I’ve been a part of a few hundred funerals, but none more inspiring than recent. Cars lined the street and the parking lot was full as many gathered to celebrate a man who touched so many lives. Death never comes at a welcome time when you lose someone you love, but there is no doubt this man left plenty behind. His wife should feel loved, his children should be proud, and his friends should thank God just to have known him. I wanted to reshare some of the words I spoke at his funeral that came from the heart. Feel free to add comments below that many can read for years to come!
Joey was a man as many would say, with a BIG HEART. He loved his family.He loved his friends.And, he even loved total strangers. As a pastor, celebrating a pastor. I felt compelled to share either 3 points and an invitation or use an acrostic to share with you what God has put on my heart. I chose the acrostic, J.O.E.Y. To describe this dearly loved man of God.
The J stands for JOLLY.
Joey loved to laugh and to have a good time. He often had some joke to share and could find some reason to laugh with you, for you, or at you. I can see Joey’s smiling face right now.Dressed up like Jolly Old Saint Nick. With a child on each leg, grinning from ear to ear. (Proverbs 17:22) A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.
The O stands for ON A MISSION.
Joey was not a perfect man, but there was never a doubt in my mind that He had been called by God to preach the gospel. Everywhere he went he lived ON A MISSION. I know his family had to make many sacrifices and endure many hardships because of this mission. Joey took very seriously God’s call into the ministry. And, he was not your average pastor. He had a sincere love for the down and out,those who were fatherless, those who were struggling, and most of all those who were lost. I guarantee you there is someone here today who is a better man or a better woman because Joey Branch lived ON A MSSION. Joey and I had many conversations that were dominated by the theme…How Could We Touch One More Life…..And ignite others to do the same. Joey lived to make this truth known. (John 3:16) For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
The E stands for ENCOURAGING.
I’ve seen Joey when he was up and when he was down. No matter what he always sought to encourage me. Back in early 2005, when God led me back to South Carolina and my hometown, St. George,SC to start a church, Joey was the first pastor to come alongside me. He met with me, listened to me, and encouraged me to follow God’s call in my life. Joey Branch encouraged us all to LOVE ONE ANOTHER. Joey Branch encouraged us all to LOVE OUR FAMILY. Joey Branch encouraged us all to LOVE JESUS. Don’t use your past as an excuse, but a platform that God can use. Joey was always encouraging someone to seek God’s best and nothing less. (Hebrews 3:13) says, But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,”
FINALLY, The Y stands for YEARNED FOR GOD’S WILL
I wholeheartedly believe, that until Joey drew his last breath here on this earth, he Yearned for God’s will to be done. In His life and in the lives of those around him. He prayed as Jesus prayed, “Not my will Father, but your will be done. On earth, as it is in Heaven.” How many times did he preach that you heard the words….“Here is what God has laid on my heart.”And, I believe if Joey were able to speak today, He would say this to his family and friends:
*Smile or “Rejoice” , God has blessed us all in many ways. Live for Jesus every day. Be encouraged by the fact that I am with God and God is with you. And, seek God’s will daily because you don’t know when your day of departure from this life to the next is coming.
(James 4:13-17) 13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. 17 If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.
*May we all live with the same passion, compassion, and purpose as our dear friend Joey Branch!