I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes. Romans 1:16 (NIV)
One of the pastors at our church died this week. Joe had been fighting a variety of illnesses in the last year ranging from prostate cancer to leukemia to brain damage from a motorcycle accident. He conquered prostate cancer, then, two years ago, went through treatment for leukemia. During this time, he was the main leader at our church taking on responsibility not only for preaching on Sundays, but running the office and church ministries. His leukemia had been in remission for about a year but when he went to the hospital after the motorcycle accident, the blood tests showed it was back. He pondered his options and after having gone through chemo twice, decided not to do it a third time. He did not tell our church until December at which point, the leukemia was ravaging his body with a vengeance. Fatigued and in pain, he continued to work as many hours of the day as he could. Joe preached his last sermon two weeks ago, telling his friends and family if they wanted to hear him preach one more time, they had better show up for what would be his last sermon. When he battled leukemia the first time, he often preached sitting down as he was too tired to stand. Still he preached because he felt the message he had to share was important enough to overcome any illness. Last week, he got a staph infection in his blood and quickly went downhill. He went into the hospital on Friday night and died on Sunday afternoon. Joe was a no nonsense kind of guy. There was no gray with Joe. He wouldn’t beat around the bush pretending about something. He learned a long time ago that life was too short to play games. Joe didn’t worry about hurting someone’s feelings. His favorite saying was “build a bridge and get over it.” But, you always knew where you stood with Joe. While his honesty could be painful sometimes, his praise was real and true. If Joe said something, you knew you could count on it. Once, Joe called to me in passing, “Heya Cowgirl, how ya doing?” If there is one thing I am not really, is a cowgirl, but Joe’s statement made me feel like maybe I could be sometime. The last time I talked to Joe, I shared our excitement about our new puppy. He said, “Now, whatja go and do that for? That’s going to be a lot of trouble!” In addition to being honest, Joe also loved deeply. His family, his friends and most of all the children and teachers at our church’s preschool. Every morning, Joe stationed himself at the front of the school greeting parents and children as they came through the door. I believe it is the children who will miss Joe the most. With Joe, what you saw was what you got. And what you got was a man who loved Jesus and wasn’t afraid to tell you about Him.
Click on January 1 The Test of Signs http://www.fbcpalmetto.com/sermons