• O Lord our God, other masters besides You have ruled us; But through You alone we confess Your name. [Isa 26:13 NASB]. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me. [Mat 11:29 NASB].

What I Said At My Mom’s Memorial

When we are at a funeral or memorial, it causes us to think of our finite life; it causes us to think of Heaven and Hell. Is it real?

Why? Why did Mom have to die? Why did she have to go through dementia before she died?

The Bible says the wages of sin is death (Rom 6:23). Now a lot of people take this verse in the context of “the soul that sins it shall die.” And that is the correct context. But it also tells us one thing else: it tells us we are going to die because of sin. All have sinned (Rom 3:23).

Sin Is it built into our DNA. John Macarthur said as we exit the womb, the taste of death is in our mouth. The reason for death is sin.

The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life (Rom 6:23). My Mom clung to this gift. It made her thankful. I know she struggled with thanksgiving, but she constantly went out of her way to express it. Thanksgiving and gratefulness are difficult things for our ungrateful hearts to grasp; our selfish, ungrateful hearts.

I want to talk about a few things my Mom left behind.

My Dad sent this to me and I thought to post this and go through it (posted powerpoint). The title is, “My Life Rules.”

MY LIFE RULES 11 December 2010

  1. Remember my blessings and pass them on to others.
  2. Let people know when they have been a blessing to me.
  3. Let me be grateful enough to say, “thank you” and to write my thank yous.
  4. Let me remember to be grateful for the things I have.

Gratitude and thanksgiving have been a struggle for me. I have never gotten a handle on them in my life. My Mom worked at it constantly. I think she had a better handle.

When I was a young boy, the Seattle World’s Fair had come to town. This was in 1962. I was about nine or 10 years old. This was a long time ago. For many of you in this room, it’s a history lesson. You’ll read about it in the book.

Mom liked to go to the fair. We would take the bus from our home in Mountlake Terrace and ride to the fair. I was Mom’s bodyguard and companion. I enjoyed watching her working with the merchants. She always got a deal. And a lot of times I got something for free cause I was that little kid and “so cute.” These were fun times.

There are two things my mom taught me which have stuck with me all my life:

The first is to befriend the underdog. As a young kid, I found this difficult. We all want to have the most popular friends. We want to have the most powerful friends. Now, what that means in elementary school, is different than what it means as an adult. We all like to hang with the top notch people. My Mom taught me to befriend the friendless. My Mom was wise in this way. And it has carried me through, all my life.

The second thing is to pay attention to the details. I can’t express how much this lesson has taught me over the years.

My Mom was a woman of vision. She always had a vision for missions. She wanted me to be a missionary. She wanted her and Dad to be missionaries, but that didn’t happen; so she wanted her kids to be missionaries.

She was constantly egging me on to be a witness.

One day we were going to the doctor’s office and I told my Mom, I was going to witness to the doctor. She said it was a good idea. She didn’t ask me what I was going to say and, in fact, she never counseled me on how to witness. She just egged me on. We got to the doctor; I looked him in the eye and I asked him, “Are you saved?”

He said, “Of course I am. I was born in America.” What is a seven year old kid supposed to do with that? I looked at my Mom; she kind of shrugged.

In 1967 Campus Crusade for Christ came to Seattle. They had a big conference on how to witness. I went to that conference with my Mom and my Dad. Campus Crusade gave me a big old clipboard and a pen. On the clipboard was a sheet of paper; with questions on both sides. The idea was to ask someone all these questions, while you write their answers. And as you are going through these questions, of course, by the time you are at the last question, the person you interview has to acknowledge they need Christ in their life. There’s no way around it. And I thought, “This is foolproof. I am doing that.”

There was an exercise session where you just go out on the street and do it. So here I was, a seventh grader and I had an older partner with me; he was in high school. He let me do all the interviews. And he would team me up against all these college kids and they just wrapped me around the axles. He thought it was funny. He enjoyed it.

My brother Doug said, in jest, I was the head strong one and he is right. I was a pain for my folks. About the time I was in the 10th grade, I started leaving the Lord. By the time I was in my early twenties I was doing my own thing. The Lord did not bring me back till I was 27. When He brought me back He got me into the Word. He got me reading and studying in the Word. The first year, I read and studied nothing else but the Scriptures. This first year, I went through the Scriptures seven and a half times. For several years after, it was at least three or four times each year.

Through this study of the Word, I started noticing what the Bible said about salvation is not the same thing as the modern American gospel. I started having conversations with my family about this. Most times family members got upset, but my Mom was never irritated, never defensive. She was intrigued and she listened. It was about this time, and this was several decades ago, but at that time my Mom wrote a letter to family and friends. I’d like to read just a couple paragraphs from what she wrote.

I have friends and family whom I love dearly, who have never made a commitment to God. Some are not sure He exists. Some have said, “I tried God and it didn’t work.” Well, we can’t try God to see if He “works.” We either commit to God or we don’t. And if we come to the place where we say “Lord Jesus, I want you in my life, I want my sins forgiven, I want to be your child,” from that moment on you have to keep making a commitment to Him in the choices you make.”

She said you have to keep making this commitment. What would this commitment be? This commitment my Mom was talking about is turning from a life of sin and committing our way to the Lord.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ equates believing with obedience. When the Bible talks about believing it is not talking about head knowledge. In fact, James said even the demons have that and they tremble. John the Baptist said, whoever believes in the Son has eternal life. Whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life and the wrath of God remains on him (Joh 3:36). Now, listen to John the Baptist: He equated whoever does not obey as opposite of whoever believes.

And this is something, the modern American gospel says, “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.” In fact, this was the theme and title of the Campus Crusade tract; the famous tract, “The Four Spiritual Laws.” But, John the Baptist said, if you are not following Christ, if you are not obeying Christ, you remain under God’s wrath. He didn’t say you are going to lose His love. He didn’t say God loves you anyway. He said you are going to remain under His wrath.

Jesus said, you must be born again, and this is the work of the Holy Spirit (Joh 3:3,8).

The Modern American gospel says that God loves you unconditionally. But this leaves a nagging question:

Jesus Christ was the perfect son of God for all eternity. He rejoiced in Heaven with the Father and the Holy Spirit, in perfect unity, perfect love, perfect fellowship. And the Apostle Paul says He left all that behind, to come down, to bear my sin; He nailed my sin to the cross. He bore the wrath of God and we don’t understand this wrath. Christ didn’t just merely die on the cross and rise again. He bore this wrath of God and this wrath was so great, Father would not allow the sun to shine on Him. There was darkness over the face of the earth while Christ hung on the cross. After He nailed my sins to the cross, He rose again from the dead and He gave me His righteousness. When God sees me, He sees me as righteous because of the Son of God.

So the nagging question is, “Why would He do all this so I can remain in my sin?”

Paul asked, “Shall we continue in sin so that grace may abound?” And the answer is, “By no means!”

Shall we sin because we are not under the law, but under grace? By no means!

If we died to sin, how can we live in it? Furthermore, we are slaves to whomever we choose to obey. My friend, are you a slave to sin or a slave to God?

My Mom said we must make a commitment and Jesus said we must take up our cross and follow Him.

Let me read one last portion of Mom’s letter to family and friends.

Is God real? Yes! I know He is real because of all the changes He has made in me. Many of you who know me have seen some of these changes. Am I perfect? No, I am human. I will make mistakes. I will get upset when I should not. But I have a God who forgives me and has promised never to leave me. This is my testimony.

My Mom knew she was saved because she saw the work of God in her life. Now, if I were to ask every professing Christian in this room, and there’s a lot of you here, “How do you know you are saved?” some of you would say, “I accepted Jesus as my Savior,” “I made a decision for Christ,” “I have God in my heart,” “I remember the day.” Well, my friend, are you trusting in an event? Or are you trusting the work of Christ?

Bible says He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the Kingdom of His beloved Son (Col 1:13). Has God brought change in your life? Or are you still bound by your sin?

If you see your sin as trivial, if you think God’s going to ignore your sin, my friend, you are not saved.

If you are harboring secret sins, my friend, you are not saved.

We are not saved by how we feel about God. We are all guilty of creating God in our own image and it is very easy to feel good about this lesser god.

We are saved by faith in Jesus Christ. He is our King. He is our Lord. He is our Master.

So, my Mom’s message to you is two-fold:

Number one: Make a commitment to Jesus Christ. Take up your cross daily and follow Him.

Number two: Trust God to have His way in your life. We’re not saved by good works, but we certainly cannot enter eternity without them. This is the message of the parable of the vine and the branches, in John 15:1-6; and this is the message of the book of James.

Mom said this is a continual commitment. If we continue on in our sin, we have not found Christ.

The Apostle Peter said:

“. . . They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. But you [who follow Christ] are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” 1Pe 2:8-9

About this light, the Apostle John said:

“. . .God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with Him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.” 1Jo 1:5-7

At funerals and memorials. We see life is finite and our minds are directed to consider Heaven and Hell.

Many of you are thinking about this today. Tomorrow we are likely to forget all about it. Today, If you hear Christ’s voice, do not harden your heart. Receive Him; take up your cross and follow Him.

This is the message from my Mom.

So, Mom, thank you for your life lessons and thank you for your concern for our souls. I will see you later.

Let us close in a word of prayer.

Almighty God, the righteous and true judge of all the earth, Your Word and Your works proclaim Your faithfulness. They proclaim Your righteousness and Your holiness. Father, it is beyond my comprehension how and why You would send Your Son, Jesus Christ, to die for dust like me; who is constantly in rebellion. My heart is never true. Your Son died for me and You see me as righteous through Him. How great is that?

You created all that we see. You created the heavens and the highest heavens; host upon host, upon host, upon host, upon host. We can’t even see it all with the Hubble telescope and, Lord, we can’t even see smallest creation with the largest microscope. Lord, you made the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything and the multitudes of heaven worship You. May we all worship you today.

As we think of my mom, we consider the finiteness of our life. May our thoughts be directed upon you. May we consider the salvation which You have offered through Your son. Drive us to Him. May our lives reflect your glory. You will be glorified in all things and the host of heaven worship You. Amen, in Jesus name. Amen.

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