PODCAST: Precious In The Sight of the Lord Is the Death of His Saints

Whether I live or die, I'm ready.

Whether I live or die, I’m ready.

Today is the fourteenth anniversary of my father’s death.

Fourteen years.

It seems like yesterday.

As a pastor, I have heard people say, “I’m afraid to die” numerous times. I’ve felt it myself, when I was younger. But I never heard my dad say those words. He was not afraid to die.

Years before his death when he had his very first heart attack, I arrived at the hospital moments before they took him in for surgery. They stopped long enough for me to tell him I was praying for him. His face, taped with a tube coming from his nose, was marked with a relaxed expression of calm.

And his words brought peace to my anxious mind: “Whatever is before me, I am ready. Whether I live or die, it’s okay.”

I miss him every day, but I’d never wish him back. I wonder if they serve cake in heaven on the anniversary of your arrival.

How can we all face death like dad did? This podcast gives some answers.


One of my great temptations is to compartmentalize my life — to separate the holy from the everyday. I remember doing this when I was a kid, riding the tractor around the field in the monotony of cutting grass or raking hay. I would sing songs as I went, making sure that for every secular tune I sang, I would sing a religious one. There is nothing wrong with this practice, but the problem was that I began to give God parts of my time instead of recognizing all my time came from and therefore belonged to him.

I’ve found that this tendency to compartmentalize is common to Christians; and I fear that church culture actually encourages it. People have their church clothes and their normal clothes. People have a church vocabulary and they have their common vocabulary. People have their church friends and their other friends. Separation of the secular from the sacred betrays the fact that we are reserving part of our life for ourselves. We can justify this practice by drawing comfort from the fact that at least our church life is sacred.

In his unique style, Frederick Buechner helps us see the folly in this. He writes:

A sacrament is when something holy happens. It is transparent time, time which you can see through to something deep inside time.

Generally speaking, Protestants have two official sacraments (the Lord’s Supper, Baptism) and Roman Catholics these two plus five others (Confirmation, Penance, Extreme Unction, Ordination, and Matrimony). In other words, at such milestone moments as seeing a baby baptized or being baptized yourself, confessing your sins, getting married, dying, you are apt to catch a glimpse of the almost unbearable preciousness and mystery of life.

Needless to say, church isn’t the only place where the holy happens. Sacramental moments can occur at any moment, any place, and to anybody. Watching something get born. Making love. A high-school graduation. Somebody coming to see you when you’re sick. A meal with people you love. Looking into a stranger’s eyes and finding out he’s not a stranger.

If we weren’t blind as bats, we might see that life itself is sacramental. (Frederick Buechner, Wishful Thinking, London: Collins, 1973, p.82-83.)

I think if we could take off the bat-eyes, and see with an eye toward eternity, we could overcome this tendency to separate our lives into Christian and secular events. Then we could really say, with Paul, For me, to live is Christ (Philippians 1:21).


An Easter Sermon – Are You Still in the Tomb?

As a pastor, I see many people who are unhappy: some who I interact with in my hometown; some who visit my church; some who regularly attend my church. Just go read some random posts on social networking sites and you can see it. Many people are desperately unhappy.

Most often their unhappiness is linked to the darkness they expose themselves to. It grieves me how many people seem to either live in darkness or play with it.

The Bible teaches that Jesus is the Light of the World. It teaches that he can bring light to your life. If you’re wondering how that can happen, check out this sermon.

Download the mp3 here or stream the mp3 here.

Sermon notes are available by request.