The Last Enemy: Cremation

The 2015 Clearnote Pastors Conference, titled The Last Enemy, was held at Clearnote Church in Bloomington, Indiana from February 18-20, 2015. The following is a transcript of session 5 on cremation, preached by Pastor Tim Bayly on February 19, 2015. See also the transcripts of sessions 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, and 7.

The conference materials introduced this session as follows:

Cremation is an increasingly popular trend in these United States. But can Christians cremate in faith? This seminar will examine the practice of cremation under the lens of Scripture and will provide pastoral strategies for dealing with its increasing popularity.

Introduction: A lot of funerals

My wife’s and my first church out of seminary was in rural Wisconsin. It was in a little town of 1,500, and our manse was next to the church, and you knew they were related to each other because both of them were white with black trim and they were right next to each other. And right behind us was the funeral home–it was one of these situations in a small town where someone owned both the furniture store and the funeral home. And periodically the woman that ran the funeral home would have nobody to bury people, and so she’d ask me to bury them. I had a yoked parish of two churches 8 miles from each other, and my town church, I’d almost say the average age was 85 years old. And I can remember being so depressed that nobody close to my wife’s and my age, with our children, were in those churches–there just weren’t people our age there, especially in the town church–and thinking, Lord, the rest of my life am I just going to be burying people? And so I think in the first three years of ministry I buried 39 people. And a lot of them were people who were indigent or had no church or for some reason the funeral home–either there or over in Portage–would ask me to do these funerals. And so I did a lot of them.

And honestly, my brothers David and Nathan and I agreed we’d rather do ten funerals than one wedding. And pastors usually understand what we mean by that, which is that weddings are so proud–and then you deal with who sits where at the rehearsal–you’ve got divorced people that hate each other’s guts, you’ve got the girlfriend, you’ve got all this stuff. So the combination of pride and the broken homes, it’s like a minefield. But you go into a funeral, and typically funerals are humble.

But then I remember going to a funeral up in Wisconsin Dells, I don’t know why I was there, I don’t know whose funeral it was–but it was in a United Methodist church, and I sat about two-thirds of the way towards the back on the right side. And I sat behind a row of four or six people, three couples who, as we prepared for the service, all they were talking about was gambling and their latest trip to the casino. And so here some friend of theirs was, about to be buried, and I’m sitting behind them, and my hair is standing on end. The godlessness and callousness–I don’t think I’d read Psalm 73 at that point in my life even though I was a pastor, but man, it was Psalm 73. And I realized that America was moving into a different day–that even in the funeral, in the church, right as we’re about to bury someone, there was absolutely no fear of God, none–just callous jocularity about gambling, with couples that were getting close to the end of their own lives.

Then we moved to Bloomington, and the first church we served nobody ever died there–there might have been a couple of funerals, but there weren’t many. It was a middle-aged congregation when I got there. So, very few funerals in Bloomington, and then our church now we might have a death every two years, if that. We go to more funerals than we have. And about five years ago Mary Lee and I bought a piece of property west of town here, and the man that developed it with his wife had cancer, and right after we bought the property he died. And they didn’t have a church, he wasn’t a believer, and they asked me to come and officiate at the funeral. Well I knew what that was, it’s not like a wedding, where the bride’s mother tells you what to do–at a funeral, generally, you tell everybody else what to do–I mean you don’t have to, there’s just a certain pattern, a certain routine, you go through it, and the funeral director tells you which end is the head in the casket. And that’s about all you need to know to do a funeral.

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The Last Enemy: Comfort the grieving

The 2015 Clearnote Pastors Conference, titled The Last Enemy, was held at Clearnote Church in Bloomington, Indiana from February 18-20, 2015. The following is a transcript of session 4, “Comfort the Grieving: Caring for those who have lost loved ones,” preached by Pastor Tim Bayly on February 19, 2015. See also the transcripts of sessions 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, and 7.

The conference materials introduced this session as follows:

Grieving is a difficult and complex process. Funerals and visitations present both obstacles and opportunities. Helping those mourning the loss of a loved one is sensitive work, from the hospital bed to the graveside to the days and months and years that follow. Real faith, skill, and wisdom are demanded of God’s ministers at these most sensitive points in their peoples’ lives.


Song: The Warning

About 13 or 14 years ago my brother David told me that I had to listen to this album of the Boston Camerata, and I think at that time I went ahead and bought a couple of CDs. And I don’t know that you said much more than that; but then I was listening to the CDs–now this is Christian church music in colonial America, and as you listen to it I want you to imagine this being what comes out of Nashville and the CCM industry. And I don’t want you to laugh about it–I want you to think, what would it be like if the CCM industry was doing this kind of music?

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The Last Enemy: Strengthen the dying

The 2015 Clearnote Pastors Conference, titled The Last Enemy, was held at Clearnote Church in Bloomington, Indiana from February 18-20, 2015. The following is a transcript of session 3, “Strengthen the Dying: Walking with your people from sickness to the grave,” preached by Pastor Max Curell on February 19, 2015. See also the transcripts of sessions 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, and 7.

Introduction

Let’s pray. Father in heaven, we come to You this morning. We have work to do that You have given to us. We have responsibility that You have placed on us. We have the care of Your people through their lives, and also particularly at the point of their deaths, Father. Help us, O Lord, to be faithful in our work. Forgive us for our failures. Lord, cause us to live by faith, we pray in Jesus’ name, amen.

My topic this morning is “Strengthen the dying: Walking with our people from sickness to the grave.” And there’s a lot of stuff that happens in those last months, weeks, days, minutes–but I’m going to put it into four different categories this morning, and won’t be able to give more than just an introduction, really, to each of them.

I want to start by telling you the story of the worst crisis professional I’ve ever seen.

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The Last Enemy: Biblical ethics and euthanasia

The 2015 Clearnote Pastors Conference, titled The Last Enemy, was held at Clearnote Church in Bloomington, Indiana from February 18-20, 2015. The following is a transcript of session 2, “Biblical ethics and euthanasia,” taught by the late Dr. Adam Spaetti on February 19, 2015. See also the transcripts of sessions 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7.


Introduction

Thank you for that warm welcome, thank you for giving me your attention today.

Before we get started I’m going to pray one more time. Please bow your heads with me.

Father, we do thank You for bringing all of us together as brothers. I pray now, Lord, that You would make this time fruitful, I pray that you would cause me to decrease that you might increase. Please send your Spirit to work through my mouth to build these men up in their work. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

So as it is going to be like drinking from a firehose I debated whether or not to do slides, but I think you’re probably going to need them, because there’s a lot to cover today, so just hang on to your seat–we’re going to go over a lot of material.hell

As Jake said, I have been a hospitalist. Just a little bit about me: I went to the IU medical school; I’m a born and raised Hoosier, grew up in Evansville, Indiana; graduated from medical school in 2004; did my residency in St Vincent’s hospital in Indianapolis (which is really a top-notch internal medicine residency program, in terms of giving people the freedom to learn good medicine and also to learn to practice ethical medicine. The Catholics, I hate to tell you if you didn’t already know this, are still way ahead of the evangelicals when it comes to medical ethics. It won’t last–they’re eroding too–but for the time it was very good.) I finished up residency in 2007 and was board certified in internal medicine, which is basically primary care just for adults. So people ask me, do you do family practice? and the answer is kind of like, well, sort of–I don’t see kids, I don’t deliver babies, but it is more or less family practice for adults.

After I finished up training, for the first 7 years I worked at Premier Healthcare–I’m still there, but I worked as a hospitalist. Now a hospitalist position is a particular subset of internal medicine where all you do is take care of hospital patients. This came about about 20 years ago in the United States, and it’s pretty much universal across the country now. In the old days if you got sick and went to the hospital, your family doctor would come see you, either in the morning or on his lunch break or in the evening or maybe some combination of the above–but he had an office that he had to work in, and they found that it was very hard to be in two places at once. And so men just started specializing in hospital medicine. And there are good things about the system, there are bad things about the system; but what it meant for me was that I ended up taking care of a lot of people who died. They didn’t die because I took care of them, but it is part of the nature of the work. Everything from little old ladies with devastating strokes, to 19-year-old overdoses–pretty much anybody that walked in the door, I would be involved in their care, and that includes general inpatient problems that ended well–you know, treatment of pneumonia and things like that–as well as the ICU. Not all hospitalists do critical care work, but that was kind of the high point of my training at St. Vincent, and I did it here in Bloomington too and really loved it. I do enjoy critical care quite a bit.

So I was exposed to death and dying a lot through my work as a hospitalist. About five years ago, I also started doing nursing home work on the side. As a hospitalist I’d work a really long week and then I’d be off a week, and during my off week I would take care of nursing home patients. And as you can imagine, dying comes up quite a bit when you’re taking care of nursing home patients as well.

And then about six months ago I took over a primary care office for an elderly physician in town who got sick and needed help, and that’s what I’ve been doing primarily for the last six months, is getting used to office practice. But I still go to the hospital, and I still do my nursing home work. And so at least at this point, I’m one of these members of a dying breed in primary care who goes to all the different locations, and I’m hoping the Lord will make it possible for me to continue that, because I really do enjoy practicing in each of those settings.

So, that’s in a nutshell my exposure to death and dying. That’s how I ended up as a doctor getting invited to speak at a pastors’ conference. And I want to try to lay out for you a little bit what I see as the connection between what you do and what I do. Because what I do is not just medicine. The idea I think a lot of people have is that you’re good in science so you go into medicine–and once upon a time I was good in science, but that really hasn’t been the focus of what I do for many years. Yesterday was actually kind of a nice treat–I had a young girl in my office and I had a slow day, and she had some really weird, unusual symptoms, and I was able to just sit and research things on the computer and look up articles, and it was just like the old days, you know, when I got to be a nerd.

But for the most part, now what I do is manage people. Now what I do is I counsel, I teach, I admonish, I deal with a lot of emotional stress. I’ve never sat down and done the statistics, but if I see 16 people in a day, I would say probably at least 10-12 of them are on medication for depression and anxiety. And so our jobs, I think, are very similar. And that’s actually one of the things I like most about my job, is that there is a pastoral element to it. I could, you know, just do academic medicine and forgo all that–each doctor carves out his own niche–but this is the way I like to practice medicine. And so, in keeping with that, I also get to do similar work, as Jake said, as an elder of this church. And that has equipped me, more than I can ever describe, for the kinds of situations that I deal with in the office, in the hospital, in the nursing home, in working with people.

And so it’s a privilege for me to be here among pastors. I admire the work you do, and to the extent that God lets me participate in the work as well, I feel very excited and very blessed.

I also wanted to show you this picture, not just because my kids are beautiful–they are. Not just because I take great delight in them–I do. But also because I really feel like they’re as much a part of my credentials as my medical training. Nothing has prepared me for dealing with people–for leading people, for teaching people, for disciplining people–like having children. It’s the best training I have had; and so for you young guys in particular out there, my encouragement to you would be, have lots of children and just love them. Because there will be so many situations that come up in the course of being a father that translate into your fatherhood in the church.

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The Last Enemy: A biblical understanding of death

The 2015 Clearnote Pastors Conference, titled The Last Enemy, was held at Clearnote Church in Bloomington, Indiana from February 18-20, 2015. The following is a transcript of session 1, “The Last Enemy: A biblical understanding of death,” preached by Pastor David Bayly on February 18, 2015. See also the transcripts of sessions 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7.


If you have your Bibles, turn with me in God’s Word to Genesis 3. We’re talking about death, and the Christian response to it. This is not a new subject for Baylys to speak about, although it’s unusual for my brother Tim and me to be the ones speaking about it. I remember year after year, our father going all over the country and even around other places to speak about death and dying–he did so with Elisabeth Kübler-Ross for a number of years at med schools, and also on his own–and I remember traveling with him and how taxing and wearing it was for him to speak about death–and he always did so on the basis of the death that stalked my three brothers who died, two before I was born, one after. And when Dad would go and speak–I remember the last time he did it, by that time I was in seminary myself, so I went with him to Rockford, probably to that big PCA church in Rockford, and he did a weekend seminar on death and dying, and as always happened, all those who had lost children in the last year–in the last decade it seemed–came out and wanted to talk and talk about death. And it was so taxing. I was exhausted from the stories and the grief of these people who came up to Dad. I couldn’t believe that he could take a full weekend of talking to these people. And that was really what he did. He went there to speak, but his real ministry was in between the sessions and just talking to people.


One of the things that my dad would say about death is that death is horrible. And occasionally he would talk about the death of my brother Danny, who had leukemia and died at age 5. Danny was told that there was no hope for him and was brought home from the hospital to die. Because it was such a sensitive thing I never asked Dad what it meant when he said that Danny was brought home from the hospital to die. Danny was Tim’s older brother who was very dear to Tim, they were inseparable for years, and he was brought home to die, and he bled to death on my parents’ bed, as I understand it. Now I don’t know if that means he bled outwardly or inwardly, I don’t know–was it like a hemophilia bleed? Was it an external–I don’t know, but I know it was horrible. And for Dad to revisit those memories time after time was horrible. Death is an enemy. Death is a foe. Now that seems obvious, because Scripture says the last enemy to be destroyed is death, but this evening I think we have to make certain points about death that are essential to proving that death is a foe, and what it means that it’s a foe.

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What if the civil magistrate listened?

Dear brothers,

Some of you have expressed interest in a project I have been working on to create an audio book of a work titled The Revolt of 2020. (The book was written in 2010.) Christians are always saying the civil magistrate should stop being so cowardly and stand up and do what he knows is right. But the premise of the book is, what would happen if the civil magistrate actually did that? I don’t think I’m going too far in saying few of us has counted the cost of what that would mean. And that can’t be right, can it? Being able to look the situation square in the face is essential to being like the men of Issachar, who “understood the times and knew what Israel should do.”

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Transcript: Pastor Steven Warhurst’s minority report 2019

Following is a transcript of Pastor Steven Warhurst’s minority report referenced in this Warhorn Media post. May God bless Pastor Warhurst and Westminster Presbytery for their faith and love.


Warhurst: Teaching elder Steven Warhurst, from Westminster Presbytery.

I must be really unpopular, what time is it? It’s 11:30, I go to bed at 10 usually. But I want to present this to you, because I think it’s an excellent overture from Westminster Presbytery, we formed a study committee to look into Revoice, did an investigation, found several errors, and wanted to correct those errors; but this overture arose out of that study, and it’s meant to help pastors, teachers, and parents by providing a biblical means of dealing with those whom they love and want to help who struggle with homosexuality. Continue reading

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Knox’s First Blast: the other footnotes

Here are some more footnotes from my new edition of Knox’s First Blast of the Trumpet. (As I wanted that work to consist of all public domain material, I had left these quotations, for which the editor or translator may be claiming copyright, out.)

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Concerns with the upcoming Revoice Conference and Spiritual Friendship Folk

By Robert A. J. Gagnon

While I am glad for the fact that persons at the upcoming Revoice Conference (July 26-28, St. Louis, in a PCA venue) and those who align with the “Spiritual Friendship” program want to refrain from engaging in same-sex intercourse and thereby uphold this part of the orthodox witness, I have seven consequential concerns about their views.
 
1. Inadequate engagement with the need for “renewal of the mind” as regards homosexual desires. Is there any asking of: “What is the false narrative that gives these impulses particular strength? Why am I viewing a person of the same sex as a sexual complement or counterpart to my own sex? Why am I aroused by the distinctive sexual features of my own sex, by what I already have? Am I thinking of myself as only half of my own sex? What kind of strategies for renewing my mind can I use to counter this false narrative beyond ‘washed and waiting’?” Instead, the benefits of a generalized “gay” perspective (minus the sex) are celebrated or lifted up. Even if one’s attractions may not change with such an evaluation, they can be disempowered by exposing the lie that lies behind attempts to gratify same-sex desire or (for “transgenders,” so-called) to deny one’s biological sex altogether. There is more to be addressed here than refraining from homosexual sex.

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Glenn Beck teaches us it’s not our fault…

“If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain,
or if I command the locust to devour the land,
or if I send pestilence among My people,
and My people who are called by My name humble themselves
and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways,
then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin
and will heal their land.” – 2 Chronicles 7:13-14

For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? – 1 Peter 4:17

Everywhere in Scripture we see the truth that wicked men are not the principal actors who cause difficulty, struggle, and disaster for God’s people, but that God Himself sends such times to turn His people back to Him. (See for example the testimony of David1, Hosea2, the author of Judges3, Amos4, Ezra5, Nehemiah6, Isaiah7, and Daniel8.)

We see the general principle in Amos 3:6:

If a trumpet is blown in a city will not the people tremble?
If a calamity occurs in a city has not the LORD done it?

In the New Testament, the Apostle Peter, concluding his first epistle, which is about suffering, attributes our suffering not to the wickedness of wicked men; but he says by the Holy Spirit that these things come to us from the hand of God:

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God,
that He may exalt you at the proper time… – 1 Peter 5:6

And the author of Hebrews takes a whole chapter (Hebrews 12) to exhort us to endure hardship as God’s discipline and to warn of the peril of refusing that discipline.

So what does all of this have to do with Glenn Beck? Continue reading

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