PASTOR’S PEN

You Can’t Take It with You

“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.” (1 Timothy 6:6–7)
 

On May 25, 1994, the ashes of 71-year-old George Swanson were buried in the driver’s seat of his 1984 white Corvette. 

Swanson, a beer distributor and former U.S. Army sergeant during World War II, died the previous March at the age of 71. He had reportedly been planning his automobile burial for some time, buying 12 burial plots at Brush Creek Cemetery, located 25 miles east of Pittsburgh, in order to ensure that his beloved Corvette would fit in his grave with him. “George wanted to go out in style, and, indeed, now he will,” commented Swanson’s lawyer in a report from The Associated Press.

According to the AP, Swanson’s widow, Caroline, transported her husband’s ashes to the cemetery on the seat of her own white 1993 Corvette. The ashes were then placed on the driver’s seat of his 10-year-old car, which had only 27,000 miles on the odometer. Inside the car, mourners also placed a lap quilt made by a group of women from Swanson’s church, a love note from his wife and an Engelbert Humperdinck tape in the cassette deck, with the song “Release Me” cued up and ready to play. As 50 mourners looked on, a crane lowered the Corvette into a 7-by-7-by-16-foot hole.   

“George always said he lived a fabulous life, and he went out in a fabulous style,” Caroline Swanson said later. “You have a lot of people saying they want to take it with them. He took it with him.” 

 
The truth is, George Swanson couldn’t take it with him. “[We] brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.” (1 Timothy 6:6-7) Although others may have praised him for doing what he always wanted and “going out in style,” Mr. Swanson’s actions were both foolish and incredibly selfish. 
 
Although the motto of some people seems to be “He who dies with the most toys wins”, the Apostle James warned that people who die with the most treasure are actually the biggest losers! “Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten. Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days.” (James 5:1–3)
 
If he would have read his Bible, George Swanson would have read the account of a rich man, who also could not take anything with him when he died. “But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:20–21)  Jesus warned, “…Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.” (Luke 12:15)
 

“For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Mark 8:36)

 

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The Testimony of Queen Victoria

After hearing a sermon delivered while attending a service in St. Paul’s Cathedral, Queen Victoria asked her Chaplain if “one could be absolutely sure in this life of eternal safety.”  His answer was that he knew of no way that one could be absolutely sure.

This was published in the Court News and fell under the eye of a humble minister of the Gospel, John Townsend, an intimate friend of George Mueller.  After reading of Queen Victoria’s question and the answer she received, Townsend thought and prayed much about the matter, then sent the following note to the Queen:

To her gracious Majesty, our beloved Queen Victoria, from one of her most humble subjects:

With trembling hands, but heart-filled love, and because I know that we can be absolutely sure now of our eternal life in the Home that Jesus went to prepare, may I ask your Most Gracious Majesty to read the following passages of Scripture: John 3:16; Romans 10:9-10?

These passages prove there is full assurance of salvation by faith in our Lord Jesus Christ for those who believe and accept His finished work.

I sign myself, your servant for Jesus’ sake, John Townsend.

John Townsend was not alone in praying about his letter to the Queen.  He took others into his confidence, and much prayer from many hearts went up to God.  In about a fortnight he received a modest-looking envelope containing the following letter:

To John Townsend:

Your letter of recent date received and in reply would state that I have carefully and prayerfully read the portions of Scripture referred to. I believe in the finished work of Christ for me, and trust by God’s Grace to meet you in that Home of which He said, ‘I go to prepare a place for you.’

(signed) Victoria Guelph

Whether one is an earthly monarch or an inconspicuous, unknown person, the way of salvation and of eternal life is the same. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” (Romans 10:9-10)

These passages, and many others, in the Word of God, pledge us His Word that one who, by simple faith, received His Son as Saviour has eternal life now. The Apostle John tells us that His Gospel was written “…that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through His Name.” (John 20:31)

Salvation by faith in Christ is repeatedly declared in the Scriptures to be the present possession not merely future, of those who believe. Thus the Lord said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth My Word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.” (John 5:24)

Excerpted from a tract published by Evangelical Tract Distributors (evangelicaltract.com/products/can-we-be-sure)


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Godly Grandmas

“The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.” (Titus 2:3–5)

Commissioned by God to preach His Word, Titus faced a huge responsibility as the overseer of all of the churches on the Island of Crete. This young pastor still had a lot to learn, so God had Paul write a letter to Titus to instruct him how to handle the various issues and problems that would arise in the churches. In chapter two, Paul exhorts Titus to “speak the things which become [are appropriate for, or give evidence of] sound doctrine” and gives him a list of things to teach each age group.

Perhaps one of the most difficult things for a young pastor to do is authoritatively teach those who are older and more mature than he is


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How Love Behaves

“Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth” (1 Corinthians 13:4–8)

  1. Love suffereth long (v. 4). Love is slow to become angry, slow to become offended, slow to become indignant.
  2. Love is kind (v.4). Love is positive. Love shows gentleness, tenderness, goodnesss of heart, and is pleasant.
  3. Love envieth not (v.4). Love does not begrudge; therefore it will not be jealous or selfish of another.
  4. Love vaunteth not itself (v.4). Love is not rash or boastful; therefore it is not guilty of vainglory.
  5. Love is not puffed up (v.4). Love does not become inflated with pride or self-importance.
  6. Love does not behave itself unseemly (v.5). Love is never discourteous or impolite, and is not lacking good manners.
  7. Love seeketh not her own (v.5). Love insists on no rights of its own but will forfeit all for the one it loves.

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I Know That My Redeemer Lives!

“For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another, though my reigns be consumed within me.” (Job 19:25–27)

Job was a man of great character and faith. He was determined to trust God and do what was right, no matter what. “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him. He also shall be my salvation: for an hypocrite shall not come before him.” (Job 13:15–16)  Although he could not understand why God was allowing the trials he was experiencing, Job believed that God’s ultimate plan was for his good. “But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” (Job 23:10)

Job had far less knowledge of God and His ways than we do today, but he did have a special relationship with God and knew several important truths  about the resurrection that had not yet been revealed in Scripture.


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