One last time to witness for Jesus?

I used to receive the Rochester N.Y. daily newspaper up until about six months ago. I really enjoyed skimming the headlines every day, but as the paper became thinner and thinner and the price continued to climb higher and higher, it became increasingly harder to justify. After I downloaded the newspaper’s app to my iPhone, I found I didn’t need the hard copy paper at all and stopped delivery. In addition to the local news stories, I like the app because it displays the daily obituaries. When people reach a certain age, they generally become interested in scanning the daily obits for the names of old neighbors, friends, classmates, workmates, etc.; yet another official qualification for senior citizenship!

As I was scanning the obits the other day, I came across the name of David N. Both the name and accompanying photo looked very familiar. I cracked the whip and the tired ol’ brain neurons began firing up again and leaping across those worn-out synapses. It was thirty-five years ago, but I began to recall that Dave had been a member at the first Gospel-preaching church my wife and I attended after we accepted Jesus Christ as Savior in the early 1980s.

Dave was around 25 at the time, a couple of years younger than me. I’m somewhat of an introvert, but I remember Dave made me look like a gregarious big mouth. We used to participate in visitation together and during the preparations, Dave would keep his nose buried in his Bible the whole time without looking up or saying much. After a couple of years, Dave stopped coming to church and every once in awhile I wondered what had happened to him. The church had several problems, which I’ve previously written about, and my wife and I eventually stopped attending there ourselves in the early 1990s.

So here I was, thirty-six years later, reading Dave’s obituary via the newspaper’s app. In the obituary, there’s mention of Dave’s family, education, his employment, his passion for NFL football, and his love of animals, but there’s no mention of the Lord or any church-affiliated funeral services.

What happened? Dave was on-fire for the Lord way back in the day. Did he allow frustration with circumstances at our old church to derail his walk with the Lord as I had done? Or did his relatives neglect to give glory to God via the obituary and funeral arrangements? Right, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with education, a career, enjoying some football, or loving animals. But when we’re composing our 150-word obituary, let’s make sure we’re giving God the glory and pointing people to Jesus! Thousands of people read the local obits.

In our walk with the Lord, there are many who once walked beside us who fell away. We can try to help them and pray for them, but we mustn’t allow them to distract or discourage us. Our focus must remain on Jesus Christ. Whether others remain faithful is not our responsibility. We must give an account to the Lord only for ourselves.

“You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.” – 2 Peter 3:17-18

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33 thoughts on “One last time to witness for Jesus?

  1. Thanks, Tom, for your insight ! Yes, let us keep our eyes focused on the Lord, to keep pressing forward, and to finish our individual races. And let us keep encouraging each other along the way.
    I never identify as a senior citizen, I am not senior in anything, I am simply old.
    Sociologists define old age as beginning at 60, but the government does not agree…
    Let us rejoice and be glad, we are all precious in the sight of the Lord.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks for the comments, Sally! Yes, we must keep pressing “on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” and encourage others, but not allow them to hinder us.

      RE: senior citizen

      There’s a post in my head that I’ll be writing soon about diet, exercise, and health. Three months ago, I began a serious diet and exercise regime that has had a huge impact on my lowering my weight and how I feel. The Lord increasingly reminds me of my mortality (like where did all that crepey skin come from?), but we have some responsibility for maintaining these temporary “tents” as good stewards.

      It’s sad but churches are some of the worst offenders at pushing aside older folks. Many churches are caught up in the church-growth model to some degree with the focus almost exclusively on the 25-50 age group. Seniors don’t “fit” the model.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Hi Tom- yes, the Lord asks us to be good stewards of our bodily temples, while at the same time He asks us to accept changes in our physical selves. Ageism is one further “ism” that needs to be challenged in Western Culture. It is an unhealthy church that does not recognize the value of all age groups. We are all children in God’s eyes, and continue to trust Him with simple, child-like faith, even as we mature in our faith and know the Lord on a deeper level. Looking forward to your future posts.

        Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks, Steeny! We like to think we have all the time in the world to prepare such a thing as an obituary, but an accident or major illness could take us home quickly. Lawyers usually don’t get involved until probate begins. Maybe it would be best to preplan funeral arrangements with a local funeral home? I don’t think a lot of people are champing at the bit to get that done, but it makes so much sense.

      Liked by 4 people

  2. That’s an idea of which I hadn’t thought – to pre-plan with a funeral home. It’s been a long time since I’ve had to think about it, and normally I don’t but it came up here in conversation so… 🙂

    Another idea is that I should put something in writing to my oldest daughter and a few close friends who know me well, to ask that they write a specific phrase of my pre-choosing into my obituary. I’ll have to give this more thought. Thanks for the prompting via your blog post.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks, Steeny. Yup, it’s too early for me to start thinking about funeral pre-plans (I’m 62), but giving written instructions to a responsible child and/or friend sounds reasonable. But I definitely do want to pre-plan my funeral at some point to save my wife or our sons the grief and make sure the service points to Jesus. Our sons won’t do that. Thanks for the discussion!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks. Yes, I had no desire to “bad mouth” Dave because I have zero knowledge of his circumstances at the end of his life. It’s just that it was a bit jarring for me to read the obituary as I remember Dave from 35 years ago. I also wondered a little bit whether he became exasperated with “churchianity” as I did because of the legalism and arrogance at that church. Well, no answers to any of these questions. We continue our journey with the Lord! 😁

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I have felt being on WordPress made me realize how many people who are believers being in the difficult situation of not having a biblical church locally…I struggle as a pastor to have members who are biblical and God helps but I hurt for those like your friend who past away.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Yes, I think I may have already mentioned to you that I heard JMac say that the #1 topic people write to Grace to You about is they feel there is not a good, Biblical church in their area.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. It’s a sad situation as many churches are now following the Hybels-Warren-Drucker growth/seeker model. Here in our city, we don’t have a lot of Gospel churches but the ones that are here mostly fall under either the KJV-only fundamentalist, Pentecostal/charismatic, or Hybels-Warren-Drucker seeker.

        Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Lisa Beth. It was sad for me to read that obituary. The Dave that I remember would have made the Lord the #1 priority in his final testimony instead of everything but.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. This is something I have definitely considered in the past. It’s good to have it brought to my attention again. Thank you. 🙂
    How sad it is to see a lack of zeal for Christ apparently come with age. Our love for Him should be growing and increasingly evident in our lives, not the opposite!
    I plan to publish a post on this in the future. May it be a good reminder/encouragement for my brothers and sisters to live courageously and passionately for Christ — no matter how old!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the good comments, Emma! Dave was pretty passionate about his faith in Christ back in the day. Don’t know if his zeal petered out or his family chose not to acknowledge his faith. Either way it was a sad testimony. Yup, my wife and I trusted in Jesus as our Savior by faith alone thirty-six years ago and our walk with the Lord is closer than ever! Looking forward to your future posts.

      Liked by 1 person

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