Sunday, August 16, 2015

The Heart of John C. McClure III (February 27, 1945 - August 8, 2015)

Several people have asked if I would share my message from Poppy's life celebration service for those who were unable to attend. Here's the entirety. How I will miss him!

Boy, it’s just bananas that we’re here, isn’t it?  My Poppy would have loved to see you all gathered together.

In about 20 years!

We sure didn’t expect to lose him when we did. It was so terribly stunning. After Poppy’s accident which nearly killed him, he survived! He was in horrific pain, but was given a good prognosis. He’d just seen the doctor and his vitals were all good. He was healing a little bit every day.

And then he had a bad day. We expected that in his recovery — good days and bad days. This was just a really bad day. I want you to know that on that last day, throughout the whole day, he talked to Jesus. He prayed even while he was sleeping. It wasn’t unusual for him so we actually didn’t think much of it when he quoted scripture and when we asked him what he was thinking he said things like, “Well, Jesus just said…”

We didn’t know it at the time, but he was probably in and out of Heaven all day long.

In the evening, he had what seemed to be a panic attack and then was having trouble with the coordination of his breathing. We practiced with him, “in through the nose, out through the mouth, in through the nose, out through the mouth.” We sat together downstairs since he was unable to go up the stairs and we had some lovely moments. At one point, he said, “Laurz, are you here?” and I said yes. He asked, “What are we doing?” and Mama replied, “Oh, we’re all just hanging out together.” And he said, “Oh, I like that…”

Mother stayed with him and finally said I should go to bed just after midnight. About 20 minutes later, she called out to me and I flew downstairs to find her on the phone with the paramedics and Poppy not breathing on the couch.

I never imagined one day giving my Poppy CPR until the EMTs arrived.

I certainly hope he was with Jesus by then because otherwise I’m going to meet him in Heaven and he’ll say, “What did I ever do to you that you should bang on me like that with all those broken ribs?! Poor Poppy!”

It all happened so fast it was stunning. He arrived at the hospital just before we did and Mother went back with him. I was in the waiting room down at Hoag Irvine for maybe 3-5 minutes and then was called back and Mother and I stared in awe at him as she said that they were turning off all the machines because he was unable to recover.

When the wonderful doctors and medical team invited us in as they turned off the machines that were keeping him alive, we in unison laid our hands on him and praised Jesus for this wonderful man, fantastic husband, loving man, great father… and we worshipped.

The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.

It was dramatic, traumatic, and scary. But, every moment of it was Spirit-drenched and holy. We have said over and over again, we would not have missed it for the world.

We expected 20 more years!

But, how can there be just grief after a life so well lived? A life so well-modeled after Jesus? There must be rejoicing and thanksgiving.

God’s timing is His perfect plan.

Proverbs 3:5-6 says:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.

The Word of the Lord in John 14:27:

Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

Psalm 31:15
My times are in Your hand…

As Uncle Don said this morning at the graveside, we don’t know why the Lord took him seemingly too soon, but we can trust in God’s sovereign goodness.

(This is for my Pops:) To quote William Wallace from Braveheart, “Every man dies. But not every man really lives.”

Poppy lived big. He lived loud. He loved enthusiastically.

My dad loved the Lord and he loved people with all of his heart for all of his life. So, if he were standing here he would ask:

Do you know how much I love you?

I heard that thousands of times growing up, and it’s such an exquisite gift.

He would say: You’re great! You are. You are wonderful, smart, gifted, funny, capable, wanted, valued, treasured, and beloved. No matter what you’ve done or failed to do. No matter if you won or lost. No matter what your age, gender, race, height, weight, political party, financial status, or how many people follow you on social media. You’re great.

Even if you don’t believe it. Even if you’ve made a royal mess of your life, and who hasn’t? I certainly have! Even you’ve been abandoned, rejected, mistreated, fired, dismissed, replaced, mocked, used and abused. You are not forgotten. You are seen. You are known. You are loved. You are priceless. You are delighted in.

YOU. Are great.

For some of you sitting here, life is going swimmingly. Some of you are in the sweet zone with the wind at your back. Hallelujah for that! Write down every detail of that in thanksgiving to God! Yes! Celebrate those seasons of joy and plenty!

Psalm 100 King James Version says:

Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.
Serve the Lord with gladness: come before His presence with singing.
Know ye that the Lord He is God: it is He that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people, and the sheep of His pasture.
Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise: be thankful unto Him, and bless His name.
For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting; and His truth endureth to all generations.

Some of you sitting here are in a season of terrible crisis. Some of you have been in a hard, hard situation that has knocked the snot out of you and it seems absolutely endless.

Psalm 34:18
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; He rescues those who are crushed in spirit.

Psalm 56:8

You keep track of all my sorrows.
    You have collected all my tears in Your bottle.
    You have recorded each one in Your book.

Some of us are lifelong believers.
Some of us are new believers and we are AMPED about the Gospel, EXCITED about this brand new life in Christ Jesus, and PUMPED to share the Good News!
Some of us aren’t sure what we think about this whole Jesus thing at all.
Some of us are jaded, tired, and really annoyed with this motley bunch of messy, argumentative, beautiful, bumbling, holy hooligans we call the Church.

Some of us feel like quitting.

Don’t you quit! Don’t quit that hard thing. Life is so short!  Sometimes it’s decades shorter than we anticipated!

Keep going for Jesus!

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. — Galatians 6:9

Wherever you are, I pray today that if you are a believer already that your relationship with Jesus is deepened, strengthened, embolded, spirit-refueled, and exhorted by the life of John McClure.

And if you are not a believer yet, I pray that today is your day to receive Him as your Savior. He will exchange your sin and the blackness you cannot bear for a life of freedom in Christ Jesus! Your debt has been already been paid. All you have to do is one thing: receive it. Say, “Jesus, I’m with You.”

He wants so much to be with you that that’s His Name — Emmanuel — God WITH us!

Poppy — Mr. Enthusiasm — would say, “LET’S GO!”

Don’t hold back in your relationship with God! Give Him everything! If you’ve got some concerns about what that’s going to look like, what the cost is going to be, then tell Him. There will be cost.

In this world you will have trouble, but take heart because I have overcome the world. — John 16:33

Take your doubts to Him. He isn’t offended. Jesus engaged honest questioners.

Take your anger to Him. He already knows what you’re so mad about.

Take your hurt to Him. He cares so deeply about what hurt you and wants to walk with you through it.

Take your fears to Him. He will strengthen you. He will give you the courage to do it afraid!

Take your sins to Him. For heaven’s sake, don’t hide. It’s not too ugly for Jesus. It’s not too dirty. He will take all that junk and garbage, the times you slandered Him, hated Him, rejected Him, wounded others, stole what wasn’t yours, busted up relationships, and years and decades of sins that you’ve been hauling around and He’ll throw them in the deepest, darkest trench in the ocean never to be seen nor thought of again. Never to be remembered by God again.

As my cousin, Marcus, said yesterday at Grams’ graveside service, if we didn’t have the Lord many of us wild McClures would’ve probably ended up in jail. We’re all punks in some way or another. We’re all sinful, weak, or selfish, or hot-headed, or easily distracted from Jesus, or we just plain forget to love Him more than worldly passions or our own personal concerns. We all leak holiness and need to come back to Jesus to get cleaned up, rested up, refilled, and find security in His love again.

And, He’s ready to give that to you today.

I’m so thankful that my grandparents met the Lord, that they raised their raucous children to love the Lord, and that they modeled love. Particularly Grams. She oozed loved.

She taught Poppy to LOVE.

He loved my mother. I’m so deeply thankful that my children got to witness this precious love and have it modeled for them, particularly for the last 3 ½ years as we’ve lived together. Poppy stepped in as surrogate father for my children and he modeled huge love, especially for Jesus and my mother. They were spicy. They argued in the early years, but I don’t think they had anything beyond a slight annoyance in ages. And I’ve had a front-row seat to their love!

I remember very well, at our home on Balboa Island coming home uncharacteristically early and opening the front door to my parents making out hot and heavy on the stairs in various stages of undress. Poppy took one look at me and said one word, “OUT!” and I shut the door to the sound of them laughing.

Here’s a sweet sampling of my mother’s poetry that shares a bit of their love:

You kiss me with your eyes
In the middle of a group of people
They search for mine
And kiss me.
No one notices
But I.
And I get such a rush.
I begin to look at my watch —
Isn’t it getting late?
We have an early meeting, we should be on our way.
Because of that kiss.
It is a promise —
Or a mending
For harsh words unthoughtfully exchanged that morning.
It is a healing
And it is effective. Just one kiss
With your eyes
In the middle of a group of people
Or it is a comfort;
Only we know that the need is there
Your eyes reach to my lips
The tear that’s hidden inside away,
In the middle of a group of people
Or — it has no purpose but the grandest purpose —
The private seal of the most intimate love
No one shares
But me
And you
In the middle of a group of people
Who don’t catch on
To the passionate kiss going on
With your eyes.

He loved our family. He loved being the spiritual leader of our family and he was great at it. About a week before Poppy passed away he called the house and talked with each of us. And he prayed… and he prayed… and he prayed. Loooong prayers. That was Poppy. I wish I had recorded our talk on my phone because I’d love to play those passionate and loving prayers back over the years to come!

He loved his kids and grandkids — Pops loved to sit on the ground playing board games or Barbies, going out for froyo or a movie, sitting in the Jacuzzi, and especially going on vacation together.

He loved his siblings and sibs-in-law — Walt and Sherry, Ray and Jani, Nels and Heather, Don and Jean, Ron and Willy, John and Marilyn, and cousins Harry and Susan who got grafted in as siblings, he loved you so much.

He loved his church. He loved his Bible study guys. He loved the outcasts and the popular, the pious and the partiers, the successful and the disenfranchised. He loved the black sheep. He loved the bad guys.

Poppy loved without limits.

Because of who he was and how he lived full of life, and joy, and enthusiasm, and encouragement, Poppy was well loved. You can’t throw a rock in this room without hitting someone who thought of him as their best friend. Gosh, I look around and I wish I could give a big ol’ smooch to so many of you who loved Poppy as he loved you.

And… he was hated and treated hatefully by a few. He was treated just so cruelly, stolen from, lied about, slandered, tricked, and kicked around for way too many years by way too many supposed friends…

And some of you are here.

But, here’s the secret sauce to Pops — It was one of his most annoying habits… Man, it would make me so mad! People would hurt him, malign him, attack him, and he would completely forget. I’m not joking.

He would actually forget the event or actions and if he ran into someone who stabbed him in the back he greeted them like that person was his long lost best friend, with true joy, huge hugs, and a kiss!

He loved those who chose to be his enemies. It was diabolical.

Here’s what I want to say to those of you who treated him hatefully, to those who chose to be enemies to him. (Well, not what I would say — I have a few things I could say… but I won’t.) Here’s what Poppy would say, “Ahhh, it’s ok. You’re my brother. You’re my sister. I love you. I already paid the price for that. It’s finished. It’s over and done… And I don’t even remember it anymore.”

He was so like Jesus that way.

And now he is with Jesus and I can hardly take it in. In Glory! Face-to-face! He finished the race! He got his reward! And he’s waiting for us there.

If he were here he’d tell you, “Don’t wait to make a personal relationship with Jesus! He loves you so much! And Heaven is AWESOME!”

Dr. Martin Luther King said this:

Genuine faith imbues us with the conviction that beyond time is a divine spirit and that beyond life is life. However dismal and catastrophic may be the present circumstance, we know that we are not alone for God dwells with us. God’s creative power is not exhausted by this earthly life nor is His majestic love locked within the limited walls of time and space. Even if we die without having received the earthly promise, He shall lead us down that mysterious road called death and at last to that indescribable city He’s prepared for us. Our earthly life is a prelude to a glorious new awakening and our death is an open door that leads us into life eternal.

Think about the Stained Glass people, the heroes of the faith – all failures. All broken. All flawed. All sinners. Jesus chose a wild bunch of average, unschooled, mostly poor people to be His disciples. They were hot-headed. They chickened out. They made mistakes. They completely misunderstood what Jesus was doing enough that He often called them “little faiths”. The early Church was made up of a bunch of sinner-saints like us — a motley bunch of messy, argumentative, beautiful, bumbling, holy hooligans.

What made the difference in their lives and hearts? Faith and trust in Jesus. Loving Him. Choosing Him. Don’t you want Him today?

Jesus wants you. He just wants to hang out with you. You’re His favorite.

As I close I want to remind you: If you have yet to ask Jesus to be your Savior, I or any one of these heroes who’ve been up here would love to pray with you today. 

You are treasured by God.

Your debt is already paid. You have only to receive Him. 

You’re great.

Don’t quit.

Keep going for Jesus.

And, LET’S GO!

I love you.