Thursday, November 29, 2007

J. Vernon's Legacy

Hello my friends,

I have my clock radio set on KPDQ, 93.9 FM, a Christian radio station here in Portland. As I'm waking up and getting around every morning I especially like to listen to Jim Dobson's "Focus On the Family" and "Through the Bible" with J. Vernon McGee.

Many years ago I had the privilege of meeting J. Vernon...several times actually. My parents knew him, and he used to visit them at the Christian Servicemen's Center in Hawaii when they ministered there. He was a gracious and charming man, very humble, with a funny sense of humor. He has always been one of my heroes.

This morning as I was listening to his voice coming out of my radio I found myself thinking about the legacy he left behind when he died and went to be with the Lord. Even long after his death, his love for God and his commitment to God's Word are still bringing people to faith in Jesus around the world. For decades he poured out his life in service for God. He not only proclaimed his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, he lived out his faith, both at home and in public. He left a wonderful legacy for his family and for all those of us who loved him.

But then I began thinking, "What kind of legacy am I leaving behind? What will I be remembered for after I'm gone? What have I done that has really made a difference?" This may sound to you at first like morbid thinking, but I don't think it is. I heard Howard Hendricks give a message 3 or 4 years ago entitled, "Finishing Strong." He pointed out that many men, including pastors, drop the ball in the last years of their lives. They go off the rails after money, or women, or pleasure. He challanged all of us at that men's retreat to consider how we were living and what sort of legacy we were leaving, especially to our wives, our children, and our grandchildren. I've thought a lot about that question.

After I'm gone, I want my legacy to be one that blesses my children and makes them smile every time they think about me. I want them to remember my love for God, for my wife, and for them. I want them to remember that I hugged them often, told them I loved them, believed in them, and supported them no matter what. I want my grandchildren to remember that I played with them on the floor, gave them their first fishing pole, and took them fishing. I want my wife to remember that I loved and honored her exclusively, above every other woman on the planet. I want her to remember that I was always faithful to her and never strayed into the arms of another woman, either physically or virtually. I want the people I led to Christ and/or pastored over the years to never have to be ashamed they knew me. I want my teaching and preaching to wear flesh, in the form of people who grew in grace and in the knowledge of Jesus Christ through the things they learned from me.

These are the kinds of things I want to be remembered for. But here's the kicker... to leave that kind of legacy, I have to lead that kind of life, every day, all day, with no days off. I want to finish strong. I don't know how many years I have left to do the job right, but I want to make every day count.

I think that was what the apostle Paul was thinking too when he wrote these words in I Corinthians 9:24-27. "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. 27 No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize." He was thinking about the legacy he would leave behind.

Old J. Vernon finished strong. He left a great legacy. I hope to follow his example.

Crazy, but still moving forward

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