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Pam and I just got back from visiting Theresa and Darrell in TN. She has a project going on in the inner sanctum, “Liberty Grace” is due March 7th !
While back east we also visited Claire, Carson, Savanna and Elenore in KY! We learned that Claire is blooming with another child. We are calling the child, “Young Mister Fields” for now. The due date is April 9th !
DEATH IS ICKY, AND JESUS IS WONDERFUL!
“Daddy, what happened to the kitty?”
I’ve always maintained that death is icky. I’ve never changed my mind. We began our acquaintance with death as tots when we saw the dead cat in the road and the fly on the window sill.
When I was about eight my grandfather died. There was an open casket at the funeral. I went up to the casket with my mom at the end of the service. Grandpa looked bad, really bad. Mom said, “You can touch him if you want.” I had no desire to touch him. It was icky and scary!
They took grandpa in the box and put him under the ground in a country cemetery. We drove past the cemetery whenever we went to visit grandma and other relatives. I did not like driving by that cemetery. I did not like thinking of grandpa underground in that box. Other relatives were there in boxes under the ground. It was icky and scary.
A childhood friend shared a “helpful” superstition with me. He told me, “If you can hold your breath when you drive by a cemetery you will live a year longer.” It was challenging if you drove by larger cemeteries. But, you know what? It worked! But what it didn’t do was change my attitude that death is icky and scary.
Beyond the thought of being in a box under the ground was the wondering about life after death. Could there be something ickier after death? Rotting flesh is icky, but what if there were ickier, scarier things in an afterlife?
I attended church as a youth and learned that Jesus was sweet and kind. In retrospect I think there was more about “Jesus was” than “Jesus is.” I never got the message that Jesus gave death a royal trouncing. Because of this it seemed death was bigger and more tenaciously powerful than the “was” Jesus.
Finally, as a Senior in High School I read the New Testament for myself. I developed a love and respect for this marvelous, wise, virtuous, powerful Person. Eventually I came to call Him, “My Lord.”
I found Jesus really is the Resurrection and the Life! The grave, death and the powers of hell are helpless before Him. His promises gave me victory over the great-granddaddy or all fears, death.
I came to see that not only can we be free of the fear of death, we can vaunt over it, mock its weakness and celebrate its destruction – all because of the victory which our Redeemer gained for us at the cross, and through his resurrection and ascension. We are able to spurn, diminish and despise death! Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:
Where, O death is your victory?
Where, O death is your sting?
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!
Our powerful, loving God sees death as icky too. It is totally out of order with His kingdom of vibrant life, and unbecoming his children. So, He dealt with it, and made a way out for us all!
I’ve walked through cemeteries and been overcome with tremendous confidence and boldness as I’ve sited Isaiah 26:19;
But your dead will live; their bodies will rise – let those who dwell in the dust of the earth wake up and shout for joy – your dew is like the dew of the morning; the earth will give birth to her dead!
You will think me daffy but once as I was walking through a cemetery quoting this verse I heard death under harassment say, “Stop doing that!”
The tables are being flipped! Death is afraid of believing Christians. What thrilling resurrection reality! Dust reconstituted! Lost things recovered! Grief and tears wiped away by the Hand of the Loving One! Old renewed! Reunion!
Death is a weakling compared to our “Stronger One.” What comfort, what rest, what exhilaration and delight! We flaunt over death because of Jesus!
Every fear – spiders, falling, financial loss, rejection – is connected to the great granddaddy of all fears, the fear of death. “He delivered me from all my fears.”
My Christian brother and sister, no long allow yourself to be intimidated by death. You are built to intimidate it! Death has been given a mortal blow!
How grateful are you that Jesus tasted death for us that we might taste His life?
What can you do today to put the fear of death in its place, and embrace the wholesome, regenerating fear of the Lord?
Do you have a testimony of overcoming the fear of death?
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REVIEWS OF COMPOUNDS OF ENCOURAGEMENT
I highly recommend this book, especially for men who want to up their game as encouragers. The articles are brief, upbeat, tender, and tough. During the past two years, almost weekly, I’ve been in prayer rooms and men’s meetings with Steve Johnson—I’ve never encountered a person anointed as much as he is with the gift of encouragement (Romans 12:8). And with his comprehensive writing, Steve continually captures his reader’s attention with vivid, creative lines. Read this book, one chapter at a time; and if you can, find a way to meet this man!
I found your book to be very encouraging. It calls us to a higher ground. I heard God speaking through the words he gave you to write. I appreciated having his Word to read throughout the book.
I especially enjoyed the lessons on wonder, amazement and creativity. I wrote down a quote to pray for friends and family: “May our friends and family who are distant from Yeshua be hit hard by his overflowing kindness, bringing them to true repentance.”
Also, having a background working with special needs children, I was touched by the pool story about Cain. Thank you for giving me the privilege of reading your book!!
Steven C Johnson