Saturday, March 26, 2011


Is it just me or are the days really going by quickly? My brother-in-law and I were sitting in a boat fishing yesterday and he asked a simple but I think profound question. He asked, "Does it seem to you like the days, weeks, and even years are flying by? My answer was a simple "yes." Time is fleeting in more ways than one. The end of time is coming and it's doing so very quickly. But I'm going to speak here only about the end of time with reference to one's death. We are going to die if the Lord tarries His return very long at all. That is a fact that cannot be disputed and the aging process is clearly a testimony to that.

That's part of the reason it seems rather odd to me that there is a general unwillingness in our culture to accept our own mortality and a viewing of ourselves as being in the process of dying. In some quarters it is almost offensive to speak of it. I guess the thinking is if we'll just pretend it doesn't exist.. it won't. That sounds like the attitude some of our Politicians have toward our National debt doesn't it!. Thus our ever present emphasis on youth, health, beauty, and longevity may really indicate an overwhelming cultural denial of the inevitability of death.

But as Christians we must be willing to confront this "myth of immortality" that so many seem to have regarding this present life. In fact, Christians are in the very good position of being able to, as I read one person say it, "die slowly." The idea he was expressing was one where the person who has come to really accept his or her own mortality will be far better prepared to face the inevitability of that death and all that attends it before and after the death event.

Dr. John Dunlop, a Christian Counselor, said it this way...“It is imperative that, as maturing Christians, we begin early the process of dying. We must no longer fear death; we must see it as a defeated enemy. We must begin to relinquish the material values of this life and to focus increasingly on the life of eternity that God has prepared for us. It is with these perspectives that we will be prepared to face the latter days of our lives.”

One of the things I really like in what Dr. Dunlap said is that part about relinquishing the material values of this life. Maybe it's just me, but an odd thing has happened personally in my older age. I've more material wealth than I've ever had and that has surprised me beyond measure. Of course I'm speaking in relative terms here. My wealth compared to some upper middle class folks would cause them to think of me as poverty stricken. They would be wrong. So would anyone who would think of me as wealthy. But compared to so many in the third world countries I am indeed wealthy. So it is enough for me to say, I'm one who has need of nothing and am quite happy to be at that kind of place at this time in my life.

But that being so, I am also discovering that things like money, cars, houses, and such are not of much significance to me any more. I've said this for years but I think, in many ways, I was only fooling myself. However, I've discovered my later years to be different days entirely.

I don't know what has caused it. It could be that more loved ones are dying. That is reality. Or perhaps it's just the fact that my own body is getting rather cranky about getting around. Then there is the mirror experience that always throws me for a loop where I wind up wondering who is this person looking back at me?

Add to all that what we're seeing in our nation. It seems to me that the things that we thought so secure are now being shaken apart. This may be so that only that which is truly stable is going to remain and it has little to do with possessions. But all of this is simply reminding me that we usually do not embark on the road of wisdom until we deeply experience the fact that one day all things will come to an end. Our living IS truly limited, our days ARE numbered, and I think we DO lack a proper perspective oF REAL life till we consider this.

It is this perspective about life as we now know it, ending, and on it's heels eternity is coming, that enables us to have a balanced view of the here and now and the hereafter. To lay hold on this present life as if it's the all significant issue is to fail miserably. To be taken up with eternity as if this life is insignificant is just as damaging to reality. It is the balance of the two that gives a clear vision and maintains clear headedness. It may be that as we consciously seek to not only lay less of a hold on this life but to be progressively taken up with the next, that we are able to embrace the fact of dying with grace.

I love how Robert C. Roberts said it...

“For a person whose roots have been thoroughly transplanted from the present soil into that of eternity, who dances lightly on the surface of the earth and so is ready to leave at a moment’s notice, there would be little point in dwelling on the thought of death. Sad to say, however, this mind-set is rarely to be found among those who profess Christianity. Most churchgoers are as deeply rooted in this world, and thus as deeply in despair, as those who profess no such hope. Far from being an exercise in morbidity, a deepening acquaintance with our death and with the vanity of human wishes is for our worldly hearts a needed path to perfect health” (Robert C. Roberts, Spirituality and Human Emotion).

That's what I want to do. I want to "dance lightly on the surface of the earth and be ready to leave at a moment's notice." I call it being ready for..."This thing called dying."

Scripture says it well...

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory” (Colossians 3:1-4).

“Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (II Corinthians 4:16-18).

Paul B.


Eileen Thornton said...

What can I say? I only got as far as the first few lines of your blog and I felt depressed. I admit, I didn't read it all. If I had, I might have been uplifted. Meanwhile, life, as I see it, is for living and by that I don't mean we go out an do as we please and pester our neighbour, friends or any animal. We must accept things for what they are.

Bob Cleveland said...

I have found that being prepared for death .. facing one's own mortality .. is the only real way to live the remainder of one's life without a cloud of general discouragement hanging over one's head.

I decided to talk about death as just another fact of life, a long time ago. Decades before the doctor said "cancer" to me. Long before I nearly died of an allergic reaction in Germany (1999) or came close to it last December with Sepsis. I am sure glad I did that, and life is certainly easier to enjoy, and God's love is sure easier to "roll around in" .. to be enveloped by .. without that cloud over my head.

Good post.

Paul Burleson said...


Your last sentence pretty well sums up the point being made in the post.

I see you are an author. You materials look good. I would think your hope is that a reader of your books would get to the end of the story before coming to a final conclusion on the value of the book.

That said, I am honored that you stopped by for a moment. Do come again.


A living testimonial to the point of the post and, as always, a comment word reading. Thanks.

Aussie John said...


What a great article!

Very encouraging to see a Christian being realistic about death.

Speaking of the fleeting nature of time: My wife I recently recalled that, when we were on our honeymoon, we spoke about how long the lifetime, we had pledged to remain in wedlock, really was. We couldn't imagine that far ahead!

Now, that honeymoon seems only yesterday, ope last week.

Your quote of Dr.Dunlop is such wise advice, "It is imperative that, as maturing Christians, we begin early the process of dying. We must no longer fear death; we must see it as a defeated enemy."

A good test of the foundations of our faith!

You say,"Our living is truly limited, our days are numbered, and I think we lack a proper perspective on life till we consider this reality."


As you say,"Scripture says it well...".

Anonymous said...

From the beautiful Sarum Primer, this:

I love the ending words:
'God be at my end
and at my departing'


Becky Dietz said...

I think the biggest surprise of my life is how quickly it goes by. I never envisioned myself with children older than 6-years-old. And now I have grandchildren twice that age! And yes...I sense time has sped up. And the older I get, the more I ask Jesus to come quickly! I think it's healthy to face your death. It makes life more valuable.

Rex Ray said...

Good topic – especially for older people. One of our church members died yesterday at the age of 102.

At 79, I agree life is like a roll of toilet paper – the closer the end – the faster it goes.

There's no place like home. “I am a stranger here – I'm in a foreign land – my home is far away on a golden strand.” (I never did know what “strand” meant in the Royal Ambassador song.)

My wife hurt my heart last night when she said: “When do the doctors think I'll be well enough to go home?” (For those that don't know – we retired and built a home back on the farm ten years ago.)

I like Tennyson's: “May there be no moaning of the bar when I put out to sea.” Also: “Morn not for those that live with God.”

Anonymous said...

Hello All . . .

I just saw Wade's sermon and encourage everyone to go to the Emmanual website and see it from the archives . . .

all I could think of was the power of God working through Wade in that jail cell . . . and then, this quote came to mind:

". . when you are filled with the Holy Spirit, then the ministry of Jesus just flows out of you."
— Corrie Ten Boom

Please take time to hear that beautiful sermon. You will need a handkerchief (at least one), and you will be filled with joy.


Anonymous said...


'going home' does have another meaning for Christian people . . .

I found this to share, written in the 1600's by Henry Vaughn:

"I SAW Eternity the other night,
Like a great ring of pure and endless light,
All calm, as it was bright ;
And round beneath it,
Time in hours, days, years
Driv'n by the spheres
Like a vast shadow mov'd ;
in which the world
And all her train were hurl'd. "

I remember the story of your little niece who died at age five in the mission fields. She 'witnessed' that 'ring of endless light' before she 'went home', didn't she?
That was a beautiful story you told about her last words to her mother.


Paul Burleson said...

Aussie J, Christiane, becky,

All great comments. I'm always delighted to read your insightful thoughts on any issue raised. You guys/gals think the way I do...I don't know whether that pleases you but it encourages me. ;)


You always say things in comments that do several things to me when I read them.

I'm reminded of the old days. [Royal Ambassadors] I'm blessed by you humor. [[Toilet paper indeed.] I'm reminded of my own struggles and feelings. ["Hurt my heart" has been my expression of pain for years]

Sometimes you even perturb me. [Not this time ;) ] I'm just generally glad we're Internet friends.

Rex Ray said...

Thanks for your remembrance. Below is a link of a little boy who said he was in heaven.,0,4074308.story

Thanks for the nice thoughts. ME – perturb someone?? Why, how could that ever be? :)

Hopefully in a few days our internet friendship can drop the internet and we'll be friends face to face.

Someday, with someone's help, I'm going to put a picture of me. We sort of look alike – at least we part our hair the same way.

Paul Burleson said...


I'm still laughing. It IS a gentle perturbing and not too often. ;-)

We will most certainly soon drop the "Internet" part of our friendship. I'm looking forward to the meeting.

Rodney Sprayberry said...

If you are prepared for thing called dying are you willing to brave Rex's massive slide of doom? :)

Paul Burleson said...


I'm afraid to ask what "a slide of doom" refers to!!

Just remember that as a traveling preacher all I ask for from a Pastor and Church is a place to eat, a place to sleep, a place to preach, and protection from whatever a slide of doom is. Those are my requirements. ; )

Rodney Sprayberry said...

Rex built a huge slide in his back yard just for the heck of it (and for his grandkids!) It has become somewhat of a tourist attraction. We have wedding parties youth groups random citizens church members missionaries guest speakers and even several body builders from team impact go down the slide. I have been down it 4 times. When my oldest son who was a 8 at the time wanted to try it out, my wife said "I will ground you for the rest of your life if you ask again!" He just turned 11 we will probably do it soon! I think it is only about 70 ft tall but I am sure Rex will add his cooments soon.

Rex Ray said...

About that place to sleep. Belle says you can stay with us as long as we don't fight. :)

We hang out in two rooms which leaves an extra bath and two bedrooms downstairs. Then the upstairs has a bath and beds which is mostly two play rooms. (Ping-pong, pool, foosball.) Our youth met there before we built the new church.

Yea, I know – why do two old people have such a big house? On the subject of passing on, I told Belle someone would live here a lot longer than we would, so we'd make it big enough for them.

Now on this 'slide of doom' thing should be no problem for a guy that rides a motorcycle. I was in a college hospital three months from going to sleep on one.
(They're not made for going into a ditch and crossing a railroad track at 60 mph.)
BTW, I was holding the headlight like a flashlight, and since the gas handle had fallen off my other hand was holding a wire controlling the carburetor – a 1947 Indian Chief was really heavy on top of me. ROTC ruled me ineligible for flying because I couldn't convince them I was only sleeping four hours.

Now Rodney – it's only 70 feet high ministerial speaking or just feeling that scared. It's 40 feet. Last week Isaac (oldest grandchild at 22) and I were at the 70 foot level replacing the flag. There have been 383 people and 1,031 trips down the slide that I keep a record - including comments. The one I appreciate most is a man - 32- that went down 20 times- most of time with one of his three kids in his lap (youngest two years old that said: “Giggle-giggle-daddy I want to do it again”) The man said: “I've wondered what Santa Clause looked like; best present of my life.”

Not to get into politics, but what do you think of this?

Bob Cleveland said...

Rex, that's quite a slide! I just looked at the pics.

Christiane said...

SEVENTY . . . FEET . . . HIGH . . .


Rex Ray said...

Yea, the slide is not for the faint of heart. Our house is used for the last rest stop in the 'Autumn in Bonham' bicycle ride.
This year one rider said, “Last year, I promised myself I was going down this year. I'm not afraid of heights at all. (He was looking down as his buddies cheered him on.) But I'm going to ask my psychologists why I can't do this.”

One of our church members refuse even when his wife and little boy went down, but when his brother and mother did, he was 'forced'. His “Lord be with meeeee!” lasted all the way down.

Some parents were giving their 8 year-old static - “You did everything at six-flags, what's taking you so long?” He yelled down, “Be quite I'm praying!”

Then there was this 'impact revival team' guy that broke bats and blew up a hot water bottle until it exploded. Weighed 275. (The more the weight; the faster you go.) They go down on a sled from a lawn chair with a double mattress and protected handles to hold. A motor pulls it up. At the time, there were no wheels so to get a good ride I put water on the slide. He said that was fun I'm doing it again. I thought light-weight Rodney was next so I put a LOT of water, but here came the big guy. The slide became a ski jump, and he sailed 30 feet in the air with him stopping and springing to his feet – hands in the air yelling Yeppppeeeee! His comment: “If you can't die – don't try!”

My grandson took movies of us facing each other and me climbing down. I'm glad its not interesting enough for 'home videos' to show on TV. :)