Death and Heaven

Yesterday we were all shocked to hear of Robin Williams’ death. I guess it was because it seemed so sudden and unexpected.

I think death makes us feel helpless and inadequate. Our lives are basically on “auto-pilot” until all of a sudden someone dies and we remember that life doesn’t stay the same forever—people die and one day we will die too.

Sometimes a person’s death makes us wonder if there’s something after death— do we just live for a few years then get buried in the ground and that’s it? Or is there really a place like Heaven?

I’d like to think that we go somewhere else after we die. I try to imagine what Heaven will be like— a place with no crime, no illnesses, no fear, no frustrations, no sadness, no gossip, no bullying, no negativity, no phoniness, no hatred, no hardships, no “keeping up with the Jones,” no pressure, no anxiety, no evil.

The Bible tells us that the only way we can go to Heaven is to cling to Jesus Christ and to acknowledge Him as our Lord and Savior: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”

I hope to see many of my friends and family members in Heaven.

Copyright © 2014 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti
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Pongo

Today I said “good-bye” to an old friend, a family member, actually. I remember when I first met him. My husband brought him home as a late birthday gift. They said he was a puppy, but he was at least 7 months old, if not older.

I was disappointed because he wasn’t an actual puppy, but then after about a week or so he got sick. He developed a huge lump on the side of his neck. It was some kind of a dog disease. The puppy farm that sold him to my husband said that they could take him back and give us another dog, but I was afraid they would kill him. We kept him and he got better.

Over the years my children grew up with their new “brother.” He had the terrible habit of humping visitors. It was embarrassing, but it was funny at the same time. I guess it was a sign of dominance? Hard to believe a little Yorkie/Jack Russell dog would want to dominate people who were 20 times bigger than him.

He entertained my children with his ability to high jump and his speed in running. They remember the time he tried to pick a fight with the huge dog across the street. Pongo knew that he would lose the fight so he ran away as fast as he could and got bit on the rear end in the process. The vet said he was “lucky”—if he wasn’t such a fast runner then the other dog would have bit him on the neck and he would have bled to death.

I remember watching Simba, our cat, teasing Pongo. He didn’t mind—sometimes he teased him back and they would chase each other around the house.

The past few years we’ve noticed that Pongo slept more. He no longer jumped or ran, and lately he’s been struggling to walk. About three years ago his eyes started to cloud, and now he couldn’t see anymore—he bumped into furniture, the door, and the cats. The past couple of weeks, he had urinated in our bedroom during the night—he used to “tell” us when he needed to “go,” but he stopped letting us know.

This morning my husband took him to the vet. I struggled with that. I read an article recently (http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/time-euthanize-pet/story?id=19456241) and it asked two questions: Does the pet still like to play? Does it seem happy?

I took a picture of him this morning, and I don’t know if he’s happy anymore, and he hasn’t played in such a long time (he was at least 18 and a 1/2 years old now).

ImageMy husband just called. He was with Pongo as the vet put him to sleep. I am crying and tears are streaming down my face as I write this. I will miss that little dog, but as silly as it sounds, I have hope that I will see him again. As one of my favorite seminary professors said—all dogs go to Heaven: “For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself…” (2 Cor 5:19). The “world” means everything in the world, including animals. This gives me comfort.

Copyright © 2014 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

Death is not the end

Today the Rucker family laid to rest their beloved Tommy— husband, father, grandfather, brother, and son.

I saw the family’s emotional pain and tears of sadness, and felt the emptiness his absence has brought. Nothing will ever be the same for them again.

I wish death did not exist. I wish sorrow and grief were unknown words to us; but death is real, however it is not the end.

I think our life on earth is meant to rescue as many people as possible so that they can know about Jesus and have an everlasting life with God in the place He created for His people.

As we drove back home from the funeral I thought about 1 Corinthians 15:55-57,

“Death swallowed by triumphant Life!
Who got the last word, oh, Death?
Oh, Death, who’s afraid of you now?

It was sin that made death so frightening and law-code guilt that gave sin its leverage, its destructive power. But now in a single victorious stroke of Life, all three—sin, guilt, death—are gone, the gift of our Master, Jesus Christ. Thank God!” (The Message Bible).

Death may have taken Tommy from this world, but he is alive with the Father in Heaven.

Do you know where you will go when you die?

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0ByfGzV5O1vDpV3dwV2p4dUxiOXM/edit?pli=1

The only way

A couple of days ago, I mentioned Dr. Bill Cutrer in a blog (https://drtfoodforthought.com/2013/07/11/work-things-out/). It was not the first time I had shared his name; in fact, in March 2013, I had sent Dr. Cutrer an email sharing one of my blog entries in which I briefly wrote about him (https://drtfoodforthought.com/2013/03/25/commitment/). His response,

Delighted to hear from you, I remember you and Fran, and a daughter along the way that came our way… lovely blog, glad you are honoring your Lord, your commitment and working to picture the love of Christ for His Bride through your marriage. Dr. C

Today I heard that Dr. C passed away early this morning. As far as I know, Dr. Cutrer was healthy so his death is sudden and unexpected.

The school where he taught said he and his wife had plans to meet their children and grandchildren at the beach, but instead they are preparing for his funeral.

I am reminded of James 4:14, “How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone” (NLT).

None of us know the exact day or time when we will die, but all of us will die one day—“The same destiny overtakes all… no one knows when their hour will come” (Ecc 9:3, 12).

Do you know where you will go when you die?

There is a heaven and there is a hell, whether or not you believe it, both exist and we go to either one or the other when we die.

I used to think that being “good” or doing good things would get me into heaven, but it doesn’t work that way—it doesn’t matter what we do or how much good we do in this world, it will not get us into heaven.

The Bible tells us that there is only one way to God (who is in heaven)—through Jesus Christ, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

Why only Jesus? Because He is different than any other prophet that existed before, during, and after Him. It is explained this way,

“…consider that no one else has done what Jesus has done.  No one else has risen from the dead, calmed storms, raised others from the dead, and fulfilled numerous prophecies, etc.  Though some may have claimed to be able to do one or two of these things, none have done all the things Christ has done as well as claim divinity.  Since Christ has done all of these things and since He claims to be God in flesh, then it is logical to believe what He has said… that He is the only way” (http://carm.org/questions/skeptics-ask/why-jesus-only-way-heavengod).

Everyone will die—don’t you want to know how to really get to heaven?

Copyright © 2013 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

Faith and assurance

Last night I dreamed that our little dog, Pongo, who is almost 18-years-old, collapsed and died as I was letting him out of the front door. I woke up and looked over at him to see if he was still alive and he was!

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We had a another dog that died after he was hit by a car– he was 5 years old. I remember my kids asking if he had gone to heaven. I didn’t know the answer.

Many years later I took a class taught by Dr. Peter Gentry and he said he believed that when Christ returns that He would redeem all of creation—this included our cats, dogs, and other pets. I remember telling my children what he said. They were so happy to know that they would see Poochie again.

Sometimes when I think about Heaven, I wonder in my mind if it’s really true. I know what it says in the Bible:

“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me [Jesus]. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. And you know the way to where I am going” (John 14:1-4, NLT).

My mind can’t really comprehend it. I admit, I try to fathom the “New Heaven” and the “New Earth” mentioned in Isaiah 65:17 and Revelation 21:1, but I can’t even picture such an incredible thing.

I think this is why it’s so important for me to have faith in God’s Word— to believe in my heart that what He is telling me is really the truth. In Hebrews 11:1 it says, “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see” (NLT). I need to hold onto that.

Copyright © 2013 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

Heaven or hell?

Today would have been my father-in-law’s 72nd birthday. Although he is greatly missed by his wife and family, we have the comfort of knowing that he is with God.

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I realize that the idea of a Heaven or Hell may sound like a fairytale for some and even though I may try my best to convince them that these places exist, they will not believe.

It used to bother me, but then I realized that I can’t change a person’s heart. I can’t awaken their minds or make them see the truth— “For they look, but they don’t really see. They hear, but they don’t really listen or understand” (Matt 13:13).

The saddest situation is when people who have referred to themselves as “Christians” renounce God and turn away: “…Make sure that your own hearts are not evil and unbelieving, turning you away from the living God…  For if we are faithful to the end, trusting God just as firmly as when we first believed, we will share in all that belongs to Christ” (Heb 3:12-14).

I know where my father-in-law is, and I know that one day I will see him again. Whether or not you believe that there is a Heaven or Hell is irrelevant— you will be in one place or the other. Find out how you can go to Heaven! (http://www.billygraham.org/assets/media/specialsections/touchonelife/Printer-FriendlyStepstoPeacewithGod.pdf)

Copyright © 2013 M. Teresa Trascritti

Missed opportunity

Yesterday we drove up to our house and saw our next door neighbor talking with the other neighbor. When we pulled into the driveway, the other neighbor left. Since we just came back from grocery shopping, we both headed to the trunk to take out our groceries. We greeted our next-door neighbor and started to take groceries out of the car. As we stood there with armful of stuff, our neighbor tells us that he had to take his dog to the vet to “put him down.” He said that the dog couldn’t walk anymore; and in fact, he had to wrap him in a blanket to take him to the vet. He went on to describe how he stayed with his dog until “his heart stopped beating.” I tried to imagine what that must have felt like. We both said we were sorry, and he said, “It’s ok. He’s in a better place… he’s in doggie heaven.”

This morning I woke up with the realization that we had a great opportunity to talk to him about heaven, but instead the conversation turned to the yard and weather. What happened? Was I that tired that I couldn’t pick up a cue to talk about heaven? Several things happened in my mind at that time– I thought about possible scenarios of what I could have said, and I thought about Ezekiel 33:8 and how I am now responsible for this man’s fate.  All I could do was ask God to forgive me and to give us another chance to talk to our neighbor.

Sometimes I think we rely on feeling too much. We hear about “the nudging of the Holy Spirit,” but I felt no nudge and yet the opportunity was there. So now I am changing the way I encounter situations in my life—I will purposely look for opportunities to talk about God—I will not wait for a feeling to prompt me to open my mouth. Now I truly know what Paul was talking about in 2 Timothy 4:2, “…Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not.”