June 3, 2017 Forest Grove, Oregon
Linda Brist read a letter that Jim wrote for the service:
“It is a great comfort to me to know that my twin brother John is safe where no harm can come to his soul. I feel so thankful for the love and mercy of God, His kindness and patience in dealing with all of us. I feel so thankful also for the workers and friends who were such a help spiritually and naturally to John, especially in the last part of his life. The fellowship meeting at Vernonia meant a lot to him when he was able to attend. And also the bible study in Hillsboro. I am thankful for the few times we were together in those meetings. And also for my last two home visits that we stayed together in a mobile home at Boring convention. He was able to visit me here in the Philippines in 2005 and 2006 and that meant a lot to us and to many of the workers and friends in this country. Also I was thankful to attend convention in Austria where he had labored for 6 years, and to meet those who were thankful for his help and fellowship. We were never separated from the time we were born until the time both of us entered the work. Many times then during our life we were separated for a time but always were reunited again. And this separation now will also be only temporary until we are reunited again where he is now with the Lord. None of us know how much time on this earth we have left, but to learn better how to number our days that we can apply our hearts unto wisdom.”
Linda Brist: As I was thinking of this service today, all of us have stories and memories about John that you have personally about John. We are thankful for John’s faithfulness. There are a couple verses in Psalm 4: 7, 8 These verses tell us about a God given gladness, a God given peace and a God given safety. John enjoyed and appreciated these 3 things found in God. This God given peace and God given gladness and God given safety goes with a person when this life ends. Bonnie and I visited John several times when he was in the Beaverton Care Center before he moved to the Beehive in Forest Grove. It was very evident in John’s life that he was experiencing as in hymn #402 says, “The things of time have lost their charm for me.” As John was losing his health and was less able that the Spirit of Christ was more and more prominent. That is what we all yearn in our lives that there would be less of self and more of Jesus. That was very evident in John’s life.
There are some very familiar verses in John 14 where Jesus said, “I go to prepare a place for you.” We have heard before that heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people. One time someone said that “Heaven is a prepared place for a repaired people.” We have known that in our own lives and John knew that in his life also. John knew of God’s restoration and of God repairing his life over and over again.
Many of us remember a message that John spoke at Boring after he came back from Austria and he told about seeing a picture of Mt Hood in Europe and he told of how his thoughts went towards the homeland. We think of John today and he has arrived in the homeland of heaven. He is in eternity with God. It is something that is real now to John. The homeland has been in view to John and now John has arrived. We hardly know how to describe Heaven but Jesus told the thief on the cross that repented that, “Today thou shalt be with me in paradise.” Even though we don’t know exactly where Heaven is we know that it will be paradise and that it will be with Jesus.
Jay Wicks: Psalm 103:8-12 It takes faith to believe this! That God's mercy is from everlasting to everlasting, as high as the heavens are above the earth, that He can remove our sins as far as the east is from the west. I used to be plagued about past sins. I can remember even after I was in the work, studying for a meeting, and while praying thoughts would come of things that had happened years before. I would feel such a regret and shame and it would just bring me to a stop, like a block that I couldn’t seem to get past. One day while in this situation of praying and struggling with memories from the past a story came to mind. One that my brother told me about 2 Japanese monks who were on a pilgrimage together. They came to a town where just before they arrived there had been a very bad rain storm, a downpour that had turned the streets to mud As they came into town they noticed to one side a geisha lady all dressed in white wanting to cross the muddy street. One of the monks saw the situation and went over and offered to carry this lady across so she wouldn’t get dirty. She gratefully accepted and he picked her up and carried her across and put her down on the other side. They continued on their journey through town and into the country area but the one was very upset with the other. When they stopped for their afternoon tea the one monk said to the other, "Itachi-san, you seem very quiet this afternoon, is there something upsetting you"? The other monk replied "Yes, I'm upset! Here we are, supposed to be holy men, and what do you do? We come into town and you walk over to the most beautiful woman in sight and proceed to carry her across the street! Yes, I'm very upset"! The other monk replied, “Oh Itachi-san, are you still carrying that woman around, I put her down hours ago.” It was like the Lord was speaking to me saying, "Oh Jay, are you still carrying those old sins around, I forgave them years ago". I haven’t struggled with those thoughts since.
I like this in Matthew 11:28 The yoke is indeed light in following Jesus. Jesus is offering to carry our past... and that is heavy! He is also offering to carry our future and that can be heavy also. All Jesus is asking of us is to take care of the present, doing God’s will today. If we will be faithful in that, God will be faithful in taking care of the rest.
I was thinking about something that Marybelle Armstrong said to us in a meeting in Gresham when she visited last year. She mentioned the burden that so many in this world carry, "People spending money that they don’t have, to buy things that they don’t need, to impress people that they don’t like". There is a lot of truth to that! I like to think of the Lord’s people spending strength that they don’t have, to accomplish things that they can’t do, to serve and please a God but they can't see. We can't see God but I like what the writer to the Hebrews said in 2:9, 'But we see Jesus'. We can see Jesus in the pages of our Bible. We can see him in the lives of others. In John 14:6 Philip asked Jesus to show them the Father but Jesus responded 'if you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father'. Philip, like we often do, was asking for more proof. He didn’t need more proof, he had seen plenty of proof in Jesus. What Philip needed was more faith. Science asks for more proof. But “proof” has a way of making us big headed and self-righteous. Faith has a way of humbling us. We have to have faith. It is impossible to please God without it. The more faith we have the more pleased God will be.
Jesus was the perfect manifestation of what God was like. Sometimes I use this example. If I had a picture of Mt Hood and you could all see it clearly you all would say, “That is Mt Hood.” And you would be correct, but in reality it is just a picture of Mt Hood. It is a 2 dimensional picture of a huge 3 dimensional mountain. And even though it is perfect in its manifestation of the mountain it really isn’t the mountain. A picture doesn’t have the depth that a mountain has nor the greatness of height. When people looked at the life of Jesus they saw a perfect manifestation of God. But it was only a picture of the depth of God’s heart and the greatness of God.
Linda mentioned about John’s message at convention of seeing a picture of Mt Hood in Eastern Europe. I don’t think any of us who heard that message will ever forget it! At the time John was on his home visit and speaking to us about the Homeland. He told of going through a difficult time in one of those countries and coming into a train station and seeing a picture of Mt Hood. A picture of the homeland, his beloved Oregon, and how it thrilled and inspired him to keep on going. John was speaking to us from Boring, at the foot of Mt Hood; he had reached the homeland.
I like this part in Daniel about the mountain that Daniel saw. 2:34,35. The King had had a dream and Daniel interpreted it for him. The dream was about the kingdoms of this world falling, smitten by a stone cut out without hands. The stone in verse 34 represents Jesus, that one day that stone would become a mountain and fill the whole earth. In the book of Revelation it tells about a time when the devil would be chained and Jesus would reign on earth for 1,000 years. These verses in Daniel give us a little picture of the time to come when Jesus will reign over all. In Jesus' day it would have seemed like the 'stone' or 'rock' was small and maybe even today that “stone” might seem small to people but someday His Kingdom will fill the whole earth.
When I was a boy I knew John and Jim as young workers. How we loved them! They were so funny. We, as young people, just thought the world of them. But growing up we came to realize that life is serious and sometimes difficult with its twists and turns and not as easy as one might think to reach the homeland. There are dark times like valleys, somber times like forests, weary times like wilderness that we have to go through. But in our journey from time to time the clouds clear and we get a vision of Jesus. We get a vision of that mountain that someday will fill the whole earth. A vision of the homeland. Whether we are at convention or special meeting or reading our Bible or praying or in a place like this, this is all we're needing. It does something for us that nothing else can do. It gives us courage, it gives us strength, it give us the wherewith-all to continue. We are thankful for the times that we have seen Jesus, it has thrilled us, inspired us and encourages us to keep on going.
I am thinking of a happening when I was 26. John was living in Hillsboro and working two jobs at the time. I was troubled about the work (the ministry). Considering selling all and going forth to preach the Gospel when I realized I really didn't know much about a workers life! What if there was something hidden? I thought about John, he had been in the work, he would tell me. The visit took place at 6 a.m. in the morning, the only time when John was free. Over breakfast together I asked him my question and he told me not to be afraid and encouraged me to go. That remains a precious memory.
What would John tell us today from the foot of the mountain? Or from the feet of Jesus? What would he say to us? We all have questions, what about the future, what about this and what about that? His message would be, “Fear not.” Just follow Jesus. It is safe. Continue the journey till you reach the homeland.
Closing hymn, “Precioius Thought” sung by Karen Hickock and Joyce Jossi
Jay Wicks closed in prayer.
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