How I Do It

2 Corinthians 1

June 18

When people find out what I do for a living (Funeral Director/Embalmer and Deputy Coroner) they usually respond with some variation of the following: “I don’t know how you do it”.  “How do you get used to it?”  Or “I don’t think I could do your job.”  I have never known quite how to respond to those statements.  Saying  “Oh, I think you could”, doesn’t  seem quite right.  Neither does “You’re probably right about that.”

I’ve decided that I’m going to start asking what part of my job, specifically, they think they would not be able to handle.  If they mean they don’t know how I get used to the smells, my answer would truthfully be “I don’t”…  It’s a tough part of the job.  My tongue-in-cheek answer would be “Mouth breathing and repeated formaldehyde exposure have helped.”  (I think I’ve partially embalmed my olfactory over the years of inhalation of embalming chemical fumes).   If they mean they don’t know how I can be a comforting presence when people are grieving, I have an answer for that too.  It is because God has comforted me.

In 2 Corinthians Chapter 1, Paul writes:

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” (verses 3&4)

When I was 7 years old my infant brother, Zachary, died a few short hours after birth. He was born with a hernia of his diaphragm. I never got to see him alive.  I never got to hold him.  We had a place ready for him at our house,  but we never got to bring him home from the hospital.   Despite what people said, I knew he certainly didn’t get to go to “a better place”.  The first and only time I ever saw him was in a tiny casket in the back of the Oregon Church of God.  Pastors Hollis Partlowe, and a new young minister at the church by the name of Michael Hoffman, co-officiated my brother’s funeral.  Pastor David Cheatwood of the Blessed Hope Bible Church also counseled and  comforted our family in the years that followed.

God,  through the ministry of these three Pastors, my Sunday school teachers and several other  faithful brothers and sisters in our church like Alan and Darlene Shaw,  Dave and Bertha Hixon and Rita Gillette  comforted me.  Through that experience, I learned the fullness of the gospel.  I learned that the gospel was not  merely that there was a perfect man who lived 2000 years ago who was falsely accused and  died on a cross.  The gospel is that, that man, CHRIST JESUS, only needed to borrow a tomb for a few days.  The gospel is, that I will have an opportunity to see my brother Zachary alive someday and walk with him on streets made of gold!   

In mortuary school I learned a lot about caskets.  I learned a lot about how they are made and the proper terminology for each of their different parts.  We had to be able to identify and differentiate between the “ogee” and  the  “overlay”.  We had to be able to explain why a person may want or not want a casket with a gasket.  (Every time I say that, it reminds me of the Dr. Seuss  book “Wocket in my Pocket.”). It would all be very depressing If I didn’t know that in the end, a casket is just a time capsule to be opened at the ribbon cutting of the new Jerusalem.  I picture graves bursting open right before the wedding supper of the lamb.  When I get a person dressed and placed in their casket, I’m really helping one of the wedding guests get their socks on for the party!

In this same Chapter Paul also writes “we do not write you anything you cannot read or understand.” Sometimes we just need to think about that.  If our message is something that cannot be understood, it just might not be Biblical. 

God created perfect people in a perfect garden on a perfect earth.  Sin caused those people to be cast out of the Garden and they lost access to the tree of life.  Therefore we all die.  We all need to consider casket gaskets. 

The entire Bible lays out plainly God’s plan to restore the perfection of his original creation and our access to Him and his tree of life.  The good news is just as Jesus arose from the grave, no casket on the market will be able to hold us when the last trumpet sounds.  We shall rise. 

That is how I am able to do what I do.  Next time you have to make funeral arrangements ask your funeral director about their long term lease programs on caskets.  We won’t be needing them forever!

-Brian Froehlich

Application Questions

  1. When you think of the word “comfort” what comes to mind?
  2. What brings you comfort in times of stress?
  3. What are some jobs you would not want or could not do?
  1. We know we won’t be needing our caskets forever.  If we could lease one until Resurrection day, how long do you think we would need it? 
  2. Are you living like you are expecting the imminent return of Christ?  What would you do differently today if you knew the date of his return?

Strive for FULL Restoration

2 Corinthians 13

Today we are looking at 2 Corinthians 13 and Paul is writing to the people of Corinth, even though he has already visited them twice but still they are unable to perform the will of God and be faithful righteous believers. In verse 11 Paul writes “Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice!…” We see that even though the Corinthians have all of these issues in their lives he calls them “brothers and sisters” because he loves them so very much that they are family to him.

“Strive for full restoration.” Paul wants us to be the best version of ourselves. I was just recently baptized and I have been working on restoring my relationship with God. As Kyle McClain said this past week at General Conference everything takes time, and the longer we go without praying and reading our Bible the farther we stray from God. Love God and trust in him and he will guide you. And closing with verse 14 – “May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”

God bless.

Thank you, 

Samuel Turner

This week we will get the pleasure of hearing from some new SeekGrowLove writers – and some not so new, too. Samuel is a high school student I enjoyed spending some time with at FUEL and General Conference. Thank you for writing, Samuel! Congratulations on your recent baptism! It will be fun watching God guide you as you continue seeking Him and striving for full restoration!

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – 2 Corinthians 13 and Job 23-24

Boasting of the Best

2 Corinthians 10-13

We are going through our final chapters in Paul’s letters to the Corinthians!  Thank you for sticking with me through this last week and listening to my ramblings 😊

As Paul is finishing up his letters, he seems to talk a lot about boasting.  Boasting can be defined as possessing something as a source of pride.  Paul is possessing the knowledge of the truth of Jesus’ death and resurrection, and what that means for his sinful life.  He takes pride in the fact that he belongs to Christ, and he wants others to be proud of that too (10:2).  He doesn’t want people to be proud of themselves or their own accomplishments, but only be proud of the Lord and being part of a group of believers (10:17).

In chapter 11 Paul talks about those who do boast about themselves and discusses how at the very most we should only be willing to boast about our weakness (11:30).  In order to be in a position that you are not only willing to share a weakness but are seeking to openly and proudly share a weakness, you must be truly dedicated and excited to be part of that movement.  Paul understood the impact that sharing his weakness, or his testimony, would have on believers because he got to experience first-hand the grace of God.

Paul didn’t always want to deal with the things that created his testimony, he calls them a thorn used to torment him (12:7).  He asked for the things that were difficult for him to be taken away, and Jesus told him “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” (12:9).  Paul did not innately know that the things that were difficult, that were shaping his testimony, were going to be used for God’s glory.  But when he learned that his weakness would only more greatly reflect grace, he did not shy away and try to hide or change his weaknesses to present himself as higher than he was to the church.  All too often Christians can feel this pressure to hide the parts of their life that weren’t “pretty” in the eyes of other believers.  But most times, what we have gone through and come out of because of the grace of God is one of the most powerful tools in bringing people to Christ and encouraging believers.  We should be boasting in our weaknesses, in what God has brought us out of, with the purpose of growing and strengthening the Church.

Paul closes his letter by saying this: “Finally, brothers, rejoice.  Become mature, be encouraged, be of the same mind, be at peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you.” (13:11).  Part of becoming mature can include developing and sharing your testimony.  Being encouraged can happen when you share and hear about testimonies from other believers.  We are all of the same mind when we focus on growing and strengthening the Church.  And being at peace comes from knowing that each believer has that same focus.  When we are able to do all of these things, God will be with us and give us His strength to complete tasks we never thought possible. 

We make up the Church, and we are responsible for continuing to grow the Church and keep one another strong in the faith.  Paul’s letters are a great place to start when looking for ways to be part of the Church, but there is absolutely a level of personal communication with God that is necessary to know where He wants you to be.  I encourage you to take time today to reflect on your own testimony and to ask God who He wants you to share this testimony with.  You may be surprised where He leads you!

Thank you all for joining me through the Corinthians!  This week has been a great time for me to refocus on the mission, and I hope it was for you all as well.  Until next time, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.”

-Sarah Blanchard Johnson

Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – 2 Corinthians 10-13

Tomorrow we begin a new week reading Acts 20:1-3 and Romans 1-3.

A Quality Church – and Your Part in It

2 Corinthians 5-9

Welcome back!  I felt like these five chapters really covered a lot of ground today!  I will only be touching on part of the message presented here for the sake of keeping it relatively short, so I truly encourage you to find someone in your world to read and discuss with the points that stick out to you!

 One portion of this message that stuck out to me in particular was found in chapter five verse 11: “Therefore, because we know the fear of the Lord, we seek to persuade people.  We are completely open before God, and I hope we are completely open to your conscience as well.”  I really admire this idea of being just as open to other believers as we are to God.  To me, this means sharing our pains, fears, hopes, prayers, and praises with the body of believers we surround ourselves with. 

Paul brings up the idea of being open again in chapter six describing how he wants the relationship between himself and the church to be like parents and children with good communication (6:11-13).  That kind of relationship may look different for everyone, but in general, the relationship that a parent and child have should be based on trust, respect, and love.  Paul is talking about how the relationship we have with other believers should be the same!  To provide an example of this Paul describes how happy he was that Titus had come to visit this church specifically because Titus was refreshed by the church (7:13).  Whether it is to a visiting member from another congregation, someone who attends every Sunday, or someone who may only be passing through, people should leave the church feeling refreshed by their time spent with us. 

Continuing on in chapter eight verse 24 Paul is boasting about this church’s love for others in his letter and encourages them to continue to do what they are doing.  Paul doesn’t say anything regarding the physical appearance of the church, how good the music is, or how young and cool the pastor is.  OK, that may not be applicable to the church in Corinth at that time, but I think you get my point!  What makes a church a quality church is their ability to build up the body of believers, to refresh them, so that they may go out and continue their work.  This is only possible when believers in the church are open with one another and have that relationship of trust, respect, and love.

When you look at your own church, what do you boast about?  What makes you proud to attend?  Do you feel like you can be open with the other believers there?  And if not, I encourage you to dig a little deeper… Paul writes about people who sow sparingly reaping sparingly (9:6).  I think this concept applies to a lot of areas, including what we take away from our own church.  If you are looking for a church where you can find strong connections, yet never attend a Bible Study, you are trying to reap generously what was sown sparingly.  If you are trying to find a church that is energetic and full of life, but you never come with a smile on your face or a praise to share, you are trying to reap generously what was sown sparingly.  If you are disappointed that your church rarely has visitors, yet never invite your coworker, neighbor, or friend to a service, you are trying to reap generously what was sown sparingly. 

Being the church does not just mean showing up on a Sunday morning.  It means being open, it means showing respect and love, and it means being actively involved.  Without each one of us taking part in refreshing one another, the church is just a building.  We are the Church, and we each must do our part to make it all it should be.

-Sarah Blanchard Johnson

Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – 2 Corinthians 5-9.

Tomorrow we will continue with chapters 10-13.

Not Working Alone

2 Corinthians 1-4

Hello everyone, and welcome back to Paul’s letters!

2 Corinthians is truly written as a letter… almost like a story written from Paul’s perspective to the church.  Although sometimes his message can feel redundant (especially when you have to listen to it from me each day…), it really should be symbolizing just how important that message truly is.  We shouldn’t necessarily be finding new ideas each day, because the ideas should be and are consistent throughout the whole Bible!  We should, however, be finding new ways to take that message and apply it to our own life.

The main message that I took from Paul in these chapters is how this mission that I have been touching on this past week isn’t one that we do alone or on our own strength.  Our mission is one that is fueled by God.  Our words, our actions, and our endurance related to spreading the message of hope and Christ’s resurrection has nothing to do with ourselves.  THANK GOODNESS. 

However, that mission is carried out by us.  In these chapters we are called to comfort, to conduct ourselves in purity, to forgive, to love, and to be bold in our faith walk.  All these ideas require us to act on the experience of grace that we have received from God.  When we carry out these things we can do so with the competence from God (3:5), which means that we aren’t responsible for making things up about grace!  We do not have to distort God’s message (in fact you shouldn’t) for people to come to Christ.  We have to tell people about Christ and let his life do the talking!

Paul recognized that this mission wasn’t easy, he lived through the difficulties of telling people about Christ.  He talks about the importance of spreading joy among believers and keeping the body built up by reaffirming people in love (2:5-8).  He reminds the church of these things because he knows how Satan works, and knows that without joy and love, the Church will be weak (2:11). 

To build the church up, Paul closes with some fantastic verses that I want to reiterate here:

“Therefore we do not give up.  Even though our outer person is being destroyed, our inner person is being renewed day by day.  For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory.  So we do not focus on what is seen, but what is unseen.  For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (4:16-18). 

Being a Christian is hard.  Being a Christian in 2020 is hard.  But we know that everything that is hard in this current life will be nothing compared to the glory and joy that is the Kingdom.  That doesn’t change the fact that life is still hard, but it should change the way we handle this life and give us some joy and love to spread, even when the world is lacking.

No matter where you are in life today, remind yourself about the hope, grace, and joy you have in Christ.  And when someone asks you why you are still smiling despite the chaos, tell them the truth about who gave you that kind of joy.

-Sarah Blanchard Johnson

Today’s Bible reading passage can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – 2 Corinthians 1-4

Tomorrow we will continue with 2 Corinthians 5-9.

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