Tribute to Charles R. Ingerson

My dear friend, Summer Ellison is my guest writer today. This past year she lost her beloved grandpa. At his graveside service she gave the following message. It was a trying, stressful, and sorrowful time for Summer, but she could rejoice knowing her grandpa was with Jesus, enjoying all the blessings of Heaven. So, at his service she gave him the highest honor possible, she shared the Gospel with those present, and today she has agreed to share the message with us.

Charles R. Ingerson

June 3, 1929 to July 19, 2020

Graveside Funeral Address July 25, 2020

By Summer Ellison

Everyone here today would agree with me that Grandpa was a very special man, and that he was.  We all have countless precious memories of him and how he impacted our lives.  The legacy he left for us was his example of love.  He modeled love not by his words, but by his actions.  He demonstrated his love through his example of how he loved his wife, grandma.  This made such an impression on me.  Through this example, he also modeled the love of Christ, and therefore I would like to honor him by sharing the gospel with you.

The gospel is God’s plan to redeem His people to himself through the person of Jesus Christ, His Son.  You may be thinking, okay, that sounds a little churchy and I don’t really understand what that means.  That’s understandable, and I have a confession.  As a believer, God is so great and vast that I often have a hard time communicating the good news of the gospel because the gospel really is that!  GOOD NEWS! 

The gospel is, simply put, and in one word:  Jesus.  I struggle putting into words what this means because Jesus is so incredibly powerful in my life.  He has made the single greatest impact and impression on me, and I have felt no greater love and joy outside of him.  And yes, that includes the birth of my children.

All of us were created with an innate knowledge that there is something greater than ourselves.  That something greater is God himself.  God set eternity in our hearts.  Ecclesiastes 3:11 says “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”  He knew we would want to run things our own way.  That was proven by Adam & Even in the garden of Eden, resulting in the fall of humankind.  We all seem to know and grasp that story and how it turned out.  We were not designed to be our own gods, but we sure try, don’t we?  We try to control every aspect of our lives and things inside our world.  But what we find is that the world is much greater than ourselves and no matter how hard we try; we fail at running our lives and cannot control the outcomes. 

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There are forces beyond our control; people, things, circumstances, all of which are fallen and imperfect like we are.  We are all corrupt.  Our thought process and understanding is not only faulty, but incomplete.  The only thing, or rather person, that can make us whole and complete is Jesus Christ himself. 

Jesus has always existed as part of the trinitarian God, God in three persons:  The Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit.  God is a holy and just God.  His standard for being in His presence, in a right relationship with Him, is to be like Him.  Blameless, righteous, holy, different.  It is so hard to wrap our minds around what this really means because we are NOT like Him, but we were created in His image.  God is good…all the time.  His holiness is good. His justice is good.  His wrath is good.  He knows the truth about each person and knows what is in his/her heart.  He alone can properly judge humankind. 

And herein lies is the problem.  There is no one who is good, not even one.  Romans 3:10-12 tells us “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God.  All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.”  And then again in Romans 3:23 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  This sounds harsh, but we know this to be true deep within ourselves.  How?  Have you ever made a mistake, or have you ever hurt someone else or spoke unkindly towards someone (whether it was on purpose or unintentional)?  Have you ever felt ashamed and not good enough?  That is because you and I are NOT God and we will never be God.  We do not and cannot ever make the mark or reach the bar, no matter how hard we try on our own.  Sin is anything we do apart from faith in God.  Think about that.  Anything we do apart from faith in God.  That is huge.  We are all familiar with the Ten Commandments, referred to as part of the Mosaic Law.  God created the law to bring to our attention sin and those things that separate ourselves from Him. 

He did not design and create us to be separate from Him, but to have relationship with Him and with each other.  Since he is a holy, just, and perfect God, the result of sin is death.  Death, through separation from our body and spirt, but also eternal separation from God.  Romans 6:23 says “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Yes, there is hope!  He made a way for us!  While we did not seek Him, in His love he sought after us.  Jesus came to earth as a man, and lived the perfect, sinless life that we could not.  We learn from Philippians 2:6-8 that “Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bondservant, and being made in the likeness of men.  Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”  Jesus experienced pain, suffering and even death.  He took on all the punishment and wrath that we deserved for our sin.  He paid the price and stood in our place before the Almighty Judge and served our sentence.  Not only did He do this, but He conquered death.  The apostle Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 (paraphrased)  “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve (disciples).  Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time. Afterwards he appeared to James, then to all the apostles and lastly, he appeared to Paul.” 

He provided undeniable proof that he conquered death.  He ascended to heaven and now sits at the right hand of God LIVING and interceding on our behalf. 

God, in grace, gives us saving faith.  He enables us to believe and accept Him.  When we then surrender our way, to His way, we are seen by God through a new lens. We are seen through the covering of Jesus Christ himself.  God sees CHRIST in us!  Jesus lives in and through us by giving us His Spirit, the Holy Spirit, who enables us to live a life full of joy, hope, peace, faith, and love.  We know that we have a Savior who loves us enough to die for us and give us a new and abundant life because He gives us Himself.  This “salvation” is not just “get out of hell free card” or a “one-way ticket to Heaven”.  I cannot express enough that salvation is much MORE than this.  Salvation again, is Jesus Christ himself.  He gives us Himself in the here, and now, not in the distant eternity.  As we grow in love and relationship to Him, He shows us no greater love.  He provides all our needs.  He gives us living water and satisfies the deepest thirst within our souls.  He gives us life, abundant life!  When speaking to the woman at the well in John 4:13-14 Jesus said to her,  “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

This does not mean that our lives here on earth will be without pain and suffering.  In fact, Jesus says that in this world we will have tribulation, but he reminds us to take courage, for He has overcome the world (John 16:33).  Pain and suffering co-exists in this fallen world.  BUT we have the love of Christ, which is such a mystery.  As we get to know Him and love Him, He enables us to break free of the sin that entangles us and causes harm to ourselves and others, and He fills us with clean, living water that refreshes our souls.  We begin to have a peace that surpasses all understanding as we begin to live, and want to live for him, NOW.  He creates a hunger within us to know Him, and as we begin to get to know Him, we are satisfied with the spiritual food and drink that comes from Him alone.  The only way to experience this is to come, taste and see.  Drink the water that will never make you thirsty again.  To surrender to Christ and wave the white flag is to receive His great power to have the true and abundant life He intended for us all along!

May you be comforted to know that he is now in the presence of Jesus, surrounded by, and covered with the love of Christ.  This is where he is.

‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ (Matthew 25:21)

BRING ON THE WRINKLES

Aging is a subject near and dear to my heart. I like to say I am on the down shaft of 50 and the up shaft of 100. There … I’ve given away my age.

Life expectancy in the U.S. in 2019 was 78.87 years. In 1928, a demographer predicted that average life expectancy in the U. S. would never exceed 65 years. So much for that false prophet!

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Many scientists, those not working on COVID-19 vaccines and cures, are working on extending our lives. Their goal is not to make frail old people live longer, but to make us young longer. Like Ponce de Leon they are searching for the Fountain of Youth.

Government grants and vast investments from giant corporations are backing research on the causes of aging and how to defeat the aging process. Their aim is to make us all Methuselahs. Remember, he lived 969 years?

Once, a long time ago, in the Garden of Eden there was no aging. Adam and Eve were created as fully grown perfect male and female. Eve was most assuredly the most beautiful woman the world will ever see. She was perfect in every way: no blemishes, no stretch marks, and no extra pounds.

Mental health was an unknown expression in Eden. No pollutants, no processed foods, no stress, no crazies running around burning everything in sight. Perfect bodies. Perfect minds. No death. The wages of sin is death. They were sinless.

Until …

Adam bit the fruit – enter aging.

Eve was the first woman to experience aging. We are at a great advantage over her; we know what to expect – she didn’t. How long was it before she noticed a wrinkle or gray hair? We have no idea, but it must have been a great shock. Just as it used to be for me, but not anymore, I’m used to it.

Ever since this couple introduced aches and pains into the human race, people have been trying to figure out how to escape old age and death.

Why? Because it’s built into us to want more. We know there has to be more to life than this. We want life to be longer and better.

Have you heard the joke about the woman who complains about a restaurant? She says, “The food is lousy, and the portion was too small”.

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It seems logical that if you don’t like the food, you won’t want more of it.
But many people regard life like this woman. They’re not really happy with their lives, yet they want more of it. They not only don’t want to die; they want to be forever young.

Why? Because, in each of us there is a craving for life to be more than it is, for something to fill up what’s missing in our lives, and for something to take away the fear of death and what lies beyond.

Jesus addresses that craving for life when he says, “I have come that they may have life, and have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). Jesus gives us new quality of life and quantity of life when He saves us. Quality in that He makes life worth living, abundant life, and quantity because He gives us life unlimited — eternal.

We don’t need years added to our life; we need life added to our years.

Scientists are searching for the fountain of youth, but they won’t find it in body parts, cells, or DNA. They will never find the deepest cause of deterioration and death, and they will never find the cure that truly gives life. Death came when Adam disobeyed God. The cause of death is sin against God, and the only cure for death is Jesus and the Spirit of God.

Jesus says, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. (John 6:63)


So, because Jesus’ words are spirit and they give life, I have a new outlook on aging. It’s bringing me closer to him. I can say with Paul:

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day (2 Cor. 4:16).

Bring on the wrinkles!

If You Have A Sister, Hug Her!

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Today would have been my sister’s birthday. In 2011, she passed away from a brain tumor.

Life’s losses are hard and grief is something we all have to deal with sometime in life.

I haven’t written about her death before. Even after nine years I miss her terribly. No matter the circumstances, I knew my sister would always be there for me.

Having no husband or children, I was her care giver and it was an honor and privilege to serve her the last 3 years of her life. The support she received from my husband, children and grandchildren were precious to her and me. Thank you.

Because, I walked with her so closely during those three years, I had to deal with regrets, guilt, all the what ifs, as well as the grief from her death. So, the moments when those painful memories surface, and they still do occasionally, I roll them onto Jesus’ back, because he cares for me and shoulders my burdens, so that I can remember her sweet smile, her spirit of fun and her love for us, her family.

Here are a few things I have learned first-hand about grief.

Time does not heal. Death is a rift in how life was originally designed to be. However, it does allow for process. The grief process should take as long as it takes. You can’t rush someone through it. Time gives us space to envision our life without the lost one and helps us see the future with the void in it and prepares us for it.

And we should embrace that. I am reminded of Solomon’s’ wise words in Ecclesiastes. 3:1-8.

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.

A season is planned for every event in life. It was her time to die, and it was my time to weep and mourn. Later, I found a time to laugh, but my dancing is still coming along, because, although we mourn and move on, there is a loss and void left where they used to be. I don’t think that ever goes away. I don’t think God meant it to. Death is an ugly reminder to us of sin and its consequences.

There are now long periods of my life when I don’t think about my sister, but when something sparks a memory I am more apt to remember the good times and not the sorrow. She would be pleased.