A Man of Faith
It was August 5, 1958. That was the day it happened. It was the day of Bobby’s Birth. Now if you look at your program today, you understand right away that my math is wrong. How could I, the one preaching part of this funeral, make such a mistake? Well, its not a mistake. You see, I’m not talking about Bobby’s first birth, I’m talking about his second birth. I’m not talking about the birth that made him a man alive, I’m talking about the one that made him a man of faith.
That’s what he was, a man of faith, because on that day back in 1958, Bobby gave his life to Jesus Christ and became his disciple, and that decision made a huge difference in his life. It would lead him, in just a little while, to go to Free Will Baptist Bible College to learn more about the Lord and meet, and room with, a man named Bert Tippett, the father of Bro. Brian.
But that faith made a huge impact on all of his life and reflecting on that life reminds me of the passage of scripture in the book of Hebrews, chapter 11. There it says,
These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. 14 For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. 15 And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.
These verses tell us about people like Bobby. In fact, I think I may be able to sum up his life by looking at these verses because these verse tell us what people of faith are like. In the first place,
DIV 1 - People of faith are different in how they SEE.
What I mean is that they seem to lift their eyes from what’s right in front of them and look at the future. v 13 says, These all died in faith, not having received the promise, but having seen them afar off embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. Now these particular verses occur in the chapter of faith in the bible, Hebrews 11. They describe the faith of men like Abraham who left his homeland, not even knowing where he was going. God had promised him to make a great nation out of his family, but Abraham never saw that, at least not with his physical eyes. But even though he never realized it in his lifetime, he had this ability to lift up his eyes and see it coming and keep on believing, even though he never got there himself.
I see that in Bobby’s life. He saw differently than many people. I know that by the way he invested his life. Bobby invested in his family, because he saw the future in them. He loved his grandchildren very much. Hey, Caroline, Anna Grace, Kaitlin, Jonathan, Stephen, and Christopher, I don’t have to tell you that your granddaddy loved you. I know he was always having you over. I’ve heard all the stories about him going to your games and to your special events.
I also know that you loved him. The other night when I walked into that Hospital conference room, I was really moved by the genuine sorrow that was in your hearts. I deal with a lot of families going through this kind of thing, and I can’t ever remember seeing the depth of love that I felt in that room that night. He was special to you and I know you were special to him. I think he took so much time with you because he saw the future in you.
In fact, he saw the future so much in you that he wanted to make sure that this same faith was instilled in you. The other night in the hospital there was a phrase that kept popping up as you consoled each other. I kept hearing people say, “God’s going to get us through this.” Again, it was faith that kept coming to the surface and I think part of that faith came from Bobby. It’s because he was a person of faith and people of faith are different in what they see. But,
DIV 2 People of faith are different in how they LIVE
Our scripture says again, These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. 14 For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. 15 And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return.
Now, again, these verses talk about the priorities of men like Abraham and Moses who, in their lives, were really different. They were looking for more than the passing pleasures of this life. A little later in chapter eleven we read By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, 25 choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, 26 esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward. Because Moses was a man of faith, it changed the way he approached his life.
That was true of Bobby too. He lived a life of faith. Now that’s not to say that he was so heavenly minded that he was no earthly good. Far from it. Bobby had his feet firmly planted in this world. He loved sports. In fact, he was an avid baseball and Dodger fan. He was one of the board members of the Wilson Baseball Hall of Fame. I didn’t even know what the Wilson Baseball Hall of Fame was until I was at his 70th birthday party and saw the drawings for the building and then found how much Bobby was involved with it. He was also a big UNC fan. In fact the family was telling me that Bobby had actually talked about attending the game on Saturday.
And of course his feet were firmly planted in this world because of his career. Bobby was a lawyer and he was not embarrassed about that. In fact, he’d kind of get on me if I told a lawyer joke from the pulpit. And Bobby wasn’t just any kind of lawyer, he was a criminal lawyer. You just can’t get your feet more firmly planted in the world than by being involved in criminal law.
He took that calling seriously, and he tried to use it to help people. It was just last Thursday that I called Bobby up and asked him to look into the case of someone I had been visiting down at the jail. He called me back very quickly and gave me the information I needed. His feet were firmly planted in this world.
But, while his feet were firmly planted in this world, he had his heart in the next. When Bobby was younger, he used drive his grandfather, who was a pastor, around to preach because he had had a stroke and could not drive. And I guess that rubbed off on him because I learned on Monday that he, himself, pastored a church for 18 months at one time in his life.
And when he wasn’t preaching, he was teaching. Bobby loved to teach Sunday School and he taught his class at Peace Church for 32 years. And Bobby didn’t just get up and throw something together. He thought about what he taught and he would get excited about it. In fact, on Sundays I would usually cut down the back hallway behind the Sanctuary. Occasionally I’d meet him there and I could always tell when he had gotten really excited about his lesson because he’d give me the abbreviated version in the hallway or ask me a thought provoking question about it.
Yes, his feet were planted on the ground, but his heart was in heaven. That’s the way people of faith are. They are different in what they see and they are different in how they live. But, last of all,
DIV 3: People of faith are different in how they DIE:
These verse begin with what might be considered a negative statement. It says, These all died in faith, not having received the promise. In other words, when they were counting all the money or houses or possessions that they left behind, you would have said, “Sorry, you lose.” But they would have said, “No I win because (as v 16 says) I desire a ‘better country.” People of faith die with a better promise.
That’s what Bobby did. You see, he wasn’t really into material wealth. I’m sure he could have put on more of a show if he had wanted to. He might have been able to afford a more affluent lifestyle, but he was content. His emphasis was on what really mattered because he had a promise of a much brighter future. He died with a better promise.
And then people of faith die with a power ful friend. v 16 says, But now they desire a better, that is a heavenly country, therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God. I want you to know, today, that as a man of faith, Bobby died with a powerful friend. He spoke of that friend constantly. One of the most memorable times of this was at his 70th birthday party. On that day, he kept repeating over and over, “Jesus was always there for me.” I’m sure that when he stepped into heaven on Saturday, Jesus was there for him. People of faith die with a powerful friend.
But don’t miss this last one: People of faith die with a guaranteed reward. It says “ . . . therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God for He has prepared a city for them.”
On Saturday, Bobby was almost like Elijah the prophet. He didn’t suffer long; he didn’t have some long extended hospital stay; there were no extended chemo treatments or endless dialysis ordeals. He just stepped right from his backyard into heaven into that city that God had prepared for him.
Which just leads me to this question? Are you one of these “people of faith.” Now you have to be careful about how you answer that because people get really confused about faith sometimes. There are lesser “faiths” that will not lead you to heaven, but saving faith is different. It has two things. First, it has a direction. What I mean is it matters Who you believe in. Today people make all faiths equal and try to tell us that you can believe in Bhudda, Mohammed, or Jesus. They’ll all take you to heaven as long as you “have faith.” But that’s not what Jesus said. He said, “I am the way the truth and the life. No one come to the Father but by me.” Faith must have a direction. It must be pointed at Jesus.
But faith must also have an intensity. Some think it’s MENTAL ASSENT (explain); Some think it’s TEMPORARY BELIEF; But saving faith is trusting in Jesus Christ alone for eternal life. Tightrope story. Saving faith is trusting Jesus with all your life.
Bobby was an avid reader of poetry and one of his favorites was this poem
Sunset and evening star,
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea,
But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
Turns again home.
Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark;
For tho' from out our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crost the bar.
On Saturday, Bobby “crossed the bar, And I believe Jesus met him and said, “Welcome home, Bobby. Well done Macedonian Sunday School teacher; Well done Criminal lawyer; Well done husband; well done father; well done grandfather; well done friend, well done my child. You’ve been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many. Enter into the joy of your Lord.