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!

Two Life-Changers!

Each week that passes more than one million people will go out into eternity. The majority will go to their graves unsung and will not be missed by any but their family and closest friends. With these statistics we have a constant reminder of Hebrews 9:27, “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.”

However, this week two men in particular passed away. Each had an impact on the world in different ways and with far-reaching implications. The first man was wealthy by all the world’s standards. He was a genius when it came to designing new products that help our advanced civilizations see their day go smoother. iPad, iTouch, iMac, iBook, iPhone, iTunes, and a number of other i-devices that many would find it difficult to live without.

Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs, a man of the world, passed away at what seems like a young age of 56 after a massive struggle with cancer. His inventions and life changed the lives of others in ways not imaginable just 30 years ago, and maybe even less than 20 years ago. There has even been a great outpouring of grief from many in the business world.

We do not demean or seek to belittle the grief that his family is going through, or even the great outpouring of grief from many in the business world. The reality is that Mr. Steve Jobs had an appointment with God that no amount of money or inventions could prevent from taking place. With his death, there are questions that must be asked.

In the light of eternity, what difference did he really make? Did his inventions change lives in a way that brings glory and honor to the Lord Jesus Christ? He changed many people and many businesses but what difference has it really made. With the current advances in technology, the devices designed and invented over the last couple of years will be replaced with something better and newer. Some of them will only be found in museums while others will pass into the dust piles of oblivion. Sadly, the fame and knowledge of Steve Jobs will go the same way as past great business men like Howard Hughes, Lee Iacocca, Eli Whitney, and others who have impacted their world. One day, children will hear of Steve Jobs only in a textbook and wonder what the big deal was about this person.

On another continent though lived another individual who also changed lives. However, as aptly expressed in the words of the poem by Sir Walter Scott, this week he returned “to the vile dust from whence he sprung, unwept, unhonour’d, and unsung.” Compared to the myriads who mourn for Steve Jobs, few will mourn this man’s passing. In fact, outside of his country, this man is unknown. He invented no technology to benefit the advance of his fellow countrymen. It is safe to say that he had never even owned any piece of technology in his entire life besides one simple cell phone. He had no earthly wealth and was able to live on less than $30 (US Dollars) per month for the vast majority of his life. This unsung man concluded his life with not a bank account to his name. His two-room home was made of sun-dried mud bricks and he never had the privilege of owning any form of modern transportation.

Pastor Gbarwee with umbrella

Pastor Gbarwee with umbrella

For almost the same length of time that Steve Jobs was alive, Pastor Gbarwee of the village Mehnla, Nimba County, Liberia, West Africa sought to make a difference in the lives of all he came in contact with. For approximately 50 years, he was the pastor of Mehnla Mid-Baptist Church and for years has had the privilege of telling others of the saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus. The value of his life will never end either here or in the life to come. He may not be long remembered on this earthly vale, but heaven’s hall of fame will long remember one who was a servant of the Most High.

Neither of these men ever met each other, and neither of them even had knowledge of the other. There will be many earthly accolades rendered to Steve Jobs, while few will be given to Pastor Gbarwee. However, on the other side of eternity, a very different scene is taking place. It matters not to God how much money was made or not made. It matters not whether inventions took place or did not take place. What matters is what was done with the Person of Jesus Christ.

For Steve Jobs, the reality is that no matter his position in life, the money he made, the inventions he created, or the lives he impacted, he is still facing the Creator of the Universe. He must now give account for his life. It is claimed that Steve Jobs had converted to Buddhism a few years ago. This means his name is not found written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, and he will now have to find himself spending eternity in hell with no chance of a re-boot.

For Pastor Gbarwee, his faith had long ago been placed in the Saviour. He lived for the One he claimed to love. He preached to his people that Jesus Christ alone is the answer to all that pertains to life and godliness. Unlike those who perish without Christ, the Bible tells us those who remain faithful to the end will receive a crown of righteousness. Instead of judgment which was paid for on the cross, we know from Scripture that we have the privilege of being welcomed into the loving arms of the Saviour. To hear Him say, “Well done, you have been a good and faithful servant!” will be a far greater reward than all the money of this earth could buy. Eternity will long remember those who gave their lives serving the Master.

One man, Steve Jobs, lived well, but did not end well because his faith was not in Christ. The other, Pastor Gbarwee, lived poorly based on earthly standards, but he finished well! What a way to live!

So, we conclude with a few questions to ponder. What kind of legacy do we desire to leave behind? In the light of eternity, what difference will our lives make on the lives of others? Is our headlong rush to eternity tempered by the desire to seek the glory and honor of God in each and every aspect of our lives? Will you choose to live well and leave questions as to how your life ends, or will you live in a way that others will know before Christ that you finished well?

A life-changer for this world, or a life-changer for eternity? Your choice!

Deserving to Die – Terrorists or Victims?

On 9/11/2001, terrorists flew the passengers on their flights into eternity. During the approximately one hour between the fall of the twin towers that claimed almost 3,000 lives, around the world another 7,800 lives went out to meet their Maker. Over the next 24 hours while America and the West struggled to understand the loss of almost 3,000 lives, approximately 256,200 more individuals crossed the line from life unto death. Hebrews 9:27 says, “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.”

More recently on November 5, 2009, Major Nidal Hasan, an officer in the US Army walked into a military service center, jumped on a table, yelled “Allah is great!” (in Arabic), pulled out semi-automatic pistols and pumped out more than 100 rounds and sent 13 more Americans into eternity. In the six days since that event approximately 1.3 million have taken their last breath. This is a number 100,000 times more than the 13 who died in the service of their country.

Did any of those almost 3,000 people deserve to die on 9/11? Did the 13 people who were shot at Fort Hood, Texas deserve to die? Ask the majority of Americans and the general consensus will be, “Those terrorists deserved to die and face God!” They would continue, “Men like Adolf Hitler, Saddam Hussein, Nidal Hasan, and Osama bin Laden deserve to die. Let’s kill them all!”

However, there is a greater question we need to ask ourselves. Do men like Hitler, Hussein, Hasan, and bin Laden deserve to die more than those who perished at their hands? What made the people who died on 9/11/2001 or on 11/05/2009 in the terrorist attacks any less deserving than the 7,800 or the 256,200 or even the 1.3 million to go and face the eternal Son of God and be judged for their sins?

This is by no means to demean the sacrifice demanded of those who did not ask to be killed! Nor, is this a support of any terrorist group. Nor, is this intended in any way to demean the loss of life and the sorrow of those families who were left to pick up the pieces.

The purpose of my writing is because I have been doing some serious searching of my heart, and sadly I find I have not been meeting the criteria required of me as a true believer. Let me explain further.

As Americans, we are very patriotic, almost at times to an extreme. It is a trait that many nations of the world fail to understand about us. It is a large part of what binds us together in the face of a common enemy. In very short order, for example, after 9/11, the vast majority of Americans were ready to take on the enemies of our country by whatever means possible. Hatred and anger ran cold and deep in the veins of millions who were upset that our country had been assaulted. We were ready to hunt down the infidels and murder them all and make them pay for what they did to us! Even many who claim the name of Christ were standing side-by-side in the call to arms and had no issues with our government spending billions of dollars to bomb and attack two foreign countries.

However, I wonder how many of those same Christians were praying that God would bring sorrow and godly repentance to those who would inflict evil upon America. How many spent time agonizing over the true loss of life – 7,800 or the 256,200 or the 1.3 million? How many mourned the fact that the vast, overwhelming majority of those individuals perished with no hope of ever knowing or even hearing the name of Jesus Christ?

Do we stop to think that every year since 9/11, an unbelievable sum of approximately 95 million (the equivalent of almost 1/3rd of the US population) go into eternity? Who mourns their loss? Why are they any more deserving to face a God of wrath than those we know and love, or than those who live on our streets? In the eight years since 9/11, almost 1 billion have exited this world, a number equivalent to a little less than the entire population of India!

Yet, we actually rejoiced when we watched the evening news from the comfort of our sofas and armchairs, and we saw the countless thousands being swept into eternity for their part in attacking our country. Oh, we were happy! Justice was being meted out by our brave men and women, and the judgment that was pronounced and executed was in our minds – “FAIR!”

However, does this stack up with the commands of Scripture that we who claim the name of Christ are called to obey? We as Christians are commanded to love our enemies. We are to share the good news of the gospel with those who have never heard. The apostle Paul loved his fellow countrymen of Israel so greatly that if it were possible, he was willing to be eternally accursed from God if only all Israel would place their faith in the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ alone for their salvation!

During His earthly ministry, the Lord Jesus Christ was asked what the greatest commandments were. He replied, “The first is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind. And, the second is very much like it – LOVE your neighbor as yourself.”

Do we bother to realize that only God can hate the wicked with the demand for perfect justice that hatred requires? Who are we to think that we can stand in the place of the Almighty and condemn others to eternity where they will be in the lake of fire forever? What hypocrisy that our churches are willing to spend millions on new edifices and on entertaining the sheep while 3 people every second go to stand in judgment before the Holy, Righteous God of the Universe! What hypocrisy and lack of true Christian character that we can say equally with the lost of America that we hate our enemies and wish their deaths in whatever manner it comes upon them!

How are we ANY different from those of the Islamic faith? They are willing to kill for the ideals of their faith so that they might enjoy eternity in the bliss of earthly pleasures. Yet, we are willing to kill simply because we hate what others have done to us. We hate and kill indiscriminately because they made our lives uncomfortable. We hate and demand death as they make our trips through airport security highly annoying at best. We hate because we somehow believe what is coming from our pulpits – our sins are not as bad as those of the terrorists. Here in America, we are civilized. We do not deserve death like they do. They deserve justice. They deserve the wrath of God to fall upon them. They deserve hell!

Wake up Christians before it is too late! The world should know us by our love for one another and by the fact that we are willing to sacrifice our very lives so that others will know the love of God, and more importantly, so they will know it is possible to escape from the wrath to come!

We want to ask God to bless America, yet we refuse to obey His commands. May God forgive us for our hatred! The Lord Jesus Christ said that hatred is the same as murder. May the Lord forgive us for our lack of compassion! May He help us to see that we ALL deserve to die, but for the grace of God – His mercy endures forever!