Recently I was honored to attend the memorial service for my dear friend Warren Wiersbe. It was important to Terri and me that we pay honor to this man who meant so much to us. He and Betty became our friends nearly 25 years ago, and he will be deeply missed.
Through the years, it was instilled in me to honor people. It has always been important to me to remember. We live in a world that easily forgets. With the advancement of technology, it’s easy to just check the box and move on to the next thing. That does a disservice to us and to those we love.
Remembering is an important part of biblical faith. The Jews were frequently told to remember. The Passover was a reminder to tell the story of God’s deliverance. The memorial stones were a reminder to tell the next generation of God’s divine intervention. The songs of ascent were to be sung as a reminder while the Jewish pilgrims traveled to the Holy City during feasts. The Lord’s Supper is a reminder of what Christ did for us at the Cross.
The list of friends and supporters in Paul’s letters was a reminder that even the great Apostle Paul didn’t do it by himself. The Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11 is a reminder that history is HIS story, told through the lives of His servants.
Reminders and repetition are good for us. Worshiping the past or people in our past is not healthy, but remembering them is. Remember how they blessed you, how God used them, and why it’s important. It is not healthy or Christlike to pretend that every idea is your idea. We are a product of the investment of others in our lives – parents, professors, authors, conference speakers, friends, and family who have poured into us along the way.
My life is marked by men who hold places of honor in my heart and life. I rarely preach without quoting one of them. Sometimes I don’t know where they end and where I begin. They are so much a part of me, and I rejoice when I remember seasons in their path.
This fall I will celebrate thirty years as the pastor of Sherwood. A few years ago, we built a hall to honor the history of our church. It’s not a brass serpent to be worshiped; rather, it is a hall where we have marked historical moments along the journey. We’ve honored the former pastors, key events, and significant moments when God showed up. It is our “What mean these stones?” hallway. When someone new comes to the church, they can take a walk down this hall, watch videos, and see a historical timeline and items from specific decades.
Through the years, most of our charter members have gone on to glory. Key leaders who helped me in my early years here have passed away. It’s imperative, in my opinion, that people know Sherwood didn’t just happen. It happened because God put some incredibly patient, praying people together who worked for the glory of God. It’s important to pause and ponder the impact of those who are no longer with us and those who can no longer contribute as they once could.
Every generation must recognize that something significant happened before they were born. It’s important that each of us remember that we didn’t get here by ourselves. We are the product of the places we’ve been, the people we’ve met, and the books we’ve read (I agree with my friend Jay Strack!). We stand on the shoulders of giants.
Today, I pause to remember and rejoice specifically over men in ministry who poured into me. Men like Vance Havner, Ron Dunn, Manley Beasley, Don Miller, and Warren Wiersbe allowed me into their lives. There are pastors along the way who believed in me, even when I wasn’t sure I believed in myself. I’m forever grateful to Charlie Draper, Fred Lowery, Nelson Price, George Harris, Tom Elliff, John Bisagno, and Jimmy Draper for their investment and encouragement. They loved me, prayed for me, encouraged me, and blessed me. Their spiritual DNA is a part of my spiritual DNA.
My prayer is that I can remind people from time to time that we once had giants in the land. These giants cast long shadows and provided shade for countless thousands along the way.