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CHRISTIAN TRANSITION
Christianity Oasis Ministry has provided you with this Christian Transition book with Christian Transition training. This Christian Transition book with Christian Transition message looks into the Christian Transition topic and asks what does Christian Transition mean, what is the Christian Transition method, why is the Christian Transition important, what is the Christian Transition message and how does the Christian Transition message affect your life. Understanding the Christian Transition message is very important and knowing what the Christian Transition message means can help you to understand many things more clearly. Let us delve into this Christian Transition book and find what this author has to share on the subject of the Christian Transition message in this Christian Transition book, shall we?


 

 

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TRANSITION


By J. D. Griffin

S.O.S.I. Ministries in conjunction with Harbor Light Church
 



Harbor Light Church

“A place that you can call home.”

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

He Knows Your Pain
God’s Not Your Enemy
There’s Two Sides to Every Story
Meet Me at the Throne

 

He Knows Your Pain

     One of the first and greatest transitions of my life took place when I was a young pastor in rural Galatia Illinois.  The event that I’m speaking of was the death of my grandfather, longtime friend, and most ardent supporter, Freddie Ray Heflin.

     As a member of our congregation it was both my duty, and honor to be asked to perform the service that day, but to be totally honest with you it was quite overwhelming.  Grandpa Fred had been a crucial aspect of not only my life, but also the ministry that God had entrusted me with.  He believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself, and though he could critique me like no one else could, he also had the ability to build me up when I really needed it.  Many times it was his voice that God would use to show me my successes even through my failures.  In many ways Fred had become a sense of strength, encouragement, and comfort to me, yet there I was feeling Isolated and alone.  In just a moment, an instant of time, everything seemed to just slip through my fingers.  One moment he was there, and the next he was gone.

     For the most part I believe that I held in the majority of the emotional turmoil that had enveloped me.  After all it was my job and my responsibility as a pastor to offer strength to the rest of the family, so I did the very best that I could to display a sense of confidence to those around me, but honestly I was a train wreck on the inside.

     I still remember that as I prayed that morning I cried out to God with a spirit of frustration.  I reminded Him that He had promised that He would always lead us, but out of desperation I asked Him how He could lead where He’d never been.  I knew that Jesus had been tempted in all ways, and that He had experienced life just as we have, but this was an experience that was totally alien to Him.  Sure He’d lost His friend Lazarus, John 11:35 even tells us that “Jesus wept” in response to His loss, but in reality verses 43 and 44 records that Jesus spoke with a loud voice saying “Lazarus, come fourth.  And he that was dead came forth.”  This wasn’t the same type of loss that I was going through at the time, and perhaps you’re experiencing right now.

     When we think of the temporary loss that was brought on by the death of Lazarus the best description comes from Jesus Himself.  In John 11:25 He said “I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me though he was dead, yet shall he live”.   Though this loss seemed very real to Mary, Martha, and Lazarus’ other friends and family, Jesus knew that Lazarus was going to be raised back to life on the fourth day.  Jesus didn’t enter into the situation scared or confused, to the contrary He knew exactly what was about to happen. 

     On two other occasions Jesus faced death head on during His ministry.  These encounters are described in Luke 7:11-15 and again in Luke 8:49-56.  These examples though very different in situation had very similar outcomes.  They both ended with the dead being raised, and families being reunited.

     These thoughts plagued me to the point where I was beginning to feel as though my knowledge had become a hindrance.  It seemed that the more that I studied the less confident I became about what to do or say at the funeral.  I needed some form of confirmation that God understood the pain that was being experienced by those that were gathered to grieve the loss of their loved one.  I wanted to know that not only was God in control of the situation, but also that He was sympathetic to our pain.   

     It was then that God took me to Luke 2:41-52.  This is the story of Jesus at the age of twelve with His mother Mary and his earthly father Joseph in Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover.  This is a very familiar story about the life of Jesus, and I’m sure that you’re probably wondering what the connection is between this aspect of Jesus’ life and the topic that I’m discussing today.  To be totally honest with you at first I didn’t understand the connection myself, but then God finally showed me that it wasn’t what the bible said it was instead what it didn’t say.  Luke 3:23 tells us that Jesus began His earthly ministry at the age of thirty.  This is around eighteen years after the events of Luke 2:41-52.  As Jesus walked this earth in ministry we are given many different references to His mother, His brothers, and even His sisters being with Him, but when it comes to Joseph there’s nothing more than silence.  He may have been referred to as the son of a carpenter from time to time, but that gives no indication that Joseph was actually there with Him at the time.  This means that by all indications Jesus had probably lost His earthly father, Joseph, at some point during that eighteen years where the bible is silent in regards to the events of His life.  In other words this type of pain was not foreign to Jesus.  He had undergone the physical separation that is brought on by death.  Which mean that He doesn’t only relate with our grief, He also knows our pain. 

     God then took things one step further when He began dealing with me about all those that have rejected Him as their savior.  He reminded me that He suffers loses on a daily basis.  Matthew 25:41 tells us that Hell was “prepared for the devil and his angels”, not for people.  The book of John 3:17 reaffirm this reality when it says “For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved”.  God never intended any of His creation to suffer the second death other than the devil and those angels that followed him.  This means that every time that a person dies without Him, and they find themselves suffering the second death then God suffers the loss of someone that He loves.  He knows how you feel.  He’s experienced the pain of loss not only from a physical point of view, but also a spiritual one.  Besides all this Acts 9:4(b) says “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?”  Saul was persecuting those within the church, but Jesus saw it as a personal assault on Himself.  This is a clear indication that as we suffer Jesus suffers with us.  He feels our pain, he knows when we are hurting, and He’s never left us stranded or alone.  Hebrews 13:5 assures us that “He will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” and Jesus Himself gave us this promise in Matthew 28:20 “lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world”.  You may feel isolated and alone right now, but He’s right there by your side.

  

 

God’s Not Your Enemy

     As we experience the loss of someone that we care about our bodies often become flooded with emotions.  One moment we may be laughing, and the next we could crying.  In the midst of our sobbing we often lash out with a feeling of great anger, or even frustration.  Nowhere was this fact more noticeable than in the tragic aftermath of the attack on the World Trade Center.  Numerous men and women were lashing out verbally at not only their attackers, but also at the God of Heaven.  One woman in particular went on national television and cried out in anger “where was God on September 11, 2001?

     The anger that these people displayed, though misdirected, was definitely understandable.  I don’t want to confuse you by what I’m saying here, because I realize that this concept is very controversial to say the least.  But Psalms 103:14 says “For He knoweth our frame: He remembereth that we are dust”.  In other words God knows our weaknesses; He understands our frustration, and even our anger.  He knows everything about us, both those things that are positive and those things that are negative.  Though we can never use this knowledge as an excuse to sin, it’s still nice to know that He understands when our failures are only based on a momentary weakness.  Earlier I mentioned the death of Lazarus, and the effect that it had on his two sisters Martha and Mary.  If you read all of John chapter eleven you’ll see that out of sheer frustration Martha became argumentative toward Jesus, but He never became angry with her, instead He became compassionate.  Jesus knew that the words of anger that she spoke were coming from her broken heart, and not her true feelings.

     Matthew 27:46 shows us that God not only understands, but to a certain degree has even experienced the frustration that is brought on by a moment of weakness.  As Jesus was being crucified He “cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? That is to say, My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?”  This is an example of the flesh of Jesus crying out to the Spirit of God during His weakest and most difficult moment.  I’m not trying to imply that Jesus was guilty of any form of sin after all 2 Corinthians 5:21 says that Jesus “knew no sin”.  I’m just reaffirming to you that we serve a God that not only knows our pain, but embraces us and comforts us as we go through it.

     As a preacher I’m always trying to extend the comfort and peace of God to those whose lives are engulfed in turmoil, but there are always those few that just won’t accept it.  One of the most prevalent times for this type rejection, surprisingly enough is during a funeral service.  Don’t get me wrong, I know that most of the people that are there are looking for any word of encouragement that they can get, but there are those isolated few that just refuse.  They just seem to see God as to much of an enemy to accept His comfort.  Sadly enough I feel that we as the church are partially to blame.  One reason is because so many people are limited when it comes to having a connection with either God or the church.  Their experience may be no more than a fading childhood memory, or perhaps a wedding, yet here they stand hurting and confused at the foot of a loved one forced to say goodbye.  They don’t have a world of scriptural wisdom to draw from, so instead they’re forced to accept what we as Christians tell them about God.  This is why I cringe every time that I hear someone make statements such as “God has taken our loved one”, or that “God needed them in Heaven more than we needed them on earth”.  These types of statements portray God as some type of a tyrant playing with the lives of, and taking the lives of those that we love.  This doesn’t offer an adequate picture of the situation as it exists.  God didn’t take our loved one from us, to the contrary it was death that took our loved one from us, and then God took them from the hands of death so that we can one day be reunited with them.  1 Corinthians 15:26 calls death an enemy to God.  It says that “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death”.  Death isn’t God’s ally, nor is it His friend.  Death is an adversary that opposes not only God, but also the people of God.  This is why John 10:10 says “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy; I (Jesus) am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly”.  It’s as if a big bully had come and taken something that was important to us.  The bully represents death in this illustration, our loved one is what death has taken from us, and God being the loving parent that He is comes immediately to our rescue.  God reclaims what’s His, but knowing that the bully is still lurking in the shadows He knows that it would be best if He held onto our loved one for safekeeping.  This way the bully can never touch our loved ones again.  Our family and friends that have passed on, and knew Jesus as their Lord and Savior are in His safe keeping.  They’re in a place where the pains of life, the terror of sickness, and the sting of death no longer have an effect.  This is why 1 Corinthians 15:55 asks the question “O death, where is thy sting?  O grave, where is thy victory?”

     I’m not trying to make light of the struggle that you’re now contending with.  I know the pain that the adversary inflicts by hurting those that we care about.  King David as a young man stood toe to toe with the giant named Goliath, and he prevailed but in 2 Samuel 12:23 King David faces his most devastating enemy as he suffers the pain of losing an infant son.  Despite his pain, despite his regret he still found the strength that was needed to cling to the promises of God.  David told those around him “I shall go to him (David’s son, but he shall not return to me”.  David knew that as a follower of the one true God we’re never forced to say goodbye, only till we meet again.  This assurance was the push that David needed in order to sustain his faith during his time of tragedy.  This same promise still holds true for us today.  David is now reunited with his son, as you will one day be reunited with your loved one.  Therefore we should cling to the many promises of God, as we also cling to the mercy and grace of God.  He’s not separated us from those that we have lost; to the contrary He has separated them from our real enemy which is the bully of death himself.  God’s not your enemy He’s just keeping those that you love safe until we can all be together again.
 


 

There’s Two Sides to Every Story

     I’ve always been told that there are two sides to every story.  With this in mind let’s look beyond just our side of the issue, and see that there’s another perspective that’s far too often overlooked or ignored.  When we go through times like these we see our tears, we feel our pain, and we know the sorrow of our loss, but what of our loved ones gain.  1 Corinthians 2:9 says “But as it is written.  Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him”.  This Scripture is telling us that we have no comprehension for all that our loved ones are experiencing.  They’ve achieved what we’re still striving for.

     In Philippines 1:21-24 we’re shown the inner turmoil of a man that finds himself at a crossroads in his life.  The man that’s sharing his feelings with us is the Apostle Paul.  As he wrote these words he was in a situation where he literally didn’t know whether he would live or die, but notice where his perspective was.  The Scripture says “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.  But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labor: yet what I shall choose I wot not.  For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ: which is far better: Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.”  He emphasized that he had no fear of death for himself, he was more concerned about the effect that it would have on those that he would be leaving behind.

     The Apostle Paul was not alone in these feelings and concerns.  If we could just take a moment to look beyond ourselves and our pain to peer into the hearts and minds of many of our loved ones, we would find examples of this same concern hidden within them.  There have been numerous men and woman that have held on to life through chronic or even critical diseases much longer than they ever should have.  They’ve suffered unnecessarily.  Why?  The answer’s simple, because they cared more about you than they did themselves.  With this in mind I challenge you.  As you struggle through your time of grief do what your loved ones have done.  Place their feelings in the position of priority.  Allow yourself to close your physical eyes and open your spiritual ones.  See what your loved ones are now seeing; experience what they’re now experiencing.

     This may not be easy to do with tears rolling down your cheeks, but remember that theirs are being wiped away.  Revelations 7:17 says “For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.”  Never again will they suffer the many problems, and ailments that have plagued them.  Our loved ones have been freed from every pain, worry, or sickness that they’ve ever known.  Despite what a popular secular song says, there are no tears in Heaven.  If they knew Jesus as their Lord and Savior then this is the kind of comfort that they’re now receiving.  Imagine your loved one when they first arrived at this place called Heaven, picture the excitement on their face when they realized that this wasn’t a temporary stopping point, but instead an eternal home.  As I’ve already pointed out through the scriptures this is a place that surpasses even our thoughts and imaginations.

     The most difficult time for us that are left behind is the time of our initial loss.  I’m not trying to imply that you’ll ever fully recover or forget your loved one.  I know that this loss has left a void that will remain throughout your life, but I also realize that these first few days, weeks, months, and sadly enough even years will be a time of transition for you unlike you’ve ever experienced.  I’m not going to lie to you, there will be a time of adjustment that you must face that is extremely difficult, but remember that your loved one is going through an adjustment period of their own.  It’s my belief that if you can focus more on their adjustment period than on your own it may ease your pain, even if but for a moment.  We know from Scripture that Heaven is where dreams come true.  We know that we’ll never stop being amazed by its splendor and beauty, but just as the beginning of your transition period is the most difficult time, theirs is the most amazing.  As our heart breaks, their heart leaps.  Imagine their first five minutes in Heaven; everything would be so fresh and so new to them.  They’ve stepped out of their mortality, and into their immortality.  They’re no longer limited by natural law, cravings, and weaknesses.  They’ve been reunited with those that they’d loved and lost over the years, and never again will they be forced to say goodbye.  They’ve had the opportunity to speak with the very people that God used to write and live the bible.  They’ve seen the streets of Gold, they’ve felt the brush of angels’ wings, and they’ve been embraced by the one that died for them.  Our loved ones have now become so engulfed in the presence of God and by His love that they now know what Heaven is all about.  I know that they loved you very much, but I don’t think that they would ever want to return to this world or the things that it offered.  I know that the pain that you’re going through is horrific, but I also know that if you could see things through their eyes, or from their perspective, then you would never ask them to return.

     As I told you earlier King David was comforted by the knowledge that he would one day be reunited with his infant son, and you can be comforted with the knowledge that you will also one day be reunited with your loved one as well.  1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 says “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.  For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleeps in Jesus will God bring with Him”.  If you continue reading this chapter it gives you detailed information concerning not only our rising to the clouds to meet our Lord and Savior Jesus at His coming, but it also tells us that we will be reunited with our loved ones that have already gone on to be with the Lord.  This is why it emphasizes that Jesus will literally bring our loved ones back to meet us in the air. 

     As Christians we’re never forced to say goodbye, only till we meet again.





Meet Me at the Throne

     As I reach the conclusion of this publication I truly hope that in some small way the words that it contains will help you through what you’re now experiencing.  I realize that I haven’t filled the void that’s in your heart, nor have I settled the anguish that’s in your soul, but I do hope that I’ve at least opened your mind and allowed God’s comfort and peace to penetrate it.  I know the pain of losing someone.  We may be at different levels, but I’ve been there, and I do know that each of us is offered the same hope of being reunited in Heaven.  Whether we lose our spouse, parent, grandparent, friend, or pastor I know that we don’t have to say goodbye to them, at least not permanently. 

     This final chapter will be focused on teaching that my former pastor, and spiritual father, Brother Thomas Guy Deuel, taught me prior to his own transition into Heaven.  He was teaching us the importance of prayer, and he was instilling in us values that would remain to this day.  He understood the busy and hectic life styles of his congregation, but he also understood the importance and necessity of fellowship with God.  In order to meet us on common ground and remove our excuses he began a program that he called “Meet Me at the throne”.  The concept was simple; everyone would agree to stop whatever they were doing at either 6:00am or at 6:00pm each day in order to pray.  We may not have been joined together in one building, but we were joined together in the Throne Room of God.  Brother Deuel knew that there could be unity of spirit that reached beyond just a unity of our physical bodies.  If we were united in faith, purpose, and thought toward God then we would be joined together in spirit.  The Apostle Paul alluded to it in 1 Corinthians 5:3 when he said “For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present.”  I’m not speaking of transcendental meditation or any other new age philosophy or teaching.  I’m talking about the revelation that comes through prayer.

     Even Jesus felt the need to seclude himself from others in order to spend time in prayer as He completed His earthly ministry.  This was His way of leaving this world, and pushing through the veil of flesh and reaching into the realm of the spirit which is the very throne room of Heaven.  Jesus needed this time away so that He could return home at least for a moment.

     As we pray and enter the Throne of God I want you to understand that the same principle that Brother Deuel taught us still applies.  2 Corinthians 5:8 says “We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.”  Your loved one though gone from this world is present within the throne room of God.  They’re praising and worshipping the same God that we pray to.  Therefore as we enter the throne room of God we’re reunited not just with God, but also with our loved ones.

     Now that you’ve finished reading this may I suggest that you keep your appointment in the throne room of God, because God’s waiting on you, and guess what He’s not alone.

 

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