Saturday, February 24, 2007

Funeral Sermon

Here are the notes from which I preached my father's funeral sermon. The Lord gave grace.

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I loved my Dad.

And I am thankful that as the years went on, my love and respect for him increased.

My Dad was not a saint nor a perfect man. Just like me, he was a sinner in need of grace.

Nonetheless, he was quite a man. To me, he had always been just “Dad,” but looking at his life over the past week you discover there was a lot to this man who walked this globe for 77 years and 10 months!

My Dad was a leader.

President of various organizations and clubs, Dad was never afraid to jump into the driver’s seat and take everyone along for a ride. Flowers Canada. Talpines. The junction. He was not afraid to try and move people along. In fact, he was busy planning a new foundation over the last year called, Rearguard. The idea was to promote men getting colonoscopies for early-detection of colon cancer!

My Dad was funny.

I mean, his humour was a tad limited. You can only hear “Deliver that flower arrangement to Runnymede Horsepiddle” so many times before it loses its edge! But Dad loved to laugh and to make other people laugh. He was happiest when there was a joke of some kind in the air.

My Dad was creative.

I still, and please forgive me sisters, think his floral arrangements are the best. Keep it a triangle with glads and I am happy! But the creativity extended beyond the flower shop. Like finding ways to make birdhouses out of just about anything! The famed roll-top desk. And train cars and rocking horses...

My Dad was an Innovator.

He loved to find new ways to do things at the shop. Vexar bags! I think he took out stock in Vexar, those stretchy, mesh plastic bags. They were going to revolutionize the fruit basket industry! He would take me down to “the clock” (the flower wholesale market) to sell them – until I got escorted out of the building by security!

My Dad was a salesman.

I don’t recall what we were doing but mom found a picture of Jane and me in some bike-a-thon... with Martin’s the Flower People advertising taped to our bikes! Dad could sell anything to anyone – like flowers he stopped to pick along highway 400 to old Maltese women. He was also prone to buying just about anything too! Who can forget the Isorober!? An hour’s worth of exercise in just 5 minutes!

My Dad was fun.

He told me that neighbours used to call his father “the King of the Lane.” (“The lane” was the alley behind the flower shop where Dad grew up.) His father was always out playing with the kids and everybody loved him. Bill took after his Dad in that – he loved kids. And he loved to play. All the kids at church would be sure to know Mr. Martin. The kids on the street would know Mr. Martin – even the little boy around the corner who would wave to mom and dad every morning when they walked by. Dad liked to have fun. And he would have fun with friends too. I have a truckload of happy memories, watching TV in the family room while Dad and Mom and friends laughed the night away in the other room.

My Dad was a musician.

The bagpipes. The organ. The accordion. Whistling, humming, singing. The Ivey Fyers. The Band – Benny on the sax, Merrit on the violin, Skip on the electric guitar and Gilley trying to play the drums!

My Dad was an adventurer.

Sailing in the Caribbean. Tromping through China with Rotarians. Scuba-diving lessons – thanks mom. Boat trips to Parry Sound – out of the channel! I soon realized the only reason I came along on these boat trips was to lay on the deck of the old wooden Grew and scour the water ahead for shoals and rocks! I have never known a man to hit so many rocks and not sink!

My Dad was content.

As a gangly, red-headed, skinny 18 year old city-kid he went off to Malton for a year to work on the farm. I know these farmers. Gangly. Red-head. Skinny. City-kid. If you are any ONE of those things you have TARGET written all over you in farm country! Uncle Roy said the other night, the boys weren’t too quick to let Bill into the gang! But he did what he always did – he was just himself. That defined a lot of Dad’s life now that I think about it. He was content. Content with corners in his woodwork that didn’t quite match. Content with a top on his boat that never quite got straight. Content with kids that gave him grief here and there. Content with the dumb dog gnawing on his toes!

My Dad was a man.

He knew how to dig a ditch or pick up a coon or stand up for friends and even how to punch a shoplifter right in the gut. Don’t steal violets from Martins!

My Dad was Grandad.

To 20 grandkids and 8 great-grandkids. And everybody loved Grandad. He filled his family’s life with good memories and special keepsakes. He’d chase them around the house, tickle them, make faces, try to get them in trouble with their parents at the table...

My Dad was a father.

He cared for 4 little girls and did lots of fun things with them. Trips to the park and weekends at the cottage. And he cared for a surprising little boy 7 years later. Camping with the Boy Scouts and blowing that ridiculous red trumpet at hockey games! I don’t think we ever doubted Dad’s love.

My Dad was a husband.

I never, ever thought my parents would divorce or even have a problem. Dad came home every night and always had a hug and kiss for mom. Every couple has their challenges... but mom and dad always got through them. They have remained a rock through the storms of life for their children, grandchildren and friends.

And we loved Dad.

He was a good man.

Like many of you are good men or good women.

But just like us, he was a sinner in need of a Saviour – for no man is good enough to stand before a Holy God.

And that is why we would be fools today to not think about the greatest Man who ever lived. God, in the person of His Son – Jesus Christ.

The Bible teaches that there is one God – and that God exists in three persons. Not three Gods, or one God becoming one person then another then another. No, three persons, equally one God. The Father. His Son Jesus Christ. And the Holy Spirit.

God the Son – Jesus – came to earth. This is a staggering thought! For the Bible says that “all things were made by” Jesus and “all things are held together” by Jesus.

· So the one who made the earth

· and hung the stars in the heaven

· and spoke light into existence

· and knows the flight of every sparrow...

that One became human. Remaining what He was, He became what He was not!

After living in obscurity for 30 years, he began to do these amazing miracles like giving sight to blind men and bringing back to life a guy who had been buried in a tomb for 4 days and taking one boys meal and feeding 15,000 people with it! More importantly, He would teach and preach.

And Mark, one of his biographers, summed up his preaching this way:

“Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

Now think about that for a minute. God came to earth and commanded something. If God commands, men do well to listen!

We will come back to this command in a second, but think about this, too – this was not the first time God had given commands. Long ago through His prophet Moses, God gave 10 commandments. And many of us know them by heart.

But just knowing God’s commandments is not good enough. We have to obey them. In fact, we have to obey all of them. The Bible says, “For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it.” (James 2:10)

One day a rich man came to Jesus and asked what he must do to inherit eternal life.

Luke 18:18

And a ruler asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 19 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. 20 You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother.’”

Now this is very strange! Why does Jesus answer the man this way? Why does Jesus say, “No one is good except God alone?” I will tell you why – because this ruler judged himself to be good, also. Not only that, he considered Jesus to be just a man, like him. This ruler looked at his life and thought – “I am a good man. I will just cover my bases by talking to this Jesus fellow. He is moral and religious like me.”

Jesus was saying to this ruler: “You are not good. Only God is good. And the proof is that you have broken God’s law.”

The ruler did not get it.

21 And he said, “All these [commandments] I have kept from my youth.”

That is what a lot of us say, too, isn’t it? Sure, I have kept the 10 commandments. At least I have tried...

So Jesus stepped it up and drove to the heart of the issue.

22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”

Now, why did Jesus say this? Well, the same reason. He was showing the ruler that he was not good in the eyes of God. The first commandment says, “You shall no other Gods before me.” Clearly this man worshipped his stuff, more than God. He had broken the Law. He was guilty. He was not good. But even when he saw it – he did not repent of his sin and trust in Jesus to save him.

23 But when he heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich.” [and he walked away downcast.]

Now that begs the question. What of you? Have you ever broken God’s law?

· Have you ever loved something or someone more than God?

· Have you ever told a lie?

· Have you ever taken God’s name in vain?

· Have you ever stolen anything?

I mean, that is just 4 out of the 10.

Even if you only lied once, you are guilty before God. But it won’t do you much good just to feel guilty and sad and walk away. Listen again to Mark’s description of Jesus’ preaching: “Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

Our guilt is why Jesus came preaching repentance and faith.

You see, you are probably like me. When you break God’s law, you tend to excuse yourself, or shift the blame or justify your actions. But let’s be honest.

· God sees the heart.

· He tracks every careless word you have ever spoken.

· He knows what is in you.

· You and He both know you have willfully disobeyed His command.

And that is a problem – for God made it quite simple: if you want to live, then you must obey his commands. If you break his commands, you shall surely die. That is how death came into the world.

That is why the God-Man Jesus is so amazing – for knowing all that about us, He still came... and came with love – saying, “Repent and believe the gospel.”

He knew that as good as any of us are – we need a Saviour.

· You need a Saviour.

· I need a Saviour.

· Not just the prostitutes and drug dealers... even the upstanding citizens need a Saviour.

In fact, the Bible says that all our good works piled up amount to nothing more than filthy rags in the presence of God. They are all stained by sin. That is why He said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick [need a physician.] I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

So, sinner. Have you repented and have you believed. Have you admitted your guilt before an Almighty, all-knowing, all-seeing God – a God before whom you one day will stand... And have you obeyed His Gospel? Have you given up all hope of making yourself “presentable” to God and determined to rely on Jesus alone?

You might ask, “Why should I rely on Jesus?”

And the answer is simple.

Because Jesus died and was raised to life.

Before he was killed on the cross, he told his disciples this about himself: “...the Son of Man came... to give his life as a ransom for many.”

That means that Jesus loved the world of sinners so much, that not only did he become human like them, not only did he invite them to repent and believe, but he loved them so much he gave his life in exchange for theirs.

ILL: Perhaps you watched the movie Narnia and witnessed the great Lion Aslan giving up his life in exchange for Edmund. It was a bad exchange. Aslan is beautiful, sinless, strong and good. Edmund is a traitor. But Aslan died for him. And Jesus has died for all those sinners that repent and put their trust in Him.

He made the laws, he fulfilled the laws and now he saves those who have broken the law.

What a good man! The best Man!

Put your faith in Him and you will live forever.

“I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

“...there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

As good as you are – you need a Saviour.