Category Archives: Last days

The Grateful Dead

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When I was growing up, our family would sometimes take a Sunday drive in the afternoon, either to visit relatives or just for fun.  The two older siblings would share the back seat and I, being the youngest, would sit on the floor board on either side of “the hump”.  While driving around, we would pass several familiar sites including cemeteries.  Invariably, one of us would smugly state, “people are just dying to get in there!” followed by an instant head turn from mom, a disapproving glare followed by a chiding comment of how we shouldn’t disrespect the dead.  All the while, we siblings would respond with satisfied smiles and quiet giggles.

As I look back, that comment seemed so funny at the time but certainly less so as I get older.  For in youth, a day seems like an eternity but as the stark reality of midlife adulthood creeps in, you begin to experience the sting of death as you lose loved ones and soon acknowledge that your own life is but a mere vapor in the wind.   Sounds pretty morbid, huh?  Well, it depends on your perspective.

You see, there are many differing views about death and if there is “life on the other side”.  Some believe there is simply nothing after death, the light switch is merely set to the “off” position and you become a buffet for all sorts of creepy crawlers.  If that was the case, I guess I would have an epitaph that reads, “I was serious about life but now I’m just a fungi”…Others believe that you are reincarnated as another creature or human depending on how good or bad you were in your previous life.  I guess if you came back as a dung beetle, you could easily figure out why…Still others believe they will be rewarded in paradise by what they did on earth; their reward being measured by the number of virgins they receive in paradise based on how much they pleased their God.  I wonder if their hell was also based on something similar but they quickly ran out of virgins and would have to support all of them for eternity…

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not trying to make light of death as much as bring a different perspective to light.  Death is part of life; “From ashes to ashes, dust to dust; we came from the earth and to return we must”.  We mourn those we have lost because we miss them terribly; there is a huge gaping hole left in our heart that only God can heal.  But for the followers of Christ, there is a hope that extends beyond the grave.  John 3:16 (NIV) states, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  John 14:2-3 (NIV) reflects, “My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?   And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”  If I truly trust God’s word in its’ entirety, then there really is a concrete hope that we can hold on to, not only that we will see our loved ones again that trusted in Jesus, but we will live eternally with Christ!

And so we hold on to that very hope and truth as we go about our day to day lives; knowing that it is not about when or how we die but actually how we live and Who we live for in this life that makes an eternal difference in the next.  That’s why it is so vitally important that we know the One who created us, who loves us more than we could ever imagine; being a living testimony of Christ in us until the day comes when we take our last breath.  I will then be in peace and at peace, one of the grateful dead.  For having lived and being loved in life, I must then await my final judgment but knowing I have an advocate with my Father.

My only hesitancy in death is leaving my loved ones in pain and grief.  For as I know from pain filled experience, there is a peace to know your loved one is with the Lord but we humans have to deal with the emotional fall out of their passing and the huge void left in their place.  But be comforted in the fact that we can be united once again.  I Thessalonians 4:16-17 reads, 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.”  When Christ returns, I can’t wait to be caught up with everyone else for that great reunion.  I bet I won’t even have that fear of heights anymore.  I’ll just be eternally grateful for the grace given to a wretch like me.

I Have to Go Now

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Photography and words by Stephen R Wilson

“When you gotta go, you gotta go”…how many times have you heard this phrase?  It could mean anything from “I’ve got to get going” to “I have to use your facilities”.  The phrase describes action; moving from one place to another.  There are several verses in the New Testament that reflects Jesus telling his disciples to “go and do”.  Mark 16:15 states — He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.”   If we are believers in Christ, we are indeed tasked to go and do, to reach out and minister to those around us.

But have we forgotten that Jesus was sent first?  Luke 19:10 says, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”  Where would we be if God had not sent His son to “seek and save” the lost?  That is what the poem reflected below is all about; Christ leaving His perfect kingdom to save our condemned world…

Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

I Have to Go Now

Walking around my Father’s place

In heaven’s magnificent splendor,

This is the only home I have ever known

His light, love and blessings are mine forever.

 

But I desire to do His will

My full heart yearns to obey,

So I must leave this home I know

To save the lost in another place.

 

I have to go now to do my Father’s will

You see the world below is hurting and needs some saving grace,

I know it won’t be easy but these souls are well worth pain

So I will become a little child and one day take their place.

***

It has been over three decades that I have walked here on earth

My ministry is almost over but my very being throbs and hurts,

For there are so many needs, the sin is great and life here is very hard

Even my disciples seem to be discouraged and think our work here is cursed.

 

But as my Father has led me on and kept me spotless still

The love my Father has for these helpless souls will soothe my pain to come,

For I am here to teach and love, to share my Father’s promises

And now I am to lay my life as an unblemished lamb to by all means save some.

 

So I have to go now to do my Father’s will

To take on the sin of all, to climb Golgotha’s hill,

And as they pierce my hands and feet, and lift me to the sky

My love for you has not diminished, as I cry out “it is finished” and I die.

***

I open my eyes, it is cold and dark, I can’t hear my Father’s voice

But I hear the demons hiss and sneer, “you’ve done it master!” are their cries,

“I have you now” Satan screams “All humanity is mine!”

Everything seems lost in this pitch black hell but I know it’s only lies.

 

All at once the ground is shaking as I hear my Father’s cry

Arise, my son the time has come, now leave this grave behind,

Satan shouted “that’s not fair”, his death was the final blow

“You fool”, God stated, “through my Son is salvation to all and death has been denied”.

 

I have to go now to share that I’m alive

To show my disciples that I beat death’s eternal sting,

Now I go to prepare a place for all those who believe

But I will send a Comforter friend that will encourage you just like me.

 

I will be back someday soon to complete my Father’s plan

To collect my beautiful faultless bride, to take her lovely hand,

When my Father gives the call, I will break the eastern sky

And gather to gather the faithful, those who will never ever die.

John 20:21-23 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”  And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.  If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

Revelation 22:20   He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

Awakening

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Have you ever had something bad happen to you but in the end, became a blessing in disguise?  We may all have had such occurrences that we just chock up to a “happy accident” or perhaps a strange coincidence.  Such was the case in a rather recent adventure I’ve been on.

Somehow, sometime around two months ago, I injured my lower back.  Who knows how I did it but my lower back suddenly screamed for attention and was relentless in getting its’ own way.  I made an appointment with the doctor and he said basically to “take it easy” and if it got worse, he would prescribe something for the pain.  I went home wishing I could put the doctor in a little pain.  Finding my medical professional to be less than helpful, I thought I would try a different approach and asked my daughter if she knew a good chiropractor in the area.  After polling her friends, she gave me a couple of suggestions and I landed on one that seemed to be pretty reputable.  Having no prior experience with a chiropractor, I knew this would be a memorable experience.

I went for my first appointment where they poked, prodded, measured and x-rayed this not so perfect specimen of a body and announced they could help me with the pain along with my out of alignment situation and a few other “since you are getter older” scenarios.  The next appointment, the chiropractor began the vertebrae manipulations along with electrical stimulation for the back.  After about a week, the lower back started to feel better; after two weeks, something else started going on.

One of the areas he was working on was the C2 vertebra that was a little kinked.  During every visit as a course of treatment, he would have me lie on my back while he maneuvered my neck followed by a quick pause and a subsequent cracking sound as he jerked my neck this way or that.  (I still subconsciously check my extremities for paralysis after that manipulation).

I have been totally deaf on my right side for the past fifteen years due to Meniere’s disease which I mentioned in my blog post, “Sshhh…Listen”.  A couple of weeks after the neck manipulations began, I noticed when I used a cotton swab in my right ear there was a slight sensory response.  I didn’t think anything about it until it became more pronounced the next time and I also thought I could hear a little something from time to time.  It got to the point where I was convinced I could actually start hearing a little from my right ear and made an appointment for a hearing test.  Sure enough, I was at fifty-two percent or better and eligible for a hearing aid to make up the difference.  You see, my auditory nerves were in a dormant state until the vertebrae manipulations began to stimulate the nerves and made them active once again!  WOW, talk about a two-fer!  I had a sound back AND my hearing restored?!  All it took was the right stimulation to awaken what I thought was permanently dead!

This experience made me think about our spiritual lives.  So many people today are walking around either spiritually dead or sleep walking while wasting the time God has given them to be the best for Him.  And instead of Meniere’s disease causing their deafness, it is sin in their lives that deadens the sound of His “still small voice”.  We get so caught up in our own wants that we block out anything or anyone else that goes against our wishes.  So what do we do?  What kind of stimulus do we need to wake us up from this ungodly slumber we seem to be in?  I have an idea; open your eyes and look all around you!  We are living in the last days folks and all you have to do is turn on the news to see what’s going on.  This world and our country are in a complete political and social upheaval. Recently, there was even news of an after school program called “Satan Club” aimed at elementary aged children and teaches freedom and fun as an alternative to Christian superstition and paranoia.  Does this sound any alarms to you?

Isn’t it time we stop playing church and be the church, set apart to be God’s people not entertainers?  Shouldn’t we be used by God as tools to proclaim the gospel as it actually is reflected in the bible instead of dictating to what people think they want to hear?  Yep, I’m sounding kind of preachy but I think we will be held accountable for taking the non-offensive approach to the gospel instead of doing what is right. By the way, on August 17th I get my hearing aid so I can once again hear life in the full and in stereo!  Isn’t it time to awaken from your slumber so YOU can fully hear what God has in store for you?

Mark 4:9 (NASB) — And He was saying, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

Revelation 3:1-3 (NIV) — To the angel of the church in Sardis write: These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God. Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; hold it fast, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.

Mirror, Mirror

mirrorSometimes when I’m driving around our neighborhood, it seems like everyone has disappeared even though I know someone has to be home because their cars are in the driveway and the lights are on.  We seem to be an antisocial society anymore; “won’t you be my neighbor” appears to have been replaced by “I’m busy, what do you want?”  We truly seem to be living in a “ME” driven world and have equipped our cocoons with everything to entertain and tantalize.  We have everything from cable to the internet to our very precious cell phones to keep us occupied.  It even seems like we have replaced the window glass in our homes with mirrors so we can concentrate on all of “OUR” wants and needs; forget anyone else including, at times, other family members.

What’s reflected below was primarily written for all of us as a wake up call, to heed the warning and change the priorities of our lives; God first, others second, and finally ourselves on the tail end.  Who knows; we may just get a different perspective on life standing in the back of the line looking forward…

2 Timothy 3:1-4 (NLT)  You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times.  For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred.  They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good.  They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God.

Mirror, Mirror

By Stephen R. Wilson

One more selfie, one last tweet

A glance at Facebook before I leave,

I’m dressed to impress with a killer smile

It’s all about me and my impeccable style.

I’m off to my career, I’m highly degreed

They are lucky to have me and my pedigree,

Even though I’m just starting, I demand a high pay

Entitlement is my game and I know how to play.

Mirror, mirror on the wall

Who’s the fairest of them all,

I would think it must be me

For my face is the only one I see.

My parents call but have no time for such stuff

I may call them next week if they have any luck,

They said they were concerned and would pray for me

I would rather they leave me alone and let me be.

I don’t have time for Jesus or make believe

I’m doing just fine, just being me,

What would my friends think if I changed my view?

They love me the way I am and I do too.

Mirror, mirror on the wall

Who’s the smartest of them all,

I used to be backward and so naïve

I proved them all wrong just look at me!

My new apartment is something to see

It has every amenity, fits me to a T,

All of this room and it’s only just me

Until I find that someone and give them a key.

Suddenly a shout and a trumpet sounds

My whole world shakes and comes crashing down,

I cry Lord, Lord save me please

“I never knew you” was the response I received.

Mirror, mirror smashed on the ground

Fragments of myself just lying around,

 I feel so lost and so very afraid

I traded my soul for a selfish charade.