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A Memorial: Norman Johnson

My favorite uncle died this week and I am in Fort Myers, Florida to attend a memorial service. I was asked to read a scripture passage and say a few words about my uncle.

A reading from the second letter of Paul to the Corinthians:

“We know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and place us with you in his presence. Everything indeed is for you, so that the grace bestowed in abundance on more and more people may cause the thanksgiving to overflow for the glory of God. Therefore we are not discouraged; rather, although our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this momentary light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to what is seen but to what is unseen; for what is seen is transitory, but what is unseen is eternal. For we know that if our earthly dwelling, a tent, should be destroyed, we have a building from God, a dwelling not made with hands, eternal in heaven” (2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1,6-10).

Norman Johnson was the son of Gustav Johnson and Emily Raposa. His father’s parents were from Sweden and his mothers parents were Portuguese. As a young child, he and my mother learned Portuguese from their maternal grandmother before they learned English. There is a story that my grandmother used to tell that my mother and Norman were left with their grandmother for a long period of time when she could not be with them. And Norman’s mother, my grandmother, was surprised one day when she sat them down to say their prayers at night that Norman and my mother began praying in Portuguese rather than English.

Norman lived in Tiverton, Rhode Island; Falmouth, Massachusetts and later the Boston area. He later moved to Fort Myers, Florida to be closer to his two daughters and several grandchildren. I am my Uncle Norman’s only nephew, he had four nieces, and four children, Lisa, Debra, Keith and Lynne. I grew up in Massachusetts and was very close to Norman’s family often spending weeks at a time with my cousins in Rhode Island and Cape Cod where they lived. We were all close since we were very young children. I have always believed that those early bonds cause you to love people even if you miss seeing them for years at a time as adults.

The scripture passage I read has to do with the resurrection. It’s a biblical passage that is commonly read at funerals. However, I chose this passage because I wanted people to know that Norman believed in the resurrection because he experienced it. Many people of the Christian faith have a testimony about their salvation. But it is unusual for people, especially men, to talk about a conversion that happened toward the end of their life. But people who knew Norman as their hair stylist or friend would often hear him speaking openly about this experience. I was surprised one day to hear Norman talking about what he called his “addiction to gambling.” Many people who join these 12 step self-help programs are encouraged to look to a higher power, but Norman decided that his “higher power” wasn’t a vague force or an idea about God, it was literally “Jesus Christ.”

Jesus Christ saved me from my addiction to gambling,” he told me. I was surprised at that because my cousin Keith and I had been members of an evangelical church for several years and I had never heard Norman speak about his faith so plainly before.

So this is the reason that I chose this passage to read. It speaks of the final victory of faith over death. Norman believed that God could save him from addictions and problems he faced. Even when he was diagnosed a with terminal illness, he believed he could overcome it. I am sure that at some point Norman told almost everyone he knew about what God had done in his life. He was not a perfect man by any stretch of the imagination or some kind of a super-saint — none of us are — but I know that he spoke to many people he met about his faith and the victory that Jesus Christ gave him over his sin. He didn’t do it in a preachy way, but only because he wanted to people to share the joy he felt in being free.

The resurrection is thought of by most people as a future event. Most people believe in some type of life after death. For Norman, the resurrection life was something that he knew was real because he experienced it during his life. And for that reason, the scriptures tell us, we are not discouraged, but we can have great courage to face any problem or illness, even death.

For me that is the most important thing about the life of this man that I can celebrate.

Your comments are welcome!

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A Revival Account: Asbury 1970 (DVD)

What is true Revival and Spiritual Awakening?

Discover the answer in this eyewitness account by Dennis Kinlaw, President of Asbury College, Wilmore, Kentucky, who recounts the story of a visitation of the Holy Spirit in 1970. This is the presentation that has continued to spark the flames of Revival in the hearts of people around the world. Contains eyewitness footage from the Revival at Asbury College in 1970 in Wilmore, Kentucky.

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Running Time: 40 minutes

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Amazing GraceAmazing Grace: The History and Theology of Calvinism (DVD)

Download the Free Study Guide!

Just what is Calvinism?

Does this teaching make man a deterministic robot and God the author of sin? What about free will? If the church accepts Calvinism, won’t evangelism be stifled, perhaps even extinguished? How can we balance God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility? What are the differences between historic Calvinism and hyper-Calvinism? Why did men like Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Spurgeon, Whitefield, Edwards and a host of renowned Protestant evangelists embrace the teaching of predestination and election and deny free will theology?

This is the first video documentary that answers these and other related questions. Hosted by Eric Holmberg, this fascinating three-part, four-hour presentation is detailed enough so as to not gloss over the controversy. At the same time, it is broken up into ten “Sunday-school-sized” sections to make the rich content manageable and accessible for the average viewer.

Running Time: 257 minutes

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Martin Luther: Digitally Remastered 1953 Classic (DVD)

“Here I stand … I can do no other!”

With these immortal words, an unknown German monk sparked a spiritual revolution that changed the world.

The dramatic classic film of Martin Luther’s life was released in theaters worldwide in the 1950s and was nominated for two Oscars. A magnificent depiction of Luther and the forces at work in the surrounding society that resulted in his historic reform efforts, this film traces Luther’s life from a guilt-burdened monk to his eventual break with the Roman Catholic Church.

Running time: 105 minutes

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Watch a clip from Martin Luther.

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The Abortion Matrix: Defeating Child Sacrifice and the Culture of Death (DVD)

Download the free Study Guide!

Is there a connection between pagan religion and the abortion industry?

This powerful presentation traces the biblical roots of child sacrifice and then delves into the social, political and cultural fall-out that this sin against God and crime against humanity has produced in our beleaguered society.

Conceived as a sequel and update to the 1988 classic, The Massacre of Innocence, the new title, The Abortion Matrix, is entirely fitting. It not only references abortion’s specific target – the sacred matrix where human beings are formed in the womb in the very image of God, but it also implies the existence of a conspiracy, a matrix of seemingly disparate forces that are driving this holocaust.

The occult activity surrounding the abortion industry is exposed with numerous examples. But are these just aberrations, bizarre yet anomalous examples of abortionists who just happen to have ties to modern day witchcraft? Or is this representative of something deeper, more sinister and even endemic to the entire abortion movement?

As the allusion to the film of over a decade ago suggests, the viewer may learn that things are not always as they appear to be. The Abortion Matrix reveals the reality of child-killing and strikes the proper moral chord to move hearts to fulfill the biblical responsibility to rescue those unjustly sentenced to death and to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves (Proverbs 24:11,12; 31:8,9).

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Running Time: 195 minutes

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The Real Jesus: A Defense of the Historicity and Divinity of ChristThe Real Jesus: A Defense of the Historicity and Divinity of Christ (DVD)

Who is the Real Jesus?

Ever since the dawn of modern rationalism, skeptics have sought to use textual criticism, archeology and historical reconstructions to uncover the “historical Jesus” — a wise teacher who said many wonderful things, but fulfilled no prophecies, performed no miracles and certainly did not rise from the dead in triumph over sin.

Over the past 100 years, however, startling discoveries in biblical archeology and scholarship have all but vanquished the faulty assumptions of these doubting modernists. Regrettably, these discoveries have often been ignored by the skeptics as well as by the popular media. As a result, the liberal view still holds sway in universities and impacts the culture and even much of the church.

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Speakers include: George Grant, Ted Baehr, Stephen Mansfield, Raymond Ortlund, Phil Kayser, David Lutzweiler, Jay Grimstead, J.P. Holding, and Eric Holmberg.

Ten parts, over two hours of instruction!

Running Time: 130 minutes

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The Abortion Matrix:
Defeating Child Sacrifice and the Culture of Death

is a 195-minute presentation that traces the biblical roots of child sacrifice and then delves into the social, political and cultural fall-out that this sin against God has produced. You can order this series on DVD, read the complete script and view clips on-line...
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