Summary: Memorial Service for Mark Grossman

“Remembering Mark Grossman”

December 9, 2009

I gave a lot of thought about whether I should wear this chaplain’s uniform for this service. I wore it a couple years ago when our Sheriff passed away. I wore it when a Highway Patrol Officer was killed and I wear it every year at our memorial service for fallen peace officers. I couldn’t think of a greater way to honor my little brother than to wear my chaplain’s uniform.

One of the greatest honors of my life was being asked a few years ago to baptize Mark. Mark and I had gone separate ways in life. When he was just a young boy, I had my experience with drugs and alcohol and rebellion. It almost cost me my life. It did cost me so much and left me scarred in so many ways. Sin always hurt you. It always scars you. But God saw something in me worth saving and when I surrendered my will to His, He took me on a path that led to Bible College and working with Police officers and people with addictions.

Mark took a different path. And it cost him dearly. But like the prodigal son, my prodigal brother came to his senses and accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior. When I came home that summer, he asked if I would baptize him and his youngest son, Ethan. It was my privilege and honor to walk into the waters of that Minnesota lake and baptize him in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

I wished you could have seen Mark at that time. The joy; the faith; the love for Jesus. His face would shine as he talked of his Savior. He poured over the Scriptures. He never missed a Sunday of Church. He delighted in worshipping the King of kings and Lord of lords. He was very bold in his testimony. I remember him walking into a convience store in Minneapolis and a black man seeing the swastika that was tattooed on his arm and asking if he was a hater. Mark said he used to be – but God had changed him and he loves everyone now. And he shared Jesus with that man.

Mark and I had a close spiritual bond. We were more than blood brothers – we were spiritual brothers. I went on to baptize not only him, but each of his three kids as well. I cherish that experience.

For some reason, God has seen fit to call me into a lifetime of ministry far away from my family –far from my parents and siblings. I have been pastoring for almost 35 years now and a couple decades as a chaplain for either the sheriff’s or police department. It was Mark who came to visit me at my first church in El Sobrante, CA. He stayed with me a short time and we wrestled and arm wrestled like a big brother and little brother does. I could beat him in those days! Later he moved to Hawthorne, NV for a short time when I pastored there. He even stayed with my ‘in-laws, the Bob Wildens, who was pastoring the church that I now pastor in Mount Shasta. In fact, of the four churches I have Pastored, Mark visited me in all but one. I share that to say that there was something special in our relationship. He always treated me with respect and honor. He always loved and supported me – and I value that.

Many of you have heard Mark’s testimony, how God came to him in prison and how Mark accepted him as His Savior. No one who really knows Mark - doubts where He is right now. By faith, I know Mark is with Dad and with Jesus. I imagine they are having a blast right now. No more pain. No sorrow. No death. Nothing to hurt or destroy.

But Mark lacked something here. It led to his death. When I baptized Mark and on subsequent visits in the following years – I understood that Mark lacked something spiritually. I wasn’t judging him, but I could see that there was still one thing he lacked. Jesus, in his message to the churches in Revelations would compliment them on the good stuff they had done – but then say, this one thing you lack. Marked lacked one thing. It wasn’t salvation. We are saved by grace, through faith – and I am certain Mark had that faith. What Mark, and many of you lack, is a total commitment to Jesus Christ.

You see, you can accept Jesus Christ as your Savior and still not allow Him to be your Lord. You can believe in Him – but not trust Him enough to allow Him total control of your life. Too many Christians accept Christ as Savior and are content with that. Jesus has more. He wants to, not only save us from sin – but He wants to deliver us from rebellion – right now in this life. You don’t have to wait until you get to heaven. Jesus died to set us free from our addictions and willful sins. Drugs don’t have to control you. You don’t have to be enslaved to alcohol or tobacco or food or anything else. God has provided, through the blood of Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit, to free you from your addictions.

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