My Dad’s Memorial Message: A Faithful Man

December 10, 2013 at 7:18 pm | Posted in Personal Testimony | 2 Comments

I haven’t written much lately since the past few months have been quite an emotional ride.  We lost my father-in-law last month and my dad this month.  I had the honor of sharing the message at my dad’s memorial service this morning.  Here is the text of the message.  God helped me get through this, and I hope many were blessed by it.

When I think of my dad, the words that come to mind to describe his life are faithful and steadfast.  He didn’t lead what the world would call an exciting life, but he was steady and faithful in those things that really mattered.  A few months ago I read Psalm 112, and some of the phrases in this passage reminded me of my dad.  When my mom read the Psalm, she agreed, so we decided, that when the time came, we would use this passage for his memorial service.  It is the description of the steadfast, faithful man.

Here is the description of a steadfast man:

“His offspring will be mighty in the land” (2).  My dad’s offspring are not numerous, famous, rich, nor mighty by the world’s standard of measure.  But we are mighty by God’s standard.  Both his children, their spouses and their children walk with the Lord today and are active, like he was, in their home churches. We are blessed to be in this family.

“Light dawns in the darkness for the upright” (4a)  This was true of my father and reminded me of a story.  Though he was not vocal about it, I know he sought the Lord’s will and sensed his direction.  It seemed to me, in my growing up years, that he wanted something more than the job he held for so long.  I remember a few times when we traveled to some small town or other to look at car dealerships that were for sale.  Because I thought he didn’t like his job, I hoped we would move to one of those places.  But we never did.  Years later I heard him tell a story about waking up in the middle of the night, after praying about one of those dealerships, with the clear answer from God that it wasn’t the right thing to do.  He prayed, and the light dawned in the darkness.

“He is gracious and merciful” (4b)  I can’t ever remember my dad raising his voice (except at a sporting event), and he always treated me, and my sister I presume, with more mercy than we deserved.  Of course, I can’t tell you any stories about that without incriminating myself.

“He deals generously and lends” (5a, 9)  My dad was a committed tither and giver.  He told my mom from the early days of their marriage that they would give at least 10% to the church, and that would be their top priority.  I heard him talk about tithing to other Christians more than I heard him address any other issue.  I got the impression that the fundamental conviction of his life was that one must give to God’s work.  But his giving went beyond the church.  Through all my years in faith ministry, four summer mission trips, four years in seminary, and a church start in Centennial, my parents supported me financially.  Beyond that though, they always brought the food when they visited, they always took us to dinner and picked up the tab, they often took us out for ice cream or some other treat.  They even brought necessities like toilet paper.  They often gave us clothes.

Some of our favorite family memories are the Christmas holidays we spent in Centennial, Wyoming.  Our house in Centennial was the greatest place to spend Christmas! It was a huge 100-year -old log house in the mountains, and there was always snow.  When they came,they brought the food for the week and numerous other necessary items.

The coat I’m wearing today was given to me by my parents 26 years ago.  I have twin sport coats,  identical except that one is grey with pastel colors and the other is brown with golds.  Joseph got a coat of many colors from his dad who loved him, but I got two!

I also remember times when missionaries, or traveling youth groups, stayed in our home.  Some of those missionaries kept in touch for years to follow, I’ll probably never know if my parents supported them in other ways too.  Our infamous Thanksgiving, known simply as “That Thanksgiving” because everything that could go wrong did, included two youth group guests from out of town who were probably glad to get away from that dangerous family.

“He greatly delights in God’s commandments” (1)  My dad was a committed churchman.  One  of the only pieces of advice I remember getting when I was thinking about leaving home for college, was “wherever you go find a church and plug in to it.”  For dad it was not just any church though, it had to be a church that clearly preached the Bible.  I remember my parents often hosted home group Bible studies. My dad gave compliments very sparingly, so those genuinely shared were remembered.  The greatest compliment he ever gave me was after church one Sunday in Alamosa.  He said a lot of preachers talk about a lot of things, but what he appreciated about me was that I just open the Bible and tell people what it means  My preaching style comes partly from the way God wired me, but also partly from my upbringing in this church, partly from the influence of my family.  I remember the years we would read the Bible and the “Our Daily Bread” devotional at breakfast together.  We weren’t perfectly consistent, but we did that together for years.

I guess it shouldn’t surprise anybody that my parents chose Gideons International for memorial gifts.  The Gideons have one goal to get the Bible in the hands of everyone in the world, and every penny donated to them goes to that cause.

“His heart is firm, His heart is steady” (7-8)  I told you my dad was a committed churchman.  He was a member here for more than 60 years.  He stuck it out in good times and troubled.  I once left t his church to join a project I was excited about but learned a great lesson from his faithfulness here.  Though he agreed with much of what we were doing, he wouldn’t leave his church.  He did some behind-the-scenes ministries consistently, one of them for nearly 50 years.  I’m sure no one ever recognized that longevity, but that’s how he would have wanted it.

I suppose one of the best descriptions of my dad’s life would be Friedrich Nietzche’s description of the Christian life, “a long obedience in the same direction.”  That, more than anything else, was my dad.  His life wasn’t exciting, but it was faithful.

Finally, it is said of the steadfast man described in this Psalm that “his righteousness endures forever.”  In fact it is said in two places (3, 9).  My dad wasn’t perfect; he was a sinful man, just like the rest of us.  But he had a righteousness given by God.  The righteousness this Psalm talks about is not a righteousness that comes from one man’s own works but a righteousness that is a gift from God.  As the Apostle Paul described it, “the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.”  If there is a lesson we can learn from my dad, it is not that we should make an effort to be more faithful, but that we can trust Jesus and be given a righteousness from God.  That will help us be faithful people.

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