Our Brother Bobby Franklin (August 17, 1955 – June 18, 2018)
Recently we gathered to remember and to celebrate Bobby’s life as a brother in Christ, father, and veteran who proudly served his country as a Marine during the Viet Nam era. Many of us have fond memories of him over the past 5 years in our weekly huddle groups. There we saw his love of the Bible, his prayers for other men suffering in addiction, and his sense of humor. Many of us enjoyed serving with him in the Dominican Republic where he worked several weeks as a mission block layer. There you could find him mentoring younger men in his craft, joyfully serving and laughing with all of us. At Bobby’s funeral service I shared from Ephesians 2:8-10.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians 2:8-10 ESV
A few things hit me from it as I was reflecting on his life and the amazing grace that we glimpsed in Bobby’s life and was victorious in his death. The first is that all of God’s people through history regardless of education, family background or moral standing are saved from the penalty of sin by grace through faith alone.
No merit or goodness counts for anything in saving us from God’s judgment. It is grace; undeserved love and mercy offered in Christ at the Cross. It was a gift to Bobby as it is to you and to me. “It is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Not one can boast, not Abraham (Romans 4:2), not Paul, not Mother Theresa, not Billy Graham, not you and certainly not me. Just ask my wife!
The death we are saved from is not physical death. It is spiritual death; it is the infinite separation from God which if not reconciled would continue for all eternity. We are saved from the penalty of sin because Christ paid it for us through his sinless life offered at Calvary. There he defeated sin, death, and Satan. To receive this gift of forgiveness of sins and eternal life we must take hold of it by faith. We must place our whole weight of trust and reliance upon Jesus alone as our Savior from sin and Lord of all. Bobby, like Billy Graham lives now eternally in the Lord’s presence having been saved by grace through faith. Not one good work of Billy Graham’s life counted anything towards earning Christ’s gift of eternal life. He received it as a free gift like Bobby. You may now be saying, “Wait a minute, what about the good works a Christian should demonstrate in their life?” I am glad you asked. Ephesians 2:10 gives us the answer. We are not saved by our good works but we are saved for good works. “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works..” In the gospel’s power we become a new creation, a masterpiece (poiema in the Greek). He begins to shape our lives by manifesting his resurrection life through us. Bobby at many times evidenced that he was becoming that masterpiece: by his compassion for men in addiction, his prayer life for others in need, his love for the body of Christ. Yes, Bobby evidenced the selfishness and darkness of addiction during periods of his life. He longed to be: a better spiritual influence on his three brothers, a better example to friends in recovery and most of all a better father to his beloved Emily.
The chorus from the song “Reckless Love of God” by Cory Asbury has been playing in my head as I think of Bobby. “Oh the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God, it chases me down, fights til’ I’m found, leaves the 99. I couldn’t earn it. I don’t deserve it. Still you gave yourself away.” We will struggle with sin to our last breath too in one form or another: pride, lust, control, anger, unforgiveness, jealousy, and a lack of mercy to name a few. In the end, Christ’s victory was Bobby’s victory. In our death, Christ’s victory alone will be our power over sin and death.
The Apostle Paul states this powerfully, “When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15:54-56 ESV
Christ’s victory in the Cross and resurrection can be your victory over sin and death too. Receive his free gift of eternal life through faith today just like Bobby and Billy!
3rd Quarter Review
I am very happy to report that we are witnessing growth in all facets of our men’s ministry. There are three dimensions to our work. The first area is our weekly huddles. This is the deep touchpoint in men’s lives where spiritual friendships grow, discipleship happens and hearts are transformed. We have continued to expand our reach through our huddle ministry; currently approximately 150 men each week have their faith being strengthened to make a difference in the workplace, marriages, as fathers, and as servants to the poor in Greater Pittsburgh. These huddles (16) are led by 10 leaders in diverse groups (including men in recovery) all over Western Pennsylvania, Scranton and now New Jersey. One new huddle launched recently in Butler. Four of these huddles are with men in prison at Renewal and Washington County Correctional Facility (WCCF). Our good brother Mike Pierson recently accepted the Chaplain’s position at WCCF. As a result, we will work closely with Mike to expand our ministry reach there. Presently, we are discussing a Sunday morning service and the development of a Locking Arms Discipleship series. This series is being piloted by our brother Terry Brown in the California Correctional System.
The second is our monthly events outreach area. Through the Lord’s grace we are providing a clear and impactful witness in this area as well. Over the past year we touched over 2,000 men through these events with the message of Christ and his call to be servant leaders in our community. This included events like our Marriage Celebration Dinner, two spiritual retreats, and the Game Plan For Life Breakfast that we did in partnership with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. This event had over 500 men in attendance; including over 150 high school football players. Over 50 men gave their life to Christ for the first time at this event.
A third and very important dimension of our ministry is service. Our ministry partners Light of Life Mission, Washington City Mission, Family Guidance (Mentoring inner city boys), and Del Rey Ministries (Equipping Pastors/Providing Short Term Mission Trips) represent areas of engagement for our men to give their life away. This engagement occurs through weekly huddles, sponsoring boys and men in recovery for our retreats, mission trips and one-to-one mentoring. We are village sponsors for Vasca with their pastors David & Anna through Del Rey. See www.delreyministries.org for more information.
Dominican Boys Camp
We need your prayer for our upcoming Boys Camp with Del Rey in the Dominican July 18-21. We will be serving 80 boys ages 10-18 chosen from the villages where our Del Rey pastors live and lead their churches. Pray for our FCA Dominican staff who guide the boys through a number of sports activities and testimony times. Special thanks to our sponsors for enabling us to make this camp happen. If you would like to contribute we have a shortfall of $3,000 to cover expenses. You can make a donation and designate it to our Dominican Boys Camp at www.lockingarmsmen.org/giving
4th Annual Locking Arms Golf Outing
Our 4th Annual Locking Arms Golf Outing is coming up August 24th at Quicksilver Golf Club. It is our only true fundraiser for the year. Individual golfers are $200 or $750 per foursome. Team Sponsorships are $1,000 and include a foursome, tee sponsorship and website/email blast promotion. If you don’t golf but you would like to help us a Tee Sponsorship for $150 is a great way to do it! We need your support. For information/registration see the attached brochure or go to www.lockingarmsmen.org/events
It is a privilege for me to serve as a leader with Locking Arms Men. Our first grandchild, Valia, was born to our daughter Sarah and Joey Silko 6 months ago. My wife and I have been on a great joyride with them since. I am reminded in Valia’s precious life that her smiles hit us like the very love of God. Their source is the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God, it chases us down, fights til’ we’re found and leaves the 99. He is so good to us.
The question comes to me again, “Will I join Jesus in his reckless pursuit of people in all of our brokenness?”
Thank you for your partnership with us; reclaiming men’s hearts through the power of gospel (Romans 1:16).