Just a Thought

                                         

                                       Rev. A. Linford

WAR OF THE ROSES

“I am the Rose of Sharon” – Song of Solomon 2:1 

I am a Yorkshireman, our emblem is a white rose, symbolic of the ancient struggle beaten the houses of York and Lancaster. Sad for me, for my favourite rose-colour is red. But the war of the Roses is over. It ended in a marriage. But roses remind us of a higher realm of anion. The lover in Solomon’s song calls himself a rose. We are led from this to think of Jesus, the love of our heart and the Lover of our Soul.

Fragrant beauty: A rose, especially as cultivated by skilful horticulturists, is a thing of beauty. But its presence is not only a feast of the eyes, its perfume is an olfactory delight. So our Lord: He is beautiful in character, blameless in reputation. His very name is sweet to our hearing, precious to our contemplation.

Fearful battles. And yet the red and white roses of Lancaster and York were symbols of furious conflict. So with our Lord: His conflict with Satan and sin on our behalf was costly and cruel: He died to save us. But He won through, and now lives, our glorious Victor, in Heaven, where one day we shall join Him.

Fantastic bravery: No earthly rose is without a thorn. Our Lord was associated with the thorn of conflict but with courage and strength He faced the pains of suffering and death on our account. And now our Heavenly Rose is the only one without a thorn. The Rose of Sharon is the symbol of love that gives, love that lives, for us sinners, love that triumphs over evil.

                                    

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THE RUNNING THING

By Rev. David Hind

 

David is now the minister of Trinity Church Leicester and his articles have been greatly appreciated.

 

My son Tom found a website where you can create your own logo on a t-shirt. In a moment of enthusiasm I asked him to design me something to wear at the gym that would talk about my faith. When it arrived, it said on the back of the shirt in large black letters, following Jesus, who are you following?” The next day, as I stood in the changing room at the gym, I had a crisis of confidence. What would people say? Why did I have this idea? How could I face my son if I never wore the t-shirt? I put the shirt on, felt compelled to walk to the front running machine, and ran for thirty minutes, realising that maybe fifty people behind could read the directly worded message.

 

Completely self-conscious, I wore the shirt for many visits, and although I never had a conversation directly because of it, I was deeply challenged by it. When the shirt was ruined due to an unfortunate “accident” with paint I was, to be honest, delighted.

 

I love running and aim to jog 4-5 times a week.

We all run in life.

What do you run after?

 

Things?

 

We all need a home and we all need food and clothing. Whether rich or poor, we all must be wise stewards of what God gives to us. Material things aren’t wrong but to run after them is.

 

Money?

 

Bank statements reveal our passions and priorities. Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” – Matthew 6:21. Money is not wrong – to run after it is.

 

Pleasure?

 

We live in a pleasure seeking generation where people demand their ‘rights”, strive for “me time” and where fast-food and every kind of entertainment abound. Pause and ask yourself, “Do I need a pleasure moment’ to find happiness? Am I restless unless I am doing something or going somewhere? Am I content?” Pleasure is not wrong – to run after it is.

 

Success?

 

John Ruskin said, “‘When a man is wrapped up in himself he makes a pretty small package.” To have little can be hard to cope with, but to have abundance can be even harder. Success is a drug that can lead to self-dependence and disaster if our character does not keep pace with our achievement. Jesus said, “He who is least among you all – he is the greatest” (Luke 9:48). Success is not wrong – to run after it is.

 

The race

 

Paul the apostle, near the end of his life, said, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith”- 2 Timothy 4:7. Jesus has a race for each of us to run and to run His race is the purpose of our lives.

 

Live for a higher goal, God’s “well done” and refuse to b distracted by a temporary crown or pleasure.

 

                                                You have one life – run for Him.

 

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THE BOUNDARIES THING

By Rev. David Hind

 

When Samuel was young he was an escapologist. Without warning he would disappear and this led to some interesting moments. Once we found him in a barrel of water up to his neck and another time in a bog up to his waist. Then there was the time he disappeared after Sunday lunch to go and spend his 20p pocket money on a ride on the electric horse outside the local Post Office. He was four and the whole family searched with growing anxiety until he was met returning across the village green. Without doubt, God preserved his life on a number of occasions.

 

At home we had the most fun. He could escape from the garden in a moment and eventually we had to make the whole of our back garden “Samuel proof”. It may have looked a bit excessive but for us it created a place of safety. The boundaries brought security.

 

Psalm 16 is a fantastic passage in the Bible.

 

·   We can find refuge in the protection of God (v.1)

·       We can know security in our relationship with God (v.2)

·       We can receive inspiration from the people of God (v.3)

 ·   We can show gratitude for the provision of God (v.5) We can live fulfilled and safe in the plan of God   (v.5)

Then we come to verse 6:

 

The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.”

 

So the boundary thing…

 

Boundaries release our potential

 

God’s plans are the best for us. We can reach our potential and live a fulfilled, successful, dynamic life as we live within His boundaries. We may not have everything we want, but He will ensure we have everything we need.

 

Boundaries bring security

 

They provide protection and keep predators out. All of us are more secure when we know the boundaries. When we instigate accountability and openness, because of our desire to live in God’s boundaries, we position ourselves in a secure place.

 

Boundaries bring discipline

 

With boundaries, we learn to live within our limits and be structured and efficient. Boundaries can feel restrictive, but in the long run they liberate us. Grace tells us we are loved and forgiven and cannot earn God’s mercy. Boundaries tell us that we choose not to take this grace for granted.

 

Boundaries bring joy

 

They help us to live an ordered, non-chaotic life in which we can know peace and fulfillment. This is God’s plan.

 

The Bible says as we live within His boundaries we will know  . . . . . a delightful inheritance.”

            

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THE MONEY THING

By Rev. David Hind

 

David is now the minister of Trinity Church Leicester and his articles have been greatly appreciated.

 

 

Leading up to our wedding Susan and I nearly gave away our savings and put a tent and sleeping bags on our wedding list. This was in response to the life of Abraham who was called to leave everything and live in tents. Six weeks before we were married we had nowhere to live and began a fascinating journey. A family approached us and lent us an oak panelled flat for ‘a price we wanted to pay’. I can still see my Grandma looking at my Mum as she looked round the flat and saying, ‘Eee, Brenda, for people of our station!” Following this we lived with a family and then rented a house before being offered it for ‘what we could afford’. The owners then left almost all of their furniture for free and the journey continued. We now live in a four-bedroomed house in a pleasant suburb of Nottingham and when we moved in, God reminded me of the early days when we trusted Him, gave away what we had and set out.

 

So many stories have followed of living by faith, giving and receiving, cheques in the post, not needing to buy any clothes for the boys until Samuel was seven and learning to be content with little and with much. People have blessed us with support for my music albums, gym memberships and our holidays. We are blessed and have nothing to complain about.

 

So do these kind of things just happen to some people? I don’t believe so.

 

Money is a massive issue in life. What we do with it, how we feel about it, how we react to those who have more of it than we do, are all vital responses. Jesus spoke about money on many occasions and the Bible gives clear directions regarding how to deal with money.

 

So, this money …….

 

Don’t love it

 

The best things in lift are free, but you can give them to the birds and bees, I want money (that’s what I want)… I want money, I want lots of money, In fact I want so much money, give me your money, just give me money.

 

Jesus said, ‘You cannot love God and money” – Matthew 6:24. Money is not evil, but to love it is. We are surrounded by material things and the desire to have more, better, trendier and nicer things is prevalent. Contentment is forgotten and the pursuit of more money is lived out. We have bought a lie that says money brings happiness and having more is the goal in life.

 

Do be careful with it

 

We are all responsible for how we deal with the money we have. To be responsible in budgeting, not borrow too much and avoid credit wherever possible is a life choice. If you are in a mess, seek help (see http://www.creditaction.org.uk) and then live differently. I believe more and more in using cash wherever possible, in aiming to be generous and in expecting God to intervene.

 

Don’t forget to give it

 

To give is to be like Jesus. He said that it is more blessed to give than receive. How should we give? I believe it’s vital to

 

·           Tithe – 10% of all our income before tax to our local church

 

·           Give offerings – above our tithe to anywhere we chose

 

·           Give to the poor – above and beyond tithes and offerings to those who have less than us

 

 

  

            

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THE children  THING

By Rev. David Hind

 David is now the minister of Trinity Church Leicester and his articles have been greatly appreciated. 

During a conversation with his seven-year-old son, a friend of mine was explaining about the Roman occupation of Britain. He talked about their advancement into Wales and England, but explained that they didn’t advance fully into Scotland. The boy said, “Daddy, I know why that happened, it’s because of the bagpipes, they make such a dreadful noise.” The same family were visiting relatives in Germany and the son looked at his dad as they all sat down to dinner and asked, “Dad, what was it you said you didn’t like about the Germans?” lastly, and my favourite, he once asked his dad, “Have you ever been run over by a combine harvester?” 

I love children. We can learn so much from them – their innocence, their honesty and their willingness to ask.     

 Children are receivers    They know their need to receive. From a newborn baby crying for food, to a young child wanting to be hugged, they know they can’t do everything themselves.  

 Children see and believe   When teaching, Susan occasionally dresses up as different char­acters to help get a message across. One of her characters is Ettie Macechnie, a kindly old Scottish lady from a highland croft who owns a ‘wee farm in Scotland”. Many children (and some adults) are completely taken in. 

Children are playful   All the time, everywhere, all over the world, children play. I have seen children in Africa play with stones and a tin and still be completely involved. 

Children live for the moment   They live each day to the full. They get excited about simple things and become engrossed in getting the most out of everything. You only have to visit a playground to see children thoroughly committed to the moment.

Children look to their parents   Many of us have been to a school play or a children’s performance of some kind. Whatever their teachers have said beforehand, there are very few children who can resist scanning the audience for familiar faces and then waving enthusiastically. 

Children love learning… and they do it all the time. They have a natural genius and see life in a different way. Spend any amount of time with small children and you will begin to catch again the wonder of learning and looking at life differently.                   

Children face issues head of life  When I arrived at my Mum’s house recently my four-year-old nephew, Ben, who was visiting from Africa and just becoming accustomed to the death of his granddad, looked at me and said, “Grandad’s dead.”                        

Children are not self-conscious   They get engrossed in their play. They can be Spiderman or Cinderella, they can talk to their imaginary friend, they can dance or shout their way around the garden without caring what anyone else thinks. Jesus valued and accepted children. He wanted them to be with Him.

 More than that, Jesus said to us, …. change and become like little children” (Matthew 18:3).   So   ·    Be a receiver  ·    Stop doubting and believe   ·    Enjoy life  ·    Make the most of every day  ·    Keep your eyes on the Father  ·    Be a learner  ·    Live with openness and truth

Please the Lord   

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THE today THING

By Rev. David Hind

 David is now the minister of Trinity Church Leicester and his articles have been greatly appreciated.  

The 16th November 2001 was a momentous day for Ray. Thirty-three years earlier, when his youngest son lain was born, he didn’t realize the journey that was ahead. Iain was severely autistic and the stress of home and life as a full-time teaching job took its toll.  Alongside this, Ray and his wife Margaret chose to pioneer care an support for autistic people. This was a difficult task and they were met with opposition, misunderstanding and many obstacles along the way.

 Eventually in 1973, after a huge effort, the Cambridgeshire Autistic Society was formed. Next, Ray and Margaret began extensive fundraising programme that led to the building of a new residential unit for autistic people. Today, as others have carried the work, twenty-three autistic adults have a safe place because one family made a start. On the 16th November, as we waited out’ Buckingham Palace, Ray, my father-in-law, was given an MBE services to people with autism in Cambridgeshire. 

Whether you have an appointment at the palace or not, today will only happen once. You will never get a second chance at this day and it is filled with opportunity, possibility and hope. You will make many choices today that determine its outcome and I urge you to seize the moment. So what can happen today? 

     Today you can know God is with you 

You will have moments today when you are alone. Remember, not only is Jesus with you, but He is longing to be involved in your life. 

     Today you can go deeper 

Your faith can grow, you can be filled with hope and you can forgive and be forgiven. The One who loves you unconditionally invites you to a new depth in your Christian walk. 

     Today you can be free 

God has no limits and today you can be free from pain, rejection, failure and negative habit patterns. The only limitations today come from you. 

     Today you can ask for your needs 

Whether you need healing, comfort, provision, or closeness, if you ask, the promise of the Bible is that you will receive.  

     Today a miracle can happen in you 

You can take a new step, extend the horizon of your life and realise that anything is possible with Him. You can take a leap of faith. 

     Today you can encourage another person 

You can help someone else, serve another and give to another in a way they will never find out. Today you can be an encourager. 

     Today salvation can come to your house 

People you love can find faith; family can find their way back to God; those who are lost can be found; and you can point someone to Jesus. Can you say, ‘I have lived life to the full today”? 

Carpe Diem  seize the day.                

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THE SMELL THING

By Rev. David Hind

 David is now the minister of Trinity Church Leicester and his articles have been greatly appreciated.  

In 2005 we travelled to Spain on a family holiday. I was with myself for the “amazing deal” I had been able to secure a hire car – a moment of male efficiency and success. However, when we drove away from the airport we were in the smallest I car have ever been in. Samuel is 6ft 2ins and Tom on the way to 6ft. The moment I saw them scrunched up in the back seat with a case and bags on their knees that wouldn’t fit in the boot (which more like a glove box), was the moment I realised this could be a very expensive ‘cheap deal”. 

When the car broke down for the second time, it was moment of realisation for me that I had been ripped off. We called the garage out and after a long wait and ruined plans we were asked to drive the car back to the airport to change vehicles. I was told that they knew about my situation and that I was a priority case to quickly receive a bigger car. Susan and I drove the distance and arrived at the hire desk ready to forgive and put the whole thing behind us. When a sign declaring “everyone at lunch” greeted us, I had a moment when I wasn’t very much like Jesus. I marched into the cafe and demanded that one of the staff who were eating come and serve me. 

A lively discussion ensued during which the staff member swore at me three times (I remember because I asked him to repeat the word he used). Later when I drove away, Susan quietly listened as I complained of the poor service, the unacceptable comments, the fact that I deserved better and that I intended to complain. When we arrived at our compartment I carried on reading Brennan Manning and came to a part where he writes:

Ragamuffins don’t sit down to be served, they kneel down to serve. When there is food on their plate, they don’t whine about the monotonous menu or the cracked plate. Glad for a lull stomach, they give thanks for the smallest gift. They do not grow impatient and irritable with the dismal service in department stores, because they so often fail to be good servants themselves.1 

I found a bad smell on me and I knew I was wrong. I repented and asked God to change my heart. When we returned the car I apologised to the assistant who had sworn at me and gave him some money to buy a lunch that wouldn’t be disturbed. He also apologised and we shook hands. 

So the smell thing…  

Your spiritual smell is vital A monk once said, “When I leave a conversation with someone, I ask myself the questions, ‘Did they find Christ in me?; ‘Did I find Christ in them?”‘ 

As a Christian my rights are less important than the will of God. So many times I have said things I shouldn’t have. I have reacted in a way that wasn’t Christ-like and I have been selfish. And yet I want to be the fragrance of Christ and I want to be more like Him. 

How are you doing on this score? Here’s a test:   ·      Are people more or less focused on Jesus when they have been with me?   ·      Am I self-centred or others-centred?   ·      Do I talk about myself or focus on others?   ·      Do I expect a certain standard of food, accommodation, style or treatment?   ·      Am I really content whatever I face? Is the Jesus smell around me?  No matter who you are – however ordinary, however important, however wealthy and famous – your spiritual smell is vital. How are you doing?  

Note1. Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel, Multnomah Publishers, 2000.

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THE MUSICIANS THING

By Rev. David Hind

 David is now the minister of Trinity Church Leicester and his articles have been greatly appreciated. 

Born into a musical family I had the privilege of being taught instruments as a child and was given the opportunity to sing as a chorister. At eleven I sang the verse of ‘Once in Royal David’s City’ at the Christmas recital in Southwell Minister, which was an honour. Leaving the choir at thirteen I was part of a rock band called ‘Ananconda’ for three or four years. Since becoming a Christian I have had the opportunity to record albums and sing to gatherings of hundreds and occasionally thousands.

 I will always be grateful that my parents instilled in me a love for music and the importance of learning an instrument. We have passed this on to our children. Thomas has passed his grade eight saxophone and piano, whilst Samuel has an eclectic taste and fantastic ear for music. 

When was twelve he came back from being involved in a music group with children and was despondent. He had been asked to lead and felt it hadn’t gone well. He didn’t have long to prepare, his keyboard wasn’t very good and he couldn’t hear himself. Not only that, the PA wasn’t working properly, the preacher spoke for too long and the bad didn’t ave enough time. Finally, he was desperate for the loo and couldn’t sing very well.

 I talked to him about practising hard, being humble, dealing with ego, God’s tests and what to do when it goes wrong. In the future, where he stands on bigger stages than I have, I pray he will remember. Inside the church, music plays a big part in worship, atmosphere and as a tool for leading people into the presence of God. Musicians therefore, have a responsibility to prepare themselves before God. Here are a few of my thoughts for musicians and worship leaders: 

Be Grateful for the Gift of Music

How did God create music? There are relatively few notes and yet we will never come to the end of the amazing variety of sound that can be created by using them. Don’t presume, be grateful, and play for the One who had the idea of music.

Develop Your Gift 

 Whilst recording Painting a Picture, my latest album, Ben Castle came to record some saxophone. I was completely inspired by one of the best saxophonists in our country. After he had played we talked about the hours he aims to practise every day as time allows. We are not able to do this (grateful parents of children learning the violin, note!), however, don’t be lazy.

Deal with Your Ego  

 Music is powerful and can shape our world. I recently stood at a U2 concert with around 70,000 others and saw the power of influence through music. There are moments in worship when there is great power. In these moments Jesus is the focus – it is all for Him and we are simply vessels. A record producer talked to me about the difference between high and low maintenance musicians. The high maintenance ones need constant encouragement, special treatment and appreciation. Grow up and be low maintenance.

Develop Consistency in Character 

Arrive on time, tune your instrument, be reliable and don’t be on an emotional rollercoaster. How easily are you offended? Is Jesus more important to you than the music?

Practise the Presence of God

 Learn to allow the presence of God to flow through your music. At times, less is more, and to be sensitive to Him can change any atmosphere. Keep worshipping.   

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THE HOPE THING

By Rev. David Hind

 David is now the minister of Trinity Church Leicester and his articles have been greatly appreciated.  

During the Korean War many American prisoners of war died of a condition recently described as,  ‘extreme hopelessness”. The soldiers were given adequate food, water and shelter. They weren’t tortured or physically abused and they weren’t hemmed in with barbed wire. However, they were constantly fed bad news and starved of encouragement, good news and hope. It was not uncommon for a soldier to wander into his hut, go into the corner alone, sit down, pull a blanket over his head and be dead in two days. When the survivors were released, very few of them wanted to ring home and upon returning home, they maintained no friendships or relationships with one another. They had lost all hope.

 If we lose hope it is easy to become desperate. The tragic root of so many suicides is the loss of hope and the feeling that ther~ is no escape from the present, seemingly bleak, circumstance. Suicide is never the answer and it leaves others with the burden of unanswered questions and an inability to bring closure. There always another way. If you are reading this and are feeling suicide with nowhere to turn, then contact a local church and you will fi someone who can help you. 

Hope is vital in life. Hope is to believe for something with the expectation of its fulfillment. I love Psalm 71:14 which says, ‘But as for me, I will always have hope’. A Christian always has hope, so . . . .  

Hope in God’s commitment to you

 Never underestimate the passion God feels for you.   ·      You have the hope of salvation.   ·      You have the hope of God’s love – you are loved and will always be loved by Him.   ·      You have the hope of eternal life. Come Ten Boom wrote, when her sister died in a concentration camp, And so I left behind the last physical tie. Now what tied me to Betsie was the hope of heaven.”

Hope in God’s Word 

The Bible has been banned, burned, ridiculed, and criticized, and yet it prospers. Nicky Gumbel puts it like this: ‘The Bible is uniquely popular, uniquely powerful, and uniquely precious … it is a manual for life and a love letter from God.”1 God’s Word is the truth. My sister Janice was reading the Bible and came to the account of the thief on the cross. She read the words, “Today you will be with me in paradise” and had a revelation of God’s desire for her to know Him. It was a turning point in her life. 

Hope in God’s promise 

He will never leave you or forsake you. He has gone ahead to prepare a place for you. He will be with you to the end of the age. If you call on Him, He will answer you and show you great and unsearchable things. He has a plan for your life and will protect you. He is a constant companion, the lover of your soul and a light for your path. He is close to you and His promise to you of love, guidance, provision, commitment and hope, will never fail. 

Hope in God’s forgiveness

 In his book, In the Presence of God, Francis Frangipane recalls the following story: The prophet turned to the minister’s wife and said, “There was a very serious sin in your past.” The woman with her worst fear seemingly coming upon her, turned pale and closed her eyes. The prophet continued, “And I asked the Lord, ‘what was this sin that she committed?’ And the Lord answered, ‘I do not remember’.”2 God’s forgiveness is never deserved or earned. But it is His promise if we repent. 

Hope in God’s control

 Two men were in a museum and they were looking at a painting of a chess game. In the painting, one character looks like the devil and the other looks like an ordinary man who is down to his last chess piece the king. The title of the painting is “Checkmate”. One of the men looking at the painting is an international chess champion and something about the painting intrigues him. He becomes engrossed and transfixed by what he sees. All of a sudden he looks at his friend and says, “We must find the person who painted the picture and tell him that he must change the picture or change the title. I’ve studied the board and I realise this, that it is not checkmate, because the king still has one more move. 

Whatever we face there is hope, for the King always has one more move. God is in control. 

 Notes1.  Nicky Gumbel, Questions of Lift, Kingsway Publications, 2001. 2.  Francis Frangipane, In the Presence of God, New Wine Press, 1994. 

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THE DYING THING

By Rev. David Hind

 David is now the minister of Trinity Church Leicester and his articles have been greatly appreciated. 

On 27th September 2002 Susan and I entertained our next-door neighbour and five of her friends to dinner. They are all over seventy and when they arrived the room was filled with the smell of lovely perfume. I had not realised that they were all widows and during the meal I asked them what the challenges of living alone were. During the next hour we listened to an immensely moving and challenging conversation. They said that if you have loved and lived with someone for over forty years it is the simple things you miss: the small talk, the reflections on the day, the knowledge that they are there, and the sharing of things together. They spoke of aftershave kept, a husband’s toothbrush still next to the basin and of a dressing gown still hanging on a peg. One talked of trimming a rose bush in the garden and finding a string tied around the bush – ‘I couldn’t bring myself to untie it because I knew my husband’s hands had tied it’. They talked without regret and with huge fondness for men they had loved and who had died. 

In the film Jack and Sarah, a husband describes the devastation of losing his young wife: Then it hits you – you remember – and simple things, like the book she was reading, terrify you, because … she’s gone and that’s that.” 

As I write this I am thirty-nine years old. I don’t want to die yet and believe that I have many years ahead of me. However, I am ready to die. I wrote a song to be sung at my own funeral that captured all I would want to say to those I love. It seems unfair that we can’t speak at the celebration of our own life. 

I’m not here               So cry your tears

But don’t pray for me any more        What I believed         Built my life on                 Now I know it’s true 

Run the race               Keep the faith

Live your life with passion        And I’ll be there         To cheer you home                When your day comes 

My eyes have seen      My ears have heard       My mind now understands          What God prepares for those He loves       Please believe me, it’s wonderful 

Run the Race…          

 What I have longed for            All my life   To hear Him say, “Well done.”     

 Listen now, I’ve heard His voice and everything I’ve ever done, everything I’ve ever known                        Has paled into shadow 

Keep running                Keep believing              Keep looking             

There’s something far better ahead   

So this dying thlng . . . . 

·  We will all die  We cannot stop the process of life. We all get older and everyone dies 

       ·   We will all live forever  Everyone will exist beyond this life. The invitation of Jesus is to spend eternity with Him. 

      ·   We don’t need to be afraid  The Christian may not be spared from pain, but they can be spared from the fear of death. 

      ·   For the Christian death is the gateway into better things 

C.S. Lewis writes in The Last Battle, All their life in this world and all their adventures in Namia had only been the cover and the title page. Now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the greatest story which no one on earth had read; which goes on forever; in which every chapter is better than before’.

1 Note  1. C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle (Chronicles of Narnia), Harpercoflins, 2005.  

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