My Eulogy – 7 Things I Wanted You to Know
Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson went on a camping trip. After a good meal and a bottle of wine, they lay down for the night and went to sleep.
Some hours later Holmes woke up, nudged his faithful friend and said, "Watson, I want you to look up at the sky and tell me what you see."
Watson said, "I see millions and millions of stars."
Sherlock said, "And what does that tell you?"
After a minute or so of pondering Watson said, "Astronomically, it tells me that there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets. Astrologically, I observe that Saturn is in Leo. Horologically, I deduce that the time is approximately a quarter past three in the morning. Theologically, I can see that God is all powerful and that we are small and insignificant. Metereologically, I suspect that we will have a beautiful day today. What does it tell you Sherlock?"
Holmes was silent for about 30 seconds and said, "Watson, you idiot! Someone has stolen our tent!
Sleepiness, lack of sobriety, material comforts, pride; they all have a way of blinding us to what is really missing. I developed this sermon from the thought and perspective that I will be dead tomorrow. I also imagined that I would have the opportunity to preach at my own funeral. I took an honest hard look at what I would have said differently or things I would not have left unsaid if I knew I was going to die tomorrow. I came up with seven important things I should have told you before I died.
I have looked on at the church in America and seen her stooped in slumber and a lack of sobriety, and it is my hearts cry to awaken this sleeping giant, and call her to rise from her bed of fornication, idolatry, and political correctness and truly put God first. To walk the in the anointing and power of the Holy Spirit. To operate in her full potential, and boldly speak the truth when God says speak, regardless of the consequences.
My launching pad for this talk will be Luke 16:19
There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and feasted lavishly every day: And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, covered in sores, and he desired to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: the dogs came and licked his sores. And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lifted up his eyes, being in torments, and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
And he cried and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.’
But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that you in your lifetime received good things, and likewise Lazarus received evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from here to you cannot; neither can those with you come over to us.’
Then the rich man said, ‘I beg you, father Abraham, that you would send Lazarus to my father's house: For I have five brothers; send him that he may tell them the truth, lest they also come into this place of torment.’
Abraham said unto him, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let your brothers hear them.’
The rich man replied, ‘No, father Abraham: but if one returns to them from the dead, they will repent.’
Abraham replied unto him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, even if one rose from the dead.’
Now for the seven things I wish to leave you with before I die.
I. Lay Down Your Legalism!
During one particular sermon, some time ago, I quoted a scripture. I gave the reference, James 1:27, and then proceeded to say, “Pure religion undefiled before God the Father is to care for the orphans and widows and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.” An older man who was heavily influenced by tradition and legalism came to me afterwards and said, “That scripture you quoted was not King James. The King James Version says to ‘visit’ the fatherless and widow.” I stopped him right there and as respectfully as I could, said, “Yes you are correct, but do you know what the Greek word for ‘visit’ is?” He looked at me with a blank stare.
Friends, Jesus said, “Know the truth and the truth will set you free.” He did NOT say, "Know the King James Version." And Jesus also promised that He would give unto us the Spirit of Truth who would lead us into all truth (see John 16:13). Paul encouraged his young pupil in his second letter to Timothy to “study to show yourself approved a workman that will not be put to shame rightly dividing the word of truth" (see 2Tim 2:15).
I can show you so many errors in the King James Version as I can in just about any other translation; why? because humanity has handled it and when we handle anything we often goof it up. And sometimes we get it right (compare Matthew 17:21 KJV and the same passage in the NIV.
Going back to my conversation with the elderly gentleman: The Greek word for “visit” is ep-ee-skep'-tom-ahee and it means much more than what our King James word would have us permit. It means "to care for, look out for, to provide for."
Legalistic people have the spirit of the Scribes and Pharisees who talked and wrote about the messiah and their traditions until they were blue in the face, and yet they missed Jesus when He was standing right in front of their faces ultimately crucifying him in the end.
Legalistic folks are quick to cast stones and slow to love lavishly. The keepers of the Old Testament law mandated that Lepers proclaim loudly “Unclean! Stay Away! I am Unclean!” I ask you, "Who are the Lepers of our day?" Homosexuals perhaps! Jesus embraced the lepers of his day and his love changed their lives. There are no varying degrees of sin in God’s eyes (see James 2:10).
Do you know why Sodom and Gomorra was destroyed? “As I live, declares the Lord God, your sister Sodom and her daughters have not done as you and your daughters have done. Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.” Ezekiel 16:49
II. Lay Down Your Liberalism!
Many live so close to the world you would never be able to tell whether or not they are a Christian in their attire, their speech, their conduct, or how they spend their time or money. Many of us treat this Christian life as if it is a license to sin because we are "covered by the blood."
I used to get so fed up with that phrase “covered by the blood.” It vexed my spirit, so I decided to get to the root of why it bothered me so much. I did an entire word study in the New Testament as it pertained to this word “covered” when relating to sin. Everywhere in the NT when referencing how Jesus dealt with sin in our lives it used vernaculars like, “cleansed, sanctified, washed, purified, made new” except for one place. In Romans 4:7 this word “covered” show up and it rubbed me the wrong way, but I felt a gentle nudge from the Holy Spirit to take a closer look. When I open up the Greek word for “covered” it was epi-kalupto and when I dug a little deeper into the Strong’s Exhaustive concordance you will never guess what I found. It said that this root word "kalupto" was akin to the word "klepto." Klepto is where we get our English word Kleptomania, which is someone who takes what does not belong to them. Even though it doesn't belong to Him when we repent Jesus takes our sin. He becomes a Kleptomania of our sin and throws it to the bottom of the sea to be remember against us no more, but this does not give us a license to sin as we will see later.
III. FAST and PRAY!!
Nothing has produced a bigger catalyst for change in my life than that of fasting and prayer. Let’s take a look at what Jesus thought of it.
He fasted forty days before beginning his ministry (See Matthew 4:2).
He seemed to have denied food on a regular basis. John 4:32, "In the mean while his disciples begged him, saying, Master, eat. But he said unto them, "I have meat to eat that you do not know of." The disciples said one to another, "Has someone brought him something to eat?" Jesus said unto them, "My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work. Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? Behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest."
We alluded to Matthew 17:21 earlier but let's take a closer look, "Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out?" And Jesus said unto them, "Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting."
Fasting sharpens our spirit and dulls the flesh. In ICor 9:27 Paul said, "But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway."
IV. Humble Yourself!
My girlfriend was getting ready to move to Virginia Beach and knowing that I love real estate said, "Erick, you should buy a 25 unit apartment complex and let me have free rent and then you could manage the place." I chuckled and then she replied, "I'm looking at one for sale online right now. How much income could you generate from this?"
"I don't know. Let's find out," I said.
So I called the broker and asked for the offering memorandum (OM) and we started talking about the property. The broker replied, "You seem to really know what your talking about. We should meet up and go look at some of these properties."
I thought to myself, "Yea if you only knew my financial situation right now; I don't even think you would even be talking to me."
I took the numbers from the OM and put them into a spread sheet that I built that calculates all the important equation for real estate like NOI, Cash-on-Cash ROI, DSCR, and most importantly, Cash Flow. After my work was done I gave my answer to my girlfriend (now finance), "This property would earn us 58k of Net Cash Flow per year."
"Why doesn't everybody do this?" she replied.
"Well," I said, "it's a 1.3 million dollar deal and you're gonna need 25% down. Not everyone has that laying around."
Meanwhile the broker continued to reach out to me on a regular basis and I continued to "beat around the bush."
Finally, about a month later, after receiving a text from her, this scripture popped into my head, James 4:10 "Humble yourself in the sight of God and He will lift you up," and then I thought of the words my dad would often use, "live as if you have nothing to lose and nothing to prove."
So I texted her back and said, "Marie, I have been really discouraged with my financial situation lately. I cannot even get approved for a VA loan let alone these deals. I am just a small fry with big dreams and I don't want to waste your time." I never expected to hear back from her. She was a multi-millionaire broker who had bigger fish to fry, but a few moments later I received a text from her, "I was in the same boat years ago. Today things are different. Come to my office this week."
The conversations that ensued because I decided to humble myself, they changed my life. Sitting there in her office and hearing her story and her struggles, put my own life in perspective. She gave me wisdom and motivation.
There are so many ways to humble yourself in any given day. Ask for Forgiveness even if it was not your fault. Take the blame for something you didn't do (Jesus did). What’s more important to you? What or who was right? Or what could be right if you would take the wrong? Hold a friendly conversation with that person of ill repute (woman at the well).
V. Be Holy!
Stop with your sin!! Holy means dedicated, consecrated, sanctified. Sin means evil, evil is a violation of purpose. We all were created for a purpose, generally and specifically. Generally – to love Yahweh your God with all your heart mind soul and strength and your neighbor as yourself; on this hangs all the law and the prophets. Key word “hangs” not “replaces”. Specifically – there is a mission that God has called you to fulfilled – this is another sermon for another time perhaps, but I am emphatic to say that you will never know His will specifically until you fulfill his will generally, “Be Holy!!”
Numbers 15:39-40….remember all the commandments of the Lord, and do them, do not follow after your own heart nor your own eyes, which you are inclined to do. You shall remember and do all my commandments, and be holy to your God.
Matthew 5:48 Be perfect as your Father in Heaven is perfect. Content follows intent. When your intentions are to be pure, the content of your life (what it contains) will line up and be pure. What does it mean to be perfect? Go read the preceding 47 verses of Matthew 5 and do it. Better yet read all of Jesus’ words and do them.
1Peter 1:15 But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.
There was a man wondering the streets of a godless city crying out “Repent! Repent! Turn from your wicked ways!” He cried it loud day and night and the people called him mad. A little girl came up to him and said, “sir why do you shout? It is doing no good. No one is changing their ways. Corruption continues to run ramped.” He stooped down with love in his eyes and said, “My dear girl, my concern is not so much that I might change the city, but that it would not change me, and this is why I cry aloud day and night, to keep the fetters from blinding my eyes, and binding my soul.”
In Iraq on my first deployment in 2003 I was occasionally assigned to guard the perimeter of our Forward Operating Base. I would scan for hours with my night vision goggles looking for anything out of the ordinary, while doing radio checks back to head-quarters. Falling asleep was not an option. In Ezekiel 33 Yahweh calls the prophet to stand guard and warn the people of impeding judgement. If he failed to warn the people of their sin and the judgement of God that would follow, then all their blood would be on Ezekiel’s hands. We can not fall asleep on duty. We have an obligation to those around to shine bright. Light does not make noise, but if you are living close to God (Holiness) you will know when to make noise.
VI. Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy!
"You are to labor six days and do all your work but the seventh day is a Sabbath to Yahweh your God. You must not do any work – you, nor your son or daughter, nor servants, nor livestock, nor foreigners who are within your gates. For Yahweh made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and everything in them in six days; then He rested on the seventh day. There-fore Yahweh blessed the Sabbath day and declared it to be holy."
America doesn't know what it means to have rest, let alone fulfill this, one of the ten commands. The Legalistic side of this matter: There are some out there that say you must observe the Sabbath day on Saturday (the seventh day) some advocate Sunday. We all know the extremes to which the Scribes and Pharisees took this law, and how Jesus purposefully healed people on the Sabbath to combat the legalistic views of his day. Colossians 2:16 "Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days." See also Romans 14:6.
The liberal treatment of this truth is that so many in America treat every day of the week just the same. We as believers often fail to obey God and take a day to simply rest.
It was the summer of 2016. I had just received a job offer, $625 per day, full benefits, and 3-6 months of vacation per year (my choice). Taking the three month vacation (one month off every three months) meant that I would be making approximately 168k per year of tax free money while deployed overseas as a private contractor. I loved the job. The paychecks were even better. When your bi-weekly pay stubs are reading $8750 it's a pretty sweet feeling. What was not a sweet feeling was knowing that the Holy Spirit was convicting me of not having a day off during the work week. We worked seven 10hr days. I tried to disregard the still small voice I kept hearing, "Erick, you know what My word says about having a Sabbath."
"Lord please make it clear," I said.
That Sunday I went to hear the Army Chaplin speak before my shift started. He said, "Let's open to Hebrews 4."
My eyes settled on these verses, and I was dumb founded. "So I swore in My anger,they will not enter My rest. And yet His works have been finished since the foundation of the world, for somewhere He has spoken about the seventh day in this way: And on the seventh dayGod rested from all His works. Again, in that passage He says, They will never enter My rest. Since it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news did not enter because of disobedience, again, He specifies a certain day—today—speaking through David after such a long time, as previously stated: Today, if you hear His voice,do not harden your hearts. For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day. Therefore, a Sabbath rest remains for God’s people. For the person who has entered His rest has rested from his own works, just as God did from His. Let us then make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall into the same pattern of disobedience."
Needless to say that got my attention. I started going to my supervisors to request a day off, but to no avail. They said, "No." I even wrote an email stating that I would work the full 70 hrs in six days and give up my seventh day's pay. "No." I wrote an email and was ignored.
I looked up one night and said, "God, You are not making this easy." I didn't expect a reply, but almost immediately I heard a still small voice, "Doing the right thing is never easy."
A week of this went by. One night I was tossing and turning couldn't sleep. I sat up and said Lord what should I do? There was a devotional beside my bed (Jesus Calling) and I opened it up. The very next reading was this:
After October 24 reading of Jesus Calling, I finally took a stand. Literally stood out of bed and walked to the compound. It was four in the morning. I saw a shadow walking beside me. I look over and it was my Bible study leader. I had shared with him my struggle earlier in the week. In that moment as we were walking he prayed for me that God would give me the words to say. I walked into the office, sat down, and wrote an email (read it here). Then (mostly because I didn't sleep all night) I told them that I would not be showing up to my shift later in the day.
I wish I could say there was a happy ending to this story. Someday perhaps, when I see my reward for my obedience, but the following day I was fired and sent home to receive the pay of a landscaper (lucky to receive 40K in twelve months of back breaking labor). If nothing else I received a first hand look at what God still thinks of His Sabbath that He made for us. It's non-negotiable.
VII. Invest in Assets! Avoid Liabilities!
L.I.E. - Learn, Invest, Equip/Enrich
Assets produce, Liabilities consume. Do not throw you pearls before swine. How do you discern whether someone falls into that category or not? Know the voice of the Holy Spirit, seek wisdom and the mind of God, and Love extravagantly. True Love always fleshes out the truth hidden in the hearts of mankind. Love and trust are not synonymous.
Gain an understanding of the world you live in and invest in assets in every area of life – physically, emotionally, mentally, financially, spiritually, but keep your priorities in line.
"And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light. And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations. He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much. If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man's, who shall give you that which is your own? No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. And the Pharisees also, who were covetous, heard all these things: and they derided him. And he said unto them, You are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knows your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God. (Luke 16:8-15).
I leave these seven truths with you and pray they will challenge you as they have challenged me. God invites us to walk this walk not in our own strength, but in His might power. "The same Spirit that raised Christ up from the dead is alive in you."
Don't be like the Army private after he received from the General full access to call in the Air Force and Navy, chose rather to charge the hill with his M-16. Use the resources that our Command in Chief, our Heavenly Father has given us.
Duet 28:1 And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the Lord thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth: And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God.