PODCAST: The Church and the Trajectory of Life, Part 2 (Preparing for the Inevitable Episode #76 with Daniel Whyte III)

Welcome to Episode #76 of Preparing for the Inevitable – A Podcast on How to Handle Trouble, Suffering, Pain, and Death.

I am your host, Daniel Whyte III, president of Gospel Light Society International. This podcast will help you get ready to face the inevitable unpleasant things that will happen in your life — things like trouble, suffering, sickness, and death — the death of people you love and your own death. Trouble, suffering, and death are common threads that run throughout all of humanity. They are inescapable. You will never meet a person who has not, is not, or will not experience these terrible things in life. Yet, we attempt to hide from these inevitabilities, to pretend they don’t exist or that they won’t happen to us. Our world is filled with news of people dying, children suffering, entire government systems and organizations enduring trouble and turmoil, but we tend to see these as things that only happen to “other people” and never to us. Trouble, suffering, and death come equally to all people, of all races, from every socio-economic status, of every religion, in every country of the world. It makes us all equal. This podcast will show you how to accept these realities of life, and not just cope, but face trouble, suffering, and death in your own life and in the world with confidence, courage, class, and most of all, with faith, hope, and charity.

The Bible says in Psalm 71:17-18: “O God, thou hast taught me from my youth: and hitherto have I declared thy wondrous works. Now also when I am old and greyheaded, O God, forsake me not; until I have shewed thy strength unto this generation, and thy power to every one that is to come.”

The featured quote for this episode is from George Sweeting. He said, “Experts in aging make a distinction between passive aging and purposeful aging. Successful, purposeful aging calls for continued involvement, relationships, discipline, and an attitude of faith.”

Our topic for today is titled “The Church and the Trajectory of Life, Part 2” from the book, “The Art of Dying: Living Fully into the Life to Come” by Rob Moll.

I realize again what a precious time of life I enjoy now. At a funeral earlier this year, I saw children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, plus a number of friends gathered around the grave of a beloved old man. While we mourned, we also appreciated what he brought to the world, and that was most directly seen in his family. Measuring my days at the graveside, I saw that what he had completed so beautifully, I have only just begun. Tears came to my eyes as I watched my daughter lift a rose and, with the seriousness only a three-year-old can offer, place it on his coffin.

Friesen’s church helps the congregation reflect on life’s continuum by marking significant points in member’s lives. At every stage in life the church offers ministries, relationships and services. But for significant milestones the church combines a service or ritual with a gift or other tangible marker. At a birth or adoption the baby is dedicated during the service and a red rose is placed on the pulpit. Beginning in third grade, children have presentations during worship, and at the first, they receive a Bible with inscriptions from members of the church. At twelve, children receive a mentor, an adult member of the church who is a nonparental source of guidance, wisdom and companionship. This also creates valuable intergenerational relationships. The church marks other milestones when a young person makes the decision to become a Christian, when someone joins the church as a member, at high school graduation, marriage, mission trips and retirement.

At death a member is remembered in a funeral, and again on All Saints’ Day. Throughout the year a plaque hangs on a wall in the sanctuary, inscribed with the names of members who have passed away. Every year, on the All Saints’ Day service the church remembers those who have died that year. A young person stands beside the plaque and reads aloud the new names that have been added that year, members who have now joined the eternal communion of saints.

While these are official markers, the church has other ways of fostering a vision for life with God throughout life’s stages. The testimonies of church members provide a chance for individuals to reflect on their own lives and share that with the congregation. “People at various stages of life give us a vision for own life at that stage,” says Friesen. After Friesen’s own grandmother died, at age ninety-nine, he was particularly struck by the usefulness of testimonies from older members. “My grandmother’s influence on me started when she was eighty-nine and extended to ninety-nine. In the eyes of our culture, she’s a useless person. But her most productive time in my life was her final ten years.” This is something that everyone approaching or in retirement needs to hear, Friesen says. “You think nobody’s paying attention” because of your age. “Think again. You can have a tremendous impact on people in your final decades. And you’re going to have more of them than you think.” A major job for the church, Friesen says, is to “give people a vision for the good life in the seasons of fall and winter.”

On occasion, the congregation takes a look at itself during a service. Once, a worship leader asked groups of people to stand according to age, while the rest of the church applauded or otherwise recognized the group at this place in life. As the age groups grew older, fewer and fewer people stood up. When finally the oldest members of the church were standing and had been recognized, the worship leader then asked the children to stand again. As the congregation looked at the oldest and youngest among them, all could see clearly the link between the two groups as the oldest, who have spent a lifetime as caretakers of the church, pass on their work and their faith to those two or three generations younger.

“At each step in life, we’re trying to give this sense of the with-God life,” Friesen says. And when that life nears its end, its posture toward God has never really changed. “God is still with us,” as he has been throughout our lives, “right to our final breath.”

If the Lord tarries His Coming and we live, we will begin looking at “Eternal Presence” in our next podcast.

Let’s Pray —

Dear friend, please understand that after you die, you will be ushered into one of two places to spend eternity, Heaven or Hell. Here’s how you can be sure that you will not go to hell and suffer eternal damnation forever and rather have a home in Heaven when you die. The Bible says, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.” Here’s how you can be saved from sin and hell and have a home in Heaven when you die in more detail.

1. Accept the fact that you are a sinner, and that you have broken God’s law. The Bible says in Ecclesiastes 7:20: “For there is not a just man upon earth that doeth good, and sinneth not.” Romans 3:23 reads: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” In fact, I am the chief of sinners, so don’t think that you’re alone.

2. Accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. The Bible states in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…”

3. Accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” The Bible says in Revelation 21:8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”

4. Accept the fact that you cannot do anything to save yourself! The Bible states in Ephesians 2: 8, 9: “For by grace are ye saved through faith: and that not of yourselves: it is a gift of God. Not of works, lest any man should boast.”

5. Accept the fact that God loves you more than you love yourself, and that He wants to save you from hell. Jesus Christ said in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

6. With these facts in mind, please repent of your sins, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and pray and ask Him to come into your heart and save you this very moment. The Bible states in the book of Romans 10:9, 13: “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”

“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Dear friend, if you are willing to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation, please pray with me this simple prayer: Heavenly Father, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I now believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.

If you believed in your heart that Jesus Christ died on the cross, was buried, and rose again, allow me to say, congratulations on doing the most important thing in life and that is accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour! For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light Society.com and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door”. Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”