Keith Elder Eulogy

Keith Elder Message

Genesis 15:5 And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be.” 

How do you describe things that are larger than life? 

How do you describe the ocean the first time you stand and listen to its roar and watch its endless tide?

How do you describe the Rocky mountains when you take your first look at those towering peaks and seemingly never-ending ridges?

How do you describe the universe as you stand beneath the starry canopy and your eyes only can see the eternal void interrupted by trillions of stars and galaxies?

You don’t describe it, you admire it! You stand in awe of it, you wait in amazement because you cannot describe it! I feel the same way when I try to describe Keith Elder!

To many of us, when we first met him, he was larger than life; not only in size, but in spirit and experience.

As Mark Muirhead noted on my Facebook page he was; Big Heart, Big Stature, Big Handshake, Big Voice, Big Prayers, Big Dreams, Big Achievements and Bigger Rewards.

I would like to add; Big Friend, Big Husband, Big Father, Big Grand Dad, Big Brother, and Big Neighbor!

While his absence leaves a void in us, his legacy leaves us with big responsibilities to carry on the vision, the love, the prayers, the caring and the dreams, that he championed for us!

He left us with an example of how to preach the Gospel! He showed us that the message was better delivered with  a hug, a tug on the shoulder, an open door, a forgiving heart, a tear in the eye and welcoming meal.

I don’t know that I ever had the privilege to hear him preach, but his message was always clear and precise and life changing: to him people matter, vision matters, and legacy matters.

He taught us how to live, how to dream and how to leave behind what really matters.

For many of us he was our greatest coach cheering us on! He’s left the field, but the game continues on!  He left us his legacy and we honor it today!

Elder’s life has yielded so much good fruit of lives being changed. May his legacy continue to yield that same fruit!

Revelation 14:13 “And I heard a voice from heaven, saying, “Write, ‘Blessed are the dead who die from now on!’” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “so that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow with them.”

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40th Anniversary for David and Pat Raley June 16, 1973-2013

40th Anniversary for David and Pat Raley
June 16, 1973-2013

I heard a thought or sermon one time about the dash between the dates on a gravestone. That dash represented the greatest part of the deceased persons life. It is what they did in that dash that validates the birth and gives value to the life of the corpse. Well today Pat and I are not crawling up into any caskets. We have a whole lot more to do and life to live before the end. But the dash for us represents a whole lot of struggles, growth, fun and adventures. Today we are celebrating the validation of our marriage and the value of its love.

Let me rehearse a few of those events

1973 Wedding in Cullman, Alabama

In that ten years I worked at a steel mill, pulp wood Yard, hardware store, and a insurance company. Pat worked at sewing factories.

We lived in rental homes and struggled to pay our $55.00 a month rent.

We bought our first home, a trailer.

I committed myself to the call of ministry.

1983-1993

We were pastors of Grace Chapel. Assembly of God.
We were new parents of Jonathan (1985)
We became pastors of New Life Assembly
We bought two new homes and built a new home
Pat got her Associates degree and became a x-Ray technologist.

1993-2003
We were elected District Youth Directors of Alabama.
We lived in Montgomery, Alabama
We started Capital Christian Center
We built a Church building

2003-2013

We left to serve the national office of the Assemblies of God
We live in Springfield, Missouri
Pat got her Bachelors degree at Evangel University.
We have lived in two homes and one of those I built.
We helped start a new ministry with a friend and we are presently doing such.

We have traveled the world together, built homes together, raised a family together and dreamed together. Life has been an adventure and it has been a struggle. We have had our ups and we have had our downs. There were days that we did not have the money for what we needed and there were days that we had enough money to share. We have had some defeats and failures but we also have won and succeeded at some things. We made a few enemies along The way, for which I am sad, but wow have we made some friends. We were never poor because we did not have any wealth or money. We never considered that being without was because of who we were. Our minds were set to move forward and do the best we could with the little we had. We felt that if we gave it all we had the results would be better than letting life push down. We never thought about giving up, letting up, but moving up. We never felt like we had to have more than we could afford or be bigger than who we were. We have always been amazed at how good, kind and gracious people have been to us.

We have never been anywhere close to perfect. We started out as two teenagers who had nothing but each other. I mean really nobody gave us a a chance that we could or would succeed. We have failed on so many levels in so many ways. But we have succeeded in enough places to be here today after forty years of marriage, healed, happy, healthy, and hopeful for the future that is in front of us. If the dash in these last forty years means anything it means that nothing in our future can stop us from having a future. The Lord has shined His face upon us. He has put His hand on us to bless us. He has given us His favor and His loving kindness for life.

David and Pat

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Happy Father’s Day

Happy Father’s Day

Today is Fathers Day. This is the day that we celebrate dad. There is no doubt that dad deserves the day of celebration. So many times when we commemorate dad in our church services it is centered around what a dad should be and not what he is. It seems to take on the feel of coaching him up rather than thanking him for his role. It is really a total different feel for the mothers on their day. On Mother’s Day we have nothing but praise and highest honors. If only the rest of humanity could even get somewhere close to what a mother is then we would be highly esteemed. Now lest you think I have a problem with the praise on mothers let me say, mothers are worthy of every accolade we could give them. But could we give a little love toward daddy? Could we take a day to reflect on the struggles, challenges and unique journeys of the man who is a daddy.

When you think about the struggles of a man it may take a while. While he is a man he is still a boy. One who likes to explore because of the curiously he innately has by simply being male. That curiosity helps him develop into a man. Yet it is that same curiosity that leads him down some not so good roads. That is why boys needs daddy’s to guide and guard until the boy becomes astute enough to do so for himself.

A man needs challenges and championships to stretch him to become better. He finds his character being built in the stretching forward and competition with others. Truth is men have to deal with losing more than winning. They carry the weight of not being good enough, smart enough or rich enough. If you are second you are really just the first loser in this life. Men somewhere should be applauded for competing even though they did not win. The competing is what makes the champion not the trophy. The challenge is not the competition but the lack of appreciation after the losses.

Men are guardians, protectors, leaders, nurturers, lovers, fighters, competitors, followers, and even pin cushions. Yes, I said pin cushions! They have everything pinned on them and after a while they get testy with all the sticks. Our whole culture beats him up. He has to fight to wear he pants today but fight even more with others trying to put a skirt on him. He has no desire to take the women’s rights away but he really would like for them to leave his alone. Men were made to lead and when he has a collar put on him for others to lead him it causes a lot of confusion in him. Men have in them innately to guard and protect. It is confusing when they have to live with the fear of society wanting him to step back. The journey of each man is one in which he does not just carry his weight but all the weight of his family, career, and society.

Thankful we are for man who do a great job caring for others while few care for them. Thankful we are for the dads who did not leave when it seemed everybody left him. Thankful we are for the dad when temptation was present turned and went the other way. Thankful we are for the dad who got up early to go to a job he may not of loved because he had others he loved. Thankful we are for the dads who continued to lead when the world says sit down.

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Takes Some Time, But Don’t Waste it.

Takes Some Time, But Don’t Waste it.

I am sitting in a Wal-Mart in Easton, Maryland. I am sipping on a Starbucks coffee and enjoying the rain. I am enjoying the lawn chairs that are for sale. As a road warrior I have long learned how to enjoy the journey and to find soft spots along the trail. Usually I am looking for those hole in the wall restaurants to dine. Quiet places to refresh and reload from the business of life. Waste of time? Oh no, valuable time needed to do the grueling work I do of traveling. This week I dined on Rock Fish off the Atlantic, last week Crawfish from the Gulf in Lousiana and a few days before that, fish baskets in San Francisco. The travel is tough but the food is fantastic.

All of us having been given only so much time here on earth. Think about this,

In a year we spend about
120 days sleeping.
45 days eating.
31 days watching tv.
14 days on vacation
13 days in church
2 days paying bills.

Now multiply that by the years you will live. What I am getting at is, are you spending your time in such a way that when you are passing from here to eternity you can be proud of where you spent it?

God gave you time and how you spend it will totally be up to you. Remember the time you got your first nice chunk of money? Someone might have said to you, “Don’t spend it all in one place or at one time!” Well that in your mind was impossible until later that day you had a bunch of busted toys, mangled receipts and empty billfold. Time like money goes faster than you think it can. But like money once time is gone you cannot make anymore. You lose the opportunity to hold that bride when she is gone. You lose that opportunity to go to a soccer game when he is grown. You lose the opportunity to listen to a parent when they are gone.

Busy? Sure, you are! But is your busy time the right time? Could you live with less and really have more? Will you keep losing moments for money!

Take all the time you need! No, I mean use all the time you have. Because you only have so many time chips to use and then it is time to cash it in.

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Get a Life

Get a real Life!

So many in our day have made non realities their realities. It is as if the things that are not real have become what is real. They have made fiction their non-fiction. If they see truth they reject it because it did not come by some artificial means. Their way of building relationships is inside a computer rather than face to face. I know folks that cannot interact in person but come alive on a computer screen. I have seen folks become big on the social networks who I knew to be very small individuals in person. I have seen those who I would consider hero’s in life chiseled down to midgets by the crafty words of others. When you had rather watch a reality show than life with reality you are sick.

This has affected every aspect of our lives. From our politics, faith, family, community and work. People are important. Connectivity with people has to extend beyond the electronic social networks. If all your friends exist in a screen you may not have no friends when the electricity is off. Living in the real world of marriage could never have the sizzle of The soap operas. Elicit affairs never can produce the ecstasy of a romance outside of marriage. No pastor can produce disciples in the vacuum of today’s light shows and productions. If you can make things modern and relevant great! As long as when the lights are turned back on people are drooling about Jesus rather than stage performers.

Life in the real world is tough, fragile, joyful, painful, dull, exciting, routine and chaotic. Get out of your closets and live and experience it before you die. Get out of the box on the table before you are placed in a box in the ground.

Get a Life!

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Memorial Day

Memorial Day is a sad day to me. I know it is a vacation day for all of us. It is a family day to get together and enjoy a cookout,some watermelon and homemade ice cream.

But this day is a day to remember the fallen soldiers of our country. To all of us it is a national day of remembrance and appreciation for the ultimate sacrifice of their life. For many among us it is more personal. A dad or mom, brother or sister or son or daughter is not coming home. Life as we know it will go in because life as they knew it ended. Today we are enjoying what they sacrificed to never get to enjoy.

So today, from my family we stop to remember and to be thankful. To those who have lost a loved one we appreciate and honor your loves ones and your sorrow.

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