But for this death


We’re about ready to close the book on Arnold. The Memorial Service will be two weeks from tomorrow at Laguna Presbyterian Church. At Arnold’s request, I will be bringing the message.

Attendance could be significant. Arnold was a rather well-known public figure in his day, especially in local politics here in Orange County. He is responsible for a number of innovative marketing techniques that got people elected and propositions passed. Some of those tactics were particularly cutthroat which made him as many enemies as friends. He was not the kind of person to care what people thought of him. There’s even a 2014 article in the New York Times about their unusual contemporary art collection which includes a 5,000 pound rusted bulldozer in the entryway of their home. “This will shock everybody who comes into the house,” Arnold is quoted as saying, four years ago. “It’s not your normal picture on the wall.”

It will be an interesting service because I do not know that Arnold — the one most people will talk about and remember. I only know the Arnold humbled by his physical condition, sweet and tender to his wife, and searching for God. My memories will be of a person literally no one in attendance knew. They may wonder who I’m talking about — whether I’ve got the right guy. It’s going to be a powerful story and a glorious opportunity for the gospel. Memorial services are never for the person who died, anyway. Their book is closed. It’s about all the people who are still alive, who have to deal with the loss and the fears and questions they have about the hereafter that they would rather not face, but for this death.

This is why I like funerals and memorial services so much. They force the issue. This is when we who believe speak with confidence and boldness about faith, eternity and hope, and not like some, who aren’t sure about the resurrection, and who rattle off some vague notion about handing off the baton of life, the runner in question having given up on the race. This is solid and real — a tangible hope in the midst of doubt and fear. There is even joy, knowing we will meet again on the other side.

Yes, we’re closing the book on Arnold without remorse, because Arnold’s name is already in another book — the one that will be opened by Jesus on the last day. It’s the Lamb’s Book of Life and Arnold’s name is in it, as is yours and mine, if we believe.


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8 Responses to But for this death

  1. Sandie says:

    Prayers that the truth the Holy Spirit has already been hammering into the hearts of those who will attend Arnold’s service, will split those hearts wide open as you speak and share. That there will be salvation and renewal and re-commitment. Prayers for peace for Marie.That The Word will prevail and be glorified.

  2. Tim Logan says:

    What an opportunity to share the power of the Gospel to change a life

  3. Mark D Seguin says:

    Enjoyed reading Today’s Catch & the Newspaper article too.

  4. John A Fagliano says:

    I just looked up Arnold and all the things that are being said about his passing. You will be delivering words no one else is saying. It should be quite a service in two weeks.

  5. What a formidable and momentous responsibility you bear John.
    Recognizing age similarities in Arnold’s circles of influence, it is probable that many of these people who will attend his memorial service have, no doubt, recently been to other funerals, memorials, and celebrations of life during these latter years, perhaps, numerous times.

    What can or will you say that will be different – that will make a true life-changing impact for the Glory of God and for His Revelation to those souls whom are still in the hollows of denial and doubt – that hasn’t already been said or heard and, most likely, has been disregarded or written off as a “religious rite”?
    What can you share from Arnold’s (and your) life that will open eyes and ears, melt hearts of stone, and cause your listeners’ brains to purely engage with Isaiah 1:18 and John 3:16?

    I am praying for you and your message, John, that the Holy Spirit will guide and govern you in a manner similarly described in Matthew 10:18-19, Mark 13:11, Luke 12:12, Acts 6:10, 2 Timothy 7-9, and multiple other Scripture verses you yourself know so well.

    Okay, on a lighter, yet possibly significant, note:
    Should the other Arnold (Schwarzenegger) approach you at the service, be sure to remind him that Jesus – the True Terminator of death, hate, and misery – will, indeed, “be back”! 😉

    My heartfelt prayers and support are with you, John!
    Shalom, Perfect Shalom and blessings to you, my brother, as you prepare…

    Job 1:21
    Matthew 25:21

    • jwfisch says:

      Thank you so much, Bob. I really need your prayers. I’m already nervous about this one — excited, but nervous.

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