Six Things A Minister “Probably” Should Not Say at a Funeral

Funerals are important moments. There are precious grieving souls needing words of comfort and grace.  Out here in rez country, the families seem to call multiple clergy for most wakes and funeral. I have attended or co-officiated dozens of funerals in the last few years. The tone of this post sounds a little condescending; I intended it to have a only touch of my dry humor, but any way… here are 6 Things a Minister Probably Should Not Say at a Funeral:

graveside1. The Fertility of life. Seriously, please DO NOT talk about the fertility of life.  A funeral is a serious time, and you will make it difficult for the rest of the clergy to maintain their somber composure. It would be especially bad if the front seats were lined with a good number of kids to a good number of baby-mommas. One dear friend would always misread his beautiful funeral liturgy about the futility of life in this rather awkward way. Continue reading

Possible with God

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There seems to be a standard talking point in conversation with those involved in Native American ministry. I have heard it over and over again. The talking point: Ministry with the Native Americans is slow, hard work with little prospect of fruitfulness. This In one way or another, this has been said to us many times, usually with consolatory appreciation for faithfulness.

To be charitable, the sentiment often feels pretty well grounded in reality.  We may find ourselves encouraged by signs of progress in one aspect of our ministry only to face a disheartening set-back in another. Sometimes, we even commiserate a little with our fellow laborers, but dear reader, please do not assume that we have lost confidence in our God or our hope for the mission we’ve been called to serve.

In Matthew chapter 19, just after the rich young ruler had walked away sorrowfully, Jesus told his disciples that it was more difficult for a rich man to enter God’s kingdom than for a camel to go through the eye of a needle. The disciples shook their heads in wonder and asked, “Who then can be saved?” If the rich people, with all of the advantages they have to succeed at life, can’t be saved, what hope is there for the rest of us?

We look at things quite a bit differently these days. We think of the poor, vulnerable and needy, as the most likely to respond to the claims of the gospel. “If these can’t be saved, who can be? Jesus’ answer comes to us just as it did to his disciples: “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

We thoroughly love serving the Lord on Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. We may expend our lives with no assurance that we will be part of the harvest, but the call of God still rings clear in our hearts. We thank God for providing a church van primarily through the generosity of Canal AWMY. We rejoice with each open door including a radio program, a children’s and youth ministry and a food pantry. We thank the Lord for each adult who is seeking for God, and we are thrilled that our church was able to send more young ladies to Northwest Indian Bible School this year.

Allow me to close with a simple request: rather than offering the dispiriting assessment that this work is hard and nearly impossible, would you be the one who would offer an encouraging word? “We are covenanting with God in prayer for a mighty awakening on your reservation and a great reviving of holiness missions among the Native Americans.”

We truly value your prayers. The bringing of souls into the kingdom of God and leading them in the holy way is spiritual work that must be accomplished by the Holy Spirit. “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”  

Busy Summer – Cold Heart?

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Perhaps in the middle of a busy summer this quote will be a useful morsel for my ministerial brethren. Many times, I have followed this advice in preparation for the Lord’s Day and have always felt refreshed spiritually.

“When I was threatening to become cold in my ministry, and when I felt the Sabbath morning coming and my heart was not filled with amazement at the grace of God, or when I was making ready to dispense the Lord’s Supper… I used to take a turn up and down among the sins of my past life, and I always came down with a broken and contrite heart, ready to preach… the forgiveness of sins.” – Thomas Goodwin, (1600-1680) English Puritan minister quoted in Patches of Godlight: Father Tim’s Favorite Quotes by Jan Karon which served as the inspiration for my own quotebook.