Just a Closer Walk with Thee

We begin the story with God walking with Adam in the cool of the day in the Garden of Eden.  We end the story with the New Jerusalem descending to the New Earth and God being with us for eternity.

In between we see pictures of God’s ultimate desire of sharing Creation with His Ultimate Creation – Humanity:

1. God speaking to such as Cain, Noah, Abraham, Moses and Joshua.

2. God’s pillar of cloud by day and fire by night to lead the nation of Israel from Egypt and through the Wilderness.

3. The Mercy Seat on the Ark of the Covenant which “tabernacled” among the nation of Israel.

4. God’s naming of His Son as Immanuel – God With Us.

5. Jesus living among us, being tempted as we are tempted.  Knowing our weakness, yet not succumbing to them.

6. The Holy Spirit dwelling within the believer.

7. In the midst of where two or three are gathered.

8. In the carrying out of ministry to those who are in need of water, clothing or visitation being done “unto Him”.

Righteousness is not God’s desire for humanity.  It is a required means of God’s presence with us.

Living a holy life is not trying to please God.  It is rather our saying to Him, “I want you in my life more than these”.  When we sin we are not only disappointing God, we are saying, “I don’t want you around”.  Sin is the ultimate story of unrequited love, of the willing suitor and the spurning object of His love.  Sin is not ultimately disobedience, but relational distance.

If God is feeling far off, be sure that sin is nearby.  It is only when Christ took upon himself the sins of the world that he cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?!”

God desires to walk with you.  What do you desire?

Be sure of this if you choose sin, He will leave.  He finally left the mercy seat and his beloved, Israel after all.  This is Hell – the absence of God.  Choose to be holy, for without holiness “no one will see God.”

How to Perform a Funeral pt. 2

Matane cemetery

Matane cemetery (Photo credit: Bête à Bon-Dieu)

1. Meet with the Family.

2. Distill to one best trait/quality.

While one of the great reasons for meeting with the family is to provide a place of cathartic healing for them, the primary reason is to be able to perform a funeral/memorial service that will accurately honor their loved one in an excellent way.  One of the best ways to do this is to hear through the various stories/jokes/fond recollections a common thread that is core to who this person was.  This needs to be what you are secretly listening for during the entire meeting, and you should only feel free to move on to the actual service planning once you have detected that unmistakeable note.

The rest of the service planning then needs to revolve around this truth.  Three points about death and a sappy poem, do not a good funeral make!  Resist the urge to cookie-cutter your way through this (which is easy to do once you have a few under your belt, and the family probably won’t notice…but that’s the point – they won’t notice!!  This service should crystallize their thinking of their loved one and give them a clarion call of how to be a better person throughout the rest of their life.  They should notice.) with a couple of go-to texts and a song of Amazing Grace.

In ministry, your words will roll off of people far more frequently than they will penetrate to the heart.  Funerals are a teachable moment, when their resistance to things spiritual is at an all-time low.  Don’t screw it up!  Let me repeat, don’t screw it up!!

“When the pupil is ready, the teacher appears.”  Too often pastors perform bland services that are more routine than challenging, more aimed at not stirring the pot than changing lives.  Many of the people you get to minister to in these times haven’t darkened a church door in years.  The pupil is ready, make sure you show up.

Invariably, this best trait is what was most like Christ about the person.  Tie the scarlet thread of salvation to them through this poignant truth, and you are over half way there (yeah, I know there are 8 more points to come, but you really are over half way there).  When preaching the service, this one trait will give you an honest bridge to talk about the things of God in a way that you will be heard.