Home Page Our Work News Partners Contact Us Home
Home PageAbout UsContact UsLygia's Articles


 

 

Funeral Message for
Craig E. Finnegan
February 24, 2012
by Dr. Ken Lovelace, Pastor
Amazing Love Community Church


 

We 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 you.

 

For 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.

 

But 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.

 

Nearly 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?"

 

In 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?"

 

On 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 Pastor.

 

I was 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 a Trustee.

 

I brought 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 often.

 

I began 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 other.

 

We 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.

 

When 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 be back."

 

He 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.

 

And he loved spending time with the children of our church. He believed they needed to be taught important things early in life.

 

 

 

 

 

When he needed their undivided attention, he appreciated the value of a captive audience.

 

 

 

 

 

When 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."

 

The 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.

 

How 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.

 

Because 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 forgiveness.

 

But 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 with us.

 

God 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 of God.

 

When 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.

 

You 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.

 

If 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?

 

Because 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 to forgive.

 

So, 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?

 

First, 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."

 

Second, 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 "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." And in Romans 6:23a "the wages of sin is death."

 

Third, 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.

 

Fourth, 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.'"

 

The 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 boast."

 

How 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 this.

 

"Dear 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."

 

If 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



To Top of Page To Index of Articles

 

 

Copyright © 2012. Faith Matters by Dr. Ken Lovelace. All rights reserved.

 


Store Home Page Home Page Contact Us