Daily Devotional for Friday August 18, 2006
A Prophetic Voice for a Season
(Psalms 116:15; Romans 14:8; Philippians 1:21; Hebrews 11:13)
Over the past few months, on top of everything else that I have to do each day, I have forced myself to take some time to pray and plan for the day when God calls me home and my work in this life is finished. In reviewing and updating all of the plans that are in place for what happens to me after I die, I have also been working on the plans for Liveprayer and this ministry once I am gone.
As I share with you often, the Bible clearly teaches us that tomorrow is not promised to any of us, including me. So during this time the last few weeks, I have spent many hours in God's Word reading about the life of many of the prophets in the Old Testament. Today, I want to share what the Holy Spirit has laid on my heart and take the opportunity to challenge you to prepare for that day we will all face when God says our work here is completed and He calls us home.
Let me start by sharing with you some of the personal decisions I have made regarding that time when my life here is over. First, I have a Living Will, something I would encourage everyone to have. This way, there are no questions what you want to happen should you end up in a position where you can't make choices regarding your care. Personally, I have it stated very clear that I am NOT to be kept alive by any artificial means, that includes feeding tubes and hydration. I have no desire to have my clay tablet keep clinically alive if I can't function and be productive. After all, it is only prolonging the inevitable, so I have chosen to simply be allowed to die naturally and enjoy whatever eternity will bring.
Second, I have talked to my wife and family and informed them that I would not be having a funeral or memorial service. Having preached hundreds of funerals over the years, I fully understand that a funeral or memorial service is for those who are still living. However, I have shared with my family that we should take advantage of the opportunities we have while we are alive to spend time together, enjoy that special bond family members share, and when I die they can find comfort first in the fact that I am forever with Jesus and second in the wonderful memories of our lives together. People's lives are busy, so rather than having them burdened with travel, taking off work, and all that is involved in coming to a funeral, I want them to just take some time and reflect on the wonderful times we shared.
Third, I have chosen to donate any organs that are useful, and then my body is going to be cremated. The Bible tells us that our bodies will return to the dust of the earth. That can happen slowly over time if you are buried, or quickly if you are cremated. The end result is the same. The fact is how a dead body is disposed of is a cultural issue and not something the Bible commands us to do in one way or another.
I'll share a special secret with you. Once I am cremated, the last thing I have asked my dear wife to do for me is take my ashes, get on a plane to my hometown of Columbus, Ohio, go to Ohio Stadium (affectionately known by Buckeye fans as "The Horseshoe"), and spread my ashes across the 50-yard-line. Once I die, you will be able to watch an Ohio State home game and know that Bill is right there on the 50, rooting for his beloved Buckeyes!
(Gratuitous opportunity to beg: If there are any Texas fans (or Ohio State fans) who have an extra ticket to the Texas/Ohio State game on September 9th, since it is at night I am available! The TV program ends at 2 a.m. Saturday morning and I can fly to Austin later that morning. I will even promise not to rub it in when Ohio State wins. Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org )
Let me encourage you to not neglect taking the time to pray about and plan what you want to happen to you once you die. It is not fair for your spouse and family to have to deal with the grief of your passing, plus, have to make all of the decisions regarding your final arrangements. Please, sit down and pray and plan out all of those details, make sure you have a Living Will that spells out your wishes and how all of your financial affairs will be handled, and prepare ahead of time so that when God calls you home, your final arrangement will be already taken care of.
For the past several years, my Board Members have really been on me to have a plan in place for Liveprayer after I die. Let me share with you what the Holy Spirit has spoken into my heart about that. First of all, I know that my real legacy is not the Liveprayer organization, but it is the hearts and lives God has used me to reach for Him during my life. After much counsel from men older and much wiser than I am, I have come to realize that Liveprayer is really simply the organizational shell for the work God has called me to do.
As these men have told me, God has raised me up for this season to share His Truth and the hope of Christ with a lost and hurting world. God has given me the vision to reach the lost masses outside the traditional ways of the existing church or Christian media. It is God who has sovereignly raised up my voice through the Internet and on secular TV to reach those who are not being reached otherwise. These men told me that the prophets of old were raised up by God at a specific point in their life, and for a season they declared His Truth to the world of their day.
This caused me to really dig in and study the lives of many of the Old Testament prophets. They were not men of great wealth or position or power. They shared the common trait of simply being men who loved God and were yielded to His Sprit as vessels He could use to accomplish His plan and purpose through their lives. We know very little about them before God sovereignly raised them up. They were used by God for a season and you never heard from them again, but they made an impact on the people of their day for God!
I did not answer God's call into the ministry nearly 17 years ago for fame or money, only to serve Him. Having Liveprayer continue on as some sort of legacy has never been something I have been worried or concerned about. As I mentioned, my real legacy is in the hearts and lives of those God has allowed me to minister to over the years. However, in trying to be a good steward of what God has produced in my life, we are putting into place a plan that after I am in Glory the website, the infrastructure to pray for people who email us each day, will remain in tact.
The Daily Devotional book coming out in the next few months is something I view as an instrument God will be using to bring people to faith in Christ long after I am dead. We are working on memorializing ALL of the Daily Devotionals and having them accessible on the website once I'm gone. In addition, next year we will be producing a book with some of the 2 million praise reports we have received over the past 84 months to glorify God and encourage people that what God has done for someone else, He will do for them.
As for the TV program, we have archived DVDs of every program we have done, 903 to date. After I die, there will be a plan in place to go through all of the TV programs that exist at that time and create some sort of "best of" collection that will be made available on the website. This will include my opening monologues on a whole range of issues, calls from viewers, and many of the amazing things that happen on the TV program that will not only share the Truth of God's Word with people, but allow them to see God's hand working in real lives as a testimony of His love and power to literally transform real lives every day.
One of the biggest errors I have seen in ministries over the years is trying to put the work of God in a box, perpetuate a ministry past its time, duplicate it, and sell it like a widget. There is nothing wrong with organization, God calls us to be organized. But sadly, too many ministries birthed by the Spirit of the Living God lose their power once they become "structured" and "organized." Also, God usually raises up men and women for a "season." It is our flesh that wants to see what we do continue on and on and never end.
A work of God is not like McDonald's. YOU CAN'T DUPLICATE A SOVEREIGN MOVE OF GOD! What worked in one place because of God's Sprit, will not work in another place just because you do it the exact same way. You can't package and sell a move of God. Actually you can, we see it happen all the time. Again, the problem is what God did sovereignly in one place does NOT mean He will do that same thing somewhere else, and those who try to purchase a move of God are wasting their money.
I love you and care about you so much. As someone who comes out of a business background, God has had to break me over the years from treating Liveprayer like a normal business. Yes, there is a business side to the ministry. Yes, there needs to be an organized structure in order to operate each day. Yes, churches and some ministries are raised up to operate for generations. However, God has told me clearly that Liveprayer is but for a season. That is why I am not worried about building buildings, or having a huge staff other than what we need to do His work each day, or finding someone to replace me when I am gone.
The best business model to describe Liveprayer is that of the Old Testament prophet or even the ministry of Paul. You don't read about Paul Ministry Incorporated after his martyrdom. His work ceased with his homegoing, but his legacy and the effects of his work are still seen today in the hearts and lives he impacted for the Kingdom of God.
I am completely at peace that the infrastructure to pray for millions each year through the Internet will continue, that the words God has written through me each day over these many years will still exit to change hearts and lives, that the power of God demonstrated on the TV program night after night has been preserved, but beyond that what God has called me to do is for a season that will end when He calls me home to Glory.
I will pray for you today to not only insure that you prepare for the time when your journey through this life is complete, but that you begin to pray about your spiritual legacy as well. Your greatest legacy will be in those hearts and lives you touch for Christ during your life. I pray today that you will realize that each day God gives you opportunities to share His Truth and the hope you have in Christ with others, and long after you are in Heaven, you will live on in those lives you have touched for Christ. The reality is, we are all here but for a season. As those faithful men and women of God before have done, let us make our season count!