Well, this last weekend was filled with more sorrows and joys mixed together than I could ever have imagined a single weekend could have. Last week, my “Uncle Bubba,” Clarence Kelley, Jr., passed away at about age 72 1/2 years old. He had been in poor health in a nursing home for the past five or six years and had struggled with alcohol for most of his life. Yet, we were encouraged by the fact that he did seem to show some fruit, going out of his way to help people and he always professed to believe in the Lord. I will always remember him for how he would always call my sister and I, “Uncle Michael” and “Aunt Sarah,” a running gag from my sister who, when she was a very small child, thought that if he was her uncle then she must have been his Aunt. He also used to hold us upside down by our legs which we’d always beg him to do whenever we saw him as kids.
When I think of his life, I cannot help but think of the life of the great hymn-writer Robert Robinson who authored Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing. Robinson’s life was also characterized by lapses in and out of both drinking and gambling, yet he found rest in Samuel’s proclamation (1 Sam. 7:12):
Then Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpah and Shen, and called the name of it Ebenezer, saying, ‘Hitherto hath the Lord helped us.’
The name “Ebenezer” means “stone of help,” and it was this verse that led Robinson to write his famous hymn, pouring out his heart that if he would ever make it to the Eternal Promised Land, it must be the Lord’s personal help pulling him up. He says, “Here I raise mine Ebenezer, hither by Thy help I’m come… safely to arrive at home.”
Yet, the weekend also included some joys. My mother had the opportunity to reconnect with a few college friends from Medical School, my sister Sarah and her husband Josue celebrated their 2-Year Anniversary of Marriage, and I was ordained by my church in Eads, Tennessee to the Gospel Ministry. The latter was a joyous, and yet solemn occasion, the duty of any minister to “preach [Gr. kerusso] the word” (2 Timothy 4:2), to simply declare what God has said rather than inserting one’s own opinions or changing the message to appease the hearers. During the service, one of my professors from the seminary I graduated from delivered the message to not just me, but to the whole body of Christ at Eads. His message came from 2 Timothy 4:1-8 in which the apostle solemnly charges us to:
- Preach the Word (Vv. 1-4).
- Pour yourself out for the Word (Vv. 5-6).
- Practice the Word (Vv. 7-8).
Doing such things will not always be easy, but is the only way for any Christian to have a ministry which God will honor “at that day” with “a crown of righteousness,” and such was the case for Chuck Missler. I also found out yesterday after my uncle’s funeral that Dr. Missler had also passed away at his home in Reporoa, New Zealand; he was 83.
I first found out about Chuck Missler almost ten years ago in 2009 during my last semester of high school. For half of that year, my mom, dad, sister, and I all began tuning in every Thursday to GOD TV to watch his series Learn the Bible in 24 Hours. He quickly became one of my favorite Bible teachers to watch since the passing of Adrian Rogers, another solid teacher of the scriptures.
As a newly-ordained minister of the gospel, I am grateful for the ministry of Chuck Missler and his commitment to the Word of God as wholly without error no matter the subject about which it speaks. Dr. Missler truly had an award-winning ministry and I cannot help but smile when I think about my grandfather “Pawpaw” (Clarence, Sr.), who served in several churches throughout his life helping to reach communities with the gospel before passing onto glory back in 2012, now having a chat with his oldest son (Clarence, Jr.) and with Chuck Missler. Dr. Missler has also finally been reunited with his two sons Charles and Mark, and with his wife Nancy.
I truly do not understand how atheists can cope with death, believing that they will never see their loved ones again except in memories. Without God, death is absolutely final, nothing more, and as such, there is only sorrow. With God, there is still sorrow, but there is also hope, the certain expectation of being freed permanently and entirely from the yoke of sin that all humanity has known since Adam’s first disobedient act. Whether we are going through good times or bad times, God is still on the throne, and if we have trusted in Him, everything that happens to us is filtered by Him (Romans 8:28).
“But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him.” -1 Thess. 4:13-14.