Eulogy for Vernon Leuck

11/12/12:  Today I am in Phoenix, Arizona for the memorial for my father in law, Vernon Leuck.  He and the family have gone through the terrible human events of terminal Alzheimer’s Disease.  My wife, Carol, asked me to put something together on the “God Thing” for the memorial.  I have done this before and unfortunately it is becoming more frequent for my friends.


Vernon Ford Leuck

 June 16, 1925 – November 6, 2012


Memorial Service

November 12, 2012

Mesa, Arizona

“The God Thing” for Vernon Leuck’s Memorial


Carol asked me if I would do a “God Thing” at her father’s memorial service.  She thought I was qualified since I am jokingly an unordained minister.  When I first met Carol I thought the reason was to share the Living God with her and her family.  Thankfully it turned out to be that and more.  Today is one of those occasions.

I have known Vern for over 10 years.  He is (notice the present tense) my father-in-law.  I am enough like him that I would have qualified to be his son, not just a son-in-law.  Vern was a really good guy, a man’s man.  No B.S., just straight talk.  I called him Vern, but knew he was known as “Leuck”.  I did not know him in his hay day, but I figured he must have been something special to those who know him.  People do not get addressed by their last name alone, unless they are special, i.e; Nicklaus in golf, Feller of Cleveland Indians,Lincoln a US President.  He was called Coach by others with no first or last name attached.  Being called “Coach” was not just in reference to his past profession, but in recognition of the love and respect people under his care had for him; his former players, teacher colleagues, friends.  Many can say, “Thanks coach”.

To say Vern was into sports would be an understatement.  He really enjoyed golf and like some of you, I played golf with him on a number of occasions.  Anyone who knew him well had the opportunity to sit with him watching sports on television.  Quite an experience!  Although he was retired from coaching when I did this with him, I got to learn a lot about him as a coach.  He coached every game he watched on TV.  He instantaneously voiced his opinion on each play in colorful language and when in disgust, with explicative’s.  Who can forget that experience?  He loved the Cleveland Indians.  In case you doubt this, he took his bride Dorothy to an Indian’s game for their honey moon.  Knowing Vern, I do not think it was the only thing they did on that trip; remember they had five children.

Now for the God thing Carol asked me to do.  I happen to have a Judeo-Christian Biblical World view.  The God I am referencing is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  I accompanied my parents to church.  I thought the God and Jesus thing was a good idea.  However, I thought the Bible had many conflicting statements.  I came to the conclusion the Bible was unbelievable.  Later on in life, it seemed that maybe half the Bible was true and other half was old fables and allegories.  When pondering this opinion one day, I think the Lord asked me, “Which half?”  That stumped me.  I figured I must resolve this dilemma.  So for the purposes of a life experiment, I decided to go forward as a scientist and I would test this hypothesis in a scientific manner.  The hypothesis was that the entire Bible has Truth?  In other words, was the sum of the writing is Truth?  The results of this experiment in my life have confirmed the hypothesis.

You may be like me.  God and Jesus are a nice story, but like me you cannot believe the Bible.  I can understand.  As I said, frankly much of it is unbelievable.  However, I never ask anyone to believe it.  I ask them to do what I did.  Test the hypothesis.  To do this you do not have to believe it, you just are willing to agree with it to the extent you will act it out to see if it produces what it says it will produce in your life.

So, let us look at what we might agree upon that is written in the Bible. At a time like this, allow me to point out some things the Bible states that you will have to admit are true.  For instance it says the following.  (I will give you chapter and verse in case you want to check it out.)

Bible Fact #1: Our bodies are subject to breaking down and wearing out.  The Bible says that our bodies and our lives are subject to corruption.  “For this corruptible (body)….(1Corinthians 15:33)  That seems to be true.  It was very evident with Vern’s mind and body in his last days.  It is certainly happening to me as I ageIf you live long enough it will likely happen to you.

Bible Fact #2: Everyone dies.  “It is appointed once for man to die…”  (Hebrews 9:27)  I think most of us would agree this quote is true.  Vern passed away.  Good chance it will happen to each one of us whether you agree with the Bible on this or not.

Bible Fact #3: Everyone has failed in some way or another.  Would you agree that this seems to be true?  All of us have fallen short of even our own expectations and those that others had of us.  Vern could see the athletes on TV fall short.  I also heard him say where in areas he had fallen short in his own life.  He wished he had done this or that different or better.  The Bible says that we fall short in every way, especially what God expected of us. “All have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God”. (Romans 3:23) All means all.  It includes me.  It included Vern.  I expect you may be included.

Bible Fact #4: God recognizes and sympathizes with our being human “Thus He remembered that they were but flesh, a wind that passes and does not return.” (Psalm 78:39)  I was sure glad to hear that.  I hope this is true.  I thought he did not know how hard it was being human.  I hope he made a provision for us.

Now let us review the additional information attached to these facts.

Remember Bible Fact #1: “For this corruptible (body)…. There was more to that verse, equally as true.  “For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal [must] put on immortality. In plain talk this means everyone is going to live for ever, the question is in what form and where?   For the believer, the Bible teaches that when we see Him we will be like him. (1John 3:2)  Remember that was God’s intent in the first place. (Genesis 1:27)  The eternal location of the believer will be Heaven.  It has been said, “Everyone wants to go to Heaven, but no one is a hurry to get there.”  That verse is not in the Bible, but it certainly is true.  What does the Bible say about how to get to heaven?  First it says what will not get you a ticket.  You cannot buy you way in.  You cannot be good enough to get in.  You cannot be bad enough to void the possibility of getting in.

How does one get in?  It does say you get in only by God’s goodness and mercy towards you.  However there is a BIG IF.

Remember Bible Fact #2: “It is appointed once for man to die…”  There is more to that verse, equally as true.  “…. but after this the judgment.”  Think about that.  You agreed that the first part of that sentence was true.  Now consider the second half of the sentence, the judgment.  Did you know you have a court date before God?  Will you be convicted or acquitted?  You better get a good lawyer.  The Bible teaches Jesus is willing to be our lawyer and represent us at this trial.  In fact, He paid the price for us to get us acquitted.  There is a song lyric that says this best.  “I owed a debt I could not pay; He paid a debt He did not owe.”  However there is a BIG IF.

Remember Bible Fact #3: “All have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God”.  Notice it does not say anything about comparison to other humans.  It says in our humanness we are not anywhere close to God in nature, personality or behavior.  God created us to be like him and as it turns out, we are not.  The Bible says God wants to fix this.  However there is a BIG IF.

Remember Bible Fact #4: God has a solution for our human failings.  We must get pass the deception of rationalization:  “I am not so bad”  “I am not as bad as the other guy, say Hitler”  “I have done good things”.  We must admit our failures.

It has been said (not in the Bible per say) “To err is human, but to forgive is Devine”.  In other words, the human sins and God forgives. Therefore, God provided a way to erase our sins.  He makes available forgiveness if we will admit our short comings and sins.  However, the BIG IF is that it takes us admitting our problem and changing.  “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1:9)  This happens by faith which is nothing more and nothing less than agreement with the truth of the Scripture to the extent you will act on it.  Notice I did not say you had to believe it.  You just decide to act on it.  You can conclude you believe it after God proves the hypothesis in your life.

Church going Christians of all varieties have various formulas for getting into heaven.  One group says you must belong to our church.  However, one was not built until 260 year after Christ.  What happened to Peter, Paul, and the rest of the disciples before they built a church?  Another says you must be baptized in our sacrament.  The thief on the cross adjacent to Jesus was not baptized at all, yet he joined Christ later that day in paradise. Another says there are exact sentences you must recite.  Really?  Which ones?  As Vern would say to all of this exclusivity, B.S.

There is the story about Jesus showing a newcomer around heaven.   The Lord opened one door just a crack so they could peek in.  The Lord said be quiet and do not disturb this group, they think they are the only one’s here.  In reality the Bible teaches only God knows and judges a person’s heart.  We do not get in based upon our good or bad behavior.  There is only one way and that is IF you agree it is by faith in the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth. (Psalm 79:9; Acts 4:12)  He will represent you on the Day of Judgment and secure your acquittal and eternal home with Him.  It is Christ’s righteousness, not ours that gets us into heaven.  We get into heaven by the provision God made for us by faith.  That issue is between you and Him to answer the BIG IF.

I believe Vern qualified.  Because I am one of those that were brought up thinking some basic facts had to be settled on the BIG IF, I made a special trip last year to settle this in my heart that Vern acknowledged his sins and accepted Jesus as the way to forgive sin and the way to the Father in Heaven.   He settled it in his mind and spirit.  What about you?

My life has been enriched by knowing Vern.  I regular[y thanked him for my wife Carol.  He always looked puzzled like he had nothing to do with it.

So we are all here today to say goodbye to not just a husband, father, grandfather, friend or a good guy, a man’s man, but to a great guy in our lives.  So from now on he will not be Vern to me, but only by his last name, Leuck.  Join me in saying, “We will miss you Leuck”

Lanny and Carol Leuck Johnson