REFLECTIONS
by Al Maxey

Issue #79 ------- October 24, 2003
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Your body must become familiar with its death,
in all its possible forms and degrees, as a
self-evident, imminent, and emotionally
neutral step on the way towards the goal
you have found worthy of your life.

--- Dag Hammarskjold (1905-1961)

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DEATH
Defining the Biblical Parameters
Physical, Relational, Eternal

A fellow minister of the gospel recently wrote me the following: "When people misunderstand or incorrectly define words, they usually reach false conclusions. This is a fundamental problem of those who teach error." I would agree completely with this observation. Frankly, it is sometimes even a serious problem among those who teach Truth. Therefore, when dealing with difficult doctrines, one needs to carefully define the various terms involved which are integral to that doctrine. In this current issue of Reflections we will examine in some depth the biblical perception of the concept of DEATH. In the religious world speculation abounds with regard to this reality. We know that it is appointed unto man once to die, and then comes judgment (Hebrews 9:27), but what is this thing called death? What does it involve? How does it affect us?

Some believers have traditionally characterized death as a separation. What is essential for us to determine in each context, however, is: (1) What is being separated from what/whom, and (2) what is the ultimate effect of that separation? The full impact of death cannot truly be perceived without this larger perspective. In other words, merely acknowledging that a separation occurs does not truly define "death." One must further seek to determine what happens to that which has experienced this separation. What is the result, or resultant state? Only then will one truly grasp the biblical concept of death.

Let me just plainly state the problem at the beginning of this analysis. There is a perception among many within the religious world that death does not really exist. No one ever truly dies, it is asserted. Instead, a person's "inner being" is just released from one state of existence to live more fully than before in another state of existence. Thus, even though a funeral is held, the traditional teaching is that the person him- or herself is not actually dead, but just alive somewhere else. Death, therefore, is not viewed as a loss of life, but rather a transferal of life to another realm. It is the separation of some separate, undying spirit-being, which is said to indwell our fleshly bodies, from this "physical prison house" that had previously restricted it to this temporal realm. Thus, "death" is viewed as a release from that which had restrained the "real us" so that we might be even more alive than ever before. Thus, grandma isn't really dead ... she's just set free from her worn out physical body, and is now happier than she's ever been!! How strange, therefore, in light of such teaching, that death is referred to in the Bible as an "enemy" (1 Cor. 15:26). Would not such theology make death a "friend"?! Why then is this "friend" cast into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:14) where it will be "abolished" (1 Cor. 15:26)? And what need is there of a resurrection of the dead unto judgment and sentencing, righteous or wicked, if the former are already "home" and "singing with the angels" and the latter are already being tortured mercilessly in the flames?!

This view of "death" was dramatically displayed in the December, 2001 issue of The Banner of Truth (a publication of some within the Churches of Christ) in a lengthy poem entitled "There Is No Death" by J. L. McCreery. The title really says it all. In this poem the author states (and this is just a small snippet):

We bear their senseless dust to rest,
And say that they are "dead."
They are not dead! They have but passed
Beyond the mists that blind us here
Into the new and larger life
Of that serener sphere.

And ever near us, though unseen
The dear, immortal spirits tread --
For all the boundless universe
Is Life -- there are no dead!

Throughout the poem the author speaks of these "dead" ones being "transplanted into Paradise," and he declares, "they still are here and love us yet." Thus, "death" has merely separated these persons from us; they are not really dead (deprived of life), but actually more alive than ever before. Death is thus not cessation or extinction of life, according to this traditional view, but an enhancement of it ... at least for the righteous "dead." For the wicked "dead," this separation would be perceived more as a "life of loss" than a "loss of life." For the record, I disagree completely with this view.

Yes, the concept of "death" appears many times in Scripture, and it is used several different ways. In each a separation does take place of one thing from another, and the dramatic effect in each is a loss of life, not an enhancement of life. The three types of "death" that are of primary concern to humans are often characterized as: physical, "spiritual" (though I believe "relational" is far more accurate and appropriate), and eternal. "Theological distinctions are usually made between physical death, spiritual death, and eternal death and in general these are vital; but ... it appears that death in its totality is the result of sin. One must remember also that in the biblical view, man is a psychosomatic unity. The whole man is the subject of death" (The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, vol. 2, p. 70). This latter is an important distinction. Many disciples embrace a dualistic view of the nature of man --- man being made up of distinct, separate living parts, one of which is subject to death, the other of which is not (and which survives the death of the other ... indeed is freed to fuller life by the death of the other). I do not believe the Scriptures teach this view of the nature of man. Man's nature is not dualistic, but holistic, according to the Bible. For a more detailed study of this from God's Word, I would strongly urge the new readers to these Reflections to pause here and read carefully and prayerfully the following two in-depth studies:

Again, if you have not yet read the above, I would strongly encourage you to do so before going on. One's understanding of the nature of man, and the concept of his having been created in the image of God, is critical to one's subsequent understanding of the nature of death itself. With this being said, and this caution in place, let us now examine the three biblical aspects of death in greater depth:

PHYSICAL DEATH

This is perhaps the best-known type of death. In Genesis 2:7 we are taught that God formed man from the dust of the ground (the common elements of the physical universe around us), and He "breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being/soul." The important point to note here in this passage is that an animated physical body is a LIVING body. The person is a living BEING. "Living soul" is what a person IS, not what a person HAS. When the breath of life is withdrawn from man, what is left is no longer a living body, but a dead body. That body then returns to the elements from which it was drawn. "By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, because from it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return" (Genesis 3:19). "Thou dost turn man back into dust" (Psalm 90:3). Solomon describes this withdrawal of "breath/spirit" this way: "Then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the breath/spirit will return to God who gave it" (Ecclesiastes 12:7). In Psalm 104:29 (which is actually speaking of animals) we read, "Thou dost take away their breath/spirit, they expire, and return to their dust."

Physical death is a LOSS of the breath of life, and the effect is the return of the body to the earth. A separation takes place. The body is separated from the breath, and a LOSS OF LIFE results. I don't think anyone would suggest that this separation should be perceived as a physical enhancement of life. When body and breath are separated, the result is a DEAD body, not a LIVING, breathing one! Life is not enriched physically, but rather terminated. Life for this person is extinguished. This is a somber appointment each of us must keep (unless privileged to be alive at the Parousia) --- "It is appointed unto men once to die, and after this the judgment" (Hebrews 9:27). "Although variously interpreted throughout the OT and NT, death is basically understood as the termination of life on earth. Most frequently it indicates the end of an individual's existence" (International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, vol. 1, p. 898).

RELATIONAL DEATH

The Bible often refers to that condition of being separated from one's God (during this present life on earth) as a type of "death." This is commonly characterized among men as a "spiritual" death so as to distinguish it from physical loss of life, although, once again, I believe the phrase "relational death" more aptly characterizes and conveys the biblical reality. In many ways this "death" constitutes a loss of the "abundant life" one has in an intimate relationship with one's God. "Your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He does not hear" (Isaiah 59:2). This "separation" is viewed as a type of "death," although the person continues to remain alive physically. It is a "death" in the sense that it is a LOSS OF LIFE that "abundant life" that comes from intimacy with deity. That blessed union is severed with the life GIVER, and the result is: one is cut off (with regard to intimate relationship) from the very source of that abundant life Himself. That is indeed a separation best characterized as a "death" .... a loss of life.

Jesus likens Himself to a vine on one occasion, and He declares that we who are IN HIM are all branches. However, if we should be "separated" from this vine (severed from Christ), the result is "death" -- we wither and die (John 15:1-6). This is a separation resulting in LOSS OF LIFE. Jesus declares that He is the LIFE (John 14:6), thus to be separated from HIM is to be separated from the abundant LIFE He came to bring.

This "relational death" is alluded to in 1 Timothy 5:6 --- "But she who gives herself to wanton pleasure is dead even while she lives." Although physically still a living, breathing body, nevertheless in relationship to the LIFE GIVER HIMSELF she is separated by her sins. And to be separated from Him, and that abundant life IN HIM, is truly a loss of life; a "death." Living in sin is not an "enhancement" of that abundant life, but truly a repudiation and negation of it. The ultimate result of such a willful severing of one's being/soul from Him during this physical existence will be a judgment one day of unfitness for everlasting existence and relationship with Him in the new heavens and earth. To willfully separate from Him HERE will result in an everlasting separation from Him HEREAFTER!!

All of us, at some point in our physical lives, are "dead in our sins" and thus "separate" from our God. This is the concept of "relational death," and it is seen often in Scripture. Yes, it IS a "loss of life" in the sense we are not in a relationship with the life-Giver, and if we hope to put on immortality at the resurrection, then we must come to Him who is the way, the truth, and the LIFE. "He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life" (1 John 5:12). Thus, being separate from HIM is truly a LOSS OF LIFE; a "relational death." We are DEAD in our trespasses and sins, and as such are fit only for ultimate destruction in the lake of fire, which is the second death.

"All men are by nature spiritually dead, that is, alienated from God the Source of life by sin, insensible to divine things, unresponsive to His laws" (The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, vol. 2, p. 71). " and therefore, although they still live in this world, their attitude to sin, the law and the world is to be that of dead men" (ibid, p. 72). Jesus told the church in Sardis, "You have a name that you are alive, but you are dead" (Revelation 3:1). They had separated themselves from a relationship with and service to their Lord, and that is truly a "death" experience, a loss of life. Notice carefully the following passages:

Matthew Henry, in his commentary on this wanton widow in 1 Tim. 5:6, refers to such persons as being "dead in trespasses and sins; they are in the world to no purpose, buried alive as to the great ends of living." To become separated from one's purpose in life, and from one's God, is truly to be "dead" even though still physically animated. Thayer, in his lexicon, describes this "death" as "the loss of a life consecrated to God and blessed in Him on earth" (p. 283). It is a LOSS of life's purpose and focus; indeed, it is a LOSS of relationship with the life-Giver Himself. It is truly a "death," a cessation of union with Him. Such carries only one ultimate prospect: eternal death.

ETERNAL DEATH

"Those who remain in spiritual death throughout their lives and do not believe on the Son of God, die in their sins (John 8:21, 24) ... and in the Day of Judgment will be consigned to a state of eternal separation from God, called in Scripture the second death (Revelation 21:8)" (The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, vol. 2, p. 71). There is obviously a vital connection between relational death and eternal death. These two "cannot always be clearly distinguished ... since spiritual death merges into eternal death" (Arndt, Gingrich, Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the NT and Other Early Christian Literature, p. 351).

It is this "eternal" death, the "second death," to be experienced in the lake of fire, that is the ultimate destiny of the wicked. What is the nature of this second death? Is it just a continuation of life? Is it a life of loss as opposed to a loss of life? Is it the cessation of life or the preservation of life? Is it termination of life or perpetuation of life? For the record, I will declare that, based on years of extensive, intensive study of the Scriptures on this matter, I believe the biblical view is that the second death is a termination of life itself. It is not only an everlasting separation from the Giver of life; it is also, and thereby, an everlasting separation from the gift of life itself. In the lake of fire the raised unredeemed will be ultimately and completely destroyed, deprived of life, and will cease to be. This will not be a pleasant experience; no death is. It will be agonizing. It will be torment. It will be "hellish." But the process of dying will result in a death, and that death (that separation from life and the life-Giver) will be forever!! From the second death there will be no resurrection to life. It is a forever death .... an eternal death, both qualitatively and quantitatively (see Reflections #74 -- How Long Is Forever?).

Yes, I believe "death" is a SEPARATION. But the result -- the ultimate effect -- of such a separation is not an enhanced life, it is a forfeited life! Whether it is physical, relational or eternal, the Bible portrays "death" as a severing of one from life itself, not a preservation or continuation of life. It is a LOSS of life, and in the final reckoning it is a forever loss!!

Conclusion

In each of the above aspects of death a "separation" has occurred, and in each that separation results in a loss of life in some sense, either literally or figuratively. Thus, it is the resultant state of such a separation in each of these three views of death that truly defines "death," rather than the mere fact of separation itself.

Another exegetical factor, leading to theological confusion in the minds of some, is that many fail to perceive the distinction between literal and figurative language in one's analysis of the biblical concept of death. Both are employed, and a failure to perceive this fact can indeed lead to a confused theology. For example, relational death is often depicted in highly figurative terms .... physical death is typically very literal and stark in its presentation in Scripture (although figurative language is also used at times). One can be relationally "dead" and yet physically "alive" ... both at the same time! One can be physically animate, yet completely severed (with regard to relationship) from one's God ... at the same time! "Remember that you were at that time SEPARATE from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and WITHOUT GOD in the world" (Ephesians 2:12). There was a "separation between you and your God" (Isaiah 59:2), and that separation constituted a "death." Such persons were cut off from LIFE! Not physical life, but the abundant relational life in Him.

There is a literal bodily "life," just as there is a literal bodily "death" (when the body becomes inanimate and returns to the dust from which it came). There is also a figurative "life" in relationship with deity, just as there is a figurative "death" (when one is separate from such a relationship with deity). This latter is typically characterized as "spiritual/relational death," the former as "physical death." Thus, there is no conflict whatsoever in declaring this wanton widow "dead even while she lives," for two completely different applications of "death" are in view --- one literal, one figurative; one physical, one relational.

With regard to "relational death" something HAS ceased to exist. What no longer exists, because of the widow's willful, wanton sin against her God, is a saving relationship with God. She has been severed from the very Source of Life Himself. She is DEAD with regard to relationship with deity; that relationship NO LONGER EXISTS!!! It was this that the father similarly spoke of in the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15). Because of the son's willful severing of himself from the home of the father, he was, during that time, considered "dead," but came back to "life" when the relationship was restored (vs. 24, 32). Thus, this "death" is indeed an extinction of something precious beyond compare, both now and potentially later (i.e., the hope of immortality, an everlasting relationship with the Father in His eternal home).

Yes, PHYSICAL death is indeed a separation of the entire person from life (i.e., the animation of the physical body). Man is a unified whole, not a separate eternal spirit-being trapped temporarily within a mortal body. Deity "alone possesses immortality" (1 Timothy 6:16). Thus, when man dies, according to the biblical view, man is dead ... ALL of him, not just a part. RELATIONAL death, however, is more figurative, and indicates that sin has brought about a separation of a man from his God with respect to intimate relationship and fellowship. This is a death that does not necessarily render one's physical body DEAD, but which renders one's relationship with God as DEAD. The body can still continue to function while a person lives in open rebellion against his or her God. The consequence of such continued relational separation from God in this present existence, however, is a literal forever separation of the person himself from God after resurrection and judgment. At the Great Separation of sheep and goats, Jesus will tell the lost, "I never KNEW you; depart from Me" (Matthew 7:23) --- there had been no relationship; they did not KNOW each other. Those who remain relationally "dead to God" in sin throughout their lives here on earth will one day, after the resurrection, stand before God in judgment. They will be sentenced to the "second death," and will be cast into the lake of fire. There they will be destroyed "both body and soul/being" (Matthew 10:28). It will be a cessation of life not only for the body but also for the very BEING (soul, personhood) of the man. In other words, he will, when the destruction is complete, CEASE TO BE. In the destruction of one's BEING, there is cessation of BEING --- thus, as independent persons/souls/beings, they cease to be/exist.

Brother F. LaGard Smith, in his new book After Life, writes that man's "eternal destiny is not a matter of better or worse. It's nothing less than a matter of life and death" (p. 189). Smith, in this excellent 334 page in-depth study, has taken his stand with an ever-increasing number of leaders within Christendom, and also within the Churches of Christ, who, after much study and reflection, have come to realize that the traditional teaching on the nature of man, death, and final punishment is completely false. Bro. F. LaGard stated at the outset of his study that many of our "fundamental assumptions" in this area have been mistaken. He also understands the personal danger in seeking to expose this, however. "One challenges orthodox understandings at one's peril, and never without the full backing of God's own word on the matter" (p. 10). Therefore, he, as do I, seek to base this challenge of the traditional teaching on in-depth examination of the Word. Nothing less will do.

It is personally reassuring to see more and more leaders in my own faith-heritage coming to this perception, and being courageous enough to speak out. Bro. Homer Hailey, in the last days of his 97-year-long life, wrote a book on this subject entitled God's Judgments and Punishments. He too declares that the "second death" actually means that, for the wicked, "their existence comes to an end in the lake of fire" (p. 178). Such leaders in the Churches of Christ as Edward Fudge and Curtis Dickinson have also written much in support of this position. Bro. Dillard Thurman, the late editor of Gospel Minutes, did much to challenge the traditional error. In fact, he devoted the entire Feb. 1, 1985 issue (vol. 34, no. 5) to debunking the teaching that the dead go off to conscious bliss or misery at the moment of death. He wrote, "The hope and aspiration of many has been shifted from His coming again to receive His own, to an immediate immortality and heavenly bliss immediately at death! Jesus DID NOT promise that!" (emphasis his). Dr. Leroy Garrett, the editor of Restoration Review, wrote an excellent study of this in the November, 1990 issue entitled Is Hell Fire Endless? If you have never read this article, let me know and I will see that you get a copy.

In a letter to me, dated October 16, 1990, a well-known and highly respected brother in Christ, John Clayton, wrote, "Dear Al, I was recently in a lectureship in Athens, Georgia, and spent a great deal of time talking with the preacher and one of the elders about Fudge's book (The Fire That Consumes). I think the thinking part of the Church is really being stimulated by this book and is really coming to a recognition that a lot of the traditional teaching on heaven and hell really doesn't stand up in an examination of the facts." He closed the letter by saying, "I hope all of us who are willing to think will continue to examine this concept. It is a much more logical approach than some of the traditional concepts of hell." Again, I am greatly encouraged to see more and more brethren, almost daily, coming to a clearer understanding of God's Word on this matter .... and taking a stand!

Our God has placed before mankind a solemn choice --- life or death. We must choose. "I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you LIFE and DEATH, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live!" (Deut. 30:19). "For the wages of sin is DEATH, but the free gift of God is eternal LIFE in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Rom. 6:23). "And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal LIFE, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life" (1 John 5:11-12). Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the LIFE (John 14:6). If we turn to HIM we shall find everlasting life; if we reject Him we shall perish (John 3:16). It is my prayer that each of us will choose life and thus come to know the joys of being forever in His presence! "For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself?" (Luke 9:25).

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Reflections from Readers

From a Reader in Texas:

Amen to Reflections #77 -- "Those Terrible, Trendy Testimonials." Right on the mark. We do that a lot here; last time was at a meeting last evening. These are very impressive, not only to brethren, but also to those who are not Christians. Keep up the good work!

From a Reader in Florida:

The same people that would say the anointing with oil was a part of the culture of that time, would refuse to say that women keeping quiet in the church was a part of the culture at that time. I go to the -------- Church of Christ, which is a very good church and grace oriented and not legalistic. You have a lot of fans at this congregation!

From a Reader in Colorado:

I've enjoyed reading your article on anointing with oil and the responses. The elders here did that for a member when she had cancer about six years ago. The doctors here and in Albuquerque had said she was not going to recover, and probably would live "6 weeks to 6 months." She was completely sincere in wanting it done, both for spiritual and physical reasons. She has been clear of cancer at every check-up she's had since that time. I don't think her recovery was a "miracle" ... I think she'd be horrified if anyone suggested it was. She [and we] would say it's the Providence of God!! She wanted the anointing done because everything else known to medical science had already been done and the doctors said she was going to die. Who knows?????

From a Reader in Iowa:

Al, one of the problems overlooked in the discussion on anointing is the statement of fact at the end: "And the prayer offered in faith WILL make the sick person well; the Lord WILL raise him up." There is a linking between the prayer, the anointing, and the assurance of healing. Since such is not the practical case today, we either misunderstand the passage, or are doing something drastically wrong.

From a Reader in Missouri:

Al, I have given a lot of thought in the past concerning this passage on calling on the elders to pray and anoint. And I have enjoyed this Reflections article. I have to say that I have never had a problem with following this literally. I am not sure it is necessary for all Christians. I am just saying I know it brought me great comfort when I was so ill, and could have died according to the doctor, to know the focused prayer was right there with me. I felt prepared for whatever was ahead. If this is important to some, and they need it to bring comfort, I think elders should be willing. I do not know for a fact that it brings any miraculous healing, but am not sure it has to. It can be a time of added strength. Just my opinion and thoughts.

From a Reader in California:

Dear Brother Al, I had been very ill in 2001 and finally realized that I was dying from a heart problem. I had a stent put into my heart the previous year. It had clogged up after 3 months and a new stent was put in, but my problems continued. I had reached the point that I knew I was dying, but neither the doctors nor I knew why after the usual tests were done. I called an elder in our congregation and asked if they would come and pray for me and anoint me with oil. Two elders came bringing some healing oils which they rubbed on my feet. I am sure olive oil would have worked just as well. It wasn't the oil that helped me. They prayed for me. A few days later I had to have open-heart surgery. The doctor came to my hospital room the night before surgery and told my family and one of the elders present that my chances of survival were very slim due to the fact that I have diabetes and a rare form of lupus that causes strokes. When they opened my heart, they found that my mitral valve was very defective and the other valve was not working right. They were going to replace both valves but did not have to replace the other valve as it began working right as soon as the mitral valve was replaced. Needless to say, I am still here. The comfort I received from the elders' prayers and care for me cannot be overstated. I felt a sense that I had done my part, the elders theirs, and God would decide the rest of what would be. A deep peace came over me in all that was done. I cannot debate the issue. I just knew that the Bible said to call for the elders.

I just love you so much that I wanted to tell you that although the elders at the -------- Church of Christ did not exactly know what to do when I called and asked if this scripture was important, nevertheless they didn't flinch or say they wouldn't do it because they had never done it before. They came! God bless them! Also, thank you so much for your discourse on eternal life and eternal death. It took a lot of weight from my shoulders and sorrow from my heart and it deepened my love of God in knowing that He would not be cruel by inflicting eternal torment on someone I loved who was not a Christian. Your Bible Studies are wonderful.

From a Minister in Quebec, Canada:

Dear Al, I have begged my Father to forgive me for the many I have driven away by the foolishness of my preaching of patternism, and that only "my" pattern was the way of getting to heaven. Oh how little I knew when I thought I knew it all. All we did was drive people away and make them afraid to ever express themselves or try to think on their own.

Al, you have the freshest mind I have read in many years. Men like you, Edward Fudge, Fred Peatross, and others, have been gifted by God. You are the new medium by which the old message is being made clear in our day and age. The hate and hurt are gone, and the love of Christ for the souls of each and every one is seen in every line you all write. Al, you are a scholar ... you open up avenues of thought I never explored before. Your writing helps us all to think; inspiring and fanning the fire that is in the able minds of us all. You help take us to a new level of understanding, where it is deeper than we have ever traveled, but yet more clear and simple to share with others. I truly love you, Al. You have given me joy and a sense of purpose. You don't put down, but lift up. You don't shut others up, but encourage one to think a little deeper and then to share his thoughts. I know you must have a hundred others whose emails you would rather read than my ramblings, and yet I am always made to feel appreciated.

You are a breath ... a hurricane ... of fresh spiritual air. Keep putting your pen to paper and keep bringing Truth to the forefront. I am one who needs your writing. You shine the light of God deep into my soul and you remove the darkness of past hurts, replacing that space with the love and luster of God's grace. I love you, Al, and pray EVERY day that God will bless you in abundance for your service through your Reflections.

From a Preacher in Texas:

Apostate Al, Once again, you have proven the Lord correct. He said: "Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine." By the way, when are you going to remove Christ's name from the church where you preach --- you know, like your good buddy Max Lucado did where he preaches? From what I've seen in your scratching, you dropped Christ and His doctrine from your teaching a long time ago. One cannot help but wonder if the candlestick has been removed where you preach??? Until you repent, do not expect God to answer your prayers.

From a Reader in Texas:

I agree with your conclusion. If anointing the sick with oil gives him comfort, who am I to deny it? I do think the passage simply teaches prayer and the best medical treatment available. I well remember when I was diagnosed with cancer in 1991. I could not pray, just could not get my thoughts together. So I called for the two preachers of our congregation to come and pray for me (you would have to have known the elders to know why I called for the preachers instead), all the while I was making arrangements to go to M. D. Anderson Hospital in Houston for treatment. I think as Christians we should not lose our common sense in our faith. I wanted all the prayer I could get, and had prayers for me all over the country. But I also wanted the best medical treatment available (I wanted something stronger than oil). As a result I have been cancer free for 13 years.

From a Reader in Oregon:

I was thinking the other day (that happens every so often) about your Reflections and how helpful they are as a resource. However, due to my lack of recall, I sometimes fail to remember the articles that contain the information I'm searching for. I realize you have a busy schedule and don't need another project, but have you considered incorporating a "key word or phrase" search option on your site? Just a thought. I'm sure it would be very simple since I'm not the one that would have to do the work!

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