Monday, May 10, 2010

My message from Addision's funeral

I don't know if anyone will want to take the time to read this; but I thought I'd post my message notes from the message I preached at Addison's funeral. I believe it will help those in a storm, the Lord blessed it on the day of the funeral and I share it in hopes it will help those who read it also. Keep in mind, this was written for the preacher using it at the time of delivery, so there may be incomplete sentences that were there to remind me of the idea to be shared; but for the most part it expresses what I actually said. I may figure a way out later to post the audio recording of the message. It will help to have your Bible handy to refer to the text as referenced.

  Pastor Ralph Green
Senior Pastor, Calvary Baptist Church


Welcome – On behalf of the Greens and the Deasons, we’ve all been overwhelmed with your expressions of love and support through this most difficult time in Addison’s home going. We’d like to thank once again all the hospital staff who cared for Ginny and Addison, the life flight crews, and particularly the staff at Cook Children’s Hospital for allowing us all to spend as much time with Addison as we could. For our many friends in all of our churches, Birchman, NEHBC & Faith Family in Houston, and Calvary Baptist in Bel Air; thanks so much for all of your prayers. There is no doubt as we’ve walked through these days that the Lord has been answering and will continue to answer your petitions for us. We’ve been strengthened and encouraged and have sensed these prayers as the blessed Holy Spirit has come alongside us and carried us through these days. On more than one occasion, I’ve commented that it is overwhelming to know so many are praying for us when so many others have it so much worse than we do, but we’re grateful for the prayers of the saints of God.

Introduction – 10 days ago, my wife was awakened to a phone call in the wee hours of Sunday morning that Ginny was in labor and Addison was on her way into this world. Knowing that I was going to be preaching in a few short hours, I turned back over to sleep and began to pray for Stephen, Ginny & Addison figuring my nurse wife would be talking Ginny through this. I was disappointed for Cheryl as we’d planned on her heading down a few days before Ginny’s due date so this meant Cheryl would miss being there for the birth of her first grandchild. I remember thinking well the Lord’s timing is perfect. In my slumber, I noticed that Cheryl was communicating with text messages back and forth to “the kids” as I call them, meaning my two daughters and sons in love. It wasn’t long before Cheryl left the room and I fell asleep. I awakened for my Sunday morning routine of praying and reviewing the message the Lord had given when Cheryl informed me that Ginny and Addison were both having a hard time. It appeared they were going to have to do a C-section on Gin to get Addison here safely. Of course we continued to pray and ask for the Lord’s favor for them. The Sunday morning dash was on and we rushed off to our church responsibilities. Somehow the Lord enabled me to preach the first service ironically (or not) on being filled with the Spirit from Eph. 5:18. Honestly, I think it was the best sermon I’ve ever preached. Sometime during my message, Cheryl got a text message from Rachel that she needed to get down to Fort Worth ASAP. Between services, I changed Cheryl’s flights and sent her dashing off to pack and get on a plane. (Thankful for a Deacon Chairman named Ernie Owens who along with Kay carried Cheryl to BWI).  I remember calling Rachel, Ginny & Stephen to pray with them. We were weeping on the phone together it was heart wrenching to me as a dad to hear my girls telling me they wished I was there to hug them and there was nothing I could about it (10 minutes before our 2nd service started). I pleaded with the Lord to care for my kids and grand daughter and went back and preached again – amazed literally as I felt like I was standing off to the side watching myself preach and listening to the Holy Spirit use me as I shared what was going on in our family and how we had to depend on the Holy Spirit to be the controlling influence in our lives – a second by second process in the rigors of life. Little did I know on that Sunday, I’d be preaching Addison’s funeral a short 10 days later. In talking with Cheryl Monday, it was apparent that I needed to get to Fort Worth sooner rather than later. In a fitful nights rest, I woke up with a start about 3 in the morning in a panic, thinking I could well be preaching Addison’s funeral at some point. As I tossed and turned, alternately praying and thinking of passages I might use as a text: Job worshipping and saying ‘the Lord gave & the Lord has taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord’; Ps. 46 – God being our refuge and strength; Ps. 91 on taking refuge under the shadow of the Almighty came to mind. Romans 8:28-39 was in my thoughts and “Old faithful” – Phil. 4:6-7, 13. Numerous other Scripture passages came to mind as my weary mind chugged along through the “card catalogue” of years of studying the Scriptures.  Morning finally arrived and I settled into my morning spot to meet with the Lord for my quiet time with a cup of coffee. I had finished reading 1st Cor. the day before and was scheduled to begin 2nd Corinthians. I hadn’t read long when I realized all those passages I’d thought about through the night were not the text but were brought to mind by the Holy Spirit for my comfort and benefit. My heart melted with warmth as the Holy Spirit took this text in II Cor. 1:1-11 and applied it to me as a the sweet balm of Gilead so I share it with you today. Transition – I want us to notice 4 observations from this text whether you’re looking at this distress surrounding Addison from the inside out as family, or the outside looking in at us as friends or brothers & sisters in Christ, the Lord has something for us to see as we honor the “God of all Comfort.”

I.                   God comforts in His perfect will  – vs.1-2

II.                God’s comfort has no limits, it knows no boundaries – vs. 3-5

III.             God comforts in that our distress has a definite purpose – vs. 4a, 6-7

IV.             God comforts in His faithfulness – vs. 8-11

I.                   God comforts in His perfect will  – vs.1-2

Explanation – Paul affirmed to the Corinthian Church that he was in the position that he was in as an Apostle by the will of God. Paul didn’t choose to be an Apostle, God chose him on the road to Damascus in Acts 9 and part of God’s call upon Paul included a lifetime of difficulty and suffering. As a matter of fact, God’s call upon any who would honor the Lord Jesus Christ with their lives need to understand it is God’s will that you will experience hardship, struggle, trial and difficulty.  Jesus said to his disciples in John 16:33 “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” Paul also said to a young pastor named Timothy in 2nd Timothy 2:3You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.” Also in 1st Tim. 3:12 “Yes all who desire to live Godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” Where did we ever get the idea that walking with God does not involve pain and difficulty? Is it because we don’t have enough faith? I’d argue quite the opposite it’s because we had faith!

As we’ve been walking through this incredible difficulty with Addison and then when we began to understand she would not be with us long, we have been comforted in knowing that this is part of God’s will. I know I’m a Pastor by the will of God, I’m in this position because God has placed me here. That means that God is going to mold me and make me to be like Jesus and the only way for me to be fully like Christ is to be a partaker with Him in His sufferings. I’ve not experienced the death of my first granddaughter as a cruel act of fate, some random act of chance, I experienced this by the sovereign hand of my loving God and Father who counts us Greens and Deasons worthy to suffer immense trial at His hand to make us more like Jesus! God chooses to do this with us because He loves us too much to leave us in our previous condition. He’s chosen by His perfect will to use us to suffer deeply in order to magnify His great name as a testimony to all who care to watch His children suffer, yet still glorify Him. We’re awed and humbled that God would find us trust worthy to endure this before so many – we marvel that He trusts us not to bring reproach upon His character and His great name. He trusts us to be a witness of His grace and mercy in the midst of it, trusts us to give thanks and praise instead of cursing. Through it all, I’m comforted in that I know this is God’s will. Jesus told His disciples in Matt. 10:29 that two sparrows were sold for fractions of pennies in the economy of the day but not one of those sparrows falls apart from the will of God and then He says we’re of more value than many sparrows! Jesus’ prayer in the Garden before He went to the cross was not my will, but your will be done and I know God the Father comforted God the Son as His death was God’s will. Notice:

II.                God’s comfort has no limits, it knows no boundaries – vs. 3-5

Explanation – Notice that in the midst of trials and tribulations, God is still to be blessed “eulogized” if you will – to be praised. Why? Because He is the Father of mercies and God of all comfort. We humans make the mistake of thinking God owes us something, that we inherently deserve blessings and not cursing. We think we deserve heaven when the reality of our sin means we deserve Hell. Ginny & Stephen have repeatedly praised God for blessing them with little Addison and Ginny has said a couple of times that some parents know if their children died today they would go to hell, but not Addison! She is a recipient of God’s mercy – he covers those little babies who are unable to accept or reject God’s offer of forgiveness with His mercy and grace – which brings us great comfort that Addison is safe with Jesus, not because Addison, Stephen or Ginny deserve it – we’re all sinners – but because of God’s mercy we can be saved. Addison will never experience evil, temptation, sin and grieving the heart of God! Like Job, we worship, eulogize or bless the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ saying the Lord gave and the Lord has taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord.”

But notice a little word in vs. 4, “all” – It does not say who comforts us in some of our tribulations, most of our tribulations, or just the ones where everyone lives happily ever after. God comforts us in the worst nightmare you could ever dream! Paul goes further to say that as our suffering abounds and multiplies in Christ; God’s comfort abounds and multiplies to meet the distress. As distress and tribulation drills to the depth of your soul, God’s comfort drills to the same depth of your sorrow and distress!

Illustrate – Got here on Wednesday and went to the hospital and was over come when I saw Addison, all connected to a ventilator, reading her Scripture and praying for her. I’ve told several people I had peace, not necessarily Addison would be “normal” whatever that means, that she would live or even if she died. I had peace knowing we all, including Addison would be alright because God is still in charge. Thursday was cry day – travelling to the airport to pick up family – weeping in the car and the Lord just holding me. A friend sending text messages telling me how encouraged he was seeing my faith in Christ, that God trusted me to suffer for His glory. Friday, we knew would be the day Addison would meet Jesus. I woke up feeling like I’d been beat with a pipe. My body was racked with pain and I could barely sit up. I laid in bed and wept for my daughter Ginny who’s wanted to be a mama since she could hold a doll – and dad can’t do a thing. I was praying in bed saying “God of all days, I need to be strong and here I am in bed and can hardly move.”  The gut wrenching anguish felt like a boulder crushing me – and the God of all comfort touches me – strengthened me in my distress. Allowed us to minister to Drs and nurses and hospital staff later that day, to hold Addison’s little hand, knowing I was going to hand her back to Jesus. Oh the comfort God supplied! Oh the depth of the love of God and His mercy to allow our family – 17 of us to hold that baby in NICU! I’m here to tell you there is no limit to the comfort God is able to provide. God’s comfort knows no boundaries and there is no trial or distress that is greater than God’s comfort. Here I’m worried sick for Ginny – when I meet her at the hospital, she’s smiling, got a bag full of clothes to put on Addison so we could take pictures. God was like “you see? I’m caring for you far more than you can!”

III.             God comforts in that our distress has a definite purpose – vs. 4a, 6-7

Explanation – For a child of God, we can rest assured that God is going to use our distress and tribulation for our good and for His glory according to Romans 8. That’s what Paul affirms here also that one of the purposes (vs. 4a) of His comfort in our distress is so that we in turn may comfort others. Repeatedly through this process I find myself helping comfort others who seem more distraught on the outside looking in. I’ve marveled that we’re living the trauma and we seem to be doing better than everyone else on the fringe. We’ve seen and experienced God’s care first hand and the comfort we’ve shared with others is out of the abundance of God’s comfort in us. BTW – it is our privilege to know how we can encourage and comfort you if you’ll ask us. Ya’ll are in mourning also since we’ve all participated with Ginny’s pregnancy for 9 months on Facebook! In vs. 6 Paul says “It is for your consolation and salvation” – We’ve been sensitive to the Lord as to who we can share with about the hope we have in Christ and His provision for our sin. Our desire is to see people come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ through our distress, that the Holy Spirit would draw you to faith b/c of what we’ve gone through. Share ABC’s. Vs.7 Our hope for you is rock solid as we know God is going to use this to draw people to Himself.

Illustration – I had opportunity to witness to the lady on the plane. I’ve watched Ginny and Stephen witness for the Lord, listened to my dad sharing the Gospel in the NICU to one of the nurses, got to pray for our family over Addison’s bed with people listening on around us. Over and over we’ve been able to testify of the Lord’s grace, his peace and strength and His desire that people would come to know him. Even thanking the nurses in the unit after Addison met Jesus. That is not normal – a great chance to share the love of Christ! Finally:

IV.             God comforts in His faithfulness – vs. 8-11

Explanation – No matter how much we’re in despair, even though sometimes the pain was so great we thought we’d rather just die – that’s what vs. 8 says: but the situation is so completely overwhelming we cannot trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead! God has a way of putting us in a spot where we can do nothing but trust in Him to rescue us! Notice vs. 10 – Past tense – “who delivered us from so great a death”(the cross), present tense – and does deliver us (present trial), and finally future tense, “that He will still deliver us.”Future storms and ultimately at the end of our lives! You see the reality folks is that our everlasting God is everlastingly faithful! God’s faithfulness, not only as a part of His character brings us great comfort. He’s been faithful to save us from spiritual death, physical death holds no control over us as we know Addison is safe with Jesus. I know I’ll see my granddaughter again. As I sat there holding her, her little hand gripping my finger – I had a vision of this sweet gal meeting me someday in Heaven – “Pops come look!” showing me around heaven. God was faithful to sustain us through every part of this, He’s continuing that faithful comfort right now in helping me preach, He’s going to continue faithfully to care for us in 6 months and a year when the rest of the world has move on. Vs.11 – We still need the help of others in prayer; with the aim being many more people would praise God for His comfort – through the gift – that’s right, the gift of suffering granted to us in Addison’s home going.

Close – Repeat reading of vs.3-4. So what about you? What is your response today going to be? How has the Holy Spirit spoken to you today? Maybe you want to give your life to Christ today?

Maybe you need to rededicate your life to Christ – maybe you’ve been embittered toward God because of some trauma you’ve been through and you need to repent of being angry at God. I’m going to pray and then Brother Cory is going to play an invitation song. I’ll be here to meet & pray with you; Brother Bob will pray with you, there are other believers here who can help you make a decision for Christ today.

Posted via email from Pastor Ralph

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