Funeral Parlors and Fun Parties

Funeral Parlors and Fun Parties

Tears.  Sorrow.  Raw Emotion. Real Life.  Death.  Death is the cause of so much heartache, hurts and pain.

Solomon, the wisest man to ever live wrote Ecclesiastes 7:2 as God directed him, and the emphasis is interesting; There is a priority of attending funeral services and visiting with people who just lost a loved one to the throes of death.  This singular scripture goes as far to say that it is better to go to a funeral parlor than to a fun party.

It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart.

It is better to go to a funeral home.  Not fun – but needed for a proper perspective on life.  With life being devalued today, kids killing each other, and the news filled with reporting of one violent event or another – it makes me wonder – Has today’s modern child (an adults) been to enough funerals?

Probably not.  Many people avoid taking their children to the funeral home.  With good intentions of “not scarring the kids” or preventing them from seeing or hearing something disturbing, many well meaning parents, grandparents, and guardians find other places for their kids to be during funerals.  In fact – lots of adults avoid funerals as well.

Think of it this way; If a teenager has only known about death from a movie or video game – death cannot seem like real life.  He has no basis or foundation for understanding the depths of pain, the wrenching of the loss, or the changes in life that death causes for those who remain.  The seriousness of death is not something on his mind.

Since God says that it is better to go to a funeral than to go to a party – it should cause us to consider our priorities, teaching moments, and how to best place an emphasis on the value of life. Because death is in the future of every man God says being present with the corpse and with those grieving – will cause a person to “lay it to heart.”

We do not “lay it (death) to heart” enough because we avoid thinking about death.  Many don’t even talk about it.  But if a person thinks about death in a proper, Biblical way – it will cause him to make better choices in life!  When a person thinks about death – He will live better!

For example, here is a Fox News Headline from April 7, 2018: “Lakeith Smith, 18, of Montgomery, Ala., was sentenced to 65 years by Judge Sibley Reynolds for “felony murder, armed burglary, second-degree theft and third-degree theft,” FOX8 LIVE reported.”

“Smith smiled and laughed while being sentenced at the Elmore County courthouse. He had turned down a plea deal that would have recommended he spend 25 years in prison on the charges.”

‘I don’t think Mr. Smith will be smiling long when he gets to prison,’ C.J. Robinson, chief assistant district attorney, said. ‘We are very pleased with this sentence. Because the sentences are consecutive, it will be a long time before he comes up for even the possibility for parole, at least 20 to 25 years.’”

“Judge Reynolds said Smith seemed to show no remorse for his crimes during the trial and did not apologize. He also overhead the teen say, ‘I don’t have time for this.’”

Laughing.  I don’t have time for this?  What?  Here is an 18-year-old who apparently has never considered the gravity of life and death.  He is an example of the modern teen who believes life is ego centric and the purpose of living is to have a constant party – just have a good time.   Can I suggest that it would be better to take your kids to at least one funeral annually than to throw an ego centric, all out birthday party for them every year?  That is not intended to be a morbid thought.  Funerals in their proper context will help you and your child live better and make better choices.

No one likes tears.  Sharing in grief is not a fun thing or easy thing to do – but it will make you a better person.  When teaching your family about death, consider the age of your kids.  Find an age appropriate time to talk about and attend a funeral service.  Consider things like is it closed casket, a cremation, a memorial, or a graveside service?  Was this person a Christian?  What was our connection to this person?

Besides emotional “closure” and other similar benefits, going to the funerals and being present when a person’s life is summarized in a 30-minute speech will cause several good things in your life.

  1. Funerals cause us to ponder the brevity of life. James 4:14 Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.
  2. Funerals cause us to consider the priorities of life. Ecclesiastes 7:1 A good name is better than precious ointment; and the day of death than the day of one’s birth.
  3. Funerals cause us to examine and “correct course” in future days.  Psalm 27:4 One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple.

The Apostle Paul, not doubt attended many funerals in his lifetime for Christian’s who were persecuted and killed for their faith. As he “laid to heart” the matter of life and death he said in the last letter he wrote in 2 Timothy 4:7, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith…” The only way to run the course of life and finish well is the make right choices today.  The only way to make right choices is to have Biblical values instilled in our life.  Knowing the brevity and value of life is a major part of this plan.

Help yourself and help your kids; Develop a priceless value on human life – by considering the gravity of death by attending a funeral. 

 

 

 

 

 

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Healthy Relationships

Healthy Relationships

Proverbs 18:24 A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.

Friends are people we know and trust to be friendly.  Kindness is not only demonstrated in kind actions, but also in words, and the attitudes conveyed to our friends.

Proverbs 27:6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.

Friends are people we know and trust to be honest; even to the point of challenging and correcting us in a gentle and loving manner whenever that is needed.

Trust is the most basic requirement for a sincere, genuine, and healthy relationship with someone.  A husband who cannot trust his wife or a wife who does not trust her husband will be experiencing troubles in marriage that stem from trust issues.

Trust is something that is earned over time; but can be erased in a moment.  Trust is something we see in each healthy relationship of life.  If there is no trust, then the relationship is based on pretense, fakery, or fabricated reputation.

If a person does not trust the boss, the relationship is not what it could be.  If the boss does not trust the employee, the relationship is not what it should be.  If a parent does not trust he teacher, the student will pick up on that and the classroom relationship will not be what it should be.

The same is true in church.  The pastor trusts the deacons and the deacons trust the pastor.  Their relationship with each other and the relationship of the leadership with the church and church with the leadership also must be premised – on trust.

Sometimes people do not trust others simply because of past experiences.  Even if nothing wrong or sinful has happened in the new relationship. For example, I had a man tell me one time that “He did not trust any preacher.”  His past experiences, that were bad experiences, led him to the conclusion that all preachers were evil.  How could a person with that conclusion hope to learn, grow, attend church services, and develop healthy relationships?

I was not offended by this man’s statement – but as a preacher, I knew I would not have the chance to earn the trust of that man.  The relationship would be tainted and confused from the very start.

That is how some people see other genders.  Have you heard someone say something like “All men are evil pigs?” or “I can’t stand women?”  One or several bad experiences have been allowed to control how the person perceives about half the population!  That way of thinking makes no common or Biblical sense.

If you are hoping to marry someone and have had previous bad dating, or even marriage experience, be sure that those things do not influence your new relationship.  Let trust develop.  Grow in relationship with your new or soon to be spouse.

Starting a new job or another school year?  The boss and the teacher, the employee and the student should be respected and until trust is lost – it is best to develop a healthy relationship built on trust.   Thank God – trust may never be lost! You may have a healthy relationship the rest of your life.

Not trusting others is a personal defensive mechanism focused on preserving our pride and protecting our ego from future possible harm.  It is a natural human reaction.  However, not trusting is based on fear.  Fear is not something that we are to live by.  The Bible says to “Live by faith!”  Replace the fear and the accompanying trust issues with Faith in God!

2 Timothy 1:7 teaches, For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

  • Fear causes us to doubt the power of God.
  • Fear causes us to forget the love of God.
  • Fear causes us to not think clearly.

We fear when we are not in control.  We fear when we lose our influence.  We fear when we are not sure what is going on.  HAVE FAITH IN GOD!

  • God will take care of the marriage when we trust and obey Him.
  • God will take care of the workplace and classroom.
  • God will take care of His church. We belong to Him!

God will take care of you and your relationships can become healthy when your faith in God is greater than your faith in fear and distrust.  Ask the Lord to help each relationship to be built on trust.  Without trust – you don’t really have a relationship anyway!

 

 

 

 

The Teachers’ Difference

The Teachers’ Difference

And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient.  2 Timothy 2:24

During teacher appreciation week (which concludes today) I noticed several “thank-you” and notes of appreciation on social media.  Many people were lauding their teachers from childhood and high school.  Amazingly my name was listed in some of the postings.  Around 15 years ago, I had the opportunity to be a High School Science and Biology teacher.   I was blessed to see that one of my former students posted that I had made Chemistry/Biology “fun.”  I am encouraged that his perspective and recollection of our class created, not just head knowledge of a subject, but that he enjoyed and benefited from the classes.  In other words- he did not just get data, or knowledge, he also learned some things about life.  Christians can be joyful and live happy, healthy lives!

As Paul is writing to Pastor Timothy, he speaks about the servant of God being apt to teach.  This is definitely a quality that is needed in ministry and certainly in classrooms of any kind.  Teaching and learning is part of the plan God gave to mankind.  We even have a Bible written by God so we can learn of Him.  We must be able to read in order to study and read His Word.  Thank the Lord for education and learning!

Who taught you – English with thoughtfulness?  Who taught you – math with order and purpose?  Who taught you and motivated you for history – so that the bad parts of history are hopefully not repeated?  Be thankful for those teachers who took the time to teach in the classroom and made the effort to mold and shape you in civic and Christian ways.

All teachers make a difference.  Some seem to make more an impact, and others less.  Some teachers make a difference in areas other than merely the subject they are teaching.  All teachers make some kind of a difference.

Every student knows the strong points and weak points of the teacher.  Each student takes away specific memories from the classroom.  Some memories are fond and are good.  Other memories are difficult, or sad.  Sometimes what is etched in the student the most are not the lessons, but the deportment, cheerfulness, or encouraging nature of the teacher.  Teachers can and should be terrific motivators.

One word spoken harshly could define the teacher in the mind of a student.  One off the cuff remark could ruin a reputation of the teacher in the mind of the student.  One kind word could make an eternal difference in the life of a student.  One expression of care or interest can make a big difference.  Christians, who are also teachers, can even make an eternal impact because of the Gospel of Christ!

  • Teachers reading this – thank you for doing what you do!  What kind of difference will you make?  Good or bad?  A positive and encouraging or a discouraging difference?
  • Students (and former students) will you look back and be thankful for the joyful moments and also be thankful for even the difficult lessons you learned in the classroom from a teacher?

Truly, teachers could be considered “servants of the Lord.”  Teaching is definitely a calling.  Thank you for being a difference maker in the lives of so many.

 

 

Finding Financial Freedom PART 5

Psalm 62:10 Trust not in oppression, and become not vain in robbery: if riches increase, set not your heart upon them.

In an effort to encourage and help you have more financial freedom, the following resources are recommend:

How to Manage Your Money, Larry Burkett
Giving & Tithing, Larry Burkett
Never Enough?, Blue & Guess
The Total Money Makeover Workbook, Ramsey
Complete Financial Guide for Young Couples, Burkett
Investing Through Your Building Years, Burkett
Investing for the Future, Burkett
Faith Based Finances, Focus on the Family
Living on God’s Economy, Chappell
Faith and Finances, Tim Rosen
Money Map, Crown Financial
Free and Clear, Howard Dayton
The S.A.L.T. Plan, Howard Bentley
Your Money Map (Audio CD), Howard Dayton
Money Matters Workbook for Teens, Larry Burkett
How to Manage Your Money, Larry Burkett
Using Your Money Wisely, Larry Burkett
Business by the Book, Larry Burkett
Money Before Marriage, Larry Burkett
Financial Peace Revisited, Dave Ramsey
Smart Money; Smart Kids, Dave Ramsey

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finding Financial Freedom PART 4

III. Consider Others.
“According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Hetty Green may have been the biggest miser who ever lived. Her father died when she was thirty leaving her an inheritance of more than $100 million in today’s money. Though it was unusual for a woman to be involved with banking and investments at the time, she concentrated all of her efforts and attention on growing the family fortune.
Her focus on money drove a wedge between her husband and their two children. And the family was scattered. Known for eating cold oatmeal to save money for heating and washing only the hem of her dress to save money on soap, she was sometimes called the “Witch of Wall Street.” When her son, Ned, broke his leg as a boy, she tried to have him treated in a free clinic for the poor, before treating him at home. His leg would later have to be amputated. When she died, Hetty Green was worth the equivalent of some 4 billion dollars today, but she was alone and miserable.” -Min127
1 Timothy 6:10 For the ___________ of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
IV. Consider Cash: Do Not Spend More Than You Have.

Remember when you could “lay an item away” at K-Mart? “Some people buy things on the “lay awake plan.” They lay awake each evening trying to figure out how they will pay for it!” -Min127
Luke 14:28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the ___________, whether he have sufficient to finish it?
Proverbs 22:7 The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is _________________ to the lender.

V. Consider Your “Wanter.”
“The story is told about a clever salesman who closed hundreds of sales with this line: “Let me show you something several of your neighbors said you couldn’t afford.”” -Min127

We all “Want” certain things in life.  If we are not careful – our wants will control our thoughts and decisions…  Consider the following Scriptures:

Exodus 20:17 Thou shalt ________ covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.
Psalm 119:36 Incline my _______________ unto thy testimonies, and not to covetousness.
Proverbs 21:26 He coveteth greedily all the day long: but the righteous _____________ and spareth not.
1 Corinthians 5:11 But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.
Guard your eyes and your thoughts. Avoid dwelling on “what you do not have” and be thankful for what God has already given you.
When I was a boy, my parents would teach me to tithe, give, save, and spend little. Only things I bought were some baseball cards and new shoes. The rest was either given away or saved. When after college Natalie and I were married, I had several thousand dollars that we lived on for a while.
Personal Financial Discipline Honors the Lord.
“$1.00 spent for lunch lasts five hours.
$1.00 spent for a neck-tie lasts five weeks.
$1.00 spent for a cap lasts five months.
$1.00 spent for an auto lasts five years.
$1.00 spent for a railroad lasts five decades.
$1.00 spent in God’s service lasts for eternity.”  -Roger W. Babson

Psalm 62:10 Trust not in oppression, and become not vain in robbery: if riches increase, set not your heart upon them.

Finding Financial Freedom PART 3

Finding Financial Freedom PART 3

How Can I Be Rich Towards God…
I. Consider God First.

I like this money story:  “A torn and ragged one-dollar bill discovered that it was about to be retired from circulation. As it slowly moved along the conveyor belt to the shredder, it became acquainted and struck up a conversation with a fifty-dollar bill that was meeting the same fate.

The fifty began reminiscing about its travels all over the country. Life has been good,” the fifty exclaimed. “Why, I’ve been to Las Vegas, the finest restaurants in New York, political fund raisers, and I just returned from a cruise on the Caribbean.”
The one-dollar bill said, “You’re fortunate to have been able to visit all those places.”
So where all have you been in your lifetime, my little friend,” said the fifty?” “Well, I’ve been to the Methodist church, the Baptist church, the Episcopal church, the Presbyterian church, the Lutheran church, the Catholic church, the Salvation Army church, the Orthodox church, the Assembly of God church, the Brethren church, the Quaker church, the Pentecostal church, the Charismatic church, and the Church of Christ.
“Excuse me,” said the fifty, “but what’s a Church?”” -Min127
• First Fruits. Proverbs 3:9 Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine _________________:
• First Withdrawal.  Have a thought-out plan.  Schedule Tithing, giving, saving, etc. These disciplines should be habit. They are not based on how I feel. You may not feel like brushing teeth or cleaning your clothes but you do it. 1 Timothy 6:7-8 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith ____________________.

II. Consider Savings Second
Have a Savings Strategy.  Have long term planning.  Save up a short term savings for emergencies. Start with $1000 in emergency cash.  Follow your budget. Have one.  Find Ways to Save Pennies. Delay purchases one more month. Wait. Don’t buy things you will seldom if ever use.

BTW: It does not matter if it is a good deal – if you do not need it – don’t buy it.  Avoid the sales pressures of “Buy In next 15 minutes or you will lose the sale.”  Walk away.  Avoid the Checkout Lane items.
BTW: Many people in perpetual poverty are the fastest to buy on impulse the items at the checkout lane. Higher priced stuff. You get more product for less at the back of the store.

Here are some ideas to stretch your dollar farther…
o Keep using appliances till they die.
o Buy cars slightly used. Saves thousands on depreciation.
o Pay off the credit card each month. If you struggle to be disciplined, cut the card up, pay the rest of the bill. Use cash or debit.
o Take less vacations until house is paid off.
o Visit family for vacation. Go camping.
o Use Coupons. Mom used to save $10,000 or more with them.
o Learn the “art” of cutting your kids hair.
o Lunch not dinner at restaurants.
o Limit gift costs. Have discipline.
o Smaller birthday parties. Events should not be hundreds of dollars.
o Pay extra on principal not interest

Hebrews 13:5 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be _____________________ with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

 

Finding Financial Freedom PART 2

Do you ever find that you have more month than money?
• Would you like to get out of debt?
• Would you like to not have credit card payments hanging over your head and dragging out for months or years?
• Would you like to be able to buy anything you need at any moment?
• Would you like to be able to help others in need ($1000) as soon as you see the need?
• Would you like to be able to retire from “income work” and have time to do “ministry work” in your retirement years?
What is your story concerning finances?
Personal Financial Discipline Honors the Lord.

We need Principles of Stewardship instilled in our financial and living choices.
Principle #1. “It all Belongs to God.”
• Exodus 19:5 Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for ________ the earth is mine:
• Psalm 50:10 For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills.
Principle #2. “I Am A Steward.” 1 Corinthians 4:2

  • Be Faithful.
    Luke 16:10 He that is ____________ in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.
    Steward = oikonomos, oy-kon-om’-os = a house-distributor (i.e. manager), or overseer, i.e. an employee in that capacity; by extension, a fiscal agent, treasurer.” -Strongs

God trusts us to some things in life. He adds more to those who are more trustworthy.

BTW: Not all blessings are measured in tangible physical things.

  • Be Fruitful. Tithe.
    Giving to God first is like planting finances to grow for the future.  This is an Old Testament concept that pre-dates the Law. Malachi 3:10 _____________ ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a _____________________, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.

When we believe principle #1 – “it all belongs to God” it is easier to practice.
Malachi 3:8 Will a man ________ God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In _______________ and offerings.

BTW: We still follow the civil law of the OT. The ceremonial law, and the laws indicating salvation, we do not follow. The practical law still works.

  • Tithes are Expanded on in New Testament
    Matthew 5:21. Hate is like murder.
    Matthew 5:28. Lusting is same as adultery.
    The idea is that the “Spirit of the Law” and the attitude with which one follows the Bible teaching is more important than the “letter of the Law.”  That would indicate that 10% is a great place to start with the “spirit of tithing and giving.”

That is why 2 Corinthians 9:7 says, “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a __________________ giver.”

Principle #3. Money is Temporary.
Take a moment to read Matthew 6:19-20.  1 Timothy 6:17 says, Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in __________________ riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;

Principle #4. Eternal Investments Can be Made.

God Does Not Need Your Money.  Please read Psalm 50:7-13

You Need the Financial Discipline that Tithes and Offerings Provide. Psalm 50:14-15.

There is a difference between controlling your money or allowing money to control you! God does not reprove His people for bringing the offering, but for thinking that they were doing God a favor, or helping Him out with the offering. God does not want your money – He wants your heart! Love Him more than money!  We bring tithes and give offerings, not because God depends on us – but because we depend on God!

“The story is told of a man who was asked, “Are you a believer in the Christian religion?”
“Oh, certainly!” “You are a member of some church, then, I suppose?”
“Member of a church? No, indeed. Why should I be a member of a church? It is quite unnecessary; the dying thief wasn’t a member of a church, and he went to Heaven.”
“But of course you have been baptized; you know the command—”
“Been baptized? Oh, no; that is another needless ceremony! I am as safe as the dying thief was, and he never was baptized.”
“But surely, since you will not join a church or be baptized, you will do something in acknowledgment of your faith. You will give of your means—you will help the cause in some way?”
“No, sir; I do nothing of the kind. The dying thief—”
“Let me remark, my friend, before you go any further, that you seem to be on pretty intimate terms with the dying thief. You seem to derive a great deal of consolation from his career. But, mind you, there is one important difference between you and him. He was a dying thief—and you are a living thief.”” -Min127

Luke 12:31 But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you.

Check out Luke 12:13-21.