WHY JESUS DIDN’T PERFORM FUNERALS
June 5, 2016
Years ago, a strange ad appeared in a newspaper’s classified section. It was an ad for a used tombstone. The ad read like this: “Used tombstone for sale. Real bargain to someone named Homer Jones. For more information please call …” and a number was listed. A used tombstone? I guess the deceased no longer needed it. A resurrection, perhaps?
Dr. E. Stanley Jones, the famous missionary, once told about a layman who was called upon to conduct a funeral service. Being an exact man, he wanted to do it right. So he turned to the Gospels to see how Jesus conducted a few. And he found that Jesus didn’t conduct funerals at all. He only performed resurrections. Not one person died in his presence. He came upon those who were already dead and resurrected them and gave them new life.
Some of you may remember a motion picture from the early 1990s titled, Awakenings. The film starred Robin Williams and Robert De Niro, and was directed by Penny Marshall. It was nominated for three Academy Awards. (more…)
A TIME OF GRIEF
1 Kings 17:17-24; Luke 7:11-17
May 29, 2016
You may know the story of a young minister who was asked by a funeral director to hold a graveside service for a homeless man who had died while traveling through the area. The service was to be held at a new cemetery way back in the country. This man would be the first person laid to rest there.
As he was not familiar with the back woods area, the young minister soon became quite lost and finally arrived over an hour late. He saw the backhoe by the grave and noticed the crew was eating lunch under a nearby tree, but the hearse was nowhere in sight. He apologized to the workers for his tardiness, and stepped to the side of the open grave, where he saw the vault lid already in place. The young preacher assured the vault crew he would not hold them long, but this was the proper thing to do. The workers gathered around still eating their lunch. The young preacher poured out his heart and soul.
As he preached the workers began to say “Amen,” “Praise the Lord,” and “Glory hallelujah.” The young preacher preached and preached like he’d never preached before, from Genesis all the way through Revelation. He closed the lengthy service at last with a prayer and began to walk toward the car. He felt that he had done his duty to the homeless man, and that the crew would leave with a new sense of purpose and dedication, in spite of his tardiness. (more…)
GUIDANCE FOR A TIME OF CHAOS
May 22, 2016
Author Dennis Rainey tells about an exercise he leads each year with his sixth grade Sunday school class. He divides the class into three groups. These groups then compete in putting together a jigsaw puzzle. As these 12-year-olds scatter into three circles on the floor, he explains that there is only one rule in the competition: to put together the puzzle without talking.
The contents of puzzle number one are deposited on the floor and Group 1 immediately goes to work. The group promptly sets up the box top that depicts the picture of the puzzle it is completing.
Then Dennis Rainey moves to the second group, dumps the pieces of a second puzzle on the floor and quickly gives the group a box top. What the group doesn’t know is that the box top is for another puzzle!
The third group is given the same puzzle pieces, but it doesn’t receive a box top. Usually the kids in the group start to protest, but Rainey quickly reminds them there is to be no talking!
What follows is fascinating. (more…)
JESUS PRAYS FOR US
May 1, 2016
In Yakima, Washington, sometime back a dying man made a strange request. On his deathbed, Grant Flory said to his family: “Get me to the Mustangs’ playoffs. No matter what.” He was referring to his old high school team, The Prosser Mustangs. So in early December, when the Mustangs played in Seattle’s Kingdome, Flory’s cremated remains were in attendance. His son Dwight approached the stadium gate wearing a camera bag that contained his father’s urn. He was stopped by a guard who asked what was in the bag.
“It’s my dad,” he replied.
The guard looked puzzled but allowed the ashes inside. Family members said anyone who knew Grant Flory wouldn’t be surprised by his request. He was a real football fan.
It is the dream of every pastor to have a congregation filled with people who are that determined to be in worship every Sunday. I need not even say to you that there are church members who are much more dedicated to their favorite sports team than they are to God. They give more money to their team. They know more about the players on the roster than they ever will about the heroes of the Bible. And I will not live to see the days when people in the average congregation will sit in a cold, miserable rain to worship God like many will do to cheer on their favorite team. Perhaps that’s because we don’t understand the essential nature of the church. I believe if we could see the church as Christ sees the church, we would not take attendance as casually as we do. Jesus, in his prayer for the church recorded in John’s Gospel, helps us see the church as he means for it to be. (more…)