Tuesday, November 24, 2015

My Last Wishes

I don't mean this to seem morbid, but we are all going to die SOMEDAY, eventually, whether we're 60 or 80.  When I do die someday, I don't want my family to wonder what my final wishes are or stress over what music, scriptures, poems, etc. to use for my celebration of life service. So, I've attempted to address any major questions here:
  • I want to be cremated. I want my ashes to be sprinkled on and around the weeping willow tree on the family farm south of Henning. 
  • I would like a prayer service on Saturday evening from 6-8 pm for family and friends to get together and share memories and such.  This should be a more personal service, with lots of laughter.  Make it a party, not some sad affair. 
  • I want my "celebration of my life" service (I hate the word "funeral") to be held at 1:30 on Sunday afternoon.  After the service, please donate any flowers that may have been given to local nursing homes or assisted living facilities.  I would like church members to personally take the flowers there themselves and visit with an elderly person who may rarely get visitors. Listen to their stories. Spend some time with them.  And THEN leave the flowers with them with this explanation:  "These flowers are a gift from someone who deeply valued the lives of those who had lived longer than she had.  She believed that everyone had a story that deserved to be heard, and whenever she worked with those who were older than she was, she tried her best to treat them with the same dignity and respect with which she would want to be treated.  These flowers are her way of saying "thank you" for being a blessing throughout your life to those around you."

  • If he is still alive, I would like Pastor Jeremiah Rice to organize/speak at the services.
------------------- Celebration of Life Service -------------------

This is a playlist of the songs I would like sung:
 (these are just the versions I like the best)


  • Scripture Reading: "Be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." Ephesians 5:18-20 New Living Translation (and then say)  
"Becky loved music, and God gave her a gift for expressing herself through music -- especially on the piano.  She devoted over 15 years of her life to teaching piano lessons to both children and adults alike.  She regularly played piano for weekly services for at least 7 different congregations over the years.  Even though she isn't with us anymore, she would want us to keep on singing and praising and thanking God for all that He has done for us. Let's join together in singing one of her favorite hymns, "Until Then."  Please stand, if you are able, and sing from your hearts to the Lord."
  • (CONGREGATION SINGS TOGETHER: "Until Then"; all 3 verses, last chorus A Capella as shown in youtube video)
(You may be seated)
  • SOMEONE READS THESE 2 SCRIPTURES (OR THE PASTOR CAN INCORPORATE THEM INTO HIS BRIEF MESSAGE): "And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, **God will bring back with him the believers who have died.** We tell you this directly from the Lord: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not meet him ahead of those who have died. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the bodies of the believers who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. So encourage each other with these words." 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 New Living Translation

2 Corinthians 5:7-9 New Living Translation (NLT) - "For we live by believing and not by seeing. Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord. So whether we are here in this body or away from this body, our goal is to please him."

"Becky is now in the presence of Jesus himself.  The Bible states very clearly that when we die, we are ushered immediately into the presence of God.  How could Jesus bring with Him those who had died in Christ if they were not already with Him? (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18) Paul stated very clearly that when we are absent from our natural bodies we are present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:7-9).  Becky trusted the Lord Jesus with all of her heart and endeavored to live her life in such a way that it would be pleasing to her Savior, so we can know without a shadow of a doubt that she is now with Jesus.  Her request was that an opportunity would be given here today for those of you who may not know Jesus as your Savior to accept Him into your heart.  You may be familiar with John 3:16 - "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes on him should not perish but have everlasting life." That means that Jesus died for YOU!  Becky believed this with all of her heart, and she wants you to know that you can have the same peace of mind that she had in knowing that if you should die, you would go to heaven.  If you died today, do you know where would go?  There are only 2 choices -- Heaven or Hell.  It is up to YOU to choose.  Becky wanted you to know that she loved each one of you so much that she couldn't bear the thought of not seeing you in Heaven. God doesn't force Himself on anyone.   Please don't wait and think that you can always choose to follow Jesus tomorrow or at some point in the future.  You may not live to see tomorrow, and our future is uncertain.  A car could hit you on the way home today and if you haven't made the choice to follow Jesus and surrender your life to Him, YOU WILL GO TO HELL!" Make your choice NOW!  Ask Jesus to come into your heart, forgive your sins, and be the Lord if your life.  I would be happy to talk to anybody who has any questions about how to do this after the service (or something along those lines.  It should not sound scripted. It should be in the pastor's own words and delivered in a meaningful and personal way.  I want the gospel message to be presented in a very caring, loving, but compelling way. Don't pull any punches. Tell it like it is! Sin is sin, and unforgiven sin can separate a person from God forever.  Heaven is a real place, but so is hell. I don't want anyone leaving without knowing where they stand with God!)
  • POEM READING:  (should be well rehearsed ahead of time so that it flows with a steady rhythm and fluent pronunciation)
This poem was originally written by Edgar Guest, but Becky was finicky about some things and she didn't like all of the old wording, she said the rhythm was all off, and the stanzas were in an awkward order, so she rearranged it.  Here is her "revised" version:

I'd Rather See a Sermon Than Hear One Any Day

A good man may preach a sermon, but folks believe what they behold.
One sincere act of kindness is worth a thousand stories told.
If a person of honor you truly wish to be,
You would hold your tongue and live honestly.
Though an awesome speaker may enthrall a crowd, I say:
I'd rather see a sermon than hear one any day.

I can soon learn how to do it if you let me see it done;
I can watch your hand in action, but your tongue too fast may run.
All the lectures you deliver may be very wise and true,
But I'd rather learn my lessons just by watching what you do.
For I may not understand you and the high advice you give,
But there is no mistaking how you act and how you live.

When you act in loving kindness, I am eager to be kind.
When you serve unselfishly, it sticks firmly in my mind.
When you love without conditions, I want to love that way,

For a life lived out with honor overpowers what you say.
You can talk a blue streak, but by the day's end,

It means nothing to me if you weren't my friend. 
All who travel life's journey find the best guides today
Are not the ones who tell them, but the ones who show the way.

I'd rather see a sermon than hear one any day;
I'd rather you walk with me than merely point the way.
The eye's a better pupil than ever was the ear;
Good advice can be confusing, but example's always clear.

The best of all the preachers are those who live their creeds,
For to see love put in action is what everybody needs.


Becky tried her best to live her life as a sermon without words, and she asked me to challenge you to do the same.  Love others, even when they don't deserve to be loved. Serve others, even when you'd rather being doing something else.  Live with integrity and honesty, even if it means being less financially successful.  Now let's sing together Becky's favorite hymn, "My Jesus, I Love Thee."  Please stand if you are able.
  • (CONGREGATION SINGS TOGETHER: "My Jesus I Love Thee"; all verses as shown in youtube video)
(You may be seated)
  • SCRIPTURE READING: Revelation 22:3-5 New Living Translation (NLT) "No longer will there be a curse upon anything. For the throne of God and of the Lamb will be there, and his servants will worship him. And they will see his face ... And there will be no night there—no need for lamps or sun—for the Lord God will shine on them. And they will reign forever and ever."
  • SOLO: "No More Night" (Please enunciate words clearly and/or have words displayed overhead so that those who may be hard of hearing can clearly hear/see the words)
  • SCRIPTURE READING: Revelation 21:1-4 New Living Translation (NLT) "Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” "
  • Solo: "The Holy City" (sung with a mellow voice, NOT all high and shrill and screechy/operra-style; preferably accompanied by a proficient piano player, but an audio recording/background music is okay if a pianist cannot be found who can play it well. Perhaps let the congregation join in singing the last chorus, if the soloist is comfortable with this. If no soloist is available who can render this song as it should be sung, you can simply play the video from youtube.)
  • SCRIPTURE READING: Isaiah 25:7-9 New Living Translation (NLT) "There He will remove the cloud of gloom, the shadow of death that hangs over the earth. He will swallow up death forever! The Sovereign Lord will wipe away all tears. In that day the people will proclaim, “This is our God! We trusted in Him, and He saved us! This is the Lord, in Whom we trusted. Let us rejoice in the salvation He brings!” "
Now, let's sing together, in closing, another of Becky's favorite hymns, "What a Day That Will Be." Please stand if you are able.
  • (Congregation Sings Together "What a Day That Will Be") (all verses, please repeat chorus A Capella at the end with a slight ritard at the end.) 
  • Pastor Closes in Prayer 
 (recessional: "When the Roll is Called Up Yonder" -- Play it very peppy and with lots of life in it, please!)