Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Funeral Message for Michael Spisak

Below is a transcript of the funeral message I preached Tuesday, January 6, for our dear Michael Spisak. We love Michael and praise the Lord for the 14 years we were able to share with him. Michael lived with a rare disease, and taught us all in his 18 years many wonderful lessons on what life is all about. We love you Michael.

Michael Matthias Carr Spisak, 18, of Blanchester, Ohio died 4:00 PM, Wednesday, December 31, 2008 at his residence. He was born December 26, 1990 in Dayton, Ohio, the son of Kimberly Carnell Ellis of Blanchester, Ohio and JohnMichael Matthias Spisak of Wilmington, Ohio. He was a member of the Cozaddale Baptist Temple in Goshen and enjoyed baseball.
In addition to his parents, Michael is survived by his stepfather, Ruston Ellis of Blanchester, Ohio; two brothers, Chandler Ellis and Jordan Ellis; his grandparents, Marilyn Carnell of Blanchester, Ohio, Butch Spisak of Wilmington, Ohio, and Pat & Larry Knowlton of Illinois; a great grandmother, Ollie Mae Carnell of Tennessee; and his uncles, Chris (Corby) Carnell of Clarksville, Ohio, J.R. Spisak of Wilmington, Ohio, John Robert Spisak of Wilmington, Ohio, and David Allen of Wilmington, Ohio. He was preceded in death by his grandfather, Jimmie Carnell, and his great grandmother, Janet Smithson.
Funeral services will be 10:00 AM, Tuesday, January 6, 2009 at the Reynolds-Smith Funeral Home, 327 N. South Street, Wilmington, Ohio with Pastor Travis Burke officiating. Burial will be in Clinton County Memory Gardens. Friends may call from 4:00 PM - 8:00 PM, Monday, January 5, 2009 at the Reynolds-Smith Funeral Home.

Luke 18:16
But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.

Around 1995 our church began a bus route in Blanchester, Ohio bringing children to church. The Furnish family told my sister Chrystal about a young boy named Michael who they would love to be able to come to church. We went and knocked on their door for the first time. We were thinking when we parked the car that it was going to roll down that hill they call a drive way….and we are still afraid to park on that thing. We then knocked on the door and Michael stood there with his mom. Chrystal told Michael and Kim about the bus route and a huge smile ran across his face…”I can ride, I can ride that bus.” He said jumping up and down. Kim said, “How can I say no to that…I guess he will be o.k.” The next few months, every Sunday, the bus would pull up next to the house and Michael would come running down the hill to the bus as fast as he could. Soon though, because of his illness, he would start to hobble down the hill to the bus. Before too long it was quite a struggle. Bro. Jerry Snell would ask Michael if he could carry him to the bus. Michael would have no part, “I can do it” And do it he did. Week after week he hobbled to that bus carrying his Bible under his arm. Finally it came to a point where Kim made Michael allow Bro. Snell to carry him to the bus. But through good and bad days, he would always sit on the very front row of the church bus and sing to the top of his voice the The BIBLE, Jesus Loves Me, Deep and Wide, Jesus Loves The Little Children of the World. It was in the Spring of 1997 that Michael realized that he was a sinner and ask Jesus in his heart. In June he was baptized and became a member of our church. Michael loved the Lord. He was so excited the day his grandma got saved. Michael sat in his wheel chair at the front of the church while people came and shook his grandma’s hand. His words were, “I’m glad I got to live and see my grandma get saved.”
Michael would be able to attend our church’s school for quite a while and earned a place in every member’s heart as to why we continue to drive our busses and visit children to bring them to church. In 2000, our church built a new building which would house our Sunday Schools, Junior church, and our academy; and when you first walk in those doors, the very first thing you will see is a picture of 7 year old Michael, surrounded by his beanie babies, smiling from ear to ear. We have dedicated to Michael that building where children come and learn and grow in the Lord. I was Michael’s principal, Jr. Church teacher, worked on the bus he rode, and I have been his pastor the last 4 years…and while it is my job to instruct and educate him….Michael did a lot of that to me as well.

Underneath his picture in our new building is a Bible verse from Hebrews 12:1 “and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.”

The Bible refers to this life as a running race. Thankfully, it is not a competition where we are trying to out run one another, but it’s a marathon. A race that we need just to finish….keeping our eye on the goal…Heaven and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Michael loved running and racing. He loved recess time. Once, while he was in the second grade, his body was at a point where he could get around, but he couldn’t run like the other children. He was sitting on the porch next to his teacher while the other kids played, and he looked up at his teacher and said, “Mrs. Snell, they all can run faster than I can.” She said, “It’s ok, every body ran faster than me too when I was in school.” Then Michael said, “But you know, I won’t be sick forever.” Mrs. Snell thought he was thinking he might get over this illness and wasn’t sure what to say. Michael then said, “When I get to heaven, I will run faster than them, I won’t be sick anymore.”
Michael is not sick anymore, and he can run with the best of them!

The reason we chose this verse to keep under Michael’s picture for everyone to see is b/c it is a constant reminder for us as a church of what we learned from the Life of Michael Spisak:

1. Don’t Ever Quit: “let us run with patience the race that is set before us.”
Michael didn’t know what the meaning of quit was. Through his illness, his handicap, his trials…he kept smiling, kept going, kept fighting. He never gave up.
I am thankful for his mother. She also has taught us that lesson. Her love and care for Michael remains unmatched by anyone I have ever seen. Nearly 14 years she showed a love and care and comfort such as I have never seen before.
Learn this lesson from Michael, don’t quit. If you are having difficulties in life, don’t quit. If you are ready to give up on some area of life, Michael would tell you, don’t quit. If you are losing hope, Michael would tell you, don’t quit! Don’t ever quit. When I feel as a pastor, tired and worn, I am reminded, don’t ever quit! We have a race to run, we have a job to do, and until God says were done…don’t quit!!! We can’t, as a church, quit trying to reach more children. We Must Never Quit!!

2. Look to Jesus: vs. 2 says, “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith.”
In spring of 1997, Michael looked to Jesus. One may say, “Michael was just a child.” The Bible says in Matthew 18:3 “And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.”
Children will believe what you say is true. While in school, a boy named Josh Patterson in Michael’s class everyday would ask when lunch time was. One day Michael answered him “Mom says it’s not lunch time till the Price is Right is over.” That was lunch time, because mommy said so.
Michael was saved because he believed what Jesus said; it was true, because Jesus said so.
John 14:6 “Jesus saith unto them, I am the way the Truth and the Life, no man commeth unto the Father but by me.”
Rom. 3:23, “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.
Rom. 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Rom. 5:8 “But God commendeth his love towards us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
In our text in vs. 2 “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Rom. 10:13, “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

That Spring day Michael looked to the Lord to get him to heaven, he prepared for the day when his race would be done…and I praise God that based upon God’s Holy Word, I know Michael is in Heaven today….because he looked unto Jesus.
If Michael could say one thing today, he would say this, “look to Jesus.” Look to Jesus for salvation, look to Jesus for comfort, look to Jesus for strength, look to Jesus for wisdom….Michael did…and that’s why he ran the race well. Every runner will tell you that you keep your eyes on the tape, the goal, and don’t get distracted. Keep your eyes on the Lord and run this race!

3. Prize for Running is Awesome: There were so many medals and trophies and certificates in Michael’s room, and he was rightfully proud of everyone of them. But the prize he received on Friday, December 31st, outdid them all. Vs. 2 says that Jesus is the “finisher of our faith.” He is the prize. The moment that Michael closed his eyes and took his last breath…Bible teaches in 2 Cor. 5:8 “We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.” The moment he closed his eyes and took his last breath, he opened his new eyes in Heaven. There was the Lord….and I promise Michael ran to His arms!!! The Lord said “Well done, thou good and faithful servant,…you ran the race, you finished the task, enjoy the joys of the Lord.” Michael enjoys today the prize…being with Jesus…reunited with loved ones who went on before…he has a mansion…he walks the street gold…no more darkness…no pain…no medicines…no tubes…no wheel chairs…not even a limp…he runs and sings and praises God.
As he said on the porch that day to Mrs. Snell, “When I get to heaven, I will run faster than them, I won’t be sick anymore” He was exactly right, and praise God for it!

We must continue soul winning! We must continue running the busses and picking up children! We must continue the school! We must continue fulfilling the great commission given to us by our Lord.
How we praise the Lord for the life and life’s lessons of Michael Spisak; and may we continue to reach others with the same life changing Gospel!