Are You Dead From No Faith or No Works?

Dealing with death

Years ago I was in the kitchen making dinner for my family thinking about a question Stefani had asked me. “Which do you prefer, being a pastor or a chaplain?”  I replied, “A chaplain.”  She said, “But you work with death!”  I had thought about that for a few days and then realized all pastors, counselors, chaplains, or missionaries work with death.

David said he was conceived into sin by his mother ( Psalm 51: 5) and the Bible says the wages of sin is death.  The sentence of death does not wait till a child is born. Going through training at Virginia Baptist Hospital, I learned to relate to parents of stillbirth, ectopic, and neonatal death and help families who lost a child grieve the loss.

Mankind is destined to die

Man begins to die from conception and whether we live a few hours or many years, the final verdict is death.  In hospice patients and their families, they know from the doctor the prognosis is grim but the rest of mankind rejects in their minds their future deaths.  However, for twenty-six years in pastoral ministry the other form of death was from those in the pews.  This may sound strange until we see what James says:

 “If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?  In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.”
(James 2: 16-18 NIV)
“As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.” 
(James 2:26 NIV)

Pastors deal with Death

Often times the role of a pastor is to encourage believers to put into practice what they confess.  Many times they are incapacitated by fear or immobilized by prejudice.   Fear makes us worry we may fail God and he may be angry or disappointed.  They forget God knew what would happen before your conception and he still chose to call you to faith.  In fear, seek him out for the strength to serve.
I am not talking about racial prejudice but the kind Paul reminds about being high-minded. They may have forgotten their pasts and that unless God had relented they might be in the same positions because none of us were born special.  We were born into sin with all of its trappings, pleasantries, and pains.  Some sins we practice and not others but this does not make us better than those not sitting in the pew with you.  Of the two of these, I think prejudice is the worst because it comes from an attitude of superiority.  Even Jesus came in the form of a servant and he is FAR SUPERIOR TO US!
The pierogi was delicious—I made hot sausage for me and spinach and ricotta cheese for Vicki.  A pierogi i a dough shaped like ravioli with potato and cheese, potato and kraut and many other fillings.   Depending upon which part of eastern Europe you come from some are boiled while others are fried.  Pierogis Plus has won the award for the “Best in Pittsburgh” (I did not receive any advertising revenue from this) but when I picked up the order the music in the store was on K-Love, a Christian station in Pittsburgh.  I remarked to the Slavic-lady who had been in this country for about forty years that I liked the music.  She immediately said, “I love the Lord!”  I told her I was a born-again believer and then she saw my chaplain’s badge.  She went back into the store and brought me a dozen more pierogis.
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