What Will They Say About You When You Are Gone?

Former presidents, current leaders and lawmakers and former political adversaries remembered George H.W. Bush as the president who guided America through the end of the Cold War, while dedicating his life to serving his country and doing so with remarkable kindness and class.

So read an article with the headline, Bush remembered by presidential peers, family. You can read the entire article here.

By all accounts, former president George H. W. Bush, the 41st president of the United States, was a good and decent man. He is remembered that way by both his friends and political foes.

It’s a nice way to be remembered – as a man with remarkable kindness and class.

Far too few people in today’s world, especially in the line of work that he was in, will be remembered that way. Or even close to that.

So, how will you be remembered? What will they say about you when you are gone?

I can already hear some of you saying, I don’t care, I won’t be around to hear what they say.

That’s true enough. But your spouse will be; and your children will be; and your grandchildren will be; and people who love you will be. And they would like to hear good things about you.

If you can’t be a man or woman of remarkable kindness and class for yourself – do it for them.

And for Christians the reputation you leave behind is even more important. It will not only reflect on your family and friends, it will reflect on your church and more importantly on your Savior.

If you can’t be a man or woman of remarkable kindness and class for yourself – do it for Him.

The Apostle Peter put it this way: Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation (1 Peter 2:11-12).

Have your conduct honorable. Other translations put it like this:

  • Always let others see you behaving properly (CEV)
  • Keep your behavior excellent (AMP)
  • Live such good lives (NIV)

The point is that of all people, Christians, when they die (and we all will), should be remembered as good, decent, kind people.

So, What Will They Say About You When You Are Gone?

It’s not too late to change the perception.

Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh (Galatians 6:15).

Stay in the Word

Pastor Steve

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The Power of a Life

People die every day. The famous ones have their pictures plastered on magazine covers and on social media.

The ordinary people might get a mention in the local newspaper.

Over the last few months our church has said goodbye to two very ordinary people. Two of our most senior saints have gone on to their reward. They weren’t famous but they were lives well lived. They were the kind of people of whom the world is not worthy (Hebrews 11:38).

They will be missed by those who knew them.

Norman Zimmerman and Anna Mary Byler were both Pennsylvania Dutch. Such good people.

For those of you who are not familiar with south central PA – You might be Pennsylvania Dutch if you . . .

-You know how to cook, but not without butter.
-Your iced tea is sweeter than Pepsi.
-Your idea of Chicken Pot Pie has nothing to do with a pie and you can’t
figure out why people might think it would.
-You order “dippy eggs” for breakfast.
-The Green Dragon isn’t a Chinese restaurant.
-Three words: Red Beet Eggs.
-You know what a Whoopie Pie, a Shoo Fly Pie and Fasnachts are.
-You out the light.
-You go to the store when the milk is all.
-A “Bud” is not a beer and it’s much better than those cheap knockoffs like
Hershey’s kisses.
-English might not be your first language – ever hear Pennsylvania Dutch?

Back to the main point.

Norman didn’t speak English until he went to grammar school. And even then it was difficult for him. Because of a speech problem he was sometimes hard to understand. But he was a master craftsman, a faithful husband to his dear wife, Ruth, and a man whose word could be trusted.

Anna Mary was, among other things, a self-taught Bible scholar. She may have known more about the Bible than her pastor. She was a woman of grace, of hospitality, of honor and a faithful wife to her husband Marvin.

As I reflected on the lives of these dear saints three things stood out to me.

The first is that neither of them were people who lived in the limelight. They didn’t demand or even longed for the spotlight. It just wasn’t in their nature. Yet both of them accomplished more for the Lord than many who stand in the front of the church.

The second thing that stood out about them is that they were faithful. Faithful to their God, their families, their churches, their jobs, their friends. Unbelievably faithful. It’s a quickly vanishing trait.

The third thing that characterized both Norman and Anna Mary was the power of their influence. They both had great influence on other people. They might not have known it but others did. Their influence was shown in different ways to be sure, but it was – and still is – there. They both had an influence on my life.

That’s the Power of a Life. People left behind whose lives have been marked by your life. We should all aspire to such a legacy.

It was a privilege for me to have been the pastor for both Norman and Anna Mary for the last decade of their lives. They have inspired me to keep on; never quit; don’t give up; be faithful; don’t worry about who gets the credit; love Jesus, my wife, and others; speak the truth – in love and with grace; make my life count.

To both Norman and Anna Mary I would borrow from the gospels and say, well done, good and faithful servant (Matthew 25:21).

Stay in the Word
Pastor Steve

What Will People Say at Your Wake?

Have you ever wondered what people will say about you when you’re gone? It would be interesting to be able to listen to the conversations taking place around the room at your wake. What will people say?

I don’t think that they will talk about how much money you made, or how many hours you spent working, or the house you lived in, or the car you drove. But people will remember you for how honest you were, how caring you were, how faithful you were, how godly you were. They will remember you for your generosity, your compassion, and your faithfulness to God. They will remember you for the important things.

That leads to the question: What’s really important? What are the really important things in life? It’s a good question to ponder. After all, life is too short to spend it doing unimportant things. If we want our lives to really amount to anything we had better spend it doing things that matter – things that are important.

So what are the important things in your life? What are the things that you’ll look back on with pride and satisfaction when you’re in the winter of life? What are the things that you’ll be glad you accomplished?

If I was going to make a list of the important things for my life, a sort of spiritual bucket list, it would look something like this:

• being a faithful husband
• being a Godly influence on my children and grandchildren
• spending more time serving God
• becoming a better teacher of the Word
• doing more to help and encourage the Believers in Haiti

What’s even more critical than what people will say about you is what God thinks about you. In reality it doesn’t matter what people think or remember. What God thinks, however, IS important. So what does God think about what you think is important in life? Does He agree with your list or is He wondering why you have so many unimportant things on your list?

My prayer for all of us today is that we will spend today – and everyday, doing what is really important in life. In Philippians 4:8 the Apostle Paul wrote, Finally, my friends, keep your minds on whatever is true, pure, right, holy, friendly, and proper. Don’t ever stop thinking about what is truly worthwhile and worthy of praise.

Stay in the Word
Pastor Steve

Some Thoughts on Death

Please forgive my silence during the past few weeks. I was in Haiti from March 1 – 18 teaching at Institut Biblique Lumiere and conducting evangelistic meetings with Pastor Jean Admettre and the good people of Third Baptist Church in Les Cayes.
The subject of death has been on my mind recently. It’s probably due to two recent events which occurred on consecutive Sundays. On March 10th while I was in Haiti one of the young Deacons at Third Baptist Church died unexpectedly, leaving behind a wife and two young children. I had the privilege of visiting the widow in her home with Pastor Jean Admettre and attending the memorial service. The following Sunday, March 17th an elderly man in our congregation went home to be with the Lord. We had his funeral this past Friday.

For the Christian death is an interesting thought. We often turn to the Apostle Paul’s statement knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. . . we are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:6 & 8). There is that aspect of looking forward with anticipation, not to the journey of death, but to the reality that death in this life ushers us into something better, something eternal. Death doesn’t simply add to life – it begins real life!

But there is another aspect of death that we often overlook. And that is that death takes something away. What death removes is our opportunity to bring praise and honor to the Lord. The Psalmist reminds us of this when he says, in death there is no remembrance of You; in the grave who will give You thanks? (Psalm 6:5). And again, the dead do not praise the Lord, nor any who go down into silence. (Psalm 115:17).

In Psalm 88 we are given an extended section that talks about what we cannot do in death.

Shall the dead arise and praise You? Shall Your lovingkindness be declared in the
grave? Or Your faithfulness in the place of destruction? Shall Your wonders be
known in the dark (place)? And Your righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?
(Verses 10-12).

Death removes our ability and our opportunity to praise and thank God, to declare His goodness, to experience His faithfulness, to share His wonders and to tell people about His righteousness. It takes away the very reason that we are here. It is only in life that we can accomplish anything for God. Once we are dead we can no longer bring glory to Him with our lives.

Which leads me to two thoughts. First, we need to be busy doing what we were designed to do. Life for the Christian isn’t about us – it’s about God and what we can do for Him with our lives. And second, while death will lead us to something more glorious and better, let’s not be so anxious to go there, knowing that it is only in life that we serve.

Stay in the Word
Pastor Steve

A Life Cut Short

A death is always a tragedy. According to many sources approximately 150,000 people die every day, most of them unknown outside of a small circle of family and friends. Whether it’s a well-known person or an unknown person, their death is always to be lamented. God created us to live, not to die. Death is the most unnatural event in life.

The death this week of Whitney Houston is tragic on so many levels – she was still young; a beautiful voice was silenced; she left a family behind; according to some reports she died of a mixture of drugs and alcohol. But the tragedy that was Whitney Houston goes far beyond a life cut short. The greater tragedy was the influence that she had on the lives of so many people, especially young people. What does her death say to them? What does it teach them about how to deal with life?

To many people Whitney Houston was an icon, a star, someone to be emulated. There are young girls out there who are hoping to be the next Whitney Houston, to have all that she had; the money, the fame, the roar of the crowds. They live to have her life. But they never see the downside – the loneliness, the insecurity, the fears, the demons that could only be placated by drugs and alcohol. It was a life of glamour but at the core of the glamour there was darkness.

We may never know everything that led a young star on the path of self-destruction, but we can sound a warning. The warning is that life does not consist in the abundance of the things we possess (Luke 12:15). Life is about more than fame and fortune. In the final analysis everything Whitney Houston spent her life trying to accomplish will amount to nothing. Spending your life for what this life can give you is a futile and ultimately pointless exercise (Luke 12:20). How much better to spend your life for something that is worthwhile (Luke 12:21).

It’s appropriate and instructive to read what Christ had to say about the priorities of life.

Then He spoke a parable to them, saying: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. And he thought within himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?’ So he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’ “So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:16-21).

Stay in the Word

Pastor Steve

Lessons I Learned from Jo

To anyone who knew her there was nothing unusual about Jo. I don’t say that to demean her, simply to point out that she was just like most of us. To the people in our church she was the little lady who sat on the back pew, coming and going quietly – to some almost invisible. Even some of our people don’t know why Jo sat in the back. Her husband had suffered a stroke several years ago and he found it hard to maneuver in crowds of people, so sitting in the back each Sunday was easier and safer for him. When he passed away in September of last year Jo continued to sit in that familiar place. I think she found comfort there.

Jo was not an up-front person. In the time that I knew her she never sang a solo, taught a ladies bible class or spoke in public. But neither did she complain about her life, criticize other people or cause trouble. She always had a smile on her face no matter how she felt and she was always in church as long as her health allowed her to be there.

People often talk about lessons that they have learned from the lives of great people. I want to share with you some lessons that I learned from Jo.

1. Quiet faithfulness is better than occasional flamboyance.

The people in our churches who garner most of the attention are the ones who can give a powerful testimony or those with beautiful voices or those who have the gift of teaching. Unfortunately those same people sometimes lack faithfulness. You can count on them when they are up front but not at other times. There is something to be said for simple faithfulness to God.  When God wanted to commend Moses it was his faithfulness above everything else that He pointed out: He is faithful in all my house (Numbers 12:7). Give me quiet faithfulness over occasional flamboyance any day.

2. There is more in (the Christian) life to smile about than to complain about.

It seems like the complainers in life (and the church) get all of the attention. No one pays attention to the little lady on the back pew who never gripes about the sermon or complains that the service was too long or the a/c was too cold. In comparison to our sins forgiven, a God who cares for us and a church family who loves us, the things we normally complain about are trivial in nature. The Apostle Paul, who knew a little bit about suffering referred to the sufferings of his life as our light affliction (2 Corinthians 4:17).  Most of us really don’t have much to complain about.

3. We all need to learn to love our church.

On Sunday as people reminisced about Jo, one of the memories they had was how much she loved our church. When people tried to talk her into going to another church, she refused. When she did sewing for people she would often tell them to put the money in the offering instead of taking payment for her work. As much as her health would allow she attended every service and every activity, even if it was just to sit and watch other people enjoying themselves. In Ephesians 5:25 we’re told that Christ . . . loved the church [so much that he] gave Himself for her. As Christ-followers we are to love what Christ loves and He loved nothing on earth more than the church.

Jo passed away on Friday, the same way that she lived – quietly. She will be missed by the people of our church.

For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18).

Stay in the Word

Pastor Steve