Monday, July 16, 2007

In Memory of "One of the Good Guys"

Service of Death and Resurrection July 14, 2007
Jack Wengert
Robert Lyons, Pastor
1 Thessalonians 4:13

Emma called me early Wednesday morning. “Jack passed about 3:30 this morning,” she said.” I knew it was coming but something about it didn’t seem right. To tell you the truth, something about this still doesn’t seem right.
Emma said it best, “Jack was one of the good guys. He had his head on straight.” Jack was one of the good guys. People like Jack Wengert are rare. He had a heart bigger than Texas.
Jack retired from the forestry service. In the course of my lifetime, I have been blessed to call more than one forester a friend. One thing I do know about them. They are tough. Early on in their marriage there were no good jobs available. Every day Jack took a bus up into the mountain. He spent the day shoveling snow around the trees so the sawyers could cut trees during the winter. It was tough work but he was a tough man.
In spite of this toughness, he was one of the most wonderful people you would ever meet. Brent told me that he has always looked people in the eye and, with pride, told them he was Jack’s boy. Jack loved his children. He was devoted to his family. He was a loving grandfather who loved his grandchildren so much they, indeed, considered him grand.
Jack was a giver. He was devoted to this church, the Boys and Girls Club, Lion’s Club, the Men’s Prayer breakfast, and generally to helping others. Things would get fixed around this place and no one would know who did it. “It must have been Jack,” people said. Jack loved projects and fixing things. He liked to make trailers of all kinds. He enjoyed making duck blinds and inventing things. His greatest pleasure was finding new uses for objects that no longer had use. Jack liked to work on everything. It was important to him that everything on his place be in “good working order.”
Jack understood the truth of James 2:14-18
“What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith and has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, ‘Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by actions, is dead. But someone will say, ‘You have faith; I have deeds.’ Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.”
You see Jack believed that talk was cheap. Actions, in his book, spoke louder than words. He believed the truth contained in James 1:22, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says!”
Jack treated everyone the same, like people. Larry told me his favorite Jack story yesterday. When they were in Florida, after a Hurricane Andrew, they had a small catering outfit setup for relief workers. Civilians ate well and the military was eating MRE’S. A general came in to inquire if his men were welcome to eat. Jack told him, “yeah.” The general then said he wanted his men to have a reserved set of tables. Jack objected to this and the general went on his way. A few days later the general saw things Jack’s way and the soldiers were able to mingle with their civilian coworkers.
If I think there is the remotest possibility that I might find it necessary to conduct another’s funeral, it is important that I know their spiritual condition. In those affairs, one never assumes. The first Monday I was here, I went up to the hospital for the second time. Emma was kind enough to allow a few moments alone with Jack. I was able to ask him two questions that are of vital importance. “Jack, do you know for sure and certain that if you died tonight, you would go to heaven?”
“Well, yeah,” he replied.
“Jack,” I said, “if you did die tonight, and stood before God, and he said, ‘why should I let you into my heaven?’ What would you say?”
He replied, “cause I’m Jack!” Then he smiled. He waited for a few moments to sweat the new preacher, then he said, “and then I’d tell him, ‘also because I know your boy.’”
You see, Jack did a lot of good things. Only one of them got him into heaven. He accepted Jesus, the Son of God, as his savior to forgive him his sins. After that, everything else was mere icing on the cake.
I want to take this occasion to say that if you cannot, truthfully, answer these questions in the same way Jack did, talk to me. Right now is the only thing we are guaranteed. We never know if we will have time.


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