Diary of a Grieving Christian – 5 (The Viewing: Another Visit to the Funeral Directors)

Today (Friday) was the day I was not looking forward to. My friend Robert suggested I go see Sue if I can as it would or could give me some closure. I made the appointment to view Sue for 10.00 this morning (Friday). I was dreading this. It’s not for everyone and have made no demands on the kids. But I reasoned, whatever I decided, I would probably regret. But If I didn’t see her the opportunity would be lost and wouldn’t be able to do anything about it. If it was a horrible experience, I reasoned, the memory would fade having many better memories and pictures of Sue. Armed with Sue’s words echoing in my mind ‘they are not there’ I drove to the place where Sue is resting – her body at any rate.

So I pulled into the car park and sat praying for a moment and then decided what I would do. I would go in on my own, pray aloud and then read aloud a part of 1 Corinthians 15. I went in and was ushered into a room in reception while waiting  for Julie, the lady assisting us in the arrangements. Julie appeared and took me through a door and along a corridor with a series of rooms. Quite weird actually. We then stood outside the room where Sue was resting. I was emotional and crying outside the door. We went in, with me still crying to see Sue lying in the coffin. Julie was very good. I told her my intentions, explaining Sue was not there but in heaven. She said it was good to have faith – not quite sure what she meant by that. Julie then left. I was alone with the body of my beloved and wonderful Sue.

With trembling voice I thanked The Lord for saving Sue, for keeping her over the years, for bringing us together, for keeping us together, for our children and our grandchildren. I asked the Lord to be with us as a family, to be present at the burial and the service and that He might save, that the Gospel would be preached and that He would be Glorified.

I then turned to the Scriptures and began reading this passage: 1 Corinthians 15: 35-58. I noticed especially verse 37 where it says ‘what you sow is not the body that is to be, but a bare kernel’. A bare Kernel! And then noting the following verses:

1Co 15:42 So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable.
1Co 15:43 It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power.
1Co 15:44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.

I continued to read, reinforcing the truth that Sue is not here but has gone to be with Christ. Finally, I turned to Job 1:20 – 21.

Job 1:20 Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshipped.
Job 1:21 And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.

After reading from Job I spoke to Sue, even though it was bonkers, given what I had just read. But it was for me. I then came out of the room and made my way through to reception. Julie appeared again, we spoke briefly and I was on my way. I was consciously different. Was this closure? Absolutely no idea. I felt calm and at peace. Quite different from how I was before. Is this normal? No idea. The Word was powerful as I read it there in that room alone with God. There was no flash of lightning, or smoke, or voice (apart from mine), or trembling (only mine). Just The Word of God. When faced with Death, all we need is the Word of God. All flesh is as grass, but The Word of the Lord endures forever!

In closing this post, note these verses very carefully:

1Co 15:54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”
1Co 15:55 “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”
1Co 15:56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.
1Co 15:57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Diary of a Grieving Christian – 4 (Overview of the week)

Just a quick overview of the week. It’s been a busy week. My emotions are on a roller-coaster. I went to Church on Sunday morning with family (very close friends) to a Church where a few people knew me and where only one or two knew that Sue had died. The Pastor knew me but knew nothing of my situation and said the usual ‘how are you?’. I said ‘I was fine’ and he was off getting ready for the service. It was actually quite nice to not be asked in that uncomfortable way ‘how are you?’ but just in a British way that really means Hello. I had never sung the last hymn before but it so fitted where we were that morning. So much so that we are singing (no 3) it at the Funeral Service. We all thought how fitting it was, and will be.

Slightly different in the evening going to my home Church. I nearly didn’t go but some friends had saved a place for me at the back. I figured I had to go at some time. Everyone was really kind. An older gentleman came up to me and said ‘I know exactly what you are going through’. We were both moved as we shared our grief together for a few moments. Pastor Watts mentioned Sue several times in the sermon. His sermon was based on John 17:24 ‘Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory…’ Used that text as part of the announcement in the local paper. I took the opportunity to sort out the hymns and tunes and to find out from the Pastor what the reading would be. He said he would be preaching from Romans 8. He would preach on anything I liked. I told him, Sue wanted him to take the service and that she would be happy with what ever he chose to preach on. I shattered at the end of the day.

On that evening someone came and said ‘they were sorry for my loss’. I intend on coming back to this phrase, maybe in a separate post.

Frankly, the rest of the week is a bit of a blur.My birthday on Thursday wasn’t much fun without Sue. I spent some time Wednesday & Thursday sorting out the Order of Service. Chris sorted the front picture and the layout – quite emotional for him. His Mum would be proud of him as she would be for all three of the kids. More time was spent trying to contact people and let them know the news about Sue. I think it was Thursday, as I went to go up the stairs there was a piece of note-paper on one of the steps. As I looked I could see it was Sues writing. It must have slipped out of one of the address books without me noticing. It was a list of people Sue wanted me to contact about her death. One of the names had after it: 1st person to tell me about Jesus. Please thank her for me. The only detail she left was that she worked in a flower shop in a nearby town. I tracked her down and they are hoping to come to the service. God is Good!

I find myself pacing around aimlessly for a lot of the time. I realised it was because of spending such a lot of time caring for Sue that now there was nothing to do. I told the Doctor this. He reassured me by saying it was normal. Also that being lethargic and tired is a part of grief. Their’s a commonality to our humanity.

Thursday I had a letter from Chris’s Pastor Geoff Thomas. It made for an emotional read but the truths he expressed were so powerful and so very helpful. We have a Great Saviour. His name is Jesus.

Today, Friday, I went to see Sue. I’ll do a separate post for this.

What Is Reformation Day? | 5 Minutes in Church History

What is Reformation Day? In this episode of 5 Minutes in Church History, Dr. Stephen Nichols explains the significance of October 31, 1517 and why Christians

Source: What Is Reformation Day? | 5 Minutes in Church History

A great thing about Reformation Day is that it is NOT an alternative to Halloween. An excellent 5 minutes of your time.

 

Logic on Fire – Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones Documentary

Lloyd-JonesLast evening we watched Logic on Fire – A documentary film about Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones. Just incredible! It showed very powerfully what is lacking today. If you haven’t you seen it, you need to see it! Especially if you are a preacher. It was a privilege and a blessing to watch it. I need to watch it again.
(Watch trailer below)

Almost everything that was said is antithetical to the direction of the Church today. I dread where it will be in 20 years. It always seems to be looking for something new, something relevant that will be attractive to people today. When will we understand that people are DEAD in trespasses and sins. Nothing, NOTHING but the power of God can give a sinner life. That is message that is reiterated over and over and over again in the Documentary and is what Dr Lloyd-Jones emphasised through his ministry because it is the message of the Bible itself.

We (my wife and I) came to faith on the coat-tails of that period. MLJ was still alive when I became a believer and his influence was still very powerful in the Church. In fact the Church I attended was heavily influenced by him. One of the founding members and his wife were personal friends of The Dr. I think he preached the opening sermon. The first minister of the Church (REFC) was Rev Kenneth Howard (more of him another time) and came highly recommended by Dr Lloyd-Jones. And I believe Peter Jeffery was also recommended or at least known by him – one of ‘Lloyd-Jones boys’ (will check facts for this).

There are some great contributions by many that knew him. And it was encouraging to see younger preachers being blessed and encouraged through his life and ministry.

If you have never heard him preach go to The MLJ Trust and download some of his sermons. They are timeless because The Gospel is timeless and still very powerful. I listened to one of the sermons recently and it could have been preached today even though it was preached 50 years ago.

The Gay Revolution: Discussion with Jeff Durbin, Dr James White & Dr Michael Brown

Well worth your time watching this. Share it.

Also watch via Dr White’s Website HERE.

 

Iron Sharpens Iron

Proverbs 27:17   ‘Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend’.

That’s a great verse, especially for friends. We have our friends best interest at heart and we seek to sharpen them. Here’s a part of Matthew Henry’s commentary:

‘…. Men are filed, made smooth, and bright, and fit for business (who were rough, and dull, and inactive), by conversation. This is designed, 1. To recommend to us this expedient for sharpening ourselves, but with a caution to take heed whom we choose to converse with, because the influence upon us is so great either for the better or for the worse. 2. To direct us what we must have in our eye in conversation, namely to improve both others and ourselves, not to pass away time or banter one another, but to provoke one another to love and to good works and so to make one another wiser and better.’

It’s a good thing to have a friend that will sharpen you up even when it hurts!

Some of you may know (if you don’t, check it out!) Chris Arnzen has a Radio program called ‘Iron Sharpens Iron’ and he quotes Matthew Henry at the beginning of his program.

Here’s the link: Iron Sharpens Iron

An Occasional Evening Dose of Spurgeon – 10th June

“They are they which testify of Me.”—John 5:39.

ESUS Christ is the Alpha and Omega of the Bible. He is the constant theme of its sacred pages; from first to last they testify of Him. At the creation we at once discern Him as one of the sacred Trinity; we catch a glimpse of Him in the promise of the woman’s seed; we see Him typified in the ark of Noah; we walk with Abraham, as He sees Messiah’s day; we dwell in the tents of Isaac and Jacob, feeding upon the gracious promise; we hear the venerable Israel talking of Shiloh; and in the numerous types of the law, we find the Redeemer abundantly foreshadowed. Prophets and kings, priests and preachers, all look one way—they all stand as the cherubs did over the ark, desiring to look within, and to read the mystery of God’s great propitiation. Still more manifestly in the New Testament we find our Lord the one pervading subject. It is not an ingot here and there, or dust of gold thinly scattered, but here you stand upon a solid floor of gold; for the whole substance of the New Testament is Jesus crucified, and even its closing sentence is bejewelled with the Redeemer’s name. We should always read Scripture in this light; we should consider the word to be as a mirror into which Christ looks down from heaven; and then we, looking into it, see His face reflected as in a glass—darkly, it is true, but still in such a way as to be a blessed preparation for seeing Him as we shall see Him face to face. This volume contains Jesus Christ’s letters to us, perfumed by His love. These pages are the garments of our King, and they all smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia. Scripture is the royal chariot in which Jesus rides, and it is paved with love for the daughters of Jerusalem. The Scriptures are the swaddling bands of the holy child Jesus; unroll them and you find your Saviour. The quintessence of the word of God is Christ.

Source: Morning & Evening

In my opinion Spurgeon has it exactly right! We should be looking for Christ in ALL the Scriptures.

A Helpful Resource for New Christians

All things newWhen someone becomes a Christian there’s a tendency to overload them with a pile of reading material. And usually well-meaning people will have different book recommendations, be coming from different theological positions and will probably just confuse the new believer and they will start out with a bunch of books they may never read. But, one book I found extremely helpful is by Peter Jeffery. And still in print. I sat down to skim through it the other day with new Christians in mind. It’s ‘All Things New‘. It was a great help at the time – 1979 – and I can see why it will still be helpful today.

1. It’s very brief. Just 28 pages. Each page deals with either a doctrine or a practice. For example: Page 1. ‘You are now a Christian’. Page 2. ‘You were a lost sinner’. Page 10 ‘You have been Justified’. Page 15 ‘Belonging to a Church’. There are pages on Baptism, The Lord’s Supper, Bible Study, Prayer and many other important doctrines and practices.

2. Each page has several Scripture references to teach the doctrine. Obviously it’s very brief, but it gets the reader into the Bible and shows how the doctrine and practice is taught in the Bible.

3. Many of the pages will have a quotation or two, thus introducing preachers, theologians and documents from Church history. Names like John Murray, John Calvin, C H Spurgeon, Lloyd-Jones, Martin Luther and several others. The Shorter Catechism is also helpfully quoted.

4. Finally, there is a page of Recommended further reading. And a page recommendation to follow a Bible reading plan.

Hard to believe all that is packed into a few pages. But it works really well. This a very very helpful little book and will get new believers into the Bible and introduce them to Church history and theology.

I still have the copy Peter gave me all those years ago.

Psalm 2 – The Peoples Plot in Vain

The Reign of the Lord‘s Anointed

Why do the nations rage[a]
    and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth set themselves,
    and the rulers take counsel together,
    against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying,
“Let us burst their bonds apart
    and cast away their cords from us.”

He who sits in the heavens laughs;
    the Lord holds them in derision.
Then he will speak to them in his wrath,
    and terrify them in his fury, saying,
“As for me, I have set my King
    on Zion, my holy hill.”

I will tell of the decree:
The Lord said to me, “You are my Son;
    today I have begotten you.
Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage,
    and the ends of the earth your possession.
You shall break[b] them with a rod of iron
    and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”

10 Now therefore, O kings, be wise;
    be warned, O rulers of the earth.
11 Serve the Lord with fear,
    and rejoice with trembling.
12 Kiss the Son,
    lest he be angry, and you perish in the way,
    for his wrath is quickly kindled.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

Footnotes:

  1. Psalm 2:1 Or nations noisily assemble
  2. Psalm 2:9 Revocalization yields (compare Septuagint) You shall rule

James White 3-part Video / Audio response to David Gushee

Dr White of Alpha & Omega Ministries has concluded his response to Dr David Gushee. I recommend you all watch / listen to these. With Churches collapsing and falling over themselves to affirm Same Sex Marriage and the LGBTQ totalitarian ideology Christians need to be prepared. I watched part of a BBC Q & A session last evening (05/05/2015) with Northern Ireland leaders as part of the election coverage over here in the UK. They just were floundering to affirm LGBTQ rights. There was a Christian in the audience that spoke out and despite assurances to the contrary it was obvious his fears will probably be confirmed. Among words used and forcefully expressed by members of the audience were Bigot & Homophobe. As Dr White says ‘it isn’t a slippery slope it’s a cliff’ and we are teetering on the edge looking over. O Lord our God in wrath remember mercy (Habakkuk 3:2). Videos below. (Go to the bottom of this page for Audio Links) I don’t know Dr White but I take him to be a sane level-headed man not given to scare-mongering. He’s far more aware of what’s going on than I am so I take his warnings seriously.

Video 1 – Responding to Dr. David Gushee’s “Reformation Project” Presentation
‘I began a multi-part, full response to Dr. David Gushee’s presentation at the Reformation Project conference back in 2014 on today’s 90 minute long program.  Gushee has taken the position of “lead ally” and scholar in support of the “gay Christian” movement, asserting that the church is guilty of hurting her “sexual minorities.”  It is important to understand the arguments Gushee is putting forth, for we will all be hearing them repeated in the months and years to come.  I managed to get 22 minutes into the hour long presentation today, and will continue the response on Thursday’s program.’

Video 2 – Continued Response to Dr. David Gushee (Part 2)
‘Here is another 90 minutes of response to Dr. David Gushee in response to his presentation at the Reformation Project back in 2014.  I only got through about 12 minutes today as I took more time to expand upon particular points. If you are enjoying this response and finding it useful and edifying, please, share it with others!’

Video 3 – Finishing Up Review/Rebuttal of David Gushee “Reformation Project” Presentation
‘Finished up a five hour response to David Gushee on his presentation identifying the biblical view of homosexuality as a message of “contempt.” We hope to put the entire five hours into a single audio file available for download.  Given the recent events at the Supreme Court, this is a vital discussion.’


Audio Links Below
(I’ll try to change this to a single file when I can)

Response 1

Response 2

Response 3