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You Just Got Asked to Do a Funeral…Now What?

Your heart sinks to your stomach, you feel a little light-headed, sweaty, clammy…nope, it’s not the flu.  You have just been asked to officiate your very first funeral.  Are there some guidelines to work from?  What are some do’s & don’ts so you don’t embarrass yourself?  Don’t worry, I got you covered.  With the help and guidance of my senior pastor, here are some protocols that will help ease your mind.

 

  • Prior to Funeral
    • Attend calling hours – be kind, ask how to help/service requests (leave after short visit)
    • Print off Obituary online
    • Review with family what needs to be included in service
    • Order of Service – give to Fun. Dir., Musicians/Participants & Head of Family Prep.
      • Leave preacher’s thoughts LAST; all other parts of ceremony early (allow appropriate special music at end if needed)
    • Arrive 30 minutes prior to funeral
    • Speak with Funeral Director prior to service
      • Ask if anything different in service (poem, music, military, etc) needs added to schedule
      • (If Out of Area) – Ask for any special/local customs
    • Service
      • 15 minute message
      • Finish with prayer and pay respects & stand by coffin
      • Start compiling list of funeral passages and remarks now, so you have a resource for when unexpected happens
    • Gravesite
      • Follow the lead car, do not agree to leading the group
      • Order: Preface Scripture, Read Scripture, Short Recap, Close in Prayer (5 minutes or so
        • Shortened service– depends on weather, quick reading of Scripture only & prayer
      • After prayer, pause for Funeral Director, go and greet family & stand to side
      • As family begins to leaves, depart
    • After Service Meal
      • Call church on way back from Gravesite – ladies with food set-up/prep.
      • If invited & schedule is clear – stay with family & eat; dismiss yourself when appropriate

Hope this helps.  What are some tips that you might have for the novice funeral officiant?  Bottom line, make sure those who hear your message know how their story will end.  Give a clear Gospel and invite the audience to make a choice in their lives before it is too late.  All while giving a personal tribute to the deceased.  You got this.  Depend on the Lord and prayer, and to God be the glory.

 

 

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Book Review: Gaining by Losing

Book Review:  Gaining by Losing by J.D. Greear

The Good:

I’ve Got a Story for You.  Where does he find these illustrations?  These are stories that seem to come from the deep annals of history, but are so very effective.  Remarkable stories that I should have heard before, but are extraordinary and unique to the reader that introduces chapters masterfully.

Fresh & Biblical.  Possibly what stands out the most in terms of his writing style is Greear’s ability to take a familiar text and draw out fresh, practical ideas.  In so doing, he is able to stay true and Biblical, but still drive the point in fresh, powerful ways.

Fearless.  This man is fearless.  Sure, he admits times in the book where his faith was weak.  But his faith stood the test and was fearless in his pursuit to plant churches and spread the Gospel.  Honestly, it is as much inspirational as it is practical.

Gospel Living.  This man believes in the power of the Gospel.  It is a lifestyle, not a belief you put on your shelf and pull it out when you feel like perusing it’s pages.  Gospel is central, and may be the best articulation of the practical aspects of living out the Gospel.

The Bad:

Buckle Up.  More a warning than a “bad” review.  Get ready to move in a direction that you ordinarily would fear.  Don’t be surprised if you are inspired to do something great for God as a result of this book’s encouragement.

The Grade:  A+.  EVERY church leader should read this book.  It takes you to a new level of faith leadership.  What I mean by that is, it forces you to face your fears in ministry and pushes you to make that step of faith in your ministry.  The pages are full of inspiration, practical methods, and challenges to make each page turn an exciting adventure.  As William Carey said, “Expect great things of God, and then attempt great things for God!”  This book will help you get there.

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Can I Really Be Used by God? Me?

Read Mark 5:1-20 – This is becoming one of my all-time favorites in the Gospel, love this story`

Background

In the timeline of Mark, Jesus had just got done sleeping on the very first water bed in the bottom of the boat…before calming the storm.  (Get it, because there was water in the bottom of the boat, and Jesus was sleeping, oh forget it.)  He then steps off the boat and is immediately greeted by a demon possessed man.

Demon-Possessed Man

This man had incredible strength – no chains or shackled could hold them down.  It says these metal restrains were broken into pieces.  Dude was strong.  This poor man suffered day & night – crying out and cutting himself with stones

The Demons

Just like earlier in Mark (1:24), we see the order of power.  These demons knew right away who Jesus was, and declared His deity.  The demons, who Jesus was calling out, asked Jesus’ permission to enter the pigs.

The Change

Verses 15, 18 – Look at the contrast here.  This man goes from screaming & cutting himself to asking to follow Jesus.  I love it.  He was so excited to be free, he wanted to follow Jesus wherever he went. He was like, “Where can I get an application to be a disciple?”  “Hey Peter, scoot over…John you mind if I sit there?”  Then Jesus said, “Whoa, whoa…now hold on a minute”…obviously appreciating his new enthusiasm.  And then gives the demon possessed-man some basic instructions.

Jesus’ Basic Instructions

Here’s what I want you to see…Look who Jesus sends out with the Good News:

  • A man who was possessed by thousands of demons.
  • A man who was out of his mind
  • A man who would scream day and night, cutting himself with stones in a graveyard
  • He was an outcast to society

And what does Jesus tell him to do?  Go tell the people of this city how the Lord has changed you from the inside-out.  Tell others about God’s mercy.  And when this man told others about these things…what happened?  At the end of our passage – it says people “marveled”.

3 things to remember from this passage:

  1. Never underestimate a life changed by Jesus. No matter who you are, what you have done…God can use you to do MARVELOUS things.
  2. Never doubt a life can’t be changed by the “Son of Most High”. The change is remarkable, people will notice, and God can change anyone He wants to.
  3. If Jesus told a demon-possessed man to be the carrier of Good News…what does that mean for us. These basic instructions of “Tell others about how your life has changed and share about His mercy”.  These are instructions for us too, and we need to be sharing, and watch other marvel at the Good News.
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Do You Need the Gospel Everyday?

Book Review:  New Morning Mercies by Paul David Tripp51yvuw5hol-_sx331_bo1204203200_

The Good:

Biblical.  Imagine that!  A devotional that is actually devoted to God’s Word.  Not only does it provide additional Bible reading for each devotion, there was often passages of Scripture weaved in and out of each page.  The Bible was the foundation for the writing.  This was not simply thoughts of a writer for a daily pick-me-up.  This was a devotional written how it should be.

Honest.  Love the honesty of the writer throughout.  Often, he would reveal how he fell short of the exact content of the devotional.  The raw, honest struggles that were revealed allows the reader to connect with the author in a more personal way.

Deep.  You won’t need a shovel to get depth on this one, but you may need to take a break before you climb out of the deep well of thinking.  Man, this dude brings it in theological constructs, Biblical insight, and Christian life application.  Good thing this is a daily devotion and can be taken one day at a time.

The Bad:

Lists.  There is a pattern, outline, array, summary, framework…I think you get the point.  The author enjoyed lists.  He would often list out a description of something in multiple ways, and the reader had to wade through the list to get to the point.  The good part of this is many times those lists contained some real gems that needed underlined and examined.

The Grade:  A.  One of my all-time favorite devotionals.  Seriously, with the depth, insight, and challenge…Paul Tripp brings the thunder to help produce real growth and knowledge of your spiritual condition.  It is worth your time and is valuable to your quiet time with the Lord.

 

2017 Youth Ministry Goals

Another year and more goals for the Lord to accomplish!  It’s great to look forward to another year of serving in youth ministry and another year of God doing amazing things.  This is just the tip of the iceberg…because I know God will do so much more.  But still, it’s always good to put goals out there to aim at as the Lord directs our shots.

Goals for 2017

  • New Book! –  Blessing to announce my 1st book has been published and my goal is for 1,000 copies to be sold to help people fall in love with God’s Word.
  • New Curriculum Plan! – Hard to believe this is my 6th year ministering at MBC, which mean a new 6 year plan will be put in place—with the input of parents, students, and research this plan will be implemented in the fall of 2017.
  • Mentoring – Teach a 2 week Mentoring series to encourage mentoring of generations within the church.
  • Short Term Mission Trip – Due to monthly local mission project, the 3 year cycle is now work trip, out-of-state, international trip. This year we will be traveling for our work trip.
  • Life After High School Series—Special speakers to speak on after high school temptations like drugs, how to witness after high school, and leader advice for the young adult years.
  • Public School Partnership – Continue to find ways to partner with local schools to serve them and bring the hope of Jesus Christ to students.
  • Social Media Interaction – Bolster ministry social media footprint with student leadership help and more interaction on Facebook.
  • Implement G.R.O.W.T.H Chart– Encourage parents to follow chart of spiritual growth for their students and provide training and help for students to reach these spiritual goals.

 

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How Christian Music is Made

Hilarious parody of the “behind the scenes” of Christian music.

The Promise of God in Threatening Pain

Athletics can be difficult.  Recovering from a defeat, when you gave up the winning score.  Trying to move on after being cut from the team, when all your hard work seemingly has gone down the drain.  Or to see your season go up in smoke, just because of a simple twist or turn the wrong way, and your injury takes you out for the year.  But what does God promise during these times?  Let’s turn to a National Football Player who suffered one of these fates, and allow him to teach you through God’s Word and promises.

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http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/the-promise-of-god-in-threatening-pain

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Book Review: Dangerous Calling

Book Review:  Dangerous Calling by Paul David Trippdangerous_calling_banner

The Good:  Maybe I should have labeled this section of the review “The Great”, because there is some great stuff in here.  The author begins the book with an honest and humble look at his own personal sin struggle with anger and pride.  You can’t help but examine your own life through the author’s guts and transparency.  Throughout the book, you can tell it is written through blood, sweat, & tears of ministry.  Each chapter screams ministry experience and is written out of love for other pastors.  There are must read chapters all over the place.  For example, chapter 3 is a must read for all professors and teachers, from kindergarten to grad level (I actually sent the book and chapter number to my alma mater for their refreshment).  Chapter 4 is a must read for all pastoral search committees, and I mean A MUST!  I can’t remember the last time I was sending a book’s title to specific people to tell them you have to read this chapter.  Incredible ministry insight throughout that provides priceless ministry training to both young and veterans in ministry pure gold.

The Bad:  The only bad would be there is slight repetitiveness towards the end of the book, taking away from the incredible content of the majority of the book.

The Grade:  A.  Given to me at a leadership conference at a ministry balance seminary.  Boy, am I thankful I read it.  This book very well may be the best, and is definitely the most honest, ministry book out there.  In terms of providing valuable insight into longevity in ministry, ministry balance, and burnout prevention…this book was a home run.  Each person in ministry should grab this book.  Notice I didn’t say just pastors, I’m talking anyone in leadership ministry positions, they need to read this.  You hear me, although this is written to pastors primarily (especially in the latter chapters), there are ministry principles in this book that ministry leaders need for their spiritual health.

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Why Thanksgiving?

What’s your answer to the question, “Why Thanksgiving?”  Here are some possible responses:

  • ThanksgivingBecause I love me some turkey & stuffing
  • It’s a great excuse to get together family
  • It marks the day before the biggest shopping day of the year (some people live for Black Friday sales…I get nervous sweats just thinking about it)

But what about being thankful?  Why should we be thankful for more than just the fourth Thursday of every November?

Turn in your Bibles to Psalm 100:5.

Here we find our answer.  “Why Thanksgiving?”…well, because God is Good, The Lord has Limitless Love, and The Father is Faithful.  Are these reasons enough for you to be thankful?  I sure hope so.

As you think back on how good God has been to you over the years…As you ponder the limitless love of the Lord that finds its peak in the sacrifice of His Son on the cross…As you review the ways the Heavenly Father continues to be faithful…how could you not be thankful?

Well, if you can’t be thankful after reviewing these wonderful aspects of the Creator God, maybe you need to take the opportunity to get to know Him, and give your life to Him.  Allow Him to forgive your sins, and trust Him with your eternity.  You do this, and trust me, you will never be more thankful around the table, and you will always have something to be thankful for!

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