Thursday, 25 June 2020 20:22
Are You Ready to Die Well?Written by Jeron Parkins
As Christians we have a living hope of a wonderful life after death (1 Peter 1:3-5: “Because of his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you”). Because of Jesus’ tangible and physical resurrection (not just a spiritual transition, Luke 24:39: “Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have”) and due to our union with him we know that the grave isn’t the end, but the beginning of a beautiful new life after this life, immediately after our death (Luke 23:43: “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”), which will eventually lead to a glorious resurrected life when Jesus returns (1 Corinthians 15:52: “For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we will be changed.”). Our eternal home, the New Jerusalem, the New Heaven and Earth, are described in garden like, Eden like terms lived in perfect community (Revelation 21-22). This reality doesn’t take away the pain or grief of death for those who go on living (John 11: 35-36: “Jesus wept. So the Jews said, ‘See how he loved him!’), nor does the biblical reality mean that we as Christians won’t have some anxiety or even some feelings of fear regarding their death; it is only natural to feel nervous about leaving this life. But Christ’s victory on the cross and his defeat of death should fundamentally change our perspective on death (Philippians 1:21: “For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” 2nd Corinthians 5:1: “For we know that if our earthly tent is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal dwelling in the heavens, not made with hands.”). Though death is an enemy and it’s futile to say that there isn’t an awfulness to it, we can state because of what God has done in raising Jesus, “Where, death, is your victory? Where, death, is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:55), and while we grieve over the loss of our dead in Christ we shouldn’t grieve hopelessly in view of the resurrection of Jesus and the Bible’s promises that believers will rise again.
Of course many in our culture don’t have this living hope. Death is greatly feared, so much so that people refuse to talk about the reality of their mortality. For many, the ultimate fear in life is death. Covid-19 has put the topic of death in front of all of us in a remarkable way that cancer or AIDS or nursing homes has failed to do, especially among our older or more vulnerable community members. Americans are scared to death, some to the point of saying that until a vaccine is developed which offers a high rate of protection they, will stay in hiding or hibernation indefinitely (see this sad article of one man’s deciding that he is going to live out his days in isolation because of Covid-19, even planning on not seeing his 7 year old grandson grow up https://www.cnn.com/2020/06/23/opinions/isolation-seniors-coronavirus-andelman/index.html).
So that leads me to pastoral questions: Christian, are you ready to die or not? Have you made peace with the fact that you are mortal and that your life will soon be over? Frankly there are Christians who haven’t, who pretend that they will live forever. They are terrified of death and avoid the subject at all costs. The problem with this is that they don’t die very well and neither, I would argue do they live very well. Dying, before modern medicine and heroic end of life measures, used to be much more definitive. You got a disease, and that was it. In previous centuries most people died at home, now more than 80% die in a hospital or a care facility. Now death is prolonged (Christians are often, ironically, the ones who fight most against death, taking every opportunity to try to stay alive longer) and death is usually overseen by professionals instead of loved ones. These realities make it hard to die well. What do I mean? Instead of making peace with God or with others, many refuse to acknowledge that the end has come. They keep fighting (cheered on by others or forced by others who selfishly don’t want to lose them) and undergo treatments that offer a meager chance of hope but leave them with terrible side effects and days of zombie like existence. It was easier to die well in the past because there were less options and when the writing was on the wall about your demise you didn’t feel like you had to be some kind of hero and fight to the bitter end. You accepted the end of the journey as God’s will and while you didn’t hasten death or pretend it wasn’t an enemy, you could come to a peace with it. And in the meantime you could do things like ask for forgiveness from someone you offended or enjoy your grandchildren with a clear mind, sharing with them your love and your stories. Dying well means leaving this life with your house in order, with an emphasis on restoring relationships and setting up your family to live well after you are gone. Dying well means having a real conversation with your spouse about his re-marriage, giving him permission to do so. Dying well means talking with your kids about what a good life looks like and where you’ve failed. Dying well means taking the time to confess your sins to God as you prepare to meet your maker – these kind of things could take several months and if refuse to recognize that you are guaranteed death (90 year old Christians who demand a heart transplant?) you might never have the courage to tie up the loose ends or make good on promises or forgive your enemy. Are you really living if your whole goal in life is not to die? Are you really entering authentically into deeper relationships (you were made for relationship with God and others) if all you are doing is fighting death? Better to let go of your life and turn it over to the Lord for his purposes (Jesus says that’s when you actually find it, by the way, when you turn it over to him. Matthew 10:39).
Please don’t misunderstand me. I don’t think we should be caviler or reckless; we don’t go looking for death as this life belongs to God and we are to steward it well for his glory. He is not pleased when we waste our lives or throw them away. Rather I think it means that we can live boldly in Jesus’ name, not fearing what the world fears. Not living to avoid death, but living well with the truth that our time is short and giving ourselves fully into efforts that are of eternal weight (again, loving God and loving people). It seems to me that making peace with death is also coming to grips with what a well lived live might look like. “It is only by facing death and accepting the reality of my coming death that I can become authentically alive” (Kallistos Ware).
Yes, there is evil in death. It is an enemy. “Yet there is no evil so great that God cannot bring joy and goodness from it. That is why death deserves our attention in life. Because we instinctively want to avoid it, to turn our face away, it is good to look death in the eye and constantly remind ourselves that our hope is in God, who defeated death” (Rob Moll). Coming to grips with death allows us to live fully while we are alive. My we be able to say this at our end: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. There is reserved for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on that day, and not only to me, but to all those who have loved his appearing” (2nd Timothy 4:7-8).
Here’s some of what’s happening with our church in the weeks ahead…
WORSHIP SERVICES at 9:00 and 10:45 a.m.
If you choose to come to worship this Sunday, we want you to understand that Covid-19 is still being spread in our community. Participating in a worship service is potentially risky (and not only because you are coming into the presence of the Living God!). With a lot of people being asymptomatic while carrying the virus there is always a chance that you’ll be at risk of exposure, especially in a context where there will be singing and where people will want to shake hands or give hugs. We want to encourage you to wear a mask (we’ll have some on hand if you forget yours), and ask that you refrain from physical contact and keep some distance from others, but we understand some will choose not to be masked and that some will have a hard time not hugging or shaking hands! So be wise and do what seems best in your circumstances or health situation. If you are sick stay home and join us via the live stream of the service. Also, we’d love for you to use some hand sanitizer when you come in, or wash your hands upon entry. Rose Bertin is doing a great job of keeping the church clean, but the less germs we can carry in, the better! We are still discussing when to restart Children’s Ministry and Nursery. If you have little kids we have taken out a lot of seats in the balconies so that there will be plenty of room for little ones to move around. FYI: If you want to come but you desire lots of social distancing, the 10:45 service is less heavily attended.
Thanks for your prayers! At this point the project is proceeding according to the timeline and things are going well. Many local contractors have been hired and the project is positively impacting the local economy. If it’s been awhile since you’ve thought about what we’re doing or you have questions, go to https://www.bringinglifeproject.org/ where we’ve posted a ton of information. Just wanted to say thank you to everyone with your consistent financial giving. You pledges and financial contributions are huge! Church please be in prayer for the new building. Feel free to pull into the lot and pray over the site. Pray for the safety of the workers. We are still looking for a few key contractor bids to come in. Pray for the project to be finished on time and under budget. Pray for God to bless us financially even to the point that we would be debt free in the future.
EAGLE LAKE CAMP
EAGLE LAKE CAMP, JULY 6-10 The First 100 kids registered get 50% off. It’s $100 (instead of $200)!
YOUTH GROUP GARAGE SALE
The Annual Youth Group Summer Garage Sale is still on! It is taking place July 17 and 18. The location has changed due to our construction project. It is now taking place at the Aspen Storage Facility (South of Walmart). If you want to donate items and drop them off, please call the office (589-6351) and we will arrange to open up the storage unit during office hours, or you can contact Cliff and Cari Kincannon (505-350-8748) for drop off on Wednesday evenings.
VACATION BIBLE SCHOOL COMING JULY 27-31
GLOBAL LEADERSHP SUMMIT AUGUST 6-7
The Global Leadership Summit is not a worship event nor is it a church meeting or a normal church conference. Why then do we host it? We host the GLS at Living Water to bless our community. Local businesses and organizations want to sharpen the leadership skills of their people but struggle with the cost of sending employees or volunteers to big-city conferences. Hosting the GLS is a way for us to open our facility and meet felt needs in our community; it’s an attempt at loving our neighbors in a positive and uplifting way that they will appreciate. Personally, the last few years I’ve been inspired and encouraged in my leadership through attending the Summit. I’d encourage you to join me. The Summit takes place Thursday, August 6th and Friday, August 7th. Registration is $99 (before July 14) at https://globalleadership.org/global-leadership-summit/ When you register use the priority code INSPIRE2020 to get the discount. If you want to take a closer look check out https://globalleadership.org/global-leadership-summit/
SAFETY TEAM RECRUITMENT
For several years now we’ve had a Safety Team at Living Water. We’re currently seeking new members. While calling us to trust in God for our security and welfare, the Bible shares several instances where the people of God acted wisely by taking precautions in a fallen world. For instance, In 1st Chronicles, chapter 9, the Bible records the responsibilities of the gatekeepers of the house of God. They were trusted officials and guarded the rooms, treasures and the gates. The purpose of the LWBF Safety Team ministry is to allow our church family the freedom and safety to focus on learning about God, experiencing God, and worshipping God. The Safety Team will provide trained assistance to keep our church family safe in the event of medical emergencies, fire emergencies, necessary evacuations or lock-downs, intruders, or other disturbances. If this is something that you are interested in, please contact Randy Atkinson at 588-2809.
Summer 2021 Guatemala trip. We are scheduled for June 26-July 3, 2021. Cost is approximately $1,300.
TITHES AND OFFERINGS
Thanks everyone for continuing to give faithfully to our general budget so that we can continue to do ministry and be on mission. If you are out of rhythm with not being able to bring your gifts to a worship service, you can easily give electronically through our website (www.livingwateralamosa.org) or by texting GIVE to 719-298-3401. Don’t forget to save the number in your phone as LWBF GIVING. You can always text EDIT to update your information, set up a recurring gift, and check the status of a gift. You can also drive by the church and drop your check in the church mailbox, or send your donation to Living Water Bible Fellowship 2910 Clark Street Alamosa, CO 81101.
9:00 and 10:45 a.m.
Thanks for Reading and for Praying,
Thanks for Loving One Another and Serving the Lord,