Times With Papaw & His Timing

1986! I was ready to go to college for my sophomore year. But I had a serious dilemma. It all really started a year earlier though and I didn’t even know it at the time. It’s all in the past now. I’ve come to grips with it now. But it took a little while. And it broke my heart into tiny little pieces. I think it’s time to just start at the beginning and share the whole experience.

It begins with the relationship that I had with my paternal grandparents. While I never saw them do it I’m quite sure that they hung the moon in the sky every night and the sun in the sky every morning. My Mamaw and Papaw were as close to best friends that a girl could ever hope to have. I grew up spending a LOT of free time at their house. I was the first grandchild. In the end there were only four of us. Two girls and two boys. So we each got as much time as we wanted with them. We did everything together! They were the emergency contacts at my high school. I remember Papaw coming to pick me up when I was sick. We had a great time – just the two of us – even though I was sick. I remember the tickle fights between him, me and my cousin Derick. He liked to take us to the lake and out in the boat. He’d take us out to the edge of the lake and anchor the boat at an angle so Derick and I could get in the water even though we weren’t supposed to. I have a clear picture of him getting the boat ready in the driveway before we would take off to the lake. Wild horses couldn’t keep me away from their house on the weekends. Mamaw and I loved to watch TV together. I remember when the Loreal commercial tag line “Because I’m worth it” came out we would laugh and say that line along with them like we were worth a million bucks. Mamaw was the best cook in the world. We had all of our family meals at their house. My mom and my aunts would bring covered dishes but Mamaw cooked most of the meals. She canned everything that could be canned. Papaw used to love picking on her. She’d get so mad at him for it. But I could have stayed there forever – if only time could have stood still.

When it came time for me to go to college in 1985 I chose to go to a college in Nashville. I chose our denomination’s college, Free Will Baptist Bible College. The closer it came to time for me to leave in August, Papaw told me he didn’t want me to go away. I remember feeling like it was a sentimental emotional. Each time I saw him he would give me one of those big Papaw hugs and tell me again that he wanted me to stay closer to home. I tried to get him to understand that the Bible college was where I felt like I needed to be. He told me there were colleges closer to home that I could go to. I remember my family had Mamaw and Papaw up to the house for a “goodbye” dinner at some point right before I left for Nashville. One of my parents took a picture of me between the two of them. I’ve searched for years for that picture but I haven’t been able to find it yet. I’ll explain in a little bit why I want to find it so bad.

But the day came and I left. I spent my first semester at college. I had a great time. I was on my own. I studied. I made friends. I was on the drama team. I dated. It was just the perfect semester. When I came home for the holidays, I had a shocking surprise and not in a good way. During the time that I left for college and had that perfect semester my Papaw was gravely ill. When I came home I found him with an amputated leg and part of his lung gone. What in the world? What happened? The last time I saw him was the night that picture was taken and then I come home and see this with NO WORD as a warning or a hint as to what was going on. Everyone BUT ME knew he was sick. Everyone BUT ME knew he was having surgery right after I left for Nashville. Everyone BUT ME knew that he had a leg amputated. Everyone BUT ME!!!! I’ve had it explained to me a million times. And this was 28 years ago so I have forgiven my family members. But I will never forget it. How do you forget something like that? I want to cry just thinking about it now all these years later.

So that kind of brings me to the point in 1986. My Papaw was on death’s door. I knew that he was nearing the end of his life. I didn’t dare go so far away again a second time. So I applied to a college closer to home and had been accepted. I was one week away from having to go to college. My heart was telling me to go back to Nashville. But my head was saying NO WAY was I leaving him so near death in the hospital. Emotionally I was a wreck. I made some bad decisions during that period of time. I could see the timeline laid out ahead of me. Where would I be at college the following weekend? I had no idea. I decided that I would lay a fleece out before the Lord like Gideon did. On Sunday August 16, 1986 I told the Lord if I was meant to go to Cedarville (the college close to home) to help Papaw make a recovery in the week ahead. But if I was to go back to Nashville to college to let him live through his birthday, August 18, and die the next day. I put all of my faith in the Lord to reveal his will to me through that fleece. The Lord answered me. Papaw lived through his birthday and died at 2:00 a.m. on August 19, 1986. That was my answered prayer. He answered me in about as direct a way as he could. I was able to get back to Nashville in time to start my sophomore year at college.

My heart was broken and it still is when I sit down and think this all the way through. But I try to remember all the good times. It seems to mend the broken pieces. Twenty Seven years ago today the Lord took the best Papaw a girl could ever ask for. I hope he’s been enjoying him up there. One day I’m gonna join him again and we can continue all of our fun times. And he’s be walking on two legs again and have two complete lungs to laugh with.

I discovered why the Lord was sending me back to Nashville. I had begun a relationship with a guy the second half of my freshman year. While feelings were building for this guy in Nashville, my concern and emotions for my Papaw overshadowed the potential boyfriend/girlfriend relationship. But in some way, where I would go to college my sophomore year would determine the future of this relationship and I am convinced this is part of what God was working out during this experience with my Papaw. As it turned out, I married this guy – now 26 years later, we still reminisce about grandparents.

The whole family together for Christmas

The whole family together for Christmas – 1985

 

 

The Problem of Death – Part 3

The Problem of Death: Part 3

By: Mike Stokes

 

In this final article on the subject of death I want to focus on two final questions: Prayer and baptism for the death, and the question about deathbed repentance.

 

(6) What about prayer and baptism for the dead?

            Some offer prayer for the dead in hope of making their destiny brighter. There is no scripture basis in support of this belief. There is a reference to such a belief in one Apocryphal book (2 Maccabees), not accepted as part of the cannon. Baptism for the dead is in the Bible; 1 Corinthians 15: 29. Christians in Paul’s day were under extreme persecution, they often experienced martyrdom just after being saved, without being baptized. It was a concern of Christians in the church at Corinth, some represented those who were killed by being baptized for them. Paul acknowledges this practice, he neither condemned or encouraged it. His point is, unless one believes in the resurrection, what’s the point of such a practice.

 

(7) What about deathbed repentance? (Luke 23: 39-43)

      If Christ meant this to be the only case like this, seems he would have quietly said to the thief, don’t let anyone else know but, “Today you will be with me in paradise.” No, he spoke for all to hear, neither would it have been written in the Bible, but he had this wonderful grace reported in the daily news of the gospel record, because he intended to repeat it. He would never have encouraged hope which he cannot fulfill. This is a remarkable case, the thief had no gospel message preached to him except the gospel he heard from Christ’s enemies, for they said, “He saved others” (v35), the thief must have thought, perhaps he can save me too. Some might say, but, he was not baptized, or took communion, or joined a church. He could do neither; and that which God regards impossible for us he does not demand of us. So, what did the felon do? He confessed the Lord, and that publicly, that is the very essence of baptism. He makes a full confession of guilt, speaking to his partner in crime says, “And we indeed justly; for we received the due reward of our deeds” (v41). He did all he could (wish I could say the same about myself). Note, he only ask to be remembered but he received a surprising answer, “Today shalt thou be with me in paradise” (v43), implying he and the criminal will walk in together. This is a wonderful example of the grace of God, but one should not depend to heavily on this example for their own case. It is true, the Lord will accept all who repent, even if it is at the last hour, but how do you know you will repent? It is true one thief was saved–but the other was lost.

 

The questions and answers in this series of articles are not exhaustive, but I hope they are helpful to those who have questions about, “The Problem of Death.”

 

The Problem of Death – Part 2

The Problem of Death: Part 2

By: Mike Stokes

 

In the first article in this series, we focused on three questions concerning the subject of death: What does God mean by death? What happens with the body, soul and spirit at death? What about cremation? In this article, I want to explore two more questions about the problem of death:

 

(4) What about the death of small children?

That is, those who live for a short time, or, a few years, but who are not able to discern right and wrong. The term, “Age of accountability” is a relative term, referring to an unknown number. It might help to consider Matthew 19: 13-14, where we discern the attitude of the Lord towards little children, and their part in the Kingdom of God (Heaven). He takes them [The babies] in his arms and blesses them, in doing this, it is inconceivable that all he wanted to do was to inform us that grown people must become childlike to enter the Kingdom of God. The implication is that the kingdom of heaven belongs to children as much as anyone else. In 2 Samuel 12: 15, 23, seems to verify Matthew 19. David’s son died, an act of judgement against parents; David viewed the child as being secure with the Lord at death.

 

(5) What about Suicide?

Suicide is the second biggest killer of young people. Believers and nonbelievers have taken their own life. There are several examples in the Bible: 1 Samuel 31: 4, 2 Samuel 17: 23, Matthew 27: 3-5. In two of these examples there was direct demonic activity involved. In a weakened state even believers can become so emotionally distressed that they can murder themselves. A question many ask is; do Christians who commit suicide loose their salvation? Many have had their grief unnecessarily compounded by unbiblical ideas that suicide is an unpardonable sin. Suicide is a sin, the murder of self. Adultery and murder of someone else are equally gross sins. We know King David committed both, but he did not loose his salvation. The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses from all sin, including suicide (1 John 1:7).

 

Next time, we will explore the questions about: Prayer and baptism for the dead, and deathbed repentance. I hope this will be helpful to those who have questions about–The Problem of Death.

Death Is Temporary

Have you ever really thought about how your family is shrinking a little more each year?  Since December I have lost an aunt (one of my mom’s sisters), another aunt (the wife of one of my mom’s brothers) and an uncle (one of my mom’s brothers) – IN THREE MONTHS!!! My mom is one of what was nine siblings. There are now three of them left.

I am an only child. So, I don’t exactly know the pain of losing a sibling. Both of my parents are still alive. So, I don’t know the pain of losing a parent. My husband is still hanging around. So I don’t know the pain of losing a spouse. I do, however, know the pain of losing a child through miscarriage. My other two children are still here – making my life full of joy every day (ok, MOST days). So, I don’t know the pain of losing a living child. I have lost all of my grandparents. I know that pain. I just can’t imagine the grief associated with the death of any of the people I just mentioned though.

Death is a natural part of life. There is a beginning and there is an earthly end. Those left behind carry the emotional break that comes with being left behind for the remainder of their time here whether that be one day or 80 years. While there is the pain of separation from the one we love for those of us who are Christians we have the promise and the hope of seeing our loved one again one day in Heaven. When I saw my uncle the last time Friday night I kissed him and told him to hug my baby Joshua who I did not get to meet.

Last week I watched a friend my age bury her perfectly healthy mountain bike riding 48 year old husband. He was one of the healthiest people I know. Yet Sunday night March 20th he had a massive heart attack and died. We are not promised tomorrow. We are not promised the next minute. We certainly have no idea when it will be our day to pass from this life to the next. What we are promised is that, if we are a Christian, when we breath our last breath of oxygen on this earth we will immediately see Jesus. II Corinthians 5:8 tells us that we can be confident that when we are absent from our body we will be present with the Lord.

One of my favorite verses of the Bible is found in I Corinthians 15. Verse 54 says that death is destroyed and victory over it is complete. I love verse 55 – “Oh death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” Death is a victory for us Christians. It’s painful for us left behind. But it is a time of victory for the Christian because they wake up in glorious Heaven with the Savior. God makes reference in Revelation 7:9 to a “great multitude” standing before the throne. They are the Christians who have died and gone on before us. I will see my loved ones and friends in that crowd. You know how it is when you get separated from your friend or family member in a big crowd of people. You look around anxiously to lay eyes on them and know that they were there but just out of your sight? I think that’s kind of how it is now for those of us who have lost loved ones to death. We are separated from them but we know where they are. They are out of our eye sight for now but one day we will see them again. They are standing, clothed in white, before the throne of God worshiping him. One day I will lay my eyes on them again and we will be reunited.

Death is only temporary. It merely ushers us into a different “life”. It becomes our eternal destination. That gives me great hope that one day I will see my loved one again in Heaven if they are a Christian. Not only will I see Jesus with my eyes but I will once again lay eyes on those who have gone before me. What an amazing hope and promise!

 

In A Word…Prayer

If you are following me on Twitter then you know that my cousin, Lesha, has been dealing with just a horrible situation with her father. Her dad had a brain aneurysm over the weekend. Lesha and her family traveled straight through from their home in south Florida to Ohio. Unfortunately things did not end well and she and her siblings had to make the decision to remove life support yesterday because there was no longer any brain activity. I want to thank all of you for your prayers for them. I also want to request that your prayers continue for them. Her mother died when Lesha was a teenager from breast cancer and now her father has died as well. She is carrying a heavy load. At the time of his death her father was not married so the medical decisions had to be made by Lesha and her siblings. I can’t imagine the emotional weight.

When I was growing up our two families were very close because her mom (my Aunt Carol) and my mom were close. They were the only two of the 9 siblings that lived in Dayton. So, we were all really close. Lesha, Jill and I were all fairly close in age. I wrote a post all about my Aunt back in October for Breast Cancer Awareness month. You can click the link in the previous sentence to see that entry. She was a fun loving person and a fab aunt.

At any rate, I just wanted to ask my readers to lift my cousin (who is more like a sister to me) up in prayer right now. I can’t imagine the grief associated with the death of a parent. I mentally prepared myself for it during the time my dad was so sick. But I just can’t imagine how heavy the burden would be to bear. Lesha is a Christian and has the Lord to give her comfort. However, I don’t know that any of her siblings are Christians. Pray that the Lord would use their father’s death to draw them to Himself. Here are a couple of pictures recently taken with Lesha and one with her sister Jill to help give you a face to the name in your prayers.

Reconnected thanks to FB

Love these two like the sisters I never had

Jill looks exactly like Aunt Carol. And Lesha looks exactly like her dad.

Thank you all for your prayer support.

Our Loss is Heaven’s Gain

Last night was the funeral of a very special man who was a mentor to many.  Bert Tippett was a man of character, humility and Godliness.  He worked for years at our denominatonal college, Free Will Baptist Bible College.  He mentored thousands of students over is career at the college. When I was there he and his wife, Diane, traveled with the touring groups – choirs, ensembles and drama teams.  They traveled as the tour “parents”.  That’s when I really got to know them.  I was on the college drama team.  Each spring break for 4 years they traveled with us on a tour bus for over a week all over the country.  He was a friend to each of us traveling as a ministry.  His job was to close our services for us.  But he and Diane would jump in and help us unload, set-up and load the bus. They would see that we were all distributed to the home we stayed in each night.  One year he was in cahoots with Ron to give me a letter from him each day in some unique way.  One day the letter was taped to the outside of the bus on the front windshield. Continue reading