Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The End of a Life.

The following was written in conjunction with Jeremiah Jenkins, one of our faithful Thursday night volunteers and Refuge "preachers".

Death is unfortunately common on the streets of Hollywood, thanks to the proliferation of disease and murder. On Wednesday, a few of us found out that the life of one of our friends from the street, Andre, was lost to complications from drug use, HIV and pneumonia. The memorial service was held on Thursday, just hours before our team went out on the street. As we received phone calls from some of our friends, and walked the streets on Thursday, we encountered several mourners (please pray for all of them!)

One of those was our friend "Jonah", who has been hanging out with us more and more, desiring more church and interactions with God and other Christians lately. He had a picture of Andre from his memorial service and aside from a security guard that my group talked to for a while, most of our time was with "Jonah". His good friend's death had caused him to think even more about death, heaven, hell, this life and how we live it. This sad occasion had opened his eyes even more (and probably many others) to the dangers of living our lives however we want, pursuing every pleasure and using little caution. As I shared with him, I was reminded myself of how God sets up rules for us, not to be a killjoy,  but to protect us. He shows us His love in that way - by setting up boundaries from things that will hurt and damage us whether physically, emotionally or spiritually.

 By God's divine "coincidence", the sermon prepared by Jeremiah before he even knew about Andre's death, happened to be about death. The scripture passages included Luke 12:13-21 and Luke 9:23-26. The former passage tells the parable of a rich man who lived only for selfish gain and whose death came abruptly causing all of his hard-earned wealth to fall into other's hands. The latter includes some of Jesus' words to His closest friends right after He has told them about his own imminent death: "...If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but are yourself lost or destroyed..."

As Jeremiah spoke, I had to smile (internally at least) at how so much of what he was saying and reading from the bible was addressing questions that Jonah had just been sharing. There weren't many of us at the bible study this time, but it almost seemed like God had prepared it just for those who did attend.

God has given us all a second chance at life and Jeremiah got to share that part of his story with everyone who attended the Refuge service. (The sermon is available online to watch atanytime: )

Death is not something that most of us choose to dwell on, but it is inevitable for everyone regardless of how much we try to avoid thinking about it. Last Thursday presented an opportunity for all of us to consider our own impending death and reevaluate the focus and purpose of our lives. Many of us spent several minutes talking about Jesus' words after the sermon.

 As we asked ourselves how we were living, the reality of the recent death of Andre made our answers all that much more important. How about you -  What are you living for? And will it suffice when your life ends at the judgement seat of a holy God?

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