Funeral parties?

I was intrigued by an article this summer in the New York Times entitled, “It’s My Funeral and I’ll Hire a Marching Band If I Want To.” The bottom line is the funeral business is changing. While the planning for most of the 2 million funerals a year in America still falls to the nation’s 22,000 funeral homes, some people are thinking outside of the traditional setting. The article states Baby Boomers are all about being in control. They want funeral services to be less somber. Cremation is on the rise because having a body present is a “downer.” Funerals are moving away from a church setting with traditional music. And funeral directors are being asked to be more like party planners.

As I read the article, I chuckled and filed it away. However, the recent death of Liz’s stepfather and all the planning we had to do brought the article back to my mind. As I reflected on what we have just been through, I was grateful for a faith family that prayed, brought food, washed dishes and took care of mundane tasks. I was grateful for a caring funeral director that was sensitive to my mother-in-law’s needs and feelings. I was grateful for a family that was united and did not fight over details.

Here are some suggestions to ponder…

1. You will die one day, so have a plan. Write down important items for your family.

2. Have a will in place.

3. When death comes to your friends, reach out to the family.

4. Don’t forget to check on survivors a few weeks after the funeral.

I don’t know what I want on my tombstone. One man wanted this inscription, “I told you I was sick.” I hope I can live so that someone might write FAITHFUL on my marker.

Pastor Ted Traylor

TrueBeliever, not TaliBaptist

On September 9, columnist Leonard Pitts wrote an article printed in the Pensacola News Journal railing against US senatorial candidate, Katherine Harris. He is liberal to the core and he makes a living writing such columns. In his conclusion, however, he portrays the followers of Harris as “Talibaptists.” His comparison is between Christian fundamentalists (talibaptists like me) and the Taliban terrorist group. He accuses us of being similar to Iran displaying crosses rather than crescents.
 
I’m offended by Leonard Pitts’ writing. If I were like the Taliban, I would consider a suicide bomb attempt on his office. However, Baptists do not blow up buildings; rather we help clean them up after terrorists strike.

Second, we do not preach hatred. Our message is the Gospel of the One who gave His life on a cross.

Third, we do not censor writers. We believe and defend the freedom Leonard Pitts’ enjoys. Baptists fought for that liberty early in the revolutionary days of America.

Finally, just as Thomas Jefferson in his letter to the Danbury Baptists called for the separation of church and state, we believe in keeping the state out of the church’s business. God help us return to Jefferson’s call.
 
You see, I am not a terrorist but a Christian fundamentalist and Bible-believing Baptist. Any confrontational action on my part toward the ignorance demonstrated in Pitts’ writings would never embrace violent behavior, aggression or the bloodshed of innocent people. That is not the Jesus way, nor is it the Baptist way.

Set your mind on things above

It has been a long week for Liz and me. Her stepfather died on Labor Day afternoon. We stood with Mrs. Baker as Clyde slipped into the arms of Jesus. Death for the Christian is a blessed event. Unsaved people and their families cannot comprehend the peace that passes all understanding. The Holy Spirit gives comfort every step of the way. Praise the Lord!

Liz will be coming home the first of the week. She has some red tape to help her mom work through. A funeral is one day but recovery is a process. Continue to pray for them as they complete some important tasks.

As I preached at the funeral, I spoke of setting your mind on things above. In the book of Romans, in chapter eight, we are told that the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God. The mind set on the Spirit is filled with life and peace. The choice is ours. “The mind is a terrible thing to waste.” Fix your mind on things above and you will gain purpose, vigor and strength. Right thinking and focus is essential to walking in the Spirit.

Join me Sunday as we continue to answer questions from the Fish House.

Pastor Ted Traylor