Lynn Martin

We gather this morning to mourn the death and celebrate the life of Lynn Martin.  Our emotions are quite confused today.  On the one hand we are grateful that Mr. Martin will no longer be confused.  We’re grateful that the decay of his body and mind has ended.  We’re grateful that he is finally in the home prepared for him.  On the other hand, we ache out of personal loss.  It is so hard to say good-bye.

So as we gather, hear the Word of the Lord,

In Ecclesiastes Solomon wrote,

There is a time for everything,

and a season for every activity under heaven:

2     a time to be born and a time to die,

a time to plant and a time to uproot,

3     a time to kill and a time to heal,

a time to tear down and a time to build,

4     a time to weep and a time to laugh,

a time to mourn and a time to dance,

5     a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,

a time to embrace and a time to refrain,

6     a time to search and a time to give up,

a time to keep and a time to throw away,

7     a time to tear and a time to mend,

a time to be silent and a time to speak,

8     a time to love and a time to hate,

a time for war and a time for peace.

What does the worker gain from his toil? 10 I have seen the burden God has laid on men. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. 12 I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. 13 That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil—this is the gift of God. [Ecclesiastes 3:1-13]

Then there are these great words from the Apostle Paul,

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.

This is the perspective we work to take hold of today. The body of Lynn Martin has been destroyed and now he has an eternal house in Heaven which is not made with human hands.  Our Father, Grandfather, Neighbor and Friend has finished the course and has been granted the prize he longed for all his life.

Will you pray with me

Our Father, today we turn to you for both strength and for perspective.  We ask that you give us strength as we mourn our loss and perspective so that we might not grieve as those who have no hope.  Help us to remember, to celebrate, and to give thanks for your blessing to us in the person of Lynn Martin.  We ask these things in the strong name of Jesus Christ, our Lord.  Amen.

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Lynn Martin, was born on August 6, 1917 to Ora J. and Minnie Kent Martin in Green City, Missouri. He married Mary Elizabeth Farris in Palmyra, Missouri on June 17, 1939.  To that marriage, three children were born. For over 50 years they were partners, lovers, and friends. Mary suffered from cancer and preceded him in death on August 19, 1993.

Lynn was a graduate of Green City High School and moved to Blandinsville to work on his brother’s dairy farm. Lynn also delivered ice, worked for McDonough F.S. in Blandinsville, for Little Brothers in LaHarpe and retired from Northwestern Unit School District #175 where he worked as a janitor at the elementary and high schools where he was honored for his outstanding service to the school and community.

He was a member of the First Baptist Church in Blandinsville where he served in many different capacities and later attended the Union Church in LaHarpe. He was a member of the New Hope IOOF Lodge for 64 years and served as their secretary for 31 years. Lynn took part in the New Salem Men’s Brotherhood, was a volunteer for the Blandinsville-Hire Fire Department, was a member of the Singing Seniors and served on the Blandinsville-Hire Library Board for 6 years. He was the Grand Marshall for the 1996 Farmers Picnic. He was named Grandparent of the year. He loved spending time with his family, reading, gardening and sports.

He is also preceded in death by his parents, three sisters; Grace, Gladys and Dorothy and five brothers; Glen, Wayne, Kenneth, Harold and Kent.

Lynn is survived by three children;

  • Scott Martin of Golden, Colorado,
  • Karen (Don) Roberts of Burlington, Iowa
  • and Lynne (Lee) Ward of Blandinsville,

six grandchildren;

  • Dean (Lorie) Roberts of Monmouth,
  • Brian (Tina Porritt) Roberts of Murphysboro, Illinois,
  • Shawna (Darin) Calvin of Burlington, Iowa,
  • Kristen (David) Leibli of Morning Sun, Iowa,
  • Jeremy (Anna) Ward of Medinah, Illinois
  • and Melissa (Andy) Johnson of LaHarpe,

twelve great-grandchildren;

  • Heather and Josh Roberts of Denver, Colorado,
  • Alex Roberts of Murphysboro,
  • Taylor and Ashlyn Calvin of Burlington, Iowa,
  • Austin, Noah and Levi Leibli of Morning Sun, Iowa,
  • Max Ward of Medinah
  • and Wyatt, Abbie and Olivia Johnson of LaHarpe,

one sister; Ramah (Donald) Lea of Macon, Missouri, one sister-in-law; Loretta Martin of Rushville and many nieces and nephews.

Lynn Martin was a man that didn’t stand out in a crowd.  He didn’t like to be the center of attention.  However, he was also the person that everyone looked to when they needed help.  He was the person they looked to for consistency and an example worth following.

Mr. Martin liked to do lots of different things.  He liked to fish where he enjoyed “talking to the frogs”, as he would say. Many cherished memories were forged while fishing with dad or Grandpa.

Lynn also loved to garden.  He could grow just about anything and was known for the quality and size of his produce. He was especially proud of his turnips.  Mr. Martin always grew more than he could ever eat, because he loved to be able to give what he had grown to others.

Because he loved his garden, he also hated groundhogs.  He would often go out with his shotgun and try to pick off the groundhogs who dared to invade his sacred ground.  Truthfully, he missed way more often than he ever hit them.

Mr. Martin believed in working hard.  He raised chickens, raised pigs, had grapevines, and because he grew up in the Depression, he never threw anything away. He was quick to help others whenever he had the opportunity.  He talked about the early days when he made gloves.  You had to make a certain quote of gloves in an hour.  If you made over the quote you earned a bonus.  There was a ceiling on the bonus you could get.  So, when Mr. Martin reached his ceiling he didn’t stop making gloves, he continued to make them and  gave them to others so they could also get bonus money.

Mr. Martin loved his years working at the school.  He saw himself not so much as the janitor, but as one of the people who made education possible.  One day there was a surprise inspection of the school by the State Inspector.  The Inspector sought Lynn out and told him he had never seen a school that was kept as clean as he kept the school.  Mr. Martin was justifiably proud of the work he did.

He would always drop what he was doing to help coaches or students.  He believed that his work was as much about touching the lives of others as it was keeping the school clean.  Every year the second grade students looked forward to the bird houses Mr. Martin would make with them.  When he retired, the entire school gathered to honor him not only for his work, but also for the impact he had made on their lives.  It was certainly one of his proudest moments.

Mr. Martin also helped restore the Frank Hicks home in Blandinsville with Roger Melvin.  He was proud of the work he was able to do on the house yet never made a big deal over it.  He simply loved the work.

Lynn was an avid St. Louis Cardinal fan and Green Bay Packer fan (but I liked him anyway!)  He enjoyed Lawrence Welk and always had time for his children and Grandchildren.

He loved his wife Mary.  He showed that most clearly as he cared for her when she had cancer.  Cooking had always been Mary’s job but when she was sick Mr. Martin learned how to cook. In fact, he became quite good at it.  He cared for his wife and met her every need.  Her death was extremely painful.

Family was at the heart of who Lynn Martin was.  He enjoyed his family to the fullest.  He was always the one who said grace at family dinners.  He was truly the spiritual leader of the family.

Each year at family reunions the family would elect officers to plan the next event.  Every year Lynn was selected as President because everyone knew he would actually get the job done.  It had become kind of a standing joke that Lynn was going to be President.  One year he thought he’d have some fun and had pencils made up that said, “Vote for Lynn Martin for President”.  He loved doing the unexpected and never ever took himself too seriously.

He was a great teacher.  He patiently instructed his kids and his grandkids.  He was often out in the yard playing baseball with the children.  Every Easter he took great delight in hiding the hard boiled Easter eggs out in the yard.  Most years they never did find all the eggs.

Grandpa was the one you went to when you wanted to sing a silly song like, “Johnny Reubeck and his sausage machine”, when you needed to have a splinter removed using his special “Slippery Elmo”, or you wanted a peppermint candy that also served as “blue eye medicine”

Lynn was a man who had a positive attitude.  When you asked him how he was he would say, “Couldn’t be better”.  When he didn’t feel real well he might respond, “I’m able to be about”.  He was this way up to the end of his life. If you asked him what kind of pie he liked, he would tell you, “I like the ones that are hot and the ones that are cold”.  The only pie he didn’t like was “pressed pie”; where the top of the crust pressed on the bottom crust.

Mr. Martin was a man who lived by some simple principles,

  • You can find good in anybody
  • God never gives you more than you can handle
  • We might not like some people but we must not hate them.”

When anyone asked about his age he always told them he was 39.  When he turned 78 he told them he was 39 times 2!

Lynn Martin was a man of faith.  He served his church in many capacities: as a Deacon, as Sunday School Superintendent for seemingly forever, as church moderator, as part of the choir and he was active in the New Salem Men’s organization.  He loved to serve!  Whether he was singing with the Seniors or working in the garden, whether serving at church or cleaning at the school, whether he was playing with the kids or caring for his wife  he gave himself fully to whatever he was doing.  At every family reunion there would be a hymn sing after lunch. Lynn Martin knew where his hope was anchored . . . it was anchored to His Savior, Jesus Christ.

When all is said and done, Lynn Martin will be remembered as a man of exemplary character.  He didn’t get angry.  He always had time for others.  He had incredible patience. He was honest, generous and always gave his best.  Don’t just take my word for it, here are the words of Lynn’s Granddaughter, Kristen,

From Kristen,

On this sad day I know the sun is still shining bright,

Because you are our light.

You life was full of happiness and love

Especially the love you gave us all.

Now you’re in a place of peace and tranquility

And I find it hard to let you go,

But I am at peace knowing you are on my side

And keeping us safe from evil

I thank you for everything you have given me,

Because without you I don’t know where I would be

You have given me so much more than you’ll ever know,

Including the best mom I could have ever asked for

As well as a loving family full of your great values

And your belief in the Lord.

I will never forget you.

Please be at peace Grandpa,

You took care of us, now it is your turn to be taken care of

I will see you someday

So forgive me that I mourn for you on this very sad day

Love,

Your Grandaughter,

Kristen

Lynne Anne wrote this poem for her dad on Father’s Day,

When I was just a toddler, I’d run to the door every night

To meet my dad when he came home and hug him with delight

Then when I got older he taught me to play ball

He wiped away the dirt and tears whenever I did fall

My friends were always over, just like family after while

He always liked to tease them and that would make them smile

Grade school years turned to high school years, he came to all my games

And you never heard him utter that he thought girls sports were lame

Then I was all grown up and it was my wedding day

And I was proud to have my father there to give me away

But he didn’t lose anything, for I knew from the start

There’d always be that special place for Dad deep in my heart

Now he’s watched me raise my children, helped babysit and such

And throughout the years he’s given us all so very, very much

He hasn’t always had it easy, he’s had trials and sadness of his own

But no matter what his problems, there was time for the family he has grown

God never put another man on earth that was quite like my dad

And I want to thank you, God, because he’s mine and I’m so glad

For his heart is filled with kindness, his voice is filled with song

And I’ve never known another man as faithful or as strong

So I’ll say Happy Father’s Day and bring this to an end

He’s more than just my father, he’s my very best friend!

Thanks for all you’ve given me,

With love,

Your daughter,

Lynne

These last few years have been hard.  Mr. Martin was a victim of Alzheimer’s disease. Some diseases attack the body.  They are painful and they rob us of life.  Other diseases attack the mind.  Before they take away our life, they try to take away the person that we are.  Such diseases slowly imprison the victim in a life of confusion that at times is scary in ways I don’t think we want to imagine.

It was hard for Mr. Martin these last couple of years.  The man who always helped others had to increasingly depend on the help of others. We are saddened by the disease that robbed him of life, we resent the fact that his disease has dimmed our memories of the past. However, as we stir up those embers of memory we give thanks for the wonderful way he lived!

I hope you see that Lynn Martin was the kind of man most of us long to be.  When we are young we dream of making lots of money, of changing the world, of making an impact.  But after we have lived awhile we hopefully realize that what’s really important in life is not what you have, what you do, or who knows your name.  What matters is the kind of person you are.  Every one of us I think would like to be the kind of person who was consistent, dependable, faithful and solid.  We would like to know that we had shown our love to those who own our hearts.  We would like to think that we had passed on to others the values, and modeled the character traits, that would help those we love to steer their way effectively through this maze that we call life.  We would like to think that we had maintained a faith that was solid and true.  We would like to think that we had lived in such a way as to hear the Savior’s “Well Done!”  Lynn Martin was one of those men.

As we gather today we need to keep in mind that though we meet to honor the life of Lynn Martin, we are really not here for his sake but for our own.  Mr. Martin is with the Lord.  He has no sadness or pain.  We are the ones who grieve.  So I share with you these words from Paul,

13 Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. 14 We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage each other with these words. [1 Thessalonians 4:13-18]

There are several things Paul says to those who grieve.  First, we should be informed.  In the time of death and loss we need to be knowledgeable about the issues of eternity.  We build a strong faith for such a time as this.  We need to be able to answer questions like: What happens when we die?  Is there life beyond the grave?  Is this all there is?  The only way to cope with loss is to not be ignorant of the truth.  At this time our Bible is our greatest resource.

Second, we must not grieve like those who have no hope.  The Bible doesn’t tell us not to grieve.  Grief is a natural response to loss.  Even Jesus wept for Lazarus, and he knew He was going to bring him back from the dead!  However, Paul says we should not grieve like people who have no hope.  If you have learned anything from Lynn Martin, you know that he had a strong faith in eternal life through Jesus Christ.  We have hope because we believe that this is not the end of the story.

Third, Paul says: our confidence is in the fact that Jesus died and rose again.  Our hope today is not built on wishful thinking.  Some people feel that a belief in Heaven is merely a way for us to cope with the painful reality of death.  I disagree.  Our hope of Heaven is based on the historical reality of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  He is the one who said, “I am the resurrection and the life, He who believes in me will live, even though he dies.”  When he died, He came back to life.  These are well established facts.  Over the years many people have seriously tried to show the facts to be untrue.  Most of those people have ended up becoming followers of Christ!

Jesus rose from the dead.  His tomb is empty.  He was God who lived among us.  It is his promise to us that gives us hope today.

Finally, we should be looking forward with a greater intensity to the day when all those who trust in Christ will be with the Lord.  Talk of Heaven and eternity are topics we usually foolishly put off to a later day.  Today that topic becomes intensely relevant and urgent. The Bible teaches that a grand reunion is coming!

I believe that a person who is in Christ, goes immediately to be with the Lord when he or she dies.  I think the Bible makes that point clear. We are also taught that there is coming a day when the believers still on earth and the believers who are already in Heaven will meet to celebrate the victory and reign of the Son of God.  Now that will be a family reunion you don’t want to miss!  At that reunion Lynn Martin will gladly rejoice that Jesus is at the head of this celebration.

We hurt today.  What we need to try to grasp is the fact that Lynn Martin is in the presence of His great Lord.  He sees clearly.  He knows a new joy.  His old body, his fuzzy mind, have been traded in for something so much more wonderful that we don’t even have the words to describe it.  It would be like trying to describe a perfect sunset to someone who couldn’t see.  Everyone who puts their hope in Christ; everyone who understands that Jesus died for us, not because we were good, but because He is loving, everyone of these people will be part of this glorious reunion.

Is Mr. Martin sad about leaving earth?  I don’t think so.  I don’t think he is looking back.  His focus is on the wonders of Heaven and the majesty of his Lord.  I imagine walking into Heaven is like a child at a parade.  They get so caught up in what is going on that they don’t even notice that their parents are no longer at their side.

Lynn Martin is not sad today because we are told that in eternity one day is as a thousand.  In other words, though the separation seems long on this side of eternity, on the other side, it is only a moment.  Mr. Martin will not have time to miss us.

I share these things with you because Paul said these are things that should encourage us in the time of loss.  You have been given a wonderful and godly heritage.  Now it is time to stand in that faith.  Today is the time to look at your own heart and ask: Have I placed my trust in Jesus?  Do I see that he was more than an ordinary man?  Am I willing to acknowledge Him as the Son of God and bet my life on His work on my behalf?  If you are not trusting Christ in that way, I encourage you to examine your heart.  Learn from Lynn Martin that Jesus is the One worth trusting.  Put your confidence in God’s promise.  Look beyond the shell of a body and try to catch a glimpse of a life ushered into a glorious eternity.

Please let me conclude by reminding you of some of the great lessons we should have learned from the life of Lynn Martin,

  1. The most important matter in life (and death) is our relationship with Jesus Christ.
  2. Family is a treasure that defies a pricetag
  3. If we put Christ first in our lives, we will never have to worry about the other stuff.
  4. If we work to view others through God’s eyes, we will be drawn to the blessings of another rather than their blemishes.
  5. There is always time for a song
  6. If we give of ourselves and of what we have, blessing will return to us in countless ways.
  7. If we focus on developing godly character, our lives will have more of an impact than if we focused on having an impact.
  8. Taking time to play with children, is never a waste of time
  9. Life can always use a little more fun and silliness
  10. Life is often hard, however, for those who remain faithful, the pay-off is worth the struggle.

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Let’s pray,

Our Father, we thank you again for the life of Lynn Martin.  Thank you for his character, his faithfulness, his loving heart, his diligence, and all the other things that so impacted our lives.  Thank you for the blessing you gave to us through him.

Please welcome Lynn into the place you prepared for him.  And help us to endure until the day when we see each other again at your house.

I pray for this family.  I ask that you help them to see beyond the pain.  Help them as they grieve, to temper their grief with hope.  Help them to remember the great times, the healthy times.  Help them to celebrate their memories.  Help them to take the lessons they learned from Lynn and pass them on to others.

Thank you for such a rich blessing.  We ask these things in Jesus’ name.  Amen