Death Is Not The End



Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints. - Psalm 116:15 (ESV)

"Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him." - 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 (NIV)


"Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?"" - John 11:25-26 (NIV)

"For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." - 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 (NIV)


“Our cousin said that we can access the camera at the funeral and see it there,” suggested my brother. He called from thousands of miles away to share the news that our uncle, my mother’s first cousin, had passed away from pancreatic cancer. I remembered just talking with him about this disease few days earlier and I had told my brother that this kind of cancer was hard to cure. Most of the time, people diagnosed could die within a short amount of time.

He was the youngest cousin, his age equivalent to some of my older brothers. That instead of my brothers considering him as “an uncle” felt like he was more a brother and a friend to them. My other brother who grew up with him was devastated to hear the news.

I tried accessing the camera from the wake. I saw blurry images yet was able to identify some of familiar faces like a cousin and an aunt. I saw just a glimpse of his casket. Adorned with beautiful white flowers on the bottom. His huge picture with a big smile welcomed everyone paying respect. I couldn’t see his face but appeared like he was just sleeping. As the rest of his family seemed to be talking, some weeping, most with puffy eyebags perhaps from combination of lack of sleep and weeping. I knew some of his siblings must come from other parts of this world.

“I can’t believe it,” my brother added. 

“Kuya Willy is gone…” he ended as he remained silent.

As I returned the phone to its charging receiver, I knew…

How often people forget the truth. Death is not the end of this life. It’s just the beginning of a life that doesn’t end. But Jesus warns…Where do we choose to go? To the fiery end or His Kingdom? And to go to His mansion means we must believe in what Jesus had done. For there’s no other way. And that’s the painful truth…

That all of us must die here now….In order to live…

That such loss is not a loss if we surrender our lives to Jesus…

Every time I hear this song, "Broken Halelujah" by The Afters, I get encouraged no matter what's going on around me. The story behind this song:

 “Broken Hallelujah” is a tender and lyrically rich anthem about praising God in the times when we feel most broken. Inspired by wildfires in Colorado, photos from a friend of flames creeping toward his church urged The Afters to write a song that would minister in times of loss.


“There were times,” Havens recalls, “when we were in tears writing that song.  We opened the book of Job and saw a man who experienced more losses than we could ever fathom. In the midst of all that, he shaved his head and got rid of his clothes so that he had nothing left, and yet he still worshiped God. ‘Broken Hallelujah’ came out of that sense that when we’re broken, the only thing we have is our worship.”

May this song minister to you...


The Strong Gust Of Wind



“We’ll have a meeting in the Pharmacy in a few minutes,” whispered the Supervisor last night as she stood on my left side, making a phone call to summon the other nurse who always worked in a special housing unit across from Infirmary.

Slowly, one by one, the pharmacy was getting filled with bodies whose minds were curious what was going on and anticipating what the meeting would be about. A meeting we never had in a very long time. Curious minds who always thought about negative things were already busy trying to delve into past situations that could, perhaps, contributed to an impending talk.

“Good night everyone,” hollered one LVN whose evening shift was coming to a close.

“Drive carefully,” I replied as I just arrived few minutes earlier to start my 4 hours of work to help out the night crew.

“There were strong gusts of wind all over the road. So many rigs traveling so, ‘Be careful!’” I added.

She wove her right hand and acknowledged the warning and thanked me.

I remembered years ago. In 2006 in fact. When our area had strong, gusty winds. It always came. Here and there. Never had it in a long time. But with this winter weather seeming to be short, alternating hot and cold temps, the gusts were making a visit for the next 4 days. Challenging for those traveling a long distance. Like me. Between my home and workplace.

The form was getting full of signatures as each of us wrote our names to make our presence known in the meeting. The Supervisor, holding one radio on her hand, cleared her throat as the din of whispers and laughter mixed-in and eyes that were talking died down.

“I gathered all of us today to welcome the new nurse and introduce ourselves to her also.” All smiling faces declared their names to the new nurse who seemed to be already enjoying the crew and the ambiance of the challenging workplace.

“I wanted to talk to each one of you to let you know that if there’ s any problem, you can come and talk to me. I don’t want any negative talks going around especially if not true. It’s even worse when you tell someone and that someone tells me. I don’t want anyone making a rumor that “that person or persons are lazy!” No one is lazy in my crew. And that statement reflects on my performance also as your supervisor. You know how hard each one of us work and like what I said, ‘Come and talk with me if there’s any problem. Any situation.’”

Many bowed their heads down. I knew she was right. Of how some loved to start the grapevine and its fruit was sour and rotting. Most of the time, the story was not even true. 

The winds were very strong outside. Yet, we, prison medical staff was facing strong winds of rumor inside the thick walls. I was grateful for this new supervisor. She knew how to face that kind of winds and instead of letting the morale be affected, would confront problems right away. She was never afraid of such winds of gossiping and ill attitudes. 

Back in December 2006, I was getting afraid of the strong winds while driving on dark, unfamiliar roads while on my way to work. Giant tumbleweeds would appear from nowhere, threatening to cross my paths. But with prayers and faith, I found myself safely parked in the gated parking lot. Calm instead of panicking. Courageous instead of being fearful.

For in our life's journeys, we are facing opposing winds. Either we let the winds of evil blow us away or allow the winds of grace and mercy scatter us all around and be established where He wants us to be. To make known His precious gift of forgiveness and love to others who still don't know Jesus. And with Christ, no strong wind of adversity can ever stop God's power residing in the obedient heart whose desire is to share God's goodness and the Good News to those who are not aware of His mercy.



I Know (a song He gave me on 12/3/06)


I know with You I’m completely new

And I know that Your Word is forever true

I know that You’re Lord and Savior of all

And I know, Jesus, You love my soul



Chorus:



I’m able to stand as You hold my hand

Please draw me closer to You

You took away all of my fears

Jesus, to me, please be near



I know on the cross You died for all

And I know what You did is immeasurable

I know that Your grace and love rained on me

And I know, Jesus, You had set me free

(Spoken):

Cause I know...You're the only way, the Truth and the Life... No one can go to the Father but through You...
 Jesus, I know...You're the Bread of Life... Whoever goes to You will not hunger nor thirsts...
 Jesus, I know...You're the Light of the world... Whoever walks with You will not have darkness but have the Light of life...
Jesus, I know... You're the Alpha and Omega...You're the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End...
(repeat Chorus)...Jesus, I know... By God's grace, "I am what I Am..."

Thank You Lord, for helping us overcome any strong gusts of trials in our journeys. Please help us Lord to remember to do things for Your glory. For our lives are not about us but about You. Help us reflect Your Light into the darkness. Thank You Lord for I know that with You, and only with You, we are able to go far, for more miles, despite the gusts of wind. Giving us courage to drive away any fear in our hearts. Thank You Lord.

The True Emergency



“Guess he was having seizures,” reported a unit deputy over the phone. As I struggled to finish some doctor’s orders in the computer with the goal of having more done during the 4 ½ hours I came for to help the night crew.

He was a heavy set man. Ambulating only with a wheelchair. His salt and pepper beard and disheveled hair catching my attention as his mouth was endlessly talking with the young unit deputy who wheeled him in into the Clinic. With my gloved hands, I held the chart close to me and led him to the hallway where the vital signs monitor was waiting.

Rubbing a slightly red cut on the bottom of his dry lips, he uttered, “My cellmate tried to catch me, Ma’am. I don’t know. Guess I was having a seizure. I don’t remember much.”

He proceeded…

“I don’t like Dilantin and they’re not giving me the meds that I want. It should be Depakote.”

Addressing the first statement, I replied, “Your cut looks old. That’s not a fresh injury. What caused your cut because it’s not from a fall.”

He acted like he didn’t understand me but managed to reply, “Ahhh…I was tasered outside. I got hit there…”

“Okay, Sir…So, that’s not from the fall. It was an injury during your arrest. Though it’s slightly red, it seems to be healing.”

“Now, give me a few minutes. Let me review the medication form they have in the pharmacy and I’ll get back with you…”

Holding the tan envelope with his name and all the medications he was being given, I showed it to him.

“See this? What does it say on the last label?”

“Depakote…”

“Sir, I can tell you now. You didn’t have a seizure (his face was painted with a surprised look as if I didn’t know what I was saying). You thought you had one or you just plainly couldn’t remember. But here you are talking with me appropriately and demanding for a medication you want when it has been ordered and being given to you.”

His mouth opened as if he wanted to say something but no words came out.

“Well…Is it okay for me to stay a little bit here?” he asked as the Infirmary Deputy behind him loudly yelled “No!” in protest when he heard the conversation between us.

“No!” I finally answered.

“There is no medical emergency and no good reason for you to be here in the Clinic. You know that in true emergencies, all you have to do is press that button (in his cell) and if you’re not able, I know your cellmate will and your unit’s bubble (control room).”

The tall Clinic Deputy turned his wheelchair facing the first metal door that would open to the hallway leading to his unit. He was visibly upset as this inmate was down in the Clinic for different reasons not warranting any medical intervention. Night after night... He denied that he was having a problem in his unit when I asked him. I had no choice but to send him back. Glancing at them, I knew…He would return…

How many times people whine, forgetting the availability of God’s grace? Instead of pressing on with prayers, they impatiently want the answers for the things they want their way instead of surrendering to what He best planned. That in so doing (whining or complaining), it does nothing but makes a situation not even better. Instead of thanking Him , many hearts lose to see the truth. That in trials, both with answered and unanswered prayers, He is always there. Those hearts fail to see the good outcome in store when they whine and start looking at the negatives. Backs end up turned on Him instead of sinful lives. 

But in reality, Jesus is “only a prayer away.” Anytime. Anywhere. He is not far. When prayers are not answered, the wretched heart should ponder…
 
How far has he walked away from Jesus or how much things of this world is polluting that heart? If you find out the answer, maybe it’s time…To go back to Jesus, to seek Him and truly tell Him what’s ailing that heart. To allow that heart to cry out the true emergency…Of needing God’s forgiveness.

"I'm With You Always" (a song He gave me on July 23, 2004)

When you feel the weight of the world
And you have no one to help you in any way
You may not know, you may not feel
I've loved you from the start, I always will

I'm with you always...you're never alone
I'm always by your side...no matter the season
I'm with you always...keep this thought with you
Just call on Me, I'm always here...I'm always here...for you

You may be heartbroken but I'm Someone you can trust
You may fall on your knees, just reach out for My Hand
You may cry every tear, I will wipe them dry
You may feel just existing, but I can give you life... 

The "Thing"



 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. - Psalm 139:13,14

I didn’t know if she would have a family member or even more by her side after our Transportation Deputy dropped her off at the county hospital. The fact that she was incarcerated, I wasn’t sure how much time Custody would allow for some family members to even be with her. 

She walked in, as she showed a “thing” nestled on both of her palms. The female deputy right behind her as she escorted this young inmate to the Clinic. The material was wrapped on what appeared as paper towel. A little blood obviously soaked one part. It was inside a sealed sandwich bag.


“Thank you,” I uttered softly.

“I didn’t need to see it. But if it would bring you comfort to have the doctor at the hospital take a look at it, go ahead and bring it with you when I send you there.”

“I remember that’s what they told me anyway,” she agreed.

Bleeding for two to three days, she acknowledged she was on her 12th week of pregnancy. I remembered her from the previous night as I helped the other nurse examined her for bleeding. She was just sent to the county hospital. I knew she was supposed to be seen by our jail doctor that same morning (yesterday) when she returned. They were watching her hCG level after she started spotting.

As soon as the unit deputy called and mentioned her name, I remembered her right away. I advised for her to bring her right away to the Clinic because she would definitely go to the hospital. Again.

After taking her vital signs, I showed the chart to our Charge Nurse. 

“It’s sad,” I quietly informed her.

“Why?”

“Our doctor noted that her hCG level had gone down dramatically. She must have lost the baby already from the previous episodes she was seen.” I added.

“Do you know she was supposed to have twins?” the Charge Nurse asked.

I didn’t answer. The vibrant, young female outside the metal door, holding that “thing” was not fully aware yet. I called her and offered anything she might need to which she declined. But deep inside, I knew she would not need anything but comfort to an impending discovery of her loss. I didn’t want it to come from me, being not the right person to tell her. I wouldn’t see how she would accept it from the doctor, who was best qualified to evaluate and tell her at the same time.

I wouldn’t see her as I would be off for some nights. I just prayed. She would be comforted. That in this deepest wound to break her heart, she would truly seek God’s invitation for grace, comfort and mercy. 

My mind thought about that “thing.” It wasn’t a “thing”. It was an unborn child created by God’s hands in her womb. Though not even able to start his or her race, I believed God has a purpose in all of these events. This was a baby God also created and loved. And even if this young mother wasn’t able to see her baby and even hold the baby in her arms, I knew she would be the one who would need the strength and be comforted and be held by His loving arms.


All posts/composed songs copyright by RCUBEs.



Encouragers

The Attacker (5/15/09)

The sun was just peeking from the Eastern skies. Ephesians 6:12 [37 kb]


Out in the prison’s yard, some huge Sheriff’s buses were illuminated by the soft glow coming from the lights all over from the tall lamp posts. Their engines were turned on, warming up, before the buses would take the inmates to the different courts where they would have their trials.


Orange-uniformed men were lined up in pairs, joined together with handcuffs and chained, forming a long line. They already had their breakfast and had their morning medications prior to going to courts. Some were fidgeting, as they waited to board those buses.


All of a sudden, all hell broke loose! Two men were engaged in a fight, using weapons they made secretly for a while. Deputies called for help on the radio, both for custody back-up and medical staff, as well.


When the air was cleared and the other inmates were secured, one man was down on the floor. He sustained multiple gashes but two of them were deep. One cut was vertically etched from his left ear going down to the jaw line. The other dangerous cut was horizontal on his left neck, close to the jugular vein. Pool of blood dripped all over the floor. Holding his bleeding neck, he was pointing at the other inmate few feet away, being guarded by the other deputies.


The other man being accused was not hurt. There were no lacerations nor any other signs of trauma. He was obviously very agitated as he was being questioned by those deputies, while the medical staff started treating the other man on the floor. They cleaned the wounds and controlled the bleeding. That man was sent to the nearby hospital.


When the investigation was finalized, it turned out to be that the “downed man who was accusing the other inmate” was the attacker and the other one who didn’t have injury was the one attacked. The deputies found out that it was the second attempt to attack the unhurt man. Both attacks on him failed. He was well-prepared after the first attempt on him, that when the second attempt was done, he was able to defend himseld and ended up injuring his attacker severely.


[Source: Life Application Bible]:


We also have an “accuser of the brethren.” Satan and his army of demons are the enemies of God and of everything good.


“Because God’s children are human beings – made of flesh and blood – Jesus also became flesh and blood by being born in human form. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the Devil, who had the power of death.” –Hebrews 2:14


Because of what Jesus had done [dying on the cross], we, who live in constant fear of death shouldn’t be afraid anymore. Jesus had freed us from that fear so we can live for Him. When we belong to God, we know that death is only the portal that leads into “eternal life”. [“Thank You Lord!].


Paul warned us, too that we also battle against the evil forces of Satan, who is a vicious fighter. But to be able to withstand their attacks, we must depend on God’s strength and use every piece of His armor. We face an army whose goal is to defeat Christ’s church. When we believe in Christ, they become our enemies. They will try any device to turn us away from the Lord.


Fear not! For God has provided His supernatural power to defeat Satan and his army, through His Holy Spirit within us. So, arm yourselves with God’s armor.


Let us be strong in the Lord's mighty power. Let's put on His whole armor to resist the enemy's attacks: put on the sturdy belt of truth and the body armor of God's righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News, so that we are well-prepared. We will need faith in every battle as our shield to stop the fiery arrows aimed by Satan and his army. Let us put on salvation as our helmet, not forgetting the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. Let's pray at all times, on every occasion in the power of the Holy Spirit. We must stay alert and be persistent in our prayers for all Christians everywhere. [Ephesians 6:10-18].

Friends