Using the words “my late brother” is shocking and painful. On Saturday April 7, we celebrated the life of my late brother, David Diener. The day after his death was Easter. The day after that, his 67th birthday.
David had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer just five weeks before. Now there are only two of us living among my parents’ four children: I and my brother, Larry. David leaves behind two children, four grandchildren and a loving wife.
I remember David as a larger-than-life big brother who I was so proud of. Being ten years my elder, David went to boarding school during high school and then off to college. So we didn’t really “grow up together.” But I bragged about him: impressive things that he built, sports at which he excelled and daring feats that he accomplished. I also remember that he scared me silly one time by jumping over a bonfire (I had an uncanny fear of fire when young) and sometimes got in trouble for teasing me too much.
David (front center in above photo) lived an abundant life, always active and always serving others. It feels like it was cut short mid-sentence. But despite the grief, we thank God that David’s suffering was not too prolonged and that we had several weeks to handle the good-byes. We are also grateful that many from the family were together in Fort Collins, Colorado for his memorial, including three of our children.
“I have come that they may have life, and have it more abundantly.” -Jesus (in John 10:10).
We have just been celebrating Easter: the ultimate victory of life over death, light over darkness, hope over despair. But the declaration “He is Risen” is not the end of the story. It is the beginning. It is our starting place for a transformed life: not just our words but what others actually witness about the way we live.
Easter is not just about what Jesus did for us—it is our mandate to “go, tell the others” that all of our fears and failures are irrelevant to Christ. He has conquered them all.
That is an exciting message! Let’s go and tell it!
Ruth’s determination and faith earned her a prominent place in God’s Word. That did not come easy.
Ruth gave up her citizenship, left her people and turned away from her gods. It appears that her decision had been made much earlier, but Naomi’s attempt to shake off her two daughters-in-law gave Ruth an opportunity to declare her faith.
“Entreat me not to leave you or turn back from following you,” she pleaded. “…Your people will be my people and your God will be my God.”
That clear and bold expression of conviction settled it for Naomi. Heaven and earth took note; a major transaction had taken place. Ruth had changed her citizenship; she put her faith in the God of Israel and now belonged to His family. God in heaven released His grace and favor on the two widows as they went back to Bethlehem.
Ruth would soon meet her husband and literally become a matriarch in the genealogy of our Lord Jesus Christ. What a treasure.
May our words, decisions and actions speak ever so clearly of our faith in the Almighty God. For then, He would unlock the hidden treasures of darkness on our behalf.
Rahab rises from the rubble of Jericho and a life of harlotry to being a “hero of faith” on the Hebrews 11 roster. Her turning point began with the visit to Jericho by Joshua’s two spies.
Rahab not only welcomed the spies, she also hid and protected them. This was at the risk of her own life.
When Rahab got a moment to speak to these Israelites, she passionately expressed her faith in the Almighty God of Israel. “For the Lord your God, He is the God in heaven above and on earth beneath.” She also asked the spies to swear by the name of this God that they would spare her life and that of her family.
God’s grace and favor were immediately extended. This lady, up to that point, was not known for her reputable behavior. But she started an adventure that would not only lead to her marriage to Salmon but also to becoming the mother of Boaz and then entering the genealogy of our Lord Jesus Christ. What a priceless treasure she received!
Our God is still extending His grace and favor to men and women whose outstanding faith would put them in the ‘hall of fame’ of His Kingdom. Will we be among them?
What comes to your mind when you hear the word ‘treasure?’ To me, it is a locked chest in a secret place–maybe hidden in the ground or at the bottom of the sea. And of course there is money inside. Or gold! But what is ‘treasure’, really? Only material wealth?
With our Isaiah 45 theme, we have been looking at Bible characters who God took by the hand to lead them to treasure. Naomi is one of those.
What greater treasure could Naomi have received, after the death of her husband and two sons, than the declaration, “Naomi has a son.” In the Jewish culture, it did not really matter if Obed was her blood-line grandson. In that infant, God granted her the highest honor she could dream for.
When faced with tragedy, Naomi had refused to give up. She could have, that’s for sure! A refugee, a widow, a bereaved mother. Despite the bitterness, she took a step to go back to Judah. She mentored Ruth through cultural and relational intrigues. And she received a treasure that lasted for eternity.
Our treasures might be buried inside us as spiritual gifts and talents. They might be in the unnoticed loyalty of a friend, the sunrise that we are too busy to even see, or our secret and inner walk with the Risen Lord.
What do you treasure today? Where might it be hidden?
In a world of compromise and indecision, God is looking for men and women of great resolve.
Esther comes in the kingdom at a time of great fear and a simmering holocaust. The king has just banished a queen who did not give in to a culture that saw women as objects of pleasure.
Esther has to be very careful how she will handle this demigod who could, at the snap of a finger, order her death. Yet the situation facing her and her kinsmen requires that she negotiate with him.
How would she do that? The gentleman has not even wanted to see her for a whole month. She is in quite some dilemma, I would say.
Yet it is this kind of dilemma that makes or breaks a leader. It tests the kind of mettle we are made of. Will we take risks or play it cool? Can we take a clear stand and be willing to die for it?
Esther did, and she saved the entire nation of Jewish people. “Please fast and pray for me. I will go to the king and if I perish, I perish.”
Oh, that we would have more men and women who would make that kind of declaration. Those who, like Esther, would have unwavering resolve, regardless of the cost.
The Almighty in heaven would not only grant your request. He would make all the hidden resources available for the accomplishment of His purposes through your determined life.
Calling all photographers, moms and dads, lovers of children and lovers of all things inspirational: I am in need of photos of children that can be used to illustrate the theme “Child-Like Faith”.
Just about any picture of a child-in-action (or inaction) that speaks of the wonder, innocence and enthusiasm of childhood would be wonderful.
Among the photos that are sent, some will be selected for a presentation and possible publication – but I would ask permission first.
Thanks; we hope to hear from you?