“We have faced life together – from the very start. It is staggering to reflect on the scores of months, hundreds of days and millions of minutes and seconds have passed into time.
I remember the first night and I can recall little things (in Miami)… the ride out Brickell Ave. and out to the Pan Am seaport… stopping by the canal… the fruit drink next to the Capri theater… our dreams and visions, desires and hopes.
The surgery I’m getting now is so that our lives together may continue without a slow down or the threat of becoming disabled. I praise God that by his grace I can undergo this modern miracle. I believe the best is yet to be, for if something should happen and my death occur, we both would recognize it as God’s will – and that’s always best.
We know so little about ourselves – our lives – our real inheritance and destiny. He knows! And that’s best!
Yet to the contrary, I believe this operation is by God’s intervention and by His direction. He has lead us this far and He will lead us home. This is God’s way to give me a new lease on life and renewed purpose to ‘speak the word’ and serve others.
After all, this has been our life. To lift and help those who have fallen, to encourage and cheer those who are blue and melancholy.
Whatever I have done in Jesus, you were there to inspire me. Never have you ever given me one occasion to doubt your love for me. You have always been by my side. If I had to leave this life, I would miss you the most.
Forgive my rambling, and all the other miscues and mistakes I have made, and allow the best of me to remain.
You are my love. I feel very close to you at this time and my prayer is….
We love you. You gave us life. You brought us together. You caused us to grow, to mature. You have saved us for yourself.
Whatever life holds, you have given us “all things.” In Christ.
I love you, my dearest,
December 12, 1979
(Dad was about to undergo open heart surgery and get a triple bi-pass. He was nervous of course, but then everyone would be. This was a ‘just in case’ type letter.)
Special letters written in love, concern, instruction and correction were written centuries ago to Christians. Paul wrote 14, John wrote 4 and then a Gospel, Peter wrote 2 and James wrote 1, Jude wrote 1 as well.
An elderly man’s daughter once asked the local minister to come and have prayer with her father. When the minister arrived, he found the man lying in bed with his head propped up on two pillows. An empty chair was sitting beside the bed. The minister assumed that the old fellow had been informed of his visit.
“I guess you were expecting me,” he said. “No” said the father. The minister then remarked, “I saw the empty chair, and I figured you knew I was going to show up.” “Oh yes, the chair,” said the bedridden man. “Would you mind closing the door?”
Puzzled, the minister shut the door. “I have never told anyone this – not even my daughter,” said the man. “But all of my life I have never known how to pray. I had abandoned any attempts at prayer, until one day about four years ago, my best friend told me, “Prayer is just a simple matter of having a conversation with your Heavenly Father.” He continued, “Sit down in a chair; place an empty chair in front of you, and in faith see God sitting on the chair. It’s not spooky because He promised, “I’ll be with you always.” Then just speak to Him the way you are speaking with me right now.”
So I tried it, and I liked it so much that I do it a couple of hours every day. I’m careful though. If my daughter saw me talking to a chair, she’d have a nervous breakdown, or send me off to the ‘Funny Farm’.
The minister was deeply moved by this simple story and encouraged the old man to continue ‘on the journey’. Two nights later the daughter called the minister to tell him, “Daddy has just passed away”. “Did he die in peace?” he asked.
“Yes, when I left the house about two o’clock, he called me over to his bedside, told me he loved me, kissed me on the cheek. When I returned from the store an hour later, I found him. But there was something strange about his death. Apparently, just before daddy died, he leaned over and rested his head on the chair beside his bed.” “What do you make of that?” she asked.
The minister wiped a tear from his eye and told her about what her dad had told him. Finally the minister said, “I wish we could all go like that.”
There are many ‘reasons’ why we don’t pray as we should. Perhaps we are so busy with handling our own problems, we don’t think about it. Perhaps we just don’t think God will answer our prayers.
Jesus and His Father were very close, and so as you read Luke, you find him often in prayer for various reasons…
Luke 6:12 Jesus prays all night. Luke 9:16, Jesus gives thanks for the food (five loaves and two fish). Luke 18:1 Jesus teaches the value of prayer. Luke 21:36 Jesus combines prayer with being alert. Luke 22:19-20 Jesus gave thanks for the bread and similarly, the ‘cup’ at the last supper. Luke 22:39-46, Jesus prays in Gethsemane. Luke 23:34 and 46 Jesus prays on the cross.
Praying is personal, helpful, and needed, private, and powerful… Why not have an “empty chair” of your own?
Teeth have always been a sore spot with me. Ever since I was a teenager, I have had problems with my teeth! Head brace retainers, cavities, chipped teeth, crowns, root canals, e-rays, novocain and needles, numbness, drills and the smell of ‘smoke’, infected gums, antibiotics, teeth that cracked, broke off, and eventually were pulled. Every time in ‘the chair’ brought memories of ‘hot sweats’ and ‘white knuckles’.
“Are you allergic to anything?” Dr. Phillips (my dentist) asked. “Yes… PAIN!!!” I asked him one time, “Why not just do what dad did at the age of 25 and yank ‘em all out’ and start over… instant smile!?” Then I could do what dad did to the kids when we all went for a visit… He used to get Alex in his lap and use his tongue to move his lower teeth out so he could see them.) (Of course we all laughed and told dad how gross it was!)
Anyway, as Dr. Phillip said, “There is nothing like the teeth God gave you.” So I ‘pressed on’. Besides, dad always said, “Be true to your teeth or they’ll be false to you, by gum.” With help of some more novocane, a bridge here and a tooth pulled there, a partial here and a bridge there… a smile was born.
Did Jesus smile? Sure he did! Don’t know about his teeth, but I know he smiled! I guess I never thought of it when I was growing up, but I remember the study materials, and VBS books and they had pictures of Jesus smiling. I mean what kid is going to be attracted to someone who is frowning all the time? For that matter, what adult is going to be attracted to a Savior who doesn’t smile? Think of it… Jesus loved children (Matthew 19:14; Mark 10:14-15), and blessed them. Children wanted to be around Jesus!
Jesus went to wedding feasts, and enjoyed going to dinner at other people’s homes. Was He somber and solemn all the time?! I doubt it, don’t you?
Christianity is meant to be a life of joy. “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again, “Rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4). The fruit of the Holy Spirit in our life is “… JOY …” (Galatians 5:22). This does not mean there are no hardships, no tears, no burdens, no temptations, no failures. It doesn’t mean we should go around with a painted smile on our face which the heart does not support. When Jesus died on the cross and was buried and rose again… it was the BIRTH OF OUR SMILE (John 20)! Whether you have all your teeth or not… you can SMILE!
Jesus has destroyed the PRINCIPLE of sin in our life (Romans 6:1-4). Jesus has given Christians the POWER over sin (Romans 6:8-14). Jesus has
delivered Christians from the PUNISHMENT of sin (Romans 6:23). All sins, PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE are forgiven in Christ Jesus (I John 1:7)! “Therefore, there is NOW (from now on), no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).
He was nicknamed the “Tank Man”, and he stood alone in Tiananmen Square during a protest June 5, 1989. The suppression of the Chinese government had reached a peak. With a column of tanks coming, the “Tank Man” (assumed to be Wang Weilin), stood and blocked the tanks from moving forward.
All through history there have individuals, who took no concern for themselves, but made a stand whether it be against injustice or slavery, or against a harsh suppressive government.
(Junior) Senator Ted Cruz made a stand for something he believed was (and is) very important. Martin Luther king Jr… made a stand for what he believed was (and is) important! Both made a difference.
Not everyone makes a stand like this, but all have the potential for doing so.
Jesus came onto the scene, and made a stand against hypocritical traditionalism of his day. This was not his mission though. Why did He come? He came to “seek and save the lost” (Luke 19:10). Not everyone saw themselves as “lost”. Many saw Jesus as totally wrong. They crucified him for it.
In Luke 19 Jesus was passing through the area of Jerico. There was a short guy named Zacchaeus there who was evidently a good tree climber. He was filthy rich, and was hated (not by the government though). He just wanted to see Jesus. I doubt he ever expected what was going to happen, but to him, it would have been enough just to see Him.
For some reason Jesus stops at that very spot where Zacchaeus had climbed the tree and looks up and calls out to him. “… Come down immediately, I must stay at your house today.” Is Jesus trying to hob-nob with the influential tax collector? Is He forgetting, that people will judge Him, and hate Him if he does this? You recall, “All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone home to be the guest of a sinner!” Isn’t it odd, that people who live in glass houses are often the first to throw stones?
Zacchaeus is overjoyed! He cannot believe what is happening. He probably fell half way down the tree trying to get down! What a thrill! “Jesus is coming to MY HOUSE!” The over-joyed “sinner” tells the Master “Here and now I give half my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anyone out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” Is this what Jesus wanted? Did Jesus say, “Now if you don’t pay back and make everything right you can’t be my follower?” Is this what is needed to be saved? Of course not… it was a sign to Jesus that this man wanted to change. There is no way a person can ‘balance the books’ with Jesus.
His concern is about the heart. Zacchaeus was a searcher. He got more than he hoped for from climbing that tree. “Salvation has come to this home” Jesus said.
Today, we don’t have to ‘climb a tree’ to find Jesus… just open The Book. There you will find the story of one who MADE A STAND… NOT AGAINST A TANK, OR A HOUSE FULL OF POLITICIANS BUT AGAINST SATAN, AND WON!
If you want to study about Jesus? Give me a call or send me an email!