Friday, August 19, 2011

The Challenge and The Invitation

The night my friend (we'll call her Dee) told us about her husband's (we'll call him John) tumor and diagnosis, she also told us of the vision he already had in his mind to turn the focus off of his illness and onto Christ. Instead of worrying about him and just praying for his healing, he challenged every man who would listen to him to get on his knees and pray out loud with his wife for the sake of their family. He spoke at his church, presented the challenge on his Caringbridge site and it was even written about in the local paper. He really believed that if men would get on their knees and lead their families in prayer, it would make a real difference in homes, churches and communities.

It wasn't until I was sitting the room packed with people who knew John, that I realized what the challenge meant. Christ has filled his heart with love for others and just like Christ he didn't not want any to perish. He invested in people's lives in tangible ways; kids he coached, patients in his practice, the kids at homeschool gym, couples in his church. The way John stopped by and visited Mike at work once John was unable to work showed his great love for our family.

The room was not only filled with people who loved John, but people that John loved. Loved with the love of Christ that is eternal and sacrificial. John's pastor did a wonderful job of expressing how John felt toward each and every one of us in the room. John didn't want us to worry about him. He knew where he was going and that it was a wonderful place but that he desparately wanted us to join him there. He believed that if any of his friends or family, or strangers for that matter, came to know the love of Christ and the hope of heaven as a result of his illness it would, all be worth it.

That's what makes John's passing such a great loss. He lived his life with love for others and a hope for their eternal future. He was not a man of many words but lived his life in action. However, he took the opportunities his illness presented to share words of love, life and truth. Here are a couple of posts from his Caringbridge site. The first one that he wrote last fall. The second is written by Dee. It's the words he struggled to share during his last weeks of life.

Thursday, November 4, 2010
I’ve been meaning to share this with friends and every time I try, I can’t seem to get it out, so I thought I would write it down. You could say this is my testimony. I have always known Jesus Christ as Savior of the world, but I hadn’t made Him “Lord” of my life until about eight years ago. After coming back from a mission trip to Ecuador I said a prayer asking Jesus to be Lord of my life, to come into my heart, and fill me with the Holy Spirit. I didn’t feel any different right away, but I noticed after that if I heard a dirty joke, or someone swore I would be saddened and disgusted. That had never happened before so I know it wasn’t me who was saddened and disgusted but Jesus who was in me. I was truly born again. If you want to read about being born again read John chapter 3.

Romans 10: 9 “That if you confess with your mouth that “Jesus is Lord” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” I found out that it wasn’t enough to know Jesus as Savoir only, but “Lord and Savior”. Making Jesus the Lord of my Life is trying to please Him every day with my words and actions and reading His word and trying to obey it. I am far from perfect but I am trying.

After making Jesus Lord of my life, I also felt a real peace. I was sure I was saved and that I would go to heaven someday. I thought I knew this before but now I was really sure. I want each one of you reading this, my friends and family, to know this peace and joy of salvation. I also want to see you in heaven someday. So please consider praying like I did, read John chapter 3, and make Jesus Christ “Lord and Savior” of your life.
Thanks again for all the prayers, I really appreciate them.
God Bless,

Sunday, August 7, 2011
Several weeks ago John worked hard to give me the words he wanted to share at his Home Going Celebration.

They included:
1) I want to go home (heaven)
2) Adventure
3) Joyful
4) Invite

With gestures, head nods and scarce words, he carefully worked me through the message that he is going home, it will be joyful and that it has been an adventure that began the day he allowed Jesus to make a home in his life. He wants to invite you all to join him in this adventure and to ultimately to join him in his heavenly home. He was also very clear that he wanted everyone to be warned that hell was for real and that heaven was the better option. He had me repeat the main ideas, not once, but three times, saying "perfect" when each repetition. So, these words could be considered John's last loving words to each of you who have been so lovingly concerned for him. John's initial desire to have couples pray together was called "John's Challenge". This challenge could be called "John's Home Going Invitation".

I want to live my life the way John lived. I want the people I come in contact with to know they are loved deeply not only by me but by God their Creator and Jesus their Savior.