Dealing With Grief

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On April 25, 2015, my mom went home to be with the Lord at age 55. I had known that she was suffering in this life, but I did not know how much until I talked with her doctor a few days after her passing. I knew that my mom has had type 2 diabetes most of her life and as a result developed other medical complications from that such as spinal stenosis (narrowing of spaces in the spine caused by degeneration of joints and discs). A few years ago, she was diagnosed with CHF (congestive heart failure) and her doctor had informed me that she had severe COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease which is a group of lung diseases that block airflow and make it difficult to breathe). About a month prior to her passing, it was discovered that her kidneys were in bad shape due to an infection and dialysis was recommended but my mom refused that treatment knowing how bad her COPD was she felt there was no point to go through the mental and physical side-effects dialysis would bring. Some facts that have given me comfort is that my mom did not want to be on life support or pass away in a hospital. She got what she wanted by passing away in her sleep at home. She also did not want to be seen by a lot of people for a funeral service. I discovered that funeral expenses can add up very quickly to thousands of dollars so since my mom did not have life insurance and I did not have money to pay for a large funeral, especially if it was just going to be a closed casket service, my mom got that wish as well. I complied to her final wish by having her cremated and her ashes are now in an urn behind a couple of pictures of her in the living room.

https://youtu.be/WmIqYDAncOs (When You Come Home by Mark Schultz)

It is never an easy feeling to witness suffering, especially when a person is a family member who you dearly love and care for. In the worst times of my mom’s sufferings, I shared in that suffering to the point where my entire body would just numb up and I would have no specific feelings at all, just a combined mix of feelings to the point where my body would just blank them all out. That is what I felt the day before my mom passed and have been feeling at random times since then. Although I was in emotional shock and felt completely numb, I was also at peace because I knew that my mom was no longer in pain or suffering. She went to be with the HEALER, the very presence of LOVE. It is no coincidence that my mom wrote out lyrics to this song and had that piece of paper in an easy place to find:

https://youtu.be/XRlYbgagnN8 (Wish You Were Here by Mark Harris)

The thoughts and prayers from family members and friends have also played an important role in my loss. As a good friend of mine always says, “isolation is bad and community is good.” If we did not have other people in our lives, life would be a lot more difficult than necessary. Most importantly, if we do not have Jesus Christ in our life, we would be completely lost, especially in the hard times. Hebrews 4:14-16 says, “Since we have a great high priest, Jesus the Son of God, who has gone into heaven, let us hold on to the faith we have. For our high priest is able to understand our weaknesses. When he lived on earth, he was tempted in every way that we are, but he did not sin. Let us, then, feel very sure that we can come before God’s throne where there is grace. There we can receive mercy and grace to help us when we need it.”

https://youtu.be/oI_h_IRfRe8 (Somebody’s Praying by Ricky Skaggs)

Max Lucado described the experience of brokenness as this: “Before your pain, the view was clear; God seemed so near. After your pain, well, he was harder to see. He seemed a bit distant…harder to perceive. Your pain distorted the view—not eclipsed it, but distorted it.” Although there have been times in my life where my view was distorted, I believe that it was because of those times that when I found out that my mom had passed away, my view of God became more clear and I knew without a doubt that He was closer to me at that moment more than ever. I greatly enjoy this one quote: “God’s light in our dark nights are as numerous as the stars, if only we’ll look for them. When God comes, we doubters think, all pain will flee. Life will be tranquil. No questions will remain. And because we look for the bonfire, we miss the candle. Because we listen for the shout, we miss the whisper. But it is in the burnished candles that God comes, and through whispered promises he speaks: ‘When you doubt, look around; I am closer than you think.” Healing begins in a place where our grief merges with God’s grace.

https://youtu.be/Qni5bIN5qmU (Amazing Grace by Celtic Thunder)

I have been noticing, lately more than ever, that in spite of all circumstances, there seemed to be just enough to make it through the day. There has been just enough food, there has been just enough money, there has been just enough comfort for the day. I am reminded of 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, “But he said to me, ‘My grace is enough for you. When you are weak, my power is made perfect in you.’ So I am very happy to brag about my weaknesses. Then Christ’s power can live in me. For this reason I am happy when I have weaknesses, insults, hard times, sufferings, and all kinds of troubles for Christ. Because when I am weak, then I am truly strong.” When sorrow comes and we begin to fall apart, the best place to be is on our knees so that in the midst of our chaos, God can bring order. Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” I like how the last few words of that verse is worded. When our heart gets broken and our mind becomes confused, we only need to call on Jesus and he will see us through it all. He is always with us walking with us in the good times and carrying us in the bad times. Romans 5:1-2 says, “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”

https://youtu.be/DavJ9UKS2ps (Your Not Alone by Owl City)

Max Lucado comments on Lamentations 3:1-66 as: “Jeremiah’s sorrow and consolation represented the nation’s agony. Surrounded by sin and sorrow, Jeremiah saw hope in God’s steadfast love and mercy. God renews our lives day by day.” Because God renews our life each day, we should take to heart the passage from Job 22:21-22: “Obey God and be at peace with him; this is the way to happiness. Accept teaching from his mouth, and keep his words in your heart.” The promises of Scripture can give strength to the weak, courage to the fearful, love to the lonely, and peace in the commotion.

https://youtu.be/JsLk-Prtsn0 (Your Love Is Like A River by Third Day)

I encourage everyone to check out the following organizations to see how you can support them:

American Diabetes Association
http://www.diabetes.org

American Heart Association
http://www.heart.org

American Lung Association
http://www.lung.org

I would like to conclude this entry with 1 Peter 5:6-12: “Be humble under God’s powerful hand so he will lift you up when the right time comes. Give all your worries to him, because he cares about you. Control yourselves and be careful! The devil, your enemy, goes around like a roaring lion looking for someone to eat. Refuse to give in to him, by standing strong in your faith. You know that your Christian family all over the world is having the same kinds of suffering. And after you suffer for a short time, God, who gives all grace, will make everything right. He will make you strong and support you and keep you from falling. He called you to share in his glory in Christ, a glory that will continue forever. All power is his forever and ever. Amen…I wrote this short letter with the help of Silas, who I know is a faithful brother in Christ. I wrote to encourage you and to tell you that this is the true grace of God, Stand strong in that grace.”

https://youtu.be/7ttTfcu8gQo (Mercy Said No by Greg Long)

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Life Analogy

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Life is to death as death is to Life.  Billy Graham once said, “From the moment we are born, we begin to die.”  Life is a reflection and it is important to understand what, who, and how we are reflecting.  This comes by what we read, listen to, and watch, who we hang out with, and how we handle our priorities and situations.  What do our lives revolve around?  It is natural for us to seek with our minds and hearts for temporary pleasures that last for a brief amount of time.  It is supernatural for us to seek with our minds and hearts for spiritual matters that will last for eternity.  We cannot make it through life on our own.  Robert W. Youngs pointed out that “Sir Rabindranath Tagore, Nobel Prize-winning poet, once said, “I have on my table a violin string.  It is free.  But it is not free to do what a violin string is supposed to do—to produce music.  So I take it, fix it in my violin and tighten it until it is taut.  Only then is it free to be a violin string.”  By the same token we are free when our lives are committed, but not to be what we were intended to be.  Real freedom is not freedom from, but freedom for.”  In this life, we have freedom to grow.  Carl Jung has stated that “Growth at all levels must include spiritual development as its most subtle and valuable aspect.  The life of the spirit, manifest in the consciousness, must evolve in accordance with certain principles and forms, which, in turn, must be related to all the other levels of human existence.  If they were unequal or detached, life could not continue.” 

I highly encourage the reader to click the following link and watch this 11 minute skit:

http://skitguys.com/videos/item/gods-chisel

I love this video.  When we accept Jesus Christ in our lives and have complete trust in Him, God takes all of the junk in our lives and begins making us the way we were intended to be, just like Jesus.  Unfortunately for us, it does not happen overnight.  While we are living on this earth, we will continue to be a work in progress.  God gave us mountains so that we can learn how to climb.  Every mountain has a valley to go through.  We are never alone when we go through valleys or when we are at the lowest point of the mountain because God is there through it all.  He is with us and for us through our entire lives and the question is will we trust Him enough to let Him work THROUGH us in addition to working ON us?

It is all too easy to live in the lie that we have to earn love.  Maybe we do this because that is the impression we got growing up at home or maybe from past experiences with relationships.  It is time to examine our minds, our hearts, and our ways and return to the LORD.  Grace is needed to save, it is needed to grow, and it is needed for love.  Grace realized is glory defined.  Grace realized is glory shown.  Now is the time to repent to connect. Repent from “stinking thinking.”  Connect to God’s love.  Let us stop trying to earn and start to receive.  Let us immerse ourselves in the love God has for us and so desperately wants to show us. 

1 John 4:7-16 declares, “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God.  Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.  Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.  This is how God showed his love among us:  He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.  This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.  Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.  This is how we know that we live in him and he in us:  He has given us of his Spirit.  And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.  If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God.  And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.”

Galatians 2:19-21 declares, “For when I tried to keep the law, it condemned me.  So I died to the law—I stopped trying to meet all its requirements—so that I might live for God.  My old self has been crucified with Christ.  It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.  So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.  I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless.  For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die.”

2 Corinthians 4:14-18 says, “We know that God, who raised the Lord Jesus, will also raise us with Jesus and present us to himself together with you.  All of this is for your benefit.  And as God’s grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory.  That is why we never give up.  Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day.   For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long.  Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!   So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.”

Matthew 6:25-34 says, “This is why I tell you: Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds of the sky:  They don’t sow or reap or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Aren’t you worth more than they?  Can any of you add a single cubit to his heightby worrying?  And why do you worry about clothes?  Learn how the wildflowers of the field grow: they don’t labor or spin thread.  Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was adorned like one of these!  If that’s how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow, won’t He do much more for you—you of little faith?  So don’t worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’  For the idolaters eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.  But seek first the kingdom of Godand His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.  Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” 

A.W. Tozer once said that “things do not just happen in the kingdom of God, they come to pass.”  The Message version of Matthew 6:25-34 says:  “If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you?  What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving.  People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works.  Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions.  Don’t worry about missing out.  You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.  Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow.  God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.”

This 11 minute video of Jars of Clay singing “Worlds Apart” seems to be an appropriate ending for this entry.  I encourage the reader to play the video with your eyes closed and listen to and meditate to the words of the song:

Is There Evidence for Life After Death?

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By Hank Hanegraaff

Philosophical naturalists (including most evolutionists) believe that death is the cessation of being.  In their view, humans are merely bodies and brains.  Though they reject metaphysical realities such as the soul, there are convincing reasons to believe that humans have an immaterial aspect to their being that transcends the material and thus can continue to exist after death.

From a legal perspective, if human beings were merely material, they could not be held accountable this year for a crime committed last year, because physical identity changes over time.  We are not the same people today that we were yesterday.  Every day we lose millions of microscopic particles.  In fact, every seven years or so, virtually every part of our material anatomy changes, apart from aspects of our neurological system.  Therefore, from a purely material perspective, the person who previously committed a crime is presently not the same person.  Yet a criminal who attempts to use this line of reasoning as a defense would not get very far.  Such legal maneuvering simply does not fly even in an age of scientific enlightenment.  Legally and intuitively, we recognize a sameness of soul that establishes personal identity over time.

Finally, freedom of the will presupposes that we are more than material robots.  If I am merely material, my choices are a function of such factors as genetic makeup and brain chemistry. Therefore, my decisions are not free; they are fatalistically determined.  The implications of such a notion are profound.  In a worldview that embraces fatalistic determinism, I cannot be held morally accountable for my actions, since reward and punishment make sense only if we have freedom of the will.  In a solely material world, reason itself is reduced to the status of a conditioned reflex.  Moreover, the very concept of love is rendered meaningless.  Rather than being an act of the will, love is relegated to a robotic procedure that is fatalistically determined by physical processes.

While the legal and freedom arguments are convincing in and of themselves, there is an even more powerful and persuasive argument demonstrating the reality of life beyond the grave. That argument flows from the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  The best minds of ancient and modern times have demonstrated beyond the shadow of a doubt that Christ’s physical trauma was fatal; that the empty tomb is one of the best-attested facts of ancient history; that Christ’s followers experienced on several occasions tangible post-resurrection appearances of Christ; and that within weeks of the resurrection, not just one, but an entire community of at least 3,000 Jews experienced such an incredible transformation that they willingly gave up sociological and theological traditions that had given them their national identity.

Through the resurrection, Christ not only demonstrated that He does not stand in a line of peers with Abraham, Buddha, or Confucius but also provided compelling evidence for life after death.