Musing on the Tragic Death of Amy Winehouse

Well yesterday, 7/23/2011, the pop music artist Amy Winehouse died. Sadly, not one person is truly surprised at her death for she was living on borrowed time, long ensnared by addictions to drugs and alcohol. It was simply a matter of time. She continued to use and ultimately she died. Sadly, her one hit was the song “Rehab” which she essentially wrote and sang about her rejecting a plea for her to go to drug rehabilitation. Her is a fact, while Amy’s life and death was tragic and while many can easily sit in judgment over how sick she was and proclaim if only she would get clean, each of us are really no different. When it comes to making changes, we too often protest “No, no, no.” There are things we like, we enjoy that we really just do not want to give up. We resist calls to repentance with the reply “No, no, no.” It takes brokenness and a realization of the truth to move toward change. We all have choices to make. There are many paths to death and destruction beyond the likes of alcohol and drugs. We are selfish and walk paths even with full knowledge that it is not good. We all have trouble embracing changes and turning from the paths of death. Ultimately there is one choice each person needs to make and sadly the refrain there is too often “no, no, no.” And that choice is surrender to the Creator, to Jesus the King of Kings. All to readily the response is “They told me to submit to Jesus” and “I said no, no, no.” See, for the appeal of self-direction and choosing own life, even if well aware of the pain and emptiness with lack of true peace, is alluring. Any life that dies apart from surrender is tragic. It is the path of many, not just Amy Winehouse. It is a sad day that such a hurt and broken soul reached the death point. It is too late for Amy, it is not too late for you. Please do not cry out “No, no, no” any further. This is true even for those who have submitted to Jesus yet God is stirring you to change and let go of areas of sin in your life. Stop saying “no, no, no” and repent, for the rejection only brings more pain. Surrender, say yes, it is worthwhile!

Advertisements

sNews Commentary: Reverend David Wilkerson Dies in Car Accident

 Wow, just learned that David Wilkerson died today in a car accident.  Regardless of what you think of David Wilkerson, He was a man of God and humble servant of our King of Kings.  He no longer faces the suffering of this world and is on to what is ahead, whatever God has for Him.  I remember as a child hearing of the story of Nicky Cruz and the story Cross and Switchblade.   He also was instrumental of the founding of the Christian based alcohol and drug recovery program, Teen Challenge.

Apparently he changed lanes and ran into a trailer truck who tried to move out of his way. His wife apparently is in critical condition, so prayer for her as well. The story of his death can be found http://www.cbn.com/cbnnews/us/2011/April/Rev-David-Wilkerson-Killed-in-TX-Car-Crash/.  For updates from his church home go to: http://www.tscnyc.org/pastor_david_wilkerson.php.  Also according to reports his wife was His last words to the church body as a whole were posted on his blog today entitled: When all means fail.   This death today points us all to the temporariness of this life.  Any one of us could die tomorrow. Life is short and but a vapor. It is interesting that Reverend David Wilkerson was posting and talking about dealing with the storms of life and when things do not go the way we think and coping with difficulty, when God called him home as he was focused on sharing those words.  It appears God through David’s death is continuing and emphasizing the message.  God will and is using this death to further bring Him glory.  Now, I do pray for God’s peace to come upon his family and for the church body.  Doing a search on David Wilkerson found an article of his circa 1979 entitled “The Ultimate Healing” that gives a good treatise on death.  Appropriate words to read as he has shed the mortal coil.

One thing we should all do is stop and think and dwell on the words Reverend David Wilkerson spoke challenging the church. He call for Holiness, Repentance, and looking to God and God alone.  Word all his words and actions perfect, nope, he was flawed as we all are, but He loved God. He pursued righteousness. He called others to go deeper in relationship and surrender. 

It seems fitting to include a few video selections that have been posted that call us to deeper surrender to God Almighty.

A Call to Anguish

Full Sermon: Raised From the Dead

News Commentary: The light of the Gospel in the Life and death of Coach Ed Thomas

There have been a lot of death of famous people mentioned recently.  Not only do we have the recent deaths of Michael Jackson and Farah Fawcett.  Other recent deaths include Ed McMahon, Billy Mays, Fred Travalena, and Karl Malden.   There was another death that has been made public as well.  This death was the tragic murder of high school football coach Ed Thomas.  On June 24th at around 7:45 Am Ed Thomas was shot by former student Mark Becker. 

Normally the deathof a small town football coach would not be anything people really attend to, but attention is drawn to Ed Thomas related to his having coached several NFL players with the most recent being Green Bay Packers linebacker Aaron Kampman, Jacksonville Jaguars center Brad Meester, Detroit Lions defensive end Jared DeVries and Denver Broncos center Casey Wiegmann.  So without contributing to the success of these men’s life within the apex of cultural entertainment, Ed Thomas would be widely known and this article would not be written.

The death of Ed Thomas and the man who killed him shows a contrast in lives.   Ed Thomas was a man who loved God and served others.  He was a man that taught values related to hard work, perseverance, and leadership. He bore witness to the Gospel in both word and action.  According to news reports his life reflected that of a person serving the Kingdom of God versus his own kingdom. He had success and failures in reaching many with the love of God.  His life and impact is exemplified by this quote from Aaron a “Coach Thomas was very special to me and many other young men from the Aplington-Parkersburgcommunities. His legacy for many will be associated with his tremendous success as a football coach. However, I believe his greatest legacy comes not in how many football games he won or lost but in the fact that he was a committed follower of Jesus Christ. He lived his life trying to exemplify this faith and convey those values to those under his influence. His faith in Christ pervaded everything he did and that is why in the midst of the heartache we all feel there is comfort in knowing he is with his Savior.”

In contrast, is the life of his murderer Mark Bennett.  He was a former student and player who has coached by Ed Thomas, yet some how the words and life of Coach Thomas didn’t reach Mark who chose to go a different path then the one taught and demonstrated by Ed.  Rather Mark lived a life caught in the mire of drug addiction.   He reach a point where is mind had been damaged and destroyed, likely do to the drug use.  The end result is the man with the destroyed mind and life took the life of the man who showed him another way.

These two men show the contrast between those who walk in the light of the Gospel and serve the kingdom of God and those lost in darkness.  Darkness seeks to destroy all light.  It seeks to have people lost and without hope.  The man Mark Bennett followed the path of darkness, with momentary pleasure, to the point of destruction.  Coach Ed Thomas walked in the light of the Gospel, even in tought times. He had strong faith, not just in the people in the town he loved, but in Jesus, who he served. 

Now it may seem here that darkness won the battle. The light that was shown in the life of Coach Ed Thomas has been extinguished. Yet, the light of his life still shines.  The impact he had on the town of Parkersburg will not be forgotten.  The words he spoke to the boys he coached will be remembered.  Each person that Coach Ed Thomas touched will think over what Ed Thomas meant and the Gospel he preached and demonstrated.  The end of Coach Thomas life does not end his influence. 

Sure his death brings questions such as how could God allow one who followed Matthew 5:16 (“Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”) so clearly? I read in one article stated that Coach Thomas was the rock on which the town of Parkersburg   Somehow such a statement seems contary to what Coach Thomas lived and demonstrated.  Jesus the Messiah is the rock each of needs to turn.  Perhaps Coach Thomas was called to be with the God, so that others may look to Jesus and not Coach Thomas.  There are plenty of what ifs.  The simple fact is God’s purposes will be served here. That what prince of darkness and all that hates light meant for ill, will serve to reach others with the light of the Gospel. 

 Now word is Parkersburg is a moral town with many churches.  Such a fact is only a surface fact.  The town certainly has many people like Mark Bennett, lost and confused and on the pathway to destruction.  The town probably has fewer who live and follow Jesus in the manner of Coach Ed Thomas. Each person and where they are with God is unique.  Only God  truly knows the heart but the fruit of  the lives lived can be evident.  One who has a light who shined the truth of the Gospel.  One who walked a dark path of destruction.  Each person has a choice which path to follow.  The light of the path is not through self-effort. Ed Thomas lived the way he lived through the power of the Gospel to move beyond serving self to loving and serving others because of Jesus and what he did for each of us at the cross.

My prayer is for each person Coach Thomas impacted that they take a step closer to Jesus.  If they know him not, that they open their eyes and ears and heart to the Gospel and turn to the Kingdom of God.  If they know Jesus that they look for ways they can love others and walk out the Gospel in the world in which they live.   Each person was touched.  Also pray that folks do not turn to the despair of darkness that is exemplified in Mark Bennett’s life and choices but rather the light as shown in Coach Ed Thomas life.  And ultimately pray that God cuts through the damaged mind of Mark Bennett and that he may yet turn to Jesus in repentance.   May those that  were hurt by Mark’s choices be able to turn to light by embracing forgiveness rather then the darkness of hate and bitterness.

In closing, ultimately Coach Thomas has been taken away from the confines of this world into the presence of God almighty.  The tragic loss is felt by those left behind, while Coach Thomas is in the presence of the Light of the World.  No darkness, pain, or suffering.  His service on earth is at an end until the time of Jesus return and the resurrection of the saints.  Mark Bennett on the other hand will be imprisoned one way or another.  His physical status will match the prison he is already in.

Musings on the Life and Death of Michael Jackson

A picture from Thriller:  One man and his demons.

A picture from Thriller: One man and his demons.

Yesterday was a sad day for most Americans.  It was the day that pop icon Michael Jackson’s life came to an abrupt end.  As he was preparing for a comeback tour that hope to revive his fallen career and bring in money to attend to heavy debt load, his heart gave out.  Rumors abound about the potential of abuse of medication.  The end of this man’s life is tragic. 

In actuality the end of Michael Jackson’s life is actually no less tragic then the entire some of his life.  Yes, the man reached the acme of entertainment success. No one was more known around the global the Michael Jackson.  His music and dance touched billions.  Yet, the man was lost and haunted by inner demons.    There are lyrics in the song “Thriller” they really appear to be prophetic:

Night creatures calling, the dead start to walk in their masquerade
There’s no escaping the jaws of the alien this time
(They’re open wide)
This is the end of your life

They’re out to get you, there’s demons closing in on every side
They will possess you unless you change that number on your dial

This man impacted generations of baby boomers, generation x’ers and those younger who grew up  with Michael Jackson.  His lyrics often spoke of the cries for love and intimacy.  There are themes of having to defend self from attacks of others.  There are themes of betrayal.  His words and music fit the ethos of the culture and was latched on world over.   He was a man on stage all his life. He was always in the limelight. 

Rumors suggest that he was manipulated and abused as a child.  He was shaped to be an entertainer, and he performed that role majestically. His fall from grace was tragic.  He seems to have been a boy who never grew up. He was alleged to engage in multiple improprieties with assorted children, but the sense really seemed that Michael just never really understood fully how to relate to others.  He really probably never go the chance. Rather he was locked in his mind with his pain and self-distortions.  Clearly he was never happy with himself as  his continual altering of his body demonstrated.  He was clearly a man lost, broken, and desperate.   If his life ended through the abuse or poorly managed use of medication it is tragic and yet appropriate. For in this culture, we turn to whatever medication we can find to get through the pains of life.  Michael Jackson follows a long line of tragic deaths of celebrity who potentially have their lives cut short by turning to pain pills.  Elvis Presley, Heath Ledger, and Anna Nicole Smith are just some of the many.   The thing is that fame and fortune do nothing to sooth the inner wounds.  They all did well in reaching the pinnacle of fame yet found it fleeting and empty, with their wounds ever festering. 

Michael Jackson was ever aware of his inner torment. He even wrote of his need for forgiveness and redemtion.  The lyrics to 2Bad really gives a taste of the inner struggle.

Last night, an angel came to me
I was cryin’ alone
My heart was bleeding
Last night, an angel came to me
I was cryin’ alone
My mind was dying
God have mercy
Stop them destroying me
An angel came to me
To save my life
Listen to his voice
Please hear his soul
This angel came to me
To save me
Last night, an angel came to me
I was doing wrong (x2)
Last night, an angel came to me
I was sleepin’ wrong (x2)
God have mercy
Stop them destroying me
An angel came to me
To forgive me
Listen to his prayers
Please feel his love
This angel came to me
God saved me
An angel came to me
To fulfill his prophecy
He listened to my prayers
Please feel my love
This angel came to me
I recognized him

Yet, those lyrics show that he really missed what would bring true healing and repentance.  An angel is not the answer.  It is easy for folks to think of angels as a redemptive source that can help us lead our lives better, to better build our kingdoms. Yet, no angel can save.  Redemption by an angel or a relationship is shallow and do not heal inner wounds.

The truth is their is only one true source of redemption and healing.  The healing is not one that helps us build and thrive in our kingdoms, rather it is surrendering to another.  It is turning the wounds, the pain, the burdens over to Jesus with no expectation of relief.  It is recognition that we cannot run our own life, that we are selfish and need redemption.  Michael Jackson’s lyrics suggest a recognition of the need for redemption and forgiveness but he sadly never found it.  Never has there been any report that the man turned to Jesus. Not through all the pain, the disgrace, the struggles did Jesus get mentioned once.  Rather he turned to whatever else he could find, and as is always the case, he did not get redemption.  He died a tragic death and the greater tradgedy is that he died without knowing the true source of healing and redemption. 

We can try and gain the world, like Michael Jackson did, but it comes at a great fall. The world is fickle. It builds folks up only to tear them down.  Michael Jackson was going to try and recapture the world, restore him self to his former glory.  Perhaps his performances would have thrilled the world once again, but ultimately Michael could not recapture what was lost and it killed him. 

I ask the reader to consider your life, your pains, your hopes, and your inner demons. There is only one answer for redemption. There is only one hope.  It is not angels. It is not relationships. It is not fame.  It is not money. It is not sex.  It is not anything in this world.  It is Jesus.  There is no other answer. The answer is not about relief of pain, but about turning from self and submitting to Jesus.  It is about Jesus having paid the price for all that is evil and dark and selfish.  Make a choice today, while it is not too late.  You do not have to let the demons and aliens destroy you, as they did Michael.  Rather, true life and peace is found in surrender to Jesus!

 

Gods love and peace is only found at the cross. Surrender to Jesus dispels all darkness and demons!

God's love and peace is only found at the cross. Surrender to Jesus dispels all darkness and demons!