Summary: This message was given at memorial service for a long-time member of the Willow Vale Community Church.
Virgil Lorenz – A Fully Devoted Disciple
December 9, 2006
When I reflected on the life and family of Virgil Lorenz there were several scriptures that came to my mind. For the past nine years I have served as Virgil’s pastor and believe that Virgil modeled what a fully devoted Christ follower looks like. Virgil lived as a fully devoted disciple of Jesus.
The first scripture that came to me that characterized Virgil’s life was what John the Baptizer said about Jesus: “Jesus must increase, but I must decrease.” John 3:30 The NIV translates the verse this way, “He/Jesus must become greater, I must become less.”
Virgil was not one to step in the spotlight. If the spotlight shown on him; Virgil would quickly step out of the spotlight into the shadow. Just as John the Baptizer was willing to serve in the shadow of Jesus, so Virgil faithfully served the Lord behind the scenes. And I might say that he served with delight and joy without complaining.
Virgil took to heart the call of Jesus to discipleship in Luke 9:23, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” Virgil was one who constantly prayed, “Not my will but God’s will be done.” Virgil lived a life fully devoted to God. He loved God more than the things of this world. Virgil didn’t live as if this world is all he had to live for. He put Jesus above all other priorities.
Virgil’s life characterized what John the Baptizer said, “Jesus must become greater and I must become less.”
A second passage of scripture that reminded me of Virgil is found in Acts concerning the life of Barnabas. Barnabas had the reputation of being an encourager. When other disciples of Jesus did not step forward to mentor or encourage Saul a new convert, Barnabas did. Barnabas mentored Saul who became Paul an Apostle and Barnabas was willing to step aside and let Paul become the leader of their missionary team.
Virgil was a modern day Barnabas. Like Barnabas Virgil worked behind the scenes and didn’t enjoy public praise or applause. But when Virgil did speak you wanted to listen. He spoke with words of wisdom. He had a vast knowledge of history and a student of the Bible. He read commentaries like most of us read novels. His favorite TV program was “Jeopardy.” If he would have gone on the program he would have been a winner for sure.
As an encourager Virgil used his gift of craftsmanship to provide book shelves, storage cabinets a pulpit for the church. He built the altar for the WVCC. It’s constructed in such a way that it can be removed for programs and productions. He built storage cabinets for his wife, Gay, who serves as my secretary and floor to ceiling book shelves in Pastor Dwight’s office. Virgil left his mark of craftsmanship all over the WVCC.
When ALS took Virgil’s strength away he said that one of the greatest regrets he had was having all his tools, but not having the strength to use them.
Vigil was a faithful Christian leader and a very giving person. He was a loyal bean counter (stayed after church every Sunday to help count the church offering) for 20 years.
Virgil practiced self discipline in all of his life decisions. He lived according to 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.” Virgil despised debt and lived without credit cards. He was an excellent steward of all that God provided for him and his family.
A third verse that came to mind is 2 Timothy 2:15, “Study to show yourself approved, unto God, rightly dividing the Word of Truth.” The NIV translates 2 Timothy 2:15, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly hands the word of truth.” Virgil took to heart and put into practice 2 Timothy 2:15, he worked hard, he studied and he was diligent in his pursuit of knowledge. As a teacher Virgil correctly explained the word of truth. Colossians 1:28-29
Virgil was a man of few words but his life spoke volumes.
One of the spiritual gifts mentioned in scripture is “Teaching.” Virgil had a passion for teaching. Virgil was at his best when teaching. After being in on some of Virgil’s teaching the Bible and how the Bible is related to History I told Virgil, “I wish I had had a teacher in History like him.
Virgil was diligent in preparing to teach his classes. I often would see him at a table with papers spread all over the table working on grading papers or preparing a lesson for the next day at school.