Death: Part of Life – But Never Easy

I can remember as a kid driving home from vacation when on the radio a news bulletin announced that Jack Cassidy had died in a fire.  Even as a kid I was familiar with the Cassidy name but what struck me was how his death was described:  “Jack Cassidy was burnt to death in a fire . . . . ”  That painted the picture all too graphically for my young mind.  What a horrible way to go.

I remember in high school some friends of mine were out driving in my one friend’s convertible when they lost control going too fast around a corner and flipped, killing the driver instantly.  All of life in front of him but death got there first.

I remember some friends of ours had a son who was severely brain-damaged.  They loved Anthony and took such good care of him.  His dad, my friend, was a terror as a child.  To see him gently hold his special-needs son was beautiful and emotional.  And then only a few months later Anthony passed away.  It was very difficult to see his life, challenging as it was, be overtaken by death.  But it did.

I remember a professor of mine at Moody Bible Institute who in his early thirties met the woman of his dreams, married her, only to see her die inexplicably after only a short time of marriage.

I remember a couple at our church years ago who were caring for her elderly mother.  They had plans to travel extensively once her mother passed away.  But death does not go by our scheduling.  Her husband died of a massive heart attack and then not long after her mother passed away as well.

I remember a concert.  There were thousands in attendance at the outdoor event, all having a good time enjoying the music until . . . 58 of them died because somebody decided he wanted to choose to schedule their deaths.

I remember a man who was led to His death.  He went voluntarily but he wasn’t thrilled about it.  In fact, He asked if there could be another way to accomplish what had to be done.  In fact, there wasn’t another way.  With that knowledge, He willingly went to His death.  It wasn’t the senseless slaughter of 58 people at a concert; it wasn’t the death of a husband and mother; it wasn’t the death of a wife, or son, or friend, or celebrity.  It was the death of the one Man who could defeat death by His own death and resurrection.  It was the death of the God-man:  Jesus Christ.

“Yet it was the LORD’S will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life an offering for sin, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand.  After he has suffered, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities.  Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors.  For he bore the sins of many, and made intercession for the transgressors” (Isaiah 53:10-12 NIV).

While death is never easy, because of Jesus it does not have to be the end of the story.

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“Tears In Your Eyes”

How many times will you shut the door?
How many times must I be ignored?
How many times?
Again I try; how many times will I get no reply?

I have called you so many times, you wouldn’t listen,
I have called you so many times, you wouldn’t listen,
You’re standing at the gate, and you find that it’s too late,
You’ll hear me then, with tears in your eyes,
Don’t say you never knew – you knew exactly what to do,
You’ll listen then, with tears in your eyes.

With open arms I’m calling you,
With open arms, give you all that’s good and true,
With open arms I’m calling you,
With open arms, the ones the nails went through.

I’ve called you so many times, you wouldn’t listen,
I have called you so many times, you wouldn’t listen,
You’re standing at the gate, and you find that it’s too late,
You’ll hear me then, with tears in your eyes,
Don’t say you never knew – you knew exactly what to do,
You’ll listen then, with tears in your eyes.

How many times you shut the door,
How many times must I be ignored?
How many times?
Again I cry,
How many times and I get no reply?

I have called you so many times, you wouldn’t listen,
I have called you so many times, but you wouldn’t listen,
You’re standing at the gate, and you find that it’s too late,
You’ll listen then, with tears in your eyes,
Don’t say you never knew – you knew exactly what to do,
You’ll listen then, with tears in your eyes.

– from “Tears In Your Eyes” by Undercover off of their album “Branded.”

A Merciful and Faithful High Priest

Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil,and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. – Hebrews 2:14-18 http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Hebrews2:14-18&version=ESV

Don’t Worry, Be Happy – When Persecuted?

“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. https://www.biblegateway.com/passage?search=Matthew%205%3A11-Matthew%205%3A12&version=NIV

I can accept persecution.  I know what it’s like to have friends turn on you.  I know what it’s like to be ridiculed for standing up for Jesus.  I also know my reaction to persecution is stoicism, a rugged determination to take it, to grit your teeth and persevere, almost like it’s my “Christian karma” mixed with perseverance.  

The Bible has a radically different take on persecution:  when persecuted, REJOICE!  Paul and Silas in prison:  “But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them” (Acts 16:25).  Persecution should elicit joy in me, a joy which will want to be expressed in praise to God.  If God considers me worthy of undergoing persecution for the sake of the name of Jesus, then I will gladly rejoice and praise Him.

A Call To Action

By smooth words he will turn to godlessness those who act wickedly toward the covenant, but the people who know their God will display strength and take action. – Daniel 11:32 http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Daniel11:32&version=NASB

The context of this passage is most likely the end times, but the “marching orders” are timeless. 

 There are going to be times in life when our leaders, whether they be local, business, church, club, school board, politicians, etc., will lead in such a way as to lead their followers “to the brink of the cliff” as it were.   Are we supposed to follow and go over the cliff?  Are we supposed to gripe and complain and refuse?  

“. . . but the people who know their God will display strength and take action.”  

Don’t follow over the cliff.  Don’t gripe and complain.  “Be strong and courageous.”  If you know what the right course of action is, then DO IT!!


The Threat of War, The Desperate Need in Puerto Rico, Trump vs. Peaceful Protestors – What Is Most Important?

North Korea says Trump declared war on them and therefore they can shoot down our planes now; the people of Puerto Rico are in desperate straits, running out of food, water, no electricity, running out of fuel for generators; not to mention health care reform efforts, tax reform, infrastructure needs, etc.  Top news story yesterday:  President Trump’s tweets about the NFL players taking a knee during the national anthem.

Incredible.

Here is my lists of topics on which we should be focused:

  • hurricane victims in Puerto Rico and surrounding islands and how we are going to help them to survive.
  • hurricane victims in Florida and Texas and how we are going to help them to recover.
  • the people of North Korea who are desperately impoverished and in dire need.  When we do talk about North Korea, it is about their leader and his ways, not about the plight of the average citizen of North Korea.  Take the spotlight away from the one who is sacrificing his own people in order to gain glory for himself.
  • race/freedom/free speech/constitutional values/love and respect for one’s neighbor.  We should be promoting and discussing these things, not trying to force one’s own interpretation of someone else’s rationale for why they do what they do, i.e. an NFL player kneeling should not automatically be equated to disrespecting the flag or the anthem.  No one can know why players are taking a knee until they engage them in conversation about the “why”.  It’s easy to “know” what someone’s motives are when you decide ahead of time what they are.  It’s also easy to jump to wrong conclusions about someone’s motives when you haven’t had a conversation with them.

I just did it myself.  I just commented on the NFL players protests and President Trumps focus on it.  The people of Puerto Rico largely don’t even know that it has happened since they have no power and no communication, not to mention very little food and water.  Who is in charge, making sure that the United States citizens in Puerto Rico are helped IMMEDIATELY?!!

Where To Turn, To Whom To Return

Come, let us return to the Lord. For He has torn us, and He will heal us; He has wounded us, and He will bind up our wounds. He will revive us after two days, and on the third day He will raise us up so we can live in His presence. Let us strive to know the Lord. His appearance is as sure as the dawn. He will come to us like the rain, like the spring showers that water the land. – Hosea 6:1-3 http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Hosea6:1-3&version=HCSB