Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Holy Mixtures - part 3

Wednesday, April 30, 2014
On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.”  And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was.  Other boats were with him.  A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped.  But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”  He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!”  Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm.  He said to them, “Why are you afraid?  Have you still no faith?”  And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”       Mark 4:35 - 41 (NRSV)
And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts….Colossians 3:15a (NRSV)
I’m a late-comer to the United Methodist Church, having nested with the people of Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors only the last 9 years.  It’s not a private thing that the UMC ship is in the middle of a storm rivaling what the disciples faced.  To some it would seem Jesus is asleep while the boat’s going down.
The difference between the storm back then and the crisis with the Methodist ship now is our storm is not from outside the boat; we have stirred our mess from within.
In case you’re not a Methodist – “our storm” is a 40 year battle over homosexuality; whether or not openly gay and lesbian persons belong in the church.  I have friends on both sides of the argument.  It would be a great Saturday Night Live skit if it weren’t so heartbreaking to watch the church slugging it out.
On the one side, progressives, (liberals if you will) point to Paul’s teaching that when we’re in Christ there is no difference, and that includes the disenfranchised homosexual community (Colossians 3).
On the other side, the majority (slim majority of conservatives) still control the voting power in official meetings; they also hold (ironically) to Paul’s teaching that homosexuality is “incompatible” with Christianity (Romans 1).
The impasse in which the United Methodist Church finds itself is akin to the cartoon character Pogo’s famous line:  We have met the enemy and he is US! 
Like the disciples thrashing around in the boat, probably accusing each other of poor preparation, poor seamanship, poor insight and interpretation of the rules of boating, and then turning on Jesus to accuse him of not even caring – we in the United Methodist Church are dismantling the Wesleyan boat one splinter at a time.  Most unusual for a church that perennially boasts of its’ commitment to diversity.
I am (as always) stuck somewhere in the middle.  Theologically I understand the prohibitions against same-sex relationships.  But the compassionate, pastoral bone inside me weeps for the tearing-asunder of human relationships because of the anger this issue raises. 
It is maddeningly frustrating to want to say, PEACE…BE STILL, Y’all, knowing neither side is likely to listen.  At the same time the whole world is watching and shaking their heads at our duplicity, and hell is laughing like excited jackals waiting for the lions to get done with the carcass.  My fear is that, in the end, this once fiercely-hot-for-God frontier church will not be left standing as the mighty ship of Zion; it will be only a memory, marked by bleached bones on a fruitless wasteland of annual reports.
But then, in my saner moments, I hear the voice of Jesus to my own heart, “Peace!  Be still!”  And my storm ceases; and, like the disciples I am blown away at the force of His power to still the storm in me.  Do it again, Lord!
Today…for you
Feel powerless in the storms around you?

Good!  Peace!  Be still….and know that He is God.

Holy Mixtures - part 2

Tuesday, April 29, 2014
In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free.  Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us!     Colossians 3:11 (NLT)
If you were awake yesterday while you were listening or reading, you may have been surprised (or not) at the extensive list of differences between my bride and me.  You might have thought, “How in the world have they stayed together close to half-a-century and not killed each other?”  Trust me; Elizabeth has wondered that at times too!

Pheromones and Familiarity (Chemicals and Curiosity)

Of the possible reasons why personality diversity works in a marriage, social scientists have suggested that pheromones (the chemical attraction) and familiarity, our innate curiosity about those who are different (opposites attract theory) are what bind “odd bedfellows” together.
I don’t doubt that there is some connection here, but the sparks of romance and the “new” of something different only go so far.  Remember the old saying, “Looks don’t last, but cookin’ do”?  Romance (the pheromone, animal attraction) is perhaps enough to   get our attention, but romance will ebb and flow, with “flowing” getting the top billing.  Romance is not bad, but, with all apologies to John Lennon, Love is all you need just ain’t true!  There has to be something more. 
And curiosity can’t be the answer to what holds people together either; remember that’s what killed the cat. 
In many discussions over the years about how differently we think, Elizabeth and I have come to the conclusion that it is Christ living inside both of us that makes all the difference about the differences.  He is “holy glue” in this “holy mixture of a marriage”!  There is no other satisfactory explanation. 
It’s a sad commentary on our culture, particularly in America, that pheromones and our cultural preoccupation with sex take center stage, while the weightier issues of relationship fade into the background.  Those weightier issues are, of course, integrity, sexual purity and the respect of persons that go along with such.  You cannot begin to understand the ultimate and inestimable worth of another human being when you treat that person as a sexual target, or as casual acquaintance.  Genuine relationship must explore more deeply than pheromones or familiarity.  Our diversity must be confronted!
It is true that differences cause problems, hurt feelings and sometimes take long (really long, “late into the night kind of long) discussions to arrive at common ground.  But, in the long run, that really isn’t a bad thing – it’s what helps us know the other person in our holy mixtures of marriage, family relationships and the other spheres of our lives (friends, work, church and more).
Today…for you
The message here is:  don’t jump into (or out of) relationships based solely on pheromones and familiarity; commit to knowing a person inside, spiritually and intellectually. 
Become friends before becoming lovers.  You see a lot clearer then.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Holy Mixtures - part 1

Monday, April 28, 2014
So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.  Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.  When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory. 
Put to death, therefore, whatever in you is earthly:  fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed (which is idolatry).  On account of these the wrath of God is coming on those who are disobedient.  These are the ways you also once followed, when you were living that life.  But now you must get rid of all such things—anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive language from your mouth.  Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have stripped off the old self with its practices and have clothed yourselves with the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its creator.  In that renewal there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all! 
As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.  Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.  Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.  And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body.  And be thankful.        Colossians 3:1-15 (NRSV)
My wife, Elizabeth and I could not be more different.  We met 50 years ago, and have been married 47½ of those years.  Besides the obvious differences, gender thing and all, we come from decidedly different backgrounds.  Concerning the socio-economic picture, we were raised on different sides of the tracks.  Her family’s cultural connection was much closer to Old World European ways; mine more Brooklyn, New York.  She likes vanilla, I’m a chocolate addict.  I would live on top of a mountain – give Elizabeth the beach.  She has an eye for interior decorating, order and beauty; I’m lucky to find my toothbrush in the same drawer twice in a month, and couldn’t tell you the difference between sea green and lavender.  Elizabeth loves to shop; I’m a cheapskate and a confirmed, card-carrying store hater.  I like technology; it drives her crazy!

Personality-wise, I’m an introvert, bordering on reclusive; Elizabeth is more extroverted, having never met a stranger.  I tend to be complacent, so much so, Elizabeth checks my pulse several times daily to see if I’ve slipped into a coma; she, on the other hand is vibrant and engages her interests passionately.  She was raised in a family that had very little connection with church; I lived there.  (Sometimes my family went to church so often I seriously considered changing my mailing address to “under the steeple”.)

Why the soul-baring today?

Well, it’s 5am and how else am I going to avoid the gaping holes in my willingness to accept what Paul wrote to the Colossian church?  I figure if I dance-around this issue of accepting all the differences we have in this human family dwelling on planet Earth, I may be able to gloss-over some of the sticky parts.  You know what I’m talking about – like how, as a person whose life is “hidden in Christ with God,” I’m supposed to not only tolerate and accept, but embrace others who are so different from me.  

It’s more than just “making room at the table,” it’s getting up, pulling up another chair and inviting that different soul to sit next to you.  Paul said we’re a “holy mixture” and our job is to clothe this body of Christ with love that produces harmony. 

Whew…no wonder I’m dreading investigating this!

All this week we’re going to talk about these differences; I hope you’ll stay tuned.  (I hate walking a tough road alone.

Today…for you

You’re different than me.  I’m committed to getting over that.  Join me?

Fury Rising

This is another message that came to me from the LORD:  “Son of man, turn and face Gog of the land of Magog, the prince who rules over the nations of Meshech and Tubal, and prophesy against him.  Give him this message from the Sovereign LORD:  Gog, I am your enemy!  I will turn you around and put hooks in your jaws to lead you out with your whole army—your horses and charioteers in full armor and a great horde armed with shields and swords.  Persia, Ethiopia, and Libya will join you, too, with all their weapons.  Gomer and all its armies will also join you, along with the armies of Beth-togarmah from the distant north, and many others.  “Get ready; be prepared!  Keep all the armies around you mobilized, and take command of them.  A long time from now you will be called into action.  In the distant future you will swoop down on the land of Israel, which will be enjoying peace after recovering from war and after its people have returned from many lands to the mountains of Israel.  You and all your allies—a vast and awesome army—will roll down on them like a storm and cover the land like a cloud.  “This is what the Sovereign LORD says:  At that time evil thoughts will come to your mind, and you will devise a wicked scheme.  You will say, ‘Israel is an unprotected land filled with unwalled villages!  I will march against her and destroy these people who live in such confidence!  I will go to those formerly desolate cities that are now filled with people who have returned from exile in many nations.  I will capture vast amounts of plunder, for the people are rich with livestock and other possessions now.  They think the whole world revolves around them!’  But Sheba and Dedan and the merchants of Tarshish will ask, ‘Do you really think the armies you have gathered can rob them of silver and gold?  Do you think you can drive away their livestock and seize their goods and carry off plunder?’  “Therefore, son of man, prophesy against Gog.  Give him this message from the Sovereign LORD:  When my people are living in peace in their land, then you will rouse yourself.  You will come from your homeland in the distant north with your vast cavalry and your mighty army, and you will attack my people Israel, covering their land like a cloud.  At that time in the distant future, I will bring you against my land as everyone watches, and my holiness will be displayed by what happens to you, Gog.  Then all the nations will know that I am the LORD.  “This is what the Sovereign LORD asks:  Are you the one I was talking about long ago, when I announced through Israel’s prophets that in the future I would bring you against my people?  But this is what the Sovereign LORD says:  When Gog invades the land of Israel, my fury will boil over!  In my jealousy and blazing anger, I promise a mighty shaking in the land of Israel on that day.  All living things—the fish in the sea, the birds of the sky, the animals of the field, the small animals that scurry along the ground, and all the people on earth—will quake in terror at my presence.  Mountains will be thrown down; cliffs will crumble; walls will fall to the earth.  I will summon the sword against you on all the hills of Israel, says the Sovereign LORD.  Your men will turn their swords against each other.  I will punish you and your armies with disease and bloodshed; I will send torrential rain, hailstones, fire, and burning sulfur!  In this way, I will show my greatness and holiness, and I will make myself known to all the nations of the world.  Then they will know that I am the LORD.     Ezekiel 38:1 - 23 (NLT)
Who can know and understand the wrath of God?  Our text says that one day God’s Fury Rising will be plainly seen!
This sermon comes at the request of Randy Jones, one of our members at Mt Zion UMC.  His interest in Ezekiel 38 comes from much interest in current events and Biblical prophecy concerning the end times and whether we are walking in those last days. 
As a disclaimer, let me admit that I am not a scholar concerning Geo-political maneuvering in ancient and current days.  I have a nephew who wrote an excellent book on the Byzantine Empire, but I depend on others for much of the background on Gog and Magog.
With the disclaimer out of the way, here are the 3 directions we will take this morning: 
1.     I want to make several statements that will serve as parameters for understanding why Ezekiel 38 is important.
2.     We will then look at the sociological and religious landscape of the Middle East.
3.     Lastly we will talk about what God will do, and when it will happen.  (We will end with what to do about it all).

Middle East Socio-Religious Conditions

Biblical Understanding

In Genesis 21 we have the sons of Abraham, Isaac and Ishmael.  Isaac became the head of the promised lineage of Abraham’s seed (the Jews) who would produce Messiah, Jesus.  Ishmael is the father of the Arab nations.  They fought from day #1 and are still a boiling pot of unrest.  Any nightly news program can attest to the conflict in the Middle East.
Our text tells us (v.11) that the descendants of Ishmael will attack a less-than-watchful Israel.  Today Israel is a powerful nation (militarily) with powerful allies (US, etc).  But they are at the center of everything everybody else in the Middle East cares about.

Political Understanding

The countries surrounding Israel are a collection of Ishmael’s descendants, and, particularly today, they are churning-out rebellion and violence at unprecedented speed:
·        Tunisia, Egypt and Libya have either lynched or exiled leaders since 2009
·        Yemen and Syria are now in the middle of anarchy
·        Al Qaeda is spread from the Afghan/Pakistan borders clear to the Horn of Africa
·        The USA is losing its grip on keeping peace in Palestine
·        Russia’s alliances with Iran (nuclear weapons) and many other Ishmaelite nations are beginning to show Russia's true colors.
Pastor John MacArthur wrote this about Russia’s probability to lead the charge when it comes to the Gog/Magog attack on Israel and her allies:
Russia’s great military might, geography, atheism, and anti-Semitism make that nation a prime prospect for being that hostile power.[1]

Religious-Political Fanaticism

Most of the Mid-Eastern nations (see handout) that will take part in this attack are predominately Muslim-led regions, which are Islamist in ideology, and fervently anti-Israel.
 The Islamists are adherents of a broad ideological movement that wants Islam to govern the entirety of human interactions, from politics, economy, culture to communal relations and family.[2]
The sociological realities which exist in most of these countries form a fertile soil for the perfect storm of hatred and violence against God’s Israel.  Sunnis and Shiites don’t trust each other, and that tension keeps most of the countries in poverty and internal strife.  Religious fanaticism and ignorance are seedbeds for rebellion.
In the 1930’s Germany’s economy was in shambles; the national shame over losing World War 1 made that country an easy target for an evil Adolph Hitler to rise to power.  He was going to be their savior, leading them out of Jewish mongrelism into world domination.  Instead he became their Fuhrer, a madman dictator whose hatred cost the lives of millions.
But, why focus on Israel?  Why will the siege of Ezekiel 38 converge on Jerusalem?  Simple answer:  Dome of the Rock.  This is the ancient temple site, and Muslim extremists everywhere understand that if the temple is ever rebuilt on that holy ground, all claim to the ancient city is forever lost to them.  In short, it is jihad, holy war; and the infidels must die!

What will God do?

Ezekiel’s prophecy is quite clear:  God is going to put it in the mind of Gog to lead the charge against His people Israel.  The Lord said he’d put a “hook” in Gog’s jaw and lead him like a tamed mule to do his work.
God is going to be the initiator of this awful battle.  He is going to shake the land as never before so all his children know it is the Lord who is doing it.  This will be his fury rising; it is the wrath of God unleashed. 
One side note – if you compare the description of an earthquake in Revelation 6 with what you read here in Ezekiel, you get the idea that this is part of the sixth seal broken by the angel as God pours out his bowls of wrath to judge the earth.
But, in the midst of all, God promises to “turn back” Gog.  His attack will be defeated by God’s supernatural intervention.  Today Israel trusts in its nuclear warheads and the protection of America.  In that day America will be powerless to help – only God can save them.

Are we there yet?

When is this going to happen?  In our day? 
Some say it has already passed.  Some say it will be coincidental with the Tribulation[3], and others still hold it will be at the end of the Millennium. 
But I have the date – it’s going to happen when God says it must.

How shall we live?

A sermon that only describes a problem and possible outcomes, without   challenging us to live well and holy is not a sermon; it is simply a Bible study.  So let’s see how we should live in light of this.

Trust God

Scripture indicates this wrath is not aimed at followers of Christ. 
For God has destined us not for wrath but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,  1 Thessalonians 5:9 (NRSV)
When you trust God by accepting Christ’s gift of loving grace, your share of the wrath of God is already satisfied.  That’s salvation from the penalty of sin.  But when you are saved, you then…

Serve God

We serve God to give Him glory.  In the United Methodist Church we measure our lives by five promises of how we live.
·        Prayers – we pray for all persons to come to know Christ
·        Presence – we gather to worship, learn and grow together
·        Gifts – we open our purses and hearts to be a blessing in God’s kingdom
·        Service – we open our hands to help
·        Witness – we do whatever it takes to help others know this Christ who has died and risen to bring us eternal life.
God said through Ezekiel that by His great and mighty acts all the nations will know He is the Lord. 
That is our standard; we are also known by the way we act.  By our deeds of mercy and acts of love all men see our God and give glory to Him.
That’s how we should live.
In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, amen!

[1] MacArthur's New Testament Commentary: Matthew 16-23 © 1988 by The Moody Bible Institute of Chicago Electronic Edition STEP Files Copyright © 1997, Parsons Technology, Inc.
[2] http://middleeast.about.com/od/religionsectarianism/a/Who-Are-The-Islamists.htm
[3] See Revelation 20:7-10

Friday, April 25, 2014

Idle Tales

Friday, April 25, 2014
Mary had trouble getting the apostles to believe her resurrection tale.  They figured she was telling a story.  I’ve gotten the same look from people when I tell them I know a dead man that got out of a tomb.

I love the story about the little boy who just couldn’t manage to tell the truth.  His mother got so frustrated she called the family’s preacher.  The preacher decided he’d tell the boy a whopper so the little boy could see how silly you look when you’re lying.

“Son, I was in town the other day” began the preacher.  “And this old yellow dog came up to me – at least I think he was a dog.  He had a head like an alligator and a tail like a duck.  His feet were like a chicken, but the dog actually talked like a man.  He told me a story how he went to Chicago one day and then flew (Oh yeah…he had wings too), he flew alongside a Boeing-767 to Paris for the night and the next morning he raced a Concorde flight back home; he said he won the race.  While that yellow dog was tellin’ me this an elephant passed by and the dog ate him.  Durndest thing I ever saw.  What do ya think about that?”  “Preacher,” the boy said, wide-eyed, “that was my dog.”

We live in a culture that is dominated by untruth.  According to research reported by The Discovery Channel[1] lying first begins around age 2-3.  Mostly it is for the purpose of avoiding punishment (I didn’t take that cookie…even though there are crumbs lining the lips that are denying the heinous crime!). 

The truth about lying is that it tends to metastasize, grow like cancer.  In 
psychological studies 4 year-olds fibbed about once every two hours; it only takes 6 year-olds 90 minutes to tell a lie (on average).  But, in a 10 minute conversation between strangers, adults lie (on average) about 3 times.  If you do a bit of simple math that’s 18 times an hour!  At that rate the average adult, in just two hours of conversation a day, lies between 12 and 13,000 times a year! 

That’s a lot of talking yellow-dog-alligator-chicken-ducks!

How did we get this way?

The “idle tales” of human discourse have a root, the father of which is named in Scripture:
When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.  John 8:44b (NRSV)

Jesus was debating with the religious leaders when he said this, and he was referring to Satan as the father of lies.  That is in contrast, of course, with the characterization of Jesus as truth (John 14:6). 

So, to do another little bit of simple math here, the more you lie, the closer you are to your father in hell; the more you live in truth, the closer you are to the Father in heaven.

When you lie you’re close to home, but is it the home you want?

Today…for you

If, in your pilgrimage through this life you want to draw closer to walking with Jesus, you’re going to have to walk in truth.
What will it take for you to move away from the culture of lies and cling to the bedrock of Truth?

[1] http://curiosity.discovery.com/question/average-person-tell-lie

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Life Lies

Thursday, April 24, 2014
Do you have to muster up some inner strength to say you find joy in what you do? 

Or are you more like the friend I was having breakfast with the other day?  I asked what he did before he retired, and he began to tell me about his career.  It was not an exotic job like being an alligator wrestler or snake charmer, or playing third base for the Yankees; it was an “everyday” kind of job.  What fascinated me was the twinkle in his eye when he talked about getting up every day, looking forward to the people he’d meet that day.  He finished with:  I really liked doing that!  My friend knows how to view the ordinary as extraordinary.

The Apostle Paul shared a formula for this kind of living:
Don’t fret or worry.  Instead of worrying, pray.  Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns.  Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down.  It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.  Philippians 4:6-7 (TMSG)
Joy – the kind you experience for real on your inside, and not the fake stuff that you have to work up by going to a party, or getting a drug buzz – is available.  

That’s Christ’s joy; it is the life He said he came to give to us![1]

Today…for you

Are you tired of the “life lie”, the smile you wear to convince others you’re just fine?
Is it time to join the ranks of those who’ve learned the secret of allowing Christ to change your ordinary to extraordinary?
Why not talk to Him about it?

[1] John 10:10

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Recycled Sermons

Wednesday, April 23, 2014
For most of my ministry I never preached the same message more than once.  I’ve almost been manic about always doing the study fresh each week.  I research the text prodding the Scripture for clear understanding and searching for Biblical ways to apply God’s Word to the needs of today’s culture.  I used to preach 3 times a week as an average.  After 30 years that’s quite a pile of sermons!

How unusual it has been these past two years preaching messages I wrote 5, 10 or even 25 years ago.  But I find it’s never the same sermon.  It almost takes more work to recycle a message than construct a new message. 

Here’s why:

When I take a look at the message written in 1989 about stewardship or prayer, there is a sense of the “raised eyebrow”.  Did I REALLY think that?  I find that re-reading passages of Scripture, and the way I interpreted them 25 years ago is different than what the Word is saying to me now.  As a result I find myself challenging every word I wrote back then with what I have seen God do in my life and ministry. 

“Recycling” a sermon is similar to what happens to a soda can thrown in the recycle bin.  There is the basic metal, some used paint and a little water and sugar left on the inside of the can.  The people at the recycling plant put the can in the fire.  The paint and sugar burn away and the metals are re-formed, re-useable! 

In the same way, God recycles my approach to His Word.  God uses the time in-between when a sermon was first written and preached to update my thinking, ripen my theology.  God’s word never changes, but it does change us.  I’ve seen this in using previous messages, because my approach to preaching has always been to understand the text first, and then ask questions of what the text means to this human being, me, a travelling pilgrim in an alien world.  The sermons I have preached are always constructed on the answers to those questions – how God’s Word impacts a human soul.  And when the message is from God’s Word, delivered to a heart ready to worship….well that never gets outdated.

“Recycling” sermons has been a real joy for me; I’m seeing God’s tracks in the path of my life.
Today…for you

Has God been recycling anything in your life?  Are you seeing His tracks on your path?
Same family problems re-visited? 
Same financial crunch this month as last?
Loneliness creeping up on you?
Work, sleep, eat, and repeat the cycle becoming boring?
Could God be asking you to recycle the ways you thought about some things?  Is He asking you to challenge old ways?  Does he want to burn-off the thinking you’ve held onto for too long?  Is He speaking a fresh word to your life?

That’s the stuff of doing your best to present yourself to God as a worker who knows and does the truth of His Word.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Last Enemy

Tuesday, April 22, 2014
Paul’s image of a king with his foot on his enemy’s neck was a common one.  After a war the king of the nation which was conquered would be paraded to the throne of the victorious king.  Being made to bow down, the victor would step on the subdued king’s neck, symbolizing complete control over the king’s life or death (and his country too).
A man once told me that everybody over the age of 35 thinks about death at least once a day.  He knew what he was talking about.  Death is an insidious part of our existence; we think about it, wonder what it will be like, and ruminate over how we can put it off. 
We’re all like Woody Allen’s comment, when he was asked what he’d like to be remembered for; He said:  I’d like to be remembered as the guy who didn’t die. 
Well, Woody…you’re too late!  That job has already been filled.  When the dead carpenter from Galilee got out of the tomb he fulfilled the promise that He is the resurrection and life that will be eternal life springing-up in those who trust in him.
There’s one promise upon which all Christians everywhere agree; God was moving in all of history past, and is moving in “history future” to bring His enemies under submission.  And that last enemy to be subdued and destroyed is death.
This is the way Isaiah pictured the Christ dealing with his enemy, death:
He will swallow up death forever!  
The Sovereign LORD will wipe away all tears.  
He will remove forever all insults and mockery 
against his land and people.  
The LORD has spoken!   Isaiah 25:8 (NLT)
This is also the fate of death in the Book of Revelation:
Then death and the grave were thrown into the lake of fire.  Revelation 20:14a (NLT)
As 17th century Christian pastor and poet John Donne said,
Death, thou shalt die!
Today…for you
We can’t ignore death altogether, but we rejoice in its temporary condition!

Jesus said so!