It's been awhile since I shared what my pastor, Gordon, has been speaking about. This past Sunday it was on the topic of Death. I found it to be very thought provoking, and wanted to post my notes here. It's also a good segue into a book series I've been wanting to recommend for a long time now.
"Life is a hundred yard dash with a brick wall at the finish line." Rocky Aoki
What is wrong with this quote? Doesn't it just not sit right with you? For me I pictured the crash dummy just riding along at a quick pace and then as he hits the brick wall parts of his fake body just go flying everywhere. It doesn't leave you with a very pleasant feeling. That's not how I want my life to end, or how I believe my life will end.
Everyone lives life, and life will always end with death.
What is death?
• It is not a "brick wall"
An interesting fact: At the age of 18 you have hit your peak physiologically and then it's downhill from there.
• It is not a "revolving door"
• Death is a "dressing room"
To better explain this, Gordon used this verse:
"For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”1 Corinthians 15:53,54 (NIV)
The clothing you wear now is going to be traded in...the mortal with immortality.
I wanted to look up the words mortal and immortality in the dictionary to see what it said. I think sometimes it just helps you understand and interpret things better to see what the literal meaning is.
im·mor·tal·i·ty (môr-tl-t) n.
1. The quality or condition of being immortal.
2. Endless life or existence.
3. Enduring fame.
"Perpetual Life after Death"
What's Beyond Death?
• There is a fork in the road
"So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God." Romans 14:12 (NIV)
When I have my moment of accountability, I want to stand before God and say, "I chose to follow Christ."
This means :
• I received His forgiveness
• I embraced submission
• I experienced freedom
I take comfort in the fact, that one of these days "Death will Die"
I found it to be a very interesting sermon. It's one of those that gets you thinking about life after death. For the longest time I would start to think about heaven and my palms would start to sweat, my breath would get short, and anxiety would overcome me. I know as a Christian we are supposed to look forward to heaven, and be excited to go there. Well, up until recently, if I was completely honest, I dreaded the thought. I love Jesus, but can I really live forever and ever and ever. Maybe when I was a kid I shouldn't have watched the movie "Death Becomes Her". It gave me nightmares, but also a little bit of insight into how life would be lived here on this earth forever. We know heaven won't be like this life so it's just hard to imagine what it will be like.I've heard sermons on heaven and how wonderful it's going to be. The streets are going to be made of gold, and we'll be feasting, and never be sick again. I've been in worship services where the leader will say, "won't this be great? We'll be doing this forever in heaven." That never brought me very much comfort. I mean, really, I can't sing that song forever. I am not a singer.
It wasn't until my birthday this past year that my entire perspective changed. I finally believe I can see a glimpse of what heaven truly could be like, and I'm excited. I'm actually anxious to go there. For my birthday, Titus found a book for me that came highly recommended. He was searching online and happened to see this book on the best seller list. The only thing he didn't realize was that it was the best seller list years ago. It's actually the first book of a three-part series by Randy Alcorn.
I have found that I can't even put into words to describe how wonderful these books are. They have lots of details in them and can seem intimidating when you first pick it up. But after just a few chapters you'll be hooked. All three are murder/mystery works of fiction. They are inspiring and leave you feeling full of life. I thoroughly enjoyed each book and can't wait to read the books again so I can get more out of it the second time around.
I found a review by Joshua Harris that I thought said exactly what I felt after reading this book. Here is his last paragraph. "In a letter I wrote to Randy Alcorn thanking him for his novel, I told him I’d never felt more “excited about being alive and more anxious to die.” In a very real sense that should be the wonderful dilemma of the Christian life. Though rich with meaning and purpose, we’re constantly aware that in this life, we’re only passing through. Reading Deadline challenged me to live with, in Randy’s own words, 'an eternal perspective.'"
The second book of the series, Dominion, was just as good as the first, if not more compelling. It is a murder/mystery also, but it really focuses on racism from the perspective of a black man. I saw it in a whole new light and was changed by it. It was simply amazing! It spoke about things that have never occurred to me or I never would have thought of. It also, like the first book has many parts that take place in heaven, and leave you desiring to go there. This is my favorite excerpt from the author's interpretation of heaven :
“For one thing,” Dani said, “all this study of my life on earth has been a surprise. I thought I would never look back. I find that what I experience in heaven is largely an outgrowth of earth. The two aren’t disconnected. It’s not a new and separate reality as much as an extension of the old reality.”
Torel nodded, as if she had said something self-evident.
“My mind is the same mind, only sharper; my soul the same soul, only completely pure. My skills are the same skills, but less hindered in their expression. I was not a mountain climber on earth and do not have some sudden desire to be one now, though perhaps I will eventually. But I love to paint and swim on earth, and I love to even more now.”
“Of course,” Torel said. “You are the same person. Earth leads directly into heaven, just as it leads directly into hell. Your life on earth was your running start into heaven, just as for those who do not know Elyon, it is their running start into hell. What you learned there you bring with you here. The treasures you laid up when you were there will be yours here. Elyon’s gifts are irrevocable. He made you to be an artist not for time but for eternity. You learned to be an artist there to prepare you to be one here.”
“Then in the coming kingdom will people have the same jobs as they did on earth?”
“Gifting and vocation are not the same. The doctor, undertaker, police officer and paramedic will not have the same job here. But they will have the same gifts and new opportunities to use them.”
“I expected heaven to be entirely different than earth, “Dani said.
“Eylon is the same Creator, you are the same creature. It is the same universe. You have simply relocated to a better part of it. It is you in heaven, not some new creature that did not exist on earth. The same person who steps out of earth is the one who steps into heaven.”
“I used to think heaven was an entirely new book, with a new cast of characters-- a nice setting, but with no drama, no plot.”
“On the contrary,” Torel said. “It is the next chapter of the same book, or perhaps a sequel to it. A continuation. The viewpoint is more comprehensive, the setting more varied, the characters have more depth, the plot is more interesting, the anticipation more heightened.”I find this so refreshing to read. I believe I've always thought about heaven in the same way as Dani did. I thought heaven would be a whole new story, I would know no one but God, and it would be pretty there with those streets of gold, and I wouldn't be hungry or sick. But it was almost like I thought I was going to walk around lonely wishing I was back on earth with my family. This author's explanation has me excited to see what's in the next chapter of my life. I always felt like death was the end of a great story, not a continuation.
The last book, Deception, is probably the easiest read of all three. It primarily deals with the murder investigation and could be read as a standalone title. It's a lot different than the first two books as there aren't very many references to heaven. It still was a exceptional book that I couldn't put down when I was reading it. This book is a more for fun kind of read rather than a book that you feel changed afterwards.
I enjoyed these three books immensely, and would love to see you reading them too. In fact, if you'd like to borrow them, I own all three and would happily lend them out.
"These books portray the vital connection between how we think and live in the present, and how that will inevitably impact our future, both on earth and in eternity."