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February 18th, 2012
10:00 PM ET

Facing death, a top pastor rethinks what it means to be Christian

Editor's Note: The short film accompanying this story, called "My Garden," comes from EdsStory.com. CNN.com is premiering the latest installment in the "Ed's Story" series.

By Dan Merica, CNN

Washington (CNN) – Ed Dobson is not afraid of dying. It’s the getting there that really scares him.

A former pastor, onetime Christian Right operative and an icon among religious leaders, Dobson has Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. When he was diagnosed, doctors gave him 3 to 5 years to live.

That was 11 years ago.

“I am a tad happy to be talking to you right now,” joked Dobson, whose voice has deteriorated since his preaching days, in a phone interview. Speaking with him feels like being exposed to a brief moment of clarity. He speaks slowly, but with an understated confidence and authority.

As pastor at Calvary Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, a position he held for 18 years, Dobson would regularly preach to 5,000 people or more on Sundays. Back then, Dobson said he looked at himself as a man filled with lessons, proverbs and, most of all, answers.

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After retirement six years ago, the massive crowds went away.

“I went from 100 miles an hour to zero miles an hour overnight,” Dobson said. “That was a shock to my system.”

Dobson says the answers vanished with the crowds.

“I know that sounds a bit lame,” he said. “I know that that I should have all the answers, but the truth is, the more I live, the fewer answers I have.”

And yet the people Dobson comes in contact with – those who call him dad, husband and friend, or those who have read one of his 12 books and watched his short films, don’t agree with that assessment. To them, the last six years of Dobson’s life have led to a remarkable ability to put life into context. To them, Dobson is a man filled with lessons.

From 5,000 to 1

In the 1980s, Dobson rose to prominence as an executive at the Moral Majority, Jerry Falwell's evangelical political organization, which had influence with the Ronald Reagan White House. Dobson’s rise continued when he accepted the pastorate at Calvary Church in 1987. He cut a national profile, with Moody Bible Institute naming him “Pastor of the Year” in 1993.

After being diagnosed with ALS, Dobson suddenly felt unsure of himself. At times, he said, he didn't want to get out of bed. After years of intense Bible study, Dobson said this is not how he thought he would react to news of his own mortality.

“I thought that if I knew I was going to die, I would really read the Bible and if I really was going to die, I would really pray,” Dobson said. “I found the opposite to be true. I could barely read the Bible and I had great difficulty praying. You get so overwhelmed with your circumstances, you lose perspective.”

Eventually, Dobson regained perspective. But feelings of listlessness led him to take his preaching to a more personal level. He now meets with congregants one-on-one. Sitting with them in their homes or offices, Dobson provides whatever help he can. “Most of the people I meet with have ALS and basically I listen," he said.

“When I meet with someone and look into their eyes, it is like I am looking into their soul,” Dobson said. “We are both broken, we are both on the journey and we are both fellow pilgrims.”

Going from 5,000 congregants to one at a time was a big change for Dobson, forcing him to reevaluate his job as a pastor. “I am trying to learn that one-on-one is just as important as speaking to thousands,” he said. “I reemphasize – I am trying to learn that.”

During his one-on-one meetings, Dobson says he remembers Adam and Eve being charged by God to work the Garden of Eden. For years Dobson’s garden was Calvary Church – the baptisms, weddings, the Sunday preaching.

“Whether it is preaching to 5000 or meeting one on one, I am trying to take care of the garden,” he said.

The wind knocked out

One way Dobson strove to tend the garden is by writing a book about dealing with serious illness. In 2007, he wrote “Prayers and Promises When Facing a Life-Threatening Illness.”

Dobson’s son Daniel read the book while deployed in Iraq. After returning home, Daniel made it his mission to turn the book’s stories into videos.

He pitched the idea to Steve Carr, the executive director of a faith-focused production company called Flannel. “When I met Ed, when he came to our office, something really spoke to me,” Carr said. “Not too long before that, I had been diagnosed with Leukemia.”

“I thought that this guy, he has been where I am right now and he has somehow mastered it,” Carr said.

So far, Flannel has released five Dobson films, available through the company's website. There are plans for two more. Though the films range in topic, from loss and forgiveness to healing and growth, all are centered on lessons Dobson learned through his battle with ALS. The videos toe the line between a dark look at a dying man's life and an uplifting glimpse at someone who exudes clarity.

"My Garden," the most recent title in the series, centers on Ed’s struggle to deal with ending his preaching career.

Dobson talks about the films as if they are his swan song, his last words of encouragement to a group of supporters he has inspired for decades.

“My desire is that people who have had the air knocked out of them, whether divorce or losing a loved one or illness, that they will get a sense of hope by watching the films,” he said.

Surviving (with help)

The series’ first short film opens with Dobson explaining what it was like to be told he had ALS. After lying in bed, Dobson gets in the shower, brushes his teeth and starts the day. Even he would admit, however, it is not that easy.

Dobson has lost much of the function in his hands and is seen struggling to brush his teeth, his frail body using two hands on the small brush. Though he is able to do a lot, including drive, Dobson wouldn’t be able to make it on his own, a fact he is keenly aware of when about when describing his wife, Lorna.

“She is my right hand, my left hand, my left foot, my right foot, my heart and my brain,” Dobson said. “Without her, it would be impossible to go on.”

Standing in the kitchen in one video, Lorna helps puts Ed’s belt and gloves on. The two don’t speak on camera, but their love is obvious.

“Our love has grown each year of marriage,” Lorna said. “I didn’t want to just wither in the sorrow of how our life was changing. It took a while to get used to what our life was going to be like but I realized that I needed to be more available to him.”

Dobson says he is also more available to her.

“I am no longer a preacher,” said Dobson. “Today, I would say I am a Jesus follower. Period.”

Lorna said she continues to learn from her husband. Throughout their life together, she said she learned by being in church with him, by raising three kids together and by loving one another.

The last 11 years, however, their love has changed. Dobson's illness has taught her to focus on the important things, she said, primarily their kids and five grandkids.

After tending the garden for decades, Dobson is now being tended himself, largely by Lorna. “ALS forced me into a situation where I grew in understanding of what it means to obey Jesus,” Dobson said in the latest film.

“It took me quite a while to find an alternative purpose," he said. "But the good news is out there – there is a purpose for everyone.”

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Death • Faith Now • United States

soundoff (3,194 Responses)
  1. Take Your Pick

    How do you choose your religion?

    February 19, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
  2. bill

    DEATH. IS THE ABSOLUTE EQUALITY FOR ALL..GOOD-BYE EARTH..NO CHANCE OF THE SECOND TIME. ONLY.SUSPENDED ANIMATION AND WHOLE BRAIN TRANSPLANT( IF LEGAL),WHOLE BRAIN CLONNING CAN DEFY DEATH...CASE CLOSED..LAMOK747..BRAIN (HUMAN) MORE INFINITE THAN THE WHOLE OF UNIVERSE/S COMBINED

    February 19, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
    • gaby

      If you want some idea what death and God /I call it higher power/ is, go read some stories on nderf.org /near death experience stories/ I don't support any of the organized religions they do more bad than good, they divide not unite, but strongly believe in the higher spirit power, afterlife and reincarnation.

      February 19, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
  3. SHOUT NAME OF SALVATION

    JESUS2020.COM IF YOU WANNA GET SAVED. CHRISTIANS LET US TURN FROM SIN AND BE FILLED WITH HOLY SPIRIT AND PREACH GOSPEL AND CONFESS SINS

    February 19, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
  4. archimedes109

    God existed forever. He made the universe, and then people. He made the people faulty. He tempted them, knowing they would fail. For the unbelievable crime of eating fruit, something that might cause us to levy a timeout for our children, God punished an entire species. Then he left no evidence to present a compelling case that he ever existed in the first place. Finally, because he is compassionate, he decided to offer us a way to get it all back. He killed his son, again leaving nothing to compel belief that He had actually done so. Now the deal is this: believe it, or suffer for eternity after you die.

    Complete and utter nonsense.

    February 19, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
    • SHOUT NAME OF SALVATION

      ADAM AND EVE WERE ORGINALLY PERFECT IN COMMUNION IN GARDEN WITH GOD. GOD TOLD THEM DO NOT DO THIS. AND WHATD THEY DO THEY LISTENED TO SATAN. DO YOU THINK GOD IS FOR SIN. HOW IS GOD FOR SIN WHEN HE WAS AGAINST IT AND WARNED THEM IN GARDEN NOT TO DO IT. THEY WERE PREFECT IN COMMUNION WITH LORD. BECAUSE THEY CHOSE TO LISTEN TO SNAKE AND SATAN AND NOT LISTEN TO GOD, NOW WE HAVE DECAY. EVERYTIME YOU HAVE A CHOICE. YOU EITHER OBEY LORD OR YOU LISTEN TO EVIL DEMON IN YOUR HERAT AND YOU OBEY IT. WHO WILL YOU ALLOW CONTROL YOU. GOD OR SATAN? LEY JESUS CHRIST COME INTO YOUR HEART. GOD DOES NOT TEMPT YOU. ALL THRU BIBLE PEOPEL TEMPTEOD GOD AND GOD WAS LONGSUFFERING WITH THERE MOCKERY BECAUSE HE WISHES NO MAN TO PERISH. JESUS SAVES. GO TO JESUS2020.COM. PLEASE HAVE A BETTER UNDERSTANDING. SATAN IS HERE TO STEAL KILL AND DESTROY. GOD DOES NBOT TEMPT. YOU DECIDE TO LISTEN TO SATAN AND FALL INTO SIN.

      February 19, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
    • archimedes109

      If they were PERFECT in communion with the Lord...why did they listen to Satan? That's some PERFECTION!

      Get a life, preferably one built on reason.

      February 19, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      @shouting person ... doesn't sound like Adam & Eve were very "perfect" as you stated. Excellent example LOL

      February 19, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
    • SHOUT NAME OF SALVATION

      TO BEGIN WITH THEY WERE ORIGINALLY IN PERFECT COMMUNION WITH GOD BUT LIKE GOD GAVE US FREEWILL CHOICE CUZ LOVE GIVES US A CHOICE AND GOD HAVE US A CHOICE. THEY HAD IT IN THEM INSIDE TO HAVE FREEWILL. TO OBEY GOD AND LISTEN TO HIS WARNING OR THE COMMUNION WOULD BREAK WHEN THEY CHOSE TO LISTEN TO HISSY SNAKE AND SATAN. THEY DID NOT HEED LORD AND THUS GAVE INTO TEMPTATION OF SATAN AND NOW WE HAVE DECAY ON THIS EARTH. IT IS NOT GODS FAULT THAT HUMAN CHOSE TO MAKE EVIL THERE PATH. HOWEVER GOD HAS MADE A WAY DESPITE HOW MUCH THEY DID. THEY DIDNT HAVE TO DO WHAT THEY DID BUT THEY CHOSE IT. CLLED FREEWILL. JUST AS YOU FREEWILL CHOOSE TO SIN AND GIVE INTO DEMON INSIDE OF YOU. JESUS2020.COM IF YOU WISH TO BE SAVED FROM SIN

      February 19, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      archimedes109, first, you need to get past the 3rd grade education of what you think you know about Jesus. Two, if you believe an apple was eaten in the garden, I do believe you just got demoted to the 1st grade. If you don't know what happened in the garden, you certainly don't know what's happening in end times (your generation).

      Amen.

      February 19, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
    • archimedes109

      @HeavenSent: Now there's the 'loving Christian' I've come to know and expect. You know, the one who resorts to personal insults when their logic fails...

      February 19, 2012 at 10:14 pm |
  5. Jessy the Gnostic

    Death is merely a continuation of the journey of those who wish to seek the truth. Whatever happens in the material world means nothing for those who become conscious (self aware) and learn to become at peace with themselves and when dealing with death.

    Genesis 3:22

    And the Lord God [Jehovah] said "The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever".

    I have already discovered myself and I am self aware. Like others before me, I too have eat from the tree of life. Therefore, even when my body perishes, my spirit will connect with the ineffable and will live on forever.

    If Mr. Ed Dobson has found himself and is self aware, which I feel that he is seeing that he follows Jesus, then he too has tasted the fruit of the tree of life and will live on forever. I hope to see you in the kingdom, Mr. Dobson.

    February 19, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
    • archimedes109

      This babble is indistinguishable from the rambling narrative told by the Great Deku Tree to Link in the Ocarina of Time...Did you spend a lot of time in the basement with your virgin friends thinking up this nonsense?

      February 19, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • Jessy the Gnostic

      @archimedes109 – Sorry I took a while to respond. CNN is not known for allowing posters to track which page their comment is located in (let alone notify if anyone responded).

      What I posted is based on a Gnostic principle in which knowing one's self means knowing god. Gnostics have been around since the creation of Christianity itself (although some speculate we originated from Judaism). In fact, Orthodox Christianity was influenced greatly by the ideas set by ancient Gnostics in general. Unfortunately, you probably never heard of us because the Orthodoxy was historically known for trying to exterminate Gnostics during the first two centuries after Yeshua (semitic for Jesus) was crucified. Thankfully, Gnostics have no history of violence at all and I am glad some have survived. Although, to this day, the followers of the Orthodoxy still want to persecute us and judge us calling us sinners and devil worshipers because we don't agree with the idea that an incompetent god like Jehovah (who created an imperfect world) would ever be the true god. No true god is ever judgmental, vengeful, nor selfish to its own people yet expects us to believe he had a change of heart.

      I won't judge you for questioning what I posted as you have every right to do that. In fact, I think god (I'm not talking about Jahovah – but the one who loves all unconditionally) would gladly see you question everything so that you can get to the truth and know yourself on your own accord (which is the central point of Gnosticism). Another reason I won't judge you is because doing so would mean I have to judge myself equally as we are all a part of a big family in this universe.

      February 24, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
  6. me

    Good people are rewarded, and bad and/or evil people are punished. There is no "savior".

    February 19, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
    • Joy of Sin

      Actually no. You live, you die. If you are good great. If you are bad death doesn't care.

      February 19, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
    • Russ

      @ me: in other words, you believe you are your own savior?

      February 19, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
    • tallulah13

      @Russ:

      This may come as a shock to you, but some people don't need a "savior". In fact, most people don't need a "savior"; they've just been taught that they need one.

      February 19, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
    • Russ

      @ talullah: read me's comment again: "good people are rewarded. bad people... are punished." in other words, i get what i deserve – which is (by those terms) punishment unless I'm good enough. how is that not 'saving' yourself from punishment?

      February 19, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
    • tallulah13

      By savior, I thought you meant an outside influence. I do agree that everyone can and should take responsibility for their own lives.

      This is why I believe that christianty is a sop for those who are too lazy to do the right thing on their own. It is simply unnecessary. Why should you expect a reward for doing the right thing? Is doing the right thing not reward enough?

      February 19, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      GIAR, Tallulah. Past generations were taught right from wrong due to practicing what Jesus teaches. Your generation just reaped the benefits of what they were taught ... or, I suppose you atheists thought of this concept all on your own? LOL.

      Amen.

      February 19, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      So, HS, you needed to have some threatening sky-fairy overseeing your behavior and inducing fear in order to do what was right?

      Wow, you're even weaker and more pathetic than I thought.

      February 19, 2012 at 8:44 pm |
    • tallulah13

      HS, the concept of right and wrong, and many of the ten commandments have roots in cultures much older than the one that spawned christianity.

      Most people have simple human compassion and empathy and the common sense to know that the better you treat others, the healthier your society will be. Apparently you were born with neither compassion nor empathy, nor common sense, and thus need threats or rewards in order to achieve even the rather sorry level of decency to which you can lay claim.

      February 20, 2012 at 1:15 am |
  7. SHOUT NAME OF SALVATION

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_XwK4tRM-HY PAUL WASHER VIDEO ON PERSECUTION COMING TO AMERICA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    February 19, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
  8. Josh

    This is a touching story. The honesty is powerful.

    Also, there are a few typos that perhaps could be fixed. If you search for these words, you'll find the sentences: immortality, when about when, helps puts.

    February 19, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
  9. SHOUT NAME OF SALVATION

    AMEN TO THE PAUL WASHER VIDEO A FEW BELOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! JESUS2020.COM IF YOU ARE NOT SAVED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    February 19, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
  10. SHOUT NAME OF SALVATION

    BE FILLED WITH HOLY SPIRIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! CHRISTIANS CONFESS ALL KNOWN SINS AND TURN FROM SINS AS WELL AND PREACH GOSPEL WITH ALL YOUR HEARTS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! JESUS2020.COM IF YOU ARE NOT SAVED

    February 19, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
  11. SHOUT NAME OF SALVATION

    comeonc hristians rise up and preach salvation!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! if you love GOD YOU WILL OBEY HIS COMMANDMENTS. DONT YOU SEE ORDER AMONGST CHRISTIANS WE ALL CONFESS AND SAY THE SAME THING CUZ TRUTH IS ONE THING...IT IS NOT MANY. WE MUST OBEY WITH ALL OF OUR HEARTS AND PREACH AWAY AND SHOUT IT OUT WAY OUT TO YOU GUYS TO TURN FROM SIN AND TURN TO CHRIST WHO CAN SAVE YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    February 19, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      All your shouting did was give me a headache!

      February 19, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
    • SHOUT NAME OF SALVATION

      LET US NOT BE VOMITED OUT....LET US VOMIT OUR SINS OUT....LET US LET JESUS CAST DEMON OUT OF US....LET US CONFESS ALL KNOWN SINS AND BE FILLED WITH HOLY SPIRIT NAD PREACH GOSPEL CONSTANTLY AND CONSISTENTLY AMEN!

      February 19, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      Oh! Now I understand .. thanks for clarifying. You've completely changed my mind and you are correct.
      .
      .
      Oh and .. Amen!

      February 19, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
    • SHOUT NAME OF SALVATION

      IF YOU ARE SERIOUS IN YOUR STATEMENT CUZ IT IS HARD TO TELL ON BLOGS THEN FOLLOW JESUS WITH ALL YOUR HEART AND GROW IN HIM. CBN.COM HAS SOME GOOD RESOURVCES. TC

      February 19, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
  12. toadears

    I can't stand country music or opera. I don't agree with atheists or agnostics. But I NEVER look them up online to fight with them. People who go to internet websites to insult the people in the articles are contentious, childish, and almost always AMERICANS!

    February 19, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      And yet, here you are hating things & insulting people. Well done!

      February 19, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
    • ReligionIs4Dolts

      I don't know any country music or opera fans who try to shove their music preferences down my throat!

      February 19, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
    • cutedog2

      As an American, I can't understand why people do this either. As a follower of Christ, I have never ever seen anybody argued into our away from their core beliefs.

      February 19, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
    • Bizarre

      toadears,

      If country music adherents were trying to control government and public affairs by having everyone drive a Hot Rod Lincoln and drink Strawberry Wine, and opera buffs were wanting to have domination by The Ring and Wotan, I'll just bet that you would have a thing or two to say to them...

      February 19, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
    • ReligionIs4Dolts

      cutedog2: You're typing to one now. I was raised in a Christo-Fascist family. And until college, where I was a "friend" of mine was a d|ck to me about religion, I kept on believing the fairy tale I was raised on. Now I absolutely abhor it!

      February 19, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Funny. I can't lump all musical genres together. Generally, there are individual pieces from every genre that I find something to like about. The same goes for people. I tend to judge people by their actions, not by their belief system (or lack thereof). It's amazing how most people are pretty likable, once you get past the superficial things, like se.xual orientation, religion (or lack thereof), nationality or skin color.

      I also believe that everyone deserves the right to speak freely, even people like toadears, who wishes to silence those who don't agree with him/her.

      February 19, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
    • JT

      It's almost always AMERICANS because you Christians can't stay out of our government and lives and are our greatest threat to liberty and progress. If opera fans were to try and force their beliefs and pashion for opera onto all of us then they would be in the bull's eye. You poor persecuted bullies.

      February 19, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
  13. liz48

    As one preacher said most people who call themselves "christians" are not new testament taught but religiously brain washed. I have been closely associated with denominations and they are the furthest thing from the supernatural life Jesus died for us to obtain in His Blood. Sickness, poverty and problems should be considered an aberration for someone who honors the Blood and sacrifice of Jesus.

    If we study the promises of the Maschiah (Messiah) given to the Jewish people, we will understand that the so called christians who for the most part, are an offshoot of the roman catholic church are deceived.

    February 19, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
  14. Iqbal khan

    Watch all three parts.... and U be the judge....

    February 19, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      No, Russ, this is not fear mongering. If you have been told otherwise, you have been lullabied by false teachers. The Bible, distinctly speaks that we will be persecuted for Christ's name's sake. And the Book of Revelations is full of scriptures revealing the wrath of antiChrist against the people of God. No we are NOT going to suffer the wrath of God. This is reserved for the ungodly, but it is for the persecuted saints of OG d that the cries of those under the altar in Heaven were made(Revelations 6:9-11) That's not what you'll hear in "seeker friendly" church. No, friend there will be no early exit for the people of God, as many are (erroneously) believing the shallow, popular doctrines of catching up before those things come upon the earth! But as it was told to Daniel, so will it be: many shall be purified and made white, and tried. But the wicked shall do wickedly, and none of the wicked shall understand, but the wise shall understand."(Daniel 12:10).And those very things we're seeing happening before our eyes, but it's only the beginning of them!

      February 19, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
  15. Paul

    February 19, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Paul: re-read Acts. Is what he's saying true in light of what happened in Acts?

      This is fear-mongering. And it needs to be balanced with the calculated joy that led Jesus to the cross. See esp.Acts 5. They were marked by joy, not this kind of fear-based, hand-wringing.

      February 19, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
    • SHOUT NAME OF SALVATION

      THIS IS SO TRUE!!!!!!!!!!!!! concentration camps are coming!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! JUST LIKE THE JEWS......BE FILLED WITH HOLY SPIRIT AND MAKE SURE YOUR HEART IS RIGHT WITH GOD OR ELSE DEMON ARE GONNA START CONTROL PEOPLE. CHRISTIANS WE GOTTA REPENT TOO AND CONFESS SINS AND PREACH ALL THE TIME....NEVER STOPIING!

      February 19, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      No, Russ, this is not fear mongering. If you have been told otherwise, you have been lullabied by false teachers. The Bible, distinctly speaks that we will be persecuted for Christ's name's sake. And the Book of Revelations is full of scriptures revealing the wrath of antiChrist against the people of God. No we are NOT going to suffer the wrath of God. This is reserved for the ungodly, but it is for the persecuted saints of OG d that the cries of those under the altar in Heaven were made(Revelations 6:9-11) That's not what you'll hear in "seeker friendly" church. No, friend there will be no early exit for the people of God, as many are (erroneously) believing the shallow, popular doctrines of catching up before those things come upon the earth! But as it was told to Daniel, so will it be: many shall be purified and made white, and tried. But the wicked shall do wickedly, and none of the wicked shall understand, but the wise shall understand."(Daniel 12:10).And those very things we're seeing happening before our eyes, but it's only the beginning of them!

      P.S. I apologize for posting twice

      February 19, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Prism: why are you only citing apocalyptic sections of Scripture (Daniel & Revelation)? that is the most difficult genre to interpret & apply. let the clearer texts illuminate the less clear. look at the apostles. yes, they warn of suffering, but it is an atmosphere of joy in the face of trials, not this kind of fear-mongering & hand-wringing.

      If Jesus is light, why fear the dark? What started as 11 guys in a dark room at Pentecost is now over 2 billion. Yes, suffering is real & painful. But no, Christians should not fear the dark.

      February 19, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      Ross, it just may be YOU who is obsessed by fear, because nowhere did Apostles connect their sufferings with fear, nor did the martyrs of the ages past fear their pers'ecutors, according to all historical accounts. On the co'ntrary, they faced them with boldness and joy. You really need to examine yourself WHY do you think that telling the truth without smoot'hing it over with soft polished words is fear-mongering.

      The Lord thought it to be extremely important to reveal what is to come in the end of the age in the Book of Revelation, giving specific promises to those who read it and take Him at His word. Where does that leave those who deny, neglect and minimize the message of it? He specifically said it in last chapter of it, vs 18,19.

      You speak of "apocalyptic" Scriptures to be difficult to understand, so according to you, as well as much of today's Christianity, they are tab'oo hard to "digest". And for those who do study it, satan has a neat convenient fa'ble, telling them, they "won't be here", but will miss it all together, being sn'at'ched away ahead of time.... It's obvious he, the enemy of our souls, does NOT want God's people to keep watch and be alert. He never pushes any kind of decep'tive teachings UNLESS he has something in it for himself, and those benefit him, especially in the days we're living in... But those who seek the truth, and cling to the Lord to show them, instead jumping on the bandwa'gon lead by popular today's preachers and their shallow doctrines...those have no problem understanding the meanings of the things written there, because it is God's Spirit who is their teacher, not a man.
      And when they receive His Word, there is no place for fear in their hearts, but only joy and strength given to them by the One who revealed the meaning of His word to them. That's how the saints of old got their strength in the face of their enemies, that's how the saints of the times to come will obtain theirs.. not by following popular teachings, and looking for their co'nfidence in how many are there to agree with them, but to the truth of God's word, lead by the Spirit of God , even though there may be only few on the same road. Remember, Lord Jesus said there will be few on the right road, becaue it's hard, rocky and not many will travel on it. But many go on the one that's easy and smooth... That's really something to ponder, friend!

      February 19, 2012 at 8:53 pm |
  16. Thomas A Martinet

    Get a Grip! Life is a one way trip for all living things. We are star stuff & we are destined to become part of an eternal cycle. Make the most out of the time that you have here, cause there ain't no more. Nothing is "fair" in this Universe. There is only change & entropy! If you somehow think that "man" is somehow special you are poorly served by your intellect.

    February 19, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
    • ReligionIs4Dolts

      Exactly! All matter changes state. The matter that composes human life (or any life) is not special.

      February 19, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
  17. Paul

    [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_XwK4tRM-HY&w=420&h=315%5D

    February 19, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
  18. Sotzume

    Anyone who believes in this bunk is as nutty as a fruitcake. This man led Jerry Falwell's bigoted hate mongering group and now we are all supposed to feel sorry for him since he is dying. If there is a God, maybe its his payback for being such a monster. The sooner the likes of him is no more, the better.

    February 19, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
    • Margaret

      While I don't agree with what he did with his life, I believe that the Falwell did more harm to people and this country, I did feel for him. I think the truest statement he made was not being afraid to die, but the dying itself. We had a relative who suffered with ALS and it is a terrible way to go. Does he deserve this, I think his God will have to answer that. The loving God I want to believe in would not have approved of the moral majority (minority).

      February 19, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
  19. ReligionIs4Dolts

    Since "Atheism is not healthy for blah blah puke" keeps spamming its same mindless drivel, I will counterspam with some rational thought!

    With all the genetic mistakes and sick, twisted, sadistic means of torturing human beings during their lifetimes (diseases, whether congenital or acquired over time, common "benign" ailments such as myopia, crooked teeth, too many teeth to even fit in the allotted space in the jaw, ugliness, foul body odor, women with mustaches and unsightly body hair, etc.) is proof that either (1) there is no god and existence is random and meaningless, or (2) there is a god and it is (a) an slack-jawed, inexperienced idiot of an apprentice who was making a practice run at creation, or (b) not worth worship because it is a selfish, childish, tantrum-throwing torture fiend!

    February 19, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
  20. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    February 19, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
    • Jesus Loves You

      It is not healthy for adults to play make believe. Let us take a look at the ten commandments:

      February 19, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
    • Russ

      Jesus said: Don't go on babbling like the pagans, using the same words over & over (Mt.6:7).

      Why do you keep on posting the same thing? Is it that you don't respect the atheists or Jesus?

      February 19, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
    • Russ

      Keep these prayer messages coming.

      February 19, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
    • ReligionIs4Dolts

      I get so sick of teaching idiots who think our laws are based on commandments from "god"! Ethics are solely derived from life experience. If you are a jerk to your neighbor, he will be a jerk back to you. It doesn't matter whether it's murder, non-lethal assault, porking his wife, stealing from him, etc. What comes around goes around and that lesson is only learned after one gains the experience of having been on one or the other (or BOTH) sides of the equation! Get a fvkkin' brain, DOLT!

      February 19, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Russ #2:
      mockery is the highest form of flattery, eh?
      sorry to see you felt the need to stoop to handle-copying instead of engaging my thoughts.

      February 19, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
    • Russ

      Fact: Prayer changes things.Why would anyone be offended by the truth in this message?
      P.S Don't forget to pray every day and remember Daniel prayed 5 times a day.

      February 19, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
    • Russ

      That(Daniel prayed) should read 3 times a day.

      February 19, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Russ #2 (aka, Prayer Changes Everything):
      Thank you for finally putting something other than just your standard poke at the hornet's nest.

      Why not use the same handle for all your comments?

      February 19, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
    • GodPot

      "remember Daniel prayed 5 times a day."

      "That(Daniel prayed) should read 3 times a day."

      A perfect example of the idiocy of prayer. What does the number of times you have prayed have to do with anything and if you have a direct connection to the creator of the universe who is granting wishes then why the heII aren't you praying 24/7? Morons.

      February 19, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
    • Prayer is a daily must!

      @Russ-The prayer advocate & @ Russ the prayer detractorc see the handle for the message

      :) :)

      February 19, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.