Wednesday, July 25, 2007

New Sermon Series

For the last seven weeks, our congregation has been focusing on some of the tough questions about our life and faith during the sermon time. Below is an outline of this coming Sunday's message (July 29) on Cremation Vs. Burial.

Next week, we will be starting a new sermon series on the Letter of James entitled "Faith As It Intersects Life." Another good title for this series would be "Where the Rubber Meets the Road." You can look here to find my outlines for this series each week. Enjoy!

The Tough Questions: Part VII: Cremation Vs. Burial: Is Cremation Wrong?

1 Corinthians 15:42-58 (pg. 166)

I. A story of life, death, fear, and relief.

A. Death is a sobering subject.

B. What we do with the dead is of utmost importance.

1. It reflects upon God.

2. It reflects upon the deceased.

3. It reflects upon ourselves/the community.

C. Thus, today’s question is vital in our present time.

II. A bit of history.

A. Cremation was common in Greece and in Rome in the

final eight centuries before the birth of Christ.

B. The Jews and Egyptians preferred burial.

1. The mummies of Egypt – preparing for the afterlife.

2. The burial of Jews – the body as sacred.

a. Genesis 50:24-26 (pg. 46 in O.T.)

b. Burial in tombs – 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 (Pg. 165)

c. Ossuaries, “bone boxes,” from early Christianity.

d. Orthodox Jews do not cremate to this day.

C. After Christianity became the religion of Rome, cremation

ceased as a common practice.

D. The majority of Christian denominations including the

Catholic Church allow for cremation today.

III. What is at stake in this question? The Resurrection.

A. The human body does not have to be in a certain condition to be resurrected. (1 Corinthians 15:50 – pg. 166).

B. The human body in whatever form of death will be changed

(1 Corinthians 15:51).

C. God will make the resurrected body as God desires despite

its form in death.

Responding to God’s Word: Prepare for death as a new beginning and take peace in the love, grace, and power of Almighty God.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Divine Mistakes

Last week, I led a group of 15 missionaries from our district to repair homes in the Biloxi, Mississippi area. We began our week with a devotion from Psalm 4:6 which says, “Many are asking, ‘Who can show us any good?’ Let the light of your face shine upon us, O Lord. Our prayer was that the light of God’s face would shine upon us as we worked and ministered.

On Wednesday of last week, I was feeling pretty good about being an ambassador for Christ. Then it happened. While placing insulation in the attic of a house with our District Superintendent, I misplaced my foot and stepped through the sheetrock in the ceiling. I was immediately sick with disgust. I thought to myself, “here I am trying to help a lady repair her home so that she can move-in by the end of the week and instead of helping, I’ve just caused another problem.”

On Thursday morning, a couple of expert handymen and I went back to the house to repair the hole in the ceiling. While they worked on cutting out a perfect piece of sheetrock to fit into the hole, I talked with the lady who owned the house. She explained that her husband had died shortly before Hurricane Katrina. When Katrina hit, her beautiful home on the coast of Pass Christian was completely demolished. She then showed me a picture of the bulldozers and cranes removing the last remaining pieces of her home. With great sadness, she explained that she had been living in an apartment in Biloxi by herself for the last two years and that she had bought the home we were now working on as an improvement to her living situation.

For the rest of the day, while we waited on sheetrock mud to dry, we did odd jobs around her home. We fixed little things that needed repairing and tried to determine the cause of some electrical problems she had been having. All the while, she talked to us about her life, her family, and her trials over the last two years.

When our work at her home was done and we reflected on the day, a team member stated something I hadn’t yet realized. She said, “Brian, I think God wanted you to step through that ceiling.” You see, without my “mistake,” we would have insulated her house on Wednesday and been on our way to another project. However, my “mistake” had afforded us the opportunity to slow down and listen to the concerns of this dear lady who not only needed a helping hand but a listening ear as well.

Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still and know that I am God. I believe that some mistakes are divine in that they enable us to be still long enough to listen to what God is saying and to see what God is doing. The next time you step through a ceiling you didn’t intend to damage or find yourself off the path you were traveling, take the time to listen and hear the voice of God.