James H. Breckon

We gather this morning to remember the life and mourn the loss of James H. Breckon.  Unfortunately, it was less than a year ago that we gathered to mourn Leah Breckon’s passing.  With this double grief we need the wisdom of the Lord more than ever.

I declare to you brothers that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, not does the perishable inherit the imperishable.  Listen, I tell you a mystery” we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed- in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.  For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.  When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”

The words of David have comforted people for hundreds of generations,

The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not be in want.  He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside the quiet waters, he restores my soul.  He guides me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.  Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.  You anoint my head with oil’ my cup overflows.  Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Please join me for prayer.

Father, we bow before you this morning seeking the comfort and strength that you alone can give us.  We are grateful for the life of James Breckon while at the same feeling sadness at his death.  We ask you to help us remember.  Help us to remember the treasure of this life and to remember the richness of your promises to those who believe.  Grant us the comfort of your Spirit, we ask in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

James H. Breckon was born on February 14, 1915 at Palmyra, Illinois to Lester and Ova McLaugglin Breckon.  Jim met Leah Hornbaker while he was working as a farm hand in Bushnell, Il.  Leah also worked for the family.  They were married on August 21, 1936.  Mr. Breckon worked at the John Deere Harvester Works in East Moline in the area of product development before going into farming in 1946.  In 1948 Jim and Leah moved to the Raritan/Roseville area where they made many lifelong friends.  They relocated to Blandinsville in 1977.  Leah Breckon died on September 20, 2003.

James Breckon is survived by: Three sons:

  • James C. and Edie Breckon of Bonner Springs Kansas
  • Steven D. and Janet Breckon of Elvaston
  • Bruce L and Catherine Breckon of Macomb

He is also survived by eight grandchildren,

  • Cindy Mutchie and her husband, Jim
  • Curtis Breckon and his wife, Dixie
  • Cheryl Steffy and her husband, John
  • Brent Breckon and his wife, Kristy
  • Paul Breckon and his wife, Kim
  • Diane Breckon
  • Matthew Breckon and his wife, Jennifer
  • Martha Swiger and her husband Jason

He is also survived by 20 great-grandchildren,

two brothers,

  • O. Carl Breckon and his wife, Margie;
  • Eugene Breckon and his wife, Norma;

One sister, Alice Hooley  and One brother-in-law, Wilbur Chapman

He was preceded in death by his wife, his parents, one sister, Virginia Chapman, an infant son and an infant Grandson.

From the simple reading of an obituary it is hard to get a sense of a person’s life.  The obituary doesn’t tell you that James Breckon was a very educated man, even though he never went to High School.  His stuttering problem as a child caused him to quit school.  But he never quit learning.  He taught himself math up to Calculus and was a man who learned to listen and learn from everyone around him.  He had an incredible ability to think through problems and to arrive at creative solutions. Jim Breckon had his name on one patent and could have had his name on numerous other patents.

He was a master at taking what others considered junk and using it to make machinery, tools, and devices that were well ahead of their time.  He was a man who relished problem solving because he saw those problems as a challenge to overcome.  He understood steel and it’s many different uses.  Countless times he bought “junk” for the valuable steel that was in that junk.  He never threw away metal because he never knew when it might come in handy for a project.  He was inventive, creative, and ingenious.

Jim Breckon was a worker.  He believed there was nothing wrong with working hard, working long, and working well.  He worked every day and took pride in his work.  I get the feeling that Mr. Breckon worked to provide for his family, but also because he loved to work.  The fact that he continued to work until he could no longer do so is testimony to that fact.  When he was 85 years old he fell off of the barn roof where he was making repairs.  If there was work to be done, he was going to do it.  He was a physically strong man.

Jim Breckon loved to hunt and fish.  Hunting was his relaxation and joy.  He enjoyed going hunting and fishing with the boys or anyone else who would go with him.  He took great delight in seeing someone else catching a fish.  One of the special memories was when dad would take the boys to one of the islands overnight to fish on the Mississippi.  He made a great breakfast over the open fire.  As a boy James used to trap animals and sell the firs.  He would head out early in the morning and return late at night.  When he was in his 70’s he enjoyed going to the Rockies a number of years with his son, Jim to hunt Elk, Deer and Antelope.  He was a great shot. He was even known to sit at the kitchen window where he would shoot the “bad birds” that we harassing the birds at his bird feeder!  When he was 80 he took some men in their 30’s Quail hunting.  They decided they wouldn’t hunt with him any more because he “walked them to death!”

James Breckon didn’t trust Doctors or politicians.  He believed Doctors and hospitals just wanted your money and the last President he liked was Harry Truman.  He believed the government had over-regulated life and spent too much time giving things away to people who could and should work.  And if you gave him the opportunity, he was more than happy to tell you about it!

He wasn’t the kind of guy to belong to clubs or organizations and was somewhat of a shy man.  However, once he knew you he generally liked you and would be a loyal friend forever.  He and Leah still kept in contact with friends from their days working for Deere.  They loved the social events with their Methodist Church and Jim was always up for a game of Pitch.  I’m told he loved the challenge of “shooting the moon” with cards that made the prospect of success unlikely.

Jim believed in paying a decent wage to people and giving whatever help you could give to someone in need.  He would do anything for a neighbor or friend.  And if you happened to be around the Breckon farm at lunchtime, you were always invited to stay for dinner (and many people made it a point to be around at noon).  Jim liked to eat and Leah liked to cook.  Jim Breckon was respected for his work, his generosity, and his character.  He felt one of the worst things you could do would be to cheat someone.

More than anything else, James Breckon was a family man.  Jim loved his boys and even up to the end was happiest when everyone was home.  He loved his grandchildren and had the joy of having all of them around when they were young.  He loved young kids . .  .and they loved him.

Jim enjoyed vacations in Texas, Alaska, and Hawaii and actually made it to 47 of the 50 states. He didn’t do much traveling in his younger years because there was nothing he wanted to see or do more than be home with his family.  He didn’t like to eat out because he believed you weren’t going to get any better food than what mom was going to cook.  Most of the travel, even in the later years, revolved around seeing family.

Jim surrounded his family with the security that comes from being loved.  He taught them to work hard, to work well, to take responsibility for their lives, and to care about other people.  He modeled fiscal responsibility and believed you should resist the urge to go out and buy new things when what you had was still adequate or could be fixed or adapted.  He believed that even though we may have plenty, it was still wrong to waste.  He taught his boys to think “outside the box” and to dare to see what could be, rather than merely what was obvious.

Jim Breckon was a man’s man.  He was truly a self-taught man who loved his wife, provided a good home for his family, and served as an example of the kind person we should all try to be.  He will be missed greatly.

In John chapter 11 of the Bible we are told the wonderful account of Jesus raising his dead friend, Lazarus, from the dead.

When Jesus arrived at the home of Lazarus and his sisters, Mary and Martha, Lazarus had already been buried for four days.  Mary and her sister were, quite frankly, a little put out with Jesus for not arriving sooner.  As Jesus arrived, Martha went out to meet him,

21 “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”

                23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”

                24 Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; 26 and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

27 “Yes, Lord,” she told him, “I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world.”

At this time of devastating loss, Jesus shared with Martha a statement that is vital for us to hear today.  He said, “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.”

Whenever someone we love dies, there is an emptiness in us that results from an honest, but often unspoken question, “Is there really anything beyond the grave?”  People have many different ideas about death.  Some believe death is simply the end.  When you die, that’s the end of the story.  Life to these people is basically a sprint to nothing.  Life is ultimately meaningless.

Others believe that there is some sort of re-cycling that takes place after death.  If you live a good life you come back to a better life.  If you live a poor life you must pay for it in the next. There is no evidence that any of this is true, but there is at least some purpose to our living.

Jesus taught that there is life beyond the grave. He taught that there is not only some life, but eternal life.  In fact, this is the teaching the Bible presents from start to finish. At death, people either go to eternal celebration and joy with God or eternal regret and remorse.

Jesus said, those who believe in Him will live even though they die.  The Bible talks about a resurrection to a new life, with a new body. The Apostle Paul anticipated our confusion when he wrote,

Some skeptic is sure to ask, “Show me how resurrection works. Give me a diagram; draw me a picture. What does this ‘resurrection body’ look like?” If you look at this question closely, you realize how absurd it is. There are no diagrams for this kind of thing. We do have a parallel experience in gardening. You plant a “dead” seed; soon there is a flourishing plant. There is no visual likeness between seed and plant. You could never guess what a tomato would look like by looking at a tomato seed. What we plant in the soil and what grows out of it don’t look anything alike. The dead body that we bury in the ground and the resurrection body that comes from it will be dramatically different.

This image of planting a dead seed and raising a live plant is a mere sketch at best, but perhaps it will help in approaching the mystery of the resurrection body—but only if you keep in mind that when we’re raised, we’re raised for good, alive forever! The corpse that’s planted is no beauty, but when it’s raised, it’s glorious. Put in the ground weak, it comes up powerful. The seed sown is natural; the seed grown is supernatural—same seed, same body, but what a difference from when it goes down in physical mortality to when it is raised up in spiritual immortality!  [1 Cor 15:34 ff the MESSAGE]

I must point out that when Jesus spoke to Martha and Mary He did have a condition on His promise.  He didn’t say that everyone would go to Heaven.  He didn’t say that every one who was esteemed would go to Heaven. He didn’t even say that everyone who went to church would go to Heaven. He said the only people who would “live even though they die” would be those who believed in Him.

There are three kinds of ways to believe in Jesus.  First, there are those who believe that Jesus lived, died and maybe even believe that he rose from the grave.  They believe that the facts about Jesus are true.

Others believe that the life, death and resurrection of Jesus are able to pay for sin and transform of life. They believe Jesus is able to save.

But there is a third kind of “belief”.  These are the people who not only believe the facts about Jesus and believe in the ability of Jesus.  These are the people who actually entrust themselves to Him.  They “bet their lives” on Jesus and build their lives on these truths.  These are the people who have the faith that Jesus requires.

My favorite illustration of this reality is a riddle.  If three frogs are on a log and two decide to jump in, how many frogs are left on the log?  The answer is three.  Three frogs are still on the log because deciding to jump and jumping are two different things.  Likewise, believing in Jesus and actually trusting Him are two different things.

After declaring that there is life for those who believe in Him, Jesus asks the question that every one of us must ask ourselves today.  Do you believe this?  It’s a very important question.

I declare with the authority of the Word of God that if James Breckon truly put his hope and confidence in what Christ did for Him, then he is in Heaven.  If he believed in this third sense, he lives, even though he has died. In the same way, if you will trust Christ, if you will actually “jump”, you will live beyond the grave as well.

Some say, “How do we know the promise of Jesus is true?”  The answer is pretty simple: Jesus brought Lazarus back after he was buried for four days!  And when Jesus himself died, He came back to life after three days also.  I guess, the question is:  “Who are you going to believe, the philosophers of the day, or the man who raised others from the dead and also raised Himself?

Today I challenge you to examine your own heart.  Build your hope and your confidence today not on wishful thinking but on the promise of God.  Those who trust Christ will live . . . even though they die.  Remember God’s promise and cling to it today.

As you face the days ahead I hope you will always remember the life of James Breckon and the lessons of his life.

  • Every time you see someone missing a finger, remember Jim and the way he would “freak people out” by pointing with his missing finger.
  • Every time you see a broom remember how Leah always complained that she could never keep a broom handle because Jim was always using it for some project.
  • Every time you pass a junk yard or a yard sale think about the different ways Jim was able to transform junk into useful treasures.
  • Every time you see a family photograph remember that Jim never smiled for pictures but he was always smiling on the inside.
  • Every time the kids are running around the house remember how much Great-Grandpa loved the children.
  • Every time you pass a field with straight rows remember that like Jim Breckon, the one who planted this field must take pride in his work.
  • Every year when hunting season comes around, remember the good days out hunting together.
  • Every time you don’t want to go to work remember Jim’s words that “a little hard work never hurt anybody.”
  • Every time you are playing cards and believe that you were dealt nothing good, think about Jim Breckon and bid as though you had something great in your hand. . . just for the fun of it.
  • In fact, every time you face a challenge in life see it as Jim did; as a challenge to meet and an opportunity to grow rather than a burden to bear.
  • And in your dealings with others remember Jim’s counsel that “what matters in life is how you treat others.”

But I also challenge you to remember the words of Jesus.  Remember that this life is not all there is.  We are living now to live again and Jesus lived, died, and rose from the grave to make that possible.  How we respond to Him now will determine where we spend eternity when we die.  May God fill you with clear memories and a deep and abiding faith.

Let’s pray,

Our Father, we thank you for the gift of James Breckon’s life.  We thank you for the things he taught and the way he enriched us through his words and his example. We commit Him now to you in the sure hope of eternal life through Christ.  We ask that you grant him your mercy, grace, and love.

As this family faces loss once again, I ask that you give them the comfort that only you can give.  In the times of great sadness, comfort them with the thought of James and Leah being together again with You.

Lord, increase our own faith.  Help us to trust you so that we may live faithfully and that when we die, we may live again.  Amen.