Newsletter February, 2004


February, 2004

Life and Death

Please read John 5:25, I John 2:25, Revelation 21:4, 11, 23, 27, and I Corinthians 15:55.

Thank God that He provides for us homes. When I finished a business travel, it was such a joy to come home, because home is where one experiences warmth and joy. Christians are blessed with a heavenly home which God prepares for us when this flesh dies.

Life and death are two simple words, but with such a deep meaning. Chinese people do not like to mention "death". Even Confucius did not know the meaning of life or death. As a result, many Chinese do not have a will. The Christians are exceptional, because they know where life comes from and where they would go after death.

When in Asia, I noticed many people who exercised in the morning in order to achieve good health. But life is full of sufferings, and death is unavoidable. Nothing is more certain than death! To unbelievers death is the end, the eternal farewell. When I went back to Taiwan, my parents were always happy to see me at the airport. But when they bid me goodbye at my departure, they were sorrowful. How much worse is the "goodbye" at death? But we are marching toward death from the day we werr born. To the believers death is only a process. After death, we shall one day meet again in heaven. With this hope we shall not be too heart-breaking.

We may consider death from three aspects of "never":

(1) The footsteps of death never stops. When you feel that time flies away,it is because death is approaching. If there is no death, we will live forever, and we would not care if we lose a couple of days. When we get to heaven to enjoy the eternal life, death will lose its meaning. Once I returned from Europe, the plane flew by Manhattan and Long Island. I thought about my mother-in-law who was buried there. Life seems so short and is like a dream. Last September our family made a trip to Gainesville. I went there to study in 1979 and graduated in 1985. I therefore took the kids back to where we lived before. I seemed to see a young student on the bike, returning from the classes full of hope and vigor. But time does not stop, nor does death. Although many of yesterday's dreams have already come true, where will life lead me?

(2) Death is never known in its timing. It is actually God's grace that we do not know, otherwise we will be waiting for the moment of death. What a severe punishment that will be! The unknown includes what happens afterward, and where the destination is. After this life there is the life to come. The Lord has prepared a better home for us. That is a glorious hope.

(3) Death can never be avoided. This is the greatest tragedy of life. The poor, the rich, the honor or the simple will all go to death. Many philosophers saw through this fact and ended their own lives in suicide. Hemingway wrote "The Old Man and the Sea", the story of a courageous fisherman. But he ended up killing himself as well. There are those who do not understand death and only know the immediate pleasures of this life. Unfortunately, they often made wrong choices of life and fell in the trap of sin and lust. Romans 7:19 clearly states that there is no goodness in us but a sinful nature.

Thanks be to God that there are another type who views life positively. Knowing the limited time they have on this earth, they use every moment to glorify God and to help others. They look forward to the heavenly home and are not attached to the earthly things. Their lives are hidden with Christ in God, and one day they will appear with Him in glory.

The Bible talks about the hope we have because of our faith in Christ:

(1) We shall meet in heaven when Christ returns. There will be a great shout and the trumpet of God. The dead in the Lord will rise first, and the living will be caught in the air. The unbelieving will appear before the judgement throne. Their names are not in the book of life, and they will be thrown in the lake of fire.

(2) Those whose names are in the book of life will enter the new Jerusalem to be present in the glory of God. There we shall have the eternal life and God will erase our tears. There is no more death, nor sorrow or pain. The former is all passed away.

(3) We have eternal life and are not threatened by death or sorrow. Believing that the Lord has prepared a place for us, we can proclaim, "Death, Where is the power of your victory? where is your sting?" Death is not a terminal but a door which leads to that beautiful and eternal dwelling place. May we sing "where Jesus is it is heaven!" (JJ)

The Last Encouragment

Huei was my highschool classmate. During the past 27 years we kept in touch through letters, and only met twice. They moved to Paris in 1979, and ten years ago she told me that she acquired breast cancer. The last Christmas card was written by her husband, who told us that her condition was serious, just waiting to be taken home by the Lord. I felt so bad that I did not visit her during those ten years. When I called her home, her husband indicated that she was about ready, and asked me to talk to her. She could only listen but could not speak.

After my prayer in sorrow, the Lord opened the way for me to go to Paris on Dec. 31. Rushing to the hospital, I told her that I came to see her, but she was already in a coma. At 8 PM her husband asked me to leave because the visiting hours had passed. Around 3 AM of the New Year Day, her son called from the hospital to say that she was gone. I blamed myself, "why didn't I come earlier to see her?" Then I saw a note she left for me on Dec. 23, asking me to write her eulogy, telling me to repent and not to be sorry for her since she is going to the Father. She quoted John 16:16 to comfort me, believing that the separation was temporary.

I stayed in Paris till the funeral was over. Her husband showed me Huei's diary and her Bible. From her record and the conversation with other visitors I could tell that she was a faithful Christian. She followed God and loved man. She led many people to Christ. Even at the last momnet, she encouraged me to turn back to God. I treasured the notes she made in her Bible and kept reading it. I never read that much Bible before in my whole life. In her life I could see that the Lord chose her to bear long-lasting fruits (John 15:16-17). She is now gone, but her fruits stay. She continues to speak in my heart to lead me into the light of God.

We studied in a Christian highschool, so were familiar with the term "God's will". I asked God what His will was for me. I was once baptized and married into a Christian family. I take my son to church and he was baptized as well. But, am I a true Christian? Considering that I still love the world and live my own way, I do not hear God's voice in my life. When I come to church, I sit in the last pew and never participated in any services. God used Huei to show me that she had walked the second mile so to bear fruits. But I am still on the first mile and wasting my time. When judgement comes, how am I going to face God?

Thank God that through Huei He warns me and asks me to repent according to His will. Jeremiah 29:11-13 says that god desires for us to receive peace instead of affliction, so that we may have hope in the last days. The prophet said that if we call upon God, He will answer. If we seek Him only, He will be found. If we obey His word, He will give us peace and joy.

When I first arrived in Paris, I was annoyed and upset at myself. But as the days progressed, my sorrow turned to joy and thanksgiving. God had His plan for me, and accourding to His time He prepared for me to receive what Huei had labored for me. They told me that it rarely snowed in Paris. The day she left was the New Year's Day and it snowed. The fresh snow was so pure and beautiful, as if God was promising me a new beginning. Through out the whole event, I truly see God's hand. I can only offer myself to Him, commiting to obey His plan for me. Phil. 4:6-7 told me of the peace that passes all understanding in Christ Jesus. I will get ready so that He can use me. I thank God for this experience and for allowing me to testify before you. May the Spirit illuminate each one: If you have not believed yet, come quickly to Jesus. If you have believed but remain on the first mile, begin the second mile even now! (Irene)