From the President

All of us reading this article have lost loved ones. And some of us have suffered the loss of a mother, which in some ways, because of the lifelong nurturing a mom provides, can be the toughest of all. Almost three years ago, my mom was "promoted to glory" and on Aug. 20 of this year, Velma Henderson, my wife's mother and my mother-in-law, went home to be with the Lord at the age of 95 years, 11 months and 18 days. She just missed her 96th birthday.

There are many lessons to be learned when you're serving as one of the caregivers as a person's earthly life is coming to an end. But what has struck me with both mothers' deaths are the words of Jesus in His Sermon on the Mount.

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matthew 6:19-21).

Velma lived in Portland, Ore., most of her life. At the age of 91, she decided to cease mowing her lawn, cleaning the gutters on her roof, and driving her car (which she was doing at this ripe age) and move closer to us in Colorado Springs. At that time, we went to Portland and helped clean out her house before the sale. I made many runs to the Salvation Army's outpost to dispose of much of what Velma had accumulated at that point — and she wasn't a hoarder by any means. Later, when she was under the care of hospice, we closed up her cottage where she had been living and taking care of herself. It was much quicker to do than her Portland home. Less stuff. And when she died on that August Saturday night, Marilyn and I took the last of her possessions from the room in the skilled nursing wing. It amounted to one old suitcase of clothes and one blanket. Ninety-five years had come down to less than I'd take on a short road trip.

Naked we come into the world and naked we go out. So it is good to stop from time to time and say, "In what am I investing and accumulating?"

Jesus told His audience not to store up treasures on earth. Instead store them up in heaven. I'm not writing today advocating an austere and super simple life. But I am suggesting that we concentrate more on our treasures in heaven because there will come a day when our children will look at some of the stuff we've saved and "stored up" and say, "I wish Mom or Dad had thrown that away before we had to." So much of what we have — our treasures — are someone else's trash.

Here's what I'd like to store up:

  • A rich relationship with the Lord.
  • Great relationships with those He's placed in my life.
  • A heart for the lost.
  • An investment with my earthly resources — time and money in particular — to help lost kids and adults meet Jesus so that some day in heaven we can have a great party knowing we influenced each other on earth.

I'm grateful for my mom. I'm thankful for my mother-in-law. I'm grateful for the lessons they taught me in life. And I'm thankful for the important lesson they taught when they left this earth to be face to face with Jesus. "Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven."