Tag Archives: death

The Hope We Have

Throwback Thursday is a new feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.


I was recently at the viewing for a friend I’d known for over 20 years. As I went around hugging necks and catching up on where everyone was in life, I decided to stop and take a moment. I sat down on one of the pews and watched the crowd as they interacted. There were a group of young men standing near the coffin silently staring at the body. I then noticed there were huddles throughout the sanctuary around the family members left behind. They were hugging and offering condolences. Then there was everyone else affected by this person’s life. They weren’t stationary like the others. They moved around making their way up front and then around and that’s when I noticed something out of the ordinary.

There were smiles on their faces. I checked another roaming group and they were smiling as well. I gazed back to the family huddles to look at their demeanor and it was the same. The atmosphere was not one of sadness, but of joy. It was then that I was reminded of I Thessalonians 4:13. Paul wrote, “And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope” (NLT).   Here was living proof of this scripture. I was in a crowd of people smiling and enjoying themselves, while mourning the loss of a friend, because we have hope beyond the grave.

Yes, it hurts to lose someone who impacted our lives and there’s a big, gaping void in us that only they could fill. But we don’t have to carry on like those who have no hope. We don’t see this as the end of life, but rather that person’s birth into eternal life. Their spirit has been set free from the cocoon of the human body, and they have been released into the heavens. We know that one day we will cross from death to life as well and be reunited with them and a host of others who knew Jesus as their savior. That’s how we can smile in midst of such a great loss. It seems foreign to those who have no hope, but it’s natural to those of us who do.

I Thessalonians 4 concludes with these words, “Therefore comfort and encourage one another with these words.” We have comfort in sorrow and courage in despair because our loss is Heaven’s gain and we know that we will be reunited. Hope is a powerful force that can light up our darkness and give us strength to smile in the pain. It keeps us from the pit of despair and points us to better days. I’ll finish this post with the words from I Corinthians 13:12-13 that I think are fitting. “We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us! But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love. (MSG)”

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Times Of Rain

Throwback Thursday is a new feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.

Rain is something we need, but don’t really want. We’ve given it a negative connotation too. It started when we were children singing the song, “Rain, Rain, go away. Come again another day.” Rain disrupts the times of sunshine and happiness that we feel. When it’s rainy outside, we say it’s gloomy. We think of the gray clouds and associate them with depression. Rain changes our path, our timing and our plans. It messes things up for us so we resist it. We forget that rain is a necessary part of life. We forget all the good that it does.

I’ve got several friends right now who are experiencing rain in their lives. Several friends have had loved ones pass away unexpectedly. I’ve got a couple of friends who can’t seem to find a job. I’ve got a few friends whose lives have been turned upside down because of choices their spouse made. For them, it seems like the rain just keeps coming. It feels like their lives are being flooded with only negative things. As I’ve thought about all their situations, Matthew 5:45 came to mind. It says, “It rains on the just and the unjust.”

I’ve read or heard that scripture my whole life. I was always under the impression that it meant that bad things happen to Christians and non Christians alike because I associated rain with bad times. When I read it in context and then in several versions and interpretations of the original Greek, the Message Bible stood out. It said, “This is what God does. He gives His best – the sun to warm and the rain to nourish – to everyone regardless.” The times of rain in our lives are meant to nourish us. Just like our yards, lakes and crops need rain for nourishment, so do our lives. 

When bad things happen, it usually pushes us closer go God. We spend more time in prayer. We take the time to talk to God and to read His Word to try to find answers. Days of sunshine rarely push us to spend time with God, but rain does. When we go a long time without rain or without spending time with a God, we go through a drought and that isn’t healthy. If you’re going through times of rain in your life right now, don’t pray for it to go away. Instead thank God for the nourishment and for the shelter He provides

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Leaving A Legacy


I have a friend who attended a leadership workshop. On the last day, he and the others were taken to a cemetery and were asked to write their own epitaph. It seems morbid at first, but the instructor was wanting them to to start thinking with the end in mind. It got him to start thinking about what he wanted to be remembered for at the end of his life. When he wrote it down, he started thinking about the things he needed to be doing in his life to make his desired epitaph come true.

One of the things I tell new employees at the company I work for is that everyone is known for something. I ask them, “What will you be known for?” I let them know that no matter what has happened in their past, they have a chance to start over and build their own brand. The brand they build for themselves will determine their success in the company and how far they want to go. Both of these lessons are true for each one of us. We need to be thinking about what we want to be known for and how we want to be remembered. 

In II Chronicles 21, Jehoram was king over Judah. He was given a good legacy being from the lineage of David, but he squandered it. In his jealousy, he murdered all his brothers. He also rebuilt the shrines to foreign gods that his father had torn down. Parts of the kingdom revolted during his reign. God then cursed him, had the enemy attack him and gave him a terrible disease. In verse 20 it says, “No one was sorry when he died” (NLT). Can you imagine?

I once heard someone say, “Live in such a way that the preacher won’t have to lie at your funeral.” So what do you want to be remembered for? What legacy do you want to leave behind? Psalm 37:18 says, “The Lord knows the days of the upright and blameless, and their heritage will abide forever” (AMP). What do you need to start doing today to finish your life well and to leave a heritage that will abide forever? It’s not too late or too early to start thinking about the legacy and heritage you want to leave behind.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Losing To Win


Several years ago, when things were going downhill in my life, I started to get upset at God. I was losing everything. Several friends had abandoned me during the process. I lost my business, had a vehicle repossessed, lost my business, and had to file for bankruptcy. I cried out, “God, where are you?!? Why are you letting this happen to me? Have you abandoned me? Don’t you care that I’m losing everything?” I didn’t get an answer and I continued to lose more until I had nothing left to lose.

I didn’t think God was there in those moments. Every once in a while though, my friend and Sunday School teacher, would say, “Chris, I believe God wants me to say this to you…” While those messages were encouraging, and I believed they were from God, I wasn’t personally hearing from Him. I was doing my best to keep from getting bitter towards Him because I felt abandoned and was upset over everything I had lost. What I couldn’t see, was what I was really losing though. 

I realized later that I didn’t just lose a bunch of material things and relationships, I lost my pride. God used that time to strip me of pride that was keeping me from a deep relationship with Him. I also lost my dependence on my self. Somehow I thought that everything I had in life, I had earned on my own. I forgot that God was my source and Jehovah Jireh. Through all of that, I gained a deeper faith and a dependence on God to be who He wanted to be in my life. I just couldn’t see it when I was losing the things that I thought mattered.

I Peter 4:12-13 says, “Friends, when life gets really difficult, don’t jump to the conclusion that God isn’t on the job. Instead, be glad that you are in the very thick of what Christ experienced. This is a spiritual refining process, with glory just around the corner” (MSG). God uses difficult times to refine us. When they come, the dross in our life floats to the top and is skimmed off by God. What’s left over is pure gold. If you’re in the thick of it now, don’t quit or think God doesn’t care. He’s refining you and cleaning out the things in your life that are keeping you from Him.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Finding Healing


Several years ago, I went through some very dark times in my life that I wasn’t sure I’d make it through. They left some very deep scars that I thought would never heal. Instead of going through a true healing process, I decided that it was best to treat that portion of my life as if it were a dream. I covered the wounds and vowed to never speak of them again. I thought that if I pretended it never happened, then I wouldn’t feel the pain of it. That seemed to work for a while until Dave Roever spoke at our church one Sunday. 

Dave is a Vietnam veteran who had a phosphorus grenade blow up in his hand near his head as he was throwing it. He survived the explosion, but as a result of the explosion, he has a very disfigured face and hand. He told his story of his recovery and how God has used that terrible event to help him reach so many vets for Christ. Then he wrapped up his sermon by saying, “Don’t hide your scars. For in them, others will find their healing.”

I knew at that point it was time to unwrap my wounds to let them heal. I had to dig down inside, bring up all that hurt again to deal with it properly so God could use my story to help others find their healing. That’s how this site began actually. It was a way for me to process the hurt, but also a way for others to find their healing too. II Corinthians 1:4 says, “He (God) comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us” (MSG).

I don’t know the pain you’ve been through or are going through, but I do know that God has never left your side. He wants to help you heal your wounds so that He can bring others along side you who are going through something similar. He wants to use your scars to bring healing to others if you’re willing to let Him. Their situation may not be identical to yours, but the pain is the same and so is the healing process. Don’t hide your scars. Let God use them to help someone else who desperately needs your story.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Author Of Life


The guest preacher at our church shared his story of hardship and how God used his brokenness to rebuild him. He shared how everything was going wrong and no one was giving him any hope. It was then that the Lord spoke to him some powerful words that I believe God has been trying to tell us since the beginning of time. The Lord told him, “I am not the author of your crisis, but I am the orchestrator of the outcome.”

As I read through the Bible, I see the same story repeated over and over. People fail to trust God, they fall away from him, crisis happens, they call out to God for forgiveness, and He orchestrates redemption. As I sit and read the Bible, it’s hard to grasp the timelines of how long these things happen and go on for. What takes minutes to read, could have taken years to happen. In those minutes, it’s easy to wonder how they could quit trusting God.

However, when we are in similar crises that drag on for days, weeks, months, and years, it can seem like it will never end. It’s hard to see a light at the end of a tunnel when you’re surrounded by darkness. It’s difficult to trust God in those times. In fact, we often blame Him for our troubles and ask why He brought it on us. If we aren’t careful, the unexplained, never ending storms in our lives can cause us to grow bitter against God because we falsely believe He is the author of them.

Jesus knew we would forget that the bad things in our life don’t come from God. So He reminded us in John 10:10, “The thief comes only in order to steal, kill, and destroy. I have come in order that you might have life—life in all its fullness” (GNT). If your life is under attack, that is not from God. While none of us are exempt from bad things happening, all of us can have the author of life orchestrate something good from those bad things.

God can take the broken pieces of your life to rebuild you stronger and better. We must keep perspective of who He is in our storm. You can’t fall for the lie that God is the one who destroyed your life. You must remember that He is the one who restores, renews, and redeems. Your storm will come to an end. God is already working this out for your good even though you can’t see it now. Trust in the author of life to do what He does best in your own life. He sees you in the storm and He’s orchestrating the outcome.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Nothing Is Final

Because of a recent death in the family, I had to try to explain death to my 4 year old. He wanted to know why people were crying. I told him, “Her husband went to Heaven to be with Jesus.” He then asked, “When is he coming back?” I said, “Never. Once you go to Heaven, you don’t come back. That’s why she’s sad.” As soon as I said those words, I heard God say, “What about Lazarus? What about Jarius’s daughter? What about the widow’s son that Elisha brought back?” He was right. Death is not always final. 

A few days later, God took me to Ezekiel 37. In it, He led Ezekiel to a valley of dry bones. The people the bones belonged to had been long gone. In verse two, Ezekiel wrote that the bones were scattered everywhere across the ground and were completely dried out. Then God asked a question, “Can these bones become living people again?” I’m sure Ezekiel thought like I did as he looked at that valley. He didn’t want to say, “No” because he was talking to God and knew anything was possible with Him. So he replied, “You alone know that.”

Knowing he thought it was impossible, God spoke to him and told him, “Speak to these bones and say, ‘Dry bones, listen to the word of the Lord! Look! I am going to put breath into you and make you live again! I will put flesh and muscles on you and cover you with ski I will put breath in you and you will come to life.” Ezekiel didn’t question God. He spoke to the scattered bones and they came together and attached themselves as complete skeletons. Then muscles and flesh covered them. Finally God had Ezekiel speak life into them so they could live again.

God showed Ezekiel and us that nothing is impossible for Him. We can look at loved ones who have died and think they are gone forever, but God has the final word. We can look at relatives who don’t know Christ as their savior and think they’ll never come to know Him. We can think of the dreams we had for our lives and feel like they’ve died because of our decisions or what life has thrown at us. We can look at any scenario in our life and see what once was, but will be no more and think it’s over. When we think something is permanently gone, we underestimate God’s power.

God looks at us and asks, “Can these dry bones live again?” We know in our hearts the answer is, “No” until we remember who God is. There is no dream, calling, family member or anything else too dead and gone that God can’t resurrect. He is the God who gives life. He is the one who can turn a dead end into a new beginning. He can make a river in the desert. There is nothing impossible for Him. If He spoke it to you, it will come to life. You have to stand over the valley of the impossible and speak what God tells you. You have to believe that what He promised, He will do. Your dreams can be broken, scattered, dried out and dead, and God can speak life to it. Nothing is final until God says it is.

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized