[Rick Goettsche] We are gathered here today to mourn the loss, but also to celebrate the life of Barb Bean. Today we mourn because we will not see Barb again in this life—we mourn because we will miss her. We do not, however, mourn for Barb. We have hope in the truth of what the Bible teaches in 2 Corinthians chapter 5,
“Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed, but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.”
We believe that while Barb’s earthly tent has worn out, she is now enjoying a life that is no longer plagued by the struggles that come with life on this earth. She has been clothed in immortality and is now at home with Jesus. Barb was a wonderful person, but we don’t believe she is in heaven because she was good, we believe she is in heaven because she trusted in Jesus. When he was on the earth, Jesus told one of his followers,
“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26, NIV)
If you knew Barb Bean, you know how she would answer Jesus’ question—with a resounding, YES! She believed in Jesus—not just that He existed, but that He died to make it possible for her to be forgiven and spend eternity in Heaven with Him. It is because she believed this that today we do not mourn for Barb, because we know that she is finally home.
Will you pray with me?
Our heavenly Father, we thank you for Barb Bean. We thank you for her spirit, her heart, and her faith in you. Lord, we thank you that today we do not mourn without hope, because we know that there is life beyond the grave. And we thank you that you have made it possible for us to know where we will go when we die—if we will simply trust in you. Help us today as we grieve, we ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Now, I would ask you to stand with me so that we can declare together in song the great truths that we cling to today.
Let’s sing Hymn #345. BLESSED ASSURANCE
[Bruce] Barb Bean was born May 27, 1949 in Macomb, to Glenn S. and Gertrude Koch Dorothy.
Barb was an average student in school but that didn’t mean she wasn’t smart. Barb was quick. She had a great grasp of numbers and had a wonderfully intuitive sense about her. She was very bright. One of the things I loved about Barb was her laugh. On a Sunday morning Barb would catch humor others would miss. And when Barb cackled, everyone else did too. Her laugh was infectious.
Barb worked for many years as a secretary bookkeeper for Coates Insurance and Burford Insurance in Blandinsville and later in Colchester. She retired in 1989. She used to ride her bicycle to work every day.
She met Chuck Bean because he had his insurance with Burford Insurance. One day Chuck was riding down the street on his motorcycle and saw Barb walking toward the park. He stopped and asked her what happened to her bicycle. She told him that it was broken. Chuck (ever the gentleman) offered her a ride. They rode around that night and had a chance to get better acquainted. They dated and were married on February 27, 1981. They were married 34 years on their anniversary the day before she died. (An interesting side note . . . Chuck wished Barb a Happy Anniversary on the 27th of every month.) I always loved to look out during our worship because Chuck and Barb were always holding hands. They were a wonderful testimony of what love looks like.
During the years Chuck and Barb lived in the Quad Cities for a number of years. They were very involved in the Christian Motorcycle Club and they loved to travel. The farthest they went on their Bike was the Smokey Mountains in North Carolina. They loved to travel with or without the motorcycle. They went to 49 of the 50 States, and in Canada went to: British Columbia, New Brunswick, Ontario, Nova Scotia, and Quebec. And they also went to Mexico.
The Beans were foster parents for a period of time while in the Quad Cities. They parented four children and had a fifth for less than 24 hours. For however long they had the children they sought to point them in the direction of faith in Jesus Christ and provide them a love that most of them had not experienced. They had one boy for a longer period of time and when they had to put him back into the same situation again it broke Barb’s heart and they stopped taking in Foster Children.
Barb loved to collect anything having to do with rabbits. Her home is filled with ceramic rabbits, wood rabbits, and fabric rabbits.
Barb was a careful shopper and loved to use coupons to get bargains. And when Barb found a bargain she took advantage of it. As a result Chuck isn’t going to have to buy toilet paper or a number of other things for a long time!
Barb loved crafts and did numerous counter-cross stitch pictures. She wanted to minister to others through her creativity. It was her “spiritual gift”. She used free time to drive people to Doctors appointments but her real passion was to share something she made. Over the years she made at least 1540 knit hats to give away to school children and others in need. Usually she bought bargain gloves to go along with the hats. She made around 40 prayer shawls for people who had cancer or were in Hospice. Barb was a cancer survivor. And had a real heart for anyone else who faced that diagnosis.
Barb also made hundreds and hundreds of bookmarks that said things like “Jesus Loves Me” and “Live for Jesus” and “Ride with Jesus”. She made 100 or more in Spanish and also 100 more German. She also made angel bookmarks. Some of her bookmarks even made it to China. This was Barb’s way of witnessing to others. She would hand these out and start up a conversation with people. She would tell people that she loved to make the “Jesus Loves Me” or “Jesus Loves You” bookmarks because she could tell people that what the bookmark said was always true. Barb Bean spent her life trying to point people to Jesus. Barb and Opal Schroeder were “knitting buddies”.
Barb liked to connect with people. Chuck likes to joke that Barb was not much of a public speaker but she could speak plenty when you gave her a telephone! But even here, she used the phone to check up on people and care for them. Barb Bean had a wonderful heart to go with her fervent faith.
She was enthusiastic about life. She loved to go to Chuck’s cousins home to see the baby calves. She wanted to ride in a combine and cousin Max gave her a ride and she told the story every year at harvest. Barb also went to see Andy play football in Rushville. They told Barb she would have to cheer . . . she did. In fact, everyone was surprised with how loudly she cheered. Andy said he could pick her voice out of the crowd. She loved life and lived it fully.
Barb was an active and cherished member of the Union Church of La Harpe. If you visited the early service of the Union Church one of the first people that would greet you would be Chuck and Barb. Barb wanted visitors to feel welcome. She made it a point to follow up with those people week after week.
If you mentioned to her that you had some kind of a problem Barb would sympathize and ask a very simple question: “Have you prayed about it?” And then she would follow it up with, “Can we pray with you right now?” Some of my most special memories was to see Chuck and Barb huddled with someone to have a word of prayer. Barb was known to reassure people that things would happen “In His Time.”
It seemed like whenever she went shopping Barb always purchased a little extra to contribute to the La Harpe food pantry. She was always on the lookout for how she could help someone else in a practical way.
Barb’s (and Chuck’s) life verse (the verse she tried to build her life on) is in Joshua 1:9
9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)
As a cancer survivor Barb had come to realize that her strength was found through her relationship with Jesus. She believed that as long as she walked with the Lord she was in good hands. Even when Barb became mysteriously ill she continued to fight and continued to share her faith because she knew she was still in good hands. She died on Saturday February 28th at Cathage Memorial Hospital. And she is still in the best of hands. Faith has become sight. Pain has given way to joy. Struggle has given way to victory.
She is survived by her husband Chuck Bean, her Mother: Gertrude Dorothy, One Brother: Gary Dorothy, Palm Springs, California, and Sister: Janice (and Patrick) Fitzgerald, Springfield, Illinois. And Barb would want me to add her dog Suzy Q.
She was preceded in death by her Father: Glenn Dorothy.
Will you join me now in HYMN 204 – Rock of Ages
In Matthew 25:31-40 Jesus tells us about the future
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ (Matthew 25: 31-40)
Barb Bean was a woman who revealed her faith by what she did. However, it is important that you realize that I am not suggesting that Barb is in Heaven today because she did good things. Barb did good things because she was a child of God.
In this parable Jesus was not telling us that if we worked hard enough we would earn His favor. Even though many (maybe even most) people believe that if you work hard enough God will let you go to Heaven; that is not what the Bible teaches. Jesus was teaching us that those who are true believers live their lives with the heart of Jesus.
The Bible is straightforward about our condition. It teaches that we are naturally rebellious when it comes to God. We resist submitting to Him. As a result we have amassed a mountain of sin-debt that we can never pay . . . even if we lived perfectly for the rest of our days. We are addicts of the worst kind; we can’t help fighting and resisting the Lord’s leadership in our lives.
The problem is that most people don’t realize they have a problem with God. We feel we are living pretty good lives . . . better than most. We think of sin as the “really bad stuff that other people do”. However, God defines sin as any departure from the way He wants us to live, to think, and honor Him. So any time we are petty, wish ill for another person (even when you are driving), have a lustful thought, refuse to forgive, or turn away from a need someone has, we guilty of sin. Anytime we do not love God above everything else we are in essence guilty of loving a false God! We aren’t nearly as good as we think we are.
Let me illustrate this if I may. Let’s imagine we ARE a really exceptionally moral person. And lets say you only sin on the average of three times a day (which would be a staggeringly good day for me). And let’s say you could keep that up for the rest of your life. You would then have 21 sins a week and almost 1000 in a year and over a lifetime . . . well, do the math. If those were speeding tickets you know you would be in trouble. The penalty for sin is way worse than speeding tickets.
The Bible says, “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life”. (Romans 6:23) This is why Jesus came to earth. He came here to break the hold this addiction has on us. He did this by living a sinless and then surrendering that life on our behalf. The Bible tells us that Jesus ransomed us. In other words He paid the price; He served our sentence. He did what was necessary so we could be made right with God.
The Bible tells us that if we put our faith in Jesus; if we entrust ourselves to Him and what He did on our behalf, forgiveness will be given to us and God’s Spirit will live inside us and help us move in a new direction. Putting our trust in Christ has three different dimensions. In other words when people say they believe in Jesus they may mean different things.
- Some are saying they believe that He was a real person who did the things the Bible says He did. They believe the facts about His life, His death, and even His rising from the dead. This is necessary but is easy to believe this and still not be in relationship with God. No relationship = no forgiveness.
- Some not only believe the facts, they believe these truths can truly change their life. They believe that people who follow the way of Jesus will leave even though they die. However, it is possible to believe this without ever acting on that belief.
- The third level of faith is when you actually commit yourself to Jesus. It is when you agree to bet your life Him. It is choosing to follow Him and to put all your hope in what has done for you. This person does not believe they are going to Heaven because they are good. They know they are going to Heaven because Jesus did for them what they could not do for themselves. They recognize that they have been given a gift of extraordinary kindness. As a result, they live differently. This is what the Bible would call “saving faith” or the faith that makes us right with God.
I don’t know the story how Barb initially became a follower of Christ. But I do know that she turned to Jesus as her rescuer. It wasn’t an act of weakness that caused her to do this. It was a rational act of faith. Barb understood that a person who is going to follow Christ is a person who should . . . well, FOLLOW Christ!
Barb was a sterling example of what a true follower looks like. She shared her faith not only verbally, but also practically. She would be one of those to whom Jesus would say, “you saw me, and you helped me”. She not only believed the facts, she altered the way she lived because of those facts.
Barb Bean was filled with the joy of the Lord. She was as infectious in her enthusiasm as she was with her laugh. She made a difference with her life. The truth is, we won’t know how big of a difference she made until we stand in Heaven with her. She scattered the seed of the gospel in so many ways and in so many places that I think we will be staggered by the incredible impact she had made in the lives of those around her. However, it is important to say it again: I am not convinced Barb Bean is in Heaven because she was a good person. I know Barb is with Jesus because she trusted a great Savior who died for her.
And I know one other thing for sure. Barb would not be happy with me unless I made sure to invite and encourage you to become a follower of Jesus as well. Barb would want you to know the joy she found. She wants you to be reunited with her in the future. She would like you to know the joy of canceled sin and the freedom that comes with a new relationship with God.
So here is the question: do you know where you will go when you die? Do you believe in Jesus? Better yet, are you willing to put your life in His hands? Are you willing to become His follower? If so, I encourage you to declare your faith to the Lord. You can do this by saying an honest prayer from your heart. Perhaps something like this,
Father, I know that I have sinned against you. I have denied it, excused it and justified it. But I know I am guilty. I have no hope of being right with you except through Jesus. I believe that when He died, He died for me. When He rose from the dead that was an exclamation point that says, It is all true.
So, today I ask you to enter my life. Cleanse me from my sin and break its hold on me. Draw me close to you. Use my hands and use my feet to serve you. Grant that I may be able to serve you like Barb did. In Jesus’ name Amen.
If just one person comes into a saving relationship with Jesus through her death I know Barb would say: “the suffering was worth it all”. She would also say, “I look forward to seeing you on the other side of life”.
So as we conclude let’s remember Barb’s life and example. There are some things she would want us to remember.
- The only way to know real joy in life is to walk with Jesus. His life, His death, and His resurrection make it possible to live this life with confidence.
- If something is a bargain you ought to stock up.
- Faith is practical. It can express itself through foster parenting, caring for people who are alone, making prayer shawls for people going through a hard time so they know they are prayed for, knitting hats to keep children warm, providing groceries for those who have need, and by sharing bookmarks that will point to Jesus.
- The world is wonderful place. It only makes sense to get out and see it.
- Laughter is contagious. A hearty laugh, a genuine playful spirit or giving someone an affectionate hard time can communicate joy in a way few things can do.
- A loving relationship with a mate for a lifetime is possible. People who show consideration and affection for each other, people who keep holding hands as the years roll by, people who continue to appreciate each other, people who celebrate each other regularly and honor each other publicly and privately, can have a great relationship that will inspire others to want what you have.
- Death is not the end of the story for the person who has put their trust in Christ. Because He lives, so shall we. In fact, death for the believer is graduation day. It is the day we get to see our Lord face to face; it is the day we get to experience His love, mercy, and grace in its fullness. Death for the believer is not defeat . . . it is the victory.
- Finally, when all is said and done the world won’t care about your grade point average or the degrees that hang on your wall. They won’t care about how much money you made or what kind of car you drove. At the end of life the only thing people will remember is whether or not you revealed the love of God to them. And Barb Bean certainly did that.
We will miss Barb Bean more than she would think. She is a rare treasure. We thank God for her and look forward to the day when we will see her again.
HYMN 213 Because He Lives
Our Father, we turn to your for comfort this day. We are so grateful for the way you have blessed us through Barb’s life and testimony. It is hard for us to wrap our mind around all that has happened these last several months.
I ask Father that you would stir the heart of anyone who is here who does not know you in the way that leads to forgiveness and new life. Make your Word clear to them. By your Holy Spirit awaken them. Father we ask that you use this time of sadness to make an eternal difference in the life of someone . . . just the way Barb would want it.
And Lord, we pray for Chuck. We ask that you fill the emptiness in his life with your presence. Comfort Him with your promise of reunion. Strengthen Him through the power of your Holy Spirit.
Inspire us O Lord as we examine our lives. Help us to learn from what you taught us in Barb. Grant that we, like her, would spend our days finding ways to share your love with anyone we see. Help us to be people who make a difference in the lives of those around us . . . just like Barb Bean did. We ask these things in Jesus’ wonderful name. Amen.