The Purpose of a Funeral

The Purpose of a Funeral

According to Wikipedia, a funeral is a ceremony connected with the final disposition of a corpse, such as a burial or cremation, with the attendant observances. Funerary customs comprise the complex of beliefs and practices used by a culture to remember and respect the dead, from internment to various monuments, prayers, and rituals undertaken in their honor. The definition sounds cold and devoid of emotion or the usual feeling we associate with the word funeral.

A more pleasant description might be that a funeral is to help the bereaved to accept the reality of death.
As we enter into the stages of grief, we must first accept what has happened. We associate a meaningful grief experience with the beginning of the healing process. And, it gives mourners the opportunity to come to terms with the reality of the passing of a loved one. This process has been referred to as the Five Stages of Grief

However, for the believer, the funeral should represent much more. It’s an opportunity!

As a pastor, counselor, and life-coach, especially during this time of the COVID-19 pandemic, I have been called upon to bring comfort to many friends and relatives across the United States who have been adversely impacted; financially, health wise, and yes, even by the death of loved ones. COVID-19 has dramatically changed our lives and even how we funeralize.

Recently I was asked, what is the purpose of funerals?

Customs vary between cultures and religious groups. Funerals are often shaped by culture and tradition. Common secular motivations for funerals include mourning the deceased, celebrating their life, and offering support and sympathy to the bereaved; additionally, funerals may have religious aspects that are intended to help the soul of the deceased reach the afterlife, resurrection, or reincarnation.

As a pastor who has officiated hundreds of funerals, the purpose of a funeral is clear. It is my opportunity to fulfill The Great Commission. A funeral presents a unique opportunity to reach the lost and reclaim the fallen. It is a time to share the good news of Jesus Christ, that death is not the end for those that believe.

Christian funerals should be a time of celebration for the loved one that transitioned. The departed have moved from labor in this life to the reward of being now in a place of peace waiting for the return of the Lord. My perspective, which is anchored in faith, often puts me at odds with those who hold a more traditional understanding of what should transpire at a funeral.

I see the Funeral or Memorial Service as a Worship experience. And that informs and guides everything that takes place—from the music played and sung, to how the service is led.

“Therefore, as a Pastor, I am called to lead the people in Worship. To proclaim God’s Word as we focus on Christ’s presence and promises. Certainly, the funeral is a special event. But it is one that takes its cue from the biggest event of all: God coming to us in His Word.

That is why the Service is in God’s house; that is why we seek consolation and comfort from His Word. Our hope and joy, our strength and solace are not found in memories—but in means, God’s Word.

The focus of the funeral is not about the legacy one leaves; it is about the eternity one lives—by the faith, God gives us by His grace, through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

This truth is spoken in love and is a biblical mandate. However, the truth is not always easy to hear. At Christian funerals, I always tell the truth. But telling the truth can get you in trouble!

Often at funerals people lie. The reason they/we feel compelled to say nice things about the deceased comes from the word eulogy. It basically means to say nice things or to praise the dead.

So we employ hyperbole and use platitudes to celebrate the deceased. We will say nice things about people who were not nice. We’ll lie because it makes folks feel better. The reality is, truth is hard for anyone to hear whose reality is not in line with the scripture.

Truth is troubling for the selfish because they are self-serving. Truth is inconvenient for the narcissist because they create their own reality.

Pastor Ezekiel, what are you talking about? What’s your point?

On Saturday my mother died. As a son I am heartbroken. As a believer, and my mom’s Pastor for 25 years, I am admonished by the scripture in Ezekiel 24:16-18 –

“Son of dust, I am going to take away your lovely wife. Suddenly, she will die. Yet you must show no sorrow. Do not weep; let there be no tears. You may sigh, but only quietly. Let there be no wailing at her grave; don’t bare your head nor feet, and don’t accept the food brought to you by consoling friends. I proclaimed this to the people in the morning, and in the evening my wife died. The next morning I did all the Lord had told me to”.

This scripture has provided me with comfort and peace, as well as purpose as I came to grips with the fact that my mother was making her transition. God’s Word was clear, my responsibility is to do the work, spread the gospel.

Recently a family member told me that “we should respect the traditional notion that funerals are the place where truth does not always have a place”.
Both of my parents are now deceased. at one time I pastored them both.


  • My father never loved me, sold my car without permission, and kept the money. My mother supported me all my life. My mother made sacrifices.
  • My father stole from me. My mother prayed with me and held me in her arms. My mother owned a business and taught me to be an entrepreneur.
  • My father was a contractor and gambled his money away and then attempted to borrow from me. My father when confronted about his lack of love for his only son responded in a manner that is too horrible to write about here.

Yet, I continued to treat him in love because the bible says “Be not overcome with evil but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21).

When my father died he instructed my sister to not allow me to speak at his funeral because he knew I would tell the truth. I knew that Satan would not want the truth to be told. Many people bought into the lie.

At the funeral, my son was asked to speak. He deferred to me and I talked for about 3-4 minutes admonishing fathers to love their children; for my father never loved me. When I sat down I knew that people, including my sister, were less than pleased with me. Truth can be costly but worthy of the expense.

A couple that was having trouble in their marriage heard me and the husband said to his wife; If that man can be that honest and transparent about his own father, he can help us. They came to me for counseling, accepted Jesus as their Savior, and joined the ministry.

God does not call us to be politically correct. He calls us as servants to obey Him through his word.

Traditions hold a lot of value for some people. However, a former mentor said to me on an occasion that traditions are yesterday’s answers to yesterday’s problems.

I am thankful for the opportunity to travel across the country in ministry. I visit scores of churches. But, I do not make the mistake of thinking that everyone that attends church is committed to Holiness. Funerals are worship experiences that should be centered on truth and righteousness.

When I shared for that 3 or 4 minutes about my dad at his funeral, there were people who were angry with me because of what I said and challenged my mother about it. Her response was that my son told the truth!

Why Brokenness Is Essential in the Heart of the Believer

Why Brokenness Is Essential in the Heart of the Believer

Brokenness – Part 1

Brokenness in the life of the believer is an essential element in the development of a heart towards God and others. Often, only after pain, anguish, or loss do we come to understand and embrace what it means to be broken.

Psalm 51 tells us much about the difficulty that rebellion and sin cause to our inner man. It reminds us in less than endearing ways that we have become liars and frauds by pushing an agenda not sired by the heart of God. We must be careful of every path we take, every agenda we follow, and all advice that is given. Otherwise, we find ourselves distant from His will, continuing this path until we have drifted away from the very will of God.

“Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.” – Psalm 51:7 (NLT)

The seventh verse implores God to wash, purge, and restore us to a state held before our rebellion. The writer is pleading to have the forfeited pleasures of intimacy and closeness with God restored. Without a doubt, it was sin that robbed the Psalmist of his vital connection. His request to be purged was ceremonial. However, the disposition of the writer is that he is genuinely disturbed by the lack of a productive relationship with our God.

How wonderful it is to discover the lack whenever it exists. The bible speaks of dead works. I wish that everyone would have their conscience cleaned and cleared of the guilt of dead works and the stain it leaves. I look forward to my sin damaged conscious being acquitted by the higher court of God’s holiness. I learned to my own understanding and went in the wrong direction. Everything I did on that journey resulted in dead works. We were convinced that we had a good plan and an astounding idea, but it did not originate through prayer, for we simply figured it out.

The Psalmist’s penitent heart can’t be mistaken. 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness”.

How shall we describe this new attitude with the sensitivity of the spirit as it’s the main concern? It is like the bible states “brokenness”. It is the result of work done on and in the heart. It is humiliation and a broken-heartedness not related to the despair of life. It is a heart pliable to the Word of God. It is a state of being broken from yourself, your pride, and your sin. There is no notion of arrogance for the heart is subdued and brought into obedience through humility.

As we read we discover that the sacrifices that God accepts are this very state of brokenness (Psalm 51:17). It can never be self-imposed, but it can be maintained through steadfastness in prayer. The very notion of protracted corporate prayer is a turn off to our flesh. However, the discipline of prayer is not optional in the life of the believer.

Unfortunately, much ministry is attempted without that constant state of brokenness. To pray with the body of believers until there is a blending of heart and spirit is a must. Anything else would simply be carnal activity.

There was a time in the life of a man I know, that he became pleased and overwhelmed with very little. What was so noteworthy is that in his past he had many possessions, and accomplishments. Yet this man became so contented with so little. He experienced the grace of brokenness and was no longer driven by things but only moved by the urging of the spirit. What about you. Do you practice brokenness?

Why So Many People Don’t Want Truth

Why So Many People Don’t Want Truth

What Is Truth

What is truth?” said Pilate. John 18:37

In a previous post, I started a conversation on truth. As we move forward, we must bear in mind that our purpose is not a barren academic search for ultimate truth. “God is not nearly so interested in what I know as He is in who I am and how I behave, with respect to His word.

Scripture was given not to increase our knowledge, but to change our conduct.

The Bible was not given only to teach us what to believe and what not to believe; it was also given to show us how to behave (2 Tim. 3:16).

All of our rigorous Bible study must be for the purpose of making the application to life, transferring the truth into day-by-day living.

Why is this topic of importance to Christians? Jesus said, you will know the “truth” and the “truth” will set you free. (John 8:32)

Here we gave several definitions of truth.

According to the Correlation View, any statement is true if and only if it corresponds to or agrees with factual reality. The Correspondence view of truth entails that propositional or declarative statements are subject to various kinds of verification and falsification. A statement can be proven false if it can be shown to disagree with Objective Reality.

i.e. a photograph from outer space showing the earth as a blue orb falsified any stubborn flat-earth claims.

Jesus said, you will know the “truth” and the “truth” will set you free. (John 8:32)

Strong’s Number: 225 Browse Lexicon
Original Word Word Origin
ajlhvqeia from (227)

Transliterated Word TDNT Entry

Aletheia 1:232,37
Phonetic Spelling Parts of Speech

Noun Feminine
1. objectively
a. what is true in any matter under consideration
1. truly, in truth, according to truth
2. of a truth, in reality, in fact, certainly
b. what is true in things appertaining to God and the duties of man, moral and religious truth
1. in the greatest latitude
2. the true notions of God which are open to human reason without his supernatural intervention
c. the truth as taught in the Christian religion, respecting God and the execution of his purposes through Christ and respecting the duties of man, opposing alike to the superstitions of the Gentiles and the inventions of the Jews, and the corrupt opinions and precepts of false teachers even among Christians
2. subjectively
a. truth as a personal excellence
1. that candor of mind which is free from affection, pretense, simulation, falsehood, deceit

Currently, there is an ideology in the world that seeks to refute the Correlation View of truth. It is called Relativism.

Relativism says that the truth of a statement depends on the views of persons or cultures, not on whether statements correspond to objective reality. For a statement to be true simply means that a person or culture believes it to be true.

According to this view, one person can say “Jesus is Lord” and another can say “Allah is Lord” and both statements will be true if they accurately express the statements of the speakers.

When the truth is deemed dependent upon the person or culture holding the belief, anything can become “true,” which is absurd.

Accepting the truth is often hard. And, it can put us at odds with family, friends, co-workers, and the like.

Knowing the truth and acting based on that knowledge can put us in the minority or make us unpopular, but that is what Christians are called to be.

For the Lord God helps Me, Therefore, I have not been ashamed or humiliated. Therefore, I have made My face like flint, And I know that I shall not be put to shame. Isaiah 50:7

Isaiah had to deliver the truth to the Israelites. It wasn’t what they wanted to hear and he was reviled and attacked for taking the LORD’s position.

How do (will) you react when you’re attacked because you choose the truth?

What do you think? Leave a comment below.





The Truth Is Dangerous

The Truth Is Dangerous

Why So Many People Don’t Want The Truth


In the current political and even religious climate, truth is under attack. Many people, even those with supposed higher education have chosen to argue what the truth is from their emotional or cultural perspectives.

“What is truth?” said Pilate. After he had said this, he went out to the Jews again and told them, “I find no grounds for charging Him. John 18:38


Like politicians of today, Pilate subsequently bowed to the wishes of the populace; and Jesus, albeit innocent, was crucified.

In this short introduction to a series on truth, my purpose is to define the parameters for future discussions about truth. Truth is not subject to our emotions, prejudices, cultural proclivities, or even our intellectual predispositions. Truth is simply the truth.

Below, I have presented the “rules” for my future posts about the topic of truth. Hopefully, this will allow for open and intelligent discourse as we move forward.

Truth – What It Is

Correspondence View – Any statement is true if and only if it corresponds to or agrees with factual reality.

The statement, “the desk in my study is brown,” is true only if there is, in fact, a brown desk in my study.

The statement, “there is no brown desk in my study.” Is false because it fails to correspond to any objective state of affairs (i.e. the facts of the matter)

Basic Laws of Logic

Bivalence – stipulates that any unambiguous, declarative statement must either be true or false.

It can be neither true nor false, nor can it be both true and false.

There is a brown desk in my study is true or false.

The Law of Excluded Middle – affirms that “either A or non-A.”

There is a brown desk in my study or not.

The principle of Contradiction states that A cannot be non-A in the same way and in the same respect.

It cannot be true that there both is and is not a brown desk in my study.

Questions, commands, and exclamations are neither true nor false because they do not make claims about objective reality.

Objective Reality – whatever remains true whether you believe in it or not.



As a counselor and coach I listen very often to people who shipwreck their lives. Some of these individuals were well meaning and sincere; be it noted that sincerity is not the test of truth. I have often been sincerely wrong. The times I speak of were destructive mainly because I operated unwisely.

Wisdom is required for maintaining and providing for a home. The dispersing or investing of funds should be done with wisdom. A family must use wisdom when picking a ministry for the family. Unfortunately many people get married very often using how they feel as the qualifier. Too many individuals spend money and make purchases for very wrong reasons. Families attend churches where felt needs have become the priority over spiritual excellence. The opportunities to heal and mend broken connections in the family were ignored because of the lack of wisdom. Proverbs states “ By wisdom a house (or home) is built, and through understanding it is established. Wisdom speaks of maturity and its results are relational insight. It is reflected in good judgment. Are you wise? Or does wisdom rule your life?

“For the Lord gives wisdom and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding”. This statement from proverbs 2 is an indictment against lives that are unproductive and mediocre. Wisdom is not the result of a miracle it is freely given by God. The New Testament says if any man lacks wisdom let him ask God. (James 1:5)

The truth is that the masses are superficial in pursuing essential ingredients to create a loving and productive persona. Instead requests are made for trinkets, and social positioning. Too many bargain and trade for notoriety and status. Wise men and women are not shallow. Their lives reflect intimacy in prayer and long hours with the Sovereign. Wise people hang out with God. Remember who you associate with reflects the state of your inner being. Observe the people in your circle how many reflect the character of our Lord in their conversations and behavior. I remind you that the people around you are your choice. They are in your world because of the decision you made to allow them in. You cannot soar with eagles if you hang out with turkeys

Proverbs teaches a powerful insight. It states “happy is the man who finds wisdom and the man who gets understanding” Wisdom is the proper use or allocation of information and knowledge. One cannot make wise choices without information and very often some experience. Christians who would be wise pursue a path to the feet of God asking Him to pour into their hearts and spirits His Spirit. Wisdom my friends is an invaluable gift from God. It is a virtue of great importance to a life of meaning and purpose. Wisdom becomes the ability to see matters as the Lord would. From this we understand clearly that an extremely high I Q is not an advantage with regard to the wisdom of God. The wisdom of God does not depend on human senses or intellectual acumen. The pursuit of wisdom starts with reverencing God and holding Him in high esteem.