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Kenny's Korner- The Benefit of Mortality

by Kenny Rader

One of the best things in my life

Put on your seat belt. Make sure the airbag is functional because this might seem a rather bumpy ride – particularly if you’re young or living on the fringe. Ready? Here we go. One of the best things that ever happened in my life is heart disease, especially when I had severe angina and faced possible death.


At the time, I was frightened out of my wits. Whether it was true or not that I might die, only God knows, but I was facing death and I had things to sort out. I was only forty at the time, and like most guys that age, I was immortal – at least, so I thought.

Do you actually believe what you say you believe?

Eventually, all of us have to face that question. Maybe you’re an atheist. You say God doesn’t exist. But when you lay dying, do you turn to family and loved ones because you know there is no god? Are you bitter that death might have caught up with you, and you will soon cease to exist? Or, do you call out for God, the One you said there was none? What do you believe on your deathbed? Who do you turn to for comfort?


Maybe you say you’re a Christian, yet you never attended church. Okay, you went twice a year: Easter and Christmas, but that was as far as you went with your faith. Maybe you said prayers before meals (sometimes) and at bedtime (occasionally). You believe God is real, but you don't have that personal relationship with Him. So, now you're on your deathbed. What do you believe? Are you suddenly repenting of your nonchalant attitude toward your Creator? Are you terrified and in need of a quick revival? Do you have any regrets about your faith you practiced so sadly?


Maybe you’re a sincere Christian, and you find yourself on your deathbed. How are you facing death? Are you terrified, not knowing what is on the other side? After all, you do believe in heaven and hell, and hell horrifies you. Maybe you’re excited? If you’re young and have a family, probably not. You want to live and experience life with them. You want to take care of them and provide for their needs, and that’s understandable. God placed that loving and caring desire within you. That’s love for those you care about. But are you confident of your eternal destiny? Maybe? Maybe not?

My story begins

In the fall of 1994, I experienced occasional chest pain. It wasn’t consistent; some days I had it, and other days I didn’t, so I assumed it was stress. Five years earlier, I had similar chest pains, and after an overnight stay in the hospital and eventually a stress test, the doctors diagnosed the problem as stress related. It made sense because we had an extremely wet fall, so that year's harvest and fall work was enormously stressful. 


But in the fall of 1994, I was diagnosed with heart disease: narrowing arteries due to plaque buildup because of my diet and inherited genes. The LAD artery, the widow maker, and another artery had narrowed extremely. I was put on medicine and told to take it easy until they could schedule heart work. 


We didn't know however, the doctor was overdosing me on the medication to control my heart, and my angina worsened. I couldn't even stand and take a few steps without angina. I thought I was going to die. Was that bad news? No, that’s the good news!!!

Deathbed reality

When you think you’re going to die, you have to sort things out. The main question you have to answer is, "Do I actually believe in God, my Christian faith, and my eternal salvation?" I was terrified. I asked myself several questions. Did I live a good enough life to make it into heaven? Did I do enough for God? Was I a good husband and father? Did I treat others as I should? What about my temper? What about my extremely negative attitude? What about . . . ? Terror seized my mind.


Deathbed realities make you sort out what you truly believe. It makes you run all that biblical teaching and beliefs in God through your mind. It forces you to think, really think about what you believe, what you've taught others, what you believe about God, and what you understand about salvation. In that way, a deathbed reality is fantastic! It's like that first hill of a rollercoaster. You think you might die, yet it's thrilling. You’re facing death, and that reality pushes all the trivial things to the outer skirts of your mind and brings only the essentials into perspective. 


After losing a lot of sleep over my heaven or hell concerns, I was no longer frightened of death. I discovered the core of my belief and the reality of salvation as taught in the Bible. I was at peace – real peace, and knew that if I died, I had a home in heaven. Now, please understand that I still didn’t want to die. I had a phenomenal wife and a fantastic family for which to provide. I hadn't given up on life. Actually, life became more incredible than ever before. Life went from old-fashioned black and white television type of living to a high definition 4K OLED color life.  

More problems

Because of the extreme angina, I got an ambulance ride to Riverside Hospital in Columbus, and a Doogie Howser doctor did an angioplasty to open the arteries. Yes, this doctor was still a kid. He was amazing.


That was December 1994, and when I got home, I exercised and tried to recover, but something was still wrong, and in the middle of the 1995 spring farm work, I returned to Riverside Hospital and had stents inserted in my heart in two places. The doctors said to change my diet and get more exercise if I wanted to live to a ripe old age. I dutifully obeyed. 


Most of you know, however, that in the fall of 2016, I developed more angina, and in the winter of 2017 was told I had two arteries completely blocked in the lower areas of my heart, plus the LAD widow maker stents from 1995 were 80% blocked. Doctors could do nothing, so under the care of Dr. Esselstyn of the Cleveland Clinic, I changed my diet again – this time to a whole-food-plant-based and oil-free diet, and as of April of this year (2020), I have had no more angina. The diet is working.  

The blessing of heart disease

Facing death and working through one's understanding of what you believe might be the most incredible thing in your life. While I hope and pray you don't have to sort through things upon realizing you’re dying, I hope and pray you work through your faith and beliefs in God now - today. Near-death brought about one of the most significant events in my life, and it forced me to sort through and understand what I believe.

Are you afraid to die?

We are now living in probably one of the most perilous times of our lives. Although the COVID 19 virus is not as deadly as once thought, it is a serious problem and seems to cause death in some people with no apparent explanation. While the extreme elderly, who are in a weakened state of health, are definitely at higher risk, several others seem to die for no apparent reason, other than they had contracted the COVID 19 virus. But this pandemic makes us face our mortality. Are you afraid to die?


Please understand that I am not advocating that we have no fear of death at all. I often say that I’m not afraid to die, but how I die bothers me greatly. Can I simply die in my sleep and go home to Jesus? No one knows that answer. But I am no longer afraid of death because of two distinct reasons. 


First, I faced death in 1994 and realized that my eternal hope and destination is secure in Jesus. Second, now as a minister and all that I am learning, I genuinely look forward to death and meeting Jesus (and once again getting to see Martha, my wife). 


No, I don't plan my death. Rather, I have a goal of living to 110 years old (go ahead and laugh). I plan on taking as many people to heaven with me as possible. I hope and plan to have a long, long ministry until the day I die. I plan on fully living until I cross over and meet Jesus.


Do you know what’s so perplexing? Why are so many Christians afraid of dying? What about you? Are you terrified of death? Are you secure in your eternal destination? Besides the fact that you have family and friends you love here on earth and still want to live, are you prepared to die at any moment? Are you looking forward to death in a way that pleases God in that you are ready to go home to Him?


The most significant benefit of mortality might be that facing death helps to sort out what you really believe and makes you ask the question, "Am I living life in a way that pleases God? Am I living in a way that prepares me to go home to meet Him?" Please don't wait for a deathbed experience to sort out those questions. Get ready to meet God now and then live a truly incredible life.    


Think about it.


Love you & God Bless,



p.s. I didn't explain how I know I'm secure in my eternal destination. Eternal security is not earned by your actions here on earth, although they can affect your eternal destiny. If you’re interested, let's talk about your eternal security. You can have peace in knowing you have a home in heaven. 


13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.

-1 John 5:13 (NIV)