Monday, July 6, 2009

Dropping Like Celebrities

Roll was called recently and a great number of celebrities went from "here" to absent: Farrah Fawcett, Michael Jackson, Ed McMahon, Billy Mays, Karl Malden, Fred Travalena, and Steve McNair. All of them died within days of each other.

We could categorize their deaths with various adverbs: Some died valliantly. Others died mysteriously. One died tragically. But the adverbs we most often hear at this time are "expectedly" and "unexpectedly."

The world may have expected a few on that list to die. Farrah, Ed, and Fred battled long illnesses. Karl was pushing 100. But the others were a complete shock. Michael died in bed with a doctor nearby. Billy died a few hours after receiving a slight bump on his head. Steve was brutally murdered.

But is death ever unexpected? Everyone dies...eventually. None of the founding fathers of our nation are still getting mail. All the old Pharaohs have entered their mummy clothes and pyramids. The Huns have all ended their pillaging. Any sign of Billy the Kid? Sir Walter Raleigh? Julius Casaer? Even George Burns eventually smoked one too many Sir Walter Raleighs.

Death is never unexpected. The date and time of a person's death may catch us by surprise, but death itself is written into everyone's calendar.

The Bible makes an exclusive claim: "It is appointed unto men once to die..." (Hebrews 9:27, KJV). The Psalmist asked a rhetorical question: "What man can live and not see death?" (Psalm 89:48). We know the answer.

Death is an inevitable chapter of life. But it isn't the end of the story. There have been a lot of soft words and phrases attached to death to make it more palatable. My least favorite one is "expired." Sounds too much like a gallon of milk or a credit card.

"Passing" is a better word for death. Not just because I will finally be able to "pass" something, but because "passing" paints a more accurate picture. Since death is not the end, it is then a transition. It is a passing from one place to another. It is leaving the land of clocks, calendars, and aging to enter the land of eternity.

Death itself may not be optional, but the route you take after death is. While your loved ones are asking, "Why?" you'll be facing a different kind of "Y." You will go in one of two directions.

Before you die, you have a choice to make. There are important plans you need to make. I'm not talking about funeral arrangements or cemetery plots. I'm talking about reservations.

Where you will spend eternity is a choice you need to make before your name is called. Your choice is heaven or hell. If you want to go to heaven, you have to choose Jesus Christ while you're on earth.

Everyone will want Jesus after their first second in hell.

In spite of what Oprah and Obama say, the Bible says there is only one way to heaven --- through Jesus. Jesus had this to say about that: "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me" (John 14:6).

I only shared half of each verse from Hebrews 9:27 and Psalm 89:48. The Hebrews passage finishes by saying, "...but after this, the judgment." Judgment is as inevitable as death. We are all guilty because we've all sinned against God. The rest of Psalm 89:48 asks, "Can he deliver his life from the power of the grave?" The answer is --- you and I can't, but Jesus can!

Jesus is the only one to conquer death. He died in our place to pay for our sins. Having finalized that payment, He then rose from the dead. Death couldn't hold Him. And now...death can't hold those who've placed themselves in Jesus' hands by faith in His atoning death.

Fred Travelena may be the least recognized name on the list of celebrities who have recently died. Fred was a celebrity impersonator. You and I will one day impersonate these celebrities, too. We, too, will die. Expectedly.

Shouldn't you make the necessary arrangements?

Author Relatively Unknown,
Perry Crisp

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