While many will discuss whether Christians should even participate in Christmas celebrations (which is discussion worth having) one thing thing we all agree upon is that almost 2,000 years ago Christ took on human flesh and was born into this world. The Incarnation is truly one of the greatest miracles of God. Divinity took on humanity, He became like us. But He did not do this for a parlor trick, or because He was bored. Christ became man so that He could die for us. God took on flesh so that He could be executed in our place, to pay the price for our sins. Then He rose three days later, proving His power of death and giving a promise of eternal life to those who would repent and trust in Him.
As we consider the season of Christmas, and whether we should or should not celebrate it, let us dwell on the miracle of the Incarnation. Let us be in awe of His death and resurrection. And let us share with everyone, “It’s about the cross.”
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It was exactly one year ago today that my wife’s stepfather (a very high degree Mason) passed away after being diagnosed with cancer a month previous to that. She took care of him at his home and after his passing she penned her thoughts–only recently revealing them to me.
With her permission her letter is reprinted below for your edification.
I have just had my first real, up-close experience with death. There are a few things I observed that I would like to share:
I have known people that have passed on and you mourn a little and have the usual thoughts like, “Why them? It’s just not fair,” “But he was such a good man,” “She was just so young”, or, “Well, at least they are in a better place now.”
They’re right, life isn’t fair. Praise God that life isn’t always fair. If it was fair, there would be no hope whatsoever for me a wretched soul, or for you or for anyone. I deserve an eternity in hell and it is only by the grace of God and God alone, that if He so chooses I may escape the punishment I am deserving of and enter into an eternity with Him.
If only people knew and realized the truth that none of us are good, no not even one, then they would know better than to say “But he was such a good man.”
How can they say “They are in a better place now, at least they are out of pain.” Do they know this? Do they know that this person was a believer? If not, they must not know either, that there is much more pain in the Lake of Fire than there is here on earth.
The next thing I realized was what a shame it is the way we spend so much of our lives. We work so hard at the trivial, materialistic things in life that I guarantee will someday not matter to you one bit! All of the “things you possess don’t matter one iota when you are stuck lying in a bed, immobile, facing what is to so many, too many – the unknown.
My stepfather was diagnosed with cancer on September 4th, 2008, just under 1 month after his 61st birthday. On September 5th we brought him home on hospice. He always loved working on his computer. He would spend hours in his back room playing on it.
While I was at his home caring for him, I would offer to set him up with my laptop so he could do what he enjoyed. He tried this a couple of times, but it just didn’t work like it used to. His mind wasn’t sharp and he didn’t have the energy or desire to do what he could once do so easily. He was just like one of my children to me. I wanted to give him anything I could to make him happy. I would sit and think “what could I bring him that he could enjoy.” I would bring sweets, watermelon, tacos, anything I thought would taste good to him, but he didn’t really care about food that much either. I would bring him better nightgowns, a new toothbrush, a good electric shaver…anything that I thought might bring him just a moment of pleasure. The problem is, that he had a whole life of sinful pleasure and now there was only one thing that he needed now, and that was to come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. I tried a couple of pathetic attempts to talk to him, about his need for Christ. But, I still had time so I figured I would get to it at some point and besides I had sent my pastor to speak with him so I knew he had heard the Gospel from him, (a lousy excuse, I know.)
My stepfather often had visitors, which is more than many people have. So often people are left in institutions to die with no one by their side, no one to show them kindness in their final days, no one who can offer them the Gospel.
The only time they see their loved ones is when they are coming to claim what they feel rightfully belongs to them. Many people came to claim their part of my stepfather’s belongings. His brother came first, asking for his truck, my mother wanted to make sure she was on his life insurance policy and other possessions were passed out like candy.
My step-father had been getting along okay considering the circumstances. He was bedridden, but for the most part still had his wits about him. He was on heavy pain meds so he had good and bad moments.
On October 1st everything sort of fell apart. I will spare you unnecessary details, but the nurse had come out to bathe him that morning and another nurse had come to check on his vitals and such. He was in some pain after he had to move around in bed to be bathed so the nurse gave him some liquid morphine and from that moment on, he was no longer with us. The next day he slept almost the entire day. I had to call the CNA out to help me change his bedding and when we tried, he would scream and cry out in pain. It was so awful. I was fighting back tears as I watched this man wince with every slight movement or touch. It was so agonizing and excruciating for him just thinking of it brings me to tears. At one point I had to tell the nurse to stop, I could not bear to see him in this amount of pain. I can only imagine or liken this to what it must be like in hell. Unfortunately in hell, there is no one there to be your advocate, to stop the torture for you, to save you.
After we got through changing the bed he slept all the rest of the day. His mouth was so dry it was cracked and bleeding. I would try to moisten it with a wet sponge, but it did no good. It was this moment that made me think about the rich man who was begging for just one taste of water; the man who realized the mistake he had made and begged for someone to go and warn his family that they may be spared. This rich man was now my stepfather lying in that bed and it was now too late. Too late for me to share the Gospel with him, too late for me to warn him!
My sister called me the next day–he had passed away. I went to my mom’s and all the family was standing around mourning, waiting for the funeral home to come and get him and then it came. The usual utterances, “He’s in a better place now, he is out of pain.” And I wanted to scream! How can you say that? How do you know that?
How stupid I was! How foolish! Oh how my heart aches that I had not been courageous enough to share the GOOD NEWS with him, this dying man who needed hope, needed a Saviour.
How foolish we all are. Where do our treasures really lie? If we truly believe and realize what happens to a nonbeliever when they leave this world why then are we not willing to say anything? Why are we so ashamed to offer hope and knowledge of salvation to these people who are just like we once were? Or are we really so fooled by this twisted concept of Christianity that American churches serve to us on our silver platter that we don’t care!
I can only imagine my stepfather, as the rich king was pleading that someone go and warn his family. Only 7 months later, his brother passed away from the same illness and as far as I am aware, never came to a saving knowledge of our Lord.