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For What is Your Life?

22 July 2016

It has been somewhat depressing. 

In the past two years, there seems to be a spike in the number of brethren who have been diagnosed with serious illnesses.  It might have something to do with the profile of our congregation.  It is greying rapidly. Even the number of my grey hairs have increased exponentially in the past two years. The pastoral team has been inundated with ministering to our members and comforting bereaved families.

To me, this is one of the most draining part of pastoral ministry.

How do you say “goodbye” to someone whom you have developed a friendship for a number of decades, and put on a brave front and say, “See you again in a better land“?  When I am still trying to get a handle on my own emotions, I need help from God to enable me to comfort the bereaved family & church members.  I go through a mixed bag of emotions.  Yet I have to put my feelings aside to focus on the preparation of the vigil or funeral services.  How do you juggle the human, emotional, and the professional part of ministry?  This is not something that the Bible courses teach you.  Perhaps, time will dull my emotional attachments, and fade out my memories, but in the meantime I have to prepare a devotion for the service.  And in stifling my emotions, does it make me less of a feeling human?  Or will the grief return to hit me on a melancholic day?

In the process, I’ve learnt a few things:

  1. Life is uncertain, my time here is short. James 4:14 reminds me – For what is your life? it is like water vapour that evaporates from a pot of boiling water – it floats in the air for a millisecond, and then flies away, vanishing into the air [- my paraphrase].
  2. God’s timing is perfect. “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven. A time to be born, and a time to die.” Ecclesiastes 3:1-2.
  3. Therefore I must cherish my time. Make each day count. Do something good for Jesus every day, and out-of-the-way. For tomorrow may never come, and you would have missed an opportunity to touch someone’s life.
  4. Cherish my loved ones – my beloved wife and sons, my immediate family – mother-in-law, siblings, nieces and nephews, brothers & sisters in law, aunts, uncles, etc.
  5. Cherish my friends, my church members, who are my spiritual support, and whom I am privileged to minister to with God’s word.
  6. Don’t be too hard on myself or others.  Don’t be too self-critical, or perfectionist. If I receive constructive feedback, listen and reflect on whether the criticism is justified. Is there a sin I must repent of, a weakness I can overcome, or a ministry I can improve on. Be thankful that they cared enough to tell me. “Open rebuke is better than secret love.  Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” (Proverbs 27:5-6).
  7. Be charitable to “loose cannons.”   I feel irritated by their arrogant, boastful, self-absorbed and sinful talk.  How do I deal with them wisely and charitably?  When I am attacked or criticised, it is natural to become defensive, and to think about hitting back.  But a true Christian must not be distracted, but continue to do good and keep shining for the Lord.  We follow the example of Jesus, “Who, when He was reviled, reviled not”, but committed Himself to the Righteous Judge – God (1 Pet. 2:21-23). I recall a story shared by Dr Edward Paauwe in our June 2016 Life church camp: “When there is a full moon, the widow’s dog barks and barks all night at the moon. Well, what does the moon do? The moon just keeps right on shining!”  When people irritate me, or criticise me, remember to keep shining for Jesus.
  8. Cherish my work as a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ by obeying the words of the Apostle Paul in 2 Timothy 4:5-8:

    “But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.  For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.  I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:  Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.”

  9. Fear God, and keep His commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” Ecclesiastes 12:13-14.

  10. Christ has conquered death for the believer. Through the gloom of a funeral, there is hope in Christ.  Death for a believer is not the end, but the entrance into glorious heaven, to be forever with our Lord Jesus.  “8 We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.” 2 Cor 5:8.

    Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved. Every human being is a sinner bound for hell. The only way we can be saved is through the blood of Jesus. Jesus is the only way, the truth and the life (John 14:6). No man goes to God the Father but through the Son, Jesus. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16. God has made a God-sized vacuum in our soul, which cannot be satisfied with money, fun, fame, family, friends, food, or fashion. Only Jesus truly satisfies.

    When we have Jesus, we have enough.“Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God;” 2 Corinthians 3:5.

 

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