All posts tagged death

Heart-Broken

A BIBLICAL PERSPECTIVE ON THOSE WHO HAVE TAKEN THEIR OWN LIFE FOR THOSE OF US WHO LOVED THEM AND ARE LEFT BEHIND.

We want to AND MUST remember our beloved friend who has taken his (or her) own life, because we cared for him and we want to honor his memory. We especially want to express our love to remaining family and all those left behind who are suffering from this tragic loss. This is in fact where we can have the greatest impact.

It is impossible to adequately describe the emotions we feel at the loss of someone we love – especially when the circumstances are so unexpected, tragic and needless.

As a Christ-follower first, and a clergyman second, I PRAY that I can accomplish three important things in my brief remarks here –
1. First and foremost we want to remember our beloved friend … now gone.
2. Second, although we will never forget him, I hope to give us more closure on our loss … so we can
continue to move forward with our lives in a positive way.
3. Lastly, I want to give you comfort and hope for the future … by sharing some of what God says in His Word about death, and this particular kind of untimely death, so you will be better prepared when and if it comes to you again.

I pray God will preside over and guide both my words and your thoughts as you consider these remarks with me.

In times of death, any death, many emotions flood our mind – loss, fear, sadness, questioning, hopelessness, despair, anger, resolve and even courage – I want these remarks to be uplifting and hopeful for you. There is hope – God cares for you! – I Peter 5:7

ABOUT OUR DEPARTED FRIEND…
– Whatever their age, we never expected their life to end so suddenly with so much left to be lived and experienced with them. Perhaps they were giving, caring, talented, kind, loving and a wonderful friend to many… and much more … They will be sorely missed.
– If we believe they knew the Lord and accepted Him as their personal Savior – that makes a tremendous difference. If we are not assured of this fact, we can only pray that this was the case and focus on those left behind.
– But we do know that he was surely OVERWHELMED by life and SCARRED from circumstances and DEPRESSED and the pressures became just too much for him – leading to this final and terrible act of desperation.

Let me address something very directly that we all wonder about but MAY not be sure if it is appropriate to discuss …
– A person who takes their own life is wrong to do so, that is in within the purview of God’s authority alone, but it does not make them a bad or evil person. Suicide is an act of desperation brought about by irrational thinking, but it is an act that God can and does forgive if we are His …
– If our friend has trusted Christ for his salvation, we can rest assured that we will see him again and ALL those who have gone before us into the valley of the shadow of Death (remember it is only the shadow of death because Christ has taken the sting out of death by giving us eternal life when we placed our faith in Him to do so.) This means when our beloved appeared before God in heaven they were warmly embraced by God as He welcomed them into eternity. There is no doubt about that.
– We ourselves have hope of a better day. I want you to personally have that hope of eternal life because it is available to all who want it.
– If you don’t understand what I am talking about but want to know more about what the Bible teaches about eternal life in Christ, I hope you will correspond with me so we can discuss this in more detail.

One of my favorite Bible passages is PSALM 15

1 Who may worship in your sanctuary, LORD? Who may enter your presence on your holy hill?
2 Those who lead blameless lives and do what is right, speaking the truth from sincere hearts.
3 Those who refuse to gossip or harm their neighbors or speak evil of their friends.
4 Those who despise flagrant sinners, and honor the faithful followers of the LORD, and keep their promises even when it hurts.
5 Those who lend money without charging interest, and who cannot be bribed to lie about the innocent. Such people will stand firm forever.

However the problem with this passage is that it is in the Old Testament and emphasizes the Law and the Commandment and does not take into consideration the New Covenant we have in Christ whereby Jesus has fulfilled the law and now serves as our lawyer and commander.

It is not by works of righteousness which we have done but because of His mercy (Jesus) we are saved … by Grace as a gift of God … Titus 3:5-7/Ephesians 2:8-9

Some New Testament Scripture verses that clearly teach assurance of salvation for the believer:

We are saved by the grace of God, not by works (Ephesians 2:8-9) and nothing can separate a Christian from the love of God (Romans 8:37-39).

“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.” — John 5:24

“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.”—John 10:27-29

“And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.”—1 John 5:11-13

I am guessing you may be asking yourself questions like: Why did this happen? Could I have prevented it? What would I have said or done if I had known it was coming? Where does this leave me? How can I go on? Some of these questions are unanswerable and others are not …

We could not have known that our friend would have been gone from our lives so soon
Maybe you have something you wish you could have said to him before he left us or perhaps you wish there was something you could do or undo that you feel sorry about …

We best honor our beloved’s memory if we learn from these missed opportunities and apply them to our life today so we do not have these kinds of regrets again with another person we love.

Something to think about …

At Day’s End
Is anybody happier
because you passed his way?
Does anyone remember
that you spoke to him today?

The day is almost over,
and its toiling time is through,
Is there anyone to utter now
a kindly word of you?

Can you say tonight in parting,
with the day that’s slipping fast,
that you helped a single brother
of the many that you passed?

Is a single heart rejoicing
over what you did or said?
Does the one whose hopes are fading
now with courage look ahead?

Did you waste the day or lose it?
Was it well or sorely spent?
Did you leave a trail of kindness,
or a scar of discontent?

As you close your eyes in slumber,
do you think that God will say,
“You have earned one more tomorrow
by the work you did today?”
~ John Hall

A. Part of getting closure on our loss is to commit to learning from it and living our future life with fewer regrets and performing more positive acts of love.

– Learn to verbally express your care for others often and out loud in words
– Perform kind and sensitive acts of love for those around you
– Help to point others to that kind of life too
– Prepare yourself to be with loved ones again in eternity
* Our loved one had placed his trust in Christ
* You can see him again if you are willing to give your life to Christ

“If in this life only we have hope, we are of all creatures most miserable.” – I Cor. 15:9

B. That takes me to our future and how we live our life today and tomorrow.
– Life goes on … how will you live it? For yourself or for God and others?
– A life devoted to personal pleasure and self-gratification is an empty life. Maybe you don’t buy into the ideas of a Creator who rules over the universe or organized religion (I’m talking about a personal relationship, not religion) – but that’s your call and you will live with the consequences of your decision right or wrong.  In any case, I hope you see the benefit of doing good to others and putting them ahead of yourself.
– We can transform our disappointment and negative emotions into something positive if we will allow them to mold us and motivate us to be better persons today and in the future.

A FINAL QUESTION – Scripture and experience tell us that … “it is appointed unto man once to die … and after that the judgment.” – Hebrews 9:27
When Death comes into our life again (and it will come again) how will you respond?

IN SUMMARY

1. We thank God for our departed loved one
2. If we need help we will ask for it
3. We will care for one another
4. We will use this experience to make us better people
5. With God’s help we can prepare for the future and rest in the knowledge that He cares for us!

“Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for your power, grace and mercy. Please confirm these truths in our heart by your Word and apply them to our life … We pray this in the strong name of Jesus. Amen!”

My Funeral

I am told that Billy Graham had at one time expressed a desire to make a video addressing those who might attend his funeral some day; because he wanted to be sure the gospel would be clearly presented on that occasion. They were even talking about conducting the service at the National Cathedral in Washington D.C. and had the service all worked out in great detail.  In keeping with this type of planning and organization, I actually have a file of ideas that I have been collecting for my eventual funeral.  Today I added a few more great notes that I hope my family will honor when I am looking down from eternity.

I have repeatedly gone on record saying that I wanted my funeral to be a very sad occasion with worldwide media coverage.  They will probably need to have an advance press conference, a press table, and wait several days to hold the service to enable media representatives to travel to Dallas from various parts of the globe.

To set the proper mood, my funeral should be scheduled on a cold rainy day at about 4pm on a Thursday. I say that because I want it to be the last thing my friends do before they go home so they can continue to reflect on my passing the rest of the evening. I would prefer that they do not watch any TV that night and perhaps fast for the remainder of the day.

At the funeral, I want the dress code strictly enforced to show the proper respect.  Everyone attending will be required to wear black or they will not be admitted to the inner sanctum but relegated to the overflow seating in the parking lot.  No bright colors will be allowed.  The service would probably be held at Cowboy’s Stadium to accommodate the crowd. Otherwise if a smaller venue is all that is available (say 15,000 seating capacity like a large Baptist Church) multiple services might be needed and this would be unfair to all those who want to attend the big event .  Of course the major networks would bid for rights to provide a live feed to ‘pay-for-view’ TV.  The money raised would be given to find the cure for whatever had killed me.  And we would provide huge screens situated around the facility to give the live audience maximum viewing enjoyment of this powerfully moving event.

There would be no charge for those who came so “see me off in person” as a final gesture of my magnanimity.  To offset the costs of this extravaganza and allow more to go toward charity, souvenirs and 8×10 color shots of the service highlights and me would be sold on the way out.  A magnificent eight-color program would be sold to attendees with sponsorships by major corporations.  The contents of the program would highlight all of my life’s greatest accomplishments and feature testimonials by world leaders and celebrities who had known me.

I request that flowers be piled high around the exterior of the stadium but left outside to facilitate the maximum seating capacity inside.

All the men whom I have impacted over the years would assemble to participate in the service. They would be dressed in identical black tuxedos (no tails) with grey cravats, black square-toe zip boots and white gloves, but no hats.  They must be clean shaven with fresh haircuts or we cannot include them.  It would be their job to line the aisles all across the stadium and seat guests as they arrive.  During the musical portion of the service I would like the Temptations and the O’Jays to sing and these many men to dance in the aisles in unison as back-up to the music.  The audience would be required to remain seated and no onlookers would be allowed to come up to my casket at this time because the crowd could become unruly.  Opportunity to pay homage will be given later at the conclusion of the service.

Seating and staging will be in the round.  The very first thing the audience would hear as the service commences would be a tremendous pipe organ playing “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.” The sound will fill the place with sacred vibrations and focus the audience on what is about to take place. Then everyone in the audience will stand and the platform guests and participants will take their place and THE HOUSE WILL BECOME SILENT. The lights will dim and A LONE BAGPIPER WILL LEAD THE PROCESSION as it wails “Amazing Grace.”  My casket will be carried to center stage by 10 pallbearers selected by an anonymous committee to avoid any resentment or retaliation by those not chosen.  A single white spotlight will follow the procession as many swoon and weep.  Ushers will be careful to assist onlookers who are overwhelmed with emotion.  Nearby hospitals and ambulances will be on the ready as needed.

I will repose in my elaborately decorated and bejeweled golden casket.  It will be opened so I can be kissed on the check.  I will have on a brown houndstooth sportcoat with a top pocket full of gospel tracts I have written and a placard over the pocket saying “Free. Take One!”

Ha!  Ridiculous!  None of this will ever happen!

In all seriousness, today I attended the real funeral of a godly woman who went to be with Jesus after a long but hard-fought battle with cancer.  The church was full of those she had impacted.  It was tremendously moving and I was so glad to be there.  As I sat contemplating life, I started thinking about my own death some day.  My thoughts naturally lead to me ruminating on my life and what I was doing with my time and relationships here and now. It was a good worthwhile time of meditation and as a result I came to three important conclusions:

  1. Serve God with a view toward eternity
  2. Love others and invest in them
  3. Live each day to the fullest

My funeral is coming and so is yours.  Will we be ready?  Will it be a celebration of our life or just a period at the end of a long meaningless sentence?  We get to decide now while there is still time…

“I Will Rise”

BY CHRIS TOMLIN

“There’s a peace I’ve come to know.  Though my heart and flesh may fail.  There’s an anchor for my soul.  I can say “It is well.” Jesus has overcome.  And the grave is overwhelmed.  The victory is won.  He is risen from the dead.  [Chorus:]  And I will rise when He calls my name.  No more sorrow, no more pain.  I will rise on eagles’ wings.  Before my God fall on my knees.  And rise.  I will rise.  There’s a day that’s drawing near.  When this darkness breaks to light.  And the shadows disappear.  And my faith shall be my eyes.  Jesus has overcome.  And the grave is overwhelmed.  The victory is won.  He is risen from the dead.  [Chorus:]  And I will rise when He calls my name.  No more sorrow, no more pain.  I will rise on eagles’ wings.  Before my God fall on my knees.  And rise.  I will rise.  And I hear the voice of many angels sing,  “Worthy is the Lamb.”  And I hear the cry of every longing heart,  “Worthy is the Lamb.”  [x2] [Chorus:]  And I will rise when He calls my name.  No more sorrow, no more pain.  I will rise on eagles’ wings.  Before my God fall on my knees.  And rise  I will rise.”

“I consider my life worth nothing to me, my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me – the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.”

Acts 20:24