Tag: eternity

How do you say goodbye?

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1 – 3:2 ESV)

Ever since the fall of Adam, mankind has had to face the mystery and heartache of physical death. A loved one, a coworker, an acquaintance, a neighbor; we all know of someone who’s crossed over to the other side.

On December 12th, a dear friend left this old terra firma and was ushered into our Savior’s waiting arms. Actually, she was more than a dear friend; she was family. My brother’s wife, to be exact.

And man, it stinks!

Please don’t get me wrong. I’m glad she’s in heaven. I’m very glad she received Jesus as her Lord and had a hunger for God’s word. Now she’s right at home for all eternity, and has come face to face with the Living Word, Jesus.

But it still stinks!

It stinks for my brother (her husband), her children, grandchildren, family and friends.

I’m glad we had some time to tell her goodbye. Not much time, but some.

Though it’s not always easy to remember all the things you wish to say to somehone who has entered into the transition stage between physical death and the next life. I think it’s because at the time we’re so wrapped up in their pain and our own grief.

The physical loss of a loved one hurts. Plain and simple.

So I’ve been thinking…what’s the best way to say goodbye to someone who’s standing on eternity’s doorstep? If I had a list to remind me, maybe it would be a tiny bit easier to say what should be said.

Of course, we should reaffirm our love (if we, in fact, love them). They need to hear it from our own lips. Words of love do more than console; they are actual carriers of life, commitment, hope, and healing to their spirit.

Another way we can say goodbye to our loved one is to remind them of the beauty of heaven and the King. Read passages of scripture that describe the reality of their eternal home. Speak of the grace of God which made eternal life possible.

Here’s another thought we can so easily fail to grasp. The BEST way to say goodbye to someone (and I’m referring to someone who has received Jesus as the Lord of their life) is to say it KNOWING it’s only a short goodbye. Knowing that some day you’ll be saying “hello” once again.

Of course, it takes a certain amount of assurance for someone to speak in such a manner. But assurance isn’t hard to find, if one knows where to look.

“I have written this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life.” (1 John 5:13 NLT)

“And anyone who believes in God’s Son has eternal life. Anyone who doesn’t obey the Son will never experience eternal life but remains under God’s angry judgment.” (John 3:36 NLT)

God’s love is unconditional; there’s never been a person on this planet He hasn’t loved.

Yet His Heaven does have conditions, or qualifications, to meet if one is to enjoy eternity with Him and His.

Are the conditions hard to meet? Yes; in fact they’re impossible if we rely on our own strength, wisdom, goodness, or good works.

Can a person be so terribly rotten they’ll never meet the conditions? No, unless pride is their rottenness.

Heaven is for the pure. It’s for the righteous, the holy, the ones whose hearts have become new through faith in Christ.

“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT)

“because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” (Romans 10:9 – 10:11 ESV)

So if you find yourself where I did the other day, and you don’t know how to say goodbye, think about these things.  If you aren’t sure about where the departing loved one is going, ask them. Share with them about the wonders of heaven and eternity with Christ.

If you don’t have an assurance in your own life about your place in eternity, now’s the time to take care of that matter. Don’t go another day without being connected to the family of God.

You, your loved ones, and, of course, God, will be glad you did.

“But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:12 – 1:13 ESV)

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.

 

The Gambler

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He calmly walked into the room; just a slight hint of swagger recognizable. Dressed in casual fit jeans, scuffed Tony Lama’s, and a denim shirt one size larger than needed, he was dressed for the role right down to his dark shades and Chicago Bears ball cap.

Gambler.

The game didn’t matter; not as long as he could feel the adrenaline surging through his pronounced veins. Cards, dice, horses, sports; it was all the same to him. He was a gambler.

Sure, people had tried to reform him. Plenty of times. But they just couldn’t understand; he didn’t gamble because he enjoyed it any more than he enjoyed breathing. No, he gambled because that’s what gamblers do. And that’s what he was.

A gambler.

In the past he had tried to tally his winnings and losses. Maybe that could shake something loose, causing him to possibly change. But he never could remember all those figures. I mean, how does a person begin to remember how many breaths they’ve taken in a lifetime? It’s just something they do.

It’s what he does.

Because of who he is.

Gambler.

As he stood inside the large, shadowless room, something struck him as odd. Every other game room, poker parlor, and smoke-filled casino he’d frequented in the past had contributed to his gambling urge; stoking his inner fire, feeding his untamed desire to risk it all. There was nothing he wouldn’t sacrifice for the opportunity to win big. And he didn’t really need to win each time; not if he could keep running the risk, playing the odds, feeling the rush.

The gambler’s rush.

Yes, this room was different. It didn’t stir the urge or settle him down. Actually, it unnerved him; maybe even scared him a bit. He’d met a man earlier that day, a man who seemed to appear out of nowhere, who invited him to a high stakes game. The man gave him the address, and after reminding the gambler to bring everything he had, turned and walked away. Intrigued by the sudden appearance and the strange invitation, he decided to check it out.

Peering through his dark glasses, he scanned the room for any familiar faces. What? Where is everyone? Where are all the other gamblers? Am I early? No, right on time, he thought as he glanced at his wristwatch.

Just then, appearing as suddenly as he had earlier, he saw the man who had issued the invitation.

“I see you found the place.”

“Yes, but where is the game? Where are all the other gamblers?”

“You’ll find this game is different. Tonight’s game is for you only. Did you bring everything?”

“Oh sure. Do you take checks?”

“Sorry. Money isn’t what’s being gambled tonight. You’re not risking your finances, your car, or your home. Not this evening.”

The gambler tried to keep his composure, but even wearing his dark shades, one could see his poker face morph into a pale, nervous, twitch. He was definitely spooked.

“Who are you?”, he asked the man.

“Never mind that, right now anyway. Are you ready to gamble?”

“I, uh, I guess so.”

“Alright. I’m going to ask you a question. Answer correctly and you win. What are you willing to wager?”

“You already told me I can’t use money. What can I use?” The gambler couldn’t believe how nervous he was feeling.

“Only one thing. Your life. All or nothing.”

“But…”

“Silence! Don’t you realize what’s happened to you? You actually died earlier today, without warning, without any fanfare. The game you thought you were playing is over. No second chance. No borrowing from the bank. You’re flat busted, dead broke.”

The gambler’s glasses were off, lying on the floor. He just stared at the man, wanting to speak, but no words came out.

The man continued, “You have gambled away the most precious thing you own; your life. I sent people to you at various times in your life, trying to get your focus away from winning things, people, or money. I’ve spoken to you as you were sleeping, while you were driving, and yes, during some of your high stakes games. I’ve tried to get you to understand my love for you. I love you so much, but you treated my message as a game.

“I asked you the question over and over, ‘What will you do with the One called Jesus? What will you do with the gospel?’ You gambled, played the odds as you saw them. And you lost.”

As the man finished speaking, the gambler was turned by an invisible hand. No longer was the room flooded with light. It had become dark and dank, yet heat and flames were beginning to rise through the door he had walked through not long before.

He gambled because that was who he was. Only now, he was no longer a gambler.

He was a loser.

Tents

20131028-010354.jpg“For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands. We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long to put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing.” (2 Corinthians 5:1-2 NLT)

Paul compared our bodies to a tent. I find that very interesting.

A tent is used as temporary housing. While some folks use their tent quite often, it is still just a temporary shelter.

So is our body. Temporary shelter for our eternal being; our spirit and soul. With the help of our earthly tent, we can live on this temporary planet (a new one has been ordered!). But only for a while.

Tents come in all sorts of sizes, shapes, and colors. Regardless, though, the purpose of each tent is the same as the next.

A tent may be real handsome, or very pretty. And yes, there may be a tent one might even refer to as “sexy”.

But it’s still a tent!

Some occupants use their tent to manipulate or exploit others. They feel powerful as they flaunt their tent in ways that tempt and seduce others. Rarely, though, do those people open the flaps of their tent; they’re kept closed so others can’t see the real person inside. (But God sees and knows)

There are some who allow their tents to dictate what they will do, say, go, eat; their tent rules them, instead of the other way around. The tent was never designed to be the master, but the servant.

Think about how much attention we give to our tent! We spend billions of dollars a year feeding, grooming, clothing, exercising, and pampering our tent. Some people don’t even realize there’s anything or anyone living in the tent!

And consider how many magazines and websites there are solely devoted to pictures and videos of “adult” tents; and how many men and women have become addicted to viewing pictures of tents.

Tents don’t last forever.

Tents were never created to be worshiped. It’s true that we should take care of our tent, so it can last as long as possible. But we best not forget about the tent’s occupant…

…because some day the tent’s color will fade, it will lose its shape and its appeal. It will become old and wore out, eventually coming apart at the seams.

And all too quickly that beautiful, sexy tent will not be able to give shelter to its occupant any longer. The tent will be buried, but the occupant will move on.

For eternity.

So how are you using your tent?

All Sales Are Final

20130430-194243.jpgMy wife and I were browsing in a second hand shop the other day when I spotted a sign by the cash register which read, “Due to the nature of our business, all sales are final.”

I just had to take a picture!

Life is that way, when it comes down to it. Sure, there are many times we get second and third chances. Do overs.

But there is a time in EVERYONE’S life when the “do overs” are all used up. Finished. No more chances. No more opportunities. The end of the sale, and the beginning of living with what we purchased. The sale is final.

I’m not attempting to scare anyone into “giving your heart to Jesus”! I’ll not try and coerce anyone to do anything they don’t want to do!

I’m “pro-choice”, in that regard.

What I’m simply stating is everyone “decides” how they will spend eternity. WHERE they will spend eternity. With WHOM they will spend eternity!

Our decision constitutes a sale between our Creator and us.

“And just as each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment…” (Hebrews 9:27 NLT)

“And anyone who believes in God’s Son has eternal life. Anyone who doesn’t obey the Son will never experience eternal life but remains under God’s angry judgment.” (John 3:36 NLT)

“For it is my Father’s will that all who see his Son and believe in him should have eternal life. I will raise them up at the last day.” (John 6:40 NLT)

A sale – a choice – where ALL SALES ARE FINAL.

Choose wisely!

Covenant Wife

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Covenant Wife

My wife and I have been married over 40 years. Married when we were 18, we have gone through a lot of storms, and a lot of great times. There was a time, 20 years ago, that we were separated and almost split up for good. Why? I had violated my covenant with the wife of my youth!

“…the Lord was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth.” (Malachi 2:14-15 ESV)

“Wife by covenant…” Covenant Wife.

Covenant. A bond stronger than any contract or civil union. It signifies the complete giving and yielding of everything in a person’s life to someone who does the same with them.

Covenant. The most vulnerable, yet strongest place one can be. My greatest fears can be completely overcome with the love of my covenant partner, my wife.

Covenant. Not a trial run; not a convenience. Joined forever.

Covenant. She trusted me with her innocence, I gave her my rib. We are one with each other.

Covenant. Even before we knew God, He knew us and allowed us to find each other, and then find Him. The three-fold cord that cannot be broken – God, my wife, myself. In covenant.

Covenant? Always happy? No. Always easy? No. Always understood? No!

Covenant. An eternal trust, an eternal commitment. The basis, the foundation, for everything good and godly. The open door welcoming and allowing God to work in jars of clay.

Covenant. As sure as the sun will rise in the morning, so certain is the strength of our covenant.

Marriage is a covenant between a man and a woman. A man and woman who give everything they are, were, or ever will be to the other. Until they melt into one.

Covenant. I am grateful, eternally grateful, for the wife of my youth, middle age, and…

Though we both grow old and don’t look like we did those many years ago, that will not affect our covenant.

Our covenant is forever.

Covenant husband.

Covenant wife.

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