Dying Well

Hey TD,

There are few events like a funeral that can set the vision of our lives straight.  John Piper said this,

I thank God for funerals. Or to put it more personally, I thank God for the ministry of the dying in my life. Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints (Psalm 116:15) … I would rather preach at a funeral than at a wedding, not because I love death more than I love marriage, but because the gospel of Christ crucified and risen shines more brightly at a funeral. At a wedding there are so many earthly reasons to feel happy. At a funeral, if the gospel of Christ is not true – if the blood and righteousness of Christ are not sufficient to make us acceptable to God – then there are few reasons to be happy. The effect of death on my life in the ministry has been profound, and I thank God for it and for all those who in their dying taught me so much.”

Robert and Bobbie Wolgemuth are literary giants in the world of Christian publishing, and are the literary agents for many of Christendom’s biggest authors, including RC, Ravi, and Joni.  In fact, Bobbie was one of Joni’s best friends … was.  They used to sing hymns together every chance they got … used to.

Bobbie past away last month from a two-year battle with cancer.  I have never seen anyone die so well from cancer as Bobbie did.  The radiance of Christ always came through her, but never so much as these last two years.  She was possessed … by Christ.

My family has had the privilege of knowing the Wolgemuths over the years.  Bobbie even had Daniel and Angela sing with her on stage during one of Joni’s conferences.  They radiate Jesus.  We had a chance to pray with Robert a few days after Bobbie’s passing while we were in Florida last month with Ravi’s ministry, and he was trying to encourage US!  Please pray for his days ahead.

You NEED to watch the portion of the Bobbie’s memorial service above (already queued for you), beginning from her granddaughter singing to the end of her daughters’ eulogy.  It is inpsiring and provides a vision for us on how to live life well daily in Jesus’ presence.

Notes of interest:

– the pianist for her granddaughter is the same pianist that accompanied Bobbie 48 years ago when Bobbie sang the same song, when Robert first saw Bobbie.

– at the very beginning of the service are wonderful paintings she drew (many have hymns woven in)

– world-renowned preacher, Alistair Begg, gives a short but powerful gospel message later in the service – at 1:07:56

– a few weeks before her passing, Robert took video of Bobbie taking a walk in her neighborhood, singing Trust and Obey – at 1:48:53

– Arthur

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The Bible: Don’t Neglect It!

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I was recently reading a letter written by prolific preacher, Alistair Begg, to friends of his ministry.  I found myself convicted and in full support of the truth of it.  It is certainly worthy of your time.  Please read and commit yourself to not only the careful study of God’s Word, but the careful living out of it. – Arthur

Dear Friend,

I recently revisited some of the writings by J.C. Ryle, who accredited his “complete alteration” to reading the Bible, praying and studying the Gospel. There are many aspects of his life that attest to the work of the Holy Spirit, not the least of which is his conversion to Christianity after being raised and educated outside of any biblical or prayerful influence.

Only the Word of God can transform us in this way. That’s why we teach the Scripture verse by verse. The Bible is the only source that contains the living Word of God and by hearing and studying the text exactly as it is written, the Holy Spirit works to open the hearts and minds of those who seek to understand what it says and what it means.

I often talk with people who attend church regularly and consider themselves faithful though they admit to not regularly spending quiet, studious time with their Bibles. There’s no substitute for the wisdom and truth that are God’s portion to us from our first day to our last.

Several weeks ago, I offered these words of counsel from J.C. Ryle to my congregation at Parkside and I hope you too find them a helpful reminder:

“You live in a world where your soul is in constant danger. Enemies are round you on every side. Your own heart is deceitful. Bad examples are numerous. Satan is always labouring to lead you astray. Above all false doctrine and false teachers of every kind abound. This is your great danger.

“To be safe you must be well armed. You must provide yourself with the weapons which God has given you for your help. You must store your mind with Holy Scripture. This is to be well armed.

“Arm yourself with a thorough knowledge of the written Word of God. Read your Bible regularly. Become familiar with your Bible… Neglect your Bible and nothing that I know of can prevent you from error if a plausible advocate of false teaching shall happen to meet you. Make it a rule to believe nothing except it can be proved from Scripture. The Bible alone is infallible… Do you really use your Bible as much as you ought?

“There are many today, who believe the Bible, yet read it very little. Does your conscience tell you that you are one of these persons?

“If so, you are the man that is likely to get little help from the Bible in time of need. Trial is a sifting experience… Your store of Bible consolations may one day run very low.

“If so, you are the man that is unlikely to become established in the truth. I shall not be surprised to hear that you are troubled with doubts and questions about assurance, grace, faith, perseverance, etc. The devil is an old and cunning enemy. He can quote Scripture readily enough when he pleases. Now you are not sufficiently ready with your weapons to fight a good fight with him… Your sword is held loosely in your hand.

“If so, you are the man that is likely to make mistakes in life. I shall not wonder if I am told that you have problems in your marriage, problems with your children, problems about the conduct of your family and about the company you keep. The world you steer through is full of rocks, shoals and sandbanks. You are not sufficiently familiar either with lighthouses or charts.

“If so, you are the man who is likely to be carried away by some false teacher for a time. It will not surprise me if I hear that one of these clever, eloquent men who can make a convincing presentation is leading you into error. You are in need of ballast (truth); no wonder if you are tossed to and fro like a cork on the waves.

“All these are uncomfortable situations. I want you to escape them all. Take the advice I offer you today. Do not merely read your Bible a little – but read it a great deal… Remember your many enemies. Be armed!”

I hope you are as challenged by this as I am. Incidentally, you will likely find Googling J.C. Ryle on an uneventful February afternoon well worth your efforts.

Love in the Lord Jesus,

Alistair