Tuesday, May 17, 2011

It Never Ends

Death is one of those things that just slaps you in the face. Three times this weekend my life has been impacted by death. I preached the funeral of a 91 year old lady who was a member here at our church. Sunday, I did the memorial service for the mother of one of our members here. And over the weekened, I had a 90 year old aunt die.
Each of these impacted me in different ways. Jessie was a lady with whom I loved to spar. I would give her a hard time and she would dish it right back. But we talked of her life several times as she got closer to her death. I was looking at her in the casket and she was wearing her watch...which was still working. I wondered what she needed it for anymore.
The second lady, as previously mentioned, was the mother of one of our members. I never met the woman that I know of. But I know her son. He is a man of character, one who works in the corporate world, yet knows what it means to give of his life. He helps to establish children's homes in Africa. He didn't just decide to be that way. He learned that from his mother.
The third is a lady I've known all my life. When I was in junior high, her husband, my uncle, died of a brain tumor. She lived all these years faithful to God never losing her faith although she had to raise two children as a single mother. And she did a wonderful job. All three of these ladies had eternal influence.
Last Friday, as I sat in the hearse with the funeral home director waiting for the family to show up at the cemetery, the grave digger came up to the director and spoke a few words. I wasn't really paying much attention to what they were talking about. As the conversation came to an end, I heard the man say, "In this business, it never ends." I just had to write that down. Truer words were never spoken. Truly in kingdom business, it never ends. Have a great day. JW

Monday, May 09, 2011

Old Acquaintances: The Stepperdine Experience

I tried to blog recently but lost the whole thing. I take that as a sign from God and realize that maybe what I said didn't need to be said. :). Anyway, last week my wife and I spent the week in Malibu, California at the Pepperdine lectures. What a tremendous experience to be able to listen to the caliber of speakers, one after another. I texted our youth minister one day with this: Rick Atchley, Rubel Shelly, Mike Cope, Randy Harris, Chris Seidman. That is my schedule for the day. If you are a member of the Church of Christ, you know that those are five heavy hitters in the church. What an enjoyable, tiring, emotional, physical, spiritual, experience it was.
But what meant the most to me was seeing people I haven't seen in a while. It helped me to understand and truly appreciate God's kingdom. I saw a man who I had in a Bible class I taught in 1975-76 at West Birmingham Christian School. He is now a preacher in Mississippi. I saw a friend of mine, a preacher, who lives just 40 miles away in Lincoln, NE. Two of my former ministers were there--Mike Cope and Rubel Shelly. I saw a man and a woman with whom I'd gone to school with (the wife in high school, the husband in college). He is a successful businessman, but takes time every year to attend these lectures to fill his spiritual bucket. Another man I saw there was a man I see maybe once a year. A preacher in the Kingdom who is always positive, encouraging, and funny. I saw a former colleague of mine from when I worked at one of our Christian schools. I hired him over 20 years ago. (In fact, I saw several former colleagues). I saw a man who preaches in the Kansas City area whose Dad was the education minister when I preached in Northwest Arkansas. What an encoouragement it was to be in their midst. To hear their stories, to hear their accomplishments, to hear their commitment to Jesus.
It helped me once again to realize the greatness of God's Kingdom. And what a joy it will be to enter heaven and spend eternity with these and many other people just like them. Have a great day. JW