July 28, 2017

Fighting the Good Fight

By Mark Mayberry

Tribute Presented in Memory of Ron Lloyd at the Lakewood Funeral Chapel, Clute, Texas, Wednesday, September 13, 2000.

Brother Ron Lloyd, evangelist for the church of Christ in Clute, Texas, has passed from this life. A loving husband, father, brother, and friend has been taken. A soldier of the cross has fallen. A faithful Christian is now safe in Abraham’s bosom, resting from his labors, awaiting his eternal reward. Outside of my own family and relatives, there is no one on earth with whom I have shared a longer or more affectionate relationship. Some friendships wax and wane, but the bond that Sherelyn and I share with the Lloyd family has continued, growing deeper with each passing year. Although sorrow wells up in our hearts, and tears fill our eyes, our grief is tempered with the realization that our momentary loss is heaven’s eternal gain.

How do you honor the memory of such a man? By talking about the things that were important to him. When the family asked me to conduct the funeral services, they said, “Preach to the lost. That’s what Ron would have wanted.” So that is exactly what we are going to do. Indeed, funerals are not for the dead, but for the living. Ecclesiastes 7:2 says, “It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart.”

Although Ron was a man of varied interests, well-read, and conversant on a variety of subjects — science, literature, history, especially that of the Civil War — yet, his favorite topic of discussion was the Bible. Invariably our conversation would turn toward spiritual matters. We discussed the biblical text, the meaning of some particular passage, the sermons we had recently presented, the classes we had taught lately, and the issues currently confronting the church. So, for a few minutes, let us turn our thoughts to spiritual things. This is as Ron would have wished.

I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry. For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only,  but unto all them also that love his appearing (2 Tim. 4:1-8, KJV)

These inspired and inspiring words were penned by Paul upon the eve of his death many, many years ago. Despite the passage of time, they continue forcefully to communicate the conviction, the commitment, the character and the confidence that belongs to faithful Christians. Not only do these words express the sentiments of an apostolic ambassador of the first century, they are also echoed in the lives of present day soldiers of the cross. Such is particularly true of our fallen hero, the dearly beloved and now suddenly departed Ron Lloyd. In fact, as we stood beside his bed on Monday afternoon, I was not surprised to hear 2 Timothy 4:7 quoted as Ron breathed his last breath. For the friends and family that encircled him, these words seemed a most suitable benediction to his life of faithful devotion. Moreover, as we assemble today in this house of mourning, I can think of no more appropriate text for us to consider. Therefore, just as the apostle Paul could use the example of faithful Christians as a means of encouraging others to greater service (2 Cor. 9:1-2; 2 Thess. 1:3-4), so we would spend a few moments reflecting upon the devoted life of brother Ron Lloyd. As a backdrop for our comments, let us contemplate the parting admonition that the apostle Paul penned to Timothy, his son in the common faith.

I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom (v. 1).

Wisdom dictates that we live each day in view of eternity. Indeed, it must be so, for we do not know what the day will bring forth (Prov. 27:1). As a preacher of the gospel, Ron’s highest aim, like that of the apostle Paul, was to be well pleasing unto God. Understanding the certainty of divine judgment, he sought to persuade men (2 Cor. 5:9-11).
Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine (v. 2).

Many today would accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative. Not Ron Lloyd. His preaching was a healthy mixture exposing error, rebuking sin, and encouraging the faithful to greater service. Like Paul, brother Lloyd understood the obligation of preaching the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:26-27). Like Jeremiah, he knew that individuals cannot be built up in the most holy faith until the temples of deceit have been torn down and its rubble taken away (Jer. 31:27-28).

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables (vv. 3-4).

Ron was a young man, newly married and just beginning to preach, when the church was torn asunder by the institutional controversy during the 1950s. He knew first-hand the heartache and sorrow of such times. He observed, from a close personal vantage-point, the compromising attitudes that lead to apostasy. In public proclamation, in private conversation and in personal correspondence, brother Lloyd repeatedly warned in recent years that the liberal mind set that presaged the last major division was making reappearance among many so-called “conservative” brethren. The same old arguments used to justify error in the 50s are being picked up, dusted off, and reused by modern day agents of change. The same old attitudes — i.e., an accommodating disposition toward error and a strident opposition toward distinctive preaching — are beginning to resurface.

On many occasions, Ron and I talked about the dangers facing today’s church. The issues currently troubling brethren are legion: erroneous positions on marriage-divorce- and-remarriage, false views of fellowship, a perversion of Romans 14, an epidemic of worldliness among God’s people manifested by increasing immodesty, a growing toleration for social drinking, smoking, gambling, and sinful choices of entertainment. Witness also the amazing redefinition of false teachers and false teaching, the continuing controversy over the deity of Christ, and most recently, the tragic compromise regarding the Genesis account of creation. In each of these, brother Lloyd was willing to take a stand for truth. Unlike some, who stand in the shadows until they can discern which way the majority is leaning, Ron was always willing to stand and fight. He was willing to put his name on the line and be identified among those brethren who love and defend the truth. With courage and confidence, he preached what he believed.

I share Ron’s deep concern for the church. Brethren are drifting in the wrong direction. Indeed, we live in an age of doctrinal softness and moral compromise. Like those of Jeremiah’s day, many today have turned away from the Old Paths and are unwilling to heed those watchmen who warn of impending danger. However, then as now, unless men hearken to the word of God and halt their slide toward digression, disaster awaits (Jer. 6:16-19).

Rather than seeking the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, many today are satisfied with a partial gospel. Instead of declaring the whole counsel of God, many preach from an abridged version of the Bible. Oh, yes, they preach some truth, but only to a point. Much truth remains unstated, much error remains unrefuted. Jehoiakim’s penknife has been unsheathed (Jer. 36:20-24). Doctrine is being neglected, distinctiveness is being lost, application is not forthcoming, and accommodation is the order of  the day.
Many are no longer appreciative of old soldiers of the cross who wield the sword of the Spirit with courage and precision. Instead, they prefer young telegenic performers who are long on illustrations and short on Scripture. Instead of 45-minute sermons, they prefer 15-minute sound-bites. Instead of feasting on the meat of the word, they prefer to nibble on nuggets of truth. Rejecting the combative style of yesteryear, new-agers who dominate Up-And-Coming churches demand a kinder and gentler approach. Instead of drinking deeply from the Water of Life, with its refreshingly healthy, though sometimes acidic taste, many today prefer a bubbly beverage that is all sweetness and light.

Such folly was never characteristic of brother Ron Lloyd. He was of the old school: Preaching was paramount. Substance was more significant than style, Scripture more than delivery. For him, “sound doctrine” was an ever-important concept. Ron always placed a premium on the truth. He never forgot the words of the Lord Jesus, who said, “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:30-32). He fully believed in the sanctifying power of truth (John 17:17).

But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry (v. 5).
Like the apostle Paul, and every other faithful preacher, brother Lloyd suffered hardships for the cause of Christ (2 Tim. 2:8-10). Whenever someone stands for the truth, he can expect opposition (John 15:18-21). As a faithful evangelist, Ron endured afflictions. He faced such in California. During our years of association in Tyler, we faced various trials together. I know somewhat of the struggles that he experienced here. Yet, through it all, he made full proof of his ministry.

In the last several days, I have received numerous notes from various preachers who have known and loved Ron. Time does not permit me to share them all, but I would like to quote from two men who have known brother Lloyd for a much longer time than me. These honorable men share my respect for another equally honorable man.

First of all, hear the words of Truman Smith, a beloved brother who labored in Henderson, Texas while Ron was in Tyler. He said,

Mark: I appreciated so very much your message concerning Ron. Then to learn of his death has come with such deep regret and sadness. It was my privilege to have known Ron and his good family for many years. I guess it was when he first moved to work with the Chandler Highway congregation in Tyler that I first met him. I honestly believe that I have never known a better man! And, oh, how we do need him at this time! I know his sweet family and the brethren there at Clute must be in complete shock at this time! May God bless all of them! Thanks again for informing us. Brotherly, Truman Smith

Next, reflect upon two messages from brother Bill Cavender, who labored with Ron in a variety of circumstances. The first note was in response to a notice concerning Ron’s illness, the second was in response to the announcement of his death:

Dear brother Mark: Thank you so much for your e-mail regarding the serious illness of brother Ron Lloyd, faithful preacher of the good church in Clute, Texas. I am so sorry to hear of this heart attack, and I am praying fervently for his improvement and recovery. Ron is a good man, an outstanding preacher and teacher. His beloved, lovely wife, Lolita, is such a godly and good lady and wife. I have been with them many times, when they lived and taught school in Tyler, Texas, and he preached for years for the Chandler Highway church in Tyler. And then after they retired from teaching and moved to Clute, Texas, I was with them there for two meetings. He is one of the finest men I have ever met, completely honest, and a true lover of God and of Jesus Christ, and of the Truth of the gospel. Without any fear or favor, and without any compromise, I have known him to stand for what is right and good and true for all the years I have known him and Lita. Please tell Lita and all the church at Clute that Marinel and I are praying for them, and for him in particular. . . . Please let me hear often and further from you as to his condition and progress. Thank you so much, Mark, for writing to me.

Faithfully,

Bill Cavender.

Dear brethren Ainsworth and Mayberry: I’ve just picked up your messages regarding the death of brother Ron Lloyd. I am greatly grieved in heart and saddened in spirit. It breaks my heart to have to tell him good-bye for a little while. Soon I will be joining him. He was one of the truly good and great men I have known in my life in the church and as a preacher of the gospel, a man without guile as Nathanael in the Scriptures. In the so many times I was with him in Tyler, in Clute, and temporarily at other times and places, I never saw or heard an unbecoming word, deed, or expressed thought or feeling of malice, ill-will or rancor. He was a true “Christian gentleman” in every way. He was a lover of truth and of good things and good people. There was no compromise with him. He feared no man, nor did he play favorites with anyone. His love of the truth of the gospel of our Lord compelled him to stand for what is right without regard to who might oppose him or what might be the cost and loss in finances, friendships and/or influence. I am so saddened when we lose a brother and a preacher like him. His kind is not often found nowadays, what with the time-serving, water-it-down, non-offensive, work and preaching of most of the present generation of preachers — and the brethren love to have it so!
Indeed, he did the work of an evangelist. During the many years when he taught school, and humbly referred to himself as a “part-time preacher,” he was, in fact, a “full-time evangelist.” He held down, not one, but two full-time jobs. Always he was industrious, energetic, and active.  Never once, during his long years of service, was Ron accused of being a hireling. He loved the church. He loved his brethren. He spent himself in the service of Christ.

For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand (v. 6).

Like the apostle Paul, brother Ron Lloyd was ready to die. The question of the hour is: Are you? Am I? Each man has an appointment with death: “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Heb. 9:27). Ron lived in view of eternity. He often spoke of the time of his departure. In view of his frail physical condition, he knew that death was an ever-present possibility. Now his life has been poured out like water. Death has won a momentary victory. Yet, one day soon, death will be swallowed up in victory. When Christ comes back, along with the redeemed of all the ages, brother Lloyd will be given a resurrected body, imperishable, incorruptible, and glorious (1 Cor. 15:50-58).

I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith (v. 7). I have fought a good fight. In the original language, the word translated “I have fought,” agonizomai, means “to contend, to fight, to struggle.” In it one can hear echoes of the word “agonize,” which means “to suffer extreme pain or anguish in making a great effort.” Brother Lloyd expended great energy in furthering the cause of Christ. As a minister of the gospel, he waged spiritual warfare against all that is opposed to God (2 Cor. 10:3-6). Ron fought a good fight. He is now at rest, but the conflict continues. Who will take his place?

I have finished my course.

The word translated “I have finished” means “to bring to an end, to complete, to fulfill.” When Jesus was upon the earth, he was driven with a sense of urgency, even though the agony of the cross lay before him (Luke 12:50; John 9:4). Similarly, the apostle Paul was driven to finish his course, even though he knew that bonds and afflictions awaited (Acts 20:22-24). In like manner, brother Lloyd was a driven man. Many encouraged him to slow down, but I believe that he was constitutionally incapable of such. Ron, ever diligent and industrious, has now finished his course. But the need for laborers remains. Who will take his place?

I have kept the faith.

The word translated “I have kept” means “to watch over, to guard.” It was used to describe the work of prison guards. It also describes the spiritual responsibility of those who would lead the lost to Christ. Not only must we make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, but we must also teach them to observe (keep, guard) all things whatsoever Christ has commanded (Matt. 28:19-20). In this passage, the thing that must be kept is “the Faith” the objective standard of the Christian faith. Along with the apostle Paul, brother Ron Lloyd believed that Divine Truth was both identifiable and knowable (Rom. 1:16-17; Eph. 3:3-5). Ron earnestly contended for the faith that was once delivered to the saints (Jude 3). He is now in Abraham’s bosom. Yet, truth remains locked in combat with error, and The Faith must yet be defended. Who will take his place?

Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing (v. 8).

I have known Ron Lloyd for over twenty years. For five years, we labored together at the Chandler Highway congregation in Tyler, Texas. During much of that time, Ron served as an elder. I know of his concern for the lost. I know of his concern for brethren. I know of his concern for family. Although he tried to hide his emotions under a gruff exterior, I know for a fact that he was quite sentimental. In an age of contrived emotions — when presidents and preachers can shed tears on demand — sometimes folks mistake self-control as callousness. Ron cared deeply. His heart could be touched more deeply than most. He tried to keep his emotions under control, so as to fulfill his work as an evangelist.

While his preaching was often pointed, it flowed from a heart filled with love. He wanted the church to be strong. He wanted the lost to be saved. He wanted others to be right with God. His preaching was such that he genuinely encouraged others to that end. If there was ever a time when you thought his words were cutting, rest assured it was not malice, but the piercing quality of truth that caused you discomfort (Heb. 4:12).

He was an encouragement to his family. He was an encouragement to his preaching brethren, young and old alike. He was an encouragement to fellow-Christians, both the strong and the weak. Perhaps, most of all he was an encouragement to those who had no hope — i.e., the prisoners with whom he labored.

After moving to Clute, not only did Ron work with the congregation that meets on Main Street, but he also taught in various prison facilities in the area. On Sunday afternoons, instead of taking a customary nap, Ron would make his rounds at the local prison. He also had a regular weeknight Bible study with the prisoners. Over the last few years, he baptized 25-30 inmates. In leading these men to Christ, he gave hope to those who had none.

Such concern, repeatedly demonstrated throughout his life, has never been more evident than in recent months, regarding a certain prisoner with whom he had labored  named Manuel. Concerning his criminal past, Ron only said, “Manuel has done terrible things . . . terrible things.” Yet, this formerly wicked man, serving a life sentence for unspeakable crimes, was converted to Christ. The hope of heaven, the crown of righteousness, not only was promised to Paul, but also to Ron, to you and me, and even to those like Manuel. All those who obey the gospel, who live in view of eternity, who eagerly anticipate Christ’s coming, share in this hope.

Brother Lloyd helped lead Manuel unto Christ. Over time, they developed a very close relationship. Ron treated him like a brother. In recent months, whenever he would pray, whether in public or private, Ron would mention Manuel. You see, Manuel, is dying of cancer. No longer in the Clute area, Manuel as been transferred to the facility up in Tennessee Colony where he can receive better medical attention. Manuel has no family. He does not know the whereabouts of his relatives. Because of his past crimes, they will have nothing to do with him. Thus, he is facing death alone. As a sign of his affection, Ron had promised to go be with Manuel when the end comes. And yet, in an unexpected turn of events, Ron has died first. This situation has weighed heavily upon Lolita. Hopefully, some good brethren who appreciated Ron’s efforts among the prisoners will now step in and help keep this pledge and promise.

In closing, I affirm that there is no one in whom I have more confidence than Brother Ron Lloyd. I have known many good brethren. Certainly, others were his equal, but none, in my judgment, was his better. Ron Lloyd is one of the finest men I have ever known. With the exception of my wife, Ron has been my best friend for over twenty years. With his untimely passing, the cause of Christ has suffered a grievous loss. The ranks of the stalwart have now been weakened. Who will stand up? Who will take his place? Who is on the Lord’s side? Let him come over!

To all those assembled this day, brethren, Ron’s family and friends, but especially to his children, Tammie and Dennis, Kelly and Kevin, Sterling and Deborah, I leave you this parting admonition, taken from the book of Joshua: “And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Josh. 24:15). Ron and Lolita’s greatest hope and highest wish is that you all remain faithful to the Lord. May God bless you and keep you. Amen.

516 W. House St., Alvin, Texas 77511

Truth Magazine Vol. XLIV: 22  p16  November 16, 2000
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