Why do we ever treat any day like it’s “just another day”? This day was created by God as a unique, one-of-a-kind event never to be repeated, and possibly our last. Would you treat your last day as any other day?
Tag Archives: life
Don’t Make Her Buy the Car Alone
My feelings are pretty raw at the moment. It was today that I presided over the funeral for the father of a 16-year-old girl. It broke my heart as I watched her weep over his casket. My own eyes filled with tears.
Several years ago I used to be in the funeral pre-planning business. Even to this day I firmly believe making funeral preparations in advance is a very wise and loving thing to do. That was especially evident this week when I talked with the 16-year-old who had to handle all the arrangements for her deceased daddy. She literally had no idea what to do.
Do you have children? Would you force your teenage daughter to buy a new car… after a couple of hours of sleep… an emotional wreck… and whatever she purchases, if she makes a poor decision, spends too much money, or does anything she regrets, too bad – no returns?
Well, forcing your teenage daughter to handle your funeral arrangements after you die is not much different from forcing her buy a new on the worst day of her life. How is that being responsible? How is that taking care of those you love? It’s not! And that is why I want to make it very clear right now what I want for my funeral.
The following is not meant to be an official funeral pre-arrangement, but it will give you an idea of what I want to take place after I die. My wife and children, should they outlive me, will obviously have the right to do whatever they desire, but the following is what I want, if possible, to take place.
- Music. I want good music. I don’t want canned music from the funeral home’s collection; I want LIVE music! The only exception to the live music would be a recording of Building 429 singing “Where I Belong” somewhere in the service. I will leave it up to my family to call on the groups that I want to be there, but I want God-honoring, Spirit-filled, praise-filled music that sets a tone of victory and celebration.
- Preaching. Yes, I want somebody to preach. And when I say “preach,” I want somebody who’s fought a few battles, spit in the eye of the devil, experienced amazing grace, and is unflinching in presenting the life-changing, soul-saving Gospel of Jesus Christ. I want someone who will be able to open up the Holy Writ and let it fly. But I don’t want some guy who’s all emotion; I wan’t someone who can rightly divide the word of Truth. My life is a testimony to God’s amazing grace, and I want someone who can tell what that’s all about.
- Shouting. Friends, today I instructed my youngest daughter to have at least one Church of God lady standing by (with a $50 retainer, if necessary) to belt out a few hallelujah’s and praise God’s if the crowd gets too quiet. I would be very disappointed to find out the people at my funeral were sad, downtrodden, mournful, and blue. Seriously! Rejoice in hope! Shout with joy! Give glory to God! Make my funeral a celebration of salvation! A celebration of Jesus! I want some hankey-waving, chandelier-swinging, back-of-pew running, excitement in the place 🙂
- Shout at my casket. No joke, I want everyone in the place to face the casket and yell my name. Then, I want you to wait. Why? Because I want you to hear the silence – because I won’t be there! Yell my name and see if I’ll respond, then make it known that what’s in that casket is nothing more than an empty shell; Anthony’s not there – he’s gone!
- Bag Pipes. There’s just something special about “Amazing Grace” played on bag pipes. That’s what I want at the cemetery.
- An Invitation to Accept Jesus as Savior. Folks, I’m a preacher. What else would honor my memory more than to have someone be born again at my funeral? It happened when I preached at my father’s funeral back in 1991, so shouldn’t I hope for the same at mine? You see, therein lies the hope…the joy…the expectation…the comfort…the consolation…the peace that passes all understanding.
If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead, [and] become the firstfruits of them that slept. – 1 Corinthians 15:19-20
For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive [and] remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive [and] remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words. – 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18 KJV
When I die, put away the timer, tell the funeral director to go eat lunch or dinner, and… JUST. HAVE. CHURCH!
Are any of you perfect? You might think you are, but I’d bet you’re not. I know I’m not. As a matter of fact, I’m pretty messed up.
Just today I was reminded how flawed I am. I’ve screwed up so much it ain’t even funny.
For one, I got into a heated argument with my wife which led me to say things in anger, things I wish I’d not said. Two, it was made obvious that I’ve made some poor decisions in parenting, some of which will haunt me till the day I die. Third, I’ve made some bad decisions in my past, and tonight I wish I could roll back time (cue the Cher music).
On top of all the above, I’m facing issues for which I have no good answers, and I’m not even sure there are any. Do you know how helpless that can make one feel?
Wednesday night I shared an impromptu sermon based on something I had written earlier in the day, and today I was reminded of it. I had been to the church parsonage and seen the work being done, took a picture, and wrote the following.
“This a blessing to behold, and further confirmation that God is not only doing something now, but will be doing something more in the future to bring glory to the wonderful name of Jesus.
And to be honest, I’m as clueless as anyone to what plans the Lord has for this little old church, but plans He has. We are just going to be faithful, prayerful, worshipful, and hopeful (not with an earthly hope, but one that rests in His promises that never fail)!”
Faithful. Just keep doing what’s right, even when it’s hard. Don’t be like the one who gets inpatient and steps out in his own strength to accomplish what is not in God’s timing. The results of faithless action never produce a positive outcome. See Proverbs 28:20.
Prayerful. If Dory had been a Christian fish, she might have said, “Just keep praying, praying, praying.” Pray without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:17).
Worshipful. God deserves our worship. But not only that, some of the Israelite’s greatests battles were won when, instead of swords and spears, the first line of offence – their Spec Ops Choir – carried trumpets and lyrics into combat.
Hopeful. Why be worshipful? Why praise? Because we have a hope that is different from the world’s kind, the kind that is more like wishful thinking – like, “Now that I’ve picked the numbers, I HOPE I win the lottery.” No, we can be hopeful in fact, because God’s promises, when made, are as good as done – actually, they’re already done – in Jesus (2 Cor. 1:20)!
I’m not perfect. I’m not a source of unfailing wisdom. I’m not the best husband, father, preacher, pastor, or anything. I have no clue how God is going to get glory from what He has planned to accomplish in my life, but I’ve read the first chapter of Ephesians, and one promise is that I’m going to bring him glory and praise (v. 12). It’s as good as done!
And, even though I feel pretty weak and helpless, He wants me to understand that what’s going to be accomplished will not be determined by my own ability, but His “exceeding greatness and power” which raised Jesus from the dead (Ephesians 1:18-20)!
So, even though I’m not perfect (which is an understatement), my faith is in One who is, and He keeps his promises (Prov. 22:6; Isaiah 55:11; Matt. 16:18).
Here’s another insightful guest post. I’m so glad God loves me, flaws and all!
Guest Post by: Dorissa Vanover
“Duh!” “How Stupid!” “Dummy!” These words are the words that fly through my head when I’ve made a silly mistake.
I would never, ever talk to anyone else that way, but, for whatever reason, I feel quite free to berate myself soundly at any time or at any place. I simply cannot cut myself any slack – especially when I goof.
I would really like to blame my upbringing. Maybe my parents are the ones who turned this horrible voice on inside my head. No, it wasn’t them. They tried their very best to make me feel good about myself. This voice is one I developed all by myself!
“She’s just being kind.” These are the words in my head when someone pays me a compliment. If someone says my hair looks nice, I run to the bathroom mirror to try to figure out what my hair has done with itself since I sprayed it this morning – didn’t look so hot to me then. I love compliments, don’t get me wrong―it’s just that even if I was tempted to believe them, I probably couldn’t see what was worth complimenting. I mean really, my hair looks nice – um – must be something wrong with her eyesight!
We’ve all probably heard that it takes 10 positives to outweigh one negative. I believe it. If ten people complimented me on my appearance and one person looked straight into my eyes and said, “You look tired. Are you feeling okay?”, I would run to the mirror to check out the tired eyes.
I don’t think I’m the only person in the world who looks for the flaws instead of the attributes when I’m evaluating myself. I’m trying to figure out how to stop it before it gets way too far out of hand.
The first step for me is to remember, “God didn’t make any junk.” I’ve always known that’s true, especially when I look at my husband or my sons and their families. They are absolutely wonderful people and I’m so very proud of them. I need to remind myself that God created me, too. He loves me, even though I’m flawed.
The next step for me is to be as kind and gentle with my words to myself as I am to others. Have you ever tried to list five good qualities about yourself? I could list many more than that for the other people in my life, but to find five really good qualities about myself is a bit of a stretch. I’ll need to work on that.
The best step I can take is to trust that God has a plan for my life. He put me here for a reason or reasons that I may, or may not, get to know. If I stay focused on Him and His goodness, I won’t have too much time to worry about myself and my flaws.
The final step is to realize that the Bible is very plain about loving others as we love ourselves. Well, guess what? If I don’t have a healthy self-esteem, if I don’t value myself, how will I be able to value others? If I’m always looking inward at myself, how will I be able to hold my head high, look into the faces of the people God sends my way, and share with them all the love God has shared with me?
So, for today, my plan is to prayerfully focus on God and His mercy, treating each of His children, even myself, with the love He expects us to show.
Why is it that people say, “When life gives you lemons…” it’s always in a response to something bad?
What is wrong with lemons?
Why not cherries? Or grapes? Why not complain about them?
Why not suggest what to do when life gives us avocados? I hate avocados!
What if life gave you tomatoes for your iced tea? You’d be wishing you had some lemons, I bet.
No, it’s always the poor lemon. It’s like everyone is prejujuiced.
What’s wrong with a little sourness every once in a while?
The fact is that God doesn’t just allow lemons, He sends them as a gift! Unfortunately, most people never take the time to recognize the benefits of a little acidity.
So, the next time when life gives you lemons instead of strawberries, don’t be so negative; you might have been spared an allergic reaction from hell without even knowing it.
“In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:18
Just imagine with me… What would it have been like the night before the resurrection of Jesus Christ?
Tomorrow is Easter, the day that we celebrate the risen Lord, Jesus Christ. But here it is the night before, the night before the celebrations, and few of us have any idea of the sense of total despair the followers of Jesus must have been experiencing on this night – the night before.
For three and a half years his disciples had followed Him around, listening to His stories, His parables, and His prayers. They had witnessed miracle after miracle which should have confirmed to them His claims to be the Messiah. Yet, just two days ago they witnessed the supposed Son of God, the “resurrection and the life” (that’s what he told Mary and Martha, you know, on the day He raised Lazarus from the dead), betrayed, beaten, falsely convicted, and tortuously crucified.
Then, after his tormentors had done all they could do, Jesus died. It was pretty obvious to all who were present.
It grew dark and the earth shook violently, as to add insult to injury, for even creation sensed the tragedy of it all.
They saw Him buried.
Some ran…some huddled as they hid…would they be next?
What of the “Kingdom” the Jesus had spoken of?
What good were the words “he that believeth on me shall not die, but have everlasting life” if the one saying it could be unjustly convicted, abandoned by heaven, and left to die in the most disgraceful and painful way? How could HE make such a promise if HE could die?
It was the night before, just like tonight, yet there was no anticipation of worship services or egg hunts – only the expectation of another sunrise without the Son.
They were afraid…broken…discouraged…faithless…confused…angry…directionless…without hope…
They were totally unprepared for what was about to happen, because the last thing they were thinking of was that this was…
the night before.
This is the third time I’ve edited this post in an hour. It’s just hard to write.
No, we can never stop the bad news; all we can do is decide what we’re going to do with it.
This morning I received some tragic news of a police officer getting shot and killed…by other police. I wish now I could have met him, but he worked a shift I haven’t yet visited. I have reasons for why I haven’t, but that doesn’t change anything.
I’m a police Chaplain, that’s what I’m supposed to do: visit with all the officers I can, to minister to them in some way, if possible.
But I didn’t with this young man.
Now he’s gone. It’s in the hands of a merciful God. That’s all I know.
I can’t go back and change what happened, what I did or didn’t do, but what I can do is look to the future as I keep my eyes on Jesus, my eyes wet with tears for the lost.