Politics, Presidents and Prophets
Today, April 21, 2018, I watched two very different funerals. The first funeral was for Barbara Bush. As the wife and mother of two former American presidents, she was part of a rich and famous and powerful political family that has served the country for several generations. It was very impressive.
The service was conducted at a beautiful Episcopalian church in Houston, TX. There was a big crowd of the rich and famous. The church sanctuary was the epitome of elegance and wealth. The grandeur of the magnificent organ rivaled any in the great cathedrals of the world. The professional choir, all decked out in their colorful robes, stirred the soul with their beautiful voices. People spoke from their hearts with polished, prepared text. The testimonies and stories about Barbara Bush warmed the heart. Everything was perfect, decent and in order.
But these are not the things that impressed me. I was impressed by the fact that Barbara Bush, a member of an elite American family, openly professed her faith and love for Jesus which the ministers and family members clearly acknowledged. I was impressed by the grace and dignity and love and humility of her life. I was impressed by the uplifting Christian music, the God-honoring prayers and the messages of hope for those who put their trust in the Lord. I was impressed by the service ending with the choir singing “The Holy City.” Now Episcopalian don’t do this but it made you want to shout! Now that’s impressive.
I did not know Barbara Bush personally but after watching her funeral service, I came to love her as a valiant woman (Proverbs 31), a loyal and faithful wife, a wise and devoted mother and a “sister in the Lord.”
Then there was the other funeral. It was also impressive. This was the funeral of a friend of mine; Don Nori Sr. Don was the founder of Destiny Image, a Christian publishing company in Pennsylvania. I have been an author with Don and his company for over thirty years.
Don’s funeral was in Shippensburg, PA. It was not in a beautiful, ornate church building. It was in a modest non-denominational facility. There was not a big crowd but mainly family and friends and people whose lives had been touched by Don’s ministry.
None of those attending the funeral were rich and famous. There was no magnificent organ or professional choir with beautiful robes and harmonies. There was a simple, but anointed praise team with a keyboard, a guitar, a base and drums with one or two singers. People spoke from their hearts without well-prepared notes. Those in the audience lifted their hands to the Lord in spontaneous vocal praise. Not everything was perfect as there were technical difficulties with the microphones.
But these are not the things that impressed me. I was impressed by the fact that Don knew and loved the same Jesus that Barbara Bush knew and loved. Don was not born in a privileged family. He was not part of an elite American family. He did not have wealth, prestige and influence. He had a very modest job selling advertising for a local newspaper. No one knew Don but his family and friends. But Don had an encounter with God.
In 1982, while driving home from a meeting with an advertising client, the Spirit of God filled Don’s car with His presence. Don was so overwhelmed and shaken by the presence of God that he had to maneuver his car off the freeway to control himself and pray.
For the next four hours, Don had a life-changing visitation from God who gave Don a vision of a Christian publishing house that would “publish the prophets.” Don was to give a publishing voice to those that God had called to speak His prophetic words to a generation of Christians that had grown cold, complacent and comfortable in their walk with God. These were men and women who had a heart for God and a word from God but could not get published because the Christian publishing houses did not think their books would sell.
Don had no money, no financial backing, no brilliant business plan, and no famous people of prestige, power and influence to help him. But he had a word from God. Don, along with his wife Cathy, founded Destiny Image Publishers in the living room of their small home in Pennsylvania. Since then, the company has grown to an internationally respected publishing house represented in every country of the world with books translated into many different languages and millions of copies distributed. The books Don published have dramatically changed the lives of tens of millions of people around the world and will continue to touch millions more in the future. This is what impressed me.
Barbara Bush and Don Nori came from completely different worlds. But they both knew and loved the same Jesus. They both read and believed the same Bible that says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
God is no respecter of persons. He loves the rich and famous and the poor and unknown. He loves those who have privilege and those who have nothing. His love, His forgiveness, His salvation, and His hope for eternal life extends to all people of all color and culture, male and female, rich and poor, Jew and Gentile, people living in the west and in the east, in Africa, Arabia, Central and South America, in the islands of the world and the most remote jungles.
The Creator of the universe loves us so much that He became one of us to show us the Father. He was born of a virgin, lived a perfect life and died on a cross as the innocent substitutionary sacrifice for our sins. Because He was without sin, death could not hold Him. He rose from the dead, and ascended back to heaven where He has taken His rightful place sitting next to His Father. And He will return to Jerusalem along with Barbara and Don and the great cloud of witnesses in heaven to rule over Israel and the nations as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Now that is impressive.
Dr. Richard Booker