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!

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).

21 Days of Prayer (Day #17)

Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life (Proverbs 16:31). Today’s emphasis in prayer takes us from children to senior saints.

Yesterday, I found the notes I had recorded during my dad’s final weeks of his earthly sojourn. He said to me on Thursday, January 21, 2003, “Soon I will stand before the Man I have preached about all my life. It may be today or may be tomorrow.” On Wednesday, January 29, seven days before he passed away, he said, “I want to see my Jesus.” That was an oft-repeated desire and statement. As I consider today’s prayer challenge, how blessed and thankful I am for a dad who lived passionately for Christ and longed to see him right up to his Home-going! He never backed down, let up, or quit.

In my 62 years, I have gleaned so much from the example, instruction and wisdom from so many who have walked with the Lord for many years. Their testimony of God’s grace and their joyful countenance is indeed a crown of glory! As we look toward celebrating 65 years of ministry at Boones Creek Bible Church, praise the Lord for all those who served, prayed, loved, and lived the Christ-life so faithfully in years gone by.

Thom Rainer, now 69 years old, transparently posted a blog of five specific prayer requests concerning his attitude about his church that he said he needed to review constantly. I believe they will be beneficial to us as we pray for those wearing a crown of glory. I also believe these requests will be a helpful, personal guidepost for all of us as we grow older.

  1. I pray I will not feel entitled because I am a key financial supporter in the church. This attitude means I consider the money my money rather than God’s money. That means I am giving with a begrudging heart.
  2. I pray I will not say “I’ve done my time” in the church. Ministry through the local church is not doing your time, like serving a prison sentence. It is an outpouring of joy and thanksgiving to God. I love those churches where senior adults are the most represented among the nursery workers. I need to be among them.
  3. I pray I will not be more enthused about recreational trips than ministry and service. There is nothing wrong about me getting on a bus and going to Branson, Missouri, or Gatlinburg, Tennessee. But there is something wrong when that is my dominant involvement in ministry in the church.
  4. I pray I will not be more concerned about my preferences than serving others. I’ve already blown it on this one. I did not like the volume of the music in the service at my church a few weeks ago. I complained about it to my wife. And then I was reminded of all the young people in the church that Sunday worshipping and praising God during the music. I was more concerned about my preference than seeing others worship God.
  5. I pray I will not have a critical spirit. I attended a business meeting of a large church some time ago. The total attendance at the meeting represented fewer than five percent of the worship attendance. One of the men who recognized me approached me before the meeting, “We come together at these business meetings to keep the pastor straight,” he told me. In reality, they came together to criticize the pastor and staff. I pray I will not become a perpetual critic. I don’t want to grow old and cranky; I want to grow old and more sanctified.

My heart is always stirred by the words of 85 year old Caleb who said, And now, behold, the Lord has kept me alive, as He said, these forty-five years, ever since the Lord spoke this word to Moses while Israel wandered in the wilderness; and now, here I am this day, eighty-five years old. As yet I am as strong this day as on the day that Moses sent me; just as my strength was then, so now is my strength for war, both for going out and for coming in. Now therefore, give me this mountain of which the Lord spoke in that day (Joshua 14:10-12a).

Senior saints, those of us with the gray hair, the crown of glory, let’s pray today with a “give me this mountain” attitude and press on for the Lord until the day He calls us home!

Here’s an additional word of encouragement from Stuart Briscoe: The Incredible Power of a Praying Senior

The Life and Death of a Vapor

While eating dinner yesterday in celebration of a dear lady’s 89th birthday, the server came to clear off our table.  The “birthday girl” was still working on her plate, and she said to the server, “I’ll be finished in a moment.”  With that I said, “Take your time.  You’ve waited 89 years for this!”  That sounds like a long time.

Yesterday evening, my wife and I attended a memorial service for a man found dead in his apartment at the age of 38.  The words spoken by his father during the service were, “My son lived 78 years in those 38 because he got all he could out of life!”

Interesting, that in the same day, my wife and I would celebrate a birth and then later on sit through a memorial service; life and death.

The truth is, no matter if you truly live to be 89 or try to squeeze 78 years into 38, time is fleeting and life is but a vapor.  James 4:14 reminds us, For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.

A gentleman who spoke at the memorial service is a well-known artist in Kentucky and pastor.  In his message, he said, “I used to make good money painting, but that is not my goal anymore.  It is telling others about the brevity of life and the gospel.”

So the question comes, what will you do with your “vapor”?  What are you doing right now with your “vapor”?   James goes on to give us the answer to those questions, Instead you ought to say, If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that. But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil (4:15-16).  The Lord wills that you be born again, The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).  God wills that you have a true view of Him and His Son, for only when you do are you really ready to live! God is in total control of your vapor.  He started it, and He knows when it will end.  Life is a vapor, but only God can give substance to what is so fleeting (John 10:10, 28-30).