Memorial Service Don Gunter
"Precious in the sight of the LORD Is the death of His saints." (Psalms 116:15)
In the language of the Old Testament, the word "saints" means the "properly kind ones". It refers to those whose hearts and behavior are godly.
When it is used in the New Testament the Greek word "hagios" is used. It is an interesting word in that it comes from "hagos", which means "awful thing." By changing it to "hagios" the meaning is COMPLETELY transformed.
The word "hagios" (saints) means "sacred, pure, holy." The transformation of the word "hagos" to "hagios" is a picture of what has happened to ALL Christians.
We have been transformed from something awful to something sacred, pure and holy.
In the Bible, the Word of God, a "saint" is not a person who has done extraordinary deeds and is evaluated by mere humans and judged to be somehow elevated above other mere humans.
In the Bible, the word "saints" refers to Christians; however some of us discover God’s plans for us, allow ourselves to be equipped and prepared and go on to do extraordinary things.
On October 22, 2017, one of God’s saints, Don Gunter, died after a long battle with cancer. Don was one of those who did extraordinary deeds but he did them in a quiet, personal manner.
Don watched over my soul for 20 plus years. He was my pastor, my discipler, and my friend.
Don's death did not go unnoticed by the Lord.
"Precious in the sight of the LORD Is the death of His saints." (Psalms 116:15) The word "precious" means "costly, valuable, excellent."
I believe the Lord is pleased that Don is no longer in pain and that he is finally home with Him. He is no longer straddling two worlds.
My name is Mike McInerney. Don watched over my soul and he was a friend to my wife Laurie and me. I would like to briefly share my experience with Don Gunter.
The Apostle Paul said that the members of the Body of Christ were "..JOINED and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love." (Ephesians 4:16)
Twenty years ago, in a Christian retreat center in Azle, TX that had given our family and, a little later, Don and Shari, a place to live I was carrying our trash to the dumpster and noticed a man struggling to unload a U-Haul truck all by himself. I went over and introduced myself. I ended up helping him unload that truck and, while installing their washer and dryer Don noticed that we had the exact same Christian ring.
This began a 20 year earthly and spiritual relationship. Don watched over my soul for all this time.
God had joined us together.
In fact, look around. Practically everyone here has been joined by God to Don and/or Shari in some way. Most of us never think about it that way – I know I didn’t for a long time.
The question is, “What have we done with these relationships that God has set up for us?”
The answer usually is: “Not enough.”
The truth is that I am well aware that I wish I had spent more of my time with Don Gunter. The truth is ALSO that I HAVE spent a lot of time with Don.
He travelled to Decatur, TX, where we live, and whenever he did we granted him the ability to teach whatever he wanted. He would teach and meet with people in our home.
Don and I travelled together a few times to Mexico, to the border at McAllen, Abilene, Lubbock and Albuquerque and SW Iowa. I attended Gatherings here in Jasper and, of course, several meetings here and in Beaumont. Those were RICH times. I helped baptize people in a lake near here.
Most of all, we spent TIME together. We listened to one another. Don discipled me. True discipleship is personal and both parties are MUTUALLY vulnerable.
“O Corinthians! We have spoken openly to you, our heart is wide open. You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted by your own affections. Now in return for the same (I speak as to children), you also be open.” (2 Corinthians 6:11-13)
Because Don was real with me and had thrown open his heart to me, I REALLY know him. I’ve recognized that it is God Himself Who has arranged that we have this spiritual relationship.
I haven’t wasted it; rather, I have tried to harvest whatever the Lord would have me glean from Don.
Because of that, several of the people I watch over and disciple have remarked that, even having never met Don (due to his declining health) they believe they know him and HAVE experienced him THROUGH me.
When I visited him recently and told him that he smiled and said, “It’s all the Lord.”
Because I have thrown open the doors of my heart and allowed Don to know me, I have benefitted as some of the wounds, strongholds, wrong beliefs, etc. that I had were exposed and addressed LOVINGLY, yet uncompromisingly by this man I love like a brother AND a father. My life and walk with Christ are better for it.
I just want to close my part of this time by sharing some of the things I learned from Don:
God really is personal and will spend time with us if we will spend time with Him.
God enjoys us. Some of the things Don told the Lord cracked Him up.
The Kingdom of God is about God’s order being spread through influence.
Every Christian is just perfect in his or her development in Christ because it is GOD Who is at work in them. God does perfect work.
PEOPLE are God’s favorite thing. When I first asked Don what he did he said, “I meet with men.” I thought, “Well, isn’t THAT special?” I sort of dismissed him. Then I came to understand that what Don did was exactly what Jesus did with people. Jesus met with people and shared His life on the earth with them.
Once I was running all sorts of scenarios past Don to deal with a situation that bothered me. I was giving him all my best ideas. His response was, “What if you don’t do anything?” It pretzelized my noodle! NOT DO ANYTHING? I learned that we don’t always have to DO something. Sometimes we can just wait.
Advancing God’s Kingdom can be complicated…or as simple as putting shopping carts where they belong in a Lowe’s parking lot.
Finally, Don taught me that we are to BE a part of those with whom God has joined us.
He did that. Every one of you has good things IN YOU that came from Don whether he was married to you, dad to you, a family member of yours, a friend, your pastor, someone you labored with in horticulture or in the theater or a job.
Some of you have good things in you that came from Don through someone else. I urge you to celebrate Don’s LIFE by practicing and sharing these things with others as the Lord prompts you to do so.
I’ll close with this verse from Philippians and as I do, I imagine Don is saying them to us now:
“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:8-9)