Dad’s ‘Just In Case’ Letter

   “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….
   Dear Father,
   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,
   Always, Jack
   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.

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The Last Supper

   Dad wrote this in his New Testament…. 
   “This is a replica of Leonardo da Vinci’s painting of the Last Supper. This masterpiece took over seven years to paint. The extra ordinary story behind this masterpiece is astounding. Leonardo felt that he should use living persons as his models since this was to be such an important picture. He started with the painting of Christ. Hundreds of young men were studied to find a man who’s face portrayed innocence and beauty. After a long search he found a man whom he felt could portray Christ. The painting of Christ took six months. When he was done with Christ, it took 6 more years to paint the disciples until all were completed accept one. That one was Judas. To find someone who looked like Judas was a problem. After a long discouraging search, da Vinci heard of a man in prison in Rome who was sentenced to die for his brutal crimes.
   Leonardo went to Rome where the prisoner was brought before him. He saw in this man who’s face was ugly and vicious – scarred and full of hate. He knew immediately that this was the man he wanted to represent Judas, the Savior’s betrayer.
   By special permission from the king, the person was brought to Milan to pose for da Vinci at appointed hours each day. Finally the gifted artist finished his painting. As the guards were taking the prisoner away, he broke loose. Rushing to da Vinci, he gasped and said, “Look at me!!!”: “Do you not know who I am?!” With his sharp, piercing eyes, da Vinci looked at the man and said, “I do not know you. I never saw you until you were brought to me in Rome.”
   Then the man lifted his head towards heaven and cried, “Oh, God… have I fallen so far?!” 
   Then he turned and said, “Leonardo da Vinci, Look at me again!!!” “I’m the same man you painted only seven years ago as the figure of Christ.”
   This was copied by dad when he was in Calgary, Alberta while visiting a member of the church and he happened to glance through the Family Bible. 
   People change… sometimes for the better…sometimes not. Jesus warned against this since we don’t know what is in the heart of man. Marshall Keeble once said, “I’m not a judge… I’m a fruit examiner.” It might do us better if we just examine the fruit as opposed to judging based our feelings or ‘think-so’s’ or on what someone else says. The way we judge others will come back to bite us as we will be judged the same way (Matthew 7).
   Fact is, we just don’t know what’s in the heart of man… but Jesus does. Paul later instructs us to be careful when dealing with Christians who fall or sin… Helping, restoring… with a spirit of gentleness demands a spiritual heart. The danger? Who knows… somewhere down the ‘time-line’  you also may fall…. 
   Falling is not usually done over night… it happens ‘bit by bit’ and step by step in the wrong direction. Beginning in the heart (Matthew 5:27-28), which is just as bad as the ‘real thing’ only to find that ‘thoughts not taken captive for Christ’ have taken to root and produced a plant that bears bitter fruit… You may not even recognize yourself.
   Thank God for His love, grace and forgiveness… Thank God for a Savior who even washed the feet of Judas… and accepted cursing, denying, Peter. Thank God for a Savior who  was patient with his disciples then… and now… 
   The was once two who came to worship God. One was a Pharisee and the other a Publican. The Pharisee prayed and said, “O God, I am so grateful I am not like this Publican.” The Publican would not even look towards heaven, but hit himself on his chest, and cried, “Oh, God be merciful to me a sinner.” Just like the man who posed for Jesus AND Judas…. “Oh God… Have I fallen so far?!”
   Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved (saves) a wretch like ME….Praise God for His matchless grace… Amen walls!!!

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The Price Has Already Been Paid

   Just think a moment about all the bad that has been done, for whatever reason, or motive. Be it anger, jealousy, lust, greed, unnatural desires, irreverence or just down-right hate … Think about all the tears, and blood that has been shed in the name of religion or racial hatred. Think of all the wars and conflicts fought over the centuries. Think of all the pain and suffering of the born, the aborted, young people and old alike. It all comes down to one basic cause, sin.

   Few in schools of higher learning call it what it is. Those who study the workings of the mind often call it something else, maybe a sickness to be treated with pills. Yet the Bible is straight forward about it… Man’s biggest problem is sin. People laugh at it, ignore it, brag about it, and Hollywood glorifies it. Laws are passed to try and get rid of it by making it acceptable and normal.

   God’s word simply speaks of it as sin. In the original language of scriptures, it means to “miss the mark”. Doesn’t sound so bad, right? Everyone “misses the mark”, right? Even the bible says “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23. Yet this does not take care of the problem. Never did, and never will.

   Man has tried to balance the books with God for a long time. Yet the books just don’t balance. We are forever in debt and have no way to pay it.

   The story is told of a Russian Czar who disguised himself and mingled with his soldiers. One soldier, deep in debt, had made a list of all that he owed. His loaded revolver lay beside him, but in his anxiety, he had fallen asleep. At the end of the list he had scribbled the words, “Who could pay so much?” Later he woke up and was startled to see the personal signature of the Czar, “Alexander” and his personal seal next to the question he had scribbled at the end of his list.

   If we each sat down and wrote a list of all the things we had done, in anger, hatred, jealousy, despair, lust, how long would that list be? You run a red light, and get a ticket, go down and pay the amount levied against you at to Court House, and they stamp it “Paid in full”. Ok, so how do you do that with sin? What are the wages (earned price) of sin? Paul says in Romans 6:23 “For the payoff (wages) of sin is death…”

   So what is all this about? It is about Jesus. It’s all about Jesus. He was destined to do something for mankind which he could not and cannot do for himself. He came to provide a way out of the penalty of sin. “Who could pay so much?” Paul says, “For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. (For rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person, perhaps someone might possibly dare to die). 8 But God demonstrates His own love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:6-8 (NET) DEATH BY CRUCIFIXION… closely portrayed in the movie “The Passion of Christ”, is hard to watch. Yet it was all for you and me, unworthy sinners.

   Sin cannot be paid for by works. Salvation is a gift, not to be treated lightly. The price paid for the gift should tell us that. Faith, repentance and immersion (Acts 2:37-39) in no way earns the gift… because it is priceless. When we obey His commands, we are surrendering to Him, and calling out to Him to save us.  Bottom line… THE PRICE HAS BEEN ALREADY PAID.


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