I never dreamed that I would find myself so familiar with death as a pastor. I studied theology in seminary, and learned about expositing a text and church leadership. However, I don’t remember reading a book about what to do when visiting someone on their deathbed. Looking back over the past seven years as a pastor, I’m astonished at how many times I’ve found myself in that exact position. Along the way, I’ve seen firsthand how uncomfortable with death we are as a society. Most people don’t know what to do or say in those moments, and so they call for a pastor.
We did it again. We elected a sinner. When are we going to learn? In fact we elected 435 sinners out of 435 seats in the House of Representatives. And a bunch of Sin-ators. You get the point?
According to Daniel 4:25, “the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone He wishes.” God raises up earth’s leaders, including those in the USA, which means He puts sinners in places of leadership. Some are aggressively hostile against Him and goodness, some are humble, faithful. Most (?) are somewhere in between.
There is a direct correlation between this small story from Ricky’s life and your life as a Christian: You need a purpose for living. This need is not limited to you as an individual, but extends corporately to the church as a whole, including your local body. The good news is that you have been given this purpose by God himself.
Yesterday morning I heard the news that John Sailhamer has passed away. Dr. Sailhamer taught Old Testament at Western for several years, and many in the Western community have been impacted significantly by his friendship and teaching. He had been battling Parkinson’s disease and was cared for faithfully by his sweet wife, Patty. Though we rejoice that his suffering is over, we are also deeply saddened by his death.
I enjoy making New Year’s resolutions. It’s an opportunity to put aside past mistakes and failures and start over in the coming year. I can start anew with my devotional or exercise program that I abandoned last year. My gym sent me an e-mail which declared this to be the “year of . . . you”. The e-mail went on to say, “It’s 100% your choice. It’s your decision. It’s in your hands. YOU are in control. YOU.” That’s the kind of talk I like – talk that centers around me. Of course, as a Christian I immediately recognize this to be worldly thinking, but I need to be careful. My thinking about resolutions can easily end up as worldly thinking masked by a thin veneer of Christian language.