Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Your Obituary

Dear Friends,

Have you given any thought to your obituary? I don’t mean to bring up a depressing subject, but you all know that you’re not getting off this planet alive. Right? Last week I was reading newspaper obituaries which is something that I normally never do. What struck me was how a lifetime of our priorities and passions are so neatly and concisely stated in a few words that summarize our earthly existence. Academic degrees attained, military service, careers, children raised, memberships, golfing and bowling accomplishments, service awards. Some written with tedious details that sound as if written by a public relations company and some written by family members who convey their love and sadness in the memories of their loved ones. But nearly all sum up the person’s life with a list of what they’ve done. It’s a life resume of their most important achievements. But all stand before Jesus someday and He will not be interested in our military record, golf trophies or our career promotions. We are known by others for what we’ve done. We are known by God for who we’ve become.

As I thought about my own obituary, I’d like to have it sound like Marian Jean Kalionzes’ who died at the age of 91 on March 7th. “She knew the assurance of her salvation through Jesus Christ and spoke with conviction of the life awaiting her in Heaven. Her faith never shaken, she encouraged the many who loved her up to the finish...”

A friend was reflecting on this time of Lent and how they wished to be remembered when they have left this planet. They were thinking about  what they needed to do and change about themselves now in order to accomplish that wish. 

Lent is a season of self-reflection and repentance. The Biblical definition of REPENTANCE means to be remorseful and contrite over our sinful behavior and then have a change of mind about our behavior that results in a change of our actions. (Acts 26:20) If the season of Lent is no more than a mere religious obligation, we can proudly fast on chocolate to accrue spiritual “Brownie points” and come out of Lent looking the same way we did as when we entered the season. God requires more.

At some point in time, the clock will stop for us. Our body will be done. And who we are at that moment, will be how our loved ones will remember us. I don’t want to have the words “CRANKY OLD CODGER” chiseled on my tombstone. Some might say that I need to work on my personal “brand.” Personal branding is what young professionals do to invent and establish an image or impression of themselves in the minds of others. Your online and social media image may not be true to your authentic self but is a tightly managed group of online assets that package and promote how you want to be perceived. 

And while there are many books and resources on how to recreate and market a professional image, my image and your’s has already been established. We were created in the image of God. (Genesis 1:27) Of course we don’t physically resemble God because He is Spirit (John 4:24) but we were created to reflect God’s character and attributes. Obviously not His divine attributes such as His sovereignty, omniscience, omnipotence and omnipresence. God and God alone is the Supreme Authority, all-knowing, all-powerful and present in all places and at all times. 

But we were created in His image to reflect His character and as Spirit-filled Christians, we should be looking less like us and more like Jesus every day of our lives. In Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT), Paul lists the “fruit” of the Spirit. In the Greek, the word translated as “fruit” is singular meaning that the one single characteristic of a Christian is all of these nine attributes combined: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-Control. That’s what our authentic personal brand should look like because these are the Christ-like attributes that mark and identify the true follower of Jesus. 

Things to Ponder...

+ What is the “brand” or image that you currently convey to others? 

+ Which attributes of the Fruit of the Spirit are weak or missing? 

Are you okay with the idea of coming out of Lent unchanged? 
          And if not, what would God want you to change about yourself?

When your earthly body dies, how do you want to be remembered by your loved ones? 

+ What would you want to see chiseled on your tombstone?

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The AMEN Corner is a weekly devotional for the family and friends of New Hope Family Church. It is intended for this devotional to be strengthening, encouraging or comforting and your comments too should be for the glory of God and reflect the intended purpose of these posts.

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