Dreading Headstones

I’ve been subconsciously, and even more recently, purposely dreading writing this, and by the end of this, you’ll feel it too. It started almost a year ago, I guess, and this picture sets this thought in stone quite appropriately:

Not the actual tombstone

Almost a year ago, our son Oliver passed away (no, this post isn’t entirely about that event, but more about the emotions surrounding it). Someone blessed us with money to pay those dreadful hospital bills related to Oliver’s birth and passing, and we even had just enough money leftover for the tombstone.

So, last March, we reluctantly stepped into a local funeral home after consulting several others to compare cost, and the funeral director, giving us a discount, expected us to return and place an order for Ollie’s headstone.

Except we never showed up.

Sure, we talked about it some, every now and then, saying, “Oh, we still have that money for the headstone in our safe. We should take care of that” and things of that sort.

Yet gloominess must have slightly set in, as I chose not to get the headstone. At one point, I thought, “What’s the point?”

In the gray skies of early 2018, I went to the funeral home to have the contract drawn up.

Talking with one of the head guys there, he revealed the reason why many people erroneously wait to get a tombstone and the detriment behind it:

Tombstones provide closure, and some people want the wound to stay open.

Don’t get me wrong: nowhere in my wildest thoughts would I ever want to keep thinking of the searing pain of losing a second son. But, subconsciously, isn’t it easier to deal with pain by stuffing it away, keeping the tombstones of our pain off the growing grass of our hearts?

So, I shared with Mary the reason I had reluctance in acquiring the headstone this whole time… only to wait a couple more weeks afterward to actually pay for and execute the contract.

You and I aren’t too different, you know?

We both stuff our pain, keeping the tombstones away from the grass in our lives.

That’s not healthy.

We should have our sketch back for approval soon, and then the tombstone will be delivered, and there it will sit, right next to Alex’s, our first son, and maybe then I’ll be able to get closure.

Question is, what are you afraid of facing, giving your fears prime property among the grassy knolls of your heart and mind? Friend, may I encourage you today? Let’s lay those fears to rest.

Rest In Peace, fear.


Why Hell Is Scary

Do you know why hell is scary? It’s not the pain, it’s not the torture or burning in a lake of fire. It’s because it’s forever.

Michael Westin, character on USA’s “Burn Notice”

Shaken, Not Stirred

There seems to have been a lot of earthquakes recently. In fact, as I write this, one with a magnitude of 5.1 was reported in the Palau region of Asia. Recently, it seems as if the world is shaken…


…but not stirred.

Think about it: just this week, two quakes in the US (Virginia and the “other” one), one in Peru (which is pictured above), and one in Asia.

Not a big deal, considering about 1,319 earthquakes with a magnitude of at least 5.0 happen annually.

But when you do some research, you find that a 5.0 rating produces considerable damage, similar to that of a tornado.
INsERT link to graph

That’s like 1,319 tornadoes a year. And that’s not even including earthquakes that hit with higher magnitudes.

Here are some stats you may want to know:
In the last week, there have been 133 earthquakes in North America.
In the last week, there have been 235 earthquakes worldwide.
In the last week, Vanuatu has been hit by 16 hard earthquakes.
In the last week, the earthquake that hit Peru measured 7.0.
Last year, 320,159 people died due to earthquakes.

Here’s my point: we are shaken, but not stirred.

People are concerned about Will and Jada (possibly) divorcing, Jay-Z coming out with a new record, and a proposed $155million theme park centered on Noah’s Ark.

But there are people dying.
There are cities toppling.
There are major nations facing potential economic collapse.

Yet, you and I both know that this is how it’s going to be before the End.

6 And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are but the beginning of the birth pains. Matthew 24:6-8, ESV

I’m not saying the end is at hand, but the end is a lot closer than it was last century.

The Apostle Peter tells us that the end is near (1 Peter 4:7).

My thoughts?

Live with the end in mind.

Dying To Escape Starvation

19 When you are harvesting in your field and you overlook a sheaf, do not go back to get it. Leave it for the alien, the fatherless and the widow, so that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. 20 When you beat the olives from your trees, do not go over the branches a second time. Leave what remains for the alien, the fatherless and the widow. 21 When you harvest the grapes in your vineyard, do not go over the vines again. Leave what remains for the alien, the fatherless and the widow. Deuteronomy 24:19-21

This, James the Just says, is religion that God accepts as pure and faultless.

Yet, why do I get a Tweet today from BBC that looks like this:

400,000 children.

Dying of starvation.

Basically, 400,000 children dying of something preventable.

The BBC has a great 2-minute video worth watching that brings awareness to those dying to escape starvation. But the line in there that resonates so deeply within me says, “Priority number one is to save lives.”

Mogadishu will make you cry.

People are dying of something preventable.

But this isn’t new news, is it? Although this is the first time this news story has crossed my radar, it’s been going on for months and months. The Huffington Post has a few articles on it, one dating back to July 10th, with a very heart-wrenching story of how a woman watched three of her children die while making the trek to a refugee camp. Three.

An article from the Guardian UK from just a few days ago says, “Parents [do] not know what to do with their malnourished children.”

Alex Perry, a TIME correspondent, writes, “The difference between a drought and a famine is down to man.” Essentially, this is a very man-made disaster.

So, what can we do? What will you do?

UPDATE: The ONE campaign is asking for your help. They aren’t asking for your money; they’re asking for your voice. Let’s help meet the needs of the poor and needy.

Born This Way

I’ve heard the song. I’ve read the lyrics. And I’ve seen a “Glee” special about it. But let me assure you, we have some incorrect thoughts about the way we are born.

Wrong thoughts about how we’re born:

Oh wait, that second one is somewhat right. But instead of being “genetically predisposed” to a morally corrupt lifestyle, we are “spiritually predisposed” to a morally corrupt lifestyle.

A long time ago, God created Man. They were in perfect friendship/community with one another. God walked and talked with Man. But, then Man sinned. The first humans broke the trust and relationship they had with the One who created them.

A perfect, holy, just, set apart God cannot be around anything that is not perfect, holy, just, and set apart. And so God cast humans from the Garden, from the very presence of God. From the presence of perfection.

This becomes a big deal when we think about this both logically and spiritually:

The perfect mold became broken, and so everything passing through it is broken and in need of rescue and repair as well.

That’s the way we were born: depraved.

You’re not “on the right track, baby.”

David Platt writes,

  • We have rejected God’s Word.
  • We have spurned God’s authority.
  • We have denied God’s character.
  • Our minds are blinded.
  • Our emotions are disordered.
  • Our bodies are defiled.
  • Our wills are distorted.
  • Our relationships are broken.
  • We are slaves to sin.
  • And we are perishing.

That is not the right track.

We are sinfully sick.

We are spiritually dead.

We are destined for hell.

(David Platt, Crucifixion, Salvation, and the Glory of God, Nashville: Lifeway, 2011. Pages 28-33).