To Know Love

Last week I saw numerous street people in downtown Panama City, Panama. I thought of this story about the compassion of Mother Teresa.

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“Mother Teresa of Calcutta has a dream — that before they die all people will know that they are loved. She devotes her life to making this dream a reality.

She tells a story of walking past an open door and catching a glimpse of something moving in it. She investigated and found a dying man whom she took back to a home where he could die in love and peace.

‘I live like an animal in the streets,’ the man told her. ‘Now I will die like an angel.’

‘How wonderful to see a person die in love,’ she exclaims, with the joy of love, the perfect peace of Christ on his face.'”

–From Words to Love by Mother Teresa

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Dear God,
Open my eyes.
Open my heart.
Let me see them.
Let me care.
Fill me with Your compassion.
Fill me with Your love.
In Jesus’ name,
AMEN.

Not Your Ordinary Obituary

“The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down” Proverbs 14:1 (NIV).

Wow! The other day I read an obituary that was…well, not your ordinary obituary. I was going to link to it but it has been removed from the Internet. It’s my understanding that this was a real obituary and not a joke. So, I changed the name of the deceased and some of her family members so as not to call attention to the real identity of the person. And I want to include it here it so that we can all reflect. Here it is —

Jane Doe
1926 – 2008
Jane Doe, born in 1926 in New Jersey, left us on August 2008. She will be met in the afterlife by her husband, Tom, her son, Tom Jr., and daughter, Billie.

She is survived by her daughters Marietta, Mitzi, Stella, Beatrice, Virginia and Ramona, and son Billy; grandchildren, Donnelle, Joe, Mitzie, Maria, Mario, Marty, Tynette, Tania, Leta, Alexandria, Tommy, Billy, Mathew, Raymond, Kenny, Javier, Lisa, Ashlie and Michael; great-grandchildren, Brendan, Joseph, Karissa, Jacob, Delaney, Shawn, Cienna, Bailey, Christian, Andre Jr., Andrea, Keith, Saeed, Nujaymah, Salma, Merissa, Emily, Jayci, Isabella, Samantha and Emily. I apologize if I missed anyone.

Jane had no hobbies, made no contribution to society and rarely shared a kind word or deed in her life. I speak for the majority of her family when I say her presence will not be missed by many, very few tears will be shed and there will be no lamenting over her passing.

Her family will remember Jane and amongst ourselves we will remember her in our own way, which were mostly sad and troubling times throughout the years. We may have some fond memories of her and perhaps we will think of those times too. But I truly believe at the end of the day ALL of us will really only miss what we never had, a good and kind mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. I hope she is finally at peace with herself. As for the rest of us left behind, I hope this is the beginning of a time of healing and learning to be a family again.

There will be no service, no prayers and no closure for the family she spent a lifetime tearing apart. We cannot come together in the end to see to it that her grandchildren and great-grandchildren can say their goodbyes. So I say here for all of us, GOOD BYE, MOM.

From Ignorant to Encouraged

“Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. 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 own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till 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. Therefore encourage each other with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 NIV).

Our faith needs to be informed and that information applied to our life situation. Sometimes we suffer needlessly because either we just don’t know facts we need to know or we have the facts but do not apply them to what we are going through. Such was the case with the Thessalonians. They were Christians, but when they experienced the death of a loved one, they grieved just like the rest of people of do not know God.

Paul did not want them to remain uninformed, so he reminded them of some basic Christian doctrine:

  • Jesus died and rose again
  • Jesus is coming back
  • Jesus will gather Christians both dead and alive
  • Jesus will meet his people in the air
  • Jesus will be there with us forever

The teaching of Jesus Christ changes everything. Yes, He died, but now He is alive. He is coming back for all His people whether dead or alive. The trumpet will blow, graves will crack open, and Christians will rise to meet the Lord in the air where we will remain with Him forever. Those who die before you will not be forgotten by God. Sometime we get caught up in the speculative sensationalism of end-time theories and miss the most important point of the second coming – we will be with the Lord!

The teaching of Jesus Christ changes the way Christians view death, whether our own or that of a loved one. Sure, we may still grieve at the prospect of our own death but not without hope of what is to come. Yes, we may weep at the graveside of a loved one, but not without hope that our brother or sister will be with the Lord forever.

And so we need to encourage each other with these words. We cannot let our fellow Christians remain ignorant of the basic doctrine of Christ and fear death in the same way as those outside of Jesus. Encourage them. Tell them the teaching of Jesus Christ changes everything.

Dylan’s Deathbed Music

In a recent interview with Rolling Stone, Bob Dylan was asked, “What’s the last song you would like to hear before you die?”

His answer: “How ’bout Rock of Ages?”

Well, I just had to pull out the old hymnal and take a look at the lyrics (written in 1776 by A. M. Toplady) and the music (1830 by Thomas Hastings).

After taking a look I just have to say “Good answer!”

I am especially moved by verses two and three.

Not the labor of my hands

Can fulfill the law’s demands;

Could my zeal no respite know,

Could my tears forever flow,

All for sin could not atone,

Thou must save and Thou alone

Nothing in my hand I bring:

Simply to thy Cross I cling;

Naked, come to Thee for dress;

Helpless, look to Thee for grace;

Vile, I to the fountain fly:

Wash me Savior or I die

Can you think of anything more comforting when on your deathbed than a song about God’s grace?

Life is not about our success. Life is about our Savior.

How much more the end of life!