Monday, April 28, 2014

"This Is The Week That I Died" ~ Jesus

For The Joy Set Before Him, He Endured the Agony
He Became The First Fruits... the First of Many To Be Resurrected

By Duane David DuBois

When I wrote the last post “Eleven Years,” I noted that this year was the first year since 2003 that Palm Sunday fell on April 13, and I wasn’t sure if there was any significance to that.  Later that afternoon, I realized that the day might have been a lot different if it hadn’t been Palm Sunday on April 13, 2003.  The support of my spiritual family as well as my natural family is what helped us all survive the coming days.

Because it was Palm Sunday, my friends were in church that morning.  After I had called Pastor Dennis, it was easy for him to get the news of the accident to all of them at once.  If you read the post that I wrote about “that day,” you know that I had just returned from a conference where I had heard testimonies of miracles, and that my faith was high, and I truly believed that this was a test… that the devil was the entity behind this accident and that if we would pray for resurrection, we might see a miracle.  After all, it was Palm Sunday, and Resurrection Day (Easter) was coming!  And there had been documented cases of people returning from the dead just recently.  So when I called Pastor Dennis, right after having returned from the accident scene where I was told that Duane “didn’t make it,” I asked him to gather anyone who would be willing to join me at the hospital to pray for a miracle.  They did.  We did.  But I later learned that Duane made a choice to stay with Jesus that day.  When given a choice, who wouldn’t?  You can read all about that in previous posts.

I want to focus on what the Lord did for me this year. 

I had anticipated that perhaps this year all the memories would come flooding back and it would be more difficult than previous years, just because of it being the first April 13 Palm Sunday since 2003.  But to the contrary, God used it to bring me full circle, I guess you could say.  During worship that morning, someone sang a beautiful spontaneous song.  I wish I had written down all the words.  It was the Lord singing to us about what this week really is, this week called “Passion Week.”  Through that song, Jesus said, “This is the week that I gave myself for you.”  Those words went deep into me, and I wrote them down… and then these words flowed through my pen: “This year, the Lord changed this week back to the proper focus for once and for all.” 

This year, on April 13, 2014, the Lord pointed me back to the real meaning of this week, this week that begins with Palm Sunday and ends on Easter.  It was as if He said right to me, “This is the week that I died.”  His words through the song continued, “I did it for you.  There is no way you can do it for yourself.  No one can do it for you.  I did it, says the Lord.  You laid me in a tomb, you dressed me in burial cloths, you rolled the stone in place and sealed it.  Most of you do not have the faith to believe what comes next, even though I told you… and that is where you should wait until I rise next Sunday.”  We were then told that as we wait for the next week, we should read the last chapter of one of the gospels, and ponder it.  I did.  I not only read the end of all four gospels, the accounts of the crucifixion and the resurrection in the words of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, but I also studied the week from the aspect of the Jewish calendar, which is what Jesus would have followed.

When Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey that day, it was to fulfill a prophecy recorded in Zechariah 9:9, “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, Humble, and mounted on a donkey, Even on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”   We call it “Palm Sunday,” but for Jesus, it was the time when the Jewish people went to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Passover.  He knew when He rode into Jerusalem that, that very week, He would give His life upon a cross and would literally become God’s Passover Lamb.  Simply put, because of what Jesus did that week, I know that my sins are all forgiven, all my diseases are healed, and I have eternal life.  I know my God as my Father and I know that I will be resurrected too, unless I live to see the Second Coming of Jesus; in that case, I will receive my glorified body without having to go through death and resurrection.

And when I read the end of those four gospels, I was reminded that my job now is to continue the work of Jesus, which was to destroy the works of the devil.  The devil came to steal, kill and destroy and Jesus came to bring good news to the suffering and afflicted, to comfort the brokenhearted, to announce liberty to captives, and to open the eyes of the blind.  He came to tell those who mourn that the time of God’s favor to them has come, and the day of his wrath to their enemies.  He came to give beauty for ashes; joy instead of mourning; praise instead of heaviness. These are all the things Jesus came to do, and then He went back to His Father in Heaven, sent the Holy Spirit to earth to indwell those who believed in Jesus and now we exist for one reason only, and that is to continue His works.  What are those works?  I just listed them, from Isaiah 61.  And, in Jesus’ words recorded in Matthew 10:8, “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cure the lepers, and cast out demons. Give as freely as you have received!”

Jesus really is risen from the grave, He really is alive, He really did tell me, tell all His followers, to occupy, to continue His work, until He comes again.  Yes, April 13 will always be the day we remember that Duane left us and entered Heaven, but now my main focus will be what Jesus said it should be.

I’m sure you’ve noticed that there are hurting people everywhere.  Maybe you are one of them.  There is Good News. 

“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him."

John 3:16-18, The Message

Have you been introduced to Him yet?  Let me introduce you.  Come, put your hand in His and follow Him.  He will give you rest.  He will give you peace.  He will give you joy.  And most of all, He will love you, unconditionally, just as you are.

"Follow Me" ~ Bruce Marchiano as Jesus

If you already know Him, make sure you make the main thing, the main thing.  Life is too short to get sidetracked.  Oh, and don't go pointing your finger and telling people what's wrong about them or about what they are doing.  They probably already know that.  Love them and introduce them to Jesus!  

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Eleven Years

Duane and a Few of His Drawings

Today, it has been eleven years since Duane’s earthly life ended and he took Jesus by the hand and went into the presence of Father God.  On that Palm Sunday, I and other members of our church called “Acts 1:8” prayed that he would rise from the dead and return to this earthly life, but instead, he truly rose into a greater life than we here can yet imagine.  It began a life where his creativity now honors Father God.  This is the first year since 2003 that Palm Sunday fell on April 13.  I don't know if there is any significance to that, but now, eleven years later, I am still receiving tributes to Duane from his friends.  Some tributes are shared directly with me and some are placed on his Facebook page, Friends of Duane David DuBois.

I want to share some of these tributes with you.  One was in the form of an email from Nicole, one a Facebook message from Amanda, and two were poems written when I asked for memories, thoughts or other contributions on his last birthday in January.  Jamie DuMond wrote one and Stefany Nicole wrote the other.  First, I share the poems.

"Too Soon" by Jamie DuMond

To the greatest man I knew
The good die young
God always has a plan
Here we stand
Missing you
Stronger for knowing you
We've been through hell
You helped us through
We fight on
Someday we will meet again
I remember the day I heard
Another angel was getting his wings
Lost a lot that day
Lost a lot the years that followed
Ups and downs
Still you help push me through
Its been too long
Since I've been around
Missed so much
Wishing you were still here
Because of it all I am a better man
Your ways made me better
For that I thank you
We miss you, bud, we love you
You'll always be with us
In our hearts, our thoughts and souls
Guiding us, watching out for us
Till then
I'm gonna sit right here on your stone bench and drink a beer
This one's for you.


“I Thought About You Today” by Stefany Nichole

I thought about you today.
I thought about your smile, the way you laughed.
You were an amazing person in every single way.
So caring, so true.
There is never a day that passes without me missing you.
I know some day I will see you again.
Until that day comes,
My heart and memory are where I'll keep you, my friend.


Nicole shared with me in an email that, even after eleven years, she still keeps Duane’s picture in her room, and says “Good morning” to him every morning and “Good night” every night.  It makes me proud to realize that Duane made such an impact on people that he is still so much missed.  I think one of Duane's characteristics that made him so endeared to so many was the way he accepted and loved everyone, regardless of their age, color, physical characteristics, religion or any other aspect about the outside of them.  He was as comfortable being friends with adults as with young children or his peers.  He really wanted to be accepted the same way by others.  Remember how he liked to wear gothic style clothes, and those weird contact lenses?

Amanda shared this story with me in a Facebook message conversation I was having with her recently:  "When I first started going to Acts 1:8, Duane, Patrick and I sat together in the back. It might have been my first or second time. I will never forget he had his lip ring in, wearing a backwards hat and T-shirt of a band. I asked him about what did the other people say about how he dressed in church. I will NEVER EVER forget his answer, 'Amanda, I know they don't think I dress appropriate for church, but it's not what I wear that makes me a Christian. It's what is in my heart and that I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord & Savior. Don't be afraid to wear what you want, you know what is in your heart.'  That has stuck with me for the last 12 yrs."  

Thank you, Jamie and Stefany, for writing your poems in honor of Duane.  Thank you, Nicole, for keeping in touch with me.  When I communicate with you or any of Duane's friends, I feel in touch with him as well.  And thank you, Amanda, for sharing that story with me.  I was so very happy to learn about the influence that Duane had on you in accepting Jesus as your Lord and Savior.  There's nothing more important than that.  That is fruit that remains for eternity.

I knew, as Duane knew, that not everyone approved of his outward appearance.  But he had it right.  God Himself looks not on our outward appearance, but at what is inside of each and every one of us.  

Eternal One (God, to Samuel when Samuel was trying to determine which man God had chosen as King):  Take no notice of his looks or his height. He is not the one, for the Eternal One does not pay attention to what humans value.  Humans only care about the external appearance,
but the Eternal considers the inner character.

1 Samuel 16:7, The Voice

A couple days ago, I found a poster that I really liked and shared it on my Facebook wall.  It said, "At the end of the day, the only questions I will ask myself are.... Did I love enough?  Did I laugh enough?  Did I make a difference?" Based on what his friends tell me, Duane could have answered "Yes" to all three questions.