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Opinion

The Verses Have Stopped This Morning…

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When my Dad left the Presbyterian ministry over a decade ago, after 42 years in the pulpit, he began to send Bible verses to all the children in the family…and I mean everyone, young and old. There were over a dozen kids on the email list. They were simple, quick emails, always with an underlying message of immersing your life in the faith.

I began to appreciate the verses more and more as time went on.

Yesterday, the versus stopped.

My father succumbed to the virus.

My Dad was a mountain, an iconic figure in the pulpit. He would routinely bring people to tears.

I surprised him at a service late last year, where he filled in for a minister who was sick in a small town an hour’s drive away. He was 83 and when he held the communion tray, he shook so much I was worried he would drop it.

It was amazing the amount of people who came up to me afterwards and told me ‘how uplifting and powerful your Dad’s sermon was’. ‘Powerful’ was always the word they used.

“It is obvious he is a man of God,” they would say.

I can remember as a child, growing up in Mississippi in the 1960s. I would find bullets on the nightstand beside his bed. I never understood why until much later, when I discovered he had been speaking out against racism from the pulpit and received death threats from the KKK, and had to carry a gun for protection.

I can remember late at night as a child, when people would call him, when they had no where else to turn, for food, shelter, dealing with grief. He would always help them.

He was always a strong conservative and a good Republican. I remember as a child the Christmas cards from The White House from Nixon and then Ford. They came every December.

His hero was Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was executed by the Nazis, speaking truth to power.

We always lived humbly, no mansions for sure. Maybe an old camper trailer or two.

We didn’t always get along. I regret that.

But, I always knew the door was open at home. ALWAYS.

My Dad taught me much, like how to try and be the very best at what you do in life.

He taught me you can go anywhere in a book.

He taught me that evil can’t stop the march of God to heal this world. I know that now.

He died peacefully with a dozen grandchildren around him.

I will truly miss him, but now it is my turn to fight the evil before us, with no fear, immersed in the faith.

Thanks, Dad.

I will pass it on.

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14 comments

Scott January 31, 2022 at 9:39 am

Moving piece, and worthy tribute. Heaven has a new resident: a good, and faithful servant.

Prayers and power.
xoxo
sB

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Michele Sarkisian January 31, 2022 at 2:07 pm

Your father must have been one very special man who did a wonderful job of passing along specialness to others as we have witnessed in you. Thanks for sharing your tribute and thanks for carrying his legacy of difference making through your fearless efforts to expose and tackle evil and preparing others to do likewise. May your father rest in peace in the arms of Jesus upon arrival in heaven and then may he have perfect love and joy among the Saints awaiting you and all the others he loved so well.

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Joe Mudd January 31, 2022 at 4:47 pm

Beautiful passing of the baton. I’m sure you make him proud.

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Tom January 31, 2022 at 6:18 pm

Todd

A wonderful tribute to a man of faith, who taught you the meaning of selfless acts of kindness, giving and support.
Now the celebration begins in heaven as he is greeted by his Lord and Savior along with all the family and relatives who have gone before him. Rejoice in his wonderful accomplishment, plus all the lives and souls he touched here on earth all these years.
While it is difficult for those who are left behind to fill the void of such an immense force in all your lives.
Think of your Dad as being in just the next room, where he will be waiting in joy to greet you and all the other relatives when your time for the journey to heaven arrives. I’m certain all the children and grandchildren will remember the short direct emails with passages from the bible every time they open up the bible to read. The moments of joy and fondness for this gentle sharing of why his faith was so strong.

May you continue some of the many lessons your loving father gave you and share with your children and grandchildren as you keep his memory alive. My condolences to you and family with his passing. The gifts he gave you will last for the rest of your life.

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John Day February 1, 2022 at 12:52 am

Big shoes to fill. God is good, Jesus is the Messiah, the Spirit is with us to the end. We live at the end of the Laodicean Church Age & in the shadow with of the tribulation. Preach on Brother.

Amen Selah

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Pamela February 1, 2022 at 1:00 am

Dear Todd,
In tears reading your wonderful tribute. The searing pain of the passing of a loved one reminds us truly that we are made for Eternity and nothing less. Love, the hallmark of Heaven, is forever. The next time you see your dad will a joyous hello, never to say good-bye ever again. Please don’t rush, though. Your mission on earth is mighty. You are greatly appreciated.
Many waters cannot quench love, nor can the floods drown it.

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CYNTHIA SPRAYBERRY February 1, 2022 at 9:42 am

What a beautiful tribute to your Dad. I am so sorry. I am sending my thought and prayers to you and your family. You are greatly appreciated.

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Cathy February 2, 2022 at 9:04 am

Sat in a pew for several years at Church of the Hills. Your words are true. He was such a powerful speaker. He meant so much to so many. You have my condolences.

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bijodoc535 February 2, 2022 at 11:18 am

Your father must have been one very special man who did a wonderful job of passing along specialness to others as we have witnessed in you. Thanks for sharing your tribute and thanks for carrying his legacy of difference making through your fearless efforts to expose and tackle evil and preparing others to do likewise. May your father rest in peace in the arms of Jesus upon arrival in heaven and then may he have perfect love and joy among the Saints awaiting you and all the others he loved so well.

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Alice Coker February 2, 2022 at 10:18 pm

Beautiful tribute to your dad. He was my daughter”s pastor and i so appreciated the care that your Mom and Dad gave her. May God give you peace in this time of loss and sorrow.

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Donna Davis February 3, 2022 at 10:06 am

Todd, what a wonderful tribute to your dad. He was a great guy and a very special person, and we will miss him very much. He and your mom have been our very dear friends for over three decades, we met them when he began The Church of the Hills in 1994. What a wonderful relationship we have had over the years. As I was telling your mom yesterday, your dad taught me that pastors were human beings just like the rest of us, and we all have our faults. I’ve never felt such a relationship with any previous pastors. He was truly a man of God and yes, he brought me to tears many, many times from the pulpit. We have always visited each other and whenever they were in Atlanta, they would sometimes stay with us. When we were going to MD Anderson for Manning‘s cancer treatments, we always stopped in Moss Point, going and coming, so we could visit with them I’m Gautier. May God bless you and your family at this very difficult time and give you peace. With the love of the Lord, Donna

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Phil February 3, 2022 at 2:48 pm

My Dad was also 83 when he passed in 1999. He was born in 1916 to my Grandparents whom I never knew because they had passed just before my birth in 1954. He and my Uncle went to the recruiting office together during WWII and enlisted thinking they might be stationed together. But the Selectuve Service had other plans and Uncle Clarence went to the Pacific to an APC, and Dad went to Japan as an Arial Engineer. On an Island he surrendered his heart and soul to the God that he was raised to know being born in Oklahoma, as was I. He was fortunate enough to return home after the war to my Mother and older sister when he shortly obtained his Ministerial License and Ordination papers. He continued in service to Gid until his death, visiting the sick, buying groceries for those who had none, and founded The Church Of Life in 1975. The Church included an outreach branch where donations were taken, washed and repaired (clothing), or fixed and lubricated for kitchen aids, etc. He was a lifetime minister, but didn’t take any funds or offerings for himself until after he retired and the Church congregation insisted that the did. He had moved the family to CA in 1957 when I was only 3 years old. When I was 12, he came home from work at Van Nuys High School and talked to Mom, and they both told us what news they had. Dad had a vision on his way home. He saw the streets rolling like waves at the nearby Pacific, homes falling into holes and exploding, and most importantly he saw the Veteran’s Hispital on Foothill Blvd (mere blocks away from our home) falling over, and he specified thee damage was mostly to the new additions and little to the originals. We moved back to Oklahoma and in lezs than 5 years we saw reports on the news showing exactly what he described to exactly the same places. Many souls found Gif in the Churches that he Pastored, but he alwayd gave God the credit and toik non because he told people that he could save no one, not even himself, because that would be too easy, only God can save a soul through His Son.

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Phil H February 4, 2022 at 2:02 pm

Spot on tribute to Rev. Dr. Larry Wood. He was the best mentor a young pastor could ever ask for. His sage counsel echoes routinely in my thoughts. His turns of phrase still show up regularly in my preaching and my sermons are the better for it. He taught me how to lead and when and how to let others do so. His life demonstrated both courage and compassion in abundant and equal measure. He is greatly missed.

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Steve Harding May 29, 2022 at 3:54 pm

Prayers said for you and your family. I was wondering if the well worn prayer book and Bible in the accompanying photo are your Dad’s ?

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