How Should Christians View Death?

Last week I was published on Deeply Rooted with this piece on death, fear, and hope.

Is there any subject scarier than death?

I don’t mean the death that’s played up in the movies or sugar-coated in story books. I mean death in real life. Am I the only one who struggles with a fear of death? I don’t think so. Of course, it doesn’t help that we live in a culture which, in a sick twist of irony, delights in force-feeding us death daily in headlines and sound bytes, but is too afraid to talk intimately and honestly about the subject. It’s too vulnerable. It’s too painful.

Yet as a Christian, I’ve had to ask myself: is this really a godly way to engage with the idea of mortality? Hide from it? Pretend it doesn’t exist? Mask it with makeup and graphics? My answer is simple: no. So what is the Christian response to it? I believe we should embrace a unique tension—hate death yet be unafraid of it. Even more, contemplate death, but ultimately rest in hope. 


The instinctual and absolutely appropriate response to death should be hatred—not of people, but death itself. Decay and corruption are not natural, nor are they good. The Bible makes it clear, death is a cursed result of sin. We can still believe the truth that God is in control and that he is using everything for our good while simultaneously despising death (Rom. 8:28).

That’s a model we get from Jesus. If you remember in John 11, Jesus’ friend Lazarus had just died. And in a striking display of grief, Jesus shows up angry (“deeply moved”) and sad. Even though he knows he will soon raise Lazarus from the grave, Jesus mourns. As Michael Horton comments, “The Lord of Life . . . now found himself overtaken by grief. More than grief, in fact—anger. And why not? There he stood face-to-face with ‘the last enemy’ he would defeat in his crusade against Satan. And ‘he wept.’”

For the Christian, death is no friend. It is an enemy to the end. 


Yet, although death is a fierce enemy, we should not fear it. Why? Because it’s a defeated enemy. A crushed enemy. An eternally powerless enemy. The apostle Paul certainly clung to this truth. He hearkened back to the Old Testament with a sense of unwavering confidence when he wrote: “‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’ ‘O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’” (1 Cor. 15:54).

Christians need not, must not, fear death, because it has been ultimately conquered. The king of life, Jesus Christ, tasted death and then was resurrected, winning permanent victory over death. In that work, he secured death’s final end, an end that’s coming soon. Truly, a day is coming where death will cease to exist. What precious comfort!

So we can still hate death and grieve for those cut down by its sting, but we should face it as we would a tame beast. It is evil on a leash—temporarily active but finally doomed. Because of Jesus, life is victorious. 


That means death has no power over us. In that case, instead of ignoring it, we are set free to actually contemplate it. The Bible frequently displays this example. That’s not because Christians are obsessively morbid. It’s because we’re people who recognize that since time is short, we can use death as a motivation to maximize our lives for God’s glory. Keeping a keen eye on mortality allows us to embrace living intentionally and taking every opportunity we’re given for greater godliness. Death is inescapable, but Christians should use it as a consistent mark for godly living.

This idea is shocking to the world. It persistently pushes us to dwell on youth, to mask death’s approach with cosmetics and pills and surgery—to live quite literally like death does not exist. And when we encounter it, when it inevitably slices into our real lives, we’re to keep quiet, isolate ourselves, and hide its horrors in the closet.

Christianity offers a more compelling way: let death fuel life. Use it as a holy motivation. 


Don’t just be unafraid of death, though. Embrace hope. The last glorious truth is that our stories do not end with death. Happiness will win the day. God promises that. So we ought to embrace hope with everything we’ve got. Boundless hope. Crazy hope. Hope that seeps into our lives and affects every nook and cranny. Hope in the midst of terrorism. Hope in the midst of violence. Hope in the midst of sickness. Hope in the midst of pain. Hope in the midst of grief. Hope spilling everywhere, flooding and flowing all over our lives. Soak your heart in hope. Jesus wins. And that means, so do his people.

So hate death, yes. But do not fear it. Never fear it. Instead, consider how it motivates precious and intentional gospel-centered living. And embrace hope with open arms, fully and outrageously. Remember that everlasting happiness ends the day.

N.D. Wilson says it beautifully, like only he can: “To [God’s] eyes, you never leave the stage. You do not cease to exist. [Death] is a chapter ending, an act, not the play itself. Look to Him. Walk toward Him. The cocoon is a death, but not a final death. The coffin can be a tragedy, but not for long. 

There will be butterflies.”

Photo courtesy of Deeply Rooted.

What To Do When You're Overwhelmed

All of us have come to that point. That stretch of space between busy and dead - it's called being overwhelmed.

The daunting looms ahead. You don't know how to handle it. You feel inescapably inferior.

So what do you do? You cry. You freak out. You throw a pity party. You climb into a dark hole. You vent to someone.

But none of it is an actual balm to your heavy heart. Nothing takes away that feeling of being out of control.

That's when, at that dark moment when you're overwhelmed, reflect on the singular light of gratitude. Thank God that you have been reminded of His greatness. When we are weak, He is strong.

Thank God that you being overwhelmed reminds you that while you are dependent, He is sovereign.

You need Him. Every hour you need Him.

But sometimes you forget. And you feel like you're on top of the world, in control of your life, that your busyness is validating your self-importance. You have it all together.

And then, just like that, you don't.

Being overwhelmed reminds us that we are sinful, cracked vessels who worry and lie and trust ourselves. Being overwhelmed reminds us that God is in control, our Rock and Fortress, the author of our stories.

When you're overwhelmed, you might need to repent. If you're worried, you definitely do.

When you're overwhelmed, trust God with your life. He really does hold the whole world in His hands.

Photo Courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons and Ben Klemm.

Two Ways to Find Peace

Even in a characteristically secular age, everyone agrees on one thing: true peace is the key to achieving lasting happiness. So we look and lie and search and covet and crave peace. Many people get a sense of pseudo-peace that comes from something superficially trustworthy - money, people, careers, education.

But it always falls apart; it always reveals its hand - pseudo-anythings tend to do that.

The Christian is the only one who knows real peace, lasting, true, trouble-annihilating, and soul-satisfying. It comes from resting in the sovereign source of peace, God.

Everyone's searching for peace, but there's only one place to get it. But how do we get it? As my dad exposited in his sermon yesterday, there are two ways:

1. Don't worry. In Philippians 4:6-7, Paul writes, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

The first thing he does is command the soul to be free from anxiety. Worry interrupts peace. They are in conflict with each other and will become mutually exclusive.

2. Pray. Then, the antidote to worry, Paul says, is to pray. Trust God. Cast your cares upon Him.

And pray with gratitude. "Pray with thanksgiving that God is gracious and merciful," my dad said. "Pray with thanksgiving that God loves those who are His." He said, pray with thanksgiving for Christ's work. Pray with thanksgiving for breath today.

Let your prayers be fueled by thanksgiving to God.

Then, how do we find peace in a restless, careworn world? Look to our Heavenly Father. Put aside your worries and trust in Him and do that through prayer. Go to Him with your anxieties. He loves you.

And remember that eternal peace is coming.

Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled: A Review

In 1951, a London pastor preached eight sermons on John 14:1-12 to his congregation. They had just endured two world wars and the threat of the Cold War loomed ahead. They were struggling with fear, discouragement, depression, unbelief, worry, and cultural confusion. This sermon series was counter-actively infused with hope, comfort, compassion, and strength. The pastor was Martyn Lloyd-Jones, and this sermon series has now been collected in a short, joyously encouraging book called Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled.

At eight chapters long, this book reflects the eight sermons that Lloyd-Jones preached. He patiently plods through the first twelve verses of John 14. The context of the passage is that Jesus is telling His disciples about His imminent death and they don't understand. They are confused and hurt by this, and Jesus addresses the tumult in their own hearts with compassion and encouragement. Lloyd-Jones breaks each sermon (and the editors, each chapter) into just a couple of verses.

This book has buckets of strengths, in my opinion. First off, it's richly encouraging. I read a lot of books, but this short work was like a breath of fresh air, a pure delight to read. While present day political circumstances are quite different from 1951, the core sins and discouragements that Martyn Lloyd-Jones addresses are starkly relevant. I was deeply encouraged by these sermons.

Secondly, it's immensely readable. If I wasn't well aware of the fact, I'd be surprised to find out these words were first spoken in the early fifties. Sure, in the grand scheme of things sixty years isn't that long, but it's long enough. Yet Lloyd-Jones speaks in a timeless manner, offering ageless encouragement. His style is conversational, and I could almost hear his voice (including the crisp British accent) as I read. All in all, it was very accessible.

Third, it's both theological and practical. Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled would be an excellent book for a new Christian, or even as a discussion springboard for an unbelieving friend. While this book is at its root simple exposition of Scripture lacking any sort of flashy or funny illustrations, it's engaging and extensively practical. It's rich with doctrine yet offers easy, practical encouragement.

Last, it's short. While this may not seem like much of a strength, its brevity would appeal to many. It is literally just like a breath of fresh air. It whooshes in, clearing cobwebs of doubt and fear and confusion and discouragement from one's mind, bringing sweet, fresh encouragement and joy instead.

This is a book to invest in for sure. If you are going through a particularly low point in your life or simply find yourself troubled by the world we live in, Martyn Lloyd-Jones has encouragement for you: Believe in Jesus. He has the answer to your questions, and He offers hope for your doubt.

“[Jesus said,] 'Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also'" (John 14:1-3).

*I received this book through Crossway's Beyond the Page review system. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.

Image Credit: Amazon

On the Road Again: The Exams Part Two

Well, there we were - on the road again. In my dad's Mazda again, rolling down highways lined with dead trees and patches of snow-speckled brown grass on our way to Maritime Christian College in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. The sun was shining, it was a few degrees above freezing, and the roads were quiet. We had the music thumping, I sipped my bottle of water, Dad sipped his thermos of coffee. It was a beautiful morning for a drive - back to that little library and that old computer for the exams part two.

Dad and I drove back to PEI on Monday to take some more of my Anne Shirley exams, also known as CLEPs. I had Western Civilization I in the morning and College Composition in the afternoon. But it was Western Civ that was worrying me. It was this that had me sitting outside of the testing centre for fifteen minutes before going in, frantically flipping through my study guide one last time. It was this that made the butterflies slam against the walls of my stomach. And it was this that made my heart pound when I hit the "Submit Test" button. It was also this that forced me to rely on God even more. So it was a pretty great feeling to pass it. Pretty great. I started grinning like a fool when I saw my score. And since there was no one in the library, it's possible I may have done a mini happy dance. Very possible.

I had a short lunch break and then returned for College Comp. CC didn't worry me near as much as Western Civ. It did leave me more unsettled, though. It's made up of 50 multiple choice questions on elements of grammar and sentence revision, to be done in 50 minutes. Then you have to write two persuasive essays (one with sources, one without) in 70 minutes. When you're done, you don't get a score. Your essays will be sent to two random English university faculty members somewhere in the U.S. who will grade them. Their cumulative score, combined with the multiple choice questions, will give you your official score. The unsettling part is that I have to wait for them to mail it to me. It could take anywhere from 4-8 weeks. So now I get a lesson in patience!

Taking exams has a way of revealing true heart attitudes. I know these two I took on Monday really showed me an area of my life that I struggle with - self-reliance. When pressure is placed on you, things come to light about how you really feel, things you may not have known before. "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?" (Jeremiah 17:9) Taking these state examinations has really prompted me toward self-examination, and for that I'm truly grateful. The process of sanctification is not always easy, but it is good. Knowing my own struggle with self-reliance forced me to make a much greater effort in prayer and reliance on the Lord. I tried to keep my attention on Him, not on myself. Soli deo gloria.

So now I'm home, waiting for College Comp scores, catching up on some sleep, and starting some study for my next two CLEPs - Western Civ II and Introduction to Psychology. At the end of the day, my reflections were simple: God is good. Let us never forget. God is faithful. Let us never doubt.

Another Opening, Another Show

Well, today was it - opening day! By that I mean my first show of this year. You see, I'm part of the super amazing cast of project ARC, a show about rights and responsibilities, purpose, perspective and insecurity that travels around to different schools in our area performing for kids. It is INCREDIBLE! I've been part of it since its creation a year ago and have learned so much. I've learned about performing, about kids, about reaching out, about battling insecurity, about accepting the responsibilities that come with the rights I have as a human being, about slap dancing, about connecting and about a million other things. Though this show isn't from a Christian perspective, I pray that God is using it for His glory, and I think He is. We are seeking to make a difference in these kids' lives by shining an ARC of action, responsibility and choice into their lives, and I'm seeking to do it for the Lord.

This morning I was really nervous, though. The butterflies weren't doing their normal fluttering tap dance; I felt more like a boxing match was going on in there! But Mom and I prayed before the show, and just a few minutes in, the butterflies had exited the ring and retired their gloves. Needless to say, I was pretty happy. The show went on smoothly.

Today was such a blessing from the Lord. He helped me rely on Him more, helped me entrust my worries and cares to Him and blessed my show. I thank Him for all that He has done for me on this amazing opening day!

Reflections on Amazing Wonders: Day 2

Waking up to a gloomy, grey morning outside, it was so much fun to step inside the warm and bright church this morning for Day #2 of Amazing Wonders Aviation. As kids arrived, the air was electrified with excitement. Okay, maybe not exactly electrified, but I've just always wanted to say that! The truth is it took us a while to wake them up, but after a few good songs, some screaming and a healthy dose of jumping around, they were finally woken up and ready to hop on that old 20's bi-plane and travel to the wonders of the world!

This morning in our music rotation at the Matterhorn, we learned a song called, "If God." This song is based on Romans 8:31 - "If God is for me, who can be against me?" But one of the major themes in the song is worry. The verse in "If God" goes: "If God holds my days in His hand, if God has power over my circumstances, if God knows the plans He has for me, why should I fear? Why should I worry?" After teaching the kids the song, we sat them down and asked them about things that made them worry. Answers ranging from "I got worried once when my mom was yelling but wouldn't tell me what was wrong" to "I'd be worried if I drowned" culminated in their honest replies. Then Ms. Carla cracked open her Bible, and we got two kids to read two different Scripture verses. The first was Matthew 6:24:
“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble."
The second was Philippians 4:6:
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God."
Today was a great reminder for me, as I sang about God's power over my life and how He's working out my circumstances for His glory and my good, that I don't need to worry, that I shouldn't worry. If I know God's in control, and He "holds my days in His hands," I should be content and even joyful in my circumstances. There's no reason to worry. For "if God is for me, who can be against me?"

Pursuit and Providence

Well, today was the day - the day of the last rehearsal before my drama class performs Twelfth Night on Wednesday, that is. Stress levels were high, classroom temperatures soared to ridiculously hot extremes, about a billion trips to the water fountain were made, excitement shot through the air, nervousness edged everyone's voice, and we didn't even make it through a full dress rehearsal. Ack! Of course we'll have at least one full dress rehearsal at the theatre on Wednesday, but still ... nerve-wracking! I'm really working on not worrying, though, and remembering that I'm not performing this show first and foremost for people - I'm performing it for the Lord. I'm pursuing my best for His glory. But on the other hand, as my dad graciously reminded me, what will happen will happen. So, as he told me, we can pursue holiness and the Lord's glory to the best of our ability, but the Lord is provident - ultimately, what He ordains to happen will certainly happen.

So let's pursue godliness, but let's also trust our future in the Lord's hands. He's sovereign and in control - what's gonna happen is gonna happen. Let's keep a balance of pursuit and providence.

Daddy's Daughter: Insights on My Dad's Sermon

So my dad was getting a little worried at the lack of Daddy's Daughter posts appearing at the garden. But not to worry, Dad! I'm back with some insights from this morning's sermon, on Mark 4:35-41, called "Jesus: The One Who is God."

The text this morning covered the storm on the Sea of Galilee, and the disciples' worry and fear. This story was pretty applicable, because I bet that I can safely say that every single one of you have experienced a time in your life when fear, worry, and doubts crowded your mind. You've probably, at one time or another, responded to these fears the same way the disciples did: "Lord! Don't you care that we're perishing?"

So how do we get rid of our fear and worry? Here's three practical ways to overcome and combat the lies and deception our fears and worries feed us:
  1. Confess your sin. Sometimes we don't realize that worry and fear are sins, but they are, and, like all other sin, they need to be repented of.
  2. Ask for God's help. Without Him, overcoming fear and worry is hopeless, pointless, and impossible.
  3. Focus on Who God is. Dwell on His goodness, His sovereignty, and the fact that He is in control. Block out your problems and focus on Who He really is. Focus on Jesus' sacrifice of His life to cover your sin of worry, fear, and doubt with His precious blood.

Don't Worry, Be Happy- Part 2

Did you know that worry is a sin? It's true. God does not want us to worry. 'Why?' you ask? 'No skin off His bones, so why should He care?' you wonder. Well, worrying is really a lack of faith in God. When we worry, we are saying that we don't trust God to take care of us. George Muller once said, "The beginning of anxiety is the end of faith. The beginning of true faith is the end of anxiety." Ouch! I just got a kick in my conscience. Those that have true faith do not worry. Yikes! George Muller is saying that those who are really leaning on God can trust Him completely, without worrying. But the question is how do we not worry? Well ...

  1. In Philippians 4:6, Paul says, "Don't worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God." We need to bring our worries to God. He knows them anyway, but He wants us to come to Him, sharing our troubles in life with Him. God's gonna help us through those troubles, but He wants our cooperation.
  2. Jesus scolds us in Matthew 6:27 by saying, "Can any of you add a single cubit to his height by worrying?" We need to realize that we aren't doing ourselves any good by worrying. In fact, we're doing ourselves harm. Worrying can't gain one penny or add an hour to our life.
  3. And finally and most importantly, we need to focus on the fact that God will provide our needs. By worrying and showing a lack of faith in God, we are clearly stating that we don't trust God to provide for us. In Mathew 6:31-33, Jesus says, "Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." We need to stop worrying and seek God. He will calm our worries and take care of us.
How happy is the man
who has put his trust in the LORD and has not turned to the proud or to those who run after lies! ~Psalm 40:4

4 Botanical Blessings-Part 4: The Lilies of the Field

Good morning, readers. Today I will finish my blog series with a common parable that I'm sure you've heard of. One of my friends from church memorized the entire story. Matthew 6:25-34 tells us DO NOT WORRY ABOUT ANYTHING.

You may be wondering, if you haven't heard the story, what does this have to do with flowers? Well, in verses 28-29 we read: And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

Jesus talked about the beauty of the lilies, yet He talked about them in an applicable story. We've all heard a thousand and one times 'don't worry.' But have we ever thought about worry and how it's a sin? Don't tell me you've never worried about clothes or something else. Jesus says 'Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.' This is all black and white (and red). It's simple, but often overlooked. It's one of those parables that we've heard a zillion times and we may never think about it. We need to look at it and live it. So, whether you worry about what to eat, the future, breaking a window when you're playing baseball, or anything else, know that God is with you and there is no need to worry.