Death, taxes, and blueberries

How can you put a price on fresh blueberries from your own garden? And yet, a local nursery specializing in native plants does just that. And it’s quite high — the Yard Boy said it was $35.00.

As he and I stood over the dead stick that is now sticking up out of the ground chiding us with its barrenness, we wondered why we would spend so much money. Worse yet, we neglected to put sulfur on these plants as they grew weaker and weaker over the past year. The leaves were showing signs of needing more acidity in the soil, but we just never got around to applying it. One is still alive and putting out blossoms, the other is beyond hope. Continue reading “Death, taxes, and blueberries”

The only real choice we have

A hopeless philosopher once wrote that the only real choice we have is to kill ourselves or not. This is a philosophy of despair.

Albert Camus believed that life is absurd and makes no sense. As an atheist, he saw the contradictions and suffering. Still, he clung to the will to live, a philosophical version of the shallow sentiment of the song, “Don’t worry, be happy.”

In one sense, however, Camus was exactly right. The only real choice is to embrace death or cling to life. But for those who believe in Jesus Christ, the apparently simple choice holds a paradox. Continue reading “The only real choice we have”

The Christian who dies

“For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better”  (Philippians 1:21-23).

What does Christianity have to say about death? Does the Bible have anything to say that will help us in this, the most characteristic human factor of all, our mortality? Continue reading “The Christian who dies”

The Lord’s treasures

“The pains of death surrounded me, and the pangs of Sheol laid hold of me; I found trouble and sorrow. Then I called upon the name of the Lord; ‘O Lord, I implore you, deliver my soul!’ Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; Yes, our God is merciful. The Lord preserves the simple; I was brought low, and He saved me. … For you have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, and my feet from falling. … Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints” (Psalm 116:3-6, 8, 15 NKJV).

As I visited a family suffering from the death of a newborn child, I wrestled once again with this passage, especially with the oft-quoted verse, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.” Continue reading “The Lord’s treasures”

Victory over death

Over the past two weeks I’ve attended two funerals. The first was a young man who I was privileged to study with after he became a Christian around 10-15 years ago. He was a smart, enthusiastic young man who wanted to serve Jesus. Sadly, he lost his way and took an overdose, as he could not see any reason to continue living.

The second funeral was a woman in her 70s. She, too, became a Christian when she was young along with her husband. She and her husband had several children. Many of these became Christians and are still faithful today along with their spouses. Sadly, she was diagnosed with cancer a few years ago and later had a stroke and pneumonia.

Both funerals were packed with those who mourned the loss of their family and friends. It is not my desire to compare their lives – I am content to leave them in the hands of a just and loving God. Continue reading “Victory over death”

Freed to be a slave

“But thanks be to God that though you were slaves to sin, you obeyed from the heart that pattern of teaching you were entrusted to, and having been freed from sin, you became enslaved to righteousness” (Romans 8:17-18 NET).

The picture the apostle Paul gives us of our lives before becoming a Christian was that we were a slave – we were slaves to sin. The word slavery brings to mind all sorts of negative thoughts due to the history of slavery in the Western World, particularly in the 1800s. A slave was a person who served someone else – totally. What they said to do they had to do, where they said to go they had to go. They served a master who might be cruel or who might be lenient, depending on how he felt. Continue reading “Freed to be a slave”