Craig E. Finnegan
February 24, 2012
by Dr. Ken Lovelace, Pastor
Amazing Love Community Church
are here today to celebrate the
life of Craig E. Finnegan. You need
to hear me say as a Pastor that
the way Craig chose to end it all
was wrong. Police officers, firefighters,
and public servants are often scarred
from dealing with the dark side
of life. They've seen it all and,
because they have, they have their
own struggles to stay sane and focused
and in control. But not one of us
is immune to the things of life
that would lead us on the darkest
of days to entertain the same method
of escape. If you're there, get
help. Don't try to conquer it by
yourself or it may very well conquer
depression, there is counseling;
for chemical imbalances, there are
meds; for life's struggles that
seem insurmountable, there is God.
The Bible is replete with countless
men and women who encountered life
at its worst and fought through
to live victoriously in Christ Jesus.
Several of you have expressed anger
and disappointment; you've told
me that what Craig did in a moment
of weakness was selfish and totally
inconsiderate of all those he left
behind, especially his dear and
precious family. And you're right.
It was wrong. It was not God's way
of dealing with problems or sickness
or depression. A single selfish
act to alleviate the suffering of
one has created immeasurable suffering
for many others.
as horrible as that is, we can't
judge his whole life on this one
final act; we can't forget all the
good he did because of one bad choice.
Those who knew Craig knew he was
a good man. No, he was a great man.
Police departments looked to him
for the wisdom he had gained through
years of service. Acquaintances
appreciated him for his servant's
heart and willingness to help anyone
at any time. Friends & family
saw the smirk on his face and wondered
what he was up to.
eighteen years ago, he said "I
do" when he married the love
of his life. He was blessed already
with a sweet mom; now he would inherit
great in-laws, as well. Almost every
time I saw him without Dorris, he
asked, "Pastor, have you seen
my beautiful wife?"
fact, my wife, Lygia, said her very
first encounter with Craig was at
the Strawberry Festival. We were
eating a picnic lunch on a blanket
and Craig walked up in his uniform
and startled her. She thought, "Are
we in trouble? Are we not supposed
to be eating on the lawn?"
Of course Craig was there to ask
his signature question: "Have
you seen my lovely wife?"
not one, not two, but three special
occasions, he had the privilege
of becoming a daddy to three precious
girls. We all had unique relationships
with Craig. Some of us knew him
as a relative or a friend or a coworker
or a mentor. I knew the spiritual
side of Craig; I knew him as his
thrilled when the Finnegan's joined
the church where I was serving as
Pastor. They brought much needed
joy and vitality where there was
little. Craig soon became involved
in the life of our church, helping
with the PowerPoint presentation
on Sunday mornings and serving as
this sword today because I want
it to serve as a reminder of this
man of valor. Here's why. There
came a point when I felt impressed
of the Lord to surround myself with
a few godly men who would be loyal
to me when others weren't, who would
stand strong with me in times of
crisis, and who would pray for me
studying David's Mighty Men in the
Old Testament book of 2 Samuel.
They were great warriors who fought
bravely in battle and were committed
to protecting David with their very
lives. One warrior, Eleazar, fought
so long and hard that the Bible
says his hand froze to the sword.
God led me, and circumstances confirmed,
that it was time to find some mighty
men of my own. Two men proved to
be true to God and loyal to me.
Ed was one of them…Craig was the
met together regularly to study
and apply God's Word. Craig shared
insights and asked pertinent questions.
There came a time when he said he
had reason to believe I was in danger
and he made a commitment to my protection.
God led us to start a new church,
Craig was right in the middle of
it. He worked hard to help set up
and tear down. He helped with PowerPoint
and media. He even wanted to be
sure all of our members got to church
on time; just ask Kelley. There
was a time when she was consistently
late for our before-worship prayer
time. One morning, while on duty,
Craig stopped by the park in which
our church was meeting for worship
to check on us and to help as he
could. Kelley texted to say that
she was running late and would be
there in about ten minutes. Craig
looked at me and said, "I'll
went down the road a ways and hid
on a side street. When Kelley drove
by, he pulled her over and told
her to stop being late for prayer
time. She hasn't been late since.
he loved spending time with the
children of our church. He believed
they needed to be taught important
things early in life.
he needed their undivided attention,
he appreciated the value of a captive
he wasn't at our church teaching
his captive audience, he would often
patrol around Pastor Joe's church
where he gave parishioners cause
to tell their pastor, "The
police are here to get you."
way Craig chose to end it all was
wrong, and he knew it was wrong;
that's why he asked those closest
to him to forgive him. In fact,
what he did was sin. Several of
my former-Catholic friends have
come to me very concerned about
Craig. They remembered that Catholicism
teaches that anyone who dies in
this way forfeits heaven. But that's
all it is: Catholic teaching; it
has no basis in fact or Scripture.
do we know that? Because the Bible
teaches that when we become Christians,
we are permanently sealed by the
Holy Spirit for the day of salvation.
Salvation is our being saved from
our sins. Because God is holy and
awesome and majestic and righteous,
He cannot tolerate sin in Heaven
or in His presence.
all sins are against God, God tells
us what is necessary for our sins
to be forgiven. Centuries ago, in
Old Testament times, when someone
committed sins, he paid for his
sins by having a Jewish priest sacrifice
a lamb on the altar. That was God's
way; that was how one paid for his
or her sins. Through sacrifice,
he or she acknowledged his or her
sins before God and sought God's
there came a time when God chose
to act in human history to bring
an end to what would otherwise have
been a never-ending cycle of sinning,
and sacrificing to pay for the sins
committed. In fulfillment of all
the prophecies of Scripture concerning
the Messiah, God sent His Son, Jesus,
to be born in human flesh and to
live among us. If He had not been
born of a virgin, He would have
inherited a sin nature because it
is passed down through the bloodline
of the father. If He had not lived
among us, He could not have identified
wanted to end the need for priests
and so He sent His Son as the Great
High Priest. God wanted to end the
sacrificing of a lamb to pay for
our sins, so He sent His Son to
be the ultimate sacrifice: the Lamb
Jesus was crucified on the cross,
God took everyone's sins, past,
present, and future, and placed
them on Jesus so that when He died
as the spotless, sinless Lamb of
God, He Himself would be the ultimate
sacrifice. How do we know it worked?
How do we know God accepted what
Jesus did on the cross as the ultimate
payment for our sins? Because God
raised Him from the dead, putting
on Him, once and for all, His everlasting
stamp of approval.
see, God is the Creator and, as
such, He gets to make the rules.
He told us what it takes to satisfy
Him, to receive His forgiveness
for our sins, and to go to heaven
when we die. Mankind does not get
to make that decision. God never
authorized anyone to speculate as
to what will satisfy or please God.
That's where all the world's religions
come in…Buddhism, Islam, Catholicism,
Hinduism, Taoism, etc., people just
guessing what might please God.
But we don't have to guess because
God told us. He said the only sacrifice
He will accept for the forgiveness
of the sins that keep us from Him
and from heaven is the one made
by His Son.
there was only one thing Craig could
tell you today, I guarantee you
he'd tell you that receiving Jesus
as your personal Savior is the most
important decision you will ever
make. Craig would tell you today
to listen like you've never listened
before to what God says is the only
way to forgiveness and heaven, and
to believe it with all your heart.
Why would he tell you this?
he accepted Jesus as his own personal
Lord and Savior and knows the truth
of the Good News of Jesus' sacrifice.
The Bible says that for the believer,
to be absent from the body is to
be present with God. Craig's body
is here and will return to the dust
of the earth, just as each of ours
one day will. But Craig is in heaven
because He took God at His Word
and made Jesus Lord of his life.
You see, not even this manner of
death is outside of God's ability
how did Craig get to heaven? How
do we get to heaven? God made it
simple so that anyone can understand
it. Here's what Craig would want
you to know?
know and believe that God knows
your name and loves you beyond measure.
The Bible says in John 3:16: "For
God so loved the world that He gave
His one and only Son, that whoever
believes in Him shall not perish
but have eternal life."
know and believe that you and I
are sinners. Lying, cheating, cussing,
and stealing are examples of sins
that we commit, and when we commit
sins, they cause us to be separated
from God. We don't have a chance
of Heaven on our own, no matter
how good we are. Everyone who's
ever been born, except Jesus, is
a sinner. No one is without sin.
The Bible says in Romans 3:23 that
have sinned and fall short of the
glory of God." And in
Romans 6:23a "the
wages of sin is death."
know and believe that God accepted
Jesus' sacrifice on the cross as
complete payment for our sins. The
Bible says in Romans 5:8: "But
God demonstrates His own love for
us in this: While we were still
sinners, Christ died for us."
You see, many religions teach that
you have to do something in order
to be saved, like good works. But
when we understand the Bible and
what the Gospel is all about, we
understand that salvation does not
depend on anything we do, but totally
on what Jesus did. That's how we
know Craig is in heaven, because,
just like he could do nothing to
gain his salvation, he could do
nothing to lose it. It's not about
Craig; it's about Jesus.
know and believe that God has offered
you His gift of everlasting life.
You just have to accept and receive
it. The Bible says in Rom 10:9,10,
& 13: "That
if you confess with your mouth,
'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in
your heart that God raised Him from
the dead, you will be saved. 10
For it is with your heart that you
believe and are justified, and it
is with your mouth that you confess
and are saved… 13 for, 'Everyone
who calls on the name of the Lord
will be saved.'"
Bible says in Eph 2:8-9: "For
it is by grace you have been saved,
through faith-and this not from
yourselves, it is the gift of God-
9 not by works, so that no one can
do we receive this free gift of
everlasting life? We pray. From
a heart that is truly sorry for
our sins and genuinely eager to
receive God's gift of salvation,
we pray. He extends this gift today,
but we have to receive it. Let me
show you how to do that right now.
I'd suggest you pray something like
God, I know I'm a sinner and confess
that before You right now. Please
forgive me for my sins. I choose
to turn from everything that I know
is wrong. And, Lord Jesus, thank
You for dying on the cross for me
and for taking my sins upon Yourself.
I'm grateful that you made it possible
for me to be set free from my sins.
Please come into my life right now
and be my Savior and Lord. I pray
this in Jesus' name. Amen."
you prayed this prayer, please let
me or another believer know the
good news of your having trusted
Jesus for your salvation. Find a
Bible and read 1 John 5: 11-13.
I hope to hear from you soon.