To venable (verb): To randomly muse upon this and that.

Archive for the ‘Death’ Category

My Bereavement.

A previous post (2nd Oct) reminds me of my own bereavement. It is five years ago today since I lost my Mum. The pain is still real. I miss her so very much. And as I write this a few tears come to my eyes, I have to confess.

What I’m led to dwell upon here though is the mindless nonsense people often emit in such situations. I have written here about some of my alarm over this.

However, what I specifically remember was a dear friend of my Mum’s, at the pre-funeral assembling, saying some stuff about how I should think of my Mum being with us just watching on from above.

I mouthed some platitudes I think, but indignation arose inside me. It was nonsense she was telling me, possibly well-intentioned nonsense, but still nonsense and it was of no help to me. My Mum was not there; she had gone and the pain was immense. She was no longer around for me to call or spend time with. She was gone. Ah the pain still goes into me as I think of this.

I am left thinking that sometimes the best thing we can do for people in distress is simply to be there; simply just to spend time and show we care. And in this we can be there to listen to them or simply just to be there. For our instruction we can remember that Job’s friends were of the most use to him when they were silent for those seven days. Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was (Job 2:13). It was when they started talking that they proved to be less than comforting comforters.

Bereavement

Yesterday’s post reminds me of the whole issue of how we respond to bereavement. When a person has lost a loved-one we, who know that person or the deceased, immediately feel their loss. We flock around them: we take an interest and make it evident that we care. And then the funeral comes. The funeral brings closure for so many of those who were close to the deceased (but not too close); for them they can move on with their lives.

The assumption is though, that the one who has lost a very close relative such as a son, daughter, or spouse will also be moving on. But as a general rule they are not. Maybe the funeral has brought some degree of closure. However, there is still such a sense of loss and loneliness as they come to terms with the fact that someone who was so much a part of their lives is no longer around.

The whole feeling is exacerbated by the fact that all of the comforters, in the immediate days after the bereavement, have moved on.

This all leads me to think about how we should be ever so thoughtful and sensitive to these situations. Continuance of interest is so important. In the church we should ever be prayerful and thoughtful for those who have lost ones even if it is a longtime after the event. We should sensitively talk to the person and listen to see how they are getting on.

One tip is to be thoughtful of anniversaries. Perhaps write in a diary pertinent dates so that you can show your loving interest in the bereaved at those times.

Preparing to Move On (Cont.d).

Last friday we looked at the realities of eternity and how we should be preparing to meet our God. Today we continue this theme buy looking at issues which should concern us, given the inevitably of our departure from this world.

We have to confess that death is an enemy. In fact the enemy of our souls, Satan, has death in his power (see Heb. 2:14). Consequently upon this is the thought that death casts a shadow over our lives. This is particularly true when we draw near to this enemy. Psalm 23:4a refers to the “walk through the darkest valley”. However, David goes on to say that he will “fear no evil: for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4b).

These comments by David are very important for us in getting a handle on how the Christian should prepare for death. David knows that the God of all comfort (2 Cor.1:3a) is being so really good to him now. And with this knowledge he has confidence to fear no evil in the future day when he walks into the valley of the shadow of death.

It is further very interesting to note that David draws his comfort from both the rod and the staff. The rod corrects us and the staff upholds us. We can easily see how God’s upholding hand is a comfort to us. However, it is less easy for us to see that the rod is a comfort. We start to get an insight into this though, when we look at Heb. 12:9-10 where the writer says “we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness.” The clear implication here is that the LORD’S correction, symbolised by the rod in Psalm 23:4b, means that He has a fatherly care for us. And an awareness of His fatherly care, at the present time, encourages us not to fear the day of death ahead because, in that day we know He will be with us taking care of us.

So what does this mean to us? It means that we should be continually learning more of our God’s comforting hand upon us as we pass through the twists and turns of life. And the knowledge of this will mean that we need not have any fear in that day because we know he will be there to comfort us.

What about the things we leave behind?

As Christians we are called to be good stewards of that which God has committed to our care. This applies very much to the making of arrangements concerning our affairs after we depart to be with the LORD. This implicitly challenges our lifestyle at the present time. If we hoard and/or live in chaos then someone after us will have to clear up the mess and what testimony will that bear to the LORD’S Name? In fact in all our ways we should live so that we are unashamed before him at his coming (1 John 2:28b).

One crucial aspect of the ordering of our affairs is that we should have a will. This means that our relatives/friends know what to do when we die. It hopefully will prevent any unnecessary disputes arising. Very regrettably disputes often abound concerning issues of inheritance (the LORD Himself faced this in Luke 12:13) and we should be wise to seek to prevent this. Furthermore, leaving a will can mean that the work of the LORD is benefited by all or a portion of your estate being left to an appropriate designated organisation.

One further specific area to consider is that of the funeral. Relatives are often in disarray after a loved one has passed on and funeral arrangements can become a very toilsome issue. Accordingly making clear your desires; even choosing hymns and Bible readings is very wise. It is best to speak to relatives and the elders of the church about this so that everything is clear to the relevant parties. How sad it is when a believer leaves no clear requests then, after death, the unbelieving relatives take over leading to the funeral being undertaken with neither any testimony to the LORD nor to His resurrection power.

Let us then be careful to prepare for the day of our departure. And in all things remember that as believers when we part from this scene we have a home in heaven awaiting us: Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. (John 14: 1-3). HALLELUJAH; PRAISE THE LORD.

(Taken and adapted from Feltham Evangelical Newsletter March 2004)

Preparing to Move On.

One of the greatest realities which bears upon each of our situations is the fact that we are not going to be in this world forever. Evidence of this fact surrounds us whether it be in our families, in the news or in the graveyard. And yet, notwithstanding the continual reminders of our own mortality,so many people pay no attention to making preparations for the day when they pass out off this scene. So let us seek to rectify this by looking at some ways in which we should prepare for the day of our departure.

Where will I go after I die?

Here is the point where all the issues of religion focus. We can discuss so many things and yet when all is said and done we return to this very basic issue of what is going to happen to each individual upon passing beyond the grave. In this context point-scoring about various religious matters is an utter irrelevance. Rather, we need to know the truth pure and simple; we want no deceptions at all.

Let us look at the truth of God in the Bible and see what He says. Very straight-forwardly, God says that Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgement (Heb 9:27). We learn therefore straight away that there is a something after death for a man to face; death is not the end; there is judgment to face!

But what after this judgment? The Bible makes it clear that the judgment is followed by either a life in heaven for some or and eternity in hell for some. Those who die in their sins without ever repenting of their sinful condition will be in a similar state to the rich man in Luke 16 of whom it is recorded in vv 23-24 that In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, “Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’

However, what a contrast there is for those who repent of their sins and trust the Saviour, the LORD Jesus. Those who have turned to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 20:21a) will enjoy the fulfilment of the Psalmist’s desires in Psalm 16 that you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. (v11b). And above all they will be, as the hymn says, “Praising their Saviour all the day long” and proclaiming with the heavenly host “praise and honour and glory and power, for ever and ever!”.

How marvellous it is to be a Christian and to know of these wonderful things which are ahead! In fact for the believer death has lost its power and so with the apostle Paul we can cry: “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. (1 Cor.15:55-57). We have the victory in Him and so for the Christian there is nothing to fear from death or Hades. The contest is over the Victor who is our Saviour has triumphed through His death, burial and resurrection and through that we are blessed.

Judgment for the Christian.

However there is a judgment for the Christian to face. 2 Cor.5:10 refers to this when Paul says “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due to us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.

Believers have had their sins all forgiven in the cross of the LORD Jesus and they will never have to face judgment for these. However, they will have to face judgment for how they have lived as Christians.

Four passages deal with this judgment:-

  • Rom.14:10-12 teaches us that each will stand before the LORD as an individual.
  • 1 Cor.3:10-15 indicates that we will be judged for what we have built into the local church.
  • 1 Cor.4:1-5 shows that we will be judged by the LORD for how faithful we have been to the stewardship He has committed to us.
  • 2 Cor.5:9-11 Indicates we will be judged for how much pleasure we have brought to the LORD.

So let us as Christians prepare for that day now so that we will hear our Master say “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge over many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!”

Moreover, we should remember that our LORD may return at any time to take His people home to heaven and death will be swallowed up in His victory (see 1 Cor.15:54). What marvellous prospects there are in store for the believer in Christ!

(Taken from Feltham Evangelical Church Newsletter February 2004)

Funeral Statement

Below is a somewhat unique document. Jerry Haglund who passed away to be with the Lord on August 13th 2007 wrote this so that it could be read at his funeral.  I have set it down exactly as Jerry wrote it.

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Some funerals are less sad than others! You may think that this is a strange statement to make, so let me explain what I mean.

Christians believe the words of the Lord Jesus Christ (as God incarnate) when He said,”Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John 3:3. Again “that whosoever believeth in him should not perish , but have everlasting life.”John 3:15 and “For God so loved the world , that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”   John 3:16

I believe that in June 1952, when I accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as my personal Saviour, I received the gift of eternal life. Further, I believe that at the moment that I died I went into the presence of God. Paul under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, when he was writing to the Christians in Philippi said, “For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better: nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.”

Therefore my funeral is less sad for those present here today who are Christians, for they know that I am in the presence of the Lord . Many who conduct funeral services will, I believe, have a lot of explaining to do to God for deceiving people. To sum up their messages to their congregation is ‘rest assured that your loved one is now at peace and in the presence of the Lord.’ even though they may not have committed their lives to God, or prayed, or read the bible, or worshiped God , that somehow it will all be forgotten of God.

It is a fact of human nature that we are to accept the pleasant facts of life, but ignore the unpleasant ones. To sum up, there is a hell to be shunned and a heaven to be gained ; and heaven is not gained by good works, but by accepting the Lord Jesus Christ as one’s personal Saviour, believing that when he died on the cross it was able to pay the penalty for our sin. I do hope that all present here today, by faith, with assurance that they know their eternal destiny will be in heaven in the presence of God.

Life And Death Lived.

In Isaiah 57:5 reads

You burn with lust among the oaks
    and under every spreading tree;
you sacrifice your children in the ravines
    and under the overhanging crags.

Here we find a culture that is full of life and death. We see here the fertility cult in operation whereby they would follow the way of the pagan religions and engage in orgiastic type activity to persuade the gods to be fruitful with them. Such was plain immorality dressed up as religion. On the other hand they would engage in the sacrifice of their children. Life and death were crazily intermingled.

At the heart of all this was a self-centredness which drove their whole way of life. Their lack of God centredness is seen in their whole lifestyle as their sexual indulgence and murder flagrantly flouted the commandments of the Lord.

But that is what happens when people set themselves on a course without thought of God and His ways. And it is all too common today. In many ways we have discarded the religious veneer that Judah had in Isaiah’s day, but we have the same heinous stuff taking place.

The motivation for flouting God’s law concerning sexual practice is all to do with my personal benefit and pleasure. Moreover, we have the culture of death mixed in with it all as abortion is a right I must have in order that my life is not inconvenienced by the foetus in my womb (or so they say). Thousands of babies are sacrificed on the altar of personal freedom.

The cry of ‘I must have my life’ mingles with the wails of the unborn dead and it is a cacophony to weary our beings.

Place Of Rest.

One of the most distressing things about my recent episode with tooth pain (which I wrote about here) was finding that the place of rest had become the place of pain. There were a couple of days when I was pretty fine whilst going about my normal business, but when I lay down I could feel the pain develop in my mouth.

When we are tired we look forward to the place of rest. We look forward to the refreshment that that affords. But suddenly I was deprived of that, even worse I was given pain instead of pleasure.

We need rest as human beings. The Sabbath principle is a principle which means that rest is granted to us for our benefit. When we are deprived of rest, we do not function well. This experience somewhat mangled my mind. The place of rest becoming a place of pain was a sobering experience.

I am left wondering about this. It is common place to say of someone when they have died that they are “at rest” or they should “rest in peace.”. But what do these phrases, which are used so casually, mean. The alarming thing is that for so many that hoped for rest in eternity may well find it not to be so. The Word says that there is no rest to the wicked. Isaiah observes ‘There is no peace,’ says my God,for the wicked.’  (Is. 57:21). That means no rest! And for those who die as “the wicked”, there is eternally no rest. This statement necessitates defining who the wicked are. The wicked are those who are outside of Christ. In Christ we are constituted righteous by the free grace of our God. Outside of Christ we are still in our sins; we are wicked.

In Matthew 7:21 -23 we read the following words of our Lord Jesus:

‘Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?” Then I will tell them plainly, “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!”

Here we have those presuming they will enter the place of rest, but it is not so. They are declared to be evildoers – the wicked. The place they thought would be for rest becomes rather the place of pain and that forever. I tremble to write such things; but it is true. Which leads me to ask of you if you are reading this; how is it with you?

For all those who are still “wicked” I urge you to flee from the wrath to come. Come to the One who offered and still offers rest (see Matt. 11:2*); eternal rest. Oh to have the blessing of being cleansed from all sin, free of all guilt; accepted in Jesus Christ. How wonderful it is to be no longer wicked because of Christ.  So I urge you again; Come to Him.

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