Glen Jones

We gather this morning to remember the loss and celebrate the life of Glen L. Jones. As we mourn and as we remember we find that we need an anchor, something that will give us the perspective that we long for. To that end I invite you to turn with me to the Word of God. 

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.”

 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 made 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. Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord.

 Will you pray with me?

Our Father, we come to you stinging from the reality of loss. There is a sense of emptiness that we feel this morning that makes us sluggish and numb. Lord, help us.

Help us this morning to grieve. Help us to give expression to the ache in our souls.  Help us also to remember. Help us to remember the person that Glen Jones was. And as we remember, help us to be grateful for the life that he lived, and for the many ways you used him to touch and to change us.

But we also ask, O Lord, that you would help us to see clearly. Help us to see beyond the pain. Help us to find You and the life that You extend to all who believe. Increase our faith.  We ask in the name of Christ.  Amen.

Glen L. Jones was born near LaHarpe on October 13, 1938 to Elbert and Ethel (Collins) Jones.  Glen will best be remembered as a very gifted athlete in school.  He lettered every year, in every sport (Football, Baseball, Basketball and Track).  He finished high school with 16 letters.  He was the captain of the football team and was named All-Conference in football and in Basketball.

Glen married Shirlene Foster on January 5, 1958 at the La Harpe Christian Church. Glen and Shirlene had four children.

Times were not easy. Glen had a number of different jobs and was often working a couple of jobs at once to help make ends meet. He drove a truck for Safe Transport for many years. In 1978 he began the Jones Tree Service after doing a job for Dean Beals. Glen soon found that he had lots of people calling him to take care of their trees and decided to work full-time. For the first several years he worked with Shirlene and all they had was a saw and some ropes. Over the years the business grew.

Glen was known as a man who was capable for the job.  Twice he actually moved to Chatham for a while to work for the city on various tree jobs.  He was proud of the job he did clearing the stumps from the ground where the new Fire Station is built.

Glen was a member of the La Harpe Masonic Lodge No. 195.  He attended the Union Church of La Harpe.

Three years ago Glen had a severe heart attack. Some thought he would not survive at that time. But Glen not only survived, he got to the point where he went back to work. Glen had said, “I’m not going to die in a rocking chair.” And he didn’t.  Glen Jones died on Saturday morning, March 31st at his home.

Glen Jones is survived by his wife, Shirlene

His son: Terry L. Jones of Chatam

Three Daughters: Peggy (Mrs. Vernon) Bundy of La Harpe, IL

Teresa Boone of Springfield, Illinois

Joni (Mrs. Jim) Imthurn of La Harpe

His mother Ethel Jones of La Harpe

Two brothers, Gale Jones and Gene Jones both of La Harpe

One sister, Catherine Edwards of Carthage

Nine Grandchildren and 1 great-grandchildren

As well as by a host of people who were “like family” to Glen.

Glen Jones was a likeable man. He was one of those people who never knew a stranger. He was willing to talk (and talk) to anyone who was willing to listen. In fact, Glen would go to get something and be slow in returning and the guys on the job or the family at home would remark, “He must have found someone who would stand still.”

Glen was known to explain things again and again to make sure you got it right. He was one of those guys that you didn’t want to ask for directions because they would be so detailed that you would be confused. He was forever telling you what you would see if you had “gone too far”.  I’m told that Glen was better at talking than he was listening!

Glen had a variety of interests.  He enjoyed fishing. It was his dream to build a pond of his own where he could head off for some peace and quiet to fish.

He loved NASCAR racing.  Every Sunday afternoon he looked forward to watching the races. He was a big Dale Earnhardt fan and it was a huge loss to Glen when Dale was killed. Glen had talked about going to the new NASCAR race in Chicago this year.

Glen loved to go mushroom hunting. Like most mushroomers, he didn’t reveal his best spots. He loved to watch football on TV.  He was a Chicago Bears fan and was known to get a little aggravated with his team. He would occasionally go Quail hunting with some of the guys. At one point he even went coyote hunting.

Glen liked his cashews and always dreamt of winning the lottery. He wanted to win all the money so he could give it to his kids and see how they would use it.

Glen also enjoyed sitting at the computer to play Solitaire. He could sit there for an hour or better and never notice what was going on around him. When he wasn’t working or playing Solitaire he was flipping through the channels with the remote control.

Glen loved animals. He may not have always loved them but since he was married to Shirlene, he really didn’t have any choice. At various times the family had horses, dogs, cats and even squirrels. One of the dogs slept on the pillow with Glen each night. When it was the season for squirrels to have their babies Glen was always especially careful with the trees. More than once he rescued a baby and helped nurse it to health. Glen was this way with all animals, not just his own.

Glen Jones could be stubborn and he often revealed his temper to those around him. Glen was a worrier and always wanted his kids to call him when they got home after a visit and was always worried about where Shirlene might be.

Glen was a man who was often described as ornery. He was always giving people a hard time. A little over a week ago he was giving me a hard time about going on vacation. He showed his affection by his orneriness. You knew that Glen liked you when he gave you a hard time.

But all of these traits do not reveal the heart of Glen Jones. Glen was first and foremost a family man. He loved his family and would literally do anything for them. If one of the kids needed $5.00 and that is all he had in his wallet he would gladly give them the money even if it meant he would have to go without something. He loved to spoil his grandchildren.

Glen’s love for his family was consistent. He loved his kids and grandkids no matter what. He was always working to try to help them with their needs. He was there in the good times and the bad. He may not have always approved of what he children and grandchildren did but his commitment to them was undeterred. Glen was a forgiving man. He accepted the spouses of his children event when they made mistakes.

As a family, there will be the many memories of camping trips, of working hard, of going bowling at Christmas. There will be the memories of the many pranks and the frequent notes he left telling everyone where he was. They will remember the way he picked up his grandkids from school and often gave a ride to other neighborhood children.

Glen and Shirlene loved each other. They did lots of things together. They even tried hanging wallpaper together. They got the job done but decided they shouldn’t do that together again!

Glen was a giving man. He was not just this way with his family. The doors of his home were open to anyone who needed a place to stay. Rather than begin by fearing people, he started off trusting everyone. Several times Glen invited perfect strangers home with him. Once in Florida, Glen picked up a person on the side of the road. He had his clothes washed, took him into his home and then tried to help the man get going again. This man followed Glen and Shirlene back to La Harpe.

Not long ago I announced from the pulpit that a man who had been imprisoned needed a job. Glen was the first one down the steps after the service to let me know that the man could have a job with him. He was eager and willing to help people get back on their feet. Strangers stayed at his home for days or weeks.  At one point there were five teenagers in their home and only two of them were family.

At one point Glen even arranged to buy a car for a minister of their church. He gave the gift anonymously. He wasn’t looking for the approval of men.  He just thought the minister should have a car he could depend on.

When I think about Glen’s life I can’t help but think of this passage in Matthew 25,

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

“He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” [Matthew 25:31-46]

Glen Jones showed his love for His Lord by the way he treated those who were most needy. His faith was not a faith of mere words, he reveled his faith by what he did. He was not a pious man but he was a faithful man.

Glen was baptized with his parents and the rest of his family at the Christian Church. When he was younger he went to all the Revival meetings and was one of the best recruiters the church had. As an adult, he was faithful in his church attendance and every night he and Shirlene would listen to sermon tapes or Christian music. His actions came from his faith.

Glen Jones quietly touched many lives. His simple acts of mercy, kindness and grace made a difference in those who were around him. He planted seeds of grace and love wherever he went. And I suspect that as God reviews Glen’s life and shows him all the things that God did through Glen’s big heart. Glen will realize, perhaps for the very first time, that he is indeed a very rich man.

This morning I draw your attention to a passage in the Bible that is one of my favorites but also seems to describe Glen’s attitude toward life and death.  It was written by the Apostle Paul while he was in jail. It was quite possible that Paul would be executed. Every time he heard the footsteps of the guards he knew that they could be coming to take his life.  As Paul thought about all he wanted to do and the ever-present possibility of his death, he wrote these words to his friends at a church in Philippi.

Philippians 1:20-26  I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know!  I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your joy in Christ Jesus will overflow on account.

There are a few things I draw your attention to here.  First, Paul was very much aware of how fragile life is.  Paul knew that life could end at any time. Glen was in a similar situation. He knew that his heart was bad. Every time he felt any kind of twinge of pain I’m sure he was reminded of the transitory nature of life.

Second, notice that Paul sees living as a time of serving the Lord. He confesses that to him, “living is Christ, and dying is gain.”  For Paul, the whole purpose of our lives is not to amass wealth, to build monuments to ourselves, or to pile up the praise of men. To Paul, life was meant to be lived for the Lord. The idea of living a life that did not include a relationship with God, seemed ridiculous to Paul. Life is empty and leading to nowhere when we are not living it with the Lord.

I think Glen understood this. He understood that while he was here he needed to do the best that he could to care for others and to the honor the Lord with his life. No, he wasn’t perfect. He wasn’t even close to perfect . . . but then, neither are the rest of us.

Glen Jones figured that as long as God gave him life, he was going to live it to the fullest. Like Paul, he concluded that if God granted him life it was so he could invest that life wisely. This is why Glen had no intention of dying in a rocking chair.

Finally, notice that as Paul considers the issues of life and death, he is not afraid. In fact, Paul comments that as he looks at the options before him, death is much to be preferred. Paul understood that death meant a deliverance from pain and suffering. Death meant that we would know a sense of wholeness and completeness unlike anything we have known.  Death leads to a peace, a joy, and a love that is non-existent in this life. But most of all, death leads us to Jesus.

Yes, it would have been nice if Glen could have enjoyed the pond he wanted to build. But I believe if Glen were here right now he would tell you that what God has given him is far superior to the joy he anticipated at the pond.

Yes, it would have been nice if Glen could have won the lottery, but I’m sure he would tell us today that the riches of Heaven make the lottery seem like a grain of sand on the beach.

Today, Glen is with Jesus. The Lord has welcomed Glen as his faithful servant.  The struggles are over and the celebration has begun.

This is a good day . . . . the best of days, for Glen Jones. But I know it is different for you. You have lost a spouse, a father, a son, grand-father, a great friend. It is important that you do several things today.

First, grieve fully. Loss is painful. The idea that Christians don’t cry is stupid. Jesus wept at the death of Lazarus. Mary and her friends wept at the death of Jesus. Judas wept when he thought about what he had done.  David wept when his friend Jonathan died and when his son died. Tears are natural and appropriate.

Second, strengthen your relationship with the Lord. It is easy to turn away from God at this time . . . but that will not help at all. You need His strength. You need the grace and peace that only He can give. You need the assurance that God is in control. We are like children. Sometimes a child is told they can’t do or have something. The child gets mad but the parent is not acting out of meanness but out of love. The parent sees something the child does not. And so it is with us.  God is the faithful parent. He has allowed Glen to die and has done so for a reason that is good . . . but we don’t see that. We are like the little children who pout because things have not gone our way.

I encourage you to seek the Lord. Run to His arms! Stop running away. Life is worth the living because we live it to His glory. The struggles are worth the pain because we know that there is something greater yet ahead.  The Bible tells us that God loved us in spite of our sin, our rebellion, and the foolish choices of our pasts. He loves us so much that He sent Christ to pay the price of our sin. The Bible tells us that anyone who turns to Christ for salvation will indeed by saved . . . they will be granted life beyond the grave.

I am convinced that if Glen could share one thought with you today it would be that setting your heart on Christ is the wisest thing to do. He would tell you about the wonders of Heaven. He would tell you of the glorious reunion. He would tell you about Jesus. He would encourage you to align your life and heart with Him. And he would do so, not out of arrogance. He would do so because he cared about you and wanted what was best for you. That’s just the kind of guy he was.

CJ Boldling is now going to sing.  As she does, I ask you to follow along with the words that are printed in your bulletin.

Our Father, thank you for the life of Glen Jones. Thank you for his spirit and for the lives he touched. Father, we ask that you welcome Him into the kingdom that you have prepared for him since the foundation of the world. Pull back the curtain and show him all that you were doing through him during his life.

Lord, I pray for Glen’s family. You know the huge hole that is left in their lives.  Help them as they make decisions about the future. Help them as they seek to pick up the pieces and live on faithfully as Glen did.

Remind them often of the times they have shared, and turn their hearts toward You. Lord, so work in their hearts that their faith might be true and solid so that one day they might see Glen again . . . . in your house.

For we ask these things in Christ’s name.  Amen.

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