Special Note from Bob: Today’s “Special Post” is different from any post I have ever posted. Last Saturday, August 19 my brother in law Joe Huff entered heaven after a long courageous battle with cancer. You would have loved knowing Joe! And Joe would have loved knowing you! I hope you will grant me grace as I divert from my normal theme of “Leading With Questions.” This morning I will have the high honor of sharing Joe’s Eulogy (copied below) and I wanted to further honor Joe by sharing his eulogy with you. You may also click “HERE” to read Joe’s Obituary.
Joe Huff – A Celebration of a Life Well Lived!
Today’s service is a celebration of my Brother in Law Joe Huff’s life, a life well lived.
It was no accident that Joe was born in California on November 25, 1954 and lived in South Dakota, Texas and Iowa until August 19, 2017. It was part of God’s divine plan since before the creation of the world. In Acts 17:24-27 it says, “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth, He from one man made every nation of men; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.”
Then in the wonderful 139th Psalm, verse 16 we find these words, “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before there was yet one of them.”
Today, we celebrate Joe’s life and his coronation.
Joe loved people. First and foremost he loved Carol. He truly was her life partner. He loved his Dad and Mom and his sisters Marilee, Michele and Vicki and his nephews and nieces. He loved my parents and Sherry and me and our children and grandchildren.
It was Vicki who introduced her co-worker Carol to her Brother Joe when Joe came by their office to take Vicki to lunch. Joe spotted Carol again in downtown Sioux Falls several months later and asked her out and the rest as they say was history!
It wasn’t long before Carol introduced my Dad and Mom to Joe and they instantly loved him! Not long after that Carol took Joe to Parkston where Joe was presented with a bit of challenge – even with his incredible ability to remember names he was challenged to remember all the names of all the Tiedes that Carol introduced him to. We have often kiddingly said that my Mom loved Joe more than Carol – because often when Joe and Carol came to visit my Mom would often make him one of his favorite meals – a meal that Carol refused to make for him – Liver and Onions!
And Joe became the Brother that I never had! And he was an incredible son to my parents. In their final years – faced with many health challenges Carol and Joe spent many weekends in Parkston helping and caring for my parents. As Carol shared with me – she sometimes complained about how hard it was to work all week and then pack and head to Parkston to care for our parents and then come back to Sioux City late Sunday to get up early again on Monday to do it all over again – including heading back to Parkston the next weekend again. But Brother Joe never once complained. He knew my Dad and Mom needed their help and he joyfully went to serve them. Sherry and I living over 800 miles away will be eternally grateful for all that Joe and Carol did for Dad and Mom!
Joe was the oldest of the 4 Huff Children and the only Boy.
Joe’s sister Marilee shared a text that Joe had sent to his 3 sisters back on January 10 on the very first day of his cancer treatment.
“Good Morning my dear sisters. I will be headed to pickup my carnival ticket and strap in for the ride. I’m not scared or afraid. God’s got this and his will is in charge. So I wish for all to take deep breaths today and prayers are all I need. We’ll send the update later. Love all 3 of you! Joe”
Joe was my “Go To” guy as I looked up to him as my big brother. Any question I would have about anything – Joe would do the research and then followup with me. He never said “No.” At holidays when Joe and Carol would come for the weekend, Joe would go to the store and buy all the goodies. He knew what everyone liked: M&Ms, chips and salsa (Oh how he loved spicy food).
Joe’s sister Vicki shared:
“I really appreciated my brother Joe for the kind and generous man that he was! Whenever I would ask him for advice he was quick to help me! I’ll always remember his positive attitude and big smile!”
Joe’s sister Michele shared:
With Joe and I 12 years apart he was the oldest and I was the youngest. By the time I was school-age he was graduating from High School. With his visits home he always made time for me and I loved especially going for rides with him in his red Volkswagen Beetle. We would make the gears shifting sounds together and that always made me laugh! Through the years, Joe and I have always found ways to stay connected. And I appreciated knowing I could go to my big brother for anything!
As some of you know – because Joe shared this with many – 20 years ago alcohol was controlling Joe’s life. He made a courageous decision to join Alcohol Anonymous and this past February he celebrated 19 years of sobriety. There were many times that Pastors here at Morningside Lutheran asked Joe to call someone that was struggling with alcohol – which Joe willing did – sharing his journey with them and inviting them to meet him at the next AA meeting. Joe became the sponsor of many.
Joe had a way with people. There were no strangers in Joe’s life – only friends he had not yet met! Joe never forgot a name! Joe delighted in serving others. Joe always inquired about how you were doing and remembered whatever you shared and would ask about that the next time he saw you.
Joe’s final job was his favorite – driving a bus for Siouxland Regional Transit System where he loved the opportunity to serve all who had needs from the very young to old – transporting native American children, transporting autistic children, transporting those who needed to be taken to doctor’s appointments, dentist or eye doctor appointments – or to the beauty shop. For Joe this was a ministry. He got to know the names and some personal information of all his regular passengers. When they needed transportation they called and asked for Joe! His motto was: If his clients were not smiling when they got on his bus they would be smiling when they got off!
Joe was a man of prayer – he was a prayer warrior here at Morningside Lutheran. Carol remembers that Joe often asked people how he could pray for them. And he prayed.
Joe loved people to the end. I believe he had a ministry in the lives of every doctor, nurse and staff member that helped in his care at the Mercy hospital during his 9 week stay. We really have no words to express what it meant to Carol when Doctors and Nurses and Staff at Mercy Hospital wept with us and shared with us how much they loved taking care of Joe – because even with great pain Joe would ask them How is your day going? Or tell me about your family? Or at the end of their shifts – Have a good night or good day!”
On his final morning here on earth my sister Carol and I were privileged to be there for that Holy Moment. It is a Holy Moment when a baby takes that first breath! And it is a Holy Moment when a saint takes their final breath here followed instantly by their first breath of celestial air. At 10:30 am last Saturday Morning, August 19 Joe arrived at the gates of Heaven to be welcomed by our Lord Jesus with the words “Well Done Good and Faithful Servant – enter into the Joy of your master!” And Carol and I – just like the song says – could “Only Imagine” what Joe was experiencing! We knew his suffering was over and that he was now pain free! Was he now dancing? Or on his knees worshiping before our Lord? We knew that Joe’s Mom and our Dad and Mom were also there leading the Welcoming Party for Joe!
You may have asked or thought this question: With so many people praying for Joe why wasn’t he healed? A close friend of mine many years ago shared this observation after the passing of his wife from brain cancer: He said: “Sometimes God’s Supernatural power is manifested in Supernatural healing! But more often than not God’s Supernatural power is manifested in giving Supernatural peace and comfort and strength to the one going through deep waters and I suspect that more people are brought closer to the Savior by the later than the former.” God indeed answered all of our prayers for Joe.
I also must share with all of you how proud I am of my sister! On June 13, 1987 Carol vowed to Love Joe for Better or Worse, for Richer or Poorer and in Sickness and Health until death do them part. Joe did not go through this battle with cancer alone – his Carol was by his side every step of the way! Carol was his champion – his advocate – his supporter – his encourager – his cheerleader – his prayer warrior – his constant companion to the very end! Carol and Joe were married for 30 years – and as Carol has said another 30 years would not have been enough!
Bill Bright Founder of Campus Crusade for Christ went home to be with the Lord almost 14 years ago, but several years earlier he said, “Someday you may read in a newspaper, ‘Bill Bright is Dead.’ Don’t believe it! Because at that moment, Bill Bright will be more alive in Heaven than he ever was on earth!” So if you read in the Sioux City Journal or the Sioux Falls Argus Leader that Joe Huff died, don’t believe it. He is more alive in Heaven today than he ever was on earth. In 2 Corinthians chapter 5 it says, “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.”
Hasn’t this been a joyful occasion? We have been celebrating a wonderful life. But what has given us the greatest joy is our absolute certainty that Joe is now with Jesus in Heaven! We know he is with God, because Joe had placed his trust in Christ.
Can you imagine, though, what this service would have been like if we weren’t sure of that? It would have been a very sad occasion. Without the salvation Christ gives, there is no hope after death.
Now consider this fact: Someday each of us will die and there will be a memorial service for us. Judging from the number of us with gray hair, that day may not be in the far-distant future for some of us.
And the question is: What kind of memorial service will it be? Will people be absolutely sure that you are in heaven with God? Or will they not have that certainty? Will it be a joyful occasion or a sad one?
In the next few minutes I am going to share with you how you can know you are going to heaven. If you take action on what you will hear and tell your loved ones about your decision, you will leave the best legacy possible with those who love you.
As wonderful as my brother in law Joe was, he did not make it to heaven because he lived a good life. As good a life as he lived, his life still was not good enough to get to heaven.
In Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Then in Romans 5:8 it says, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”Then in John 14:6 we find, “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’.”
Joe trusted Christ to be his Savior. He trusted that His death on the cross paid the penalty for his sins and gave him eternal life.
Joe’s faith in Jesus never wavered. To Joe his faith in God and His Son Jesus and the Holy Spirit was as real as anything we can touch, taste or smell. Joe could no more imagine going through life without his faith in God than going through life without breathing.
And Joe knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that he was going to Heaven. Not because of his good works, but because of what Christ did for him.
The Apostle John wrote in I John 5:11-13, “And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.” Please note that it does not say, “That you may hope that you have eternal life” or “That you may wish that you have eternal life.” It says, “That you might know that you have eternal life.”
And then in the most memorized verse in the whole Bible, John 3:16 we find these words, “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.”
When Joe heard that someone had trusted Christ he was always filled with joy. Nothing could please Joe more today than for anyone here who does not yet have Christ in their heart to invite Jesus into their hearts, to forgive their sins and to give them eternal life.
In Revelations 3:20 Jesus said, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door I will come in.” If you are sitting in a room and someone comes and knocks at the door, you always have three choices. You can go open the door and invite the person to come in. Or you can go to the door and tell them to go away. Or you can just sit quietly and hope that they will go away. These are the same three things that you can do when Jesus knocks on the door of your heart. You can open the door and invite Him in. Or you can tell Him to go away. Or like so many you can just sit quietly and hope that eventually He will quick knocking and go away. Joe would urge you to, “Open the door and invite Him in.”
Joe was ready for his appointment that came last Saturday morning. If you are not ready for that appointment that will one day come to all of us I want to offer you an opportunity to be ready! I want to close this time by praying a simply prayer. If you have never asked Jesus into your heart, or you simply are not sure if you have or not, I invite you to make sure, by simply praying along silently as I pray out loud:
“Lord Jesus, I need you. I invite you to come into my heart. I confess that I have sinned and that I need a Savior to pay the penalty for my sin. Thank you for dying on the cross to pay the penalty for my sin. Thank you that because I have just trusted in You that I now have eternal life and that like Joe I can now know that I too will pass from death to life and spend eternity in heaven. In Jesus Name. Amen.”
If you just prayed that prayer with me, you can know as Joe did that you are now forgiven and that you will go to heaven. Let me again read the words in I John 5:11-13, “And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.”
I am also reminded of the words recorded in Hebrews 13:5 where the Lord said, “I will never leave you nor will I forsake you.” If you invited Christ into your heart today, you can be assured that He will remain with you always. And please take time to tell your family and friends of this wonderful decision so that on the day of your memorial service they will all know where you are!
Thank you for allowing me to share with you about Joe. His life truly was a life well lived!