When Death is a Gain: A Tribute to Jerri Flores

Death.  It’s such a foreboding word.  A cold word.  A frightening word.  When someone says, She died.”  We almost always react with surprise. Even when the person has been sick a long time.  Or even when they are aged. 

I received such a call last week regarding my friend Jerri Flores.  Her daughter, Joy McKay, called to say, “Mom died today.”  It was not unexpected.  She was one month short of 93.  I was honored by the family to officiate her memorial service.  The theme of my sermon was “To Die is Gain.”  My text Philippians 1:21. “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” 

Paul could confidently say that his death would produce a gain for him. Not everyone can say that with assurance.  But Jerri Flores could.  When we live for Christ instead of self.  Or worldly pleasure.  Or selfish ambition.  Death can be a benefit. 

Death is gain when we live with an eternal perspective.  Jerri saw a lot of changes in her 92+ years.  She lived through the administration of 17 Presidents.  The year she was born World War I just ended.  She lived through the stock market crash, the Great Depression, World War II and numerous other conflicts and wars.  She saw good times and bad.  But through it all she lived a committed Christian life.  She was focused on the reward of glory and not the trials of life.  

Death is a gain when we live to encourage other people.  I never tired of visiting Jerri.  She always had a good word to say.  Her son, Jim, said when he  a boy she would say, “If you don’t have anything good to say about someone, just don’t say anything.”  Good advice to live by.  The Bible says, “encourage one another.”  Jerri did.  And she encouraged me. 

Death is a gain when we live for an enduring purpose.  Luke wrote, “ “For when David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep; he was buried with his fathers,  God had a purpose for David.  For Paul.  For Jerri Flores.  And for you and me.  Jerri’s purpose in life was wrapped up in Jesus.  When we work to develop our potential, grow in our spirituality, and follow in the footsteps of Jesus, we can find our purpose.  Jerri loved to worship. She loved to have her family join her.  And when she could no longer attend, she enjoyed the times people came to sing at the nursing home. 

Death is a gain when we live because of an effectual pardon.  Jerri was not perfect, but she was pardoned.  She was not sinless, but she was saved.  She was not faultless, but she was forgiven.  She was baptized into Christ as a young lady.  I think it is worth noting that she enjoyed the blessing of a rich spiritual heritage.  Her father, Joseph White, was a preacher and professor at Pepperdine University.  Her Grandfather, L.S. White was one of the great evangelists of the late 19th century and early 20th century.  It is estimated that he baptized over 8,000 people in his 50 years of preaching.  Jerri was the recipient of that spiritual training handed down for one generation to another. 

Parents, the best thing you can do for your children is not to leave them lots of money.  Or land. Or material possessions. But leave them with a spiritual inheritance that will bless them until the day they die. Indeed, “A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children” (Prov 13:22). 

And so, what is the gain in Jerri’s death?  A better body.  A better home.  A better Fellowship.  A better inheritance. 

The body ages.  Loses it faculties. Deteriorates. Jerri understood it more than most.  Because she never complained about her physical infirmities.  She knew that we are promised a new body. A spiritual body.  An incorruptible body.   An immortal body.  

No matter where we live on earth it doesn’t compare with the heavenly home that Jesus has prepared.  Relationships on this earth are too soon severed.  But in heaven they will last forever.  And our inheritance?  Peter says it is incorruptible. Undefiled. Unfading. 

Truly the Psalmist was right, “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.”  Jerri Flores was a precious person.  Her sweet smile, and sparking blue eyes will be missed.  But we are confident that her death was a gain and her personality will brighten heaven’s shore. 

I’m sure glad I knew her.  And could call her a friend.  Enjoy the rest from your labors dear sister! 

–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman

25 Comments

Filed under Eulogy

25 responses to “When Death is a Gain: A Tribute to Jerri Flores

  1. Ken, That was a lovely tribute to Jerri. She was my cousin and I hadn’t seen her in many years. The last time I saw her we were visiting North Blvd. Church. She was always overjoyed to see us and you are right… her eyes sparkled and she had a beautiful smile. My heart goes out to her children and grandchildren…she will be missed.

  2. Billie

    Jerri was a wonderful friend and example to follow. Even in the nursing home, we would laugh and have fun. This is an example that I hope to follow in my aging years. Wonderful commits on Jerri our our own life to come.

    • Yes, she was Billie! I great example for all of us

      Ken Weliever 400 NW Highcliffe Dr Lee’s Summit, MO 64081 Home Phone: 816-600-5001 Cell Phone: 813-507-1726 Church Office: 816-761-2659 preacherman@weliever.net web site: http://www.weliever.net/ blog: http://www.thepreachersword.com/ Church web site: http://hickmanchurch.com/

      • Jo Anne Johnson Glisson

        Bro. Ken, My husband Bobby and I want to thank you so much for coming back to speak at Mom’s funeral. I don’t know that I have ever heard anyone say “That was a wonderful funeral ”! But it was! It was a very special tribute to Mom. She was one of the sweetest Moms ever! Having Dan speak was serious and also humorous.Then Jeanie wrote and read a poem about Mom. it was so touching!And I was blessed to be able to sing to mom that day. Then you spoke. All the things you said about Mom and what was going on in our world after she was born and told about her life as christian. You even told many things I did not know about her . I am proud to be her daughter. I pray that I will follow in some of her footsteps and be examples to others also.I am truly proud to say she was my mom.I loved her dearly.Thanks so much for sharing that day with us and making it a day to remember!

      • Thank you, Jo! I’m glad the family was pleased with the service. And yes, each person did a wonderful job of adding to the celebration of Jerri’s life. Your song was beautiful. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

        Ken Weliever 400 NW Highcliffe Dr Lee’s Summit, MO 64081 Home Phone: 816-600-5001 Cell Phone: 813-507-1726 Church Office: 816-761-2659 preacherman@weliever.net web site: http://www.weliever.net/ blog: http://www.thepreachersword.com/ Church web site: http://hickmanchurch.com/

  3. Joy Johnson McKay

    Joy Johnson McKay
    Ken, our family was so blessed in the way you honored our mother with your kind & precious words at her funeral. This may sound strange, but Saturday was a beautiful day, with a celebratory tribute to my mother and her life and it could not have been any more special. I know Mom would have been so pleased. She was such a wonderful mother and I was so blessed to have her for 92 years. But I will also miss her very much. However, I have the assurance of knowing that, as you so beautifully said, “her death is gain”. Thank you again for loving our mother enough to make the sacrifice you did to officiate her service (as well as Norma).
    God Bless,
    Joy

  4. Joe Johnson

    I had the honor of knowing Jerri for 55 years. She was the sweetest, kindest person I’ve ever known.
    Ken, the family was honored that you came back to Tampa to perform the service. It was perfect and I’m sure she was watching with thse blue eyes and a smile. And yes, she did gain. She gained a new home. I think heaven is a brighter place now.
    I’m also glad that I knew her and that I could call her Mom. Mom, I will always love and miss you.
    Joey

  5. Jo Anne Johnson Glisson

    Joe, I am so blessed to have you for a brother.
    Thanks for helping me tonight. I Love you, Jo Anne

  6. Jim Johnsom

    Ken, there’s not much I can add to what my brother & sisters said, but that all I have been able to say to any one who would listen is what a “WONDERFUL DAY” it was. I never could have imagined that a “funeral’ could be so great. It was truly a celebration of moms life. Thank you so much for coming and being a part of it. She will be sorely missed.

    I found in mothers belongings a paper written by her father, Joesph W White on L S White, his father. I would be happy to send you a copy if you would like. I also found a copy of his funeral service if you are interested. Have started reading his copy of Russel-White debate.

    Thanks again
    Jim Johnson

  7. Jo Anne Johnson Glisson

    Jimmy,I could not have gotten through this without you. Without ALL of you. Thanks for being my brother.Love you, Jo Anne

  8. Tami Kooch

    I so appreciate your kind words and blog. Since returning from Tampa last night, I’ve been bombarded with phone calls and e-mails with kind words from friends and family saying how sorry they are to hear of Grandma Jerri’s passing. I, too, am sad that she is no longer with us but was truly uplifted in Tampa. I know she is running around in heaven using both legs and waving both arms in joy…..and if Grandma has anything to say about it: they have awesome shoes from Nordstrom’s in heaven. (I am admitting here that collecting shoes was passed on to many of us). The past few days have been such a celebration of her life, fun and silly memories, reliving the past through photos and stories and remembering our summer trips from Tennesee to Florida. Your words at her service (and at the lunch following) were comforting and truly a blessing. Thank you so much for coming back for Grandma…and for my mom, Jo….and the whole Johnson clan.

  9. Rachel McKay

    Pastor Ken,
    Thank you so much for speaking at my grandmother’s funeral; it really meant a lot to our family. The most memorable part of the day was seeing all of the women with my grandma’s earrings on; well, the women and my dad. As he was speaking, he put on my grandma’s sparkling blue earrings that resemble her eyes and that touched everyone’s hearts while adding a touch of humor to the service. Thank you again Pastor Ken, you really blessed our family.
    Rachel McKay

    • Thank you, Rachel. I appreciate you taking the time to comment. It was nice seeing you again. I’m really glad I was able to come. I pray God’s blessings on your family.

    • Jo Anne Johnson Glisson

      Rachel, Did you know Most of the men and younger men all wore one earring on their lapel! and were very proud to wear it!

  10. Helen Toombs

    Oh, how I loved my aunt Jeri; I cannot say this in a few words. The 1st time I saw her I was only about 5 yrs. old; me, a country Georgia girl. From that point of my life I cherished my thoughts of her; with twinkling blue eyes, sweetly smiling, the softest kind of voice & beautiful golden curls hung close to her adorable face. (In the 30’s paper dolls were very popular & were my playmates; I had only a few dolls) every paper doll that I could acquire was held close to my heart & each named “Jeri”! Only a few visits ever made during my growing up but, were always remembered as special & I could never forget what she looked like, so gorgeous to me. Amazingly beautiful! In the 50’s my life was changing because of divorce & I moved to Florida & for a short time I lived with uncle Jack & my dear aunt Jeri. (Jack my mother’s oldest brother.) Jack Jr was in the navy at this time but in earlier years he & I had become idols to each other. Now they had 5 children & they were each special to me; Joanne now 15, Joy, Jim & Joey very young. These months were some of my dearest & fond memories of life; I adored spending this time with this family! Every night was spent talking almost all night or at least till early A.M. & I would leave for work very tired but, having had a glorious time “talking & laughing with “Aunt Jeri”.
    Macaroni & cheese was on the menu every single meal; Jeri was a doll lover & she had many; 1 day Joy & my daughter Debbie, both 5yrs old, painted every single one of those dolls finger nails with bright red polish & Aunt Jeri never changed her voice in scolding; it was still soft & loving. A little later I moved away to marry Howard Toombs of now almost 54 years but, Jeri would tell me he is so handsome & he will be good for you. I will miss you & we did again for many years. Later Howard and I gave our lives to “Jesus” & became missionaries to the world & this gave us a few times to visit her that were so special. They were as special to Howard as to me & also to Joy, Jack & sometimes the others & even though it saddened our hearts to make visits to the nursing home facility it was always to see her with that same wonderful smile & soft voice. Her circumstances of life seem never to change her facial expressions & awesome personality. She was a ” lovely lady” and was a demonstration of Christian love. To have shared part of our lives together was an enhancement graciously received & treasured of the memoirs. Helen Toombs.

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