In Memory of My Earthly Father

My earthly father passed away thirteen years ago today. I was with him reading the bible to him. He was unresponsive, but knowing he might be able to hear me, I read from 1st Corinthians 15 to him.

Jesus blessed me with the experience of sharing with my father about Jesus and praying with him 14 months before he died. My father had his share of problems during his earthly life. He lost a business and found out he was diabetic in the same year. He struggled with alcoholism. He never wanted to hear about Jesus from me until that day in February 2008.

I shared about that experience in Forgiveness From Me Led to My Father Receiving Forgiveness from God.

He breathed his final earthly breaths as I was reading this passage from 1 Corinthians 15:

But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?”  How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body.  Not all flesh is the same: People have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another.  There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another.  The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor.

So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable;  it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.

After he died, I realized how fitting it was that he died while I was reading about a seed that falls into the ground and raised a spiritual body. My father was an avid rose gardener,

In his final years, there were other blessings. We finally began to reconnect. When he was in the hospital one time, he saw my hobby of learning greetings in other languages become evident. As nurse assistants and housekeepers came into his room, all of whom were from other countries, I greeted them in their languages. It surprised him.

It is never too late to reconnect and we do not lose hope for loved ones. He is in heaven now having received the free gift of forgiveness from God. One day because of God’s grace, I will see him again.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Jesus Defeated Death and Will Share His Victory

It is Easter Sunday my favorite Sunday of the year. Today we remember that Jesus defeated death through his resurrection. He took on that which we fear most, death, and defeated it. Jesus is alive and on his throne in heaven.

Jesus’s resurrection also shows how completely he saves us. He died for our sins, so we can be forgiven by God and have eternal life. But our eternal life will not be only our spirits. Jesus will share the victory of his resurrection with us.

1sr Corinthians 15:

When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”

 “Where, O death, is your victory?
    Where, O death, is your sting?”

 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

and 1st Thessalonians 4:

For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words.

Because of Jesus, we can look forward to eternity with resurrected bodies completely saved mind, spirit, soul and body. Because of Jesus, we can see our loved ones again.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

A Celebration of Life

This afternoon was memory lane as we celebrated the life of the mom of my best friend as a child. During the funeral as my friend Todd shared memories, it brought back memories for me. Best of all my friend Todd and his mom whose life we celebrated both know Jesus.

One of the stories shared was that in her final days on earth one of her visitors told her, “Jesus loves you,” and she smiled ear to ear.

Whenever I go to the funeral of someone who knows Jesus, I think of Psalm 116


Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his faithful servants

That is not a morbid or sadistic thought at all. Jesus does not relish seeing us suffer. What makes the death of his faithful servants precious to him is that our deaths are the time we come home to our eternal home with him.

Jesus knows heaven is far better for us than this life. He also wants us with him. In John 17 Jesus said:

Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.

It was a good afternoon spent reminiscing with friends from long ago and remembering a woman from my childhood.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

The Gratitude of A Sister Whose Brother Jesus Returned to Her- John 12

A few weeks ago we pondered Jesus bringing Lazarus back from the dead Jesus Showed His Power Over Death. Lazarus’s sister, Mary, was overwhelmed with grief when she told Jesus:

When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

She was standing there when Jesus called Lazarus back from the dead after Lazarus had been dead for four days. That caused quite the commotion resulting in the religious leaders wanting to kill Jesus, so Jesus left the area because it was not time yet.

Six days before the Passover weekend, the weekend Jesus was crucified, Jesus came to visit Lazarus and his sisters Mary and Martha. That moment causes wonderment in my mind to think about Lazarus who had been dead for four days was now eating dinner with Jesus and others.

Can you imagine the gratitude Martha and Mary must have felt? For four days their brother was dead and then Jesus called him back from the dead. They had their brother back with them.

Mary expressed her tremendous gratitude with an act of worship which is recorded in John 12 and will be remembered for all eternity.

Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.

When I think about Mary’s act of worship, two things stand out to me, she spared no cost and it was deeply personal.

She spared nothing. The jar of perfumed ointment cost a year’s wages.

It was deeply personal. She wiped the feet of Jesus with her hair.

Sadly there are those who will criticize acts of worship and devotion to Jesus. Judas did so by saying:

“Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages”

But we learn his true motives for saying that:

 He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.

Jesus put Judas in his place by saying:

“Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. “It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. You will always have the poor among you,  but you will not always have me.”

Jesus was not saying we should not care about the poor. He was not saying we should ignore the poor. There are plenty of bible verses imploring us to care for the poor, the widows, the orphans. Jesus was keeping the moment in the perspective of his impending sacrifice for us and honoring Mary’s gratitude and devotion both of which Judas had none of.

When we worship, do we give of ourselves like Mary did?

Is our worship deeply personal like Mary’s was?

Do we concern ourselves with those who criticize our devotion to Jesus?

Thank you for reading. God Bless

My New Short Story-Terminal Patient Meets A Man Who Died Twice — Encounters with the Ancients

“I am sorry to inform you that all of the treatments we have tried have failed. Your cancer is spreading. It is time to talk about end of life care for you.” Words that no patient ever wants to hear had just been spoken in warm sympathetic tones. “End of life? How long do I […]

Terminal Patient Meets A Man Who Died Twice — Encounters with the Ancients

Jesus Showed He Has Power Over Death-John 11

It can be captivating to listen to the story of someone who died but was resuscitated minutes later. There is a book by a pastor- 90 Minutes in Heaven-about his experience of dying and being in heaven only to be sent back. He also shares his experience of the long recovery after his accident. But the stories we hear or read about deal with some being dead for minutes.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The past two Tuesdays focused on the account of Lazarus in John 11 with the first one about Jesus delaying to go to Lazarus- Why Jesus Sometimes Delays- and the compassion Jesus has for us when we suffer- Jesus Cares about Us in Our Difficulties.

Today we focus on Jesus having power over death, but this account does not deal with someone who had been dead for minutes, or even hours. In this account the person was dead for FOUR Days.

Lazarus’ body had been laid in a tomb which was a cave that had a huge stone in front of it. Jesus walked to the tomb and gave the instructions:

“Take away the stone,” 

Martha, sister of Lazarus, who only moments before expressed:

 “But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”

Being human and in the heightened emotion of the situation she wavered in her faith and expressed concern. No one had come back from the dead after four days before that moment.

“But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”

FOUR Days

BUT Jesus knew what he was about to do.

Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”

They took the huge stone away and Jesus prayed.

“Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”

His prayer was not for himself. He prayed in front of all of the people for one purpose- that they may believe God the Father sent Jesus.

The purpose of everything in our lives when we trust Jesus in our difficulties is so people may believe God the Father sent Jesus.

Then with no hoopla, no theatrics like we might see with certain television ‘ministries’, Jesus simply gave a three word command.

“Lazarus, come out!” 

The man who had been dead for FOUR Days came walking out of the tomb.

The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.

Jesus gave instructions

“Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”

The result was that many did believe in Jesus.

Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him.

Some, however, had a different reaction that we will explore next week.

Jesus showed he has power over death. Can he help us with any problem?

Jesus showed he has power over death. Can he help you?

Side note- When I think about Jesus bringing Lazarus back from the dead after four days, I also think how the poor guy had to die again.

Thank you for reading. God Bless,

When Christians Die

This morning a celebration of life will be observed for a woman who was part of my Life Group from church. She passed away and entered the presence of Jesus on Good Friday shortly before midnight. My first thought was what an Easter celebration she had. 🙂

Her final days in hospice care provided some poignant moments. One that I will never forget was bringing some grape juice and gluten free crackers to observe communion with her, her family, and a few Life Group members. I sat near her and read scripture to her, played some worships songs, and prayed as we shared communion.

When a Christian friend passes away, I am always mindful of what Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 4:13 about grieving:

brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope

Even in death we have hope because of Jesus. He defeated death for us through his resurrection. The plan is already set for our resurrection which Paul wrote about in 1 Thessalonians 4:

 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep.  For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.

When a Christian dies, our spirit/soul enters into heaven enjoying eternal glory but we also wait for that day our bodies will be resurrected. Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:8:

We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.

and home it is.

So as we celebrate my friend’s earthly life, I will be mindful of the truth that she lives on in heaven and is much better off than I am at the moment. I will also remember that for Christians death is not goodbye. It is see you again.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Jesus Wants Us with Him for Eternity

Yesterday I visited a dear sister in Jesus who has terminal cancer. I visited her in the hospice facility where she is being cared for in her final days. It was my third visit since Saturday. She has been part of my Life Group from my church.

I shared a short devotional with her about how Jesus will return for his church and perhaps that will be soon. That all who believe in Jesus have a wonderful eternal destiny where there is no cancer.

How can I say that Jesus wants us with him for eternity? Because he said it himself. In john 17:24

“Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world”

That is why he came and died for us 2,000 years ago. That is why he defeated death for us. One day he will come for us. I shared this song with my friend. One day we will dance on streets that are golden

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

A Funny Thing Happened on My Way to Becoming A Pastor- Part 3- The Valley of Death

This is a multi part shorts series of posts. Part 1 was about the decision to become a pastor and a key book in my life. Part 2 was about discovering an ability and my health beginning to decline while at school.

Part 3 today is about The Valley of Death.

I love Psalm 23:4- “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me”

The New International Versions states valley of the shadow of death as dark valley.

Either way it expresses so well what I experienced from April 1994 to July 1995. It was indeed a dark valley.

Photo by Luca Paul on Pexels.com

I had returned to my home city from the school where I was studying for the ministry with the thought that I was coming home to die. I also believed that Jesus led me to my new church First Free Church to pray for the church while I was dying. I would later find out the real reason for being led there.

My health progressively worsened. I could only work delivering pizzas part-time because of my health. I lived in a small apartment in the basement of a house.

In the fall of 1994, my feet swelled up and it hurt to walk. In the winter of 94/95 my hands swelled up. It was edema from being sick. I had little to no contact with the friends I had made at the church I went to before leaving for school due to changing denominations. There we no sympathetic ears to be found. It was a valley I walked through mostly alone except for Jesus and a married couple that were my friends when I first rededicated my like to Jesus.

When I would drive the delivery car for the restaurant, it only had a radio. Two songs on the radio seemed to tell my story, Streets of Philadelphia by Springsteen and I Will Remember You by Sarah McLachlan.

Even though Streets of Philadelphia was about dying from a different disease than my problem, the lyrics stuck with me:

I heard the voices of friends vanished and gone
At night I could hear the blood in my veins
It was just as black and whispering as the rain

One of the symptoms of what I had was memory loss. I would see people in public that I had known and they would greet me. I would say hi and move on wondering who the person was. That was why the lyrics of I Will Remember You by Sarah McLachlan spoke to me:

I will remember you, will you remember me?
Don’t let your life pass you by
Weep not for the memories

Even with the pain getting progressively worse, losing memory, doctors not being able to diagnose me, and being for the most part alone, there were moments in that dark valley that Jesus met me.

The song that meant the most to me was Immanuel by Michael Card. There were times I would listen to the song while praying and it would feel like I was in eternity. It was the song I listened to when I returned home one night feeling discouraged that I could not remember what kind of car I had when I finished shopping at the market and had to walk around in the rain for 20 minutes until I could remember.

It was also the song that I was listening to as I was praying one night in July 1995. My prayer was:

“Jesus if tonight you want to take me home to heaven, that is ok, but there are more people who need help and more people who need to hear about you.”

When I finished praying, I felt the presence of Jesus come into my small apartment and felt a hand on my shoulder. The pain stopped. The next day I went to the doctor……….

Thank you for reading. God Bless. I am sharing the song that meant so much to me- Immanuel by Michael Card.

Beautiful Poem- He Spoke To Me In My Grief — The Inspirational Room by Fay Ann Swearing

Weakened from the sorrow and the pain,I sat down and asked, Lord, why must I go through this again?My smile disappears,And sadness oversteers. This is what I ask,because I don’t want to wear a mask,Don’t you know the pain of losing a love one is driving me insane,Why did you allow this to happen? Or […]

He Spoke To Me In My Grief — The Inspirational Room by Fay Ann Swearing