Our brother in Christ, Al Binks, passed into greater life November 17th, 2020. At around 9:00 this morning, Jean found Al in the other room of their home, struggling to breathe. He had vomited… and was non-responsive. Jean immediately called the paramedics and a fire truck arrived shortly thereafter, whisking Al to the hospital. While on the way, Al’s heart stopped… and paramedics could not resuscitate him. Carin Davis, Al and Jean’s daughter, called me around 10:30 this morning to share with me the news.
I went to the Bink’s home right away. So many of the family members were already comforting Jean. The overall sentiment was one of sadness to be sure… but thanksgiving to God for Al’s life and impact. Now as I sit here at Cross of Glory, in our Fellowship Hall, at the very table Al had so many men’s breakfast times with the fellas of our congregation, Jim Mueller and Don Schwemmer, Mike McClune and Ken Keefer, I am both humbled and challenged to be a better Christian because of Al.
You know the story. Al and Jean Binks have been members of Cross of Glory for about as long as anyone in our church. Al’s background was Missouri Synod Lutheran, but when the Muellers invited the Binks to Cross of Glory in the mid-1960s, the Binks changed Lutheran affiliation. Al was born in Oak Park, Illinois right outside of Chicago. In 1965, the Chicago Bears drafted unparalleled running back Gale Sayers to the team. In the mid 1960s, Cross of Glory could not have drafted a better addition to our church than Albert Merle Binks.
Al, married to wife Jean for 58 years, was a quiet, gentle strength in the Bink’s family… and to our Cross of Glory one. The first Sunday I pastored Cross of Glory back in 2005, Al and Don Schwemmer, with friend Bryan Nordin, were fixing a broken sprinkler line on our grass out front. Over the years, I came to expect Al’s help whenever there was a property need at church. Always a strong man (maybe going back to his days tending bar… or given his proud military service in the Army) I marveled how in his eighties, Al could throw around heavy Fellowship tables for our annual Cross of Glory yard sales. Though it remains to be seen whether we physically will be in our church sanctuary for Christmas this year, we will always remember that Al Binks was forever our usher at our Cross of Glory Christmas Eve services. And who could forget, Al… ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS… attending church? He would often take a snooze on the comfortable couch in our Fellowship Hall AFTER worship (instead of during my sermons… yikes) while Jean puttzed around in our church kitchen into early Sunday afternoons.
There’s a Scripture passage, “Faith comes by hearing… and hearing by the Word of the Lord. With as much unmatched faith as Al Binks had, we are tempted to believe Al did not have ANY hearing problems. I find it interesting that a year to the day that our sister in Christ Bea Varney passed, also with hearing issues, Al passes into greater life.
Please remember Jean in your prayers. Hold unbelievably talented and giving children Carin Davis and Steve Binks (keep policemen especially in your prayers these days) close to heart. Remember the grandkids and extended family members in upcoming times. As funeral plans materialize, I, we, will let you know about them.
But most of all, honor Al not with tears, but with a resolve, a resolve to be a better disciple of Jesus Christ. Honor Al by honoring all the more the Lord and Savior Al revered, loved and served. It is because of Jesus that AL Binks lives ESPECIALLY now. It is because of Jesus that we too can be encouraged.
Though it seems fitting to end this correspondence with a Louis L’Amour quote given Al’s love of Louis L’Amour novels and Westerns in general, something about riding off into sunsets, let’s just say that Jesus throws our sin as far away as East is from West. This time of passing into greater life is not so much about sunsets as it is about sunrises!
“On the first day of the week while it was still dark, the sun rising, the women went to the tomb and found that the stone had been rolled away. ‘Why do you seek the living among the dead?’ the angel asked. ‘He is not here! He is risen! He is risen indeed!'”
God’s Peace and Joy!
Pastor Mike Lemke
Dear Cross of Glory Family and Friends,
It is with mixed emotions that I share with you that our dear brother in Christ, the biggest kid we have at Cross of Glory, Jim Mueller, passed into greater life early November 12th, 2020 morning, hours after America’s Veteran’s Day. Jim had been at St Joseph’s hospital in downtown Denver for nearly four weeks. It was thought that he would receive a pacemaker to assist his ailing heart, but doctors eventually decided that surgery would be ill-advised given Jim’s health and age (Jim would have turned 90 next Wednesday, November 18th). Transferred to Lutheran Hospice in Wheat Ridge yesterday, Jim passed peacefully in the quiet and serenity of the holiest of times. Jim’s hospice nurse remarked, “People seem to pass as they lived, in Jim’s case… sweetly.”
Jim and Shirlee Mueller and the Mueller boys have been at the heart of our Cross of Glory ministry for decades. Shirlee was embraced by God on a New Year’s Day a couple of years ago. Jim was at the Alzheimer’s home in Golden (without exception EVERYDAY), attending to Shirlee (and joking it up with the staff and residents) for the long duration of Shirlee’s stay. Jim was never the same after Shirlee’s passing, missing his University of Denver sweetheart profoundly.
Now Jim and Shirlee are together again with Shirlee no doubt rolling her eyes… even now… at Jim’s antics.
THANKS, BE TO GOD!
Jim was an unparalleled, loving disciple of Christ’s at Cross of Glory, but he also belonged to our Denver community at large, particularly impacting at-risk kids in inner-city Denver as their basketball coach. Jim was proud of his Kiwanis club affiliation…but most of all…Jim was proud of his three boys.
Tracy Mueller is a quadriplegic, but don’t be fooled! That is NOT how Colorado sees him! Earning his Master’s degree from the University of Northern Colorado, Tracy over the decades has been a probation officer in Fort Collins. His intelligence and razor-sharp wit, (don’t even TRY to get the better of Tracy) are ONLY superseded by his tremendous heart.
Troy Mueller has the distinction of being the Navy’s highest decorated civilian. Troy was instrumental in saving literally thousands of Japanese lives given the devastating nuclear spill there years ago.
And son Todd Mueller, heralded Denver basketball and baseball player, lived with Jim this last year, attending to Jim’s every need while keeping Jim’s spirit childlike and forever heartwarming.
Jim and Shirlee Mueller will always be proud of their boys (as we are at Cross of Glory), but even given the boy’s many obvious talents, they will especially NOW need our prayers, love and support. Won’t you especially keep the Muellers in heart and in mind as they wonder about funeral plans given Denver’s upswing in virus infections?
And reach out lovingly to one another Cross of Glory given OUR loss. As Angel Torres mentioned this morning, Jim was not just a friend to you. Jim was a friend to EVERYONE. Our hearts are broken at the news of his passing, but we rejoice in the resurrection Jim experiences because of his Good Shepherd, Jesus the Christ!
Jim’s confirmation hymn was “Take my Hand Precious Lord.” God did just that last evening in early morning hours of quiet, tranquility and peace.
Thank you Lord Jesus…
“Jesus loves us this we know for the Bible tells us so.”
Pastor Mike Lemke
Tim Storhaug is finally at peace.
Angie, Tim’s sister called me a moment ago to share with me the news that her brother Tim passed into greater life early this morning.
It was not long after I came to Cross of Glory 15 years ago that Tim started to attend our church. He had been hit by a car while crossing the street and had sustained a serious head injury. His doctors warned him that he would be prone to periodic seizures and that he should minimize his driving. Consequently, Tim living but a few blocks away from church, walked to our parish when the weather allowed. His emphysema and consequent shortness of breath prevented him from attending church in colder temperatures.
Tim had the best of stories. He was a hippie at heart and loved particularly going to the West Coast. He told me of scuba diving with curious sharks nearby. His record collection was unparalleled. When he learned of my love of Vallarta, he told me about the senoritas and the margaritas of nearby Yelapa. Tim had informed his caregiver, and arguably best friend, landlord Mike that he would like to be cremated with his cremains sprinkled in the Pacific Ocean.
I cannot imagine serving our country with honor and distinction during the Vietnam War only to return home to disdain and criticism. Tim proudly served us in the United States military but rarely spoke of his time in Vietnam. He had both the mental and emotional pains to show for it. Agent Orange compromised his voice and body in general.
Tim struggled immensely these last years. He was in and out of hospitals and rehab centers almost as much as he was in his own home. With periodic falls, he fractured various ribs and ended up walking with a cane and a limp. Tim was adamant about his faith, supporting our church and wanting to particularly help the homeless. He admitted openly to me his battle to keep faith against the pains of these last years. I tried to remind him that God’s grace is not so much about how hard we hold on to God as much as it is about God holding on to us.
Tim had requested not to have a funeral service. It appears as though his family will be honoring his wish. I will be visiting with our Church Council about setting up a fund in Tim’s memory that particularly will help those in Denver who need a hand up.
Please keep Mom in your prayers. Mary Lemke reached out to Tim regularly these last years and Tim counted her as one of his best friends. I know word of Tim’s passing has hurt her heart. And please continue to keep Angel Torres in your prayers as well. Angel who is still this evening in pancreatitis pain and recovery at Denver Health Hospital spent many cigarette breaks with Tim over the decade-plus of their friendship.
The beautiful painting or Jesus walking with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus overlooking our fellowship table at church belongs to Tim. He graciousIy donated the painting to us after his mother died a number of years ago. I will visit with Tim’s sisters about the painting and see if they would like to take possession of it. In my mind and heart, Jesus is walking on a road at this very moment with both Tim and Tim’s mom.
As you pray to God yet this evening and first thing in the morning, please remember with heartfelt thanks the gift that was… and always will be… our dear friend, Tim Storhaug.
“Sail on silver girl… Sail on by… Your time has come to shine… All your dreams are on their way…”
Irme Staley passed into greater life on January 12, 2020. She would have been 100 on September 11th this year. Irme was vibrant and faithful. If she possibly could be with us in worship, she was (thanks to Doreen Eubank who for years brought her to church). We will always remember Irme’s smile, her making her way to the communion rail and KNEELING there! In Colorado, skiers can ski for free when they reach 70. Irme was skiing well into…her 80s and still skiing intermediate, blue runs!!! Funeral plans are pending as the family convenes. Irme will be cremated…her ashes spread on a Colorado ski slope by a relative who will be skiing the run at the time!!!
Bea Varney went to be with her Lord on Sunday, November 17. Her Celebration of Life Funeral Service will be held at Cross of Glory on Tuesday, December 3, at 12:30 PM. Please remember Bea’s family in your prayers.
ELDENE ELAINE RONNEKAMP
On January 2, Denie Ronnekamp, our good friend, our sister in Christ, passed into greater life. Though diagnosed with cancer years ago, Denie rarely spoke of it with us. She always chose to turn the conversation around making it more about us than herself.
Denie and family joined us for Sunday morning worship on December 23 to see our Children’s Christmas Program. The family would be reminded of memories of their own at Cross of Glory’s Children’s’ Christmas Programs many years ago. On Saturday, December 29, Denie joined other ladies from our church in our monthly Saturday Ladies’ Bible Study/Book Discussion. No one could have guessed that but days later, she would be in heaven with Jesus.
Denie’s funeral was held on Thursday, January 10, at Bethany Lutheran Church. Please remember husband, Bryan, and children, Geoffrey and Jayme, in your prayers. The family so appreciates long-standing friendships from our congregation.
On April 20, 4:45 PM, our dear friend Maysel Christy passed INTO greater life.
As most of you know, Maysel is loved by SO many! Active in our church for decades, she has served Cross of Glory as our Financial Secretary FOREVER! She was one of the few REGULAR, Sunday after Sunday participants in our Adult Sunday School class. Always cheerful, smiling and encouraging, she brightened ALL our lives.
We will not recover from this tremendous loss but to say, that taking to heart her love for Jesus, her love for her family, church and friends, we will try to honor her memory by doing the best job we can to follow in her example. Maysel knew her Lord and Savior Jesus the Christ. More importantly, Jesus the Christ knew Maysel.
We had recently studied Paul’s letter Colossians in Sunday School together. From Colossians 3: “Put on therefore as the elect of God, holy and beloved, kindness, humility, meekness and longsuffering. Above all of these things, put on love which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts as you are called in one body. Be thankful!” Maysel could have written what Paul wrote. After all, the above sentiments were written all over Maysel.
Maysel’s celebration of life service was at Cross of Glory on Saturday, April 28. Husband Tom and children, Leigh Ann and Stephen, thank everyone who so graciously helped to make the day a time of fond remembrance of Maysel’s continued impact and example in honoring Christ.
God’s Peace and Love to you, brothers and sisters in Christ. Please remember Tom, Leigh Ann and Stephen in your prayers and best wishes.