Category Archives: Fear

Death Bed Confessions

deathbedAs a pastor, I’ve been invited to experience the final moments of several people’s lives.  Each time I walk through the death process with someone, it causes me pause and deep reflection.  It reminds me of my mortality and my absolute trust in the Lord for my life and breath.  It reminds me that my days are numbered.

I’ve been called to homes minutes after a troubled father committed suicide, minutes after a woman died in her sleep, and minutes after a woman accidentally overdosed on drugs.  I arrived at the hospital literally one minute after an older gentleman died after a long bout with cancer.  In all these situations, I did not experience the final minutes of these precious lives.  But, with a few people, I have experienced that moment when they take their final breath.  What a privileged position I’m in to be invited in by family members to experience their loved one’s final moment on earth.  It’s a sobering, spiritual, powerful experience.  Some have gone quietly; some have not.  But none have delivered profound final words so often seen in the movies.  But just because I’ve not experienced this doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen.

Recently, a user on social platform, Reddit, posed this question: “To the doctors nurses, police, paramedics etc. of Reddit. Did you ever hear a death bed confession and what was it? Did you feel like it brought relief to the person confessing?” More than 8,000 comments have been posted in response. None of them has been verified. User privacy is an important part of Reddit, but the community is also quick to police itself when fraud is suspected.  Here are some of the fascinating experiences users shared in response to this question:

Mayaseye: “When I first started as a 911 dispatcher I had a call come in and all that the person said was ‘Tell them I’m sorry,’ and hung up.  I knew right away what we were going to find when we got there. It was the worst feeling. I just felt so dirty that I was the last one to talk to this guy, and no matter how fast we sent help it didn’t matter it was just too late. So I guess he was confessing, but it just made me feel icky.”

Orange_Penguin: “This may not seem like much, but the last words my mom said to me before she died were ‘Baby, I’m scared.’ She wasn’t scared of anything – she was a paramedic for over 20 years and had practically seen it all. That was the most horrifying part about watching her die. In all the times she’d been forced to go to the hospital, I had NEVER heard her say that she was scared.”

Buddynacho: “My grandma went a little loopy before she went, but she left a voice mail for her best friend in the last days along the lines of ‘Maggie, it’s Deborah. I’m dying, and it’s a lot of fun! Call me back!’ ”

CopWithoutVest: “A call had come out of a shooting that had just occurred. It was in a neighboring division, but we were close so we decided to go. We were the first unit and there is a guy, shot right in the forehead walking back and forth. He is on his cell phone screaming and crying and asking his mother to please forgive him for everything he has done because he got shot and was going to die.” He posted later that he never found out whether the man died.

CommercialPilot: “My great-grandmother went to bed one evening and didn’t wake up for a number of days. Finally, 4 or 5 days later, she awoke, lifted her head, looked at her husband of 70 years marriage and said softly “I’ve loved you for 70 years now and I would do it all over again.” Then she looked at her daughter and said “Daughter” nodded her head, laid back down and died in her sleep shortly thereafter.”

CNN.com did an article about this.  You can read it here.  Or, you can go straight to the thread on Reddit.com by clicking here.

 

Permission To Be Free

I have a mentor that most of you probably don’t know. As a matter of fact, he doesn’t even know that he’s my mentor, but he’s been that for me for over twenty years. He’s a man who lives his life behind a microphone, and for over twenty years I have listened to his daily 15-minute broadcast. His program used to be broadcast on my local Christian radio station until they decided that he was too “outside the box” for them, so they booted him. When I was working with Trans World Radio in Guam back in 1991, I proposed that they pick up his program on the local island-chain Christian radio station, and they did. He’s been on that station now for 17 years. Now days, I have his program on my daily podcast line-up, and I listen to him pretty faithfully that way.

My mentor’s name is Steve Brown, and his ministry is called “Key Life.” He sums up the purpose of his ministry by saying that it exists to communicate to people everywhere that God is not mad at them. He speaks daily about the freedom that we have in Christ, and he desires to give Christians permission to be free.
2 Corinthians 3:17 says, “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” Steve takes this verse to heart and says that since we’ve been filled with the Spirit of the Lord, we ought to be living in freedom. He says, “Everybody wants to be free in Christ, but very few people realize it. So most of us play a game. We conform to what everybody thinks and what everybody says, and we end up in prison by our own fear.”
I used to live in the prison of my own fear, and it nearly ruined me. Then, a couple of years ago, I hit rock bottom. My fear of failure, my fear of regret, and my fear of losing the things that were most precious to me had totally imprisoned me. I felt hopeless, afraid, and depressed. It was then that the Lord convicted me of the sin of my fear, and it was then that I began to realize that because of the work of Christ on the cross, God actually gives me – and you too – permission to be free. My mentor, Steve, had been telling me this for years, but it took me hitting rock bottom before I understood how locked-up I really was and how miserable I was making life for myself and my family.
1 John 4:18 says, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” God, through the work of His Son Jesus (who is perfect love) on the cross, has removed fear from our lives and gives us permission to be free. Hallelujah!
Today I was listening to my mentor, Steve, on my iPod, and he said something to me that was really funny but really profound. He said, “All of Bible theology can be summed up in two statements: Cheer up…you’re a lot worse than you think you are! And cheer up…God’s grace is a lot bigger than you think it is!” Now that’s freeing!
I’m choosing to live in freedom today. Are you?

A Tattoo for My Birthday

Today’s my birthday, and I’m thinking about getting a tattoo. I’ve been thinking about getting one for several years and almost did a couple of years ago when Michelle and I were in Hollywood, CA together. We were walking along the “Walk of Fame” checking out all of the stars when we stumbled upon a tattoo shop. How cool would it be to say that I got a tattoo in Hollywood? Very bold. Very daring. Very cool. Very much unlike me to do so. We didn’t get one that day because I couldn’t decide what to get, and I couldn’t talk Michelle into getting one with me.

Since then, I’ve been thinking off and on about getting one. My daughter, Emily, swears that I promised her that we would get one together on her 18th birthday (next May), but I have no recollection of ever making that promise.

The first time I ever really considered getting one was back in 1996 when I was at lunch with my friend, Brett Ray. I got to know him because I used to be in charge of a large summer youth conference in Ohio, and he was one of the speakers we regularly brought in. Brett is a phenomenal speaker who now does marriage conferences for Family Life Ministry with his wife, Carol. One day we were having lunch together and Brett informed me (now that we were becoming closer friends) that he had a tattoo. I had never seen it, but knowing him, I wasn’t really surprised. I asked him where it was, hoping that it wasn’t somewhere on his body that I didn’t want to see. He unhooked his watch and revealed some letters tattooed on his wrist; letters that were completely covered by his watch band. Upon closer inspection, I saw that words “bleed grace” had been ornately tattooed on his wrist. He explained that someone once told him that he was a man who bleeds grace, and soon after being told that, he got the tattoo to always remind him to make sure his life is marked by grace. I thought that was pretty cool, and it got me thinking.

What do I need to always remember? What words are so important to me that I would consider having them tattooed on my body? In the years that followed, I really couldn’t think of anything. I wouldn’t mind having the name “Michelle” tattooed on my body, but I’ve always told her that if I did, I’d have it tattooed on my rear end. She’s not really excited about that idea. And then there’s this guy I know who has all the names of his kids tattooed on his neck. I’m not a big fan of that. It looks kind of weird, and it would be hard to cover up. Plus, it’s not right to put their names on my neck when right now, I spend most of my time wanting to wring theirs!

And then, God revealed something to me. Something very profound. Something worth writing on my body. I have always been a worrier who struggles to keep everything around me under my control, and when I can’t control things, I get frustrated and angry. This has caused a lot of damage to those closest to me: my wife and kids. They’ve lived with a man who loves them dearly but who is driven by fear. This fear leads to my need to control, and it’s taken a toll on them. I used to think that my problem was anger, but the Lord has revealed to me (through some pretty rotten circumstances) that my anger is just a symptom of a deeper problem. Fear.

I’m not afraid of the dark (usually) nor am I afraid of my shadow, but I am afraid of a lot of things. I’m afraid of screwing up. I’m afraid of regret. I’m afraid of losing control. I’m afraid of losing the people and things that I love. I’m afraid to put my complete faith and trust in the Lord. And, I’m even afraid that someone will read this and think I shouldn’t be their pastor anymore.

However, God is doing a work in me, and even though I’m afraid of it, it’s been life changing, revolutionary, and really good. He’s teaching me that He can be trusted, and He’s teaching me that He’s so trustworthy that I can relinquish my need for control over to Him…and He can handle it. I think I’m starting to get it. You know how I know? I’m not nearly as scared as I used to be, and as a result, I don’t try to control things as much, and I’m not nearly as angry as I used to be. I think this is what it means to be free in Christ. It’s a freedom I’ve never really understood nor experienced, but I’m starting to get it, and I like it…a lot.

So, what words do I think just might be worth tattooing on my body? I’ve thought about this a lot lately, and I think – for me – the words “no fear” would be a good choice. And if I feel really spiritual on the day of my tattooing, I may change it to “fear not” because when Jesus spoke in the King James dialect, these are the words he used.

The other day, I was driving and came upon a car at a stop light. I looked over and saw a very old lady driving. On her left arm was a tattoo. It did not look good at all on her. I’m sure it looked just fine when she was my age, but it kind of frightened me, to be honest. Made me think. I’m not getting any younger. As a matter of fact I just turned another year older today. Maybe getting a tattoo is not such a good idea for me. I guess I’ll hold off until Emily forces me to consider the idea again in May.