The past week has been one of many emotions. My brother went to be with the Lord, leaving many to grieve his passing. God used this time to bring families together and to give an opportunity to share the gospel. When asked to speak at the funeral, I wasn't sure I could do that, but with God's help, it all came together in such a beautiful way that was truly God's working. I have found that when your spirit is willing and you open up to HIS spirit - much is done in His name! Here is the message I shared at his funeral.
We have come here today to celebrate and remember the life of Rex Laughlin, my brother. He was a loving dad to Rex and Max. How he loved you guys! He never had a conversation with anyone that he didn’t use the words “my boys”. You were his world. He was a dad to Eric, Wendy and Missy and loved them so much. He was a loving brother, a cousin you could have fun with, and a friend that you could talk to about anything.
He had a heart as big as Texas, a willingness to give of himself to others, and an ability to make people laugh. He wanted to be around people and when you met him – most people liked him. He worked hard, played hard and loved much – you might say he went “wide open” most of his days. He had the ability to express himself with intense emotion that affected us all– if he was happy and joking, you were probably smiling and laughing. If he was going through a hard time – you found yourself drawn in and totally understood and sympathized right along with him. People were drawn to Rex – they wanted to be around him. And Rex could easily have lived a couple of generations ago – as he loved the simple things in life and appreciated them. He would have been happy with no electricity, no running water; using kerosene lamps and walking to the spring to fill up buckets.
Rex could sing, play a harmonica, a banjo and a guitar. He loved “trading” – going to the barn sales, and growing a garden. Did you know that he could whittle small objects creating intricate details on them – like a car or caboose of a train? Did you know that he could write poetry and songs?
I listened and watched last night as folks came by the droves to pay their respects, and my heart was full as I watched people of all ages - young children, couples, buddies, coworkers, and neighbors share what Rex meant to them. I heard things like
· “It will take 4 people to replace him at work”
· “He was like a brother”
· “Rex was real – you don’t find people like that these days”
· “He comforted me when I was going through a very hard time”
· A sweet little lady said “He loved flowers and wanted some seeds from those in my yard” (tears streaming down her face)
· “He loved people”
· “He was a good neighbor”
· “He loved children and would not want them mistreated”
· One man said – “you know, he would stop by just to visit – and didn’t want anything at all – just to talk. People don’t do that anymore”
· “I learned a lot from him”
· “He loved his boys – they were most important to him”
Rex was all about having fun with his boys, spending time with them – creating memories that will be with them always. Memories like stringing popcorn to put on the Christmas tree, and making hand-made ornaments for that tree. He made sure they had birthday gifts, something for Christmas, and candy at Easter, even when funds were very limited. He always made sure they had a bicycle – boys need a bicycle. He took them fishing, on drives down country roads in Hardin County at the old home place on Carmickle hill, and had cookouts outside in an open fire that they built. You see – Rex never experienced any of this with his own dad – so he made a huge effort to build those relationships with Rex and Max; because folks – Love for your child means spending quality time with them. He taught them to respect their elders and to be giving. I remember last Christmas – He took his old pickup truck – hooked Christmas lights up all over the outside – wired to the battery – and drove down the back roads – him and the boys – delivering large sticks of peppermint candy to people along the way; teaching Rex and Max that the act of giving was important. Yes, Rex and Max will have many memories like that – and I encourage you all to get them to tell you about them – because that is how those memories will stay alive.
Rex did a lot of good things for people and you all have told me “he was a good man”. But there was a time in Rex’s life that he realized – he was not good – that he was a sinful man and that he needed God. You see – we can do all kinds of good things – but good things won’t get us to heaven. If heaven was based upon doing certain things – we would all fail – because we mess up- make mistakes- we are human and we are sinful. A man in the Bible called Paul once said “I know that nothing good lives in me – that is in my sinful nature, for I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out (Romans 7:18). A few years ago Rex gave me something that I would like to share with you today – it is a poem he wrote and this tells me where Rex is now.
“Grew up in a time of sorrow and pain
The sadness the madness nearly drove me insane
Dropped to my knees and all of that changed
No more sorrow or sadness – everything’s ok
No false witness here –no I’m not ashamed
When I called out to God – He wrote down my name
I said, “Dear Lord –take away these evil things”
He touched me with His love and took away my pain
When I came to the Lord – what a blessed change
I had nothing to lose and everything to gain
Now what’s in my heart – words can’t explain
No more sorrow or sadness – everything’s ok
As I walk and talk with Jesus Oh how I pray
That I may help some lost soul, along the way
I know without a doubt when I’ve lived out my days
I’m going home with Jesus and give God my praise
And there’ll be no sorrow or sadness
Oh what a day
No sorrow or sadness
What a blessed day
Rex shared his heart in these verses. Rex became a changed man – why? Because he first realized that he had sin in his life and that he needed God. He called out to God, asked for forgiveness, and accepted Jesus. The Bible says in John 14:6 – it is Jesus speaking:
“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
You see- doing good things doesn’t get us heaven and eternal life. The only way to God is through Jesus Christ.
God’s word also tells us “if anyone is in Christ – he is a new creature –the old has passed away- behold all things are new”. Rex talked about that when he said he dropped to his knees and everything changed. The question is – are you a new creature? Has Jesus changed YOUR life? Have you called out to him to ‘take the evil away’? This would be Rex’s desire – remember his words? As I walk and talk with Jesus Oh how I pray That I may help some lost soul, along the way. I believe he was praying for all of you in that prayer.
I don’t know the date Rex wrote this poem –but he talked about this past Tuesday, August 5, 2014 in the lines:
I know without a doubt when I’ve lived out my days I’m going home with Jesus and give God my praise. I know where Rex is now – home with Jesus. John 14:2 says
In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.
Heaven is a real place – Jesus is there – and Rex is there. In Rex’s words he is ‘giving God his praise’. And in heaven, a person lives forever! As much as Rex loved all of you – I know that he would love for you to be there one day too!
Our time on this earth may not last a long time; we all thought Rex would be with us for many years; but God has called him home.
Be comforted in knowing that Rex’s body doesn’t hurt any more – his knees don’t hurt – he doesn’t have high blood pressure – no chest pains. He has a new body and he is spending eternity with the one who created him and then re-created him –through Christ.
Hold on to those memories – cherish them. Bring them to mind again and again. They are precious! But don’t leave out this memory – that Rex wrote a poem about how God changed his life and made him new, and now he lives forever with Jesus.
If you have questions about that – please talk to me later – I would love to talk about it with you.