Take it to heart

I “met” Rob recently through some friends. In the last week we talked on the phone a couple of times and exchanged a few text messages. Rob had a history of addiction and described himself as an agnostic. I was planning to pick someone up for church this evening that was staying at his house and Rob actually invited himself to come to church with us. He talked a lot and he talked super fast so it was sometimes difficult to get a word in, but I was able to briefly share the gospel with Rob. Several times in the last week Rob let me know he was excited about coming to church and I sent him a text message this morning to let him know what time I would be there to pick them up. A little while later I got a phone call that Rob was dead…very possibly an overdose.

I never got to meet Rob in person, but his death has affected me.

We have recently experienced the deaths of several people in our church and although there was sadness, it was tempered with the joy of knowing they were with Jesus. There is nothing to lessen the sorrow of Rob’s death. There is no joy, there is no hope.

Better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for that is the end of all men; and the living will take it to heart. Ecclesiastes 7:2

Take it to heart, you who live. For there are many who are dead while they live….dead in sin and separated from God. The gospel is their only hope. It is the only remedy. But the gospel is not good news to the man who dies without it. So preach it often. Preach it boldly. Preach it that all may live.

Live while you live

From Charles Spurgeon’s “The Wailing of Risca”

There are infidels on earth, but there are none in heaven, and there can be none in hell. They are convinced—convinced by terrible facts—convinced that there is a God while they are crushed beneath his vengeance, and made to tremble at his eternal power. But I pray you, sirs, be not such fools as to live as though your bones were iron and your ribs were brass. Let us not be such madmen as to run as though there were no bounds to our race; let us not play away our precious days as though days were common as sands on a sea shore. That hour-glass yonder contains all the sands of your life. Do you see them running? How swiftly do they empty out! With some of you, the most of the sands are in the bottom bulb of the glass, and there are only a few to go trickling through the narrow passway of its days. Ah! and that glass shall never be turned again; it shall never run a second time for you. Let it once run out and you will die. Oh! live as though you meant to die. Live as though you knew you might die to-morrow. Think as though you might die now, and act this very hour as though I could utter the mandate of death, and summon you to pass through the portals of the tomb.

And then take care, I pray you, that you who do know Christ not only live as though you meant to die, but live while you live. Oh what a work we have to do, and how short the time to do it! Millions of men unconverted yet, and nothing but our feeble voice with which to preach the Word! My soul, shalt thou ever condemn thyself in thy dying moments for having preached too often or too earnestly? No, never. Thou mayest rebuke thy soul, but thou canst never bemoan thy excessive industry. Minister of Christ! in thy dying hour it will never be a theme of reproach to you that you preached ten times in the week, that you stood up every day to preach Christ, and that you so preached that you spent yourself, and wasted your body with weakness. No, it will be our dull sermons that will haunt us on our dying beds, our tearless preaching, our long studyings, when we might have preached better had we come away and preached without them; our huntings after popularity, by gathering together fine words, instead of coming right up, and saying to the people, “Men and women, you are dying, escape for your life and fly to Christ;” preaching to them in red-hot simple words of the wrath to come and of the love of Christ. Oh! there are some of you members of our churches, who are living, but what are you living for? Surely you are not living to get money—that is the worldling’s object. Are you living merely to please yourselves? Why that is but the beast’s delight. Oh! how few there are of the members of our churches who really live for God with all their might. Do we give to God as much as we give to our own pleasures? Do we give Christ’s service as much time as we give to many of our trifling amusements? Why, we have professional men of education, men of excellent training and ability, who when they once get into a church, feel that they could be very active anywhere else, but as Christians they have nothing to do. They can be energetic in parish vestries or in the rifle corps, but in the church they give their name, but their energies are dormant. Ah! my dear hearers, you who love the Saviour, when we shall come before Christ in heaven, if there can be a regret, it will be that we did not do more for Christ while we were here. I think as we fall down before his feet and worship him, if we could know a sorrow, it would be because we did not bring him in more jewels for his crown—did not seek more to feed the hungry, or to clothe the naked—did not give more to his cause, and did not labour more that the lost sheep of the house of Israel might be restored. Live while you live; while it is called to-day, work, for the night cometh wherein no man can work.

Oh, my brothers and sisters in Christ, if sinners will be damned, at least let them leap to hell over our bodies; and if they will perish, let them perish with our arms about their knees, imploring them to stay, and not madly to destroy themselves. If hell must be filled, at least let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go there unwarned and unprayed for.

When tomorrow doesn’t come

A couple of months ago a Hospice chaplain who attends my church gave me the name and number of a lady who had been in Hospice care and had partially recovered.  Rebecca required physical therapy and was not able to get around very well.  She had no family in town and had always welcomed the chaplain’s visits.  She was not hostile towards the gospel, but had not received Christ.  I was hopeful that I would be able to meet her, show her the love of Christ, and share the gospel with her.  We had several telephone conversations and I made several attempts to schedule a time to go visit her.  Each time, the plans had to be abandoned.   My life became a bit chaotic and I lost touch with Rebecca.  I thought about her occasionally, wondering how she was doing.  I’d make a mental note to get in touch with her and try again to go visit.  But life does have a tendency to get busy, and I forgot. 

At church Wednesday, this Hospice chaplain told me that Rebecca was in the hospital.  He said she was dying.  For some reason, it didn’t really sink in.   All the people he deals with are dying, and most of them suffer from some type of terminal illness and they linger for some time.  I made plans to go visit Rebecca in the hospital Friday after work.

I got a call Friday morning – Rebecca had died sometime during the night.  There was no indication that she had turned to Christ before her death.

This was a sobering reminder that tomorrow doesn’t always come. 

.6 miles from murder

Yesterday morning at 4:35 AM there was a double murder .6 miles from my house.  I was in my house reading my Bible at 4:35 AM while those 2 souls were crossing into eternity right down the street.  There’s something quite unsettling about knowing this.

2 weeks ago, a 28 year old man jumped (or fell) from the top of the 10 story building that I work in.

All around us, everyone we see is potentially moments away from death.  It is a very sobering thought.  And it certainly underscores the importance of being faithful to share the gospel.

We must work the works of Him who has sent us while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work. (John 9:4)