Bob:  Goes all the way back to R.A. Torrey.  He was the founding pastor.

Ed Underwood:  1915


Bob:  At one point Dr. J. Vernon McGee was the pastor.

Ed Underwood:  The Bible bus stopped there for many years.

Dennis:  Don’t get him started, Bob, he’ll do an impersonation right here.

Bob:  Thousands of people came twice a week to hear Dr. McGee.

Ed Underwood:  Exactly.


Bob:  And then there was a season where the church was in decline.  You actually moved from downtown out into the suburbs, right?

Ed Underwood:  Right in Glen Dora east of Pasadena. 


Bob:  When you came as the pastor of the Church of the Open Door about how many people were coming on Sunday mornings.

Ed Underwood:  Oh, 100 and some.  It was on life support.


Bob:  And over time through your ministry and through what God was doing through you the church began to grow and flourish, right?

Ed Underwood:  We began to get healthy and grow a little.  Really great leaders.  A lot of couples that put it all on the line with Judy and me, yes.

Bob:  And then in the midst of that you got sick.

Ed Underwood:   Yes, it felt like right when we were turning the corner was when I got sick.

Bob:  What was the impact of your illness on the church and where it was headed?  I mean now they have to do pulpit fill and they are thinking do we need a different senior pastor?  Is our guy going to live?  I mean all of that’s going on.  How did you lymphoma how has it affected your church?

Ed Underwood:  Well, that’s part of the glory of God.  I can tell you about the first day I got back but I can also say that I came back.  Not only did I come back after that year I believe a better pastor because of the compassion factor but I came back to different church.  There is a unity at Church of the Open Door like I have never bought never felt it before. And I believe that the tipping point was my lymphoma. 

When I almost died…you know the way a church is when its bickering…it’s people on the edges that are causing all the bickering and I think that is what caused people both sides to look at the bickerers and say you know we’re tired of this.  He’s our pastor and we’re moving forward.

I really do believe that God’s and I can say it God’s gift of cancer was not only to me but was to Church of the Open Door.   And that it is a healthy church a unified church and that was part of the glory.  That was what God did through my lymphoma. 

He had that plan and of course I didn't know it when the specific thing he was asking me to believe was to go to church looking like Jabba the Hutt but that's what he had in mind.

Bob:  When you say God's gift of cancer you're not just saying out of I know is the Sunday school answer and I’m supposed to give it. 

Ed Underwood:  No.

Bob:  You’re saying that you really genuinely see this as a gift from God.

Ed Underwood:  I see it as an expression of his mercy.  I see it as an expression of his mercy and his love.  I think that God loves Ed Underwood so much that he wanted to release my giftedness and he knew that the only way that he could take some of the rough edges off my heart was to give me this. 

So as much as I hate it as much as I hate what it cost me in time and money.  As much as I hate having to put up with all this skin stuff I love the fact that God loves me enough to make me better than I could ever be without him.

Bob:  When you were itching over your whole body what you thought was God can't love me

Ed Underwood:  Exactly.

Bob:   And cause me to go through this.  A father would not do this to his son.

Ed Underwood:  A father would not do this to his child.

Bob:  But now you’re saying he loves me so much he puts me through that.

Ed Underwood:  Yes.  It’s because I’m not as good and as wise and as powerful of a father even as a grandfather and that’s kind of hard to get as my heavenly father is.  So I'm not smart enough to orchestrate events to allow suffering in my children's life but my father is.

Dennis:  You believe that with all your heart and yet on that first Sunday you went back to preach your first sermon.

Ed Underwood:  Oh, what a day.

Dennis:  You protested having to go back and stand in the pulpit.

Ed Underwood:  Oh, did I protest.  I got up that morning and I realized how vain I am.  I’ve always been kind of…well I’ll just say it…I don’t look like most preachers.  I’m in shape. 


Ed Underwood:  How vain I was.  I’ve always been a fitness buff.  And I could not wear anything else.  I told Judy I said I look like some hideous monster who lost his skate board.  I couldn’t even do the buttons.  I was crying.  I told Judy call Richard Dix who is the chairman and tell him I can’t go.  I won’t be able to keep up.  I don’t even know what to say.  It was just so emotional and I had not been back.

Dennis:  How long had you been out of the pulpit?

Ed Underwood:  It was months.  I think it had been four or five months.  So here I am and I can tell they are all looking at me.  I knew I was horrible to look at.  So I walked up there in my skater clothes and I was quoting, if you believe you will see the glory.  If you believe you will see the glory.  I was claiming that promise.  I had a very weak voice and I stood up front of everyone and I said and you have to realize this is Church of the Open Door.  Back then we were not demonstrative.  There was never any standing up and yelling or anything like that. 

Dennis:  The frozen chosen.

Ed Underwood:  We were very very like that.   I don’t know how else to say it.  So I stood up in front of the church and I’m crying and I said for those of you who are guests today my name is Ed Underwood and I’m still the pastor at Church of the Open Door.  I was expecting to start preaching.  But the whole crowd stood up.  Very subdued lifelong Christians cheering.  Newer Christians praise the Lord hallelujah.  And I remember looking at them thinking Wow…this is glorious.  Now I don’t know if I would have been willing to back my life up and go through it again but that was the glory that he showed me right then.  I think to this day it was the greatest Sunday of my life.  I can’t even remember what I preached. 

Dennis:  Don’t remember what you said?

Ed Underwood:  Don’t remember what I said.  I just remember God being there like he had never been there before.

Dennis:  And isn't that just like God.

Bob:  Well, I’m just thinking it’s got the be the first time in the history of the Church of the Open Door that a preacher got up in skater clothes.


Ed Underwood:  Oh, yes it was. 

Dennis:  J. Vernon McGee might have taken issue with that.  (laughter)

Ed Underwood:  Well, you know he did wear those Hawaiian shirts.

Bob:  There you go.

Dennis:  Ed, you have been a great sport and you have profoundly ministered to many here.  I just want to reread the verse Jesus said to Martha did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God.

 Ed Underwood:  That’s my sentence. 

Dennis:  I think the question for the listener is what are you facing right now?   What's the issue? What’s the challenge?  What's the circumstance?  Is it a lost job?  A relative you can’t get along with?  Is it a marriage that’s failing?  Is a troublesome child or a troublesome parent?  What’s challenging your faith to the point of believing that the glory of God can be reflected through you in this circumstance?  That's the question for every listener.

Ed Underwood:  Exactly. And our responsibility is to believe.  He takes care of the glory part.  We don’t have to tell him what he should do.  We just have to believe that Jesus is enough for you today, that’s it.

Dennis:  Yes.  And we don’t have to worry as you said earlier about protecting God’s reputation. 

Ed Underwood:  Oh, no.

Dennis:  He’s going to show up and when he shows up he’ll show off.

Ed Underwood:  Right.

Bob:  That’s what happened to you and that’s the story you tell in the book that you’ve written called When God Breaks Your Heart.  How God showed up and showed off in your life even in the midst of some horrific suffering you saw God at work in some profound and powerful ways.  And I want to encourage our listeners to go to our web site  There's information about Ed's book on our website it's called When God Breaks Your Heart. You can order it online or you can call 1 800 FLTODAY and order it over the phone.

Let me also mention that we’ve just received in the new book from your wife Barbara written together with your daughter Rebecca that tells the story of the birth the life and the death of your granddaughter Molly which happened a year ago at this time.

 In fact next week or listeners are going to have an opportunity to hear her Molly's story but the book is now available.  It’s called The Symphony in the Dark and there's information available on our web site about the book as well you can order from most online or you can call 1 800 “F”as in family “L” as in life and then the word TODAY.  That’s 1 800 358-6329 and when you call we’ll make arrangements to have the resources you requested sent out to you.

You know as we listened today to Ed’s story I thought about Psalm 34 where the Psalmist writes glorify the Lord with me let us exalt his name together.  I sought the Lord and he answered me he delivered me from all my fears and that's really the testimony that Ed has shared with us this week.  I was thinking back to a message that Dennis gave for our staff on Psalm 34  several months ago a message called Trials and Tribulations Finding Encouragement Hope and Help in Psalm 34. 

We have that message on CD and we'd like to send it to you this month as a way of saying thank you for your support of this ministry.  If you are able to make a donation of any amount let me ask to go to our web site or call toll-free 1 800 FLTODAY and when you make your donation asked for a copy of this CD. 

And in fact if you feel like this is a CD that you need and you're not able to make a donation that’ all right just call 1 800 FLTODAY and say I would like a copy of that CD where Dennis talks about trials and tribulations and I just can’t make a donation right now.  We’ll send it out to you.

If you’re making a donation online at when you come to the keycode box in the donation form just type in the word trails.  Or if you’re donating by phone 1-800-FLTODAY after you make a donation asked for a copy of the CD Dennis’ message on trials and tribulations this would be something that you might want to listen to and then pass along to someone you know who is in a difficult circumstance.  Maybe it's a son or a daughter maybe it's a friend.  Someone you know who is going through a valley this be a great CD to put in their hands.

And let me just say thank you so much for your financial support of this ministry.  We appreciate your partnership with us and we hope this CD is an encouragement to you.  And we hope you have a great weekend.  Hope you and your family are able to worship together this weekend and I hope you can join us back on Monday.  When we’re going to commemorate the life and the impact of mighty Molly Mutz who was born a year ago and who lived seven days.  You’ll hear her story on FamilyLife Today and I hope you can be back with us for that.

I want to thank our engineer today Keith Lynch and our entire broadcast production team on behalf of our host Dennis Rainey I’m Bob Lepine.  We will see you Monday for another edition of FamilyLife Today.

FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock Arkansas

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Episodes in this Series

Death And Dying Day 2
Understanding the Story of Lazarus
with Ed Underwood June 11, 2009
Are the brokenhearted near the Lord?
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Death And Dying Day 1
Trusting in the Truths of God
with Ed Underwood June 10, 2009
Where is God when we suffer?
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