What Jerry Osborne’s Life Can Teach Us

Posted by Michael La Framboise on Sunday, October 25, 2020 Under: Meditations

My Grandpa, Jerry Osborne, faithfully served the Lord for 46 years as a pastor committed to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. After he passed away, his sermon notes and preaching Bible were stored away in a large old-fashioned trunk in the garage where they remained undisturbed and quiet for nearly 20 years. Then, as providence would have it, on the night of July 4th (one of Jerry’s favorite holidays), 2015, that garage was set ablaze by the embers of illegal fireworks. I had always intended to sift through and transcribe Grandpa’s sermons, but now it appeared that all was lost to the flames of history. I was wrong. While nearly everything in that garage was destroyed, and though the trunk was mostly consumed by the fire, yet were the sermons and Bible miraculously spared from the blistering heat! The 40 years of sermon manuscripts have a few singed corners and to this day smell of the smoke which engulfed them, but they are readable to anyone who can possibly read Grandpa’s chicken scratch. A learned art to be sure. The inferno melted his Bible’s leather cover, yet the pages of Scripture survived. It was a painstaking process to dry out the manuscripts and the Bible which were thoroughly drenched by the fireman’s hose, but it was incredible to recover the sermons that burned.

On the first singed page of his burned Bible, Jerry Osborne had penned in red ink the humble words of Jesus from His garden prayer in Gethsemane: “Nevertheless, not as I will, but as Thou wilt.” These words of his Master perfectly capture his heart; and the fact that he wrote them in the front of his Bible is a reminder how dear his Savior was to him, and how he wished to emulate Him and honor Him in all that he did.

His life’s verse was 1 Corinthians 15:58, which reads “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” At the front of his church for every member to see every single service, he inscribed Matthew 6:33 across the wall: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God.” In the vestibule as people entered the church they passed another large wall sign which reminded them, “If Christian, then different.” He often said there was “No business like soul business,” and constantly encouraged his hearers to make church a priority on Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night, because, as he would say, “It takes three to thrive.” All of this boils down to a very simple philosophy of life and living that too many professing Christians have neglected and forgotten, which is superbly echoed in a verse of poetry by C.T. Studd which Grandpa often quoted: “Only one life, ‘twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.”

For Jerry Osborne, Christ was the Master and he the disciple. This simple point of surrender governed everything else in his life, and for Grandpa, this also was the source of fulfillment and joy. His love for Christ compelled him to live for Him and motivated him to serve the Lord all of his days. His life was holy and different because Christ was his Master. His family was loved and cared for because Christ was his Master. He was faithful and committed to his church because Christ was his Master. Make no mistake, he did not attend church because he was the pastor, he never missed because he was first a Christian and Christ his Master. Jerry Osborne as a servant of Christ sought the will of his Master. He didn’t wear a NOTW shirt or dangle a WWJD keychain; instead lived as separate from the world and walked as Jesus walked. There was no mistaking it, Jesus came first in everything. His Christian life was no charade, no fad, no slogan, no cliché; it was real, it was genuine, it was “tried with fire” and proved true.

Yes, dear Christian, Jerry Osborne suffered many things in this world, such as are common to us all. He was raised in an abusive home and beaten bloody by his father from the age of three. He was laughed to scorn when he handed out Gospel tracts as a teenager in Buena Park. He was heart broken at the unexpected loss of his mentor and father-figure, Pastor Huling. He knew strife as a young married man who struggled to pay the bills. He knew pain when his first child lay lifeless in the delivery room. He knew concern for his city and his country during the tumultuous times of the sixties. He knew agony of soul, as from time to time, messengers of Satan were sent to buffet him in his own church. He experienced betrayal and knew the heartbreak of David who said, “Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me" (Ps 41:9). You might say Jerry Osborne had everything hurled at him but the kitchen sink. Yet he trusted in the Lord and never turned his back on his Savior who had called him “out of darkness into His marvellous light” (1 Pt 2:9).

In all these things he was more than a conqueror and he endured to the end pressing toward the goal “for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil 3:14). His abusive father walked the aisle of Jerry’s church just before his death in 1979. In the face of scorn he continued to preach the Gospel and the Lord was with him when he planted his church in a cabbage patch in 1951, supported by godly members of his home church in Buena Park. Though he lost his mentor, the Lord was faithful to bring him another from whom he could learn. When his firstborn daughter was breathless and still, the Lord led the doctor to work on her again, and granted her the breath of life. Fittingly, Jerry gave her the middle name of Grace, for she was the tangible grace of God in his arms to hold and cherish. He preached the uncompromised and unpopular Gospel in times of cultural change and would no doubt continue to do so today, no matter the cost. When some turned against him, he overcame. In humiliation, he found the humility to stand behind his pulpit and preach in the Name of his Master, even though his heart was crushed. Why? Because this was his prayer, and has he opened up his Bible these words were yet his aim: “Nevertheless, not as I will, but as Thou wilt.”

Yes, indeed. Jerry Osborne still has something to teach us; for “he being dead yet speaketh” (Heb 11:4). Do you have ears to hear what the Spirit is saying? It hasn’t changed in all these years: "Follow thou Me" (Jn 21:22)

In : Meditations 

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