A Matter of Life and Death

The Latest Word from John Ed Mathison

One of the great leaders of the 20th century was Dr. Bill Bright, founder and leader of Campus Crusade for Christ, today renamed “Cru.” This organization has become one of the largest ministries in the world.

Dr. Bright, in his later years, developed emphysema. He spent the last few months of his life under an oxygen tent. He had a passion to finish some books, which he did – while under the oxygen tent!

A few days before he died, President George Bush called him. When some of his friends heard about that, they said that must have been a big thrill. Dr. Bright’s response was that God had given him about 15 things to accomplish in his last few weeks, and he had accomplished all of them. He said that completing things God gave him to do was a bigger thrill than having a phone call from anybody – even the President!

At his funeral Dr. Adrian Rogers said that he learned three things from Dr. Bright – he learned how to dream – how to dare – how to die.

I received a call one day from Dr. Bright when he was under the oxygen tent. He spoke openly about fulfilling God’s purpose here on earth and his strong certainty about eternal life. He was ready to continue living, or to die – whatever God willed.

My Dad knew how to live and how to die. Spending time with him the last few days of his life, he had the quiet, calm assurance of God’s presence and of God’s faithfulness in all that the Bible taught. He taught me how to live and how to die.

I have a great friend, Frank Woodson, whose Dad died the early part of 2012. He shared with me a couple of paragraphs that his Dad, Earnest Woodson, had typed on his computer before he died. He knew how to live and how to die. He wrote

“Life begins when we are born. We proceed, totally dependent on mother or someone else into childhood. These early years are followed by teenage into adulthood. Through that growing period we see some stillborn, some accidental deaths, many die from cancer and a multitude of other diseases. The toll from earthquakes, plagues, storms, and other natural event is enormous. We cannot forget wars and terrorism.

Death is the last part of this life. It is something that is tragic at times, horrible at others, but it can also be very sweet relief from long suffering and pain. For those believers in God our creator and Jesus our savior this is the answer to prayer. This is what I believe and at my death I want everyone to celebrate with me.”

The Apostle Paul knew how to live and how to die. When he spoke about his eminent death, he proclaimed “As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God. The time of my death is near. I have fought a good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.” II Timothy 4:6, 7 (NLT)

Thank God for people who teach us how to live and how to die!

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