On Death And What Happens After…( Yeah, I Think About It)

Everyone talks about  their life and what is happening in it. I am often at the store or at some public place when I will hear a couple of people talking about what is going on in their life these days, or how the kids are and what their latest interests are. Everyone talks about life and all that it has to offer, yet I often find myself thinking about death and how that plays into things. I mean lets face it, life is interesting, but isn’t the big mystery what is happening after death? If you have ever been to a funeral, and seen a body you know that something is missing in  there, right?

I have been to quite a few funerals and maybe that is part of why I often think about death, or maybe I just am one who chooses not to suppress the thought. Maybe I am one who really wants to know what is going to happen when our body stays and our spirit goes. Where does the spirit go after all? The Bible says that if we are absent from the body we are present with the Lord. Of course this only applies to believers in Christ according to the words of the Bible. In John 14:6 Jesus says ” I am the way the truth and the life, no man comes to the father except by me” . These words are pretty straight forward, and leave little to the imagination. The question I think most people have, is whether this Jesus was a liar, the Lord, or a lunatic?

We live in a world that is full of religions and cults and all kinds of people claiming to know about the afterlife. But I never wanted religion, or cults, I wanted to know about this God. If the Bible was true then there was one God only and one mediator between God and man, Christ Jesus. I read back in the Old Testament in Isaiah the description of how the messiah who God was to send would die. It describes the death of Christ to every detail, right down to what bones will break and how people will treat him at his death. Considering that the book of Isaiah was written some 800 years before the birth of Christ, this really peeked my interest.

Still, as I look at the world today, I see more of a rebellion towards the idea of God, rather than a rejoicing that He is and we have a savior in Christ. As a matter of fact, many people today who call themselves atheists are actually using there own money to try and hide the crosses that are up in public, and stop schools from displaying Bibles or having prayer. This really confused me a few decades ago, but I get it now. The idea is to suppress any hint of God, or Jesus or the cross, and maybe people will forget that they are there!

I guess it might fool a few, but how would this affect eternity, and there decision about Jesus, and His statement on being the only way to the Father? It doesn’t. They still face the same God they attempt to hide, and will bow to the savior of the world, the king of kings, Jesus Christ of Nazareth. At least that is what the bible says. So what is the point of running from the God who made us or worshipping false gods, idols, or people that are dead? Is it to live a life here on earth free of conviction to sin? Free of guilt? No accountability for me? I guess that is why some refuse to believe, but I have asked others why they don’t. The answers I get are interesting. Some tell me that we came from a fish, and we have been around for billions and billions of years. When I ask for any sign of a transitional fossil or some evidence of what we once were, they change the subject. Once in a while I get the ” all paths lead to heaven” answer which always disappoints. As soon as I ask for some documentation of this theory, we talk football. There is the  ” I wont serve a God who lets bad things happen” theory, but it leaves me begging the question ” If you wont serve Him, does He owe you a free pass or something when you die?

What I often wonder is what will everyone do if the Bible is right, it is the Word of God, and Jesus really is the only way to heaven? I can only say what my experience is. Before I do, I want to be sure to stop any potential whiners right here and now. I am not pushing Jesus on you. I am simply sharing my experience and in my case I happen to be a Christian. If I was a Buddhist I would be sharing the beliefs of the Buddha.  The point of this post is to consider what we all think and when we all think about life after death.

If we don’t think about life after death, does it have to do with our belief system? If we are strong in our faith, we may be confident enough to talk about it. If we are not so sure about what we believe then we likely will avoid the issue. However in this particular case and topic, is avoiding the issue really prudent? Is that even an option? If we are talking about the entire eternal state, and if there is even a chance that we could have some choices to make that will determine our outcome, how can anyone in their right mind just treat it casually? I sure could not, and I am solid in my beliefs and I still consider my beliefs on a daily basis. I consider my faith to be the most important thing in my life. The order of my existence is God, family, work.

I have lived long enough to know the following is true about my beliefs; people come and go, jobs come and go, relationships come and go, health comes and goes, moods come and go, money comes and goes, but God, is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. For me, this is what I have learned in my life. Therefore for me, I have 100% of my security in the Lord. I have 100% of my identity in the Lord. This way my security and my identity does not change as often as the wind blows like many people I see in the world today. I have pity for those who live and die by the approval of others. The people who are happy if people approve of them, and distraught when people do not approve. This is the definition of an insecure existence. The only way  got out of that life, was to decide to please my God, the creator, not the creation.

I also run into the occasional earth child, who loves the sun, the moon, the stars, and will lay down on the sand to protect a sea turtle, but will not miss a beat while human babies are being sliced alive at the old clinic. This amazes me, but so do the earth people who gather tree bark as a sacrifice and scatter it under trees while chanting some hippie song and dancing a jig in the moonlight. The occasional joint can be found on the premises as well, after all it is a natural drug, Gods own weed. So the earth people I guess have decided that the creation has powers, but no creator necessary. Mother earth is real but father God is not. I have my own theory on why this is the case. I truly believe that the reason the creation gets all the pub is because the creation cannot hold the humans accountable for anything, where as the creator would be able to. Less accountability is the popular choice.

At the end of the day, I believe humans are much more likely to grab hold of any religion or belief system that requires little or no accountability then to embrace a God who requires choices that have consequences attached. I even can relate to the concept, it is easy to handle. However, I have such a hard time with this one issue that has to do with reality versus wishful thinking. I like to think if myself as a reasonable man, who considers all options before making decisions. I try not to base my decisions on what would feel best for me, but what would seem the most likely to be the truth. In my case, I mentioned earlier that I did not become a believer in Christ based only on the Bible. I actually took what the words of the Bible said and tested them out. For example, the Bible says that anybody who seeks God, will find Him. I decided to call out to the Lord. I called out to the name of Jesus and repeated what the words in the Bible say He will do if I called on Him. I got an answer. My life started to change, my circumstances began to change, my desires began to change and the my mind began to change. Once I understood that there was real change happening , it was no longer a question of if God was real, but whether or not I would serve Him. Honestly it was a no brainer, who would say no to the living God?

 

The strangest thing that I see as a Christian, by far is the refusal by all non believers to take the challenge that I have offered to anyone from atheists to Mormons to Jehovahs Witnesses, to moonies. From agnostics to psychics and witches to Satanists. The challenge is this. When I am confronted by a non believer in Christ who wants to debate the Bible, history, maybe the big bang or evolution, I simply challenge them to call on the name of the Lord, and see of He responds. To say with an open heart and mind, Jesus, if you really are the son of God, the king of kings and lord of lords, who died and rose from the dead for my sins, and are the only way to heaven, then I ask you to reveal yourself to me, to show me you are real, and I will serve you the rest of my days. Believe it or not, in all the years I have issued this challenge, not one soul has been willing to try it. I have come to believe that most people do have an idea of what is truth, but the truth is not in style these days.

 

Tj

 

How To Tell If You Are A ” Good” Parent- 75% Of Parents Say They Are…

I have been around the game for awhile. Social Work can be very interesting work and also has a way of making a social worker constantly evaluate their own family and values. 20 years ago I was fresh out of college and had only one primary concern , me. Things have changed a little, and now I rarely get the time to consider me, because with 5 children you do not have much free time to do things for yourself. Its all abut the kids and trying to be the best parent I can be.

So what exactly is a ” good ” parent ” ? After many years reading about the topic, many years practicing being a parent and many years listening to the experts talk about it, I have had many discussions about what type of people are the very best at being a parent. There are always going to be generic lists out there in publications trying to define this, and always television shows about how to raise the greatest kids. As a matter of fact there are so many parenting classes, books and shows out that I wonder if any of them even agree with the others.

I am including a link to what I consider to be a decent and reasonable list of things that may help make up a good parent. It is worth looking at and really has some valuable ideas. I also want to address some things that you don’t see written too often, some things that may not seem as glamorous as the other ideas. These are things that I myself have used with my kids, and let me tell you- I don’t like to brag, but both of my son’s probation officers have nothing but good things to say about them, and my daughters , well lets just say that daddy is proud. The girls have never been suspended more then 1x per year and they both have pulled nothing less then a 2.0 in school . You understand why I may be a tad proud.

The truth is that I have actually sat in meetings with parents where those descriptions of sons and daughters were accurate, and they were great improvements! Every child performs at a different rate, with different tools and comes equipped with baggage, whether good or bad. It is impossible to try and rate a child’s success based on what the other kids are doing. Some kids have had very traumatic upbringings and some have had it easy. Some have unusually high IQ scores and some not so high; Some have high levels of confidence and some come in with abuse issues and cant think of anything positive to say about themselves.

The point here is that while the world likes to rate everyone using one system and one teaching style, we all know from the problems schools are having today that it does not work. I think the best system for kids is the one that fits their strengths the best. I know of children that are extremely intelligent, but do poorly on tests. There are children who can get good grades with little effort and those that must study all the time to pass. Does this mean that one is smarter then the other? No, it means that one can perform better under a certain set of conditions then the other. I know from my own experience that being smart is a relative term, and we as parents would do well to stay away from terms like that when describing our kids.

At any rate, as I mentioned earlier, the link at the end of this is a good list of things to look for in a parent and worth checking out when we evaluate our own parenting style. I also want to mention a few other things that I personally have used to teach my kids some very valuable lessons.

1- Be honest about your mistakes-

One of the hardest but most rewarding talks I had with my boys when they were in their early teens, was when I shared some of the mistakes I made along the way. Getting a DUI, drinking too much, divorce and a few other things that were hard to discuss with my kids. I had this talk, and to my surprise, my kids were very interested in what happened, why, and most importantly, what I did to correct the mistakes. Having the ability to say that I no longer had the problem or did not engage in that behavior anymore made it much easier to talk about my mistakes.

2- Model what you say is important-

Everybody knows the saying ” Do as I say, not as I do ” – never use that strategy with your kids. If you are going to preach to them about the importance of a certain behavior or lack thereof, then make sure you are living it. If you are not ,living what you are preaching, it will have no value to your kids.

3- Tell them the truth about the hard issues in life, and don’t try and shelter them from the real world. I remember my kids asking me about girls that had babies in their arms, that were maybe 14-15 years old. I chose to be honest with them, and honest about the consequences of having that responsibility at that age as well. Never sugar coat the issue and never judge others when you talk. We don’t know everyone’s story, so we should not be judging .

4- Discipline them if you love them- I get a chill when I see a parent trying to be their child’s buddy. You are the parent not the friend. Do them a favor and teach them what is right and wrong by giving them consequences for their behavior. Not crazy ones but consequences . Skip that part and you are in for a very long and trying time as you run around trying to carry a pillow under your child every time they mess up. Let them feel the pain now so they don’t have to live with it forever later.

Those are a few real life tips that have really helped me in my days as a parent. I have seen them work for many other parents as well, so try them out and do your best to stick to them!

Tj

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http://www.medicinenet.com/parenting_principles_pictures_slideshow/article.htm