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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Agreement and Disagreements

Agreement and Disagreements

I have been thinking lately of a few scriptures that I think have been misused and misapplied to disagreements among brothers of the faith. I think there is a real difference between mature men in the faith disagreeing and someone sinning against a brother.

Matthrew 18:[15] Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. [16] But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. [17] And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.

This passage gives the process of how to deal with an notable and significant offense among two brothers. First, is this offense something large enough that it cannot be removed in your personal time of prayer by releasing it to The Lord? Have you even prayed about it? Are you really letting something small become a mountain? Sometimes we just need to “man up” and know that things happen unintentionally. Let it go and release it to The Lord. By doing this you allow the Holy Spirit to mature you and you allow the Holy Spirit to work in your brother.

Second. If it something that you feel must be approached then you are to go to the offending brother. Not to accuse but to to arrive at the place of reconciliation, forgiveness and healing.

Third, if the offending brother is not approachable then after a season of time bring others into the communication. Again, not to harass but to bring reconciliation, forgiveness and healing. At this point it is also to expose error which could bring division not only between you and him but he and the body of Christ.

There are more steps that I think should be approached carefully but I want to go on from this to where I am seeing some misuse of this passage. It seems that this passage is used by individuals in roles of authority to reprimand those who serve with them or below them for calling out concerns with leadership decisions. God does lift men into leadership roles to help the body. These offices should be revered and honored. Loyalty should be afforded at every junction possible. But here is where I am concerned about leadership. It has never been the individuals right of leadership to not be open to the critique of his fellow brother. No man is set in a position to live and rule empirically over the body of Christ. Especially in a democratic form of church government. If that is the chosen form of government of the church body, then honor the process. Men are chosen among their peers to serve their peers as the ministry serves the church. These individuals are special for the season of their service. This is not because of the position but because of the confidence placed in them by their fellow members. Since they are placed in leadership by them, then leadership should be administrated to help find the will of God for the church, with them and not without them. Leaderships challenge is to move others to the place God is calling them to go. That will be impossible without consensus, clarity and communion.

The Apostle Paul challenged Simon Peter publicly in Galatians for his public hypocrisies. He did not go privately because Simon Peters errors were public and too significant not to call out so that others would not practice the same actions. This was not for reconciliation, forgiveness or healing. This was for correction to the body of Christ where Simon was leading.

Galatians 2:11 When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong. [12] Before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. [13] The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray.
[14] When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?

Simon Peters response is not noted in the passage, but we can assume he humbly fell in line with his brothers correction. Why would he not fall in place? His brother in the Lord, his fellow servant and laborer for the gospel, was telling him the truth. Paul was concerned with the greater good of the Church and the truth of the Gospel. Truth and righteousness was more important than any one man’s feelings or role. This was an issue that was central to the Gospel and demanded attention.

I personally do not believe administrative, organization structures or any other human form of government would have been on Paul’s radar nor on the Holy Spirits mind. I think we even today are too concerned with those things that are merely tools rather than tasks mandated by the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. If those who are having to live with the administration are happy then be happy and vote among yourselves those forms in place. Let God get glory out of the Gospel and don’t allow the Gospel to be hindered by administration or lack thereof.

What if Simon had quoted Matthew 18 to Paul? He would have been in error. He would have been marginalizing a man God had made his equal. He would have been making a mistake that would have been detrimental to the body of Christ. Never demean, defame or demonize your brethren because of disagreements. Contend for the truth and allow the Holy Spirit to bring unity and communion.

Leaders, we do damage to our God given leadership roles when we place ourselves in a superior role to our brethren. A position is not ours to use as a place to shut down dialogue and debate. Allow others to contend in a biblical way with the operation of the Church. If as a leader one still feels that God is directing down a certain path, then do it with the blessing of both those who agree and disagree. But never use the scripture to make those God has raised up and used as men who sin or stir strife. Godly men want the best for the Church and it’s leaders. Even Paul and Barnabas separated in their physical work but continued in the work of the same Gospel message. Disagreements arise and as time passes those disagreements vanish and are forgotten.

To shun others because one is insecure with others questions is below the office of the leadership one have been chosen by their brethren to serve in.

Never use the scripture that deals with offenses among believers to be an obstacle to opposition of ones organization or administration. A brother sinning against a brother is different than a leaders leadership among ones peers. Sin separates us from God and each other. The Blood of Christ unites us and administrative differences should never sever brothers from each other. We might not can work together but we can walk and worship together. We may not care for each other’s leadership style, organization or administration but that is not equivalent to the bond of the Blood of Christ among us. May we all be hid behind the cross and never place anything if front of it!

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What others think

I am always amazed at how easily it is to believe what someone you don’t know says about a person. How can you forget how long you have known someone and how much you know about that person and believe negative inferences spoken about them?

Some people live afraid of what others will say or think about them. I have chosen to live and act without consideration for what others think or say so that I can be what I think I am and who I want to be.

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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Friends make you feel better

Hanging out with friends is the medicine of life. Friends just make you feel better! There is nothing better than to fellowship around good food and laugh at stories retold. The pleasure of competing in the games of life and fighting like gladiators for the win are great moments. The focus of trying to best the competitor is nerve wrecking to say the least. Then to laugh about the nearness of a win or loss is hilarious. What were we thinking in those moments? Did we actually think we could make some of those shots? Yet the moments one shares with friends make memories that anchor us in the difficult days of living. None of us possibly may have much in this life of value when it comes to wealth. But if we have friends and memories we are set for life! I hope I can be as good a friend to others as my friends have been to me. I want to be as generous and kind to others as my friends have been to me. My friends have made me feel special and valuable to them. I hope I can make others feel how special and valuable they are as well.