Song Playing
Performed by Anthony Burger




- Our Shepherd -

God has a plan for each of us. At first we might not know what that purpose is. Yet we follow the path He leads us down and trust in Him to guide us until we see what it is in life we are to do.

Ray, you have many talents and the good Lord has blessed you abundantly! You followed your path and along your journey, God in His wisdom allowed our paths to cross. He seen a young flock in need of a Shepherd and sent us the best He had.

I am but one of many that was in that flock that you guided and taught with such a tender voice, gentle hand, caring arms and huge heart! You spoke of God's word, His will and His love until we fully understood what it was that you were sent to teach us. God's Shepherd showed us through example how to grow, what direction we should follow, how to live, love, laugh and trust. How we should be respectful, thankful, giving and always, always be kind to others.

You once told a story about harvest time and how one reaps what they sow. You explained how a father went to the store to buy some seeds so he could sow them in his garden. Therefore later on, he could reap what he had sowed and provide nourishment for his family so they could live, grow and prosper. You spoke of how he chose the seeds carefully because he knew his family depended upon a good harvest otherwise they would starve. Then you spoke of another farmer down the road that didn't chose his seeds wisely. Perhaps this farmer didn't know better or perhaps he chose not to care about what he sowed. But when the need came for both farmers to reap what they had sowed. One farmer had an abundant of good crops to provide for him and his family. While the other farmer did not reap the benefits of a good crop. You hesitated for a moment, looking at each of us and asked what seeds in life are we sowing. What will our harvest look like when we need to reap what we have sowed to nourish our body when in need. Profound!!! Wow, I finally understood that whatever it is in life we do, there will come a time that we will need to harvest what we have sowed to survive in this life. That if we only sow hate, deceit, lack of compassion then when harvest time comes that is what we will reap. Yet if we sow love, honesty and compassion oh what benefits we will have when we do need to harvest what we have sowed.

That night was a huge turning point for me. God's shepherd not only cared for his flock, you loved us like your own. You showed us what good seeds look like Ray! You gave us the knowledge to plant our seeds well so we could not only grow but also be deeply rooted in our faith and to know God as our savior.

Besides my parents and I thank God for them still! You were one of the few people who truly influenced my path in life. During that time you were our youth Pastor, each of us learned so much from you. Not only did it sustain us through those awkward and uncertain years of being a teenager, thirty plus years later I still draw inspiration and encouragement from those lessons you taught so many years ago. But you know what Ray...yes, I value those lessons but know that I value you just as much! For without you...(wiping tears) guiding me, believing in me, loving me, well...it's scary to think what course my life might have taken. Thank you, thank you for giving us standards to live up to and an example to learn from!

This weekend was like harvest time when we got together. Our bodies and souls were nourished! The many tears that were shed was like rain for the next harvest. Sharon wrote tonight that she believed this weekend was God allowing you to receive some of your precious rewards while we are still on earth. See Ray, harvest time came and look how your seeds have grown. You think we didn't listen to you all those years, but listen to this. In Sharon's letter she wrote about seeds that were planted deep. So you see, we did listen, we did learn, we understood then and even more so now about reaping what we sow.

Randy wrote that to say this weekend was special would be a gross injustice. Bless his heart for putting it in such perfect words!!! I couldn't believe how fast this weekend flew by. As Glenda and I were driving home, we listen to your CD the entire way. Singing along, reminiscing at times and other times lost in thought of yesterdays and this glorious weekend.

Sharon wrote, you were then and you still are now our rock. I wrote her back and said AMEN. That you were/are indeed our ROCK and to remember we are chips off that rock! I call us Ray's kids, for several reasons. Before we truly knew you and grew to love you, cherish you, value you and respect you, God sent you to be His Shepherd to guide and protect His flock. I am so thankful you followed God's path which lean you to us. However, now when I refer to us being Ray's kids it has so much more meaning and depth! Years ago we were extremely close to each other. However life goes on and we went our separate ways starting our new lives with families of our own. One might think it was a coincident that our Shepherd was brought back into our lives after so many years apart. But I don't think so...God brought us together again and for a reason. God sees all and knows all and He knows we all have our own crosses to bear. However He also realizes that it's easier to have loved ones there that from time to time can help carry the load. You and your group Joy sang a song this weekend titled "Till The Storm Passes Over." Part of it went like this: till the storm passes over, till the thunder sounds no more, till the clouds roll forever from the sky. Hold me fast let me stand in the hollow of Thy hand, keep me safe till the storm passes by. Yes indeed God has each of us in the palm of His hand but also know that our (all of us - You and each of your kids) arms are holding each other too. Surrounding each other with love and prayers. Hum...wonder where we learnt that from Pop's.

God bless you, God bless you for ALL you have given and done for a bunch of kids that loved you then and loves you even more now!

Big HUGS and lots of love to you!
Your Kids

This poem is from Glenda, who also sends her love!

Friends Are God's Most Precious Gift,
a gift of warmth and care
that comes when someone
takes the time to listen
and to share....

Friends Are God's Most Precious Gift,
a gift of joy and grace
found in the touch of gentle hands,
the smile on someone's face....

Friends Are God's Most Precious Gift,
they're angels in disguise,
they're people who revieal
God's loving spirit in their eyes.



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