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Sunday, July 22, 2007.  Dad woke up very early in his hospital room in Newport Beach.  He knew it was finally his day of release.  He had the nurse call the family in.  Jani and I had just arrived in Northern Ireland for ministry there.  We didn’t know what was happening back home.  But the family gathered around dad’s bed.  They read Scripture.  They sang hymns.  Dad spoke a word of patriarchal blessing and admonition to each one.  He pronounced over them the Aaronic blessing: “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace” (Numbers 6:24-26).  He fell asleep.

I asked my sister about dad’s message to me.  It was this: “Tell Bud, ministry isn’t everything.  Jesus is.”

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26 thoughts on “My dad’s message to me on the day he died”

  1. Alex Philip says:


  2. Andy Scott says:

    How true. I have read, and been blessed by, your father, your mother, and now, you. Thank you for your faithful, continuing ministry of the gospel and its encouragement.

  3. George Wisley says:

    What a great message from a great man. I know you miss your dad. But you know where he is!! He is with Jesus who is everything.. he said it himself!

  4. Heath Taylor says:

    Ray, your father marked you well and lead you to Jesus. What greater gift can a man give his son? I pronounce that same blessing on my two little girls each night as I put them to bed and lately, my five year old has been wispering back into my ear. My hope is that God would give them the gift of grace that results in faith in Christ. Thanks for sharing, it encourages me to continue and trust the sovereignty of God.

  5. Amazingly beautiful. Thanks so much for sharing this.

  6. Philip Pace says:

    I have been recently turned on to your blog by a Tweet from John Piper. I am so glad that he did. Today I read that your father passed nearly one month after my father died. Thank you for your encouragement here! God’s blessings to you!

  7. Matt Ballard says:

    Ray, this made me weep.
    Thank you for sharing something like this.

  8. David Bailey says:

    Praise the Lord!

  9. WOW great Word for a Son.

  10. Erik says:

    I’m speechless.

    What a beautiful way to pass into the arms of Christ.

  11. Doug Tinklenberg says:

    The very thing I hope my girls hear from me on my last day as well! “May the Lord bless you and keep you…”


  12. Fred McFarland says:

    Great blessing from the man that help start me on my ministry adventure.

  13. Troy Tomlinson says:

    Ray- Your father’s words brought tears to my eyes and intentionality to my spirit. I pray that God keeps that truth in the front of my mind and gives me many opportunities to pass along the same message to my children and grandchildren.
    Thank you, as usual, for sharing transparently.

  14. MB says:

    From a daughter that never got to see her dad accept Jesus as Lord and losing him at age 11, this touched me. My mother in law recently passed away and everyone acted like it was the end of the universe. Really though, she is in a far better place than we are. I never got to take joy in my dad’s death. There is only sorrow there. How can you be joyful when you know your dad is in hell? Hold on to those precious moments. God was gracious to you. He is still gracious to me even in my sorrow. I don’t know why He chose this path, but He did for me. Lord let us not ever take for granted our salvation…or those who die and are saved. This is a precious gift. You will one day see your dad again.

  15. Mark Myles says:

    This is the good news. So sweet and good to taste. Praise God for earthly dads who point to Jesus. Legacy.

  16. cj says:

    Praise God!

  17. Pingback: He Died For Me

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Ray Ortlund

Ray Ortlund is senior pastor of Immanuel Church in Nashville, Tennessee, and serves as a Council member with The Gospel Coalition. You can follow him on Twitter.

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