SELF-DESTRUCTION ~ Part 2

LIFE in Christ for Those Who Are Desperate

 “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”  John 3:3

As distorted as life may be; as distant as God may seem to you; as distressful is every moment to you in this world, hope in Christ — God’s means of LIFE to us — is the complete extreme of what you are experiencing.  He is able  — NOT YOU — to provide this hope, this new LIFE in Christ.  God has given His own Son to die for you.  He has already DIED for you.  Death is no longer an option for His children.  He has experienced all the agony that is plaguing your life now.  He took all your sins and your burdens upon Himself when He was put to death.  His blood was shed that we might not have to experience eternal death.  He was resurrected that we might live forever in Him and with Him.

The apostle Paul speaks of the difference of life in the flesh and LIFE in the Spirit in Romans 8.1-2;14-15

“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.”
For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.”

Those who are born of God, of His Spirit, have a goal.  This goal is set past this life into eternity.  It begins here but transcends into the heavenly kingdom.  Though this world is all that you can see with the physical eye this is not all there is.  There is existence past this life, through natural death, into an eternal world.  Without Christ as our escort, our shepherd, our mediator, our Savior, we plunge ourselves headlong into our own oblivion.   What we experience as oblivion now will be eternal damnation, death reigning forever. Death will not be an escape.  It will not make things better. Past this life there is no longer any hope.  As long as you have breath there is hope.  Through prayer, seeking answers to true LIFE through God’s word, finding someone who can tell you about Christ and His salvation, and a church where the people love the Lord, His word, and each other you can experience this LIFE in Christ.  There is nothing of any value in this world or the next without Him.

Hope and Patience

“For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?
But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.
Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered
.”  Romans 8:24-26

We must all come face to face with God,  the goal of every child of God.  It is He as our creator, redeemer, and Father who will bring us to Himself one day.  How will you face Him – – – in His love, or His judgment.  Eternal judgment comes only to those who refuse the love that He pours out to us through His Son.

“And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.”  1 John 3:23

Taking our life in our own hands to destroy what God created for Himself is disobedience, a lack of love for Him and others who know us and those we have yet to know.  Leaving this world before He lavishes His love and His goodness upon us is being our own God and refusing what God created for Himself.

We are all a result of what we think, and others have taught us; but new LIFE in Christ transforms us by the renewing of our minds.  In this new birth of God’s Spirit we have a new heart, a new love, a new way of thinking and living.  No longer do we live for ourselves, with our thoughts turned inward, but all that we are and do becomes an onward and upward movement toward God and His heavenly goal for us as His children.

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Life is a spiral, always moving;
either onward and upward to God or downward to an abyss.
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Seek and You Will Find Christ
If you are desolate, and desperate, as you read this, call someone and pour out your heart to them.  If they do not know God, or listen, or encourage you, or help you to find Christ, don’t let them stop you from calling a church near you.  If you have means of transportation, find a church and its pastor; find someone who knows Christ, and ask them to help you.

Jesus said, “Those who endure to the end will be saved.” Our only means of endurance are in Him.  He is our refuge, our strength, our LIFE.

Continue in hope and prayer, reading God’s Word.  If you don’t have a Bible, buy one or go to your local library and find one.  Read the Bible online here. Keep looking, keep asking, keep seeking, and keep knocking at the door of God’s heart until He answers.
Hear His words from Jeremiah 33:3

Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.”  Jeremiah 33:3

I cannot promise you anything.  Only God, who created you because He loves you, can bring you to hope in the promises from His word.  I can only point you to Him and the means whereby He saves us from death to LIFE.  I speak here in my love for Christ who has saved me and given me new LIFE in Him.  I can witness of the difference between His LIFE and life apart from Him.  I understand desperation, loneliness, and depression.  God is able and has delivered many others and me.

scripture Jeremiah-29_11-13 everyday

Of the Bible verses I learned as a child the one that was imprinted on my heart and mind comes personally from Jesus Christ in Matthew 11:28-30.  Take to heart verse 28:

“Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden
and I will give you rest.”


Choose LIFE and Wait on the Lord

“Wait on the Lord; be strong, be of good courage; and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.”   Psalm 27:14

There is no other hope but Christ only.  Even though you may not believe now does not mean that you can’t or won’t.  LIVE AND WAIT TO SEE WHAT HE HAS PLANNED FOR YOU.  Thank Him everyday for that day as you continue to look and wait for Him.

The following numbers are from Focus on the Family.
They can direct you to help in your own area.
8 a.m. – 5 p.m. —ask for the “counseling department.” 1-800-232-6459
6 a.m. – 8 p.m. to find a counselor in your area  1-855-771-4357

Dear Father, hear our cries for the mind, heart and lives of those whom You have created.  In Your love bring your children to Christ, Your Son, for LIFE; that we might all know, love, obey and live in and through Him the abundant LIFE He died to give.  In His precious name we pray.  Amen

(Tomorrow:  Part 3: LIFE for Those Who are Left Behind)

Related articles:
SELF-DESTRUCTION ~ The Wrong Choice Part 1
Life in Death
Help for the Suicidal

SELF-DESTRUCTION ~ The Wrong Choice

I started this article last month after imageshearing about a neighbor’s twenty-three year old son who had taken his own life.  I pick this up again after hearing the same thing last week from our daughter Lee, of a friend and former neighbor whom she had known since middle school.

Self-destruction has always been a way out of this world.  But why is this an option?  If you have ever been depressed, confused, or simply not comprehending what life is about, the thought of escape through death may have come to mind.  For some it may have never been contemplated.  But, I have been there  ~ in my thinking during a difficult time in my life. (The Light of God’s Grace) With a heart of gratitude I thank the Lord, my God, that He brought me through that time and past those thoughts to see what I naturally would have never understood about His purpose for our creation.

Whenever I hear of a successful self-annihilation I am not surprised, even if I never knew the person; though I am disheartened and affected for days after.  To have the best life that we can think of in this world does not guarantee a safe passage through it. This world is no less than a pit  — in John 5:19 he describes it  — “the whole world lies in wickedness.”  Even in our strongest faith, at best it is still a wilderness.  We may at times fear the worst without realizing that the worst we should fear is within us.

I have intentionally avoided using the word “suicide” because the word itself does not carry as much weight as the words “self-destruction.”  It has become old-hat in a culture that does not think much about the true meaning of life.  Rather, death is appealing to some, even Job and Jonah; and for others it is provocative, and alluring to the actual point of planning and execution at their own hands.

Self-Murder
Thomas Watson in his writing on The Lord’s Prayer terms it “self-murder,” which puts even more emphasis on one of the greatest tragedies that this world knows.

I was reading the section on the sixth petition, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” only a few months ago, when I heard of the brutal suicide of the mother of one of the members of our church.  Following here is the excerpt.

“Use 3.  Let us labour that we be not overcome by temptation.

What means should be used, that Satan’s temptations may not prevail against us?

(1)  Avoid solitariness.  It is no wisdom, in fighting with an enemy, to give him the advantage of the ground.  We give Satan advantage of the ground when we are alone.  Eve was foiled in the absence of her husband. A virgin is not so soon set upon in company.  “Two are better than one.”  Eccl. 5:9.  Get into the communion of saints, for that is a good remedy against temptation.

(2)  If you would not be overcome by temptation, beware of the predominance of melancholy, which is atra biliis, a black humour seated chiefly in the brain.  Melancholy disturbs reason and exposes to temptation.  One calls melancholy balneum diaboli, the devil’s bath; he bathes himself with delight in such a person.  Melancholy clothes the mind in sable; it fills it with such dismal apprehensions as often end in self-murder.”

There are fourteen other means that he suggests, but these two can describe the nature of those who see no other option.  This second one was etched in my mind, and is a reminder for me in those times when I might again wallow in self-pity.

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Just as the angels in heaven rejoice over one sinner who comes to repentance, so, Satan and his angels must rejoice whenever one person destroys himself.

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The Options
What are the options?  I write this, as every person writes, from my own knowledge and experience.  I write this section, as John wrote his letter, to believers.  (I will speak to unbelievers later.) An unbeliever cannot understand the true meaning of life.  As I understand from God’s word there are only two options in this world  —  LIFE and death.  I capitalize the word LIFE to make it distinct from what the world knows as life.  Simply breathing is not real life.

Our thought-life is what we know of life, and if our thoughts are not changed we are simply moving in a death pattern until we all die naturally.  We all are born into this worldly life with a death sentence over our heads.  We may as well be given a death certificate when we take our first breath — except that some will be saved for eternal life.

God has provided the means for this salvation, a pardon from Him through His Son, Jesus Christ.  Anyone who has this hope looks to the author and finisher of our faith —who leads us in triumph against the enemy.  He is faithful to keep us and lead us through this wilderness and all of Satan’s obstacles, to His own glory.

crosses_3

LIFE Through a New Birth

“For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?”   1 John 5:4-5

Our nature since the Fall is prone to self-destruction; even by the way we live. It is the mode in which we all exist.  Death is not only part of this world; it is the main part of this world.  God teaches us in His word that this world must be overcome.  The world of death reigns within us until the “life of Christ” rules our being.  If Christ is not our LIFE then Satan has the stronghold in our hearts and minds.
But the apostle Paul speaks of this in 1 Corinthians 10:4-5

“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:
 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) – one translation uses the term “divine power
 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;”

This is the power over death in our thinking and living by the Spirit of Christ.

What I am saying here is not to judge anyone who succumbs to his or her own thoughts and means of death, but generally from the point that God speaks in His word on the subject of life and death.  What I am writing here is to encourage the believer, the children of the heavenly Father.  We never know the temptations we may face.  We may say that we have never thought of taking our own life; and that we never would, but this is pride within us; the very thing that Satan loves about us, part of his own nature.  Even the strongest believer needs the continual shoring up of faith through prayer and His word; and the company and close relationship with other believers.  All of true LIFE is described in The Holy Bible with the companion of God’s Holy Spirit.  It is a love letter to His children leading us and preparing us for the eternal LIFE in a new world. I praise Him that death is sandwiched between His work of creation and His work of redemption in Christ.  Though it is a hard read I like John Owen’s book The Death of Death in the Death of Christ.  In Christ’s death death is overcome for those who believe and know Him.  “Death is swallowed up in victory.”  1 Corinthians 15:54

LIFE in Christ is a new world in which believers lives daily, with their focus on God.

(Tomorrow: Part 2  ~ LIFE for Those Who May be Desperate
Next day: Part 3 ~  LIFE for Those Who Are Left Behind)

Life in Death

Beautiful-ButterflySleep did not come easily last night.  My flesh was warring against my spirit.  My joy and peace had been disturbed by yesterday’s activities.  This old soul is no longer able to handle a lot of stimuli; and last night brought to mind many things, good and bad.

It was Emma’s birthday.  The youngest of our six grandchildren, she turned to a beautiful eleven years.  Since we had overslept the morning hour when we usually call I had to keep reminding myself that we still needed to wish her a happy birthday.  Later when we called she had not gotten home from school.

Lee returned my call after work to talk about celebrating on Saturday.  The conversation turned to the latest report from Brad’s uncle Mike, concerning his wife, Brad’s aunt, Zoe, who is dying of cancer.  Her family and friends were talking  about Mike’s Facebook posting about the ordeal they have been going through.  While he has always been private about his personal life he is now speaking freely about things that perhaps Zoe should read.  He speaks so well of her and her Christian faith since he knew her at the age of fourteen.

Jerry has a Facebook account that he never uses, but whenever there is something that we need to know we have access.   As I read I was impressed by Mike’s writings, and, at the same time, my thoughts of losing my family members were beginning to recycle.

During the evening we tried two other times to reach Emma; and it wasn’t until later, after Jerry had gone to bed, that Lee called us from Zaxby’s.  Sadness turned to joy again as we sang “Happy Birthday” and talked to Emma.

As I lay down to sleep my thoughts of Zoe and Emma intermingled ~ thoughts of the older and the younger; thoughts of death and life.

Zoe celebrated her 62nd birthday in January.  Two months later Emma is celebrating her eleventh.  As I have thought about these two girls I remember Zoe from her own witness of life in Christ.  I had never known anyone with this name; and as names have fascinated me I looked up the meaning of Zoe when I first met her.

“Zoe means “life” in Greek. From early times it was adopted by Hellenized Jews as a translation of Eve. It was borne by two early Christian saints, one martyred under emperor Hadrian, the other martyred under Diocletian. The name was common in the Byzantine Empire, being borne by a ruling empress of the 11th century. As an English name, Zoe has only been in use since the 19th century. It has generally been more common among Eastern Christians (in various spellings).”

Because Zoe had done seminars for caregivers she was helpful to me when I knew that we would be taking care of my mother who had Alzheimer’s disease.  Then she and I were in counsel together to help Mr. Roney, a member of my church, when he needed to find help to care for his wife.
She and I both were caring for our mothers at the same time.

Zoe’s body is giving way to death.  She is not walking in the “valley of the shadow of death;” but is now experiencing the darkness of the cavern of death. Christ has lived in her as His own witness. The life of Christ within her is carrying her through to eternal life with Him.

Zoe’s life in the flesh is waning.  Emma’s life is only beginning, and we have seen the same life of Christ within her since a very young age.  She has expressed her faith verbally and through her obedience to Him; in her desire for His word, in prayer and in her relationships with others.  Like Zoe she is comfortable with speaking to others about her faith, and in putting hands and feet to her faith by helping others.
She and her sisters, with Lee, have helped Zoe with cleaning since she has been too ill to do things on her own.

Sony Camera 1st roll 010_2Emma was with us two days a week when Mother was living with us.  Even at the age of three Emma knew how to comfort Mother when she was sad.  She has a wisdom that only God could give.

When Jerry had the three surgeries on his leg, including his amputation, she was as helpful and gracious as any adult would have been.  Nothing was bothersome to her.  She always took these things in stride, even watching the wound treatment and dressings.  She, like her mother, and like Zoe, have many friends.  We all see something rare in her; a life that only God can give; life in Christ, which transcends all of death.

Christ came to overcome death with life. The enemy wanted death for us.  Through it God brings us to Him for eternity.

It is natural that death would keep us thinking about death; but the Spirit of life in Christ brings us beyond those thoughts to think of Him.

We can rejoice in Him even as we think of losing Zoe.  I will always remember her and her part in my own life; and continue to watch what He is doing in Emma and the lives of our family, our church, and within this world; for His own glory and our joy. 

God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.
He that hath the Son hath life;
1 John 5:11-12


(As I was writing this Lee called.  I thought she was going to say that Zoe had died.  Instead, her news was about a worse death.  A friend and neighbor she had known since middle school had killed herself.  Because of this and two other suicides of people I knew in the last few months I will share a follow up with another article that I wrote two weeks ago entitled Self-Destruction.)

Heirs of the Kingdom of Glory

(Thomas Watson on the Second Petition of The Lord’s Prayer ~ “Thy Kingdom Come.”)

Use 6. For exhortation to those who have any good hope through grace. You that are the heirs of this kingdom, let me exhort you to six things:

(1) Often take a prospect of this heavenly kingdom. Climb up the celestial mount; take a turn, as it were, in heaven every day by holy meditation. ‘Walk about Zion, tell the towers thereof, mark ye well her bulwarks.’ Psa 48: 12, 13. See what a glorious kingdom heaven is; go tell the towers, view the palaces of the heavenly Jerusalem. Christian, show thy heart the gates of pearl, the beds of spices, the clusters of grapes which grow in the paradise of God. Say, ‘O my soul, all this glory is thine, it is thy Father’s good pleasure to give thee this kingdom.’ The thoughts of heaven are very delightful and ravishing. Can men of the world so delight in viewing their bags of gold, and fields of corn, and shall not the heirs of promise take more delight in contemplating the celestial kingdom? The serious meditation of the kingdom of glory would work these three effects:

It would put a damp and slur upon all worldly glory. To those who stand upon the top of the Alps, the great cities of Campania seem but small in their eye; so, could we look through the perspective glass of faith, and take a view of heaven’s glory, how small and minute would all other things appear! Moses slighted the honours of Pharaoh’s court, having an eye to the recompense of reward. Heb 11: 26. When Paul had a vision of glory, and John was carried away in the Spirit, and saw the holy Jerusalem descending out of heaven, having the glory of God in it, how did the world after appear in an eclipse to them!

The meditation of the heavenly kingdom would much promote holiness in us. Heaven is a holy place: ‘an inheritance undefiled.’ I Pet 1: 4. It is described by transparent glass, to denote its purity. Rev 21: 21. Contemplating heaven would put us upon the study of holiness, because none but such are admitted to that kingdom. Heaven is not like Noah’s ark, into which came clean beasts and unclean. Only the pure in heart shall see God. Matt 5: 8.

The meditation of the heavenly kingdom would be a spur to diligence. Immensum gloria calcar habet [Glory possesses an immeasurable stimulus]. ‘Always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.’ 1 Cor 15: 58. When the mariner sees the haven, he plies harder with his oars; so when we have a sight and prospect of glory, we should be much in prayer, alms, and watching; it should add wings to duty, and make the lamp of our devotion burn brighter.

(2) If you have hopes of this kingdom, be content though you have but a little of the world! Contentment is a rare thing, it is a jewel that but few Christians wear; but if you have a grounded hope of heaven, it may work your heart to contentation. What though you have but little in possession, you have a kingdom in reversion! Were you to take an estimate of a man’s estate, how would you value it? By what he has in his house, or by his land? Perhaps he has little money or jewels in his house, but he is a landed man — there lies his estate. A believer has but a little oil in the cruse, and meal in the barrel, but he is a landed man, he has a title to a kingdom, and may not this satisfy him? If a man who lived here in England, had a great estate befallen him beyond the seas, and perhaps had no more money at present but just to pay for his voyage, he is content; he knows when he comes to his estate he shall have money enough; so, thou who art a believer hast a kingdom befallen thee; though thou hast but little in thy purse, yet if thou hast enough to pay for thy voyage, enough to bear thy charges to heaven, it is sufficient. God has given thee grace, which is the fore-crop, and will give thee glory, which is the after-crop; and may not this make thee content?

(3) If you have hope of this blessed kingdom, pray often for its coming; say, ‘Thy kingdom come.’ Only believers can pray heartily for the hastening of the kingdom of glory.

They cannot pray that Christ’s kingdom of glory may come who never had the kingdom of grace set up in their hearts. Can the guilty prisoners pray that the assizes may come?

They cannot pray heartily that Christ’s kingdom of glory may come who are lovers of the world. They have found paradise, they are in their kingdom already; this is their heaven, and they desire to hear of no other; they are of his mind who said, If he might keep his cardinalship in Paris, he would give up his part in paradise.

They cannot pray heartily that Christ’s kingdom of glory may come who oppose his kingdom of grace, who break his laws, which are the sceptre of his kingdom, who shoot at those who bear Christ’s name and carry his colours. Surely these cannot pray that Christ’s kingdom of glory may come, for then Christ will judge them; and if they say this prayer, they are hypocrites, they mean not what they speak. But you who have the kingdom of grace set up in your hearts, pray much that the kingdom of glory may hasten; say, ‘Thy kingdom come.’ When this kingdom comes, then you shall behold Christ in all his embroidered robes of glory, shining ten thousand times brighter than the sun in all its meridian splendour. When Christ’s kingdom comes, the bodies of the saints that sleep in the dust shall be raised in honour, and made like Christ’s glorious body; then your souls like diamonds shall sparkle with holiness; you shall never have a sinful thought more, you shall be as holy as the angels; you shall be as holy as you would be, and as holy as God would have you to be; then you shall be in a better state than in innocence. Adam was created a glorious creature, but mutable; a bright star, but a falling star; but in the kingdom of heaven is a fixation of happiness. When Christ’s kingdom of glory comes, you shall be rid of all your enemies; as Moses said, ‘The Egyptians whom you have seen to day, you shall see them no more for ever.’ Exod 14: 13. So those enemies who have sloughed on the backs of God’s people, and made deep their furrows, when Christ shall come in his glory, you shall see no more. All Christ’s enemies shall be ‘put under his feet.’ 1 Cor 15: 25. Before the wicked be destroyed, the saints shall judge them. ‘Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world?’ 1 Cor 6: 2. It will cut the wicked to the heart that those whom they have formerly scorned and scourged, shall sit as judges upon them, and vote with Christ in his judicial proceedings. Oh, then, well may you pray for the hastening of the kingdom of glory, ‘Thy kingdom come.’

(4) If you have any good hope of this blessed kingdom, let it make the colour come in your faces, be of a sanguine, cheerful temper. Have you a title to a kingdom, and are sad? ‘We rejoice in hope of the glory of God.’ Rom 5: 2. Christians, the trumpet is ready to sound, an eternal jubilee is at hand, when a freedom from sin shall be proclaimed; your coronation-day is coming. It is but putting off your clothes, and laying your head upon a pillow of dust, and you shall be enthroned in a kingdom, and invested with the embroidered robes of glory. Does not all this call for a cheerful spirit? Cheerfulness adorns religion. It is a temper of soul that Christ loves. ‘If ye loved me, ye would rejoice.’ John 14: 28. It makes many suspect heaven is not so pleasant, when they see those that walk thither sad. How does the heir rejoice in hope of the inheritance? Who should rejoice if not a believer, who is heir of the kingdom, and such a kingdom as eye has not seen? When the flesh begins to droop, let faith lift up its head, and cause a holy jubilation and rejoicing in the soul.

(Part 2 tomorrow)

The Path of Grief

The path of grief begins with a loss, usually the death of a loved one. Since my first post on grief, “Grace for Grief,” I hope that you have followed other posts.  They have been indirectly the beginnings of this path that I believe can be part of your experience to get through and triumph over your grief. (Example: articles on the Lord’s Day.  Part of healing is through our obedience to His commands.  This includes our worship and fellowship with His people.  Grace ~ A Realm, speaks of Christ living in you, to bring you through everything in this life.)

“He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows,
and acquainted with grief.”
Isaiah 53:3

This blog is for the proclamation of God’s grace.  Everything that we write is intended to be wisdom and comfort for those who read.  You will find Jesus Christ, the Lord of grace, in each article. He is the one to follow through this path of grief.  He has been there, and will lead you through. So, even though an article may not have the word “grief” in it, it will still minister to your heart, and be a means of His grace to get you through.

The path of grief is not something we chose to take, but is placed before us.  We must rise up and follow, else we will become stagnant.  Life will no longer have meaning.  There are many cases where the persons left behind grieve themselves to death. They refuse to take the path that will lead them through their suffering. There are others who have by their own hand taken their own life.  In these cases, the reality of life was never in Jesus Christ, but in whatever was lost.

A path is based on promises.  There are signs posted along this way of grace, and He has said that He will always be with you.

A path is going somewhere.  There is an end in mind, and at some point the end will be in view.  Herein is the hope that keeps us going.

A path can take different turns.  There may be resting places at times, before you go on.  These times will test your faith, and work patience, and faith in you.

A path is mapped out individually for each of us.  Your grief may not be like someone else’s. But know that your heavenly Father in His sovereignty has a special plan and way for you.

A path is sometimes lonely.  Even those who have experienced the same kind of loss may not know how to get through, nor help you get through it.

A path is not a race track; the time it will take to get through will be according to His timing.

A path has places of interest that you have never seen before.  These are pointed out as you take the Father’s hand and walk with Him.

This path of grief is a narrow path.  There is no room to turn around.  When you commit to follow Jesus Christ, He expects your own self-denial for the duration.

“Shew me thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths.
Lead me in thy truth, and teach me:
for thou art the God of my salvation;
on thee do I wait all the day.”
Psalm 25:4-5

I cannot promise that in following this blog you will be triumphant over your grief, but the promise is from the Father Himself, that in your following Christ, His Son, He will bring you through—to His glory and your joy.

In the grace and love of Christ.  ~  Fran

   
The first opening of our Camellia—the beginning of winter;
Into the depths of the cold season this shrub
which has become a tree
will be filled with these beautiful blooms.

Through DEATH to NEW LIFE

Who in this life desires to face death’s door?  Who has the faith to believe that new life is on the other side?  Those who are in pain and agony may be the only ones who are  truly ready to answer this question.  While in good health we tend to shun the idea; death is not something we like to think or talk about. But we must.

If God is true, then we can look at all of this life in light of His promises.  What does His Word teach us about death?  What does the Bible say about life after death?

What is truth?  What is fiction or heresy?  We must each settle these questions in our own hearts and minds, based on what we have read or heard from other people, our own experiences with the deaths of loved ones, and/or by faith in God’s Word. It is the understanding of these things that enable us to die, or to endure the grief in the loss of our loved ones.

What I believe will keep me steadfast in hope when I face that door. How I live now is preparing me for death to this life and the “immediate passing into glory.” (SC)  Faith, through the grace of Jesus Christ will enable me to accept Jerry’s death if he dies before I do.

God teaches us in many ways—specifically through His Word; but He works in His providence to reveal His intervention in our lives and the lives of our loved ones. My brother was at death’s door twice before it was opened.  Five months ago when he had complications from gall bladder surgery, in ICU for 6 weeks, he was not ready to go; his wife nor his doctor (who was a good friend of the family) were ready to let him go.  He was placed in two other facilities, heavily medicated for pain, paranoia, and depression, before being brought back to the hospital for the amputation of his toes.  This was the final trauma that enabled him to face, and desire this opening and passing through this door.  Death was the only truth, and hope, left. The mystery on the other side was drawing him to embrace his death and to submit to it.

God blessed, during these five months, for my sister-in-law, alone without her husband, to experience His care for her.

My dad died on Labor Day seventeen years ago.  Friday, following that Monday, Jerry’s nephew’s daughter was born—a message that life goes on, even when one is taken from us.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself

and take up his cross daily and follow me.

Luke 9:23

There is a death that must take place in this life—death to our own way of life and the desires of the flesh.  The eternal life that awaits the believer beyond the door of physical death begins now.  We experience it here on this earth, in the everyday trials, pain and agony.  New life begins the moment God’s Spirit births us into His kingdom, and it transports us beyond this wilderness into His glory for eternity.  For this truth, and in the reality of this promise, we rejoice now, and evermore in the Lord, Jesus Christ, who has opened this door of grace for those who follow Him.

“I AM THE DOOR…” John 10:9

GRACE For Grief

Where do I begin to write on the subject of grief?  I must begin within the parameters of God’s grace.  To approach anything, to come to a knowledge of things in this life, outside of His grace, leaves us with unanswered questions and  unfulfilled promises.Sunset

Grief is the result of—our response to—the loss of something, particularly  the loss of a family member or close friend.  Grief is the human side.  Grace is God’s side. Grief outside the realm of our Father’s grace will never be properly understood, dealt with, or overcome. Grief wrapped in God’s grace brings us into His own presence, His wisdom, and the comfort of His “everlasting arms.”  To understand grief as our Father sees it will enable us to embrace it, endure it, and triumph through it. It will bring us beyond the grief, in time; where grief is exchanged for His grace. As deeply agonizing is the grief, so deeply His grace works in our hearts to experience His glory and joy.

“Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.”  Matthew 5:4

In many articles on the subject of grief this verse from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount is quoted. We first understand this comfort in the context of mourning over our sins.  It is the believer, the sons and daughters of the living God, who have experienced His grace.  Those who have already come to Christ in repentance and godly sorrow receive this blessing in all times of loss.  This comfort is already a part of our relationship with the Father through Jesus Christ. He is, at all times, and every day, preparing us to lose the things and the people, we love. This does not make the grieving any easier.  We still must go through the pain and agony, but with something the unbeliever does not have—FAITH, HOPE, and the LOVE  of a gracious heavenly Father.  In our loss, and during our grieving, He reveals Himself as He never has before.

Death for the one we lose is a final moment in time and history. There is no more pain, and no grieving in the heart and spirit of one who dies, physically.  There is no loss—only gain—unless the person dies without Christ; then our grieving will be useless for them.

As I have experienced the lose of a niece at the age of 23, my grandparents, 18 aunts and uncles (12 children in my mother’s family; 8 in my father’s), cousins, my father-in-law, my mother-in-law, my father, my mother, and now my brother, who was my only sibling, Jerry is now the only one of this family older than I am.  It behooves me to think more clearly, surely, and wisely about this thing called grief.  What is its purpose as it relates to the death of a loved one, family or friend?

The purpose of this series of articles on grief is two-fold: as a ministry to my sister-in-law, and others who have lost a loved one; and as preparation for myself and others who see the future possibility (unless we, as wives, die first).  Particularly we will be addressing the loss of a spouse.

We will write about the purpose in God’s plan for grief, the means of grace for our grief, how to relate to one who is grieving, and how the church is to minister to the widow.

We post this series with the desire and invitation that you join in this ministry with your own comments, and direct those who are grieving to this blog.  We pray that our heavenly Father will speak to us through His Word, through Christ and His Spirit, in the next few articles; that we will hear from those who are in grief now, and from you who have experienced the Lord’s grace during your time of grief.

Grace“Blessed be God, even the Father

of our Lord Jesus Christ,

the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort.”

                                       2 Corinthians 1:3

THIS IS THE DAY

  “THIS IS THE DAY WHICH THE LORD HAS MADE:

WE WILL REJOICE AND BE GLAD IN IT.”

Psalm 118:24

My brother died last Lord’s Day, shortly before midnight. Our heavenly Father had done much in the last six months to bring him to this final moment. We, as the family, had been a part of His providence. We all experienced His mercy and grace. Thus He ended the 80 years, and 3 months that He had planned for my brother.

We look no further on this earth for him, but to heaven where he has gone “to be with the Lord,”—the place that He has prepared for His children.

Have I grieved?  Are my brother’s wife and children still grieving?  Yes.  We can only pray that our Father will bring us through this grief, in His timing—to the joy that is ours in Christ.

At the creation God, our Father, prepared a day that we should leave our grieving, and remember Him, who created us for His glory. The Sabbath is the day that we are to remember all that He has done for us in our creation, and redemption.  He set aside, blessed, and hallowed the day that would be a prelude to eternity.

In His timing, He sent His Son; and through His 33 years brought Him through the suffering, and sacrificial death that delivered us from this earthly bondage of sin and misery.

We remember His death for us in the Lord’s Supper.  We celebrate each Lord’s Day as our day of resurrection with Him.

“REJOICE ALWAYS.

PRAY WITHOUT CEASING.

IN EVERYTHING GIVE THANKS:

FOR THIS IS THE WILL OF GOD IN CHRIST JESUS CONCERNING YOU.”

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Dear heavenly Father, this day—one day out of seven— you prepared for us to be with you. Enable us to look beyond the circumstances of the last week, TO YOU.  By your Holy Spirit, work in us, to remember WHO YOU ARE, SO THAT WE REMEMBER WHOSE WE ARE.  You have promised always to be with us, never to leave us, nor forsake us.  You have given your Son, Jesus Christ, that we may have eternal life with you.  Let us rejoice in Him with exceeding joy.  In Jesus name we pray.  Amen.

Valid Grace for an Invalid Race

Two months ago we received a call from my niece in Thomaston, Georgia. My nephew wanted me to call him for an update on my brother who was in ICU, following an emergency surgery to remove his gallbladder.  After a second surgery to stop my brother’s hemorrhaging the surgeon told my nephew, “One of his systems is shutting down (they did not know which one, and could not go back in for a third surgery because of the risk with his heart); we will do all we can to make him comfortable.”  Jerry and I drove down that afternoon prepared for the worst.  My brother stayed in ICU for three weeks, during which time his kidneys and liver failed, blood circulation was limited to his feet and legs, he suffered a mild heart attack, was given a form of morphine for pain, and antibiotics for infection.  The second week of his stay at Upson Medical we drove down, again prepared for a funeral. After being moved from ICU to a private room for a few days he was moved to Roosevelt Rehabilitation Center in Warm Springs.

My nephew had told me about my brother’s toes turning black—gangrene was the result of a lack of circulation.  Their family doctor told us that it was possible that with dry gangrene my brother’s toes would simply dry up and fall off.  My nephew and I both thought that this was ridiculous.  We had never heard of such a thing. And I never wanted to see those toes—I had seen enough skin tissue turn black before Jerry had his leg amputated five years ago.

We visited my brother the day after he was moved to Warm Springs.  He was slumped in a wheel chair—the first time I had seen him out of bed. His feet were bandaged, but his black toes were exposed. Though I was standing in front of him and he was looking straight at me he still did not see me.  The shot the nurse had just given him for pain was so that they could get him back to bed and give him a bath; and since he still could not get in and out of bed on his own he had to moved with a sling and a lift.  I stayed for a while, but the nurse’s guess that he would be awake after his bath was wrong.  He was “out of it;” and even though they only gave him a weaker pain reliever the next day he still did not know that I was there.

Days later my nephew related to me that he had watched the nurses turn his dad in the bed.  It was easy to hear the sadness in his voice when he said, “Aunt Fran, he’s an invalid.”  We have both come to realize that invalids can still live a productive life with the help of those who are stronger than they are.  We have very distinctly seen our prayers answered.  We did not pray for him to live except according to God’s will.  He would have been merciful to take him to Himself because of his former health problems.

My brother was moved to Providence Nursing Home in Thomaston on his 80th birthday, August 8, where he is still dependent on the nurses and a sling; but he is talking, feeding himself, going through rehab and watching his toes gradually shrinking.  Thursday when I visited him I thought again that I could avoid them; but no, I had to adjust his boots for him.  The nurses there have never seen such a “ridiculous” thing.  This thing of which many people have never heard has turned into a work of God’s grace for many to see.  When I visited him this week my brother related to me that “the Lord has kept me here; He must have something else for me to do.”

The Fall

From the time of Adam’s disobedience God’s records show the whole human race as “INVALID.”   We all became invalids after the Fall.  We are of no use to ourselves or anyone else; least of all to God.  We can’t even turn ourselves. “Dead in trespasses and sins” we are unable to even see, think, or speak anything that makes sense. If my brother could “will” it he would be on his feet, walking.  His toes are already in the grave.  But for the mercy and grace of God his whole life would have been snuffed out.  We have enough evidence—according to the records—that he was at the point of death more than once.

All this has reminded me several times of the sufficient grace  — the powerful grace  — of our Father, His Son, and His Holy Spirit to do the impossible, the thing that we cannot do.  We cannot save ourselves.  We cannot give ourselves “Life.”  We cannot even think of what that means, except by the working of His grace to effectually, and effectively reveal our invalid condition, regenerate a new heart within us for a valid faith and repentance—by His own goodness turning us to Himself through the authority of His Word and the power of His Holy Spirit.

Our family would not choose to go through these episodes again.  I recall saying to my nephew when my brother got through the first week, “God has something to teach us here.”  My brother is not out of the woods yet, but the Lord has given us much of his valid grace to go on for a long time; and a greater desire to experience this grace for the rest of our lives—for His glory and our joy.