Hi, this is Pastor Ken and these are my thoughts on a Thursday…Legacies

This week I have attended several funerals. One might think that pastors get used to going to funerals…this one probably never will. It is the fact that I know that so many people are hurting in such close proximity to me that makes them difficult for me. Many people dislike funerals because they believe them to illustrate our frailty. My physical weaknesses don’t necessarily bother me. What is hard, is knowing there is nothing I can do or say for those experiencing the pain of loss that will be of any immediate comfort. I must admit, as a counselor, not having the right words of encouragement sometimes does leave me feeling quite frail. Some dislike funerals because they believe them to point out the fact that all of us are mortal. Its true that one day we will all be the focus of everyone’s attention at a funeral. Again, personally I am not bothered by that notion. As a Christ follower, I know and believe that this life is only a mist, I am here today and gone tomorrow. Others still find funerals difficult because they view them as indicating the end. I choose a different outlook…I subscribe to the perspective that they simply signal the beginning.

Christians know these things to be true. We hold fast to the belief that when our mortal bodies cease to function, our eternal life begins. We believe that because of the faith we have confessed in Jesus Christ as the one and only Son of God, in light of our acceptance of the fact that He died on the cross for our sins, specifically that we might live with Him forever…we will do just that. We understand that His word tells us that when we die here, we live there…in the twinkling of an eye, we will see Jesus, face-to-face. The bible tells us that in Heaven, there is no more pain or sorrow. All of our weakness will be gone forever. We know that there, we will live forever in His presence and in His power.

However, that is not the only reason I don’t think of frailty, death or an ending of life when I attend funerals. There is another consideration that addresses each of these concerns and unlike the truths I mentioned a moment ago, they occur here in this world as well as in Heaven. When a genuine Christ follower draws his or her last breath here on earth, they are able to experience the following scripture in a way we can only imagine. In 2 Timothy 4:6-8 Paul wrote of what was for him yet to be experienced, but for the ones we honored at the funerals I attended this week it is their current reality. That scripture says; For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing. The two men I am referring to today, Bill and Gary, fought the good fight, they each finished their race and finished it well. What does that mean? It means they lived as best they could the way Jesus wanted them to. It means that their acceptance of His free gift of life and forgiveness of their sin had the effect on their lives that Jesus desired when He gave his life in exchange for theirs. It means that the outcome of their lives was the joy set before Him that enabled Him to endure the cross…It means they each left an amazing legacy.

Each of their legacies will live on here in this world. When we consider legacies, we often think of the few largely notable things that a person may have accomplished in their lifetime that will stand to help others. When I think of a legacy, I ponder the smaller multitude of things done in their lives that illustrated the image and likeness of God. I think of the daily investments in others, starting with their own families that built their legacies. I think of how these two men fulfilled the legacy building actions found in Deuteronomy 6:5-7; You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.

Both Bill and Gary went home to be with the Lord in the space of a week’s time, but that was not their only similarity. They were different men to be sure. They had different occupations, lived in different towns, but they served the same God, and lived their lives empowered by the same Spirit. Both of them loved God with everything they had. They weren’t perfect…just being perfected, but the commandments of their Lord were on their hearts. They did pass them on to their children and their children’s children. They did talk about their relationship with their Savior everywhere they went and with everyone they met. The Jesus they showed to and shared with others impacted many lives, lives that will go on to show and share Jesus to with others, who will do the same. That is a legacy that lives on…here and in Heaven. That is a legacy that illustrates the power of Christ…which knows no weakness. That is a legacy that is strong, never frail…and that legacy will never die!

These two men left amazing legacies. Each of theirs began when they accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of their lives, and they built them one day at a time…for the rest of the time they were given on this earth.

Each of us will also undoubtedly leave a legacy. Ours will be remembered as examples of what a person should do…or not do. Bill and Gary knew what to do and they did it. They have heard those coveted words “Well done thou good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Lord.” Their joy is now full and complete. Their legacy lives on here as it changes lives going forward, and in heaven as they are able to gratefully and lovingly place the treasure they stored up there at the feet of Jesus.

So how can we ensure we have a legacy like Bill and Gary get to enjoy? First and foremost, be in constant, close relationship with Jesus but then carry out the example of the Apostle Paul recorded in Philippians 3:12-14. Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

So now, following Jesus and living a life that will produce an amazing legacy like the ones Pastor Bill Sammons and Gary Bollinger left us…GO be awesome!