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GLMX #249: When Death Speaks

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Allow me to share with you a brief story told by W. Somerset Maugham. The speaker is Death.

There was a merchant in Baghdad who sent his servant to market to buy provisions and in a little while the servant came back, white and trembling, and said, “Master, just now when I was in the marketplace I was jostled by a woman in the crowd, and when I turned I saw it was Death that jostled me. She looked at me and made a threatening gesture. Now, lend me your horse, and I will ride away from this city and avoid my fate. I will go to Samarra and there Death will not find me.” The merchant lent him his horse, and the servant mounted it, and he dug his spurs in its flanks and as fast as the horse could gallop he went. Then the merchant went down to the marketplace and he saw me standing in the crowd and he came to me and said, “Why did you make a threatening gesture to my servant when you saw him this morning?” “That was not a threatening gesture,” I said, “it was only a start of surprise. I was astonished to see him in Baghdad, for I had an appointment with him tonight in Samarra.”

This little story brilliantly illustrates the inevitability of death. No matter how we try to run from it, delay it, and avoid it, we will eventually be faced with it. In fact, the day of your death is already set. God knows it, but you do not. When that day comes, you will die whether you like it or not. The Bible says, “It is appointed unto men once to die…” Ecclesiastes 3:2 says there is “a time to be born, and a time to die.” Second Samuel 14:14 says, “For we must needs die, and are as water spilt on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again…”

Look all around you. People are dying: some from natural causes, some as casualties of war, and some from the effects of sickness and disease. Look at the history of your family and you will see that a long line of people related to you have passed beyond death’s door.

If death is inevitable, the only thing one can do is prepare for it. Continue Reading…

GLMX #248: The Solution for Jon Stewart’s ‘Dissatisfaction’

Jon Stewart

Jon Stewart

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A few weeks ago, Jon Stewart, who has hosted the popular Daily Show on Comedy Central for the past 16 years, announced that he was stepping down. In a recent interview with the Guardian, he revealed his reason why. He said, “It’s not like I thought the show wasn’t working any more, or that I didn’t know how to do it. It was more, ‘Yup, it’s working. But I’m not getting the same satisfaction.’” He went on to say that in his type of work, “You have moments of dissatisfaction, and then you come out of it and it’s OK. But the cycles [of dissatisfaction] become longer and maybe more entrenched.”

Stewart also commented on the 24-hour news cycle saying, “Watching these channels all day is incredibly depressing. I live in a constant state of depression.”

Jon Stewart’s reasoning is not foreign to the vast majority of people today. Many — including some of the most wealthy, most famous, and most successful individuals — will admit that they experience dissatisfaction with their jobs, their home life, their families, or their lack of success. Many of us will also readily agree that the constant stream of (mostly) negative news about what is happening in the world can indeed be depressing. Continue Reading…

GLMX #247: Things That Last Forever

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We live in a world that is temporary. The events of each day remind us that we are living on borrowed time — that at any moment everything we know could come to a screeching halt. Every day, lives are cut short by illness, car accidents, and criminal activity. Each hour serves as a reminder that we ought to be grateful for every breath we take. The Bible says, life is just “a vapor that appeareth for a little while and then passeth away.” Continue Reading…

GLMX #246: Gardner C. Taylor, the Prince of Preachers, was “Surprised by Grace” After a Life-Changing Fatal Car Accident

Gardner C. Taylor

Gardner C. Taylor

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Dr. Gardner C. Taylor, who passed away on Easter Sunday this year, is hailed today as the “dean of American preaching.” But, if Gardner C. Taylor had had his way, he would have never been a preacher at all. According to a Christianity Today feature story, Dr. Taylor was born in 1918 to Reverend Washington and Selina Taylor, and he inherited “Baptist genes” that many assumed would lead him into pastoral ministry. But Taylor said, “I recoiled from the thought of being a preacher. I wanted to go to law school and become a criminal lawyer. My boyhood friends in Louisiana tried to discourage me from that idea, though; at that time, no black person had ever been admitted to the Louisiana bar.” Taylor pursued his goal, and after being admitted to the University of Michigan Law School, he was well on his way to a career in law.

However, shortly before leaving home to go to college, he was involved in a tragic car accident. One night in rural Louisiana, another vehicle suddenly cut across his path. He said, “I tried to avoid them, but I couldn’t.” Both of the passengers in the other car — two white men — died. And the only witnesses to the accident were a white farmer and a white oil refinery worker.

Being a young black man, Gardner Taylor was worried about how everything would turn out. He said, “In that day, for a white person to tell the truth about a black person in that situation was incredible; but those men told the truth. I would not be here today if they had not.” That event was the turning point in his life when he finally decided to accept the call to preach. He said, “I was surprised by God’s grace. I had been brooding about my future for a long time, but that was the defining moment.”

Many have testified to the power of God’s grace in their lives. It was God’s grace that delivered a young Gardner C. Taylor from the possible deep South, Jim Crow devastating consequences of what was already a tragic situation. But more importantly, it was God’s grace that led him to salvation in Jesus Christ and to the calling to preach the Gospel which caused Him to become known as one of the greatest preachers who walked the earth. Even though he was a very humble man who said he “wanted to be remembered as just a preacher”, many call him “the prince of preachers” and “the dean of American preaching.” And it is God’s grace that can deliver you from the even greater consequences of your own sins, faults, and failures, and give you new life to be who God has made you to be and do what God has gifted you to do. Allow me to explain to you what I mean. Continue Reading…

GLMX #245: How to Defy Death

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A recent feature story in the Washington Post states: “For centuries, explorers have searched the world for the fountain of youth. Today’s billionaires believe they can create it, using technology and data.” The story went on to describe how Peter Thiel, the co-founder of PayPal, and Larry Page, the co-founder of Google, met with a molecular biologist and theoretician to discuss how they can use technology to slow down ageing and greatly elongate the human lifespan. The story also reported that Larry Ellison, the founder of Oracle, “has proclaimed his wish to live forever and has donated more than $430 million to anti-aging research.” He told his biographer, “Death has never made any sense to me. How can a person be there and then just vanish, just not be there?”

No doubt, every person who has lived has had questions about death. And nearly everyone has wondered at one time or another how they can extend their life or remain younger longer. Television ads about anti-aging creams and techniques populate the airwaves. People fret over dieting and health issues in an effort to look and feel younger. People have a seemingly natural desire to live longer — even to defy death and live forever. Continue Reading…

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