Arthur’s Perspective on Death


I have pondered writing something like this for many years, but have refrained since there is always a close friend who is in a health crisis and I do not want to come across as insensitive to their pain.

Nonetheless, after years of forbearing, I now feel more concerned about the consequences of my silence than the pain caused by my sharing my perspective.

Add to that, the fact that the series on how I see the future would not be complete without discussing THE issue that is central to the largest number of people.

All of us are formed to some degree by the views of the culture we are exposed to.  Humor me while I share my pilgrimage, because it is quite different from yours, and contributes heavily to the conclusions I reach.

I grew up in Brazil where life expectancy was short.  In part this was due to the rough features of life in the jungle and in part due to the lack of medical help.  The combination of the two, produced widespread passivity in medical crises.

If someone had a serious snake bite, or an accident in the jungle, or developed cancer, there was little expectation of recovery, and therefore minimal emotional energy was expended in fighting for life.  A dying man or woman spent their last few minutes or hours surrounded by the grief of those who would soon be losing a loved one.

I found the fatalism in that culture to be unsettling.  It did not resonate with me, even though I could readily see that accidents happen and medical help was utterly unavailable.  The logic was unimpeachable, but I could never quite buy into the resignation.

Coming to the States gave me whiplash on this issue.  Suddenly, death was considered an extreme aberration.  Anyone, with any terminal disease, was expected to fight hard against death, investing huge emotional, spiritual and financial resources in the battle, recruiting large groups of friends to intercede on their behalf.

The American mindset that death should not be allowed, could not have been farther from my childhood experience.

This fighting attitude was more my style.  I bought in and fought hard for my friends for about two decades.  I have done daily prayer with people who were called terminal by the doctors.  I have fought in every way I knew how to fight to keep people alive, even flying across the country to try to raise them from the dead.

My results were meager.

This caused me to step back and examine the bigger picture.  After wrestling with the issue for a year, I decided there was one (or more) of three distinct issues at play here.

1)   Our techniques are seriously sub par.

2)   Our authority level is pathetic.

3)   Maybe it wasn’t God’s will for all of those people to live.

I felt pretty strongly that #1 was an issue.  I didn’t know what to do differently, but it felt like what the Church was doing at that time was pretty primitive.  Figuring out what non-primitive looked like was a puzzle, but I could admit we had a problem there.

#2 was a no brainer.  The answer is yes.  That absolutely was part of the problem.

It was #3 where I began to see some real logical disconnects.  Here are the issues that I found problematic.

-Almost no one was willing to see death from any cause, at any time, as acceptable.  The most extreme case was the person who called up asking for prayer for a family who had just lost their father.  The caller went on and on about how traumatized they were because his death was so unexpected and he was in good health.

A little querying revealed the fact that the gentleman in question was 94 years old and had died in his sleep.  Let’s see.  94 years old and his death is totally unexpected?  Umm . . . there is a word for that and it is “denial.”

The family may be deeply saddened by the loss of their patriarch, but unexpected?  Come on now.

But honestly, there is neither theology nor custom in our Christian community for someone to die with grace and be released by the family.  Where are the teachings about Jacob and others who went home at a ripe old age, knowing their time had come?

Where are the teachings about how a patriarch or matriarch should prepare the family for the time of their passing?  Why do we have no ceremonies for the passing on of generational blessings prior to death?

I came to the conclusion that the American Christian culture was deficient.  It would be one thing to discuss whether their theology of appropriate death was accurate, but to have NO theology of appropriate death is troubling.  To be blunt, I have known only three men in my 37 years in the States who were diagnosed with a terminal illness and told their families, “This is my time to go. Let’s prepare for the transition.”  Three.  Slim pickings!

-The prophetic community has been nearly uniform in pronouncing life over the terminally ill people.  Now setting aside the fact that the prophets have been flat-out dead wrong thousands of times on the issue of whether people would be miraculously healed, it strikes me as odd that I have never heard of a prophet hearing from God that someone’s time is up.

Surely it has happened, but it certainly is rare.  Isn’t it odd that God in Scripture overtly sent prophets to certain people to tell them flat-out that their disease was terminal and they should prepare accordingly?  Why doesn’t God ever seem to show the same courtesy today?

-What about consequences for our actions?  Should we expect God to just ignore the biological results of our choices?  If we have a lifestyle of violating the Biblical principles of good health, and we are diagnosed with an illness that is directly in line with our bad choices, can we really expect a ten second confession to wipe out 60 years of biological sins?

Scripture is VERY clear that God does do this.  Sometimes.  It is called mercy and He does dispense it to some, but I struggle with the average Christian’s EXPECTATION that they should not be held accountable for their environmental and dietary choices.

I struggle even more with having a large group of Christians who are still committing those same sins, and are utterly unrepentant, demanding that God heal the person of the consequences of his choices.  This does not feel to me like the quintessential recipe for high spiritual authority.

-What about the issue of generational blessings and the timing of their release?  Scripture seems to suggest that some times the end of one life is designed to launch another life.

Take Isaac. God did not release the generational blessings to him until the day Abraham died.  Isaac, by contrast, released the blessings at least 21 years before he died, and Jacob sure needed some supernatural wind in his sails, while working for Laban.

What about Jesus?  It appears that Joseph was dead by the time Jesus began His ministry.  Did God take Joseph’s life “early” so that Jesus would have those generational blessings operant from the very beginning of His ministry?

The concept is presented in a parallel context with the ascension of Jesus.  The apostles were fixated on the loss.  Jesus brushed it aside and told them that His departure was a prerequisite for the coming of the Spirit — a better gift.

I have watched this play out for years.  There are elderly people, often widows, who were ready to go home at 72 and cannot understand why God kept them here past the age of 90.  Yet shortly after they die, one of their children or grandchildren takes a massive lurch forward in their life.

Did God keep her alive so that her generational blessings could be released at a strategic juncture in someone’s life?  I think it is a possible explanation for many long lives that are unappreciated.

Likewise, when someone dies at 50 it is seen as a massively inappropriate thing.  Yet, I wonder if that dad lost his life in an accident or through a heart attack so that a son or daughter could receive the blessings they needed at just the right time to send them soaring.

Somewhere in this whole debate there needs to be some room for the wisdom of God to overrule our small world view.

-Finally there is the issue of history and the persecution of the Church.  Have you ever read Foxes Book of Martyrs or some similar volume.  There are two unarguable bits of data.

One is that a massive number of deeply committed, very godly Christians have been killed over the history of the Church, and God has let it happen.  We can start with Stephen.

The second is that the Church has historically thrived when watered with the blood of the martyrs.

Why should our generation and our culture be any different?  Can we really say with a straight face that all those spiritual giants died because they lacked faith and didn’t have good spiritual warfare techniques?

I can’t!

I see the sovereignty of God in His allowing James to be murdered and saving Peter from being murdered.

Why?  No clue.

Over the centuries, God has saved the lives of thousands of saints who were being persecuted.  There are endless miracle stories of those narrow escapes.  God has also NOT saved the lives of hundreds of thousands of His saints.

Why?  No clue.

So where does that leave me as I look at the future?

First of all, I believe that good stewardship begins with my body, not my wallet.  Regardless of the future, I believe that I will have higher spiritual authority if I care for my body than if I sin against it.

Second, if I become ill, I will certainly seek the will of the Lord, trying to be as open-minded as possible, willing to embrace death or fight for life.  I will not default to believing it is not my time to go.  I will ask as honestly as I can.

Third, I will not allow the enemy to take my life on a whim.  I have had times in the past where the Spirit has alerted me that there is a plot against me.  I know how to assemble an intercessory team in minutes to fight for my life.  I have done it with good results on several occasions.  I do not embrace the fatalism of my childhood culture.

Should I end up in a hostile prison situation, I will not just accept death.  I will fight for as long as God directs me to fight for my life and that of others around me. But should He tell me it is my time, I will ask only to go out with courage and dignity like my Scottish Covenanter forefathers did.

Fourth, I offer my life to God for use in His Kingdom however it benefits Him the most, including death.  At times, I wonder if I am worth more dead than alive.  I have worked hard to develop a substantial reservoir of generational blessings which will be dispensed to my physical and spiritual seed when I die (or before if God gives me a heads up).

I know the devil will rue the day that I die, because the treasures I have will be probated in the court of heaven and will be dispensed with speed and power the world over, as the Righteous Judge decrees.

If I die in the midst of a season of civil strife, imagine the positive impact on a large number of people who are in a critical struggle. My death at that precise moment could be the most valuable thing the King can do with me.

Or imagine my dying right at the beginning of a major move of God.  I would get to watch the fun from heaven, and my spiritual sons and daughters could be catapulted forward by my generational blessings for maximum efficacy in this new move.

Either way, I will be dangerous.  If I live, I will use my life to actively further the agenda of the King.  I will be dangerous!  And if He chooses to promote me to heaven, I will still be dangerous from there through my generational blessings.

As was said of Abel, “Though he is dead, yet he still speaks.”

I will be a force for good in the Kingdom, dead or alive!

Death, where is your sting!

Copyright April 2011 by Arthur Burk

Written at home

This entry was posted in Perspectives, The Culture. Bookmark the permalink.

48 Responses to Arthur’s Perspective on Death

  1. John Dalton says:

    Your wide ranging thoughts are full of merit, and the following does not detract from their value.
    The only healing line in NT is at Peter ‘s house.
    We note that ALL were healed.
    I see a number of power factors here.
    1/ Jesus was guest of honour
    2/ All in the house were healed – this good news went out.
    3/ An experienced TEAM were there.
    4/ De facto they embraced the Diversity in the four Gospels.
    5/ The principle of SUPPORT was evident in that the sick were BROUGHT.
    6/ The little observed principle of a SIGN further empowered this scenario. Peter was to be the future leader, thus HIS home was honoured.
    7/ In the same vein HOMES were set to replace synogogues as central.
    8/ Jesus was present to handle any cases not handled by the disciples.
    9/ The benefits of a Jewish context had not yet been trashed by Constantine.
    In conclusion – ignoring matters of maturity and teaching, we have some distance to cover before all the above features facilitate 100% success in our gatherings.

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  2. Marié says:

    Thank you for sharing Arthur and everyone else’s replies! Any thoughts on younger people dying? Is this maybe due to generational curses or something else? How do we pray for this.

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  3. Judith says:

    Arthur,
    Sometimes trite is right! As a Prophetically appointed Intercessor Prophet, I am afraid I have knowingly prayed a few faithless prayers over the years when I knew in my spirit that death was imminent. I felt I was culturally/religiously/institutionally obligated to pray for healing. There, I said it out loud. And sometimes Father would drop a clue but didn’t give the revelation till postmortem because I probably would have offended a grieving family. Once I prayed for the healing of a mother’s son. The mother of 2 sons had survived breast cancer with one breast removed. Son #1 developed cancer. . . Father’s message to me was a vision where 1 breast was gone because of cancer and His words were “One Son.” The day of, but before Son breathed his last, Father God sent me to his house to pray one final time with clear instructions to declare before Son and Mom that death is swallowed up in victory and whether he lives or dies and goes to be with Father, it is victory. Only in hindsight did I understand the words “One Son.”
    I, also, am a product of budding birthright released at the death of my spiritual father pastor prophet. Sadly, his physical sons still appear to wander and wonder feeling unfinished. Thanks to Father God, before Pastor Prophet passed, Holy Spirit spoke to Intercessor ME and said “Get up. You have it.” I have embraced that word to include birthright and completion of a very unique Elijah/Elisha walk where, as a female, I wasn’t mentored or embraced or acknowledged or affirmed or wanted. My Prophet was perhaps even slightly aggravated when He once expressed to female me “You are the first one to understand sonship.” Finally, the last time we spoke before His death, because of the nature of his illness and the unique nature of my Elisha walk, (I walked from a distance with a man who only wanted sons) God had strategically positioned me. I was called in to physically wash his feet. As he spoke words I had longed for they didn’t feel as wonderful as I had dreamed. I just didn’t need them anymore. . . “Judith, you are my best spiritual daughter.” Thank you Father God. . . I get it.

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  4. Debbie Goodwin says:

    A dear friend and sister just graduated today, and I am so very happy for her. She lived a hard life, many wrong reactions to pain. As a child she witnessed her father beating her mother to death, this was about 60 years ago. As a result of this trauma, she developed Multiple Personality Disorder. many long hard years of pain followed.
    Fast forward many years, she came to pick up a Grandchild at VBS, the Holy Spirit tuggged at her heart. She came back the following Sunday, and was Born-again. AThe Lord healed her, and she continued to allow him to work in her life.
    She had been ill for a few years. A few months ago, her health broke down in a serious way, resulting in hospitilisation. At times it seemed that she was going to walk out, Sandy was a fighter. She prayed long and hard, and nagged/bugged Gov. officials until our church got permission, and a grant to instil a lift in the church.
    It seemed however to myself and my husband, that this time it was time to stop fighting, she had been in a coma, people were continuing to pray for complete healing.From the pulpit on sunday Be healed in Jesus name etc etc. people were going in and annointing her with oil, praying for God to raise her from her sickbed. We didn’t witness to that though. It seemed to us, that her dearest Lord wanted to give her what was best, by taking her to be with Himself.
    On sunday we prayed for her, we spoke to her spirit, with the assurance that the Word Himself was there with her, making her spirit strong. We knew that there was a struggle going on between her soul and her spirit, as she had asked to go on Life-Support when her body crashed yet again. She wanted to keep fighting. As I said we prayed, and spoke to her spirit, saying it was time to stop fighting. We told her spirit to direct her body to start shutting down, it was time, the ultimate in healing was to take place. There is perfect healing in heaven. After praying we felt a strong peace, and settling in our spirits. so I was not surprised to hear today that she graduated.
    I am so happy for her!! No more pain. No more horrible memories of a childhood and teenhood filled with violent abuse. I am looking forward to someday spending an eternity with her.
    There is another dear sister who is seriously ill, with a rare cancer of the lining of her stomach, she will recover though, the Lord gave me a glimpse of her “Assignment folder” its just a few inches thick! She has some busy times coming up!
    Is it not wise to ask Him what his will is? Why do we hate to let go, sigh.

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  5. Jennifer says:

    Since reading this article last week my heart has been captivated by the topic of generational blessings and spiritual inheritances. I find it intriguing to think that we can purposely develop a reservoir of generational blessing.

    My question is…how do we do that? Do you have any other teachings regarding generational blessings? I think this is a profound topic which the North American church may have lost sight of due to our propensity to fight death to the bitter end. If there are any other resources on these topics I would love to purchase them. Are there any other keys you can help us with in regards to ‘filling our reservoir’?

    Thank you for shining light upon the topic of death and helping us to look from God’s perspective, rather than through the lenses of grief and fear.

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  6. Mary-Anne Simpson says:

    I think you are so right in what you say in this posting, I have been mulling it over and trying to crystallize what really landed for me and I realise that it is the recognition that there are times when God really has no intention of healing someone one and you know it. Sometimes God speaks clearly and you get the message, “this is not unto death, but unto the Glory of God”, but other times you know that you know that all the prayer in the world is not going to make one iota of difference.
    Some months before she died my mom who was a true warrior in prayer for the Lord, and a Spiritual mother to many got ill to the point that just going through the day was a big effort. She was 83 and living with me, as her only child we had a tremendous bond. Dad died when I was 11 and so for most of my then 39 years I knew that she would always be there going out to bat for me and watching my back praying for me and loving me unconditionally.
    She had got ill before, I did not relish the thought of life without her, but she told me she was ready to go. I was away on business when I got a call to say she was taken to hospital by ambulance having suffered a massive heart attack. I was distraught.
    I flew home went straight to the hospital where she had been stabilised and we spent some really good time together, her telling me it was going to be fine, and me crying, a really parent child moment.
    It was the last time I saw her alive, early the following morning she suffered a second heart attack, I was called to the hospital and when I arrived in the ward the staff were using paddles to resuscitate her. As a gut reaction I cried out to God asking him to let her live, He responded by asking me if it was for me or for her.? My response was to say “His will be done, I did not want her to live unless her quality of life improved dramatically”.
    I struggle to know how to react when people ask you to pray and you know it is not going to change the outcome, you can hardly say “please God make it quick and painless” when the family are hoping against hope. Any thoughts …?

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    • Mary-Anne, there is not a perfect way to handle it. If I a with casual acquaintences and don’t have the basis for a deeper confrontation, but they ask me to pray for so and so, I will sometimes simply tell them that I will pray for them to have wisdom and grace as they walk through this.

      If there is a bit more of a relationship, I will sharpen the comment just slightly by saying I will pray for them to hear the heart of the Father as they make difficult decisions.

      If I have a fairly decent relationship, I will openly dodge their request that I pray, and come back at them with the quetion, “Has so and so given any thought to their generational blessings and how to dispense them?

      That is a polite way of saying, “I think they are dying.” The person can then brush me off and change the subject, or lean into the discussion and find out more.

      But at the end of the day, it is no fun being the one who is violating the social contract and refusing to immediately and enthusiastically lean into prayer for healing.

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      • Mary-Anne Simpson says:

        Thanks Arthur, that is a much better way of dealing with it than I usually do which is simply going mute or saying I will pray, which I then do privately.
        I really like addressing generational blessings with people one knows well, it also gives one the opportunity to expose them the principal if they aren’t aware of it.

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  7. Donna says:

    I have heard Graham Cooke say that when he goes to pray for the sick he asks God if this is a sickness unto life or death and then prays with the person according to what the Lord says to him.

    I was grateful to read this message as I tire of Christians who think that because something involves pain or suffering or death there is automatically something wrong with it and it must be prayed against. But I think it is another way in which we want to operate out of rules instead of out of intimacy.

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    • Yup. Rules are safe in a way. Just check the operations manual and do what some wise person said to do. Standardized rules work for slaves. Sons have to deal with the wildly unsafe, terribly messy proposition of hearing God for themselves, and making high risk decisions on their own, and dealing with the fallout when they don’t get it right.

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      • Donna says:

        well said Arthur,
        I’m just rereading this post again today. I think I will read your book “Relentless Generational blessings again this summer. It was my first introduction to your name and I thought it was about time someone tackled that subject because up to that point it seemed like all the emphasis was going toward looking for the critters and that everything was undesirable in the generational line. I’m all for pursuit of balance.
        have an amazing day

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  8. I read this blog just before I got caught up on my emails where I learned of the death of David Wilkerson. I personally benefitted from his ministry because my marriage was restored after my husband went through the Teen Challenge program.

    A commentary on him that was published on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GrpARci70Yc&feature=player_embedded) concluded with the statement that his death is a sign to the world that something is coming and that God is saying to the world that things are about to unfold.

    Timely.

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  9. Kaitlin says:

    A story that underlines your perspective:
    When a dear saint was in hospice for terminal cancer, I looked to see what Jesus was doing. He was dancing with her on a ballroom dance floor and looking into her eyes. Then Jesus said to her, “Do you want to be with me? I will let you choose.”

    When I shared this with her husband, he could not accept it and he rebuked me for not standing in faith. This was hard, but indeed she did later confide to her husband that she choose to be with Jesus. Is it not like our King to allow one of his precious and noble subjects make this choice? May we see as He sees. Even when our fear of perceived or potential loss threatens to derail our ability to see anything at all.

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  10. Rose Boon says:

    It is thought provoking to me to consider how our origin and our journey forms the pictures we have of life and how they blend together when shared for a more complete picture of the God who created us all. Much of my adult life has been focused on pastoral care and included in that of course, is what I sometimes refer to as “walk them to the water” meaning walking with people who are dying to the day they do then witness their experience that comes in that process. Each situation is different but through it all reveals that God, or an angel, or a relative comes to give life in the death process. I mean, by the time the person is going to die, they have a new perspective and almost an anticipation to go from this life to the next. For me it’s holy ground, awe, wonder at what the people report they experience in that whole process. Hospice nurses are wonderful people to share life with also, because they know and relate to a whole different way of looking at this life death process. A celebration time is needed to pass the baton so to speak before death. The older I get the less fear of dying it’s more like hurry and do the best I can because as I tell our grandson’s if I’m not here you know I’ve gone on to my next assignment, I’ll miss you but…

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  11. Kerrie says:

    Arthur,

    Thank you, I appreciate your candor and bringing much needed light on this topic.
    I recently read Jill Shannon’s new book “The Seduction of Christianity”, where she gives an account of a prophet who prays and asks Gd how to pray for a dying leader. Gd response was he wanted to give His saint rest. This reminded me of my prophetic intercessor gift that I allowed years of healing and deliverence training to rob of me. I was taught to pray for life no matter what. Our foremost healing leaders teach that.
    Recently, my 84 year old gma was in the hopspital and my aunt seemed to think this was it. I prayed and asked Gd what he wanted to do; she was 84 and had lost her husband a year ago and didn’t really have anyone around her. I got Isa 60; Arise and shine…she had died in the hospital but they gave her drugs to bring her back; there was a DNR. After 10days of being unconscious she woke up. She told our aunt that she had a dream she was having lunch w/ her deceased hubby and sis infront of a Gate. After she said she wanted to come w/ them. My gpa told her she had to make a choice, cuz once she went in the Gate no coming back.
    In the previous book there was also 2 accounts of a white robbed Man in the Holocaust showers. He didn’t forsake them. He just didn’t come in the way they thought again.
    Kerrie

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