June 2009 Celebrity deaths
Exodus 20:2-4 (New Century Version)
2 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt where you were slaves.
3 “You must not have any other gods except me.
4 “You must not make for yourselves an idol that looks like anything in the sky above or on the earth below or in the water below the land.5 You must not worship or serve any idol, because I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God. If you hate me, I will punish your children, and even your grandchildren and great-grandchildren.6 But I show kindness to thousands who love me and obey my commands.
God is speaking of idol worship, the idea of praising and glorifying someone or something that is not Him. Another way of putting it would be what we today call, “being a fan”.
Now, there is nothing wrong with admiring a person or a group that exhibits talents.
So what, you love to listen to “The Boss” (Bruce Springsteen), or watching Halle Berry or Denzel Washington act. You may even enjoy a beautiful painting by Renoir or Gauguin, or maybe even Rembrandt.
That is all well and good. You should. God gave these people gifts and they were meant for the enjoyment of the world. These talented individuals used well their gifts and have been handsomely rewarded for them.
It is when the created becomes more important, or valued, than its creator.
Such is the case in “idol worship”.
In the month of June, in 2009, several celebrities, some local, others, world renowned, have died. Each has left their indelible marks upon our lives. Just as God intended.
The problem begins when we begin to emphasize the person in such a way that they almost become deified, or god-like. We buy everything they buy (shoes, clothes, scents, even underwear). We attempt to imitate them to the point where some even go so far as to have reconstructive surgery.
We put all of this excitement and energy into something or, in this case, someone, that it overwhelms us. The line of discernment between reality and fantasy is not only blurred, but it is obliterated beyond recognition.
It is in my opinion that this is where God stepped in and corrected what He felt was “getting out of pocket”.
We are in the midst of an economic recession. This is no secret. The economy is low, jobs are scarce, and many have or are in the process of losing their homes.
Some are “doing without” certain things they would have rushed to have in earlier more fiscally sound times. Vacations are becoming stay-cations. Flying has been replaced by driving or taking public transportation.
A night out is now a night in complete with potluck instead of take-out.
Everyone is learning the art of “tightening their belts” and saving money has become a greater priority than in past years.
This is in part due to failed economic systems, improper use of financial institutions and the like. [But] It also has to do with God.
As any Christian should (and would) attest to, God is in control. He holds the destiny of the world in His hands and makes all things happen as He sees fit. Including the economy and celebrity.
It was God that made Koko Taylor, John Calloway, Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett, and Michael Jackson. He gave them the gifts that we so often emulate and adore.
He also gave us the money we would spend to watch these people as they’d ply their craft as a spider spins its web.
It was also God that saw it fitting to, as Christians say, “call them home”.
The purpose of man is to praise and worship God – and God alone. (See verse three above). We bring God honor when we use and display the gifts given us for the entire world to see.
These people “did their duty”, their “reasonable service” according to Romans 12: 1, which says, “(New King James Version) Living Sacrifices to God- I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.” Or, another way of putting it, (New Living Translation) “And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice-the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.” They did what God desired and are now resting.
Let them rest!
Just as someday, it will be our turn to die – this was theirs.
I am not saying not to mourn their death. Nor am I saying we should not feel the pain of separation. I am saying quite the opposite: feel the pain; express your grief, but then you have to let it go.
Look at the list attached. These people died in the month of June in 2009. Some you have heard of, many more you have not. One of the things they have in common is they are all dead. Something else they have in common, they were mourned – privately.
Unfortunately, no one knew it except a few friends and family. They did not get the worldwide outpouring as has Farrah and especially Michael. As quietly as they entered this world – they left.
No fanfare or accolades from dignitaries. No one saying, “Thank you for what you did”. No one giving them credit for being an inspiration to them.
No one. Except, as I said before, a few close to them.
When it’s your time, who will cry for you? What will your life say about you?
I know I mentioned the economy in laying out this message. And you are probably wondering why I have not again…well this is where it fits.
The economy is where it is, the way it is because God wants our undivided attention!
Michael had not toured since 1996-97. His fans had been awaiting his return anxiously. When he announced the tour in London in March of this year, thousands turned out.
Tickets had gone on sale and were snapped up quickly.
Some, I am sure, by Americans. Americans who are willing to travel to London to watch Michael moonwalk one more time.
Americans who are having trouble paying their bills, keeping their homes and continually complaining about the very economy that has them bound. These are the same people who will cut corners, skimp on a bill, deduct from their retirement funds, in order to go see Michael perform, and worry about the consequences later.
This same mentality has gotten us into this mess. So why perpetuate it with more idol-ic spending?
God has finally gotten our attention. He finally has us seeing that we are wasteful and need to refocus on what is important. Then along comes Michael.
Churches all across the United States are being forced to close their doors, or, at the very least, having to restructure the way they financially support the community in which they operate.
Some operated food and clothing banks for the homeless. Closed. Others held housing for these unfortunate ones. Closed.
Why? Because giving is down in churches nationwide.
But let Michael announce a concert. They cannot come up with enough ways to “find the money” to get tickets.
Who is more important? God or Michael Jackson? Who is alive – God or Michael Jackson.
Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
These are God’s words, not mine.
Michael might have made his way back to the USA. Who knows? The press and some people in the public have never been to kind to the “gloved one” in years past.
But God could not take that chance.
He had finally gotten our attention and had us beginning to value people over possessions, family over frivolity.
Incarnate over idolatry.
So, one of them had to go. And since God was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be…He was not budging.
He made Michael. He could take him away whenever He saw fit. And He did.
Is it fair? No, death rarely is.
But God could not risk it. He remembers what it was like when Michael first became famous. P
eople were walking around wearing one glove and the leather jackets.
How many of you wore one?
I can recall seeing children whose parents lived off welfare, in the projects of Chicago. These people went out and purchased these jackets at several hundred dollars for their children. At the same time, they would tell their landlords they would be “short” this month so they could pay their light bills (which did not get paid for the same reason), and so forth.
It was more important that their son or daughter looked like Michael than to have a roof over their heads.
Then he went into seclusion. God was at peace.
That was until March 2009. The announcement.
He could have taken him then, but He waited. Waited for just the right moment.
Tours and tour dates, both Michael alone, as well as the possibility of a family reunion concert, were being discussed in the media. The people became excited.
Might God have wanted a “family” show as opposed to a solo act? We will never know. We will never know because the pivotal figure in this dynamic event chose not to participate.
God finally gets families to “hang out” with each other and the biggest family in music history cannot do the same? Makes you wonder, doesn’t it.
We all know the brothers and sisters wanted it – it was largely their idea. But it was Michael that rejected it, choosing to “go it alone”.
All of these or, none of the factors played a role in what has transpired. And we will never know, until as Grandma used to say, “The sweet by and by”, or when we all get to heaven.
The one thing I do know is God has your attention now! He wants to tell you something. Something that will change your life – FOREVER!
GOD LOVES YOU! He wants the absolute best for you.
God also loved Michael, and the others who have died, and will die.
Honor Michael’s memory. Continue to allow his works to inspire you to greatness. He would have wanted it that way.
Pray for all who knew him personally: friends – his real friends, his family, and even, and especially, for one another. We all meant something to him, but not as much as we mean to God.
Take another look at the list of people who died in June of 2009. Go even further to look at the names of those who died so far this year. Pray for their friends and families too. And remember, someday, you name will appear on someone’s list of “people in my life who have died”.
Don’t let you living be in vain.
It has been said that shortly before he died, Michael accepted Jesus Christ as his “personal Savior”. This will give Michael unencumbered, free access to heaven. He will be singing with the chorus of angels.
Angels like Koko Taylor, James Brown, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Doors, Ella Fitzgerald, Gerald Levert, Marvin Gaye and many, many more as long as they too accepted and confessed Christ as their own.
Michael is dead. Now it’s time to do as he sang, “I’m Starting With The Man In
The Mirror/I’m Asking Him To Change/His Ways/And No Message Could Have
Been Any Clearer/If You Wanna Make The World /A Better Place/(If You Wanna Make The World A Better Place)/Take A Look At Yourself, And Then Make A Change
(Take A Look At Yourself, And Then Make A Change)”
It’s time to make a “change” in your life today.
Isaiah 55:6 “Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near.”
If you truly want to pay respects to the man, the music, and his memory, you will do as he did – use the talents and gifts you have to the best of your abilities. Study hard, improve upon them, and maximize every opportunity to be better than you were yesterday. And share these gifts with those around you, and with the world, as you can.
You never know…you could be the next big star! You will never be the “next Michael”, God saw to that. There only ever be one and he is with God. But you can be all God wants you to be if you just call on His name, give Him your life, and allow Him to direct your path.
To The Jackson Family Joseph and Katherine: parents; and his brothers and sisters: (in birth order) Maureen Reilette “Rebbie” Jackson, Sigmund Esco “Jackie” Jackson, Toriano Adaryll “Tito” Jackson, Jermaine LaJaune Jackson, La Toya Yvonne Jackson,
Marlon David Jackson, Steven Randall “Randy” Jackson, Janet Damita Jo Jackson, and all his nieces and nephews and his own children: Prince Michael Joseph Jackson, Jr, Paris Katherine Jackson, and, Prince Michael Joseph Jackson II – I extend my most humble and respectful sympathies and my most heartfelt prayers on the death of the one you loved. May he rest eternal in the hands of the One that created Him, and may each of you find strength, peace and comfort in one another and in His hands.
REST IN PEACE, MICHAEL. You have earned it!