The Extraordinary Deaths of Mrs. Kip by Sara Brunsvold — Book Review

This Christian novel tells the story of a young reporter, Aidyn Kelley, who is given what seems to be a lowly job — writing an obituary for a hospice patient with no family. At first, she is uncomfortable visiting with Clara (Mrs. Kip) and wants to quickly get the facts so that she can be done with her assignment. Gradually, over the course of a week, she comes to see Clara as an inspiring role model. Although Clara never left her home in Kansas, her life was an adventure that had long term effects on her community and even the world. As the author puts it:

“Sometimes we do things in life without knowing what ripples flow from it long afterward”

This is a light and enjoyable read, that manages to depict the process of dying without too much sugar-coating. You’ll get a bit of history about the war in Vietnam and what happened to in the aftermath of the U.S. withdrawal. It will encourage readers to look back over their own lives to see how God has been at work, and trust in Him to work out His purposes even during the times that seem bleak.

VERDICT: 4 STARS. To understand the title, you’ll have to read the book for yourself!

For more Christian novels see these posts:

white picket fences by Susan Meissner–Book Review

By Her Own Design by Piper Huguley–Book Review

The Souls of Lost Lake by Jaime Jo Wright–Book Review

Scripture Verses for a Funeral

Just as you may choose particular hymns for a funeral service, the pastor may ask if there are any Scripture verses you want included. Of course, there are suggestions included along with whatever guide the pastor is using to lead the service. I checked out my husband’s copy of “Ministerial Acts.” The service is intended to lead us through what the bible teaches about sin, death and judgement; the need to be prepared for death; the truth of resurrection and eternal life; and what can give us comfort. Here are some of the citations if you would like to look them up:

Psalm 90:2-6; 12

Romans 5:12 and Hebrews 9:27

Luke 12:35-37;40

John 11;25-26

1 Corinthians 15:51-57

John 14:1-7

Revelation 21:1-4

However, you may choose other verses that are special to you or your loved one. Here are the readings I would like at my funeral and why I chose them.

Old Testament Reading Job 19:23-27 – I have confidence in God and look forward to seeing Him face to face)

“Oh, that my words were recorded,
    that they were written on a scroll,
24 that they were inscribed with an iron tool on[b] lead,
    or engraved in rock forever!
25 I know that my redeemer[c] lives,
    and that in the end he will stand on the earth.[d]
26 And after my skin has been destroyed,
    yet[e] in[f] my flesh I will see God;
27 I myself will see him
    with my own eyes—I, and not another.
    How my heart yearns within me!

New Testament Reading (this is my life verse, like the hymn it inspires and motivates me.  I have had so many faithful witnesses in my life and I give thanks for them) Hebrews 12:1-3  Please use this verse in preaching the funeral sermon.

12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Psalm 16 (like David, I have had a blessed life and I praise and thank God for all of it)

miktam[a] of David.

Keep me safe, my God,
    for in you I take refuge.

I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
    apart from you I have no good thing.”
I say of the holy people who are in the land,
    “They are the noble ones in whom is all my delight.”
Those who run after other gods will suffer more and more.
    I will not pour out libations of blood to such gods

    or take up their names on my lips.

Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup;
    you make my lot secure.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
    surely I have a delightful inheritance.
I will praise the Lord, who counsels me;
    even at night my heart instructs me.
I keep my eyes always on the Lord.
    With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
    my body also will rest secure,
10 because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
    nor will you let your faithful[b] one see decay.
11 You make known to me the path of life;
    you will fill me with joy in your presence,
    with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

Gospel Reading John 3: -8 ( I always identified with Nicodemus.  I think I would have wanted to learn more about this Jesus, but I would have been cautious and not made up my mind quickly)

1 Now there came a man of the Pharisees whose name was Nicodemus, a member of the council. 2 He came to Jesus at night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could do the miraculous signs that you do unless God were with him.”

3 Jesus replied, “I tell you the solemn truth, unless a person is born from above, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter his mother’s womb and be born a second time, can he?”

5 Jesus answered, “I tell you the solemn truth, unless a person is born of water and spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born from above.’ 8 The wind blows wherever it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

This has been a rather long post, but I hope readers will find it helpful. Remember your funeral is the last opportunity you have to influence others for Christ. Use it wisely!

What Happens When We Die by Sam Parnia, M.D., PH.D.–Book Review

In an earlier post, I explained that for a Christian, what happens after death is not complicated — this book reveals that from a scientific viewpoint, it is. As a young doctor, Sam Parnia became interested in the dying process, and reported near-death experiences. He devised a small study to capture data about patients who experienced cardiac arrest — could they describe what happened after their heart had stopped, and was there a way to verify that “out of body” experiences were real? Some of his findings were:

*His sample did not support the concept that near-death experiences resulted from drugs that had been administered, lack of oxygen or excess carbon dioxide

*There was no evidence that the religious background of the patient influenced their experience

*He was unable to test the transcendental (out of body) aspect, as no one in his small sample reported this.

The real question that he is studying is this — is our consciousness– what we call our “mind” or our “soul”, a product of our brain or is it something separate? Most scientists today accept the former explanation, but reports of near-death experiences indicate otherwise.

Although this “problem of consciousness” has not been resolved, it is clear that dying is not to be feared. The vast majority of people report feeling peaceful and joyful, sometimes seeing deceased loved ones and being embraced by a loving entity, full of light. Their life is often transformed afterwards as they become more altruistic, generous and caring, and often more religious.

If you would like more information, but don’t want to read the book, you can go to this website, where there are a number of videos of Dr. Parnia explaining his studies.

VERDICT: 4 STARS. Presented from a scientific, not Christian viewpoint, but if you are interested in the brain, the process of dying, and near-death experiences, you may like it. It is very readable and not too academic for the average person to understand.

For more about the brain see these posts:

God on the Brain by Bradley L. Sickler–Book Review

This Is Your Brain on Faith

Switched On, Continued

New Month/New Theme

It’s November and soon winter will be settling in. We’re already having shorter days, and the beautiful fall foliage is giving way to bare branches. Good-bye to green grass and bright flowers. It’s not my favorite season!

For this month, during the end of the growing season, I thought we could talk about death and dying, something we often don’t want to discuss. In our culture there is widespread fear of death, in fact there is even a fancy name for it — thanatophobia. As Christians, this is a disease we should never worry about contracting — if fact, I’ve heard it said that Christians are the only people who can sincerely say they are better off dead!

Still, it’s a subject that causes questions and concerns. What does the Bible say about death? How do I die well? What will happen after I die? How do I prepare for death? Will I suffer before I die? These are things we all wonder about.

So, this month is a chance to consider these and other important questions. The most important thing to remember, as we contemplate death is this: God loves you and you can trust in Him.