The Death of Mr. Hof

Dennis Hof is dead. Many people do not know the man, but his life of vulgarity and degradation have destroyed many homes for many years. You see, Dennis Hof ran several houses of prostitution in the state of Nevada. One of the many stunts that the man offered was for veterans returning from war to give him a call. He would extend the red carpet to anybody who wanted to come to one of his businesses and treat them royalty.

In this life, we never know whose life we will touch and almost seven years to the month, this man and I met in September 2011. I was a funeral director working in Carson City, Nevada. I also served as the chaplain for anybody who did not have a minister.

One day, we received a call to collect the remains of a man who had worked on the staff of one of Mr. Hof’s houses of prostitution. The wife came to the funeral home to make the arrangements. In the process, she asked if I knew somebody who could preach the man’s funeral and I told her that I would be willing to do so.

She asked what kind of message I would preach and how I conducted funerals. I told her that I pulled no punches. I said, “Ma’am, I am a true believer in the Lord Jesus Christ first. Second, I will not allow anybody to dictate to me what I should or should not preach, even at a funeral. Third, I do not preach anybody into heaven or hell for I do not the condition of their heart. However, I will preach the truth and I always give a gospel message.”

We completed the arrangements and she stood to leave. I could tell something was bothering her and asked if there was anything else I could do.Before she left, she turned to me and said, “I am so glad I came here. There are not many who would be willing to preach my husband’s funeral, and if they would be willing, then they would not preach the truth.”

I thanked her for her time and she left the building. In just a minute though, she came back in.

“Mark, there is something else you need to know. I do not know all that my husband did at Mr. Hof’s business, but you need to know that he and several of his ladies will be at the funeral.”

At the time, I had no clue who Mr. Hof was and it did not matter to me whether he was connected to the prostitution business or not. I told this man’s wife that I would still teach the truth. She thanked me and then left. I would not see her before the funeral.

The owner of the funeral home received a few phone calls and a couple of individuals who came to inform the staff that “Mr. Dennis Hof will be attending the funeral.” The police even came to ensure us that they would be providing additional security.

The day of the funeral arrived and the funeral home chapel was packed. There were people lining every aisle and even into the side rooms listening in. The only exception to the seats being full were six or seven seats across one side at the very front and two very imposing men stood with very dark sunglasses keeping people from taking the seats.

A few minutes after the funeral was supposed to start, I had still not been given the ok to start and the front seats were still empty. A ripple of words began to filter through the assembled crowds and somebody whispered to the man’s wife. She stood and walked up to me. Leaning down she whispered, “Mr. Hof has arrived.”

I nodded that I understood and waited. In a couple of minutes, the main doors opened and 4 or 5 women dressed extremely provacatively pranced down the center of the chapel and found their seats. They were followed by a woman dressed all in black and a large man that I knew must be Mr. Hof. Coming down the center aisle, he stopped to greet several people, shook several hands, and finally took a seat right on the front row.

Looking over at me, he said, “Hey preacher-man, you can get started now.”

Several people chuckled and I knew that the service was not going to get any easier. A tradition in Nevada that is not found everywhere is allowing people to stand and offer their condolences or to share an anecdote of the person’s life. This was scheduled to take place at the very end of the service.

Praying for wisdom, I started the service. The family had selected some songs and one of the man’s daughters read a brief eulogy. When I stood to deliver the message, I knew that what I had to say needed to be said last, so I asked for friends and family to share any thoughts.

Several things that were shared are not printable and perfectly described the debauched life that the deceased must have lived. The brothel madam (Mr. Hof’s other half) stood and gave a raunchy anecdote about the man and then Mr. Hof stood to speak. He wasted no time trying to make everybody laugh and more than a few grew extremely embarrassed at what was shared.

He finally wound down and looked at me with a smirk. “I guess it is time to hear the preacher-man with the few minutes we have left.” Sitting down, he crossed his arms and stared at me.

Standing to my feet, I began.

“Thank you for your attendance today and despite the length of time that has been taken, the wife of the deceased asked me to preach a message. I will share this in its entirety.”

If looks could kill, the entire front row would have been in attendance at a second funeral.

“The Bible tells us clearly in Hebrews 9 that once a person passes away, there is a judgment which will follow.”

Over the next 30 minutes, I followed the pattern of the apostle Paul in preaching to Agrippa in the Book of Acts. God gave me the strength to preach sin, righteousness, and the coming judgment.

On the front row and possibly for the first and only time in his life, Mr. Hof and his ladies heard the truth. They heard that judgment was real and that everyone will face it at the moment of death. However, they also heard that God is merciful to those who call upon Him and repent and turn away from their sins. As I closed, I appealed to each person who was in attendance.

I looked each one of those women and Mr. Hof in the eyes as I scanned the room. In my concluding remarks, I told them that I stood ready to answer any questions they may have, but that they could not walk away and think they could make a mockery of God because ONLY the fool says in his or her heart that there is no God.

As I did in every funeral I preached (a total of 271 over 8 years), I said something like this.

“I do not know where the deceased stood before God. However, if they could return for just one more minute of life, they would implore you to make things right with God. They would tell you that heaven and hell are real. They would tell you to not put off the reality of eternity for all of us will face it the moment we cross from death into the life after.”

Mr. Hof was furious and I honestly wondered if he was going to say anything else or come to the front and accost me in some way.

I gave a final prayer and dismissed everybody. Most ignored me on the way out including most of the women from Mr. Hof’s ranch. However, one of the women stopped as if she was going to say something. Her face was a wreck from tears that ran freely down her face. She turned to walk away as Mr. Hof walked up behind her.

“Ma’am, is there anything I can do for you?”

She turned back and said with sobs, “I heard you speak the truth today, but I am not sure that I can change now. Please pray for me!”

I put out my hand and shook Mr. Hof’s hand. I told him that I would be praying that he would know the truth that I preached. He only glared at me and didn’t say another word to me. He turned on his heel and left just as the wife of the deceased walked up to me and gave me a hug.

“I know Mr. Hof is very angry right now, but I want to tell you that I am so glad you were the one preaching. Thank you for sharing the gospel. My husband was not a believer and things were not good for us the last few years after he took the job. However, I can say that all of these people needed to hear what you said.”

I told her again that I would be praying for them and with that everybody was gone. I have never forgotten the events of that day, nor have I forgotten each person that I personally interacted with that day. A man had gone into eternity and I had been granted the privilege of preaching as a dying man to dying men.

From all the news reports today, Mr. Hof died in the midst of enjoying his sin and his debauched life. Now, he faces the God of all creation and I could not help but wonder if he has ever remembered the words that I preached that day back in 2011.

Sin brings judgment and now he faces judgment alone without any of the women he sought to keep entrapped in a life of destruction. I do not rejoice in the death of this man, but pity those he left behind. I have sorrow for those he has destroyed.

Tomorrow, his family and friends will be making final arrangements for the earthly remains of Mr. Dennis Hof, but eternity has already started for his man.

Here now the Word of the Lord God –

“For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord GOD; so turn, and live.” – Ezekiel 18:32

This is still the only message to be preached to unbelievers. TURN AND LIVE!

Things I have learned: Disease vs. Cure, Overcoming the Will

Some say there’s a heaven for those who wait
Some say it’s better but I say it ain’t
I’d rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints
The sinners are much more fun
–Billy Joel, “Only the God Die Young”

Continuing the series of theological truths I have seen illustrated through our fostering experience, we come to two truths: the natural man would rather die and go to Hell than have to accept and submit to the Lordship of Christ; man’s will must be overcome in order to believe the gospel.

Shortly after these children came to us, the little one was sitting on her bed one evening, holding her ears and crying. We asked her what was wrong, her answer was, “Nuthin”. Of course, we knew something was wrong, so we took her to the local children’s hospital. Long story short, turns out she had an ear infection–in both ears. This the result of being allowed to sleep with a bottle of milk at night, even until she came to us at the age of six (yes, you read that right. She was on a bottle at six years old). The doctor prescribed some liquid antibiotics, the local pharmacy filled it and added flavoring to it, and we began the next day to try and give her the antidote to her infection. No problem, right?

Wellll……the next morning we tried to give her the medicine. She sat there crying for an hour, refusing to take the 1 1/2 ounces of medicine. We tried convincing her that if she didn’t take her medicine, her ears would not heal. We tried telling her that if she did take it, her ears wouldn’t hurt anymore. We tried every way possible to convince her to take her medicine. Finally, after an hour, she took it with a sip of Sprite. This very same scenario was played out twice a day, every day, for two weeks.

And isn’t that just like us? How many times, before God’s grace opened our eyes, did we hear the name of Christ, hear the gospel, and refuse to obey the gospel? Why? Because we were a natural man, and the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned (1st Corinthians 2:14). We cannot understand the importance of the gospel, or even the gospel itself, in our natural state, for we (like the Corinthians) think it’s ridiculous that our eternal fate rests on believing in a man dying on a cross and coming up out of the grave. Besides, even if the natural man did believe the gospel, he certainly would not want to forsake the life he has, and all its pleasures and comforts, to humble ourselves to God and repent of our sinful lifestyle and put others ahead of our own wants.

What, you don’t think that’s exactly what happens when someone rejects the gospel? What did Jesus say? John 3:19-20“And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light.” We’re having too much fun, living the good life, to be bothered with all this “Jesus stuff.” They would rather have their fun now, rather enjoy this time that have–you might say they would rather have their “Best Life” now. Or, as Benny Hinn once famously said, “Who cares about streets of gold in Heaven? I want my gold now, baby!” And just like that little girl who would rather suffer the pain of a double ear infection than take her medicine, the natural man, unregenerated by the Holy Spirit, would rather die and go to Hell than to receive the things of the gospel and submit himself to Christ.

But that is the natural man. That is the nature of man, to want what he wants when he wants it, without having to submit himself to anyone’s yolk. And that is where the natural man finds his folly. He thinks he is free. He does not realize that he is actually a slave of sin, and is only free in regard to righteousness (Romans 6:20). We are all slaves. None of us has a will that is truly free. When we are born, we are born slaves of sin, even though we all belong to God. “The earth is the LORD’s…the world and all that dwell therein” (Psalm 24:1). We belong to God,  And we must overcome our master in order to obey the gospel. For “no man can serve two masters, else he will love the one and hate the other, or despise the one and love the other” (Matthew 6:24). We cannot set ourselves free from Satan in order to obey Christ, for we are all our lifetime subject to bondage (Hebrews 2:14).

In fact, we don’t want to free ourselves from Satan, because we are having too much fun. Satan may be our master, we may be his slave–but he is not a very demanding master. He gives his slaves everything they want in order to keep them happy.

  • “So, you like drugs? What do you prefer? Alcohol? Marijuana? Cocaine? Ooh, here’s one of my favorites–methamphetamine!”
  • “So, you like sex? What kind do you like? Heterosexual? Homosexual? Bisexual? Transvestites? S&M? Ooh, here’s one of my favorites–living together without marriage!”
  • “So, you like money? And you don’t want to work for it? Well, we’ve got all kinds of ways for you to get other people’s money. Robbery. Fraud. Ponzi schemes. Ooh, here’s one of my favorites–the lottery!”

And he gives us enough stuff to keep us happy in these bodies of flesh. And rather than take the antidote for fleshly happiness, we would rather continue on with the disease. But. God, in His grace and mercy, overcomes our stubborn will so that we may understand that we need that antidote–and that we will want that antidote. This was the task to which the apostle Paul was commissioned, as we see in Acts 26:17-18“I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you, to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.'” A man can no more understand the gospel apart from being granted that power by the Holy Spirit than a blind man can read Dostoyevsky. (Or anybody else for that matter) There is nothing in the heart of man that says “I want to know the things of God.”

And just like we had to overcome that little girl’s stubborn will to convince her she needed to take her medicine to be made well, so God has to overcome our stubborn will to convince us that we need Christ in order to be made well. That is where the Holy Spirit comes in. John 14:16-17“And I will pray the Father and He will give you another Helper…the Spirit of Truth whom the world cannot receive.” And what will that Helper do? “He will teach you all things” and “He will convict the world of sin and righteousness and judgment” (John 14:30, 16:8). It was this Helper, the Holy Spirit, that opened the eyes of a certain seller of purple to accept Christ. Now a certain woman named Lydia heard us…the Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul (Acts 16:14). But not all people receive the Holy Spirit. Agrippa did not receive this Helper. Acts 26:27-28 (Revised Version)–“King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest. And Agrippa said unto Paul, “With but little persuasion thou wouldest fain make me a Christian.” (I use the RV because it is actually one of the closest in translating this passage). What prevented Agrippa from accepting Christ as Savior and Lord? He had all the facts before him. He even believed all that the prophets said about Mishiach. But why wouldn’t he take the medication that would cure him of his disassemble of sin? He did not receive the Helper. And this because he was of the world, and the Helper is the One “Whom the world cannot receive” (John 14:17).

Agrippa would not believe because he could not believe. Just like the Pharisees would not believe because they could not believe. John 12:37-4037 But although He had done so many signs before them, they did not believe in Him, 38 that the word of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled…39 Therefore they could not believe, because Isaiah said again: 40 He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, lest they should see with their eyes, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them.” John Gill wrote of Agrippa’s near-conversion–

“An almost Christian is one that has much light and knowledge, but no grace; he may know something of himself and of sin, of its being a violation of the law of God, and of the bad consequences of it, but has not true repentance for it; he may know much of Christ in a speculative way, concerning his person and offices, as the devils themselves do, and of the good things which come by him, as peace, pardon, righteousness, and salvation; but has no application of these things to himself; he may have a large notional knowledge of the doctrines of the Gospel, but has no experience of the power, sweetness, and comfort of them in his own soul; all his knowledge is unsanctified, and without practice…he has a great deal of faith in the historical way, and sometimes a bold confidence and assurance of everlasting happiness; but has not faith of the right kind, which is spiritual and special, which is the faith of God’s elect, the gift of God, and the operation of his Spirit; by which the soul beholds the glory, fulness, and suitableness of Christ, under a sense of need, and goes forth to him, renouncing everything of self, and lays hold upon him, and trusts in him for salvation; and which works by love to Christ and his people, and has with it the fruits of righteousness…Agrippa was only persuaded, and but almost persuaded by the apostle to be a Christian, but not by the Lord, nor altogether.”

The one who is sick, whose will is not overcome by the Lord, cannot be persuaded by any amount of words to take of the medicine–the only medicine–that will cure his eternal sickness and impart eternal life to his deal spirit.