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Archive for March, 2011

I showed up early in the greeter’s room this past Sunday to have a cup of coffee and visit with my fellow greeters before the ball starts rolling. I poured a hot cup of coffee and sat down with one of my friends at a table. He was telling me about a vacation he had booked for his family this summer that he was excited about. He had gotten it at half price, so he had scored. I noticed that many of the chairs were lined up in the front of the room, Bill must be doing an orientation for new greeters this morning, they had asked for new volunteers last week.

New faces I hadn’t seen before began to filter in and mingle, before finding their way to the front of the room, and being seated for the orientation. It seemed like there were a lot of people who had signed up, which is great, we are always short of people for the greeter corps. Just then, a face I clearly recognized came in the door, a face I would never forget, and a face I had prayed I would never see again. A face named Scott.

Scott was a supervisor at the plant twenty years ago, he was ex-navy and hard core, and for some reason I never discovered, he didn’t like me. Right from the beginning, when I started there, it was clear he did not care for me. He did his best to make my life miserable, he gave me the jobs no-one else wanted, he would slam me on my reviews every year and had even tried to get me fired without success. He would also never pass up the chance to confront me in front of others. This guy was what I referred to back then as a “Flaming Jerk”.

I know the old story about a boss who is really hard on an employee, because he likes him and expects more. This was not one of those cases, this guy didn’t like me, and there was no silver lining. One time I told a co-worker that I had purchased a three-day Disneyland package, and we would spend the rest of the week in a hotel by the beach. My girls were so excited, they were still small and really looked forward to it. Scott waited until two weeks before my vacation and then cancelled it, saying that they didn’t have the coverage, and he actually smiled slightly as he delivered the news. He was the Bain of my existence for the first seven years I was at the plant. I had been rid of the vermin for thirteen years, and now he shows up here, at my church home, but not only at my church home, but the greeter corps to boot. Was there no justice in this life?

After the orientation, the greeters who have been doing it for a while are expected to stand in a receiving line and welcome our new brothers. I reluctantly stood in line, shaking hands of our newest volunteers. As Scott approached, He looked at me then did a double take, and that old grin crept back on his face. He stuck his hand out and I did my best to make my hand feel like a cold dead fish as he shook it. He then looked me in the eyes with a serious look, and said “Jim, I realize we have a lot of history, and I wasn’t always good to you. I hope you will give me a chance to make it right. I feigned a smile and said “Sure, no problem”. He smiled again, nodded and walked to the next one in line. Another chance huh, sure how about “Fat Chance” I thought as he walked on. I tried to get my mind right so that I could finish greeting the newbies as they continued to come.

Jim, how are you the next one said as I looked toward the calling of my name. Fine, how are you I asked as I shook the hand of a guy about my age, I had “no clue” who he was. Jeremy, from high school, do you remember me he asked? He stood there smiling broadly, and then it came back to me. Jeremy was a kid in my class; he always tried to hang out with my friends and I, but he didn’t fit in. I had a group I ran with, guys who were my bud’s, but Jeremy was kind of a goof ball. He wasn’t really cool, and was kind of a cling on guy, if you know what I mean. He kept at us, wanting to do things with us, be one of our crowd. We used to like to go “cruising” on Friday and Saturday nights to socialize and meet girls, and he asked if he could come with us. We reluctantly said yes, and let him tag along. About eleven PM, he asked if we could stop at a place with a bathroom, because he had to go. We found a fast food joint, and let him out. One of the guys thought it would be funny to just leave him there and go on. I didn’t like the idea, I thought it was too mean, but it wasn’t my car so I didn’t say anything. We left poor Jeremy at a fast food restaurant in a not so good side of town at eleven PM by himself. I have thought about that over the years and felt bad. All of these memories flooded back as I shook his hand. I then looked him in the eyes and said, “I have felt really bad about that night we went cruising over the years, it was so wrong. I hope you will give me a chance to make it right. He looked at me warmly and said “think nothing of it, we were just kids, not only forgiven, but forgotten. As he walked off, I realized I was his “flaming Jerk”. I was thankful to accept the grace he extended to me, yet reluctant to extend the same grace to Scott.

As I drove home after services, I realized I was a hypocrite, I wanted to judge people when it suited me, but I didn’t want to be judged with the same yardstick by which I was so eager to judge others when it was my turn in the barrel.

Luke 6:37 NIV

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.

God Bless

JFT

This story is fiction, written to illustrate a point.

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It was Thursday morning, I was getting ready to go to my weekly men’s Bible study class, a bunch of guys who meet at a coffee shop to study, fellowship, and hold each other accountable through friendship. As I was getting ready to leave at about 7AM, the phone rang, and caller i.d. told me it was my doctor. She had me get an MRI the day before because I have been having migraines and she wanted to have a look at my brain.

Doc Kim told me I needed to come to her office right away, as she needed to meet with me. I said “I guess this means you found something, right”? She replied that they had found something, actually a couple of things, and she needed to discuss them with me ASAP. I asked if it could wait until after my Bible study, and she went silent, then said, “Well, I guess it would be okay”. She then told me what the problem was. Jim, you have had a stroke, it showed up on the MRI, and you need to see a neurologist today, right after your Bible study. She then told me that I couldn’t work for at least a few weeks, as we needed to “de-stress” my life. I just sat and listened as she said I needed to go on FMLA (medical time off), and change my diet and exercise habits. She then told me to call her after I got an appt. with the Neurologist she had referred me to, and we ended the call. Whew, what a conversation, I then turned and my wife was standing there, she then asked, “what’s up”? Well dear, your not going to believe this, but……..

The guys all gathered around the scarred little coffee table and we chatted for a while about regular things, what was happening in everyone’s lives and so on. Looking at my watch, and knowing my Dr. had only given me an hour, I said “umm, hey guys, I need to talk about something”. They were all equally surprised, but Brett, who was leading today’s study suggested we begin in prayer, rather than end as we usually do. Brett prayed that my illness would be cured miraculously, and that when I was examined later I would show no sign of the stroke, and he prayed that I would have peace. We finished our study, and I headed out to make my many phone calls.

I wasn’t able to get in to see a neurologist that day, but did get an appt. the following morning. I worked everything out for the time off through HR at work, and then called Doc Kim back. She then told me she wasn’t comfortable waiting, and said that I should come get the MRI report and go to the ER, as they would get me seen by a neurologist today.

I wasn’t happy about it, but we complied, and began what would be ten and a half hours at the hospital. I was poked, prodded, sampled, and scanned. Finally, a neurologist stepped into my room and began to give me the down low. He smiled, and told me he disagreed with the radiologist who read my MRI. He did not believe that I had a stroke, and if I did, it was a small one. I do not seem to have any damage that they expect to see when someone has a stroke. The other issue was there and valid, and would need to be dealt with, but the stroke wasn’t an issue, great news.

As the Dr. left, I felt happy that I had apparently missed this bullet, or if it was a stroke, it was minor and damage free. I then began to stew about how irresponsible it was for the radiologist to throw out the “stroke” diagnosis so freely. While glad on the one hand, I was annoyed on the other. I had called my HR and told them my diagnosis, and they had emailed my supervisors, word was out, and my phone was full of texts and voicemails. People were worried and praying for me all over, and now I needed to tell them it wasn’t what we thought, I probably hand’t even had a stroke. I wondered if the radiologist who diagnosed me ever thought about these things before he threw out his diagnoses. Did he ever consider how people’s lives changed based on what he told them about their results, if he knew, would it make him check twice? Would he care enough to look again?

Then, a wonderful thing happened, shame began to flow over my soul, from the top of my head to the tips of my toes. Shame at my response to God granting my wishes. Shame at me praying for rain, but not bringing an umbrella. I then thought back to early that morning, when Brett prayed for a miraculous cure, for the evidence of the stroke to go away. I then thought about God, and how hurt He must be when we pray for something, He grants it, then we give the credit to someone else, or worse yet call a miracle He performed a mistake on the part of another. We are a real piece of work, aren’t we?

Our God is so good to us, when we fail in our faith like that, and we ask Him to forgive us for not being more loyal to Him, He not only forgives us, but He forgets it too, He remembers it no more. In His mind, it is like it never even happened. Anyone who says we have a harsh God obviously does not know my God. Our God is a God of miracles, and our God is a God of second chances.

In hindsight, I have no doubt the radiologist saw a stroke when surveying my MRI, and I have no doubt that my God answered Brett’s prayer, along with many others who were praying for me, and simply made it go away. Our God is an awesome God!

God Bless

JFT

This one is fact, not fiction

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We came down to through the tree and rock outcroppings, and I began to relax a little, it looks like the traveling will settle out and become easier, I think to myself, then we clear the thicket and I change my mind instantly. I look out at the large gash on the landscape before me and hold my breath, our work has just begun. One of the porters on the explorer team exclaims, “what a huge valley”. I look over at Him and say “Son, that’s no valley, that’s a canyon”.

The canyon before us was huge, deep, and dark. The bottom was not visible because of its depth and the steep walls. I instantly began to search my mind for a strategy to get across this monster, and then I turned and began to take stock of our equipment. Ropes and climbing supplies would be needed to scale the walls, harnesses and carabineer’s to assist as I began to put together the logistics. After a few minutes of trying to put together a plan, I came to a realization, I needed help, I was over my head.

I turned and called to my partner and co-explorer Tom. Have you seen Jesus, he smiled and pointed my way. I turned and looked to my right and jumped when I saw how close the Guy was to me. He was literally standing right next to me grinning; He knew I hadn’t seen Him. He was always doing that, you would think you were traveling alone, and “Bam” there He was right next to you. “What can I help you with Jim”, He asked? I pointed toward the large canyon and said “why don’t we start with that”. You see, Jesus is a master guide, there is no trail, canyon, mountain peak that is too much for Him. I have used Him on all of them, and He has never let me down. He never fails to surprise me at the ease with which he conquers problems great and small.

I told Him I thought we would need to rope up to get to the bottom of the canyon safely. He walked over and looked down into the maw and began to slowly shake His head, “naw, it isn’t as bad as it looks” He said as he began to point out a trail. The trail He found us wasn’t even very steep, the whole team was able to make it down to the bottom with no problem. As we looked up, I thought to myself, it isn’t as foreboding from the bottom as it is from the top. We walked along the sandy bottom as it curved to the flow of a dry river, this way and that.

I examined the walls looking for a break to begin climbing out on the other side when I finally saw it. It was a slightly technical climb, but I thought we all could make it, considering everyone’s varying experience. I pointed this out to Jesus and he looked up at the wall. He began to shake His head again as He said “naw, I think we can do better than this” and He kept walking. We rounded another bend in the canyon and He pointed ahead and said “there, that is what I was looking for. What do you think?”  I looked ahead and there was a perfect set of steps carved into the side of the canyon walls, no doubt carved by ancient travelers generations before. I stood with my jaw hanging open, speechless at what lay before me. “Sure, looks good to me”  I said as we began to climb out of the canyon.

Later, as we stood at the top on the far side, ready to move on to the rest of our journey, I thought back to the fear and trepidation I had felt when facing this dark and unknown canyon. I thought about how Jesus had just “been there” when we needed Him to guide us through the unknown, and wondered what we would have done without Him. I turned around to thank Him, but He was gone. I asked Tom if he had seen Him, but he hadn’t. The Man was gone, probably off collecting wood for tonight’s campfire. I smiled inwardly at the thought that He was always there when you “needed” Him though.

God Bless

JFT

This story is fiction, written to illustrate a point.

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In case you didn’t read part one-

https://blesseddad.wordpress.com/2011/02/18/he-aint-heavy-hes-my-brother/

The last time we communicated a few years ago, things were tense. I knew it would not be a good idea to have a face-to-face meeting, afraid I would say something I truly do not want to, if that makes sense. So I took the coward’s way our, I fired him an e-mail wishing him well in his retirement, although there was still much ire in my heart. The friend from long ago left behind in many discussions that ended bitterly. These thoughts passed through my mind as I placed my truck in park in front of his house. You see, he hadn’t answered that e-mail, I had no idea how I would be received this morning. The man was an old warhorse, would he kick me off his property?

I heard movement as I rang the doorbell, and I felt watched as I saw light move back and forth on the other side of the peephole, then fade altogether. I rang the bell once more, and was about to walk away when I heard the deadbolt begin to open. I turned as the door opened and I found myself face to face with my old friend, my old enemy.

The conversation was awkward in the beginning, but only for a little while. We soon fell into an easy and comfortable rhythm as we caught up over all the years. I was honest with him, we had been friends, and then adversaries, and I wasn’t comfortable leaving it at that. I wanted us to mend the fence. The warmth of my old friend returned to his face and his clear blue eyes began to fill with tears as he came over and hugged me. This would happen several times again before I would leave.

He still had all of his hair, although he didn’t know why, he was done with Chemo and he had just one week of radiation left. He was substantially smaller than he had been when I had last seen him. He then told me about Christy, his wife. They were still close, although they were separated. She has cancer too, throat cancer. Fitz shakes his head as he tells me about it. She has never smoked, yet she got a smokers cancer. He said she has lost the ability to talk, and she needs everyone’s prayers worse than he does.

His eyes water up again as he talks about her and her suffering, you can tell his heart is breaking.

We discuss his son, and how well he is doing in his career, and then I ask him how his relationship with the Lord is, and he smiles and says “better than ever”. The two and a half years since he retired has given him the opportunity to get closer still with God. Before his sickness, he would volunteer regularly at church.

We didn’t waste any of our time talking about “old times” but rather on things that mattered. He walked me out to my truck, and told me he was “very” happy that I had stopped by, and that I was welcome to do so any time I wanted to. He teared up again and gave me a final hug as I climbed into my truck and drove away.

He had changed and so had I, many times when we see someone for the last time under bad circumstances, that last snapshot we have is the one we use to classify them from now on. But people change, Fitz had changed. I no longer hold anger in my heart when I think of Fitz, instead I think of the broken man who kept thanking me for visiting him, the man who kept getting tears in his eyes, not the tyrant.

I know this post doesn’t have some huge Biblical discovery in it, but if there was something I wish you would walk away with, it is that we all change, and we all deserve a second chance. Is there someone you have held a grudge against for years, or maybe months? Maybe it is time to cut them some slack.

God bless

JFT

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As an IT specialist fresh out of college, I began working at a Dr’s office on their existing billing software. I would tweak it to suit their needs as requested. As time passed, I began to see the faults in the software. I would set up a workstation and as I would set up the software I would think, “if this were mine, I would have designed it differently and made it more user friendly”. Eventually, I began to work on a new program in the spare bedroom at my house, the room I called my office.

After two years or so, I released my new software package, the one I had designed by studying the mistakes of all the other programs. It was well received in the medical community, and my company skyrocketed. I hired a small staff to assist me, and investors with other IT propositions approached me. My wife and I moved out of our house and into a gated neighborhood on the “better” side of town, and I now had a rented floor in an office building. After I designed an accounting software program designed to be used by law offices, my company went public on the NYSE, and the rest was history. I hired the best software engineers in the country and my employee numbers exceeded five hundred, and that was just the beginning.

Fifteen years have passed now since that time, I don’t even go into work but once a month to board meetings. I live on a one hundred acre estate. I have a driver, kitchen and housekeeping staffs, and gardeners to handle the upkeep. My first wife is long gone, two more have cycled through since, and they live in luxury with their settlements.

In looking back to my poverty stricken upbringing, I realize that I really have it good now. I wear only the best clothes, I live in a nice home, and the people I surround myself with are cultured and have class. When I ride through the city in my limo, I see the small people of the world, wearing their cheap t-shirts and bargain pants, big stupid grins on their faces, and I shudder to think of what it would be like if I had instead lived among their ranks. What if I had been average?

I like to refer to myself when giving talks at conferences as a winner, I don’t take no for an answer, I do not quit until I have a solution. So why am I so miserable all of the time. I have everything a man could want, I have money beyond my ability to ever spend. I have possessions that should make anyone happy, I can fly to Rome, London, or anywhere in the world on a moments notice in my plane, so why am I so unhappy?

As I lay down to sleep last night, I drifted off into a dream. In my dream, I was in an accident in my limo; the driver and I were both killed. I was taken to a place where it was very cold and stripped naked then bathed. I was then placed on a table and shoved into one of many vaults in a wall as I watched from overhead. I was in a vault next to a homeless man that died on a park bench at the same time I died. My brother (the Bible thumper) came and identified my body as I watched, then turned away and cried bitterly. I could also read his thoughts; he cried because I had never obeyed the gospel, my gospel was money. My heart couldn’t help but be pricked as he left the building sobbing over the loss of my soul, his little brother.

Three days later, I was wheeled into a room with several others, naked on the same table and we were cremated one after the other. After each cremation, the worker would do his best to sweep out the ashes into a box onto which he would write the name of the decedent, but he could never get all the ashes. My ashes were mixed with those of the homeless man and two others, how can that be?

After my name was written on the box, I began to drift off toward a bright light and it was warm and comfortable. When I finally came to the source of the light, I was surprised to see it emitting from a figure sitting on a throne that appeared to be made of gold. He was so bright that you could not look directly at Him, but could catch glimpses of Him in your peripheral vision.

I was made to stand in line and wait with all of the others, it reminded me of a time when I went to the DMV, all different kinds of people, most of which I wouldn’t rub elbows with. That homeless guy I saw back in the morgue, well, I just couldn’t lose him, he was in front of me in line. As he got to the front of the line, he went down on his knees and bowed before God to my surprise. God ran his fingers over a page in the book, the said “well done, good and faithful servant” enter my kingdom. To my surprise, the homeless man rose and entered through the gate to the left of God; Then God turned His attention to me. He ran His finger down one page, then another, and another page still. He began to shake His head slowly, and then he asked me how many people I might have fed had I parted with a small part of my money? How many people could have occupied a room in my mansion on a cold winter night, had I only offered? I then knew what he was talking about, an understanding came over me, and I knew I would not be entering through the gate to Gods left. I was going somewhere else altogether, and I looked toward God for His reaction. To my surprise, He was not angry, but sad as He closed the book and said “sorry son”.

I then awoke and looked around the room, it was dark outside still, and it took a while, but I was able to get back to sleep, this time dreamless. After breakfast the next morning, I went into the study for privacy and dialed a number I hadn’t called in many years. I sat waiting as the phone rang, hoping upon hope that he would answer. Finally, my brother, the Bible thumper answered. After some initial awkwardness, we fell into easy conversation, and I told him about the dream. I then asked if he would be willing to come visit me and tell me more about God. I could hear the joy in his voice as he said “I thought you’d never ask”.

God Bless

JFT

This story is fiction, written to illustrate a point.

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I have always been fascinated by the story of the rich young man found in Matthew 19:16-23

Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”  “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.” “Which ones?” he inquired. Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother,  and ‘love your neighbor as yourself. “All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?” Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth. Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

I suppose that the thing that fascinates me so much about these scriptures is the way we do our best to interpret them, many times an attempt to spin them into our favor. I know anyone who has ever attended a church or discussed this scripture has debated the true meaning of these verses. I would like to dig deeper. If there were a core meaning to this passage, what would it be? My thinking is that it would be “greed is bad”.

Just last night, we discussed at Bible study the subject of greed. Can a rich person inherit the kingdom of Heaven? Is there a difference in being rich and being financially secure, or for that matter fiscally responsible. God wants us to be fiscally responsible as reflected in many scriptures in the Bible, but we need to be careful with how important our money is, how much focus we give to it in our life. But money is not the thing that usually drives greed in most cases, but the “stuff” that our money can buy. A bad case of the wants is the first clue that we may have a problem with greed. Wants are not to be confused with needs either.

I have always thought it would be cool to have a big customized Harley, doing road trips in the mountains of up north. I could get my woman, oops,wait, my wife to jump on and away we would go. See, this is how greed begins, we see ourselves as being satisfied and happier when we have more, unrealistically because it is never as great as you think it will be. It starts with admiration, then leads to imagination, and eventually to covetousness. When we get there, we have greed. Sooooo, back to the scripture “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Does he say impossible? No, he does not, But, there is that follow up scripture. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.

So, what gives, is it impossible or what, here is my take. I have heard all of my life that there is a gate into Jerusalem, and you guessed it, it is called the eye of the needle. It is a short gate, no more than five feet tall, and while difficult, a camel can pass through on its knees, although it will need at least four Band-Aids afterwards. 😉 It is great to hear this story, because it means we can have our cake and eat it too, but now comes the rub. The story of the short gate is hogwash, it is an urban legend, a myth, it does not exist. If you have a NIV study Bible, read the notes below the parable of the rich man, it will be explained. So what does that leave us with, a real needle, and a real camel.

Those who have nothing don’t give another thought to this scripture, it doesn’t apply to them. Those of us who live in the land of plenty are constantly looking for the loophole in the scripture, the secret meaning that means we can really keep all of our stuff. I look at all that I have, I look at my possessions, things that I collect and cringe at the thought of not having them. My watch collection that I spent a decade collecting, that I enjoyed so much, did it really mean anything, or was it just stuff. The collection was just stuff, so I sold it, and guess what, I don’t miss it. Only on parting with them did I realize that I felt better without them.

Folks, don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that it is wrong to have a few luxury items. I am not saying it is wrong to have a few dollars in the bank, and neither is Jesus. It is wrong when your items or your money begin to mean too much to you. When the things, money, even time become more important to us than taking up our cross and following Christ, it may be time to have a garage sale.

Matt. 8:19-20 Then a teacher of the law came to him and said, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”

God Bless

JFT

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I stood at the mailbox looking at the plain envelope with no return address on it, wondering if it was junk mail or not. Real letters usually have a return address on them, so it is probably just an ad. Curiosity always gets the best of me though, so I rip it open anyway. A single letter with a small paragraph is on the page, and I catch my breath as I begin to read.

The letter addresses me by name, and goes on to tell me that this is to serve as formal notification that I am being evicted from life, my life will end Saturday morning at eleven thirteen AM. I stare at the paper thinking “could this possibly be true, who can know that? I also think briefly”This is Monday” so I read on. The letter thanks me for being a servant of Christ and the one and only true God and telling me that I have been awarded a home in Heaven with Them. The letter gets “really interesting” then as it goes on to tell me that my family are all going to join me when their time is up. But, I will have an opportunity to bring six additional people with me who are named in the letter, but there are conditions.

First off, I need to tell them about God “this week” as there is no time to waste. The letter also tells me that they are currently “not” saved and will spend their eternity in hell if I do not intervene. One is my best friend, another is a co-worker that I only really know as an acquaintance, and another is a boss that I really don’t like. One is a teenage friend of my daughters, and another is a single mother who lives next door. The last is the most frightening, it is my mother. The letter then said that the conditions are as follows. I am not allowed to tell anyone that my life will be ending or show the letter to them. I am not allowed to ask anyone to come to Christ; they must ask me how they can become Christians. I am not allowed to use any resources from the church, or bring them there. I am only allowed to use one thing, the Bible in my quest. In closing, the letter then says if I hit a snag, pray about it, sincerely, God.

I look around the neighborhood for the prankster, but there is no-one to be seen. I feel like my spine is covered in ice as I walk back to my house, stunned at the thought that this might actually be a letter from God. As I walk onto my driveway, the young single mother pulls in next door and gets out of her car. I look down at my hand, still clutching the letter and my voice quivers as I say “hello” and walk over to her driveway. I am terrified as I try to think of the words to say, but they come, and they keep coming. We talk casually for a while and I tell her about the Christ I follow, and how He has changed my life, how I have hope where there was once none, peace where there was never peace before, love for and from others that I never imagined. I managed to do all of this without even quoting a scripture one. She then looked at me and said she would like to learn more, she had never heard about any of this.

When I finally entered the house, the phone was ringing. I answered it, and it was my mom, she wanted to know if I would be available to have lunch with her tomorrow, and I didn’t hesitate to answer yes. As the week wore on, I found myself in a position to talk to all of the people on the list, and the words flowed as they had with the young single mother I had first spoken with. My mother told me that she had wanted to have lunch, because she had become more aware of her frailty lately, and she didn’t want to waste what time she had left, she wanted to know more about God.

I prayed every day, sometimes seemingly constantly from early morning to late at night, and when I would fall asleep finally, I would dream about God, my friends and the ticking clock. The week flew by, and when Friday evening came, all six of my lost friends had come to Christ; I had fulfilled God’s wishes by being available to Him. I sat contentedly in my recliner, looking at my lovely wife clipping coupons at the table, and thought to myself, “I am ready now”. That night, I went to bed and slept a deep and relaxing sleep, one without dreams and woke at eight the next morning. I sat at the breakfast table feeling healthy and fine, wondering how I would go out in three hours as my wife came in from the yard. She had a stack of mail in her hands and told me there was an unmarked letter in it for me, probably just ad’s.

I tore it open immediately and knew instantly it was from Him, same paper, and same font. I began reading voraciously through the letter, and here is what it said. Jim, you have shown Me that you can in fact be a productive worker in My kingdom. You answered the call I gave to you and have shown me that you have what it takes to be a soul winner for My Son, a fisher of men. I have decided to extend your life beyond the date written in My book, because I think you need a second chance. Being a follower of My Son is required to enter the kingdom, but to get the best seats, you have to be a worker, it is called “building treasures in Heaven”. You had seats in the nosebleed section before, but you are moving closer to the field now. While I have allowed your life to continue, remember this, every day is “somebody’s” last day, the day when the book of their life will be sealed forever. Go get em’ Jimbo! Love, God!

JFT

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