Tag: Death

Today I May See God

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“Better to spend your time at funerals than at parties. After all, everyone dies – so the living should take this to heart.” (Ecclesiastes 7:2 NLT)

Old Solomon had some interesting sayings, especially in the book of Ecclesiastes. 

What could Solomon be getting at: “Better to spend your time at funerals than at parties”

Really? Don’t you just know that would make for a real, exciting life! 

No?

But maybe there is something to it. 

Probably.

Whenever I attend a funeral, I always think about eternity. You know, life beyond the grave. I realize not everyone thinks like me; some believe once your body dies, that’s it. Nothing else. 

Others believe that when the body dies, the spirit and soul of the person travels at the speed of light, and arrives at some sort of holding pen, awaiting the final word, or “thumbs up/down”, from an angel of God. The final destination isn’t known until the very end. 

Of course, I have my beliefs about eternity, which I believe are in agreement with the scriptures. 

My beliefs in a nutshell? Man’s eternity is determined by their understanding of, and relationship with, God’s Son, Jesus. 

Simply put: “he who has the Son has life, he who doesn’t has the wrath of God abiding on them” (John 3:36).

We’ll see who’s right. 

I think that’s what Solomon was attempting to get across to his readers. 

Think about eternity, people. 

Don’t live your life as if there’s nothing more than just a pile of dirt awaiting you when you die. What you believe and do determines what happens when you finally “give up the ghost”.

Yep, I think old Solomon had this thought bouncing around in his brain when he wrote his notes: 

“Today I may see God.”

And, you know, that could be true for you and I.

 

Concerning Guns and Death

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News flash! There are more guns than cars in the United States. What do you think of that?

Gun related deaths averaged about 30 per day in 2013, which equals 10,950 people. With about 300 million guns in the country, that equals about one death for every 27,400 guns.

Of course, one is too many.

Automobile related deaths averaged around 96 per day in 2013, for a total of 35,200 deaths. Since there are approximately 253 million autos in the country, the death rate equals one death for every 7188 automobiles.

Again, one is too many.

Do guns kill people? Yes and no.

Do automobiles kill people? Yes and no.

Percentage of guns to gun related deaths – 0.00365%

Percentage of automobiles to auto related deaths – 0.01391%

Yes, it is true, more automobiles are involved in fatalities than guns. Gun owners, does that information give you a reason to high five one another?

Isn’t one death too many?

A lot of my friends are gun owners. I’m not a gun owner, though at one time I owned an old 12 gauge shotgun. I’m not anti-guns.

Nor am I anti-autos.

I am anti-death.

People say guns don’t kill people. People kill people. But what do they use, at least 115 a day last year?

Guns.

I can hear you now. “You just said autos kill more people than guns!”

True. But try and picture someone walking along with a car stuck in their pants, until they reach the person they’re “car-ing for”. As they approach the person they’ve planned to kill, they reach into their pants, pull out the car, and smash into them. The victim didn’t see it coming.

Was that hard to picture? Yes? Why? Because it’s hard to conceal a car. And, unfortunately, accidents happen.

However, it’s much easier to imagine the scenario with that same someone walking with a pistol in their pocket. And, though some accidental shootings have occurred, most shootings happen on purpose. Most gun related deaths were cold-blooded murder.

I have a problem with cold-blooded murder, whether someone uses a gun, a car, or their breath.

I get the second amendment thing. I’m all for defending our rights.

But back in the day when our forefathers penned our “rights” this was a different country. Things happened a lot slower, life was less stressful, and people were more God-fearing. Schools didn’t need armed policemen or metal detectors. Hate crimes? Nonexistent. Was life or the people perfect? No. But people were trained in social graces; mainly, how to get along with others.

Homes didn’t have the luxury of cable or dish TV, broadcasting nonstop violence and depravity. Video games? Not even.

Back then “mature” didn’t refer to age only, but the full development of a person. Mature audiences weren’t simply people who were old enough to listen to smut filled “jokes”. They were people who had developed more than their sexual organs. They could live in society, even through hard times, and cope without expecting a handout from the government.

People could handle being told “no”.

I know some of my friends won’t agree with my take on gun laws, gun control, etc. Sorry.

Life isn’t about you, or me, for that matter. Life is about…

Life. Remember, one death is too many.

I’m not sure what the answer is. But I’m a bit concerned that people want us to go back to the days of the old Dodge City, Kansas, and Marshall Matt Dillon. Guns, guns, and more guns.

Sorry, I just don’t believe THIS society can handle the responsibility or the pressure.

Tell me what you think. Do you have any good ideas?

Why Do People Choose Darkness?

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…the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light…

Darkness versus Light. The battle of the ages.

But how could there possibly be any real battle, when light is immeasurably more powerful than darkness? The smallest flicker of light has darkness trembling with fear.

Both darkness and light are tenacious and competitive.

And eternal.

If one can understand darkness…

Darkness uses its mysterious ways to lure and entrap. It boasts of hidden treasures, obscure facts, and shrouded meaning. It advertises the unknown and entices the inquisitive; the curious to venture past the warning and danger signs, beyond the rope separating the shallow end of the pool with the deep. It bids each of us to its eternal lair.

Darkness calls to the skeptical, the doubtful, and the unsettled one, “Come, ask, seek, knock, explore.” But darkness never reveals, never fulfills, never completes the enigma. It’s like a giant puzzle without a solution. Like a maze in which, when entered, one is lost forever.

Darkness dwellers who have adjusted to the world of shadows tell of all the wondrous things to behold. In the darkness. In the fog. Things which can’t be seen for what they truly are.

People become accustomed to darkness.

In the land of darkness there are no rules about coloring within the lines, no boundaries or fences with “No Trespassing” signs posted, and no defined right or wrong. Darkness keeps the shades drawn and the curtains closed over the windows of one’s soul.

It promises happiness, but cannot deliver contentment. Intimacy is touted as a product of darkness, yet intimacy without light is impossible.

Darkness is the land of groping, of stumbling, of half-truths and fuzzy images. It is the place of the hope-so’s, the want-to’s, and all the misconstrued ideas about light.

But if one can really understand light…

Light never entices, it simply reveals.

God is light. In his light we see, we know, we experience true intimacy. With God, with one another, and even with ourselves. We can know as we are known.

Light came into the realm of darkness and conquered it using only three things.

Wood, nails, and truth.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:1-5 ESV)

“Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12 ESV)

“…God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” (1 John 1:5 ESV)

With only a decision one can step from darkness to light.

But darkness still promises a world of pleasures and treasures, though light reveals what darkness really is, what it truly contains.

Darkness is the absence of light. The absence of truth, revelation, and real intimacy. It is the place of broken promises; temptation without fulfillment.

A story to be read, without any words.

No meaning, no future, no life. No God.

So why do so many people choose darkness? Is it because they can’t see, can’t hear, can’t know?

Which have you chosen?

If I Was To Die Tomorrow

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I’m not intending to sound morbid or morose, but I’d like to talk a little about mortality.

Specifically, my mortality. And yours.

No, I’m not sick. I’m not sick of living, either. I have a great life, a wonderful wife, and I’m blessed beyond what I deserve. I love our son and his wife, as well as the rest of my family.

God has redeemed my life from destruction, even though I was hell bent on destroying it as a teenager. He has crowned me with his loving kindness and tender mercies, though I haven’t always responded appropriately.

Sure, there have been tough things to deal with. But that’s life, isn’t it?

All in all, I am one blessed dude.

So why the thoughts about mortality? Because someday my body is going to shut down, expire. I won’t, but my body will.

So what would I do if I knew tomorrow was my last day on earth?

What would you do?

I know of people who preplan, and prepay, for their funeral. They plan the music, the preacher, the pall bearers; the works. But yet they get offended if someone asks them where they plan to spend eternity. I just hope you’re not that way.

So, if you knew tomorrow would be your last day on earth would you wonder, even for just a bit, about the places called Heaven and Hell?

If I found out tomorrow I’d be leaving this life, I believe I’d be the most kind, considerate, and loving person I could be. Not to earn my way into Heaven, or to try and escape Hell. No. I just want to be remembered as someone who loves people. After all, if I don’t love people who I CAN see, how can I love God who I CAN’T see?

I would try and listen more to others. Sure, I need to listen closely to the Holy Spirit, but would you like to know something? The Holy Spirit sometimes speaks through people I don’t really care for. But I’d better get used to it, for I feel Heaven just may have a few people there I wouldn’t have approved of.

It would be wise if I made the most of my time. Sure, I’ve heard time means nothing in Heaven. But I’m not convinced. After all, one of the marks of a mature believer is time management. Oh, you’re not sure? Well, we’re told to be wise, understanding what the will of the Lord is. We’re told to be circumspect, not throwing ourselves at every fad and fancy. Paul said for us to redeem the time, or make the most of it, because our days are full of evil. Jesus said to make sure our heart isn’t overcome with cares, drunkenness, partying, or greed; which means I must pay attention to how I’m using my time. Time management has much to do with how my time is spent. Spent for temporal pursuits entirely? What about the life hereafter? Maybe time isn’t a big deal on the “other side”, but maybe we just can’t understand it. After all, eternity, even in the next life, is a long, long, long time.

If I was just about to run out of opportunities to help prepare others for their inevitable journey, I’d write, preach, visit, dialogue, sing, yell, pester, and get in people’s space just so I could be sure they heard something good, and ultimately life changing! I’d probably be labeled a nut, and a bible-thumping goofball; whatever. People just may thank me, someday. At least they won’t have to curse me.

Tomorrow I may die. Maybe even tonight. I don’t know.

And neither do you.

But what if YOU knew tomorrow was your last day on earth? Would you be ready?

I’ve already confessed Jesus as my Lord, and I believe in my heart God raised Jesus from the dead; so according to the most reliable Authority, I’m prepared.

Are you? Have you? Will you?

It will allow you the extra time to maybe mend a few fences before you say goodbye.

Now since I don’t know for sure just when I’m to leave, I believe it would be good for me to not wait until I know it’s time. So I’ll love like I’m supposed to, I’ll listen to others as if they really are as important to me as I tell them they are. And, I’ll use my allotted time to invest in things that really matter.

Things like people. People like you.

So, what would you do? What have you done?

What are you doing now?

What if tomorrow was YOUR day to say goodbye?

Rest In Peace?

RIP

“Rest in peace”, the preacher said, as he closed his bible. What did he mean?

 “R.I.P.” the plastic Halloween tombstone reads. What does it mean?

 “Rest in peace”, says the atheist, agnostic, and the person who doesn’t know what they are.

What are they really saying?

Does the person who adamantly opposes even the very thought of a Heaven or Hell realize what they’re saying when they whisper, “Rest in peace”?

 Is the high school principle praying in the teacher’s lounge when she says to a teacher, “may so and so rest in peace“?

 What do you think?

 Is the grave a place to rest? Is the grave the final resting place? Is there more to look forward to after the final shovel full of dirt is dropped on your cold, stiff body? Or, is there something to fear?

 Is there really such a thing as “resting in peace”?

 No. Unless “R.I.P.” refers only to a gravesite left undisturbed, forever and ever.

 It is possible for a lifeless body to “rest in peace”. That, however, is not the case with the other parts of a person.

 Since mankind is a three-part being, spirit, soul, and body, “rest in peace” can only refer to the lifeless body. Man is a spirit being, he has a soul (the deepest feelings, thoughts, desires, emotions, etc.), and he lives in a body. The body is temporal, the spirit, eternal. Once the body quits, the spirit and soul do not rest; they actually become more active than ever before. They are on the move. On the move to a specific destination, unseen by few this side of eternity.

 The person who has placed their trust in Jesus is immediately ushered into the presence of the Lord upon leaving their body. “To be absent from the body, is to be present with the Lord”, Paul said. And when a person is in the presence of Jesus they find themselves busy with the activities of Heaven. Worship, praise, prayer, work, and preparation for the final invasion of earth by the King of kings and Lord of lords.

 The person who has NOT placed their trust in Jesus is immediately escorted into the bowels of the earth, to the place where the damned are incarcerated; awaiting their final judgment as they stand before the Great White Throne. The one seated on the throne is the one who will simply pass the eternal sentence upon the person who rejected his offer of eternal life through his son, Jesus.

 It will be no picnic, waiting the final word from the Judge, before being hurled into the Lake of Fire prepared for the devil and his angels. A place of total, unimaginable darkness. A place where all the desires and cravings of the heart and mind are amplified, yet never fulfilled. Chaos, fear, torment; just a few of the things Hell is known for. The Lord has said, “there is no rest for the wicked.”

 No one will be surprised when that time comes; when they either rise or sink. Oh, they may not want to think about it right now, but once the filter of their body is removed, they will “know as they are known”. No longer will they be looking through a dark, veiled glass. With eyes wide open they will witness firsthand the consequences of their earthly decision. To some it will be glorious. To others, it will simply be too late.

 So as for “Resting in peace”, it would be a nice, I suppose. But not practical.

 The believer, the one who’s been given new life in Jesus, would not want to be separated any longer from Jesus. The unbeliever? They will try and stay completely away from him. Also, an unregenerate  spirit would threaten the peace of all Heaven if they were allowed to run loose. The devil was kicked out for rebellion, and those who still have his nature won’t fare any better. Count on it. The devil’s fate is the fate of all those “whose names were not found written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.”

 The Lord is not willing that anyone perish, but that all come to repentance – which ultimately leads to life. He has no pleasure when the wicked die. He truly loves each and every one so much, that while each of us, every single one of us was in rebellion to God, Jesus died for us.

 Do YOU want to rest? Jesus invites us all to come to him and find rest. Do you want peace? Jesus is our peace with God and our door to the peace of God.

 

But you’d better make your plans ahead of time. “Resting in peace” just won’t happen.

 

I Wonder…

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I have had the holy and extremely intimate privilege a few times in my life. Sitting beside the bed of a loved one, as they near the end of their earthly life. Seeing the faraway look in their eyes makes me wonder what it would be like to view the world as they see it.

Or to be able to see into both worlds; the one I’m leaving, and the one I’m entering.

To be so close to the door of death and just a step away from the heavenly welcome, but still trapped in a body that’s shutting down.

What is it like? How does it feel to have my body actually kick me out of its house?

To see my sons and daughters, grandkids and friends, talking, laughing, crying and embracing while I lie in my bed. What is it like?

Is it consoling to watch people come and go, staying long enough to look into my fading eyes, force a smile and whisper, “I love you”; then pat my hand and hug my family? What kind of feeling is that? What is it like?

Though it’s hard to speak, and even harder to listen, is it possible to remember the joys I’ve experienced and the storms I’ve weathered? Will my tears of thanksgiving truly depict my love to my family, and for my Savior?

Can I recount God’s faithfulness though I may not remember anything else, including my own name?

How quickly do I leave my body after my last breath is gone, and my heart ceases to beat? Will I float or soar? Will I see those huddled around my bed? Will they hear me when I say goodbye?

I wonder what it’s like.

Is it possible to see angels approaching while I stare at my loved ones? Can I hear Heaven’s choir above my silent din?

Are the hours I’m asleep just my way of saying I’ll be gone soon? Or am I busy in my dreams, visiting with my heavenly guide, preparing for my final trip?

Will my eyes see clearly, once the dark film of this life is finally removed?

What will it be like to see Heaven for the very first time?

I wonder what it’s like to see but not focus, to hear but not discern. To lay my head down for the last time, and then, like I’m being drawn by an invisible magnet, rise to the One who’s called Jesus.

To me, it’s a mystery much larger than life, though I know what I believe. And though I believe, there’s still the unknown world I’ve yet to see.

I can’t explain it. I can’t describe it.

Neither can I know what my loved one is seeing, thinking, or feeling as they sleep, hardly breathing, barely alive.

Then again, perhaps they’re more alive than I am!

For as this life fades, the next one grows clearer and closer, until finally, the anchor of hope is removed from the heart of the redeemed. Hope no longer is needed to steady the traveler; they’re finally home.

“For to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.”

Death is overcome by life.

Eternal life.

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Until Death Do Us Part

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Do you mind if I stir up the proverbial pot for a moment? I’ve been thinking about the “until death do us part” line used in most wedding ceremonies. What does it mean, “until death do us part”?

At this point, I have mostly questions to share. And, as always, I’d enjoy reading your responses; whether you are answering my questions or asking some of your own.

Does death end a marriage? Jesus said, “what God has joined together, let no man separate.” So, would death separate a husband and wife?

Of course, physically they’re separated. But are they still connected spiritually?

Paul wrote that “two joined together are one flesh”. Immediately following he wrote, “he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with the Lord.” Then, in Ephesians 5 he wrote, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.

So marriage reflects the church and the church reflects the marriage relationship. And since that is the case, does that mean death does NOT end a marriage? Death sure doesn’t separate the Lord and the believer! Actually, it’s quite the opposite.

Death: the Final Frontier

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The older I get, the more I think about the subject of death. I realize the topic is taboo to some; others simply want to ignore it. A few delight in discussing at length what many deem as a macabre topic. And there are a couple, or so, “Subject Matter Experts” around who are believed to know all that can be known about Death: the Final Frontier.

But who can REALLY know? Who can say they know absolutely, positively, all there is to know about death? Who can truthfully say that death isn’t somewhat of a mystery to them?

Even though there have been people who were miraculously raised from the dead; from the olden days of Elisha and Lazarus, to modern times; death is still a mystery. It can only be explored by someone who experiences it.

Jesus taught about death, experienced death, and lived again to tell about it. But even with all His teachings, the mystery remains.

I know what some may be thinking. “Death isn’t a mystery to me! I have faith!”

The Tree, The Pole, and The Cross

20130909-223215.jpgIt was around 6000 years ago that God created the Heavens and the Earth. He also created mankind, as well as a Garden in which man was to live. In the Garden there were many trees; trees of all kinds. And among them all, there were two special ones. One, the Tree of Life; the other, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

Adam and Eve were told they could eat of any tree EXCEPT the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Unfortunately, that’s the tree they chose to eat from.

The tree of life represents God’s way to life. Though His way may appear to be restrictive and slow, it always leads to life.

Always.

“Our God is a God of salvation, and to God, the Lord, belong deliverances from death.” (Psalm 68:20 ESV)

The second one, the forbidden tree, represents man’s attempt to gain all God has and is; without Him. It always leads to death.

Always.

“Why wait for God to help me, when I can help myself and get what I need quicker,” seemed to be the mindset of Adam and Eve.

“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.” (Proverbs 16:25 ESV)

Later on, some 4000 years ago, there was a pole erected in the wilderness. Upon the pole was the form of a serpent molded out of bronze. The children of Israel had attempted to, once again, find a quick way to God’s promises; without God. God’s ways bothered them. They were restrictive and slow; and the people couldn’t stand His ways, His provision, or His leaders any longer. So they murmured and complained and started planning a return trip to Egypt.

Remember, man’s ways always lead to death.

Always.

Their rebellion, for that’s what it was, opened the “door” for the fiery serpents in the land to attack the camp. They began biting the people, and those who were bitten died.

Well, it didn’t take too long for the people to “get religion”, and beg Moses to ask for the Lord’s help. The Lord told Moses to erect a pole with a bronze serpent on it. He then instructed Moses to tell the people to “Look and Live”.

“And Moses made a serpent of bronze and put it on a pole, and if a serpent had bitten any man, when he looked to the serpent of bronze [attentively, expectantly, with a steady and absorbing gaze], he lived.” (Numbers 21:9 AMP)

The serpent on the pole reflects man’s total disregard for God’s way, AND God’s willingness to heal and restore wayward man. ALL they had to do was “look”.

But notice the wording in Numbers 21:9 (Amplified); attentively, expectantly… How easy would that be with a bunch of poisonous snakes crawling around and up your legs? Keep looking at the pole? Are you kidding?

No, God wasn’t kidding. You see, man got into trouble, originally, by not believing God’s word; instead he believed the serpent. Again, in the wilderness, the children of Israel got into trouble by not believing God. So it would take faith in His word to bring restoration and healing.

Repentance must always include faith; whether with people or with God. If one does not believe someone else was right, while they themselves were wrong, they cannot truly repent. Jesus said, “Repent and believe the gospel.” So the children of Israel had to believe, and follow God’s instructions.

Finally, 2000 years ago there was a cross. Placed on a hill on the outskirts of Jerusalem, there the Son of God, who had never disobeyed His Father, died for the sins of the world. The cross reveals, once again, man’s desire and attempt to live their lives free from God’s influence, demands, and restrictive ways. And it screams to all who’ll listen, mankind’s capacity for evil.

In all three examples, the tree, the pole, and the cross, man cannot get rid of God! Man cannot be so evil that God won’t provide a way to be restored. As long as people have an opportunity to repent and believe, God will always have a remedy, a Way out.

Always!

Yes, those three things show man’s desire to be free from God; but they also reveal the heart of God to bring true freedom to all who will believe.

“And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert [on a pole], so must [so it is necessary that] the Son of Man be lifted up [on the cross], In order that everyone who believes in Him [who cleaves to Him, trusts Him, and relies on Him] may not perish, but have eternal life and [actually] live forever! For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life.” (John 3:14-16 AMP)

You and I can’t get rid of God and we can’t live without Him. We can not shut out His love or our need to repent and believe. The tree, the pole, and the cross all speak the same thing; man’s ways will not bring God’s life, but God’s ways will.

ALWAYS!