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      Nurturing people in the image of God since 1868.                                                                          POB 397/520 Dry Creek Rd./Smithville, TN



Korey Stringer was the twenty-seven year old, 335 pound All Pro right tackle of the Minnesota Vikings. He collapsed following an intense practice in stifling heat and humidity Tuesday morning (7/31/01) and died fifteen hours later at a Mankato, Minnesota hospital of complications from a heat stroke.  Korey's death comes a week after University of Florida freshman fullback Eraste  Autin died from complications related to heatstroke when he collapsed after a voluntary workout. The deaths of these two young athletes in the prime of their lives reminds me of a prayer prayed in Psalm 39:4-5. Although prayed thousands of years ago, the words of this prayer ought to be daily on the lips of every human being alive today- LORD,  make me to know my end, and what is the measure of my days, that I may know how frail I am. Indeed, You have made my days as handbreadths, and my age is as nothing before You; certainly every man at his best state is but vapor." Life is frail and fleeting, like a vapor or breath, even for a 27 year-old, 3 335  pound professional football player. When people like Korey Stringer die, we are forced to remember death neither asks our permission  nor always waits until people are in their nineties.

King, Solomon challenges humanity in Ecclesiastes 7:2 (New International   Version) with  a perspective on life that includes coming to grips with the inevitability of death- "It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of every man; the living should take this to heart." According to Solomon, God does not want us simply to mourn and weep and be saddened at the thought of death. Every time we attend a funeral or stand beside a grave God is challenging the living to "take it to heart." Death should be used to alter our perspective on life. In the words of Thomas a Kempis, "Thou oughtest so to order thyself in all thy thoughts and actions, as if today thou wert about to die."' Jesus taught the same truth in John 9:4- "I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work." A service station attendant was swarmed with last minute customers on a holiday weekend. He shook his head in disgust and complained to a preacher who was in line to buy gasoline, "It's funny to me that people always wait until the last minute to prepare for a trip they know they are going to take." The preacher replied, "I know. I've got the same problem in my business.  Death is the destiny of every man. Have you taken that to heart? 

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ