“I did not attend his funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it.” Mark Twain
While some people may plan their funerals, probably only a preacher would think about the exact Bible passage that should be used at his own funeral. For years I’ve known what passage would be the most appropriate. You’ll find it in Luke 16:22 – “And the beggar died…” (KJV).
It’s not original with me. D. L. Moody and Dr. C. I. Scofield (editor of the Scofield Reference Bible), were very close friends. Toward the end of Moody’s ministry, the two friends were discussing their deaths and funerals (it’s a preacher thing). They committed to doing each other’s funerals if the one died before the other. D. L. Moody then asked his friend, what text Scofield would preach at Moody’s funeral. C. I. Scofield with his characteristic wit, retorted, “And the beggar died…” Moody was famous for crossing the globe raising funds for his Bible institute in Chicago and Bible conference grounds in Northfield, Massachusetts.
Scofield then asked Moody the inevitable question, “And what would you preach at my funeral?” D. L. Moody quoted 2 Samuel 23:10, “and his hand clave unto the sword.” The Bible is called the Sword of the Spirit (Eph. 6:17) and Moody was referring to Scofield’s faithfulness by in teaching and preaching the Word of God. It’s the desire of every preacher to be faithful in sharing God’s Word until the Lord calls them Home.
In fact, someone once gave my mentor, Dr. David Cummins, a family sized wood Bible with that text carved into it, “and his hand clave unto the sword.” Moody went Home to be with the Lord first and that’s the text that C. I. Scofield preached at his funeral, “and his hand clave unto the sword.”
The truth is that most pastors feel like beggars. I know I do and I know I’m not alone. The pastor is the manager of a volunteer organization with many needs. There are a lot of ministries and other areas of service in the local church. The pastor finds he’s often a one man recruiter, yet many pastors aren’t very good at it. On top of that, it’s our responsibility to teach Christians about financial stewardship, too. You’ve probably noticed that’s not my gift, to our Church Treasurer, Rick Hall’s chagrin. I’m much better at giving it away than asking for it.
To be honest, because it’s tough and you feel like a beggar, if I could, I would just do everything at church myself and I’d pay for everything. It’s hard to feel that you’re coming to someone with your hat in your hands. It makes it more difficult when you receive a few “No’s” in a row.
But that’s not God’s plan for the local church. It’s not a biblical church if the pastor does all the work and underwrites the whole ministry financially. Add to that, it’s not the biblical job description for the pastor. The Bible teaches that a pastor is not to do the work of the ministry, rather the pastor is to “equip” the believers in the local church to do it (Ephesians 4:12).
God has gifted each believer. It’s by serving and giving (using our gifts), that we grow spiritually. Yet, because of our sin nature, most of us resist giving (money/time…depending on which one we value the most). Why do you think Satan seeks to convince us to not do either one?
It’s why I’m so thankful for the many at Grace who help me leave my little beggar’s tin cup on the shelf. We have many at Grace Church who are such a blessing and make my job so easy. To be honest, I know I don’t say “Thank You” enough! So many of you make very real Paul’s word in Philippians 1:3 for me, “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you.”
At first, I had a very foolish thought and considered listing out all those at Grace who model this, but knew I’d miss someone. Then, it struck me that there are two individuals most of us know who manifest these important traits. While there are many others, bear with me as I use these two as examples because they truly model a willingness to give and serve.
Katelynn Deephouse. While just a teenager, Katelynn truly models a Christlike servant’s heart. Whenever she’s asked to take on a ministry, she responds with affirmative enthusiasm. If she is uncomfortable, she’s still willing to try. She’s willing to stretch. For most of us, getting up in front of a crowd is difficult. I’m sure it’s that way for Katelynn, too. After going to the dentist most people’s second greatest fear is speaking in front a crowd. Singing or playing an instrument I’m sure is comparable. Katelynn’s attitude, particularly when she’s asked to serve, is such a blessing!
Rich Benson. If you’ve heard Rich’s testimony, you know that Rich came to Christ later in life. He’d been an alcoholic but Jesus wonderfully transformed his life. Rich is one of the most spiritually gifted, humble men I know. He’s truly a joy to serve alongside of. Rich also does not like to get up in front of people. Yet, I love to hear Rich pray or read Scripture. I love his heart! Rich is a student of God’s Word. Drop by his home and if Rich isn’t out riding his bike, he’s often reading his Bible or some other Christian book. He’s a sponge. And one of his greatest passions is to share the Gospel. Though he feels inadequate, several times I’ve asked Rich to do a one on one evangelistic Bible study with someone. He’s never turned me down and God has used him over and over again. Though Rich is in his seventies, he’s always willing to stretch and grow. Rich loves people.
One of my favorite funny stories with Rich is related to that love for people. For years he and Jayne had been greeters for second service. They did a fantastic job! We were seeking though to involve others, so I had a dumb idea. We’d ask Rich & Jayne to step aside for a bit to get others involved. Rich is so committed to ministry, he felt as if he’d been fired. How can you not love a man like that!?! Many jump at a chance to get out of a ministry. When most of us get busy, one of the first things we cut is ministry and church involvement…even attendance. Not Rich. Because Rich loves Jesus, he loves serving Jesus and being with God’s people.
I’ll probably always feel a bit like a beggar. But now you can skip my funeral. You know what’s going to be said. Yet, how I praise the Lord for the willing servants like Katelynn and Rich that we have at Grace!!
Can we help you spiritually? Can we help you know Jesus better? Please check out more resources on our church's web page, Gracechurchwi.org. Or, call us at 262.763.3021. If you'd like to know more about how Jesus can change your life, I'd love to mail you a copy of how Jesus changed my life in "My Story." E-mail me at Carson@gracechurchwi.org to request a free copy. Please include your mailing address.