Posts Tagged With: death

A Fallen Brother-in-Arms

Some of you may already know that I write a devotional on weekdays.  I normally leave it to its own blog, but this one is being brought over here with a few additional thoughts and some formatting changes.

I got word Tuesday morning that a dear friend of mine, a fellow brother in Christ and a warrior for the faith had fallen in battle.  No, not on the fields of physical warfare in some foreign land.  This was a spiritual battle that claimed the highest toll.  I spent much of the day alternating between tears and disbelief.  There are all the questions that come in times of grief and loss, especially a loss such as this.  As ministers, we are not immune to the stress of life and the pressures of ministry can often add a dimension that few are aware of unless they experience it firsthand.  Yet, there are still the promises of God and His Word.  I found this promise appropriate to where I am today:

On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples
a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine,
of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined.
And he will swallow up on this mountain
the covering that is cast over all peoples,
the veil that is spread over all nations.
     He will swallow up death forever;
and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces,
and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth,
for the Lord has spoken.
It will be said on that day,
“Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us.
This is the Lord; we have waited for him;
let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”  – Isaiah 25:6-9

Death will be done away with someday.  Jesus Christ has proved that this is true by His own resurrection from the dead.  The tears will be wiped away someday, just not today, at least not yet anyway.  But we wait for Him and the day we can rejoice with no tears to dim the celebration.  Please pray for my fallen brother-in-arms and for his family during this time of sorrow.

That was the basic content of the devotional post I wrote to post on Wednesday morning, but I felt the desire to expand further and so I carry on over here.  As I write this, it has been over 12 hours since I first got word of Bill’s death.  The shock and dismay and hurt and grief have been so raw at times that I have been able to do nothing but weep.  The Scripture about mourning with those who mourn has been in my head most of the day.  Bill was one of the first guys that I really got to know well after we moved to South Dakota almost 9 years ago now.  I spent many hours driving across the state with him and two other pastors just a month or so after we first arrived.  By the time we had spent a couple of days in Sioux Falls together, he felt comfortable letting me drive his Durango most of the way back to Rapid City (either that or it was due to the fact that I was the one who offered to drive through the wee hours of the night rather than sleep another night in the hotel).  It certainly might have been the fact that he needed to give his knees a rest after driving all the way there a couple of days earlier.  Either way, he showed a lot of trust in a 20-something kid he had only known for a couple of days.

I am not sure that I can think of anyone I know who was more giving and selflessly so than Bill.  It was my honor to spend so much time hanging out with one of his sons and mentoring him in youth ministry for a while(at least he says that he learned something from me, sometimes I had to wonder what I had to teach).  It might have been the only thing I could have done that could in any small way repay the ways that Bill had an impact on my life.  He was a big encouragement to me and his church was faithful to support us during our stint in the hills as MSC missionaries.  In my mind, I have replayed some of the many happy memories he has been a part of over these years.  I still remember him coming up to my kids at an annual meeting a couple of years ago and commending them for their good behavior before he handed them each a $2 bill.  His giving heart and kind spirit will be greatly missed on this side of eternity.  His funny impressions and cut-up nature will also be missed.  He touched many, many lives along the way in his ministry and his life.  I cannot adequately express with words all that I want to say.  All I know is that I have all the more reason to look forward to that day that Isaiah spoke of and the apostles affirmed was true because of the hope we have in Jesus Christ, when death is swallowed up and the Lord wipes away our tears and takes away our reproach and gives us the full joy of our salvation.

Maranatha!  Come quickly Lord Jesus!

 

Categories: devotional, Faith, family, friends, ministry, personal | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Life Is Precious, Life Is Sweet

I have got to get a couple of stories off of my mind and a few thoughts off my chest.  In the last couple of weeks I ran across two separate stories that made my blood boil and made me want to vomit as well.  I posted the video above, because I do believe that life is precious.  All life is precious.  Life is a miracle given by God and yet there seem to be some who are hellbent (I think that word is extremely apropos here) on cheapening life and destroying the miracles of God all around us.  Not content to question God or to mock Him, they see fit to try and metaphorically spit in His face while they are at it.

First up, the Dutch, who have been mocking away for years now at the very notion that life is precious or meaningful.  Not content to merely approve of doctors killing their patients for various reasons, they have now gone a step further to create a mobile unit to assist those patients whose doctors refused to go along with the suicide/homicide for whatever reason.

Every year 2,300 to 3,100 mercy killings are carried out in the Netherlands, although opponents of the practice claim the figure is much higher because many cases are not registered. The Royal Dutch Medical Association (KNMG) supports euthanasia in principle if there is no alternative, but has distanced itself from the NVVE initiative, arguing that giving it the name Life End will foster the idea that it is for those who it said are simply “weary of life” rather than those who are sick.

This time they have taken it so far that even some of those who are all for these murderous suicides have balked.  It will not be long, some claim that it already happens there, before these are not completely voluntary after all.

In another case, which is perhaps more appalling and should be trumpeted even more loudly perhaps; Oxford medical “ethicists” have determined that abortion is really no different than killing a newborn baby.  This is a DUH! moment if there ever was one as most pro-life folks have been making this argument for as long as the debate over abortion has been going on.  The real stomach-turner here is that the “ethicists” (I put that in quotes for a reason) logic leads them not toward the eradication of abortion but rather to the condoning of infanticide.  Go and read the article if you think you can.  I figure it is just one more nail in the coffin for when God finally says He has given us long enough.  They have extended the argument that made them OK with murder as long as it was inside the womb to encompass murder outside the womb.  They even go so far as to call newborn infants “potential persons.”

Here is the only good takeaway from this article.  They have finally agreed with us that an unborn child is no different than a child that has been born.  The fact that they are still willing to dehumanize it, tells anyone with a brain just how coldblooded and cruel the heart of the pro-abortion position is.  This isn’t about a woman’s right to choose; it is about justifying homicide in a way that makes it theoretically easier to look at yourself in the mirror the next day.  Abortion is murder.  Oxford “ethicists” have confirmed as much.

Just in case you think we haven’t crossed over the brink in our society, I offer you this story that I saw just within the last week.  A couple sued a hospital in Oregon because they had a baby that was born with Down syndrome,  They openly claimed that if they had known before it was born, they would have aborted the baby.  I might be a bit touchier on this subject as I lost a dear friend last summer who had Down syndrome.  He was a blessing to everyone that knew him.  The idea that any parent would think this way appalls me more than I can say.  The article says that they have received death threats (which is also appalling).  My only hope is that they never have to explain to this dear sweet child why they filed suit over the very fact that she was given life.  Used to be that children were considered a blessing.  What a sad day we have reached when for so many life either neither precious or sweet.

Categories: Abortion, America, Culture, Parenting, Science | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Culture of Death

I read a disturbing news story a day or so ago courtesy of Vox Day’s blog.  Doctors in Belgium are using organs from patients who have been euthanized (I already have a problem with that part) as transplants organs for other patients.  According to the article from the UK Daily Mail mentions that around 1/4 of all lung transplants come from “donors” who were killed by doctors in the hospital as well.

Euthanasia has been legal in Belgium since 2002, so this isn’t an overnight slide.  It is apparent that the dreaded “slippery slope” isn’t a fallacy in this case.  Doctors in Belgium are far more casual about this whole thing than doctors in other countries who aren’t euthanizing patients:

Dr Peter Saunders, of Care Not Killing, an umbrella group of more than 50 British medical, disability and religious charities opposed to euthanasia, said he was shocked by the report.

‘I was amazed at how nonchalantly the issue was dealt with as if killing patients and then harvesting their organs was the most natural thing in the world,’ he said.

‘Given that half of all euthanasia cases in Belgium are involuntary it must be only a matter of time before the organs are taken from patients who are euthanised without their consent.
That last paragraph is almost more frightening than the original topic.  Involuntary euthanasia is politispeak for legalized murder.  Lest you think we are not that bad, I would remind you that millions of unborn babies are “involuntarily euthanized” every year by those who should be protecting them, their mothers.
We no longer consider life precious in modern society.  You can chalk it up to the undermining of the truth that we are created by God and the resulting conclusion that all life is precious.  That would be the place that I will pin the bulk of the blame.  What has resulted is a culture of death.  Ironically, much of it is possible because we are in many ways more disconnected from death than the generations that came before us.  This disconnect has made death seem less real in my opinion.  I am saddened to see what this has brought about in Belgium and sobered to think that it wouldn’t take very long for us to find our way to this same place in America.  There are already states in the US with a form of “assisted suicide” measures on the books.  We are on the slide; it is just a matter of how long it takes to reach the bottom.
Categories: Apologetics, Christianity, Culture, Health, Science, Signs of the Times, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

When the Queen Kills the King – Check Please

From the title you might be guessing that this is a post about chess.  Sorry, but no.  It is a title about bad sermons with an attempt at a witty headline, but it got you this far so you might as well keep reading.

It is said that theology is the “Queen of the sciences,” and indeed that is so, but it is dangerous when someone mistakes the “queen” for the King.  I recently heard a sermon where the preacher didn’t bother to quote from Scripture, aside from a couple of “glancing” mentions of two verses without citing what they even were.  The sermon was based on the work of three theologians and their pontification on the death of Christ.  I hesitate to give a great number of details about the sermon, firstly because it made no real significant point and secondly, because details might more readily identify the subject and I don’t wish to make this a personal issue.

I am certain that I will never desire to hear this person preach again, but it isn’t because I have any animosity toward the preacher.  I just don’t see any point in “preaching” that doesn’t start, abide and end within the Word of God itself.

1And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. 2For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, 4and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.   – 1 Corinthians 2:1-5

There is nothing wrong with theology.  It certainly is the “queen of the sciences.”  It was so named because of the assertion that it is “the first among pursuits of knowledge, since it was believed that all other pursuits were vitally linked to its dictates.”  But it is beyond credible to place the pontifications of theologians above the very Scripture that should be under-girding the arguments they make.  Don’t base a sermon on the words of a few theologians who gave their opinions on why Christ had to die while asking the question “why did Christ have to die?”  Go to Scripture and find the answer there!

1Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you— unless you believed in vain. 3For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.  – 1 Corinthians 15:1-5

Paul didn’t beat around the bush about this.  He said that Christ died “for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures.”  This means that the reason Christ had to die is in Scripture.  In fact, it is all over the place in the Old Testament since that is the Scriptures that Paul is referring to; but in the New Testament, you find the writers working again and again to explain these things, just as Jesus had taught them Himself.  It may not be easy to follow or understand for everyone, but it is there.  Read the book of Hebrews for a blow by blow discussion or look at other epistles like 1 John or 1 Peter for smaller explanations or statements.

This comes back to my original point.  Don’t spend so much time talking about the queen, that you take the King from His throne.  Theology is wonderful and can give us interesting conversations and loads of speculation, but she can never replace the King of Kings and she certainly doesn’t belong in His place.  When some well meaning preacher allows the “queen” to kill the King, I am going to check out every time.  I may not be able to get up and walk out (although don’t put it past me), but I won’t be there anymore mentally.  Actually, in this case, I picked up the Bible in the pew in front of me and started to read a little bit.  I figured if the guy delivering the sermon wasn’t going to read from the Bible in church at least I would. Suddenly, I found myself wishing that the guy had heard of this place before.

Here is a small piece of advice for young preachers or even old preachers who feel the need to awe others with your seminary knowledge and the ability to name-drop an obscure 12th century theologian for effect; DON’T.  I don’t use caps lightly here.  Listen.  Stick to God’s Word.  It has and will stand the test of time and it is “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.”(2 Timothy 3:16b-17)  People don’t need the “doctors of theology,” as much as they need the Great Physician.

Categories: Apologetics, Bible Thoughts, Christianity, church, Culture, devotional, Discipleship, Faith, Gospel, Kingdom, Messiah, ministry, theology, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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