My Dear Brother Jim
- delivered to eulogize him on Thur 6/16/11 in St. Joseph’s church, Mendham, NJ -
My dear brother Jim. I’m missing you. I wish we had spent more time together these past few years. I’m sorry I didn’t visit more frequently from NC and that you weren’t able to visit me there. You were always busy looking out for and helping other family and friends. I’m sure you made the best choices for the ones you were best able to help or that needed it the most. You did well my brother.
I’m the oldest of our 5 siblings, just 1 year and 7 months older than Jim. Although I probably look even older than that. Gray hair is hereditary ya know, you get it from your kids - and I have 5 kids myself – can you tell?. Although Jim doesn’t have natural kids, he’s a better father figure than many birth fathers in our society today. I don’t hesitate to say he’s probably a father figure to more young people than I, and he did it with less gray – certainly less than I had – just 1 year and 7 months ago.
I speak of him in the present tense because I believe, and we’re told in scripture, that all souls are eternal. It’s just a matter of where you spend eternity, and it’s what you believe and do in life that determines your destiny.
What is life if not less than a drop in the un-fathomable ocean of eternity?
I want to speak to you about eternity and faith – the kind of faith that I think Jim had. These are not easy subjects to tackle, but I’m going to plunge in – as a tribute to my brother and who he is – and as something I’m glad to perform as the eldest sibling.
I’m a born-again Christian, and I have to frame what I say in that context. If you marvel at that statement – you should not. Jesus said to Nicodemus, a Pharisee and Sanhedrin member that secretly met with Him,
“Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’”
He went on to say …
“The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
Jesus equates “born again” with “born of the Spirit”
As a born-again Christian people ask me – So do you think so-and-so went to heaven — or not? They like to ask it bluntly. I like to say, I don’t know what was in so-and-so’s heart – the answer, as were, is “blowing in the wind” as implied by Jesus.
It’s also, I say not, up to me or anyone else. It’s up to Jesus alone and only He knows, for He said …
“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
And the Father we know is in heaven – “Our Father who art in heaven – hallowed be Thy name …”
So what is Jesus’s criteria – for “getting through Him” ?? Everyone knows John 3:16
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that who-so-ever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
So then if you just believe in Jesus your OK? Right?
+ Be careful, because Jesus’s own brother James (a fitting name for today) wrote much of wisdom from God and penned …
If “You believe that there is one God. You do well. — Even the demons believe—and tremble!”
Apparently there are different levels of belief. I have a feeling that the belief held by demons – is not quite -
up to par with what Jesus requires of us. Having become one of us and dying for us.
James goes on to explain that faith without good works is dead! So can you earn your way into heaven?
+ Be careful again, because the apostle Paul, a Jewish Rabbi that, by many accounts, wrote 2/3 of the New Testament, penned that salvation is “a gift of God, and not of works, lest anyone should boast”
And, Jesus, in arguing with religious leaders at the temple – mentioned that “scripture cannot be broken”
(IE, it cannot conflict with itself.) So, we can’t forget that Jesus also said …
“you must be born again.”
So what does “born again”, or “born of the Spirit” mean? The apostle Paul explains:
“having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise”
He also elaborates on what it means to truly believe:
“if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”
So, it’s up to Jesus and the answer for us as to whether someone is saved – is blowing the wind. However, He gave us some personal instructions: that you must truly believe in Him and be born-again with His Holy Spirit. Good works are important, but merely the evidence of having true, living faith.
Regarding our beloved Jim – he expressed so many good works – I dare say more than most of us – including me. Good works of the kind that Jim displayed – that are consistent, unselfish, sacrificing, etc. – are hard to sustain without a strong foundation of faith. A faith that isn’t dead, but alive and true. A faith that suggests a spiritual birth at its core.
Meaning of the name Jim
I got up early this morning to reflect and I looked up the meaning of the name Jim. It originates from the Hebrew Jacob and means “he who supplants” – replaces, stands in for, takes over for, etc.
That’s exactly what Jim did in being a surrogate father for Billy and Analise.
As you consider Jim and how much he did for others, both casually and professionally (as a home health aid), despite any imperfections or personality quirks which we all have (that’s not what matters – what matters is what we believe), consider what his life source must have been. Consider what you should do having known him as an example of service to others.
I suspect those that pass as Jim did, apparently quickly and peacefully, that their express purpose on earth was fulfilled and that they have been promoted for a greater purpose.
Imagine Jim having unlimited resources to help souls on the other side of eternity. Who is better qualified for such a role? I think of all those souls that did not have the privilege of a JimJim in their lives. I think of those who died in childhood or even the womb, that suffered or struggled without the benefit of a JimJim to make a difference in their lives. Perhaps those that miss out in life – for not having a JimJim – will have one in eternity.
I said up front that all souls are eternal, or everlasting. Hell, BTW, is the opposite of everlasting life – it’s everlasting death. Scripture is clear that everyone is bodily resurrected: even the sea gives up it’s dead, every knee will bow and every tongue confess “that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
What a tragedy it will be for those that, after receiving wonderful resurrected and eternal bodies, are only then compelled to bow and confess before the undeniable creator, only to be consigned to the lake of fire in hell. Jesus said “if you deny me I will deny you”.
I don’t think Jesus will be impressed if we believe only after being resurrected and see Him face to face. What’s there not to believe at that point? – of what value is faith then? No, I think He’s impressed when we believe despite the lousy world we live in, are willing born-again with His Spirit and, as an act of true faith, we produce good works for the sake of others.
I think people are born for different purposes. And Jim performed his very well – perhaps not fully knowing what exactly or to what extent, nor knowing when it would end. Is it any different for any of us?
Choose wisely wherein to place your faith and if you want to spend time with Jim again.
For all that are here or unable to attend, may God heal your sorrow in time and may we together be with Jim again – this time in glory. Good bye, for a little while, my dear brother Jim – I do pray, hope, believe and trust.
I have a brief closing message for Analise and Billy in particular, but that may apply to many others.
Jim was there for you both during times in your young lives when it mattered the most. In some ways I believe even more than you know.
Your both now fine young adults. You don’t need him anymore – except, that is, to remember him and make him proud. Your fully capable and responsible for doing that yourselves now. Jim did all he could do for you – he gave you his all.
Don’t blame God – simply trust – that He had the timing of things fully in control, despite our human inability to comprehend His ways. His ways are above our ways.
And now I leave you with this parting charge …
Like in the movie Saving Private Ryan, when the character played by Tom Hank’s, as he was dying of a mortal wound but knew that Private Ryan would be safe – told him “Make your life worth this”.
So I say to you – “make your lives worth this” – worth Jim’s investment in you – that your lives can be his proud legacy – such that Jesus especially may one day point to your lives and say to Jim at his side – well done my good and faithful servant.
Let us all do our part to make Jim proud and consider that he and others may be looking down on us at any time.
(3) Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
(4) Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”
(5) Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.
(6) That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
(7) Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’
(8) The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6)
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)
(19) You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!
(20) But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?
(21) Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar?
(22) Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect?
(23) And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS ACCOUNTED TO HIM FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS.” And he was called the friend of God.
(24) You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.
(25) Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way?
(26) For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.
(8) For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,
(9) not of works, lest anyone should boast.
(10) For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise,
(9) that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.
(10) For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
(11) and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.