Completing the Circle of Life at Uncle Marc’s Memorial Service

Saying Good-Bye to Marc Shoquist 1928 - 2013

Saying Good-Bye to Marc Shoquist 1928 – 2013

We just got back from a memorial service for Uncle Marc.  He lived a vibrant and full life till the very end.  He was visiting cousin Karen at the Lake House, which was a familiar trip several times a year.  This time the autumn leaves were turning.  Karen had her work in one room that weekend and Uncle Marc was doing taxes in the next room.  They had already decided to have Sunday dinner there and drive back on Monday morning.

It was during that Sunday dinner, mid-sentence, that Uncle Marc experienced a severe stroke. Cousin Karen has a son-in-law who is a paramedic, so she knew several of the steps on what to do.  She ordered the helicopter to meet the paramedics at the local emergency center.  They flew Uncle Marc back to Minneapolis directly to the hospital.  The stroke was severe, but they kept him alive for two days.

We got the news about the stroke on Monday morning and prayed. We believe God and Marc were able to do some final, important, business together between Sunday night and Tuesday when he passed.

Cousin Karen was asked to give a tribute to Marc at the service two weeks later. She wanted to spend more time with us visiting family, but her own daughter was having complications with labor pains while we were in town.  As we all walked out of the service, Cousin Karen’s other daughter showed her Mom the picture of the new baby Esther that had been born during the service.  We celebrated and said good-bye to one life as the new little one breathed her first breath.  It completed the circle of life.  Joy interrupted our grief.  Our tears of joy spilled out on top of our sorrow.  The celebration of life continued on in heaven as we received the new bundle of a perfectly formed and healthy baby from heaven.

God, you understand every angle of all our emotions.  Meet those of us in grief carrying on without Uncle Marc. And help us celebrate the new life of Esther, this precious baby girl into the family.

 


Not Really the End

Doing Live Together her and into Eternity

Doing Live Together her and into Eternity

When we come to the end of a good book, we don’t want it to end.  Same with a good movie or a perfect romantic . Yet, time marches on.  We keep the memory, the moment passes, and the new day starts.

When we lose someone we love, we want to scream, “No, Not Now.  Not Yet. Please don’t go now.”  We wish there was one more day, one more trip to take together, one more good conversation, one more hug.

Into the midst of our grief and shock, Jesus comes and whispers, “It’s not over, really.”  Was that me or was that the voice of heaven offering hope?  Jesus reminds us that there is eternity ahead.  There is a future meeting point where we will see our loved one again.  Thoughts that start with, “It’s over” or “It will never be the same” are replaced with joy-filled hope of “I’ll see you in heaven one day.”  Jesus went before us into heaven to prepare a place for each of us.  Christ’s victory over death in the form of his resurrected body allows us to have the confident hope that death is not the last chapter.  Eternity is the last chapter.  An eternity filled with the presence of God and the fellowship of the saints.  Unfortunately, it’s not one without the other.

“Oh death, where is thy victory?  Thanks be to God, who give us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  1 Corinthians 15:57

 

 

 

October 19  Not Really The End

When we come to the end of a good book, we don’t want it to end.  Same with a good movie or a perfect romantic . Yet, time marches on.  We keep the memory, the moment passes, and the new day starts. 

When we lose someone we love, we want to scream, “No, Not Now.  Not Yet. Please don’t go now.”  We wish there was one more day, one more trip to take together, one more good conversation, one more hug. 

Into the midst of our grief and shock, Jesus comes and whispers, “It’s not over, really.”  Was that me or was that the voice of heaven offering hope?  Jesus reminds us that there is eternity ahead.  There is a future meeting point where we will see our loved one again.  Thoughts that start with, “It’s over” or “It will never be the same” are replaced with joy-filled hope of “I’ll see you in heaven one day.”  Jesus went before us into heaven to prepare a place for each of us.  Christ’s victory over death in the form of his resurrected body allows us to have the confident hope that death is not the last chapter.  Eternity is the last chapter.  An eternity filled with the presence of God and the fellowship of the saints.  Unfortunately, it’s not one without the other. 

“Oh death, where is thy victory?  Thanks be to God, who give us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  1 Corinthians 15:57


Prayers for the Parched: Lingering Blessings

Long after someone dies, their essence lingers on like the glow of a sunset after the sun sets.

Long after someone dies, their essence lingers on like the glow of a sunset after the sun sets.

Proverbs 10:7  The memory of t he righteous will be a blessing

1 Timothy 6:6  Godliness with contentment is great gain

Long after someone dies, their essence lingers on like the glow of a sunset after the sun sets.  When a good man or woman dies, the effects of their actions continue on from their investments.  The most important asset we invest is our time.  Investing into the lives of others plants seeds that grow long after the loved one is gone.  God has promised to be  the gardener and he continues to water these seeds for us.

God has built into the human fabric threads of the generations that precede us.  What we choose as individuals and as families has future impact on our children, our extended families, and our community.  God is present in the room with us when we make those tough choices to do the right thing, and be individuals of integrity.  The closer we align our actions to Biblical principles, the bigger the gift we give to our children and their children and their children’s children.

God honors this principle with a warning that the sins of the fathers last for four generations.  More importantly, the corollary is also true.  The blessings of the fathers (and mothers) last four generations. Whereas the generational sin patterns can be broken through the power of Jesus’ redeeming love with his blood, nothing stops the blessings of a good heritage from being passed down through the generations.

 

Father,

Thank you for understanding my parents’ heart

Forgive me when I selfishly think my actions don’t matter, or won’t be seen by anyone

You see everything

You give everything value

 

Than you for the good decisions of my great grandparents

Thank you for the spiritual integrity of my grandparents

Thank you for the tough decisions my parents made to do honorable things in your sight

Where actions have not matched good intentions, I ask you to forgive them

Continue to do your work in the lives and in the lasting works of their lives

Thank you for the blessings that I walk in sowed from generations before mine

Let me give blessings to everyone I touch today and plant seeds of blessings for future generations

 


The Start Point of David’s Mighty Men

David's Mighty Men started  with everyone who was in distress, everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was discontented.

David’s Mighty Men started with everyone who was in distress, everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was discontented.

In my Home Group last night we focused on pre-king David. David’s path to the kingdom wasn’t a resume most leaders would want.  After he received the anointing to be king by the prophet Samuel, he first had to work for bi-polar King Saul whose jealousy put David’s life in danger, on several occasions.  David had to flee the country, first to the enemy Philistines and then to Moab.  God called him back to Judah, and he obeyed God, even as he had to live like a fugitive to save his life.

In hiding in the cave of Adulam, David’s brothers joined him, the same ones who taunted him and doubted his military ability before Goliath.  Their lives were now in danger being related to David, and they probably weren’t happy about it.  1 Samuel 22:2 tells us who joined him next:  “everyone who was in distress, everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was discontented gathered to him.”  Such is the motley crew David started with.

Jumping ahead to the end of his life, 1 Chronicles 11 & 12 talks about the courageous feats and exploits that David’s mighty men did for David and for Israel.  Their names are part of history that the Bible takes great care to record and preserve. Something David taught them as a leader transformed them.  They trained and learned well the art of warfare, true.  But there must have been something else.

We get a clue about this by reading Psalm 34, which David wrote while being chased by King Saul.  He starts with a choice to praise God.    “I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.”  Other men might have complained about King Saul, or not  being where God had told David he would be – the next king.  David turned to God, “I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.”  David and his men must have learned what it meant to trust God for their safety.  “The angel of the Lord encamps all aroud those  who fear Him, and delivers them.”  This is more than bravado;  this is a declaration of faith.   These themes of deliverance are declared and stated over and over again until they become core beliefs of these mighty men in the making.  “The righteous cry out and the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.”  v. 17.  Reading Psalm 34 through more than once and remembering the conditions it was written under offers timeless inspiration.  The realness of David’s God must have been part of the courage and character training.  These men learned and lived these truths and became David’s Mighty Men.

 


Hisotric Evaluation of Life: How Does God Measure?

"And the King did what was right in the sight of the Lord"

“And the King did what was right in the sight of the Lord”

I am attempting a one year reading plan of the Bible over what is now 4 years and counting.  It’s slow going.  I’m being very forgiving of myself and the many days that I go off on study tangents or read another captivating book for a class or follow up on a sermon’s quote from the previous week.  Nonetheless, I pluck away now and then.

As I read through 2 Kings, it talks about the kings of Israel and Judah.  It gives interesting details and stories about the way the kings (and even a Queen!  Read about Queen Athaliah in 2 Kings 11) ruled. There’s usually one sentence that tells us what the fate of Israel and Judah will be under a particular king.  The sentence reads one of two ways:  King So-and-So did what was right in the sight of the Lord all his days, OR King So-and-So did evil in the sight of the Lord” Here’s one example from 2 Kings 13:2 “and Jehoahaz did evil in the sight of the Lord, and followed the sins of Jerohoam the son of Nebat, who made Israel sin.”  The kings’ choices were usually followed by peace or war.

Three thousand years later, we read about a king’s reign and life with God’s criteria of serving God by following the ways of God or by not following the ways of God.  What if that remains one of God’s criteria for a life to this day?  Jesus simplified the list of laws but left us with two overriding laws for living that encompass all the decisions a person makes.  Love and heart intentions before God become an even more defined and exacting criteria.  To the best of what you know about God, how would you do with God’s criteria of “doing what was right before the Lord?”  If you’re not sure, let’s ask God to help us, “Lord, I want my life to be one of doing what is right before you.  Please help me get there.”