There’s something about death that has a way of putting things into perspective.Continue reading “Death Reviewed”
RIP or LITF
RIP . . . you see this attached to a social media post almost every day. The sentiment is there, but do we really know what RIP means? Do we know what we are saying? What’s its origin? Is it a blanket statement for all deaths?
Wikipedia says, “’Rest in peace’ (Latin: Requiescat in pace) is a short epitaph or idiomatic expression wishing eternal rest and peace to someone who has died. The expression typically appears on headstones, often abbreviated as R.I.P. or RIP. The phrase was not found on tombstones before the eighth century. It became ubiquitous on the tombs of Christians in the 18th century, and for High Church Anglicans, as well as Roman Catholics in particular, it was a prayerful request that their soul should find peace in the afterlife.”
Of the questions in the first paragraph, I think the last one is the most important one.
Can we say RIP for every death?
For all who die in Christ as a true born again believer, yes; for all who choose to reject Christ’s offer of salvation; no.
The parable of the rich man and Lazarus give us a good answer (Luke 16:19-31). For the rich man, he is in the place of torment, apart from God, as is the current state of all unbelievers. For Lazarus, he is in Paradise just as Jesus said to the thief on the cross, “Today, you will be with Me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43). Another comforting truth for believers is found in 2 Corinthians 5:8 which assures us that we are immediately in the presence of the Lord upon death.
So, do unbelievers rest in peace? Peace nor rest can be found in a place of torment. Furthermore, to randomly attach RIP to someone that you are uncertain of their eternal state is careless.
The worst tragedy today is that unsaved people around the world died and entered into eternal torment. The greatest blessing for believers today is that many around the world entered into eternal rest, joy, and peace in the presence of Christ.
So, could RIP be placed on your tombstone with complete certainty?
If you are not truly born again, a genuine follower of the Lord Jesus Christ, would you take time to watch the following video? It will mean the difference between RIP or LITF (Living in Torment Forever).
Please don’t take death and eternity lightly!
A Dark Room: My Heart & Abortion
Having held my lifeless stillborn daughter in my arms almost 35 years ago can bring a rising level of emotions to my heart when I consider the current scenario being played out in the SCOTUS Roe v. Wade “leak” and upcoming ruling.
My heart. Yes, . . . that’s the key word in the previous sentence. Years ago, I heard someone say, “The heart of every issue is an issue of the heart.” What gives that principle gravity is the words of the Lord Jesus Christ when He said, For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person (Mark 7:21-23). What Jesus describes here is the fallen condition of our heart.
Described in Jeremiah 17:9, The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?
The heart, as referred to in the Word of God, is not the vital human organ that pumps blood throughout our bodies; that keeps us going, moving, breathing. The heart is summed up in all that we are . . . our emotions, our will, our mind. Proverbs 4:23 reminds us that the heart determines the course of your life (NLT).
The whole of the abortion issue is one of the heart. Man by his very fallen nature has a heart that is selfish, short-sighted, manipulative, greedy, lazy, hedonistic, irrational, unreasonable, murderous, wicked, covetous, sensual, proud, corrupt, deceitful, faithless, ruthless, confused and much more.
Romans 1 describes the heart that refuses to acknowledge God as “foolish” and “darkened” (1:21).
The world’s response to abortion, those who perform abortions and those who have an abortion are simply . . . following their heart. Since the fall of man in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3), the hearts of the children of man are full of evil, and madness is in their hearts while they live, and after that they go to the dead (Ecclesiastes 9:3).
Now, I have just described my own heart. All of the above characteristics dwell within me, too. The only difference . . . at the age of five, based upon the truths of God’s Word and by His grace alone, Christ came to live in my heart, took up residency within me, and now I do not live the Christian life, Christ lives His life through me (Romans 3:23; 5:8; 6:23; 10:9-13; John 14:17-23; Galatians 2:20; Philippians 1:21; Colossians 1:27).
As a disciple of the Lord Christ Jesus, the worst decision I can make each day and throughout the day is to follow my heart, to go my own way. Man left to himself destroys himself and those around him.
The only way to overcome the battle that rages within me, my heart wanting to have its own way, is to surrender to Christ within me. He is life and has the words of life (John 6:68-69; 14:6; Matthew 11:28-30).
The answer to the abortion issue and the downward spiral of my heart is the gospel, the person of Jesus Christ.
As I think back to those days after the stillbirth of Ashley Marie, I am oft reminded of the dear lady who Denise visited in the hospital three months later who had experienced the same. When my wife walked into that room filled with sorrow and pain, she entered into the darkness of that dear mom’s heart when she said, “I just went through the same thing three months ago.” Then and there, Denise was able to share Christ with her.
Because of the condition of my heart, I can empathize with all in this world who are for abortion at any level. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God (2 Corinthians 4:4). Each of these need Christ. Each of these need someone to share the message of the gospel with them.
Especially needed is the dear mom who now lives with a broken heart, the painful scars of her decision to have an abortion. For you dear lady, there is forgiveness at the cross of Jesus Christ. To the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He [God] made us accepted in the Beloved. In Him [Christ] we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace (Ephesians 1:6-7).
Today, may we have an opportunity to enter into that dark room of a heart filled with sin, sorrow, pain, and brokenness and share the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ.
Today, will you turn to the light in Christ alone and be set free from the dark room of your heart?
The Why Questions
Why doesn’t it stop? Why doesn’t God do something? Why does God allow this to happen? And the questions continue.
Today’s thoughts are a follow-up to Tuesday’s blog post, Bob Saget, Covid & Bronx Fire.
The “Why Questions” have been uttered for centuries and many without answer. Interesting enough, if our questions were answered, because of the next day of our lives producing more questions, we would never be satisfied.
Instead of focusing on the answers to the “why,” let’s focus today on the following:
Death is certain. You say with perhaps a look of wonder or a scowl, “Wow! That’s an encouraging first point!” Hebrews 9:27 declares, It is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment. Man has no power to determine when he is born nor when he dies. Try as hard as you can to survive, the days of your life here on earth are known and determined by God (1 Samuel 2:6; Job 1:21; Psalm 139:16). Since these things are true, you are not ready to live until you are ready to die.
Life is in Christ alone. As I said in the previous post, my heart aches and is grieved by all the sin, tragedies and deaths in the world. I have watched folk die, believers and unbelievers. I have had to console and comfort the broken-hearted. I have preached the funerals of my stillborn daughter, my parents and of friends. The greatest comfort of all is knowing that I will be reunited with these folk in Heaven because of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:3-4) and the promises of the Word of God (John 3:16; 14:1-6). Since Christ is life, true life and the assurance of eternal life is only found in Him.
God’s mercy is continually extended. God could have wiped out Covid months ago, but He is permitting it to continue for reasons known only to Him. The same could be said about the Bronx fire and other tragedies. God does not give us explanations. Through each tragedy, He is reminding us of His mercy in giving man an opportunity to consider death, eternity and free gift of salvation through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. As I heard years ago, “The greatest tragedy on earth today is not a tornado destroying your house, or a death in the family or financial loss. The greatest tragedy everyday is that someone died and is in hell because they rejected the person of Jesus Christ.”
Friend, would you click on the verse links and read the following:
Ephesians 2:1-10 – The richness of God’s mercy
Titus 3:4-6 – The mercy of God in salvation
1 Peter 1:2-3 – God’s great mercy
2 Peter 3:9 – God’s mercy displayed
As I said in the previous post, this messed up, sinful world won’t always be this way (Revelation 21:1-4). Today, instead of focusing so much on the why. turn your eyes toward the Who, the mercy of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ! You are not prepared to live until you are prepared to die. Will you spend your eternity in heaven?
Bob Saget, Covid & Bronx Fire
On the last day of 2021, Bob Saget reflected on the passing of 99 year-old Betty White by saying, “She always said the love of her life was her husband, Allen Ludden, who she lost in 1981. Well, if things work out by Betty’s design — in the afterlife, they are reunited. I don’t know what happens when we die, but if Betty says you get to be with the love of your life, then I happily defer to Betty on this.”
According to worldomenters.info, as of Monday, January 10, 2022, Covid has been the cause of death of 861, 021 people in the USA and 5,511,396 in the world.
Sunday morning, fire broke out in a Bronx, NY, apartment complex killing 17 people. Eight of them were children. “It was absolutely horrific,” Firefighters Association President Andrew Ansbro said. “I talked to many veteran firefighters who said it was the worst fire they had seen in their lives. They were doing CPR on people outside. It was absolutely horrific. Members operated with upmost heroism. Unfortunately, not all fires have a positive outcome. It’s horrible. This fire will be with these members forever.” (abc7ny.com)
This world is filled with suffering and sorrow. It is not supposed to be that way.
Then why so much agony, angst, fear, disappointment, and death?
As God created the universe, He saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day (Genesis 1:31). Upon creating man and woman in His own image (Genesis 1:26) and from the dust of the ground (Genesis 2:7), He placed them in the Garden of Eden, blessed them, and . . . said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Genesis 1:28).
What went wrong?
Sin. God gave man a freewill to choose and being tempted by Satan, he chose to go his own way and plunged the whole world into sin (Genesis 2:8-3:24). Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—for sin indeed was in the world (Romans 5:12-13a). You see, the world is totally broken because of sin.
Is there any hope for us? Is there anyone who can forever correct the sin problem? Will it always be this way? My friend, just as the world is completely broken by sin, Jesus is the complete answer for every sin, every wrong, every heartache, and every act of unrighteousness (Romans 5:14-21).
Covid constantly produces fear and reminds us of death. Man, even in his God-given mental capacity, has not figured out how to eradicate this pandemic. Yet, in the midst of it all, I hear these hope-filled words of truth at the tomb of death, Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live (John 11:25).
Sadly, mankind will continue to face fatalities due to such things as faulty space heaters and apartment doors that are designed to close in case of fire. Remember, the world is broken. Man cannot produce a perfect environment because we are imperfect creatures due to our sin. But there is hope! For where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 5:20b-21). The answer is the perfect Son of God (John 3:16-17; Ephesians 2:1-10).
Yes, there is immense pain and suffering in this world, and Jesus experienced it all (Isaiah 53; Hebrews 4:14-16). He bore the sin of the whole world, yours and mine (2 Corinthians 5:21), and He rose from the tomb to conquer sin and death (Matthew 28:1-10; Acts 2:24; Revelation 1:18). God wants you to have the security and assurance of eternity in His presence in Heaven (John 14:1-6).
My heart ached as I read Bob Saget’s statement about the afterlife. My friend, you can absolutely know where you are going. You do not need to hope that “things will work out by Betty’s design — in the afterlife.” You must not “happily defer to Betty on this.”
This sinful, broken world won’t always be this way. Please take time to read the scripture passages given above. There is eternal hope (confident expectation based on the promises of God in His Word); there is eternal assurance all found in the person of Jesus Christ. Please defer to Him!
Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:1-4)
And He Died
As I stood there and watched the casket being transported up the cemetery road, my heart grieved along with everyone else. Words like “tragic,” “too young to die,” “not at Christmas,” “painful,” “just broken,” and “world is rocked” were used to describe the passing of a young man loved by so many.
As I read Genesis 5 yesterday morning, what I witnessed two days ago came back to mind. This chapter in Genesis records the first genealogy in Scripture, the family of Adam. Ten generations are mentioned from Adam to Noah. One thing that stands out is the length of life during that time. Adam lived 930 years, Seth live 912 years, Enosh lived 905 years, and as you might know, Methuselah lived a total of 969 years.
What really captured my attention was not the length of years these folks walked on this earth but a statement that is given eight times, “and he died” (5:5, 8, 11, 14, 17, 20, 27, 31).
Death. We really don’t want to talk about it. We laugh and make jokes about it to some degree to try and erase the reality of it. In our minds, we think we are going to live to be 912 years old. In comparison to eternity, whether we live one year or 969 years, we all die in “infancy.”
The most important part about life here is to be prepared to die. Hebrews 9:27 reminds us that man is destined to die one time. There is a 100% death rate. So, truth is, you are not ready to really live here until you are prepared to die.
Death is cold, harsh, difficult, often sudden, final, and due to the fall of man (Genesis 3).
Indeed, each our names are in some genealogy and could be followed with the words, “and he died.” But friend, just as much as that phrase has a note finality to it, there is life after death.
John 14:1-3, Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.
John 3:16, For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
John 11:25, Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live.
Revelation 21:1-4, Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. 2 Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. 4 And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.
For each one of us who have believed on the Lord Jesus Christ alone for eternal salvation, that phrase could read, “and he died, yet he lives today in heaven.” (https://ptv.org/devotional/where-do-christians-go-when-they-die/)
For each one who rejects the Lord Jesus Christ as the only way to heaven, the phrase could read, “and he died, yet he lives today in hades.” (https://ptv.org/devotional/where-do-unbelievers-go-when-they-die/)
For everyone of us, the pain of death will either be exchanged for the glories of heaven or will continue on into the torments of hell.
What will follow for you after the words, “and he died”?
For this now broken-hearted, grieving family, a wonderful, sweet reunion awaits in heaven (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).
We Are Where We Are
For a year or more, our world has been and continues to be consumed with COVID-19. It has rearranged our lives in so many ways in bringing fear, death, sorrow, loss, anger, masks, division, criticism, long lines, solitary living, confinement, quarantine, etc.
COVID as a word has probably been used more than any other word in our vocabulary. Somehow, some way it always finds a place of mention or domination in our conversations.
When you consider the baggage of COVID as mentioned in the previous paragraphs, look around you. We are where we are today because our minds and lives have been consumed with a topic of death, despair, division, and dread in every area of life.
Where are you today? Are you dwelling on the aforementioned “D‘s” of COVID or the life, hope, unity and joyful expectation found only a personal relationship with God the Father through the cross work and resurrection of Jesus Christ (John 10:10; 14:1-6; 15:1-11; Ephesians 2:1-10; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 1 Peter 1:3-6; 1 John 5:11-13) ?
No matter what you have endured through this pandemic, may I encourage you to look to Psalms 42-43? Read these words over to yourself quietly and out loud; meditate on what you are reading; then pray through the passage. If you have such darkness pervading you that you want to run away to fleshly, worldly, sinful temptations, let Peter’s response to Christ be your response. After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life (John 6:66-68).
You are where you are based upon where or to whom you have turned. Will you turn to Him Who has the words of eternal life? Cast all your care on Him (1 Peter 5:6-7, 10).
No matter what COVID brings, Christ is always the answer. Be found in Him.
He’s where you are . . . waiting on you to turn to Him.
COVID-19 DISTRACTIONS #2
Yesterday, I was reminded of a statement that has bearing on the COVID world we live in today. During the last few weeks of my mom’s earthly sojourn, she listened to my wife read Randy Alcorn’s book, Heaven. One day in particular, she looked appreciatively at Denise and said, “Thank you for reading to me about Heaven. You are helping me prepare to go Home.”
Has the coronavirus so captured your attention that your mind is solely earth-bound? I realize we need to take some serious precautions, but how easy it is to be consumed with COVID at every turn! As I said in yesterday’s blog. it is the first topic of discussion, frustration, fear, etc.
If you can say that you are a true believer in Christ, a genuine child of God, may I turn our thoughts upward?
Mediate on the following:
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. (Rev. 21:4)
Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. (John 14:1-4)
Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:19-21)
Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. (2 Corinthians 5:8)
Is COVID helping to prepare you for Home? The brevity, fragility and uncertainty of life are indeed real, but when you have complete assurance that eternity in Heaven with the Lord Jesus Christ awaits you, the fear of this virus can be exchanged for the anticipation of Revelation 21:4!!!
I’m goin’ home
Where the streets are golden
Every chain is broken
Oh I wanna go
Oh I wanna go
Where every fear is gone
I’m in your open arms
Where I belong
Home (Chris Tomlin)
(If you are not prepared, would you take time to watch either of these videos?)
Grace to Go!
Stretching out his hand and with tears in his eyes, he said, “Soon this hand will touch the hand of my Jesus.”
These words were spoken last Saturday by a dear man of God who has given his life to faithfully proclaim and live out the excellencies of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Pastor Bud Parker has been diagnosed with an inoperable malignant brain tumor that is affecting his mobility and vision. As I sat by his side in his humble mountain home, the affects of cancer were readily seen, but the grace of God was much more manifest. It didn’t take long to realize I was seated in the presence of a man who is ready to go Home to Glory!
There were many more times of rejoicing than notes of sorrow as we conversed. During his lengthy stay in the hospital, the Lord enabled him to share the gospel with many, and three precious souls came to salvation by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). We talked of the ministry joys of past years, the privilege of preaching the Word of God, the joy of mentoring so many men in the ministry, as well as rejoicing in all the folks who had come by to visit.
With his precious wife, Mildred, seated across the room, he looked at me and then her and said, “I am ready to go to heaven, but I don’t want to leave my bride of 58 years. The other night, the Lord spoke to me and said, ‘Don’t be afraid. She was My bride before she became your bride. She is the apple of my eye’.”
Especially at a time like this, the Word of God is the very best comfort, assurance, and hope. While reading 1 Peter 1:1-8, Pastor Parker’s eyes would glisten and then fill with tears. Some of the passages he quoted along with me as best he could. At one point, he raised his hand to rejoice!
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
4 To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,
5 Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
6 Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations:
7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:
8 Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:
Near the end of our visit, I noticed that his wife, two of his daughters and other family members were on the front porch. I invited them to gather in the living room, and we sang a medley of songs about heaven. My, what a glorious time we had as we lifted our voices and hands in praise to our great God! Indeed, what a day it will be when our Jesus we will see!!
Watching the grace of God in its total sufficiency from my front row seat was an honor and a blessed encouragement! This dear man of God is living out the words of Tom Hayes’ song, New Grace.
All of grace is my story
All the way from earth to glory,
Since by grace He lifted me from sin and woe;
Living grace He has extended
As on Him my heart depended,
And He’ll give new grace when it’s my time to go.
Grace not yet discovered,
Grace not yet uncovered,
Grace from His bountiful store;
Grace to cross the river,
And grace to face forever,
There’ll be new grace I’ve not needed before.
There’s been grace for every trial,
There’s been grace for every mile,
There’s been grace sufficient from His vast supply;
Grace to make my heart more tender,
Grace to love and pray for sinners,
But there’ll be new grace when it’s my time to die.
Grace not yet discovered,
Grace not yet uncovered,
Grace from His bountiful store;
Grace to cross the river,
And grace to face forever,
There’ll be new grace I’ve not needed before.
Grace to go!!
Wonder What Its Like
Wonder what it’s like to know that you are just hours, days from seeing Jesus face-to-face?
That was the question posed by wife as we drove to see a friend who is living out his last earthly days. Cancer has crept in upon him and left him in a swiftly weakened condition. He is now under hospice care.
As we entered his living room, now serving as a “hospital room,” we were greeted by a sedated, yet peaceful friend who managed a bit of a smile. His weakened voice spoke in soften tones. His dear wife stood on the other side of his bed tenderly stroking his arm and speaking words of encouragement to her longtime companion and friend.
After my wife and I shared, with tears, words of love and appreciation from our heart, I read 2 Corinthians 5:1-5 and Psalm 73:23-26, 28. Our friend drifted in-and-out as I read. His dear wife acknowledged certain truths here-and-there. I watched God’s Word bring sweet reminders and grace-filled assurances to both of these precious believers in Christ.
We concluded with prayer and then we sang two stanzas of Blessed Assurance. Our friend’s wife joined in as she said to her husband, “We know that song, don’t we?”
Before we departed, I reached down and touch my friend’s shoulder and reminded him again what he meant to us, that we loved him, and that we were praying for him. With that, he gave me a wink and softly spoke, “I love you. Praying for you, too.”
To answer my wife’s question, neither of us know personally because we are not in that condition at the moment. From watching my friend and his wife, I can say, there is grace for the journey, peace for the soul, a song for the heart, a balm for the hurt, truth for the mind, a glorious reunion to come, and a Friend that sticks closer than a brother, because blessed assurance, Jesus is mine.
Indeed, precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints (Psalm 116:15).
I’ll see you on the other side, friend; then I too will be seeing Jesus face-to-face.