Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Interview With a Deceased Unbeliever

This is from my Living Insights Study Bible by Chuck Swindoll:

In the Gospel of Luke (16:19-31) there is a vivid account of an interview with a deceased unbeliever. Don’t misunderstand, this is not the story of another fascinating “out-of-the-body” experience, but a startling narrative of the afterlife told the ultimate Authority on the subject–the Son of God Himself. While a number of commentators interpret this passage as a parable, I’m not so sure. By naming tow of the key characters, I believe that Jesus gives us ample reason to see these verses as recording an actual historical event–a true story of two men… and their contrasting eternal destinies. There is a rich man who, as we will see, is eternally lost. There is a poor man who is eternally saved. They lived in two completely different worlds during their earthly lives, but there was a remarkable change of circumstances at death. Death, the greatest of all levelers, reduces everything to the lowest common denominator.

When Lazarus, the beggar, died, his body was probably tossed in the local dump, the refuse pile. Chances are good that he didn’t even receive a decent burial. But his soul was taken immediately into the presence of the Lord, a presence called here “Abraham’s side.” (Luke 16:22).

When we read, “The rich man also died and was buried” (Luke 16:22), we can be sure his burial was one of great pomp and elaborate ceremony. So much for his body. It is his eternal soul that interests us. We find him in hell as we continue to read Jesus’ words: “In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side” (Luke 16:23). the verse that follows does not contain a record of some paranormal experience reported by a man who saw lights and heard buzzing. it is, I believe, and event, not a vision. It becomes an interview, as it were. Notice first that there is agony. There is literal pain. The rich man is tormented. And somehow he catches a glimpse of those who are peace. Second, he is fully conscious. third, he not only has his senses, he also has his memory. Neither is obliterated by death.

The scene becomes increasingly bleak. Scripture pulls no punches. “So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire’ ” (Luke 16:24). Earlier Luke mentioned “torment.” Now it’s “agony.” Note that the man could still reason and visualize his surroundings. He still possessed the ability to feel, hear and taste. It was as if he still had a tongue and all five senses.

Abraham (who seems to speak for the Lord) answers the man’s request in verse 25: “Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony.” For those who joke about hell and say, “Well, we’ll be there for a while and somebody will just pray us out,” take a good look at the next verse: “And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us” (Luke 16:26). The “great chasm” that “has been fixed” suggests a permanent situation. In other words, it is impossible to change destinies or escape one’s location after death. Even if others wish for you to be released, they cannot come to your rescue. Realizing this, the man begins to bargain. This is where the account becomes extremely moving. The man in torment remembers his family at home. His concern for them is enormous—and understandably so.

Let me interrupt the story long enough to ask a question: Is it your feeling that the lost who are dead care about the lost who are alive? If you’re uncertain about your answer, read verse 28: “I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.” Because the rich man was unable to escape, his number-one concern was that someone would go to his brothers and communicate the truth about hell to those who are still living. Talk about a missionary message! Talk about evangelistic zeal! If it exists nowhere else, an evangelistic passion exists in hell. This scene certainly silences the superficial comments we hear from some who joke, “Aw… I’ll just be in hell with all my buddies.” All it takes is a few verses from this account to realize there’s no companionship there. On the contrary, there is an awful, gnawing, inescapable loneliness.

In response to the rich man’s request, Abraham says to him, “They have Moses and the Prophets” (Luke 16:29). Meaning what? They have the Scriptures, the very Word of God. They have God’s voice in God’s Book. In other words, “Let those who are alive hear the truth of Scripture. They have ample opportunity to hear the truth. Let them pick up the bible and read it for themselves. Let them hear the preachers. Let them hear the Gospel as it is contained in God’s Word.”

And then listen to Father Abraham’s remarkable response to the rich man’s insistence that an appearance from beyond would make the difference: “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead’ “ (Luke 16:31). You talk about the power of Scripture! If you could bring someone back from beyond—someone who has been in hell—to tell people what the future holds, it would not be as effective as Holy Scripture! The most invincible, convincing power on earth is the Word of God as the Holy Spirit uses the truth to convict the lost.

We have sufficient truth available to us in the Bible to do the job of bringing the lost to Jesus. It is all that is needed to convince people who have not yet bowed the knee to Jesus Christ that they are missing out on what life is all about. Even if we could do something miraculous, like bring someone back from beyond, it would not have as great an impact as simply presenting the Scriptures. Be careful to grasp the message of this powerful portion of Scripture from Luke’s Gospel: Those who ignore the Word of God in life will not be ignored by the God of the Word in eternity.

Excerpted from:

The Living Insights Study Bible, New Internation Version

Copyright 1996 by The Zondervan Corporation, All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Happy Birthday, my Caro

First a little catch-up:
  • Homebound for longer than I can ever remember. Becoming a hermit, so must be aware not to keep the light hidden.
  • Brett: China this summer, great grades; Ryan: possibly pursue a career as a PA ; Jylle BB & Passport to Purity weekend
  • Precepts Study on Daniel (love how entwined the scriptures are, how they support one another and lead me on to other searches, other of His Truths; I like the dailyness of getting into it and knowing the other ladies will have been doing the same; I like how other questions and info come up on study night, not just reading the answers to all the questions but relating one chapter to the next and then the next and seeing His heart and nature revealed. I’m becoming familiar with the specific words in one chapter at a time, and I seek His Spirit to reveal what He’s written down for us to know).
  • What We’re working on now: Being freed from sin for the privilege of serving. I’ll start wanting something until satisfying my big ME is my focus. That’s the goal, to have and to hold that satisfaction. Slowly over days or weeks it dawns on me that I am not satisfied… like needing dinner and the popcorn I’ve been eating is the ticket—only it’s not, and now I still need dinner AND I’ve stupidly eaten 1,000 senseless calories. Think “Lean Cuisine for the soul.” The satisfaction I think I want tastes a certain way, feels a certain way, and I’m coming to identify it before IT feeds on ME. What Jesus did for me put to death my enslavement to sin and the need for addiction to selfishness. Because He opened my prison cell, I am free to pursue a satisfaction this world pays honor to with its mouth, but disdains in its heart. I am free to serve. THIS tastes a certain way, feels a certain way, and I’m coming to identify it as the dinner I’ve been wanting for a long, long time.

Living there all the time sure doesn’t happen overnight though, does it…


You make me smile
You make me wonder
You make me listen
You make me think

I love when we swing
I love when we snuggle
I love when we’re “in our zone”
I love when we’re close

You flip my switch
You snap my cracker
You swish my basket
You float my boat

I love your sparkle
I love your stride
I love your knowledge
I love your courage

You peanut my butter
You sugar my tea
You white my rice
You lyric my melody

You drive kinda hard
You like to hug a long time
You make me crazy
You keep me sane

When I make you blush, I grin like mad
When I make you happy, it’s like a gold medal
When I make you laugh, my heart sings
When I make you cry, I taste the salt

We’ve come a long way
We’ve been through a lot
We’re growing into children
We’re growing into Love-ers

I never now what's coming next
I never know if I'm doing it right
I never know your true pulse point
Until in childlike manner you tell it so

You remind me of rosebuds
You remind me of thistle
You remind me of Heaven
You remind me of Joy

I celebrate the day we met
I celebrate the day we first snuggled
I celebrate the friend I have in you
I celebrate today, the day you were born

"May the God of peace make you holy through and through. May you be kept in soul and mind and body in spotless integrity until the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is utterly faithful and he will finish what he has set out to do." ~1 Thess 5:23 (JB)

Wednesday, February 14, 2007


I went into a store that I frequent 3-4 times/year and saw not one, but two of the proprietors there working, an older lady and her grown son. I hadn't seen the daughter for a long time, and I asked the lady, "How's Tricia?" She bent in a little closer and asked, "I'm sorry, what?" I repeated, "How's Tricia? your daughter...?" and I pointed to her picture on the wall. She stammered a bit, her eyes unsure, and then she said so very quietly, "Oh... I guess you didn't hear............ Tricia died." I couldn't have been more stunned if she had suddenly slapped my face. "When.........?!" I could feel tears forming, and I was helpless to push them back. "About a year and a half ago." She said it with such a sense of compassion for me.

She asked how I knew her, and I told her just from the store and then seeing her in town sometimes during the ski season. I was weeping by now. She asked if I knew she was sick, and I didn't. I told her I loved how approachable she was, how she always asked about my kids, and just how pretty she was. She replied, "Yeah, that was the great thing about Tricia. She always remembered everything about everybody."

Apparently, she contracted a debilitating lung condition when she worked in a dry cleaning business a few years prior. She battled it, but it finally killed her. She was 32. "She has a twin, so if you ever see someone who looks just like her, don't be shocked," her mom told me with a tender smile. Her son stood nearby, a blank look on his face as he kept his eyes on his mom. Unable to control my grief, I apologized several times and left the store in a full-on cry. It came on bigger than life, and I couldn't stop sobbing until I was almost halfway home. My eyes were red and puffy, I'd run out of Kleenex, and my mind went sepia.

There were all these questions! How long did she suffer? Would I have gone to her funeral if I'd known about it? What did she love? What did she hate? Who was her best friend? Whose wedding was it in that picture with her in it on the wall that I just pointed to? What was her favorite color? song? ice cream flavor? Was she saved? When was her birthday? Am I even spelling her name right? Why can't I stop crying? I don't even know her last name, and I'm grieving like I've lost my sister.

I still don't really know why my response was so intense, why I felt such a profound loss for someone I didn't even know. She never talked about herself--she always asked about me. I do know that I can experience a great affection for people rather quickly. My emo scale is off the charts most days, so I operate in impossible highs and lows. All I know is that Tricia is someone I really wished I could've known and been friends with, and I wish I would've let her know how she'd endeared herself to me. She blessed me while she was here, she touched my life and made it a little warmer. So I will miss you, Tricia. You made a difference.

Post Script: I wrote a letter to her and posted it on her headstone in the lower right corner there. I know I did it for me, and it really did help to write it, to go to the cemetery, find her, and spend some time there. She was a beautiful soul whose fragrance I only appreciated after it was too late to tell her.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007


My daughter's horse died yesterday. It happened so fast. It must've come on in the night. I whistled so he'd know it was feeding time, and he got up. But he'd been lying down with his leg out in front in an odd position. He didn't finish his Equine Senior, and things went downhill from there. I got him dried off and double blanketed, which stopped the trembling, but he was definitely in pain. While we waited for stool sample results from the vet, I went to town. On my way back, I called home, and my husband told me that Jake was gone. He found him in the orchard, right where we left him. J & I prayed that we'd be able to bury him so he wouldn't have to stay there through the night. Fifteen seconds after we prayed, R called to tell me the neighbor was there with his backhoe! "The LORD is faithful to all his promises and loving toward all he has made." ~Psalm 145:13 (NIV) It hurts a lot, but we know we're grateful for all the grace & mercy He's shown through all this.

Sahib seems anxious and sad. I spent some time with him last night, again first thing this morning, and again now mid-morning. I don't know that it helped when a neighbor's horse whinnied, and he answered it. He stations himself in the nearest corner of the pasture where it's the closest he can get to the field where both Jake & Gadget are buried. I wish I could become a horse so I could help him understand...

I am deeply thankful for the gift of friendship, which blesses me always with the fragrance of Christ. My friend, Joan, was there for me when I needed her. Our neighbors were there for us in our moment of need as well. And my Friend granted a merciful quickness in taking Jake, allowed us to do what we could to ease his leaving, and supplied the All that we need to get through something like this. I cannot imagine the crushing grief of watching a loved one wither and die slowly.

R saved two locks of hair from his mane and tail so J could have a very personal keepsake. We buried him next to Gadget, in the draw right by a lone pine. It's not readily visible and yet just a short walk from the front door.

I'd like to think he's frolicking somewhere up there with Gadget and maybe our other loved pets, full of life and strength and bringing joy to the One who created him.

Death makes me introspective. Will I go quickly? What kind of legacy will I leave? It's said that you live on in the hearts of those who loved you. But after they're gone, then what? No one will remember Jake but us. No one will shed one tear over his death but us. And yet, I believe that there's a place in the eternal plan of the one Creator for all of us, every single creature that ever lived or is yet to be born. Death is not the last word on life. JESUS is the first AND last word on Life. Amen!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Think what this means

"The Spirit himself endorses our inward conviction that we really are the children of God. Think what this means. If we are his children we share his treasures, and all that Christ claims as his will belong to all of us as well! Yes, if we share in his sufferings we shall certainly share in his glory." ~Rom. 8:16-17 (J.B. Phillips)

The ALL of Christ is ours! I stumble and strive and consider myself alive to sin when that is a LIE! I am one with Christ in His death, one in His burial, and one in His resurrection! I don't want to go on believing lies and agreeing with the enemy when he hurls flaming assaults. My poor thought life is so wretchedly undisciplined. It's like Pippi Longstocking--unparented, seeking its own counsel, engaged in odd ideas, and involved in various worthless projects. That is not the Life I want, the Life that is my promise.

This is why I have a Savior. The desperately poor and needy need a Savior. Lift up your eyes to the hills, from where my help comes!

"Now to him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glory without fault and with unspeakable joy, to the only God, our savior, be glory and majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before time was, now, and in all ages to come, amen." ~Jude 24-25 (J.B.)

Monday, February 05, 2007

travel nightmare

This is my nightmare travel story. It was last Labor Day weekend. My husband & I were excited to be able to visit our oldest son for the first time during Parents’ Weekend at the Air Force Academy in Colorado. This is his second year, and we really miss him, so we were really looking forward to the whole event, especially since we'd missed the traditional visit that usually takes place during the cadet's first year there.

This was right after the London scare, so airports were on high alert. We arrived the stated "two hours early" on a Thursday only to find after three hours that our flight would be delayed, and then eventually canceled altogether. We were unable to get another flight, but we finally did after my husband said we would travel all night long if that's what it took. (It didn't.)

With each of us on a cell phone running with our luggage to the next terminal to catch the flight and to update arrangements for the car rental & hotel (since we’d fly into Denver instead of Colorado Springs now), we were relieved to find the right line for our new flight. Just as we were about to put our things on the belt to be scanned, we were waved over to a different line where we were told we’d been randomly selected to be frisk-searched. I guess when you’re selected like that, it’s for the entire trip because we were frisk-searched before EVERY flight after that.

We were nearly the last ones on the plane, but arrived on time in the first city and then at Denver. It was 12:30 a.m. by this time, and we were an hour away from the hotel. I’d gotten directions from the hotel clerk so we thought we were set. We took the right exit and drove so far that we were no longer on the rental car map. I called the hotel again, and the guy repeated the directions. We’d been driving an hour & a half, and my husband was starting to feel nauseous. We drove back the way we came and started over, this time realizing that there was NO sign identifying the street we were to turn onto & had driven MILES too far the first time.

We walked into the hotel at 2 in the morning. My poor sweetheart crawled into bed at 2:15 and immediately got right back up and puked in the bathroom, where he remained for the next 2 1/2 hours, retching every 10 minutes. It was horrible.

The plan was to meet our son at 5 & go to classes with him. Miraculously, he stopped throwing up just in time to get cleaned up & drive over. You can just imagine what he looked like…

By the time 3rd period rolled around, he was a zombie. Because guests weren’t allowed to stay in the cadet’s room without the cadet, he had to find someplace else to lie down & rest, just for a bit. After class I went to look for him and found him leaning against a wall, like someone had propped him up and pressed him there.

He felt “iffy” for the next 48 hours, as he sipped soup while WE ate normally.

Little weird things happened the whole time. For example, on Sunday we went to the Academy Chapel where our son runs the PowerPoint program for the 10:00 service. The computer turned itself off four times before staying shut down altogether. A guard almost kept me from going back to sit upstairs with my husband & son after I came down to go to the bathroom.

We drove up & down this one street and never could find the castle we wanted to visit, even with map in hand. (And we really are not dumb people… =)

On our return trip home, we got bumped from our flight out of Colorado Springs and had to RACE up to Denver. There, the check-in lady wouldn’t accept the tickets we’d been given & we had to figure out for ourselves that we had to check in first with the airline that bumped us in order to get the “right” tickets for the new flight. This made us so late that we had to RUN in order to get to the gate on time, and I’m no runner. I wore flat sandals & got shin splints from all the running we did that weekend. I had a margarita once we were in the air, and I never tasted anything so good in my life. We got frisk-searched both flights home, but eventually we DID get home. Man, I love my own bed!!!

disparate appearances

1 Cor. 15:35-38 (The Message Bible)

"Some skeptic is sure to ask, "Show me how resurrection works. Give me a diagram; draw me a picture. What does this 'resurrection body' look like?" Ifyou look at this question closely, you realize how absurd it is. There are no diagrams for this kind of thing. We do have a parallel experience in gardening. You plant a "dead" seed; soon there is a flourishing plant.

There is no visual likeness between seed and plant. You could never guess what a tomato would look like by looking at a tomato seed. What we plant in the soil and what grows out of it don't look anything alike. The dead body that we bury in the ground and the resurrection body that comes from it will be dramatically different."

We think in terms of "the apple doesn't fall far from the tree," or "chip off the old block," or "the spittin' image." We assume and anticipate that the fruit will look much like the fruit it came from. Personally, I've never considered that the fruit I see at the end is the very same exact fruit all along the way. The DNA abides in it and blueprints its entire maturation and lifespan. Its essence is always there.

What I haven't considered is the seed that comes from the fruit being in essence the future fruit itself. It is though! Just like this verse says though, we couldn't guess what the fruit would look like based on the seed. Likewise, I can't guess what the fruit of my words or actions would look like based on what they are because I can't factor in the variables of the soil, the lives, into which they are cast. Some of us are sowers, some are nourishers, some are reapers. We have no idea what our fruits will look like based on what's happening right here in this moment.