Poetry Saturday—Not Divided

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E’en for the dead, I will not bind
My soul to grief,
Death cannot long divide,
For it is not as though the rose
that
Climbed my garden wall,
Had blossomed on the other side?
Death doth hide,
But not divide!
Thou art but on Christ’s other side,
Thou art with Christ
Christ with me;
In Him united still are we. —Alice Frodsham

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Poetry Saturday—Two For Mom

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My Mom passed away on December 26, 2021. My sister and my son each wrote poems in honor of her life.

Two generations
One begins other goodbyes
Both clasped to Jesus —Denise Van Der Kolk, Haiku for Mom
 
Along the road, sometimes riches disappear
In their place, family and friends appear
Trading time for talents, love and balance
Into the dark we pace together
Fighting wars, we race forever
Some tiresome battles seem unrewarded
But everything in the Kingdom, you can afford it
Here on earth many want more
But in Heaven, you have Riches in Store —Brandon Owens, Riches In Store

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Thursdays With Spurgeon—Beautiful Homegoing

This is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Charles Spurgeon. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Spurgeon” in the search box to read more entries.

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

Beautiful Homegoing

You shall come to the grave at full age, as a sheaf of grain ripens in its season. (Job 5:26) 

     The Christian’s death is always timely. ‘You shall come to the grave at full age. 

     ‘Ah,’ says one, ‘that is not true. Good people do not live longer than others. The most pious man may die in the prime of his youth.’ But look at my text. It does not say you will come to your grave in old age, but in a ‘full age.’ … All fruits do not get ripe and mellow at the same season. So it is with Christians. They are at a ‘full age’ when God chooses to take them home. … 

     There are two mercies to a Christian. The first is that he will never die too soon. And the second is that he will never die too late. … 

     ‘But,’ say some, ‘how useful might they have been had they lived.’ Ah, but how damaging they might have been! And were it not better to die than to do something afterward that would disgrace them and bring disgrace to the Christian character? Were it not better for them to sleep while their work was going on than to break it down afterward? … 

     Again, the Christian never dies too late. … God is too good a Husbandman to leave His wheat in the field too long and let it shale out. …  

     Now the last thing is that a Christian will die with honor. … I think there are two funerals for every Christian: one is the funeral of the body, and the other of the soul. Funeral, did I say, of the soul? No, I meant not so. I meant not so. It is a marriage of the soul. For as soon as it leaves the body, the angel reapers stand ready to carry it away. They may not bring a fiery chariot as they had for Elijah. But they have their broad spreading wings. I rejoice to believe that angels will come as convoys to the soul across the ethereal plains. … I think the most honorable and glorious thing we will ever behold, next to Christ’s entrance into heaven and His glory there, is the entrance of one of God’s people into heaven.

From The Death Of The Christian

As I mentioned last week, this sermon was so providential in its timing for me because my precious mother went Home to be with Jesus just days before I opened to this sermon from Charles Spurgeon. 

We are comforted by the promises Rev. Spurgeon shares because they are based on the truth in God’s Word. “Good people pass away; the godly often die before their time. But no one seems to care or wonder why. No one seems to understand that God is protecting them from the evil to come. For those who follow godly paths will rest in peace when they die” (Isaiah 57:1-2). 

At my Mom’s graveside committal service I shared this—

One of my favorite authors C.S. Lewis made a comment, “You don’t have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.” 

This part that we called Claudia Owens was just the body that carried around who she really was. What a beautiful soul that we got to experience for 78 years. What shined through was so sweet and graceful and wonderful. What a glimpse we got! But a joy to know that it was only a glimpse. That the part of my Mom that was so beautiful that we got to see, was only a fraction of her full beauty! The part that was really her, that is at Home with her Savior Jesus now is shining in all its brilliance. … 

We will all miss her and we will grieve our loss. But as the apostle Paul reminded us, we don’t grieve as those who have no hope. We know that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. We know that this body is sown perishable ravaged by the disease of cancer, but that my Mom is now in a place with no more tears or disease. We know that the same Savior that prepared a place for Claudia has prepared a place for us.

And we concluded with this prayer that can be offered up for every Christian who has died at their “full age”: 

Heavenly Father, 

We commit this body to the ground with the full assurance that her soul is in your everlasting presence. Holy Spirit, help us in our grief to be reminded of the hope of eternal life that we all share. Thank You, Jesus, for purchasing this hope on which we stand.

As I mentioned last week, if you don’t have this blessed assurance of the marriage of your soul when you take your last breath here on earth, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

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Gone From My Sight

   I am standing upon the seashore. A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength. I stand and watch her until at length she hangs like a speck of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.

   Then someone at my side says, “There, she is gone!”

   “Gone where?”

   Gone from my sight. That is all. She is just as large in mast and hull and spar as she was when she left my side, and she is just as able to bear her load of living freight to her destined port.

   Her diminished size is in me, not in her. And just at the moment when someone at my side says, “There, she is gone,” there are other eyes watching her coming, and other voices ready to take up the glad shout, “Here she comes!” —Henry Van Dyke

Poetry Saturday—Abide With Me

Abide with me: fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide.
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, O abide with me.

Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day;
Earth’s joys grow dim, its glories pass away.
Change and decay in all around I see.
O Lord who changes not, abide with me.

I need Your presence every passing hour.
What but Your grace can foil the tempter’s power?
Who like Yourself my guide and strength can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, O abide with me.

I fear no foe with You at hand to bless,
Though ills have weight, and tears their bitterness.
Where is death’s sting? Where, grave, your victory?
I triumph still, if You abide with me.

Hold now Your Word before my closing eyes.
Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies.
Heaven’s morning breaks and earth’s vain shadows flee;
In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me. —Henry Francis Lyte

Billy Graham’s Humility

BillyGraham

This story was shared by Max Lucado—

I witnessed an example of this humility last October. I partnered with Michael W. Smith for a ministry weekend near Charlotte, NC. The retreat was held at “The Cove,” a beautiful facility that is owned and maintained by the Billy Graham Association.

A few hours before the event, Michael and I met to go over the weekend schedule. But Michael could hardly discuss the retreat. He was so moved by what he had just experienced. He had just met with Billy Graham for the purpose of planning Rev. Graham’s funeral. The famous evangelist was, at the time, 94 years old. He was confined to a wheelchair, on oxygen. His mind was sharp and spirits were high. But his body was seeing its final days. So he called for Michael. And he called for his pastor. He wanted to discuss his funeral. He told them that he had a request.

“Of course,” they said. “Anything you want. What is it?”

“Would you not mention my name?”

“What?”

“Can you not mention my name? Just mention the name of Jesus.”

Pray To Preach Fruitfully

A.W. TozerTo pray successfully is the first lesson the preacher must learn if he is to preach fruitfully; yet prayer is the hardest thing he will ever be called upon to do and, being human, it is the one act he will be tempted to do less frequently than any other. He must set his heart to conquer by prayer, and that will mean that he must first conquer his own flesh, for it is the flesh that hinders prayer always. Almost anything associated with the ministry may be learned with an average amount of intelligent application. It is not hard to preach or manage church affairs or pay a social call; weddings and funerals may be conducted smoothly with a little help from Emily Post and the Minister’s Manual. Sermon making can be learned as easily as shoemaking—introduction, conclusion and all. And so with the whole work of the ministry as it is carried on in the average church today. But prayer—that is another matter. There Mrs. Post is helpless and the Minister’s Manual can offer no assistance. There the lonely man of God must wrestle it out alone, sometimes in fasting and tears and weariness untold. There every man must be an original, for true prayer cannot be imitated nor can it be learned from someone else.” —A.W. Tozer

My dear pastor, are you praying enough?


Poetry Saturday—A Psalm Of Life

LongfellowTell me not, in mournful numbers,
   Life is but an empty dream!
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
   And things are not what they seem.

Life is real! Life is earnest!
   And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
   Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
   Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each to-morrow
   Find us farther than to-day.

Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
   And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
   Funeral marches to the grave.

In the world’s broad field of battle,
   In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
   Be a hero in the strife!

Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant!
   Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act,— act in the living Present!
   Heart within, and God o’erhead!

Lives of great men all remind us
   We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
   Footprints on the sands of time;

Footprints, that perhaps another,
   Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
   Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us, then, be up and doing,
   With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
   Learn to labor and to wait. —Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The Measure Of A Man

An anonymous poem that should make any man or woman ponder the impact of their legacy…

Not “How did he die?”

But “How did he live?”

Not “What did he gain?”

But “What did he give?”

These are the units

To measure the worth

Of a man as a man

Regardless of birth.

Not “What was his station?”

But “Had he a heart?”

And how did he play

His God-given part?

Was he ever ready

With a word of good cheer,

To bring back a smile,

To banish a tear?

  Not “What did the sketch in the newspaper say?”

But “How many were sorry when he passed away?”

A Life Well Lived

Early yesterday morning, a saint went home to be with Jesus. She was known to all of us at Calvary Assembly of God simply as Grandma. And she was the hippest Grandma we ever knew!

So full of Jesus, and radiating love through her smile. She loved to laugh, she loved to live, she loved to love. But as full of life as we thought she was here on this earth, it’s nothing compared to the life she is experiencing now in the presence of her Savior! She’s home now, and more alive than ever.

We will be celebrating her life for a long time, but we will especially focus on the blessing she was to us this week (the details are here). Please be a part of the visitation time and the homegoing celebration service at the end of this week.

We love you, Grandma! Thanks for showing us how to live so well.

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