Sound Teaching

This is the teaching site of the West Side church of Christ in Fort Worth, TX. Unless otherwise indicated, all materials were written and prepared by Stan Cox

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A True Tragedy

(Many of you know that I write a weekly sports article for the River Oaks News. In the summer they let me write other kinds of articles. This one is to appear in the paper next week. They don’t let me write on religious topics, but sometimes I sneak in a spiritual value or two. I have a few other comments at the end of the article).

The news shows, magazines and internet have been humming recently with the news of the deaths of three well known entertainers.

Ed McMahon, sidekick to Johnny Carson, and host of Star Search lived to the age of 86. He died after a long battle with bone cancer, and a recent bout with pneumonia. His death, therefore, was not unexpected.

Farrah Fawcett, pinup girl and television star, died at the age of 62 after a long battle with cancer. Her death was long anticipated as well.

ImageMichael Jackson’s death, however, was a shock. Jackson, one of the most popular singers ever, and a long time iconic figure, was only 50 years old and was preparing for a “comeback” tour until found dead in Los Angeles.

Since his death speculation has arisen about a possible drug overdose and medical malpractice, and the Federal Drug Enforcement Agency was brought in by the Los Angeles Police Department to investigate the circumstances surrounding his death. Jackson’s death brings to mind other iconic figures whose larger than life exploits were brought to a premature end. Some of these, like Buddy Holly and James Dean, were killed in unavoidable accidents. More often they had a hand in their own demise.

Marilyn Monroe died from an overdose of barbiturates in 1962 at the age of 36. Janis Joplin died in 1970 at the age of 27 from a heroin overdose. Jimi Hendrix died in 1970 as well, and drugs and alcohol were involved in his death. Elvis Presley died in the summer of 1977 from an overdose of prescription medications, at the age of 42.

These famous people had all of the advantages that fame and prosperity could provide. They had the adoration of millions of people. And yet, for whatever reasons, they lost control of their lives and they died too young. This is truly tragic.

As a preacher (my primary job), I am familiar with the specter of death. I am often called upon to preach funerals, both for those of the congregation where I preach, and occasionally for others who are not so religiously inclined.

While my first priority as a person of faith is my belief in God and my relationship with my Lord, I find that there are other priorities as well that seem to be preeminent at the loss of a loved one. First among these is family.

People spend years trying to be famous or to make tons of money. And, they are willing to neglect or estrange themselves from family to accomplish their goals. The end result is divorce, family division and neglected children. It happens to celebrities, but can happen to regular Joe’s like you and me as well.

Take it from someone who has preached a lot of funerals, the most important things in life are faith and family. If you want a happy and long life, put your focus there. You won’t regret it!

Final note: Faith is truly the first priority. As the writer of Ecclesiastes noted: “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man’s all. For God will bring every work into judgment, Including every secret thing, Whether good or evil” (12:13-14). We were put on earth to serve God. No one can be determined, ultimately, to have been successful in life if they have failed in that. “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26).