Thank you for coming. My dad loved each of you dearly and we are so blessed to have all of you in our lives.
Dad, or Pops, as I called him, was a huge part of my life, and some of yours as well. Those who knew him well knew he was loving, generous, funny, and kind.
My father was a good man, too.
I know the Bible says in Romans 3:10 that “there are none good, no not one,” and just a few verses later, in verse 23, we learn that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
Dad was no exception to that rule, of course. We all have our flaws…especially me.
Just a few chapters later we learn about the consequence of sin — sin of an infinite magnitude because it is sin against an infinite God. The consequences of sin will come for each of us eventually.
Romans 6:23 says: “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
The death the Apostle Paul is speaking of there is not just physical death, but eternal death, an eternity separated from God and all that He is: Love, Light, Mercy, Justice.
But there is a solution, and I believe firmly that Dad understood this and would have wanted me to share it with you today.
Even though we could never pay the price, Romans 5:8 tells us that “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
I am so thankful to God that my earthly father loved God. Dad gave God the credit for all of his blessings in this life. And he was a tremendous role model for me in that respect.
I am also beyond thankful for the hope of eternal life and the hope of seeing my dad again.
And I can never be thankful enough for the 36 wonderful years I was able to spend with him.
As far as earthly fathers are concerned, my dad was wonderful beyond measure. I can only aspire to be so good to my own children — little boys who really make me appreciate how much my dad went through!
And I know that Pops was righteous and walked in integrity.
In Proverbs 20:7, God tells us “The righteous who walks in his integrity— blessed are his children after him!”
I’m beyond blessed simply to have been born into my dad’s family. He was my best advisor, my biggest supporter, and the best dad anybody could have ever asked for.
Dad was always the first one I called in a crisis — and there were lots of those — and the first one I called when I had something exciting to report.
Those of you who know us well know that I wasn’t exactly what you’d call a model child. In fact, I put my poor dad through more grief than anybody should ever have to go through. If we’re honest, so did Cory.
But through it all, Dad never gave up on us even for a second…. Even when others were telling him to. He was always there by our side, whether we needed to be bailed out of jail or needed to pay off a debt or worse, Dad never failed us.
No matter how far I ran, he’d always chase me down, too. On the day of my 18th birthday, I bought a plane ticket to South Africa and moved down to Cape Town. It wasn’t even a few months before dad got on a plane to come visit. “Want to go on a safari?” he asked when he landed at the airport.
Always anxious to see us, he chased us to Russia, Malta, Sweden, Spain, and beyond. He even came on work trips with me through Texas and Utah. I will treasure those road trips with him forever.
My dad taught me good moral principles from the Bible. He taught me to be honest. He taught me to work hard. He taught me to love God, to pray, and to always be kind to others. He taught me to fight for what was right even if I was the only one willing to do it. He taught me courage. And he always kept us safe, whether he was taking us into a favela in Brazil to bring food to the poor, or protecting us from the evils of the culture trying to steal our innocence through the television.
Perhaps even more importantly, Pops taught me how to be a loving dad — a dad who loves his children unconditionally but who also disciplines them and guides them as appropriate so that they can grow into decent adults.
One of the most common descriptions of God’s attributes throughout the Bible is as Father. There is so much we can learn from this, not just about God, but about what it means to be a good father.
Of course, Christ is His only Son. But we who love Him and are called according to His purpose are adopted into His family as His children.
God uses the father-child relationship to explain His feelings and attitudes toward us. Once we become God’s children through the salvation that Christ offers, He loves us unconditionally, but he also disciplines us as appropriate.
For those who grew up without a father, or those who grew up with abusive fathers, it is much harder to understand this. But for me, because of my loving Dad, it was easy to get a picture of God.
Even the story of the prodigal son reminds me of him. There are obviously multiple layers of meaning to the parable. But its most basic understanding is the image of God as a father who is ready to accept His wicked child back with open arms even after all the stupidity and evil his son got himself into.
It was only recently that it hit me how great my dad was in light of the circumstances. He grew up without a father. And yet, he was an incredible father. Somehow, he learned to be such a great father, without even having a role model of his own to look up to.
My dad was also a wonderful grandfather to his many grandchildren. He loved them so much and would have done absolutely anything for them.
In the book of Proverbs, the most concentrated wisdom you will find on this side of eternity, chapter 13 verse 22 tells us that “A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children.”
Dad was always so interested in ensuring the wellbeing of his grandchildren. Literally the last conversation he had with my boys was about $500 he sent them so they could ski every day on our trip.
I had told my boys they would not be able to ski every day we were in North Carolina because it was too expensive, so they would have to choose a day to stay home.
When they reported me to my dad, he didn’t even have to think about. He immediately announced that he would be sending them $500 so they could ski every day.
That is who my dad was. When I told them I would not be paying for their college, he offered to pay.
He could have gone out and spent all his money on the things he loved, yachts, golfing, trips with friends, and fancy sports cars. But instead, he wanted to spend it on those he loved, and especially on his grandchildren. He was always the first to offer to help friends and family in crisis. That’s just who he was.
Aside from loving God, his wife, his children, his grandchildren, and his many friends, Dad always stood up for what he thought was right, even if it meant he stood alone. He did it regardless of what others thought. That’s the mark of true courage and true leadership.
I know some of you here today would get annoyed with him when he would talk about politics or culture or church. But I hope you understand that even if you disagreed with his opinion — and I know some of you here disagreed with him vehemently — he spoke out for the right reasons.
He wanted to ensure a good future for his kids and grandkids and for all of you, and so he did what he could in his circle of influence.
My dad never disagreed with you out of malice, he just sometimes struggled to understand how people could not see the things he saw. I hope that if he ever offended you, you can forgive him now that he’s gone, knowing that he did it for the right reasons.
But plenty of people appreciated it. I will never forget all of the calls, messages, and Facebook notes from people across the country and around the world who loved my dad’s willingness to speak his mind.
And I will never forget all the thank you’s from people around the world who my dad stood up for, mostly in his job but outside of it too. He made a big impact everywhere he went.
Another thing I’m grateful to God for is that he allowed my dad to be with us as long as he was. Some of you know this, but less than 48 hours after he took that Pfizer injection last February, his heart literally stopped. That would have claimed almost anybody’s life.
But by divine providence, Pops happened to be in a medical facility for a checkup, and they were able to resuscitate him and get him to the hospital. He spent a month and a half there, and it was miserable.
But God was gracious and He gave us an extra year with Pops — and despite dad’s ever-present health issues, it was a great year indeed.
Perhaps the time that meant the most to me over the last year was a conversation we had during his final trip to the hospital in mid January. It was the first time my dad ever admitted to me that he was scared of dying.
Just like every other person born in this earth, Dad needed Jesus Christ for redemption. At that moment, we prayed together, we asked Christ to forgive us of our sins, I gave my dad the best presentation of the Gospel that I knew how to give, and we both begged God to take us into eternity with Him whenever the time came, to accept us as His adopted children, and to welcome us into the Kingdom of Heaven. We cried together for a while.
In Romans 10:9, we learn that, “if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”
A few verses later, in Romans 10:13, it is stated slightly differently: “for everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
That time on the phone with my dad was a precious moment that I will cherish for the rest of my life. We both thought that may be the end, and we both called on the name of the Lord.
And yet, God saw fit to let my dad get out of there and enjoy another month in the comfort of his home with his family that he loved so very much. We talked every day, sometimes more than that. And he spent some incredible time with his “cowboy” grandsons and his beloved Cory.
On my way down to Miami after I got the terrible news, I prayed and asked God to give me a sign that my Dad had made it. The sun shone through the clouds in such a beautiful way and it gave me an unspeakable sense of peace. The tears stopped for a while.
Then, when I arrived in Miami, I started reading Pops’ book, “My Nine Lives.” Right in the introduction, Dad explained that he loved the Lord and gave Him credit for all his blessings. That was the sign I needed — it was the sign I asked for. Thanks be to God for his goodness, and His mercy, and for His answers to prayer.
As we leave here today, I pray that the memories of my dad will continue burning bright in all of our hearts, and that his legacy will continue to live on through us — through you, his beloved family and friends. We are so grateful for each of you.
But more than anything, I hope that we will all be re-united someday in eternity, where there is no more death, and where there are no more tears.
Rest in Peace, Pops.
Thank you all again for coming to honor my dad, support my mom, and help us get through this most difficult time. May God bless you all.