Tuesday, October 7, 2008


The following are my prepared remarks given at Mom’s funeral,
October 7, 2008,
Gallatin, Missouri

In April of this year, I began to blog. Blogging is simply self-publishing on the Internet. People blog about many topics; I blog about Faith and Family.

In April, I wrote, “Air roasted”. I consider that post to be a roundabout love letter to my wife. I meandered over many topics only to sneak up behind Lisa at the end to whisper, “Love ya’ honey.”

A couple years ago in May, some of us gathered in this room to say, “Goodbye,” to Granny Annie. On Mother’s Day this year, I published “Granny’s song” on my blog.

A couple days earlier, I had written “Bicycle baby” in which I recalled sweet times with my daughter, Claire. A couple days later wrote, “They saw us waving” in which I recounted Gabby’s seeing the International Space Station flying over our house. The spacecraft flew from twilight into full sunshine, and Gabby cried out, “They saw us waving, and they turned their lights on!”

I wrote “Eagle, eagle, eagle” where I reminisced about Daniel, my son. In a post titled, “Nostoc,” I wrote about my love for my oldest daughter, Cara.

My most-read post, titled “Ora et labora,” is a tribute to Dad. “Ora et labora” has been read by people in Australia, Canada, Croatia, Germany, India, Latvia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the United States. “Ora et labora” is the motto on the Ramsey crest. It means, “Pray and work” No one illustrates Ora et labora better than my dad. This truth is now known all over the world.

Considering the number of times I have blogged about family, it might be puzzling why no singular blog post has been dedicated to Mom. I wrote many posts about family, yet among all my posts, Mom takes center stage in none of them; or does she?

Mom was often the first person to read each of my posts. She sometimes awakened in the middle of the night to read what I had published at midnight. She corrected my typographical errors. Actually, she delighted in discovering where my fingers had failed to do what my brain had asked of them. If I had written something sentimental about my family, Mom’s eyes would tear. When she told me that a post touched her heart, I would then tease her saying, “Mom, you know I would do just about anything to make you cry.”

My publishing on the Internet served many purposes. Mostly, I suppose, my blog has been an open letter to anyone who would read it. Some posts have been a letter mostly to my children. Some posts have been a letter mostly to my wife. Sometimes my writing has been a letter to myself – a summary of my Bible study. Nevertheless, each post was in many ways a letter to Mom. Though I have written very few lines about her, Mom has been very much at the center of my writing all along. Lisa can attest that many of our discussions about my writing centered upon what Mom’s reaction would be.

Mom was central to more than just my writing. Christmas is still a few months away, but I had already determined what I was going to give to Mom. Lisa bought her a Christian bluegrass CD. You know how moms like to receive handmade gifts from their children. I planned to give Mom a hand-rolled cigar from the tobacco I grew in my garden. I did not expect her to smoke it; but I know that she would have laughed.

If I was not busy trying to make Mom cry, I was busy trying to make her laugh. I would do just about anything to make Mom laugh.

Yet there was more to Mom than tears and laughter. Mom’s greatest passion was knowing Jesus and then making him known. Mom found much joy when I shared my perspective on Scripture. A couple weeks ago Mom emailed me saying,

I read your blog and thought, this is really good and helpful.

Then I read Lisa's blog and I thought, This is really great! And so helpful!

Thank you, Lisa! What you wrote is so true. I love it.

What Mom loved and what Lisa wrote is this,
  • After feeding the five thousand families, Mark says that Jesus sent the disciples ahead to Bethsaida. John says that the disciples were headed for Capernaum. Without getting in to the possible reasons for the different perspectives on their destination, it seems safe to say that when they ended up in Gennesaret they were arriving in a different location than Jesus sent them. However, I believe that Jesus’ plan was for them to obey his instruction, experience some amazing things in the process, and ultimately end up where he really intended them to be. When I experience an unexpected change of direction in my life, how often have I questioned whether I was hearing God’s instruction correctly? Just because things do not turn out the way I expected does not mean I did not hear God correctly. Nor does it indicate a shortfall in God’s sovereignty.

  • Jesus watched from the shore as the disciples struggled in the waves and the wind. He did not relieve their distress immediately, and even when he did walk out to them, Mark thought he was going to pass them. Once Jesus climbed into the boat, the storm was immediately calmed. How often am I convinced that God does not really know or understand what I am going through? Do I tend to think that He does not really care? Do I assume that my difficulties are mine alone to bear? Could I begin to learn that the storms in my life set the stage for God revealing His glory to me?

  • When the disciples saw Jesus walking towards them on the water, they thought he was a ghost and they were terrified. How often do I determine that something that I do not understand is “bad” or “evil”, when it may be God working in my life?

  • Jesus responded to their fearful cries with, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” When he says, “It is I”, it is the same phrase translated elsewhere as “I AM”. Jesus was telling them that he is the Almighty God, Creator of the Universe. He was in control and there was nothing of which to be afraid. How often do I lose sight of the fact that Jesus really is there with me, through the storm, and He is in total control. He is in control of not only my little struggles, but EVERYTHING.

Mom was encouraged to read again that Jesus, the Great I AM, is always in control regardless of how out of control our lives seem to be.

I talked to Mom last Thursday morning; she told me that she found my post that day to be encouraging – Lisa had not posted yet. In my post, I was asking rhetorically how the kids in our home-school association would feel if they understood the injustice perpetrated by leaders in Washington. I said,

I know how I feel. I feel far away from home.

In my home country “there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and in all.” In my home country, its citizens are children “of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all . . . who were baptized into Christ have clothed [themselves] with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, [all are] one in Christ Jesus [and are] Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.” In my home country, “[We] are all are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God”

When I witness injustice, I long for the peace of my home country. The Apostle, John, wrote about his vision of my home country, saying,

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son.

Revelation 21:1-7 (NIV)

The morning before Mom passed, she was meditating on this passage of Scripture. She was discussing with Dad her hope of eternity with Jesus. When Mom’s heart gave out, she cried out to Dad, but then I think she turned and heard Jesus saying, “Take courage; I AM; do not be afraid.” Upon hearing Jesus’ voice, the storms of Mom’s life calmed, and Mom immediately arrived at the destination where Jesus had planned to meet her.

We are here today to remember my mom. Solomon said,

It is better to go to a house of mourning
Than to go to a house of feasting,
Because that is the end of every man,
And the living takes it to heart.
Sorrow is better than laughter,
For when a face is sad a heart may be happy.

As we remember Mom, let us recognize that she lived her life for the moment when she would see her Savior face-to-face. We will miss her. Yet, if she could speak to us today she would ask, “Why do you look for the living among the dead?” You see, we are the ones still trapped within “the body of this death,” as the Apostle Paul referred to it. Mom has been delivered; she is currently witnessing Jesus making all things new.

We are here because we knew and loved Mom, yet Mom would be much more interested in our knowing and trusting Jesus Christ. Last week Mom wrote an urgent letter to unsaved loved ones imploring them, “Please accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior today. Pray to him and trust him with your eternal future. You cannot save yourself and you don’t know the way to heaven, none of us do. But Jesus does.”

We are here to remember Mom – to remember our relationships to Mom, but in our remembering, let us remember that the most important relationship in Mom’s life was her relationship to Jesus Christ. She lived by her faith in him.
The Jesus that Mom worshipped was both the Son of God and Son of Man. As the Son of God he created the heavens and the earth. Genesis tells us that he fashioned man from the dust of the earth and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. John 1 says,
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men.

This is the Jesus Mom knew. As the Son of God, he walked with Adam and Eve in the Garden. Then Adam sinned against God, and plunged mankind into the judgment of death. Man’s toil became futile, his relationships painful; the earth from which man was taken produced thorns and thistles; man’s destiny became the grave. Yet even in man’s dark hour, the Son of God promised Adam and Eve a deliverer who would crush the deceiver’s head. The deliverer would be the offspring of a woman.

In history, the Son of God appeared as the angel of the LORD. He appeared to Abraham at Mamre; He appeared to Moses in the desert places of Midian and Sinai; The Son of God appeared to Joshua, Gideon, and others; he spoke to Samuel and to the prophets.

At the right time, the Son of God humbled himself and became also the Son of Man – the offspring of a woman. As the Son of Man, he lived a sinless life in which he demonstrated both his Deity and his humanity. The Apostle John says, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us”, but John also says that “though he was in the world and the world was made by him, the world did not recognize him. He came unto those who were his own, but his own did not receive him.”

As the Son of God and Son of Man, Jesus allowed himself to taken to Calvary. There the hands of him who had fashioned man from the earth, Man nailed to the cross. Man crowned the Son of God with a crown of thorns – the very symbol of the curse of sin. On the cross, the one who had breathed into man the breath of life hung suffocating. Yet in all this, God had a greater purpose.

The Apostle Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5, that “God made him who knew no sin, to be sin for us.” Jesus was our sin offering. He took our sin upon his body on the cross, and by his death he carried our sin into judgment, for the wages of sin is death. Isaiah prophesied this would happen. He said,

Surely he hath borne our griefs,
and carried our sorrows:
yet we did esteem him stricken,
smitten of God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions,
he was bruised for our iniquities:
the chastisement of our peace was upon him;
and with his stripes we are healed.

All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned every one to his own way;
and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth:
he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb,
so he opened not his mouth.

He was taken from prison and from judgment:
and who shall declare his generation?
for he was cut off out of the land of the living:
for the transgression of my people was he stricken.
And he made his grave with the wicked,
and with the rich in his death;
because he had done no violence,
neither was any deceit in his mouth.

Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him;
he hath put him to grief:
when thou shall make his life an offering for sin,
he shall see his seed,
he shall prolong his days,
and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.
He shall see of the travail of his soul,
and shall be satisfied:
by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many;
for he shall bear their iniquities.

Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong;
because he hath poured out his soul unto death:
and he was numbered with the transgressors;
and he bare the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors.

The Son of God and Son of Man, suffered by our hands and on our behalf. Paul said, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

On the third day, God the Father through the power of his Holy Spirit raised Jesus from the dead. By overcoming death – the penalty for our sin – Jesus became our Great Hope of Resurrection.

John tells us that as “all who received [Jesus], to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” Because by faith we die with him, we also by faith will attain to his resurrection from the dead.

This is the Jesus whom Mom knew. This is the Jesus whom Mom worshipped. This is the Jesus whom Mom loved most of all. This is the Jesus upon whom Mom was meditating Thursday morning, when, in a moment, in a twinkling of an eye, He came to meet her, to calm her storms, to speak to her saying, “Take Courage. I AM. Do not be afraid,” and to carry her to her destination – eternity with Him.

Today as we remember Mom, it is appropriate for us to remember her tears and laughter. It is appropriate to remember her love for each of us and our love for her, but most of all it is necessary to remember her hope and faith in Jesus Christ. When we, the living, take this to heart, our sorrow for Mom’s parting is better than laughter because though our faces are sad, our hearts can be happy.

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