We All Die. Jesus Came Down to Die With Us.

I listen to the podcast, “Theology in the Raw,” which is hosted by Preston Sprinkle. He interviews people with questions on hot-button issues of the day. He delves deep into controversial subjects within the churches. What I like most about Preston is his willingness to hear new ideas of belief and how Christians should act towards those who are usually not accepted.

Recently, I listened to an interview he had with Christian Gonzalez, a Greek Orthodox believer who works in Youth and Young Adult Ministries. I knew nothing about the beliefs of the Greek Orthodox church, so I was interested to learn what they are.

I came away very moved by what he said was the main thrust of his faith. It is that Jesus didn’t just die for us, he died with us In this world, we are all under the sword of death. He came to become one of us part of that was experiencing death.

This meant a lot to me because I have always believed God was responsible for me being here on this earth. I used to say to him, “If you’d have given me a choice, I would have said, ‘No thanks.’ I was pretty bitter and angry about my life and the suffering I’d gone through and the suffering I was still going through. I know this is the wrong attitude for me to have, but it is there in my heart. I give it to God and ask for peace, joy and love within. He gives it to me, but I need to ask every day or I will return to my old thinking.

Jesus dying for us was an enormous sacrifice. He didn’t die like all other people because he took the sins of the world upon him and had to pay for them with mental suffering. The Bible says he became sin for us, that he became cursed. This meant God the Father had to abandon Jesus as he died on the cross. This is why he cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” He died the death of evil, sinful people. He took their place in judgement. Like someone owed a huge debt to the bank and couldn’t repay and was going to lose everything, Jesus stepped up and paid it all.

But Jesus dying with us seems different to me. Immanuel: God with us. It feels to me like kinship and understanding what we all go through. None of us here on earth asked to be born here and God is the great creator of all things. Therefore, because we suffer, he suffered as he walked the earth. He was rejected and misunderstood by most people, even by his own brothers, who thought he had lost his mind. I believe he was lonely, sad and sometimes even afraid. I say that because he asked his Father that if it was possible, he would take the cross away. Obviously, there was no other way, even for God.

After listening to the podcast, I talked with God about this and a verse from the Bible popped into my head. It was when Jesus said, “Take up your cross and follow me.” I took that to mean, each of us has a cross. What does a cross represent? I would say sorrow, suffering, pain, dying, and humiliation. Most of us go through these things in our life, if we live long enough. And when Jesus says to pick the cross up and follow him, where is he going? He is going to die and we have to do that also. In fact, Paul says, “We die daily.” And “Put to death, therefore, the components of your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires, and greed, which is idolatry.” This is a death of our sinful nature.

We can’t do that without God, who changes our hearts and makes it possible. We just have to talk with God each day, asking for his life to be in us and to make us like Jesus. This is actually a great adventure, if we look at it like that. Of course, I didn’t, I was either mad or depressed. I feel much better now. I think it’s because when my first grandson died, I felt how God helped me cope with that. I know now that he is always there for me helping me through life.

My Grandson Died from Heroin.

This morning, I felt God wanted me to write about my grandson who died from heroin. It happened about two months ago I don’t remember the date. He was thirty.

Jordan was a kind person. This is what his friends said when his mother called them to tell them what had happened. He was certainly kind to me and my husband. He loved well, which is perhaps what led to his death.

Jordan had an older brother, Craig, and he followed him like a puppy dog through their childhood. They did everything together, had the same friends, and loved the same activities. But when they were in their late teens, Craig started taking cocaine.

Jordan didn’t like the way Craig was living his life. They had arguments and sometimes didn’t speak. Then one night Craig died. He had too much to drink, fell asleep on a soft sofa with his face down and suffocated. I have written about this before. It happened 10 years ago.

Jordan was devastated by Craig’s death. He told his mother that he and Craig had been fighting and his last words to Craig were unkind. He felt great guilt because of that, and as the months and years passed by, he never got over his deep sadness.

I think it was a year later he started taking different drugs to help him through the pain and ended up on heroin. Many times, he wanted to quit. His mom came to live with him for a month while he went cold turkey and that experience was horrible for both of them. Once he was off the drug he could be on our government’s plan of free daily methadone. And he did that off and on for years.

His mother did everything she could to help him, but Jordan wasn’t just depressed, he couldn’t stand to be around people. He went into a rehab facility and only stayed 2 hours. He couldn’t work and my daughter supported him the whole ten years. Food, clothing, everything. She was terrified of him living on the streets.

During this time, my daughter asked me to text Jordan every day with Bible verses and prayers which I did. He told her he really enjoyed the texts. We went through most of the Bible, which I wrote in my own words and shortened it. We were all praying for him.

About two weeks before he died, Jordan told his mom he had started praying. By that time, he was very thin, kind of agitated and sometimes not making sense. My husband said to me, “I think Jordan is going to die.” Then it happened.

What can I say about that? I can’t convey all my feelings, there are too many. I can say God has given us comfort because we asked for that. We all say, “He is out of pain now. He is with God.” That gives us comfort, because we know that we will see him and his brother again. The gut-wrenching pain of losing them is lessened when I pray. It hurts so much I want to scream, but God supports me.

Years ago, I was in a chat room with some Christians and when I told them about Craig and why I knew he was going to be in heaven, a man wrote, “This woman believes God will save addicts while they are still using!” I said, “Yes, I do.”

I know Craig was praying before he died. I know Jordan was praying before he died. They believed in God. “What must I do to be saved?” the Roman jailer asked Paul. “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” It is truly that simple. And as for those who have died without praying or knowing God, I trust God to do for them what is right. He knows who is safe to bring to heaven.

When the boys were young, I babysat them for many years. I’m so grateful for that time. We became very close and they knew they could talk with me about anything. They both had attention span and learning difficulties. It wasn’t easy for me because they got bored so quickly, but I loved them dearly.

Well, they won’t be bored in heaven. Lol. I’m sure there will be a lot of fun stuff to do there. God put a sense of humor, fun and excitement within us. I picture them snowboarding again on mountains full of powder snow. I’ve always wanted to climb a mountain and I’m pretty sure I will up there. I want to learn to play the piano, harp and violin. I want to compose my own music and I want to dance, dance, dance. I know we will dance there because little children dance as soon as they hear music. They don’t have to be taught. Like all gifts from God, it is wonderful. “Every good and perfect gift comes down from the Father of the stars.” Trust me when I tell you, God is good and he loves you.

My Husband’s Stroke.

Two weeks ago, my husband had a “massive stroke.” The doctor called us and told us to prepare for the worst. They told my daughters, who live 6 hours away to, “Leave now.” So, they did. We called all our family and all his family. Everyone started praying.

Because I have been a Christian for 50 years and there have been other deaths in our family, I believed God knew what he was doing, (which wasn’t always the case.). I told God I knew my husband was in his hands and I trusted him to do what was best for all of us.

My husband lived for a day, and then another day and began rapidly improving. The doctors were stunned. His speech was slurring slightly and his face drooped a bit, but he could move his left arm and leg, which had been paralyzed.

He seemed to have all his past memories intact, but his short-term memories would come and go. He wasn’t sure why he was in the hospital each morning and he had forgotten about the pandemic. He asked me on the phone why I hadn’t come to visit, so my daughter made a sign to hang by his bed which explained about Covid-19 and that we weren’t allowed to visit.

At the beginning, when the doctors thought he was dying, they allowed me into the ICU to see him. In order to get past the front desk of the hospital, I had to say, “My husband is dying.” Those words felt strange to me, as if I was lying to them, as if it couldn’t possibly be true.

I held my husband’s hand and we spoke awhile until he fell asleep. I was glad he knew who I was and could respond. He was shocked he had a stroke. He thought it was carcinoid tumors, which he has had for over 20 years, that had caused this illness.

The next day, he seemed worse, more tired than before and barely spoke. I didn’t expect him to live much longer. But lo and behold, the next day he was joking with the nurses! He was weak, but alert. It was wonderful to see. They moved him out of ICU a few days later and put him in a regular ward.

Well, there was a lot of rejoicing in the family, as you can imagine. We thank God for healing him. I know God does not heal everyone from an illness. If he did, then no one would die and we would be pretty crowded here on earth. Death is a part of life and I accept that. I want to thank him here on this blog, for giving me his comfort, strength and love during this hard time. This is his greatest gift to the world. He gave these things to me when my grandson died and I knew he would do it again.

God’s peace inside me is something I want the world to know, because those who don’t believe in God don’t realize what they are missing. I wish everyone would give God a chance to show them what he can do. He is light, love, mercy, forgiveness, peace, and joy.

“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.”   Isaiah 26:3

Have I always had perfect peace? No. It took me many years to learn to trust God. I had been abused as a child by my father, so learning to trust God was very hard for me. But the longer my mind was, “stayed on God,” the more I began to trust. I used to rage and wail against the dark things in my life, but no more. I’ve found that in the deepest dark I am actually learning and growing as a person. And God is there standing beside me, giving me strength and hope.

God says:

“I have upheld you and carried you since the day you were born. Even to your old age and grey hairs, I am he.

I have made you; I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.”     Isaiah 46:3,4

What I Learned from One of My Own Posts.

A few weeks ago, I posted “My Mother’s Illness and Death: The Unkindness of the Medical Establishment.” I learned something about myself today. I hadn’t forgiven those nurses who hurt me.

I’m a believer in Jesus, and of course forgiveness was one of the main things he talked about. Through the years, he has helped me forgive many, many people who have hurt my feelings. But for some reason it never crossed my mind to forgive these people.

But God showed me that the reason I keep thinking about what the nurses said to me and what they thought of me was because I lacked forgiveness and love for them. Yes, my eyes were opened by God.

I am not a person who talks freely with strangers. Sometimes I get angry at myself for not explaining myself better. Like when nurses would call from the hospital for information on my mother, I realized later I had left out a lot of details. I know this happens because my brain freezes when people talk with me. Especially people with authority.

After talking with me about Mom’s heart and back, one nurse asked me what I gave her for pain. I said, two Tylenol. When I hung up, I thought, “Was she asking about the heart pain or the back pain. Two Tylenol wasn’t enough for the back pain. I used to give her Codeine for that.

One nurse called and asked if my mom was sleeping much. I said, “No, the last week she was only sleeping 2-3 hrs. at a time.” Later in the conversation he said, “Well, shall I write down 4-6 hours?” I knew that was wrong but said, “Okay.” I have no idea why I said that. Maybe just to please him.

So, about forgiveness. I talked with God about it and said, “Okay. I forgive them. I pray you will put that in my mind and heart. I pray I will love them as you do.”

I think it was pride that kept me from forgiving at the outset. I felt shamed by these nurses, even though I knew I was doing a good job looking after my mom. And I still I feel shame for that and the fact they didn’t like me and thought I was awful for not taking Mom home.

Whether the shame will go away or not, I don’t care. I’ve lived with shame since I was a little child. I just want to do what Jesus told everyone to do. Love and forgive.

Death as A Shepherd.

Castle Howard
Photo by: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Mdbeckwith

“Death will be their shepherd.”

I came upon this line in Psalm 49. It jumped out at me because of the many times I have read about Jesus being the good shepherd. It is a terrible thought that Death is leading people around like sheep, but it makes sense because God is the author of life and light. Life is to be found in him alone.

Psalm 49, In my own words:

Listen to this all people who live on earth! Listen, rich and poor, high and low alike! I will speak wisdom to you and help you understand.

Why should I fear when evil days come? Even if evil men surround me, those who trust in their wealth and boast about it, why should I fear?

No one can redeem the life of another or give to God a ransom for them. The ransom for a life is too costly. No payment would ever be enough to secure eternal life for a friend.

Everyone can see that wise men die and also the foolish. They leave their riches to others. Their tombs will be their home forever, even though they name their lands after themselves.

People do not endure. They are like the beasts that perish. That is the fate of those who trust in themselves and also of their followers, who approve of them.

These people are like sheep destined to die. Death will be their shepherd. Their bodies will decay in the grave, far from their expensive houses.

But God will redeem me from the house of the dead. It is sure he will take me to himself.

So, do not be in awe when some people grow to be super-rich. Don’t be amazed by their splendid houses for they will take nothing with them. Although, while they are alive, they think of themselves as fortunate; though many people praise them, they will join those who have gone before. They will never again see the light of life.

Remember this: People who have wealth but lack understanding are like the beasts that perish.

Wrestling with God.

My grandson died almost 8 years ago. When someone you love dies it can be a terrible shock or you may be prepared for it after a long illness, or be prepared because they were very old.

My grandson was 21 when he died and it was a terrible shock to everyone in the family. He died because he drank heavily and then fell asleep on a soft sofa with his face down. He never woke up. The coroner said he had seen this happen to young men quite often.

His mother and I poured out our hearts to God. We talked about it with him for a long time. When the pain seemed too much we reached up to God and he healed us. He was a great comfort, and I don’t know how we would have made it through without his help.

But my grandson’s brother and my other daughter did not do this. My daughter would not speak about what happened and didn’t want us to either. She bottled up her sadness and rage until she had a mental breakdown about 4 years later. She went to counseling and got better.

My other grandson is still suffering. He and his brother were extremely close. He found the pain to be too much to handle and a few years after the death he started taking drugs to dull the pain. Eventually he became addicted to heroin. I know I have told this story before, but this time I wanted to share how important it is to talk to God or a counselor about the loss of someone you love.

He was in such bad shape after a few years of heroin that he knew he had to get off it. Also, he was tempted to start stealing in order to buy it. His mother did everything she could to help him. She wanted him to go into a rehab center and paid $5,000. He went for one day and half a night. He doesn’t feel comfortable being around people.

I didn’t know that when you quit heroin your legs hurt so much you want to cut them off. The pain is awful. My daughter lived with him for three months helping him through withdrawal. He went to the government program where they give you methadone. Oh, how that helped him! How grateful we are to the government and what they had done for him. He is still on methadone and doing very well physically.

But he has never dealt with the heavy grief in his heart. The worst month for him is August because that is when his brother died. It isn’t quite August and he is in a bad place right now. My daughter is going to see him tonight. He lives in the next town.

I texted him last night and told him to pray to God for peace of mind and don’t stop asking until he gets it. I have done that when I was depressed and God always came through.

I remember saying to God, “I’m not leaving this bed until I feel better.” And I kept praying. And then I felt better; I could face the day.

Now, when I pray, I also ask for joy and happiness in my day. I know God wants me to have peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. The Bible says that, and what God has said, he will do. Sometimes we just have to keep asking.

This makes me think of Jacob, when he was wrestling with God. He said, “I won’t let you go until you bless me.” You would think that was pretty pushy of Jacob, but apparently, God didn’t. He praised Jacob and gave him a new name: Israel.

Jacob’s story can inspire us to do the same. Don’t let go of God until he blesses you. The Bible says, “pursue peace,” so ask for it every time your heart is troubled, and keep asking.

God Inside Our Grief.

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Yesterday morning, I was thinking about my grandson, Criag, who died 6 years ago at age 21. We all think of him around this time of year. October is Thanksgiving in Canada. Craig loved Thanksgiving, because he loved turkey. He once asked his mom why they didn’t make all turkeys to be dark meat. We would play games after a terrific meal, and he loved games. His favorite was Gestures. We had to act things out, like Charades, and we would all be laughing long and loud.

November 20th is Craig’s birthday. His mom went and stayed with his brother, Jordan, for the weekend. Jordan misses Craig terribly. They were inseparable as they grew up. Jordan was like a puppy following Craig around, doing everything he did. They loved scooters, hockey, swimming, bike tricks, paint ball and skate boarding.

I was thinking of Craig yesterday morning. Usually, when I think of him, I am okay. I think of how I will see him in heaven. But yesterday, I just felt pain at the thought of his death – pain in my heart and soul. I said to God, “Oh Lord, pour your peace over my pain.”  Immediately, I felt the pain leave and had peace. My body felt relaxed and I was thankful for God’s comfort. 

God loves Craig more than I do, more than his mother or brother. God died for Criag, and on the resurrection day they will meet face to face. We will all meet together in a joyful reunion. Well, these are my beliefs. I know other people believe differently.

These verses from the Bible, which I read last night before going to sleep, describe what God does for me and for those who ask him.

“The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles.

The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit.

Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.”     Psalm 34:17-19

 “I sought the Lord, and he heard me and delivered me from all my fears. They looked to him and were radiant; their faces were not ashamed. This poor man cried out and the Lord heard him and saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the Lord encamps all around those who fear him and delivers them.”  Psalm 34:4-7

Some pictures of Craig and Jordan.

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Jesus Enveloped in Sin, Within and Without.

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Although I had known Jesus became sin for us, that he took our sins upon his heart, I didn’t think about the depth of that until I read these two verses explained.

 “And he took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be greatly amazed, and sore troubled. And He said to them, “My soul is deeply grieved to the point of death; remain here and keep watch.”    Mark 14:33,34

http://biblehub.com/commentaries/pulpit/mark/14.htm

“He began to be greatly amazed, and sore troubled…” (e)kqambei = sqai kai\ a)dhmonei = n).  These two Greek verbs are as adequately expressed above as seems possible. The first implies “utter, extreme amazement;” if the second has for its root ἄδημος, “not at home,” it implies the anguish of the soul struggling to free itself from the body under the pressure of intense mental distress.” 

Pulpit Commentary

Verse 34. – “None but he who bore those sorrows can know what they were. It was not the apprehension of the bodily torments and the bitter death that awaited him, all foreknown by him. It was the inconceivable agony of the weight of the sins of men. The Lord was thus laying “upon him the iniquity of us all.” This, and this alone, can explain it. My soul is exceeding sorrowful even unto death.’ Every word carries the emphasis of an overwhelming grief. It was then that “the deep waters came in,” even unto his soul. “What,” says Cornelius a Lapide, “must have been the voice, the countenance, the expression, as he uttered those awful words!”

Jesus sweat drops of blood that night. He said he was at the point of death. An angel came and strengthened him or he might have died there in Gethsemane.

This was the sin within him.

From the time of his arrest until he died on the cross, Jesus was surrounded by sin of every type.

Cruelty, cowardice, envy, betrayal, mocking, hatred, torture, slapping, beating, lies, indifference, pride, unbelief, anger, and injustice.

This was the sin without him.

For a pure and holy person, being surrounded by evil must have been horrible. Realize also, he loved all the people there who were causing him such pain. It would be like us having our parents or children abuse us. Some of us have lived through that, it’s true. Jesus did too on the night and day of his trial and death.

Someday, when we are in heaven, we will see what Jesus left to become one of us, to suffer untold agony and to die feeling all alone.

Here are some extra Bible verses: 

“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”  2 Corinthians 5:21

“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree’—“   Galatians 3:13

“But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.  Isaiah 53:5

“Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.”   Hebrews 9:28

Revelation: Death, Jail and Hiding for God’s People.

I am posting chapters from my sister’s book, “The End is near. End Time Bible Prophecy Anyone Can Understand.” by E.A. James, available at lulu.com

Continued from previous post..

After the sixth trumpet probation is closed.  Those who have chosen to be on God’s side are sealed and those who have chosen to side with the beast are also sealed. 

Revelation 18:4 says that God’s people will not participate in the 7 last plagues about to fall, so why will we still be on this planet?  The Hebrews were in Egypt throughout all the plagues that fell, and the faithful followers of God were in Jerusalem when the Babylonians destroyed the city. So, too, those belonging to God will be on the earth during the plagues.  And again, just as the Hebrews were protected from the final plague to fall on the Egyptians by placing marks on the doorposts of their homes and staying safely inside, and the faithful in Jerusalem were marked by a messenger of God so they would be protected from the Babylonian slaughter, so those who receive the seal of God will be safe from the final plagues because they are hidden in Jesus.  (See Ex. 12 and Ez. 9) 

ring2       seal

But there is a drawback to being on the earth after probation closes.  The persecutions against those of us who refuse to worship the image of the beast and to receive the mark of the beast will be awful.  Some will be in jail, some will be in hiding, and some will be killed. 

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But do not fear because Jesus said, …I am with you always, even to the end of the age.  Matt. 28:16  Jesus also said,  Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.  Matt. 10:28  And, Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.  Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great…  Matt. 5:11, 12  It may not seem like it at the time we are going through the persecutions, but Jesus will be with us and in the end it will be well worth it.

 

 

 

God and Our Hearts.

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The following verse was written about Jesus.

 

“And He will delight in the fear of the LORD, And He will not judge by what His eyes see, Nor make a decision by what His ears hear; But with righteousness He will judge the poor, And decide with fairness for the afflicted of the earth…”  Isaiah 11:3,4

Most of us judge a person by what they do and what they say. Some of us think we are great judges of character, but honestly, we’re not. We simply don’t have enough information.

“But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”  1 Samuel 16:7  

God judges by seeing a person’s heart. What is their intent? What childhood and background did this person have and how did it affect his actions and thoughts? 

I’ve written about my grandson, Craig, who died one night after drinking too much. He also had a trace of cocaine in his system. He lay face down on a sofa and smothered. He was 21, and a young man full of emotional pain. 

I have said I believe my grandson was saved by Jesus because in his heart he wanted to live better. He wanted to tell teens at high schools not to go on drugs, even though he was doing them himself. He told his brother he wanted to one day have a wife and kids and he wanted the same for his brother so they could always be close and their children grow up together. He was attracted to what was good.

 At his funeral, we were amazed by how many people he helped in his short life. People came who had been in elementary school with him and told us of how Craig had helped them – with school work and also coping with life.
 

But there was a dark side to Craig, his pain also made him lash out at people. He did some really bad things. He told me once, “I regret so many things I did.”  But the problem was, he kept doing them.

 

Well, the point of me writing this is that one day this year, I was on a Christian site and a man there took a dislike to me. (How is that possible?) lol  He read my post on Craig and came back to the Christian site and said, “This woman believes drug addicts will be saved!”   Yes, yes I do.

The church I grew up in would probably say that a drug addict would have to change before he could be saved. But since our standing with God is not by our works but by our belief in him, I do believe people who are doing wrong will be saved because as the Scriptures say, God looks on the heart. It is our heart we will take to heaven with us when Jesus comes. If our heart loves what is good, (even if we can’t do it) we will be very happy in heaven where all is good and beautiful. 

 

My grandson had a friend who wore spikes around his neck and arms and was pierced on his face. He wore black all the time and I guess some people would be afraid of him. But he was one of Craig’s nicest friends. His father was a Hell’s Angel and had beaten him all his childhood. All of Craig’s friends either had no fathers or mean ones. When you see a young person who looks scary, remember that God sees his childhood and his heart. 

 

Let’s not judge people by what they do, what they look like or what they say. Let’s leave all judging to God. Only he is wise enough to judge a human heart.