Clearnote Pastors Conference: The Last Enemy...

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I’ve been in ministry for about seven years. That’s not very long, but long enough to learn death is one of the most difficult things we deal with as pastors. Maybe I could summarize my ministry to college students like this: You’re going to die. And then you’re going to face God. Repent, put away childish things, and grow up.

Fact is, college students don’t really believe in death because they don’t really see death. It’s hidden from them, just like it’s hidden from the rest of us: behind hospital walls and in the sewers beneath our abortuaries. We hide our eyes from it—except for movies and video games. We can sustain the illusion that all is right with the world for only so long before our bad consciences and conflicted hearts need a two-hour cathartic release. But then, death is shoved back into hiding again, tucked neatly in its plastic case and tossed on the shelf.

Until the real thing strikes...

Then all Heaven and Hell break loose.

Most souls live in fear of death, so they banish it from their minds. Then, when the last enemy arrives, they have no idea how to deal with it. Panic. Desperation. Despair. False hopes of celestial light. Paper-thin platitudes.

Death is so awful that God uses it wonderfully. Through it He calls us out of our slumber, puts the awful consequences of our sinful rebellion on full display, and forces us to consider our end:

It is better to go to a house of mourning Than to go to a house of feasting, Because that is the end of every man, And the living takes it to heart. (Ecclesiastes 7:2)

Death is an enemy, but like all enemies of Jesus Christ, death has a way of cutting off his own head.

That's where the minister of the Gospel comes in. We’re made for these times. We're called to improve suffering and death through our presence, actions, and words. We're there in the darkest hours because we love our sheep, but also because we know this is the time when even the hardest sinner might be inclined to God in Jesus Christ. We're there to rob death of his final triumph.

I've never talked to a fellow pastor who feels prepared or adequate for this ministry, this hard work. In fact, the pastors I know find death to be one of the most intimidating works we do. It's hard.

The hospital room teeming with doctors and nurses who are often impatient at our presence. Family members wanting only the cheapest of comforts and assurances. Then the funeral and graveside service, followed by weeks and months and years of grieving.

To serve God well in these places and times, we need help. That's what this conference is for. Join us in February as we consider how best to serve God in the house of mourning. How we should think about death? What practical counsel and wisdom is there for hospital visits, funeral services, and committal services?

And end-of-life issues: how do we find the godly place to stand between breaking the Sixth Commandment and being heartless and faithless and cruel? How should we deal with families and loved ones asking our advice about treatment and care options being given to them by doctors and nurses? How should we respond to souls in our families and churches who ask us whether cremation is OK for Christians? How do we keep funerals and memorial services from being taken over by jokes, sentimentality, or hypocrisy? What tactful ways are there to protect the worship service from family members who would banish the Word of God and the glory of Jesus Christ, replacing them with the glory of their dead mother or father?

This and more...

The fellowship will be sweet, the food excellent, and the topic helpful. So click through, and register today. Come and be strengthened by brothers in Christ. The conference is for all church officers regardless of your title.

If you're not a pastor, would you consider sponsoring your pastor's attendance at this conference? Sometimes we need helpful nudges from people in our congregations to take some time, relax, and be strengthened by others.

Jake Mentzel

Jake has served as a pastor at Clearnote Church since 2010. He also teaches systematics at Clearnote Pastors College and Athanasius College. In his spare time, he leads Warhorn Media.

Want to get in touch? Send Jake an email or follow him on Twitter.