Our family lost a brother last week. Our brother Dan passed into eternity at the age of 73. It was unexpected, something millions of Americans have experienced over the past 4 years. Somehow the death of a loved one makes death seem so…well…final. We all have an appointment with death and the Bible teaches that “tomorrow is promised to no man…”

If you permit, just a brief tribute to our brother.

Dan was a unique guy in that he lived his entire life with one arm. He lost it at the age of 7 months when our family was broadsided by a drunk driver. Everyone survived (I was not born yet) but little “Danny” never knew a life with two arms.

Our baby brother Bill wrote Dan’s obit and permit me to quote from it.

Dan did many things that would seem impossible for a one-armed man, including driving a semi-truck for Funnie-Frite Industries, climbing telephone poles to repair lines for United Telephone and operating an overhead crane at Kaiser. He also had a passion for cutting and splitting firewood using a chain saw that he had modified with an attachment that allowed him to use his “stub” to work as his missing hand.

In his younger years, his athletic prowess did not go unnoticed, as he participated in three sports from little league through high school. He could play any position in baseball, but found most success on the mound or as catcher. Many batters feared facing him, as did many pitchers when he was at the plate. In football he was a receiver, a barefoot punter, and a respected tackler. He could hold his own on the basketball court as well, with superb defensive and rebounding skills. Dan was a 1968 graduate of Lakewood High School.

He enjoyed hunting, many big bucks crossed his path when it was too late for them and ended up hanging on his wall. Rabbits and pheasants did not flush quick enough only to become delicious meals prepared in a cast iron skillet. A legendary fisherman who could not only bait his hook, but could remove his catch with ease. Although his drives on the golf course weren’t legendary, his putting skills were top notch. Dan was a skilled poker player, although shuffling the cards proved to be a challenge, he usually left the game with more than he came with. Try any of these activities with one arm and you will appreciate how difficult the things most people take for granted were for him.

He was a remarkable guy. He will be missed. Rest in peace, Dan!

This Saturday I will be officiating his Memorial service. Death is so unforgiving, irresistible, but a reality that we will all have to face. I have the challenge of memorializing my brother in a way that is honoring while at the same time focusing the attendees on their own appointment with death and the necessary preparations that we all need to consider.

What happens to us when we die? Is hell real and do individuals actually go there? Do people really ‘rest in peace’ simply because we say so? Will you see your loved ones there? Does EVERYBODY go to Heaven?”

Those questions, and many more, flood the mind when faced with the permanent reality of a loved one “passing on.” Passing on to where? To what? In what form?

Covid has popularized a new phrase…DIED SUDDENLY…as if that was normal. We expect “sick” people to die…but healthy ones…not so much. Millions of Americans have experienced the shock of losing a loved one unexpectedly over the past few years. I fear more to come.

Do not get me started on that one…

So let me get to the point. From my understanding of the Bible EVERYONE is going to Heaven…but not everyone is going to STAY in HEAVEN. The Book of Revelation describes the Great White Throne Judgement when we all will stand before God and give an account of our lives. EVERYONE will stand before God.

All have sinned” the Bible teaches so we will all be found guilty before the Judge. There are “NONE RIGHTEOUS…NO NOT ONE!” The verdict from the JUST JUDGE will be GUILTY. Death will be the sentence that He will pronounce because “the wages of sin is death.” Death is the penalty we pay for sin. You sin…you die.

Except, God, in His mercy, made other plans. He sent His Son as a substitutionary sacrifice to die in our place. ALL have sinned…Christ died for all.

But the sacrifice must be applied individually. Christ died…paid the fine…not for EVERYONE…but for WHOSOEVER. It is a choice. Sort of like getting on the reservation list at a great banquet. All are invited, but you must get your name on the reservation list for Christ to pick up your sin tab.

Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”

The Bible also tells us that it is an exclusive list…not everyone who says unto me LORD, LORD shall enter the Kingdom. It is AVAILABLE to all…but not APPLICABLE to all. An individual must CHOOSE to be “saved.” After that, righteousness is IMPUTED by God. You do not EARN salvation…we are DECLARED Righteous…imputed…stamped…saved…by our Savior…

Saved from what? The JUST penalty for the violation of GOD’S LAW. The wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life! Eternal Death or Eternal LIFE!

We will all stand before the Judge and we will ALL be found guilty! Death is the price (fine) that will have to be paid. MORE

Did you know God keeps the books? “And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” Is your name written in the Book of Life? Have you received Christ as your Savior?

What have you done with HIS sacrifice? You can pay your own bill…or you can have Jesus pick up the tab. Your choice. You sinned…somebody must die. It is called JUSTICE. But God is merciful. Mercy follows Justice.

What will you do with Jesus?

RUN in peace Brother Dan!!