Death’s Sting

“God needed them more.”
“They’re an angel now.”
“It’s okay.”
“They’re up there smiling down on us.”
Any of these sound familiar? You could probably add a few to this list.

My cousin left this world recently, he stopped breathing…

We aren’t the closest family, broken, shattered, distant, maybe dysfunctional. Yet, my cousin and I would talk occasionally, small talk and catch up. He and I were better about this than I am with most of my family.

Well, right now I’m sure my aunt, uncle, and cousins have heard the phrases above and more. They have heard them from people who care about them and want to make them feel better, people who love them. However, these words are often empty phrases, groundless assertions, and “go to” sayings in times like these.

In attempts to make people feel better, we are missing the point. People fall asleep, people die, physically. This is reality, this is the world we live in. A world affected, effected, and infected by sin. We see it all around us and death is ever the reminder, the great equalizer.

My cousin, Milt, is not an angel now, he is still human; a human experiencing the fullnes and glory of God as I type these words. He is in paradise. God does not need him more than his family does, it was just his time to go be with Jesus. As far as timing, who but God knows why now.

Is he “up there” smiling down on us? I’m not completely sure. I don’t know if a person can look down at this broken world and smile while they are in the glorious presence of our Creator. Yet, if anyone could smile while seeing this world full of pain and strife, it must be a person who has seen God and sees the thorns of the world from God’s perspective.

Is it okay? At this moment, I’m sure they don’t feel okay. I’m sure they hurt, and they are confused, frustrated, scared, maybe even angry. But okay? I think this is the worst one…it’s okay?

It’s not okay! This world is broken! Pain, difficulty, opposition, violence, addiction, selfishness, these things and countless more surround us.

It’s not okay, and that is why Jesus came. It’s not okay sin has punched holes in our cities, homes, and hearts. It’s not okay, that’s why Jesus died.

Death is a pain that comes in this broken world, but it is a pain that reminds us things are not okay.

The question is, what do we do with that pain? Glaze over it, attempt to fill the painful holes of life with pleasure, appetites, and anything else? Do we ignore it, attempt to say we aren’t bleeding out?! Or do we admit it…admit we are broken, we aren’t even close to perfect, we need a Savior; a Redeemer?

Jesus Christ came and lived perfectly because we can’t. Jesus died as the sacrifice we could never offer, He came and lived as a human to see and feel from our perspective–because it’s not okay. However, with Christ, in Christ, we have hope. A hope for something more, finding a life purposed for more than our brokeness. A life that isn’t characterized by the old but shines brightly with the new.

In Jesus Christ the pain of death still stabs our hearts, but in Him we also find relief. In Jesus, we find that life is not okay, the infection still resides in us and this world. At the same time, it is okay, because
1 Corinthians 15:55 reminds us death has lost its sting.

Death may sting now, it will continue to take people from this world tomorrow, but from an eternal perspective death is squashed–it has lost all power because of Christ. Death will come knocking, but for those who confess with their mouth Jesus is Lord and believe in their heart God raised Him from the dead…no sting–just paradise.

For the believer, physical death merely brings an end to our brokeness and puts us in the presence of our Lord! The restoration we have started to experience in this world finds its completion as we stand in the presence of our Father, our Creator, our King, our Savior.

So, when death strikes, God doesn’t need them more, but hopefully through the experience of loss we realize we need God more…more than we act like, more than anything, more than we realize, more than the air we breathe.

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I Don’t Care About Your Pain?

Let me begin by making something clear: I do not watch any shows with the Kardashians and I don’t enjoy basketball either. According to what I’ve seen and heard, this show is yet another source of the disintegration we see in America.

With this said, I want to express my frustration with what I am seeing on social media. There are no good excuses for what led to the situation Lamar Odom is facing, poor choices often birth poor results.

Still, some have thrown out any compassion for this man. Some have said “He made the choice, now he has to deal with it” and I have even seen some say “How can you say he is fighting for his life when we have military men and women really fighting for their lives?” So, I ask have we become so blind? Are we this indifferent? Are we so quick to forget?

Let me remind you…
Isaiah 64:6 (ESV)  We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.

You and I are broken like him, our works are filthy… and…

1John1:8 (NLT) If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth.

Also…

Romans 3:23 (NLT) For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.

You may sin different than this man, your sins may be less severe, they may be more heinous…no matter. God requires perfection to have eternal life…you aren’t perfect. You are a sinner, like Lamar Odom.

You are broken, you fall short of perfection, you choose sin over Christ everyday, you have made poor choices.

The Good News for me, you, Lamar Odom, and everyone else:

Romans 5:8 (ESV)…God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

God requires perfection, we’re not. GOD came in the flesh, lived perfectly, defeated sin, conquered death, and lives still. He did this for me, you, and everyone else!

His perfection is ours, it is placed over us, it is imputed, if we confess with our mouths Jesus is Lord and believe in our hearts God raised Him from the dead (Romans 10:9).

We’ve all fallen short, made mistakes, made poor choices, hurt others, sinned against God. Thankfully God hasn’t turned His back on us, He hasn’t abandoned us because “We made the choice” and He doesn’t count our battles as petty, simply because someone else is facing a something more callenging.

We are called to live lives of compassion, lives characterized by light and salt! We are called to love others as ourselves! It’s time..stop talking about it, stop playing games…we are The Church and it is time the world sees what that looks like!

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I Don’t Dance.

I’m outside the dance studio, no, I don’t dance; unless you count the occasional slow dance with my wife. I’m waiting for Heather to get out of her class, it’s gotten too dark to read so I’m people watching.

A dad walks out with his young daughter, hand in hand, she says “I love you”. Another little girl is so excited she shares every detail with her dad, as they walk down the sidewalk he smiles as she bursts with excitement. One dad opens the door for his daughter, “Make sure and buckle up”, as he then checks her seat belt.

So much to think about. Not everyone has had great experiences in the father field. Some have distant or even dysfunctional relationships. Others grew up with a void in that area for one reason or another. Still, many have had great memories.

A commonality, we all have a heavenly father who loves us! He wants us to buckle up and live in the healthy way he’s instructed us. He holds our hand, opens the doors, checks our seatbelts, and listens to us. What we see or feel when we hear the word father may be broken…but he meets us in that brokenness. When we think of God or hear that word–we may see different images or feel different emotions, but God is God. Whether we read between the lines or make Him into someone He is not, He remains immutable.

So, you want to learn about your heavenly father? We learn by talking to Him, reading about Him, and observing His creation. There’s always something to learn…if you’re not learning you’re stagnating.

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