Rev. Champlin talks of illness, faith

"I believe that God is always present in our lives; that we're never burdened with more than we can bear; that God gives us strength. And also that if we link anything we're going through with the Lord on the cross, and there it's for the cross, we help others," he said. "And also I believe in Eternal Life."

His favorite Bible scripture comes from Isaiah 43:4 and is simply stated: "You are precious in God's eyes and I love you."

"It's a center them that the Lord loves you regardless of your failings," he said.

Champlin takes time each day to reflect on the day before, to try to see God's action in his life. When good things are recalled, he's filled with joy and takes the opportunity to say thank you.

"But even when you've messed up, made poor choices, committed sins, you also know God's mercy and love is there," he said. "So you still feel joy and gratitude because despite your weaknesses, the Lord's love is more than that."

What is Heaven like?

Champlin said his vision of Heaven has four main components.

"We'll see God face to face," he said, of his first image. "And all our questions that are unanswered will be answered, and that we'll have perfect contentment."

The second is that you're reunited with your loved ones, he said.

"Jesus said 'I'm going to prepare a place for you for where I am you'll also be,'" Champlin said, quoting scripture. "And that's very comforting -- your spouse, your parents, your friends, your fianc (c)e -- that you're going to be reunited with them."

The Book of Revelations says there will be no pain or sorrow, he said of the third heavenly design.

And the fourth? That we're still connected, he said.

When Champlin teaches his view of Heaven, particularly at funerals, he references scripture but also contemporary novels to help grieving families. Author Alice Sebold's "The Lovely Bones: A Novel" is used to relate peace in the afterlife; Mitch Albom's "The Five People you Meet in Heaven" touches on reuniting with loved ones; and Alice McDermott's "Charming Billy" considers the connection between the living and deceased.

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