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Archive for April, 2012

It began simple enough, with common sense questions I began to ask myself. The guys at work knew me as someone who liked the finer things in life, frugal yes, I would get the best deal on the finer things in life, but none the less, the labels mattered to me. One day, I sat looking at the watch that had started it all, the most expensive one I had ever purchased. Christmas was coming up, things were tight and I felt like a real self centered jerk walking around with a $2300.00 watch on my wrist that did nothing a Timex wouldn’t. Oh, true it was good to 300 meters on a dive, problem was, no humans were good for 300 meter dives, so when the submersible recovered your body, it’s pilot would at least get a nice watch in the deal. I grabbed my camera and began taking the pictures for E-bay, I was sad to see it go, but I could no longer justify the luxury, besides, I still had my collection of Seiko automatic dive watches anyway. They weren’t Omega, but they did keep time, and cost less than a quarter what the Omega did. Sigh, I clicked “list”.

When I slid the packaged watch across the counter at the post office and walked out, I somehow felt lighter, I felt better, and I didn’t miss the watch anymore. I had been telling myself that when the kids were all grown, I would get another, now I wasn’t so sure. What did it matter?

Several years later, I wanted to go see the girls, I was really missing them, and it had been a while since I had been there, Brooke had just moved to Dallas, Lauren was still in Arkansas. With all of these tuitions I could have been CEO of G.E. and things still would have been tight, considering the two girls still at home were in Christian high school too. I didn’t even ask, I knew the answer before hand, the money just wasn’t there. I thought about something then, and I went in and looked at the Seiko watches on my dresser, then grabbed my camera. It was much easier letting go of all of them than it was the first one, and now I was watch-less, but I did still have a cell-phone that kept time I thought as I hurried through the terminal to catch my flight to Dallas first, then Little Rock.

I was able to do much more than I ever imagined by just cutting out some of the fluff, but it didn’t stop there. I then began to feel the urge to further question myself. If God came here and asked me what one possession I really enjoyed, what would it be? TV, naw I don’t really care too much about that, I could part with the computer too, cell-phone, no problem, hmm, Hey I really like my quad, yes, that would be it. God, I would have to say, I really enjoy my quad, and I want to thank you for blessing me with it. I am able on my days off to get on it and head out into the mountains by my house exploring, taking pictures, having a great time in nature. Yeah, I was really fond of my quad.

What if, Jesus told me to sell my quad and give the money to the poor, would that bother me? Are you kidding me, Of course it would bother me, take the TV, take the house, the stuff, but c’mon, not the quad, that is like my link with nature, anything but the quad, not the quad Jesus, take my tools, my wife’s truck ;-), just not the quad.

It became a realization to me that I had an unhealthy relationship with my “Off Highway Vehicle”, it had become a material possession that I was way too fond of. I stood in the garage looking at it and I actually turned right there, I began to loathe it on the spot, because I realized what all of this was leading up to, it had come between God and me. I didn’t need to sell everything I had, I needed to change my heart and I needed to stop falling in love with stuff. But the quad did need to go, because it would be a reminder as long as it remained in my garage that I “had” been in love with my possessions. I listed it on Craigslist later that day.

My wife bought me a non-dive watch for father’s day a couple months after I had sold off all of my dive watches. It is not a known name, not automatic, and not expensive, but it is the most valuable watch I have ever owned, because someone I love took the time to go out and pick it out for me. All of the others I chose, they were self-service, and they meant nothing in the grand scheme of things.

I can tell you there is nothing more freeing than no longer yearning for that next thing, no longer caring about having the latest and the greatest, and for letting God take over and helping you to shove those possessions that once meant so much to you out the door. I am sure I am not “there” yet, I am sure the watches and the quad were only the beginning, the house could be next, or perhaps my truck, I just hope that I am open minded to the Spirits guiding when it happens. After all, what here on earth besides kindness, love, family, and spreading God’s Word really matter anyway, isn’t it all temporary? God Bless-JFT

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So what do you think, the 911 or the 944 he asked me as we went out the front door and headed for the garage? We can put the top down on the 911, it is a little nippy but it has seat coil heaters that will keep us warm, or we could just forego the convertible and stick with the 944, all luxury anyway. I never gave it a second thought, the 911 I said as the garage door rolled up revealing the two freshly waxed bright red sports cars under the light.

The 911 already had its top down, and was a sight to see with its flared wheel wells and the wide whale tail on back above the engine grill. It was flawless, there was not a scratch anywhere on either of the cars, and although I have never really been a car guy, the only car that has ever stolen my heart was Porsche. Were I ever to buy a car, it would be one of these I had often thought. The 944 was a nice car, I mean Tom Cruise did make it famous in that movie “Risky Business” after all, what was it he said? Oh yeah, “Porsche, there is no substitute”. But that wasn’t my style at all, I would take one if someone gave it to me of course, but the 911 was the one that held my heart, no, not heart, lust. Matt 6:21 “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”.

Think fast, he said as he chucked the keys at me and I caught them in midair. Dude, you know I can’t keep doing this, if I wreck this thing I would have to sell my house to pay for it, if I even owned my house anyway, which I didn’t, the bank did. He would just laugh and say “you worry too much, c’mon, let’s go have some fun, after all, that’s what insurance is for right? It purred as I turned the engine over and pulled out of the garage onto the street, headed for a main thoroughfare. He reached over and turned on the state of the art Blaupunkt stereo, setting it to some serious rock as I punched it out onto the main road. As I zigged and zagged in and out of traffic with the music blaring I remembered the movie “Against all odds” and the street race scene between the 911 driven by Jeff bridges and a Ferrari Testarossa driven by James Woods. That was where my love affair with this car had begun.

As I came up on an intersection where we would be turning right, I turned on my blinker and began to slow, but my friend said don’t slow, punch it. I didn’t get it, it seemed dangerous but he was an old guy, probably 36 or 37 and I was like 24, so I did as I was told. The car took the corner at high speed without even a hint of slide or slip, it was pure beauty. If our wives had known what we were doing they would have been really ticked, but you know, they probably did know. As I would drive his 911, he would regale me with stories of how he had begun working at a fast food restaurant and worked his way to the point he was at now, where he owned a finance company and was filthy rich. He was also house speaker for the state legislature, he had his fingers in a lot of pies, we had met at church. I was so impressed with him, I wanted to be just like him, after all, he was a Christian so that had to mean he was okay, right? If he could do it and make it sound so easy then maybe I could too. Matt. 6:19-20 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal”.

 That was over twenty years ago, and we lost touch with time. I saw him not long after I was divorced and struggling to start over again, bumping into him at another church. He shook my hand and said “My condolences or My congratulations on your divorce, whichever fits”, then he smiled and patted me on the shoulder, then turned and walked away. Spoken like a true politician I thought as I watched him walk off, a comment for each scenario that might or might not exist, without bothering to take the time to find out.

The lure of things shiny and red, fast and powerful or glittery and exclusive is one of the best things the devil has in his bag of tricks. If he makes us want something so bad that we begin to lust after it, then we are willing to often times work our fingers to the bone to get it. If we get to that point, then he has won, because when we begin to work our fingers to the bone to get something we want, we take our eyes off of God, and our focus is on the material. He also will mask our materialism with words that are more palatable than “greed or materialism”, words like “collector, enthusiast or hobbyist”. I know about these things because I have had to deal with them first hand, seeing things and wanting them, thinking about them for a long time until I could get them, watches were a vice. My kids laugh and call me a “former watch junkie”, and while it sounds funny, it is representative, I used to spend a lot on them. Just two days ago, I had to interface with a very nice man from headquarters at work who is a peer.

As we were chatting I noticed he had on the exact model of dive watch I used to own and I mentioned what it was and that I used to have one. He smiled and began to name off the other watches he had too, all big name, big dollar watches rated for diving. Ah, you are a collector huh, I asked? No, I don’t have the money to have the watches I really want he said, although he had just told me the watches he had, and I knew the combined value was at least $10,000.00. He then told me the ones he wanted but couldn’t yet afford, and considering the ones he already had and the fact that he didn’t even consider himself a collector, I had no doubt that he would find a way to get the ones on his list.

Materialism is like the old saying, if you throw a frog in hot water, he will jump out and live, but if you put him in a pan at room temperature and set him on the stove, and slowly bring it to a boil, he will die because he won’t see it coming. I think of the parable of the rich man, the problem wasn’t that he had possessions, the problem was his heart, he liked it all too much. The “stuff” had become his god. Who is your god, is it the One who sent His Son down for you that you may have everlasting life with Him in heaven? Or are you serving the god of money, the god of prosperity, are you a collector or things, is there anything that you own that would give you real heartbreak to part with if you had to choose between “it” and “God”?

Be Blessed-JFT

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The trail was empty as I pumped my bike as hard as I could, trying to beat the setting sun. The ride is an hour and a half, but the sun was only good for an hour. This was my eleventh day out of fifteen back at it, trying to get healthy again, and I was giving it my all. I rode over the place where I destroyed my left shoulder last year, and I thought about the scars on my shoulder from that surgery, already becoming tan from riding (sleeveless). I wanted to shout at that cursed piece of ground that had caused me so much pain, to tell it that it hadn’t beaten me, that it wouldn’t ever beat me. But I couldn’t, because it had.

It had beaten me because I had let my guard down, and truth known, it wasn’t even this piece of ground that I was talking about as I rode in silence listening to “Casting Crowns’ on my IPod. A guy at work about twenty years ago used to say to us when we were in school that it okay to be “cocky” as an operator, but if you are, you better be “real” good. What he was saying is that if you were cocky in what you do in work, you better be prepared to back up what you say. As followers of Christ, we now know that is not really a good character trait, but guess what, it is one I still fight, but not in the way you might expect.

Last fall, I was so angry at the devil for attacking my brother with the terrible disease that he was stricken with. I called out the devil and challenged him, told him to “bring it”, give me your best, and called him out for the pathetic loser he is (oops, there I go again). So there you go, that was my cockiness, not at work, humility at work and home, cockiness with the devil only. I just forgot the second part of the equation, the part about being “real good”. What happened next was tantamount to boiling a frog slow so he doesn’t know it, I slowly let my guard down, and Satan was waiting, he brought it just like I asked him too, only I wasn’t ready then, and he got me.

I came around a bend in the trail as the sun dropped below the horizon, and began my last brutal climb, sucking and blowing yet trying to keep my breathing under control as I pedaled up at a 45 degree angle. My lungs burned and my quads and calves burned too, but it was all good, I was getting stronger with every pump. The shoulder surgery had left me in more pain than I had ever been in before, even though my right shoulder had been worked on about a decade ago, it was small potatoes to this. The pain killers were a necessity I guess, but I knew they were not good for me. Little by little things started to change, I stopped hearing my beloved Holy Spirit, and that just broke my heart. I began to feel as though I were all alone in the world, it was because I was in my own little world. I became numb, and my deep connection to the Lord seemed to be a much longer distance connection than normal. He was waiting, I was no longer “that good” and he “brought it”.

I am nearing the top of the hill now, the desert is pretty as the shadows fall and darkness begins to gather, I must hurry. I catch my breath and take a drink of pure water as the sweat drips from me in at least ten places and the song “Hosanna” begins, I think for a moment, what better song could I be listening to as I pedal to the top of this mountain, picturing the scene of Jesus triumphal entry, people laying palm leaves before him. I am no longer winded as I hit the last stretch and begin the long downhill stretch that is the happy ending of the ride. During the time I was on the pain meds, he threw so many trials at my family, big things and I felt like my head was going to explode, I was so ill equipped to handle it. A fellow blogger Linda C. pointed out to me that that is what the devil does to people who are bold with their faith, he waits for a weakness like when you have to have surgery, and are not maybe your sharpest, and then he attacks you. I think there is a lot of wisdom in her statement, I am quite certain that is what happened with me.

But the Lord is faithful, and He showed me enough to know what was going on, and gave me the strength to break the chains of bondage. I threw them away and told my wife and friends I am never going to ever take them again, I always want to be sharp. The Spirit was back immediately, an old and dear friend that I had missed more than I can ever say. As depressed as I had become for over two months that I was healing, the return of the Spirits voice has placed me in a euphoria that has lasted for weeks.

As I blast down a hill that we have named “lung-buster hill” (when you are going up) the street lights are beginning to come on in the subdivisions in the valley below. I have learned a lot again I think, I have learned that I am nothing. I am not a warrior, I am not bold, I am not tough, I am fragile. There is nothing about me that I am that I can take credit for, not even this riding, I am not staying upright because I am an awesome rider, anyone can crash. I am upright because that’s how God wants me to be, I am not a warrior apart from the one God makes me into, I am not bold with strength apart from that strength which God blesses me with, and I am not tough apart from the durability God has tempered into me through life, I am yours my Lord.

I do not regret calling out the Devil, I would do it again but I do regret letting my guard down. As I blast out onto the pavement again, I shift up into high gears and push it harder, it is so great to be alive and here now. I don’t feel as though I am the same person I was last fall, I feel much more grateful I think, and blessed, funny how God is constantly re-inventing us isn’t it? God Bless-JFT

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 *Note* this is a letter that was written by my eldest daughter before she went off to college. She has since graduated, married, graduated again from grad school and she and her husband have settled in Dallas.
I have an old shoe box in the nightstand by my bed, in it are the priceless things in life, pictures, baby teeth in ziplock baggies with dated notes when I was the tooth fairy, newborn hospital caps, pacifiers, homemade fathers day cards and this letter, among many other things. When I read it, I can still smell the air, feel the breeze, and the warmth of my girl under my arm. This note touched me deeply, and I would like to share it with you.
 
 
                                 “Home”  by Brooke  July 21, 2003
 
                  Another strip of lightning lit up the sky, briefly illuminating the face of my father who was sitting beside me on the bench in our front yard. The words he had just said so matter-of-factly slowed my thoughts to a halt.

“So, I guess this is going to be your last year at home.”

Rather surprised at the turn of conversation, from talking about a dead tree to talking about my future, I found myself feeling a strange sort of denial.

“Well”, I replied trying to keep the same calm tone he had used, ”probably not, dad. I mean, I don’t think so”

“No, Brooke, you’re going off to college in a year, and after that, you’ll most likely be on your own. Gosh, I wish you didn’t have to go. I wish I could keep you here forever.”

My heart turned over in my chest as I realized I wanted just the same thing. I suppose going over my plans for my life at college for the past couple of months had done all it could for making me thrilled about dorm life, but had not prepared me for letting go of my home life. I guess in my subconscious , I had not realized that in a year, besides my parents funding, frequent phone calls, and letters, I would be completely on my own. No more relying on clean clothes to be in the closet through no action of my own. I had no guarantee that the pantry would always be full, no one person but myself could be relied upon to throw out the old milk and replace it. For some reason, I knew I was going to miss terribly the voice of my mother telling me it was time to go to bed.

        I the background, I was vaguely aware of the fact that the storm was heating up, as were my father’s comments on how close the lightning was getting. “We might need to move the bench away from this tree if we don’t want to get fried.” Similar comments punctuated my scrambled thoughts, and I was aware of the fact that I was agreeing with everything that my father said, something that didn’t always happen, especially when I was driving with him. Suddenly longing to look, I turned and glanced up at him. He was staring into the oncoming monsoon with that faraway look he always gets when rain comes. This look didn’t surface often, considering the fact that we lived in Phoenix, Arizona, a city that I was sure was cursed with the endurance of only getting rain a maximum of 10 times a year, on a good year.

         Watching my father filled my heart with an overwhelming love, and this, not so strangely, made me want to cry. I observed his thinning hair, the results of getting perms in the eighties. He was so close to bald, but his hair still possessed enough zest to     stick straight up, blowing in the warm gale. His tiny little brown eyes were taking in the whole scene, enjoying it so much that one could be jealous of his still childlike wonder while observing God’s great creation. His thin lips sat slightly apart, as if he were going to say something, but got distracted. This all accented the loveable nature of this built, round, five foot eleven man who had the likeness of a teddy bear. Goodness, I loved him. Although there were times when he annoyed me, and yes, embarrassed me, there was no one else I could have wished for as a father. I wish I didn’t have to leave him.

“I wish you didn’t have to leave me Brookie.”

Was he reading my mind?

“I know daddy, me too, but you know I’ll come back, soon.”

“Yeah, I know…” he muttered absentmindedly. “Still……”

             He began to talk to me about how he planned to drive me and my things to Arkansas. He planned to bring tools to assist in setting up my room. Thoroughly awakened from my intense reverie, I focused on the conversation he was having with me, not wanting to miss anything important.

“Do you know if Harding supplies a computer in your room? You know, for email, and homework and stuff.”

              Still trying to gather my thoughts, I scanned my extensive knowledge of Harding University (go Bisons!) for an answer to his question.

“Ah, no, no I don’t think they do. But ya know what, I was thinking perhaps a laptop would suffice…….

As I peeked over at him, I was relieved to find that the hopeful tone in my voice had resulted in a knowing smile from my dad and not a resounding “No!” I tilted my face to the fitful sky , finding peace in its distress and turmoil. I inhaled deeply the sweet smell of the rain, remembering every summer before this one where my dad and I had come to meet the storms on the front porch, building our relationship up to the point to where it was now. It was as if every summer, the rain had carried a bundle of refreshment as well as love, and as cheesy as that sounds, it feels true to me, because I never felt deprived of love, even though the rain has deprived us of its presence. And after a night full of, “Wow girl, did you see that one? I bet it wasn’t more than a mile away!” My eyelids began to grow heavy, and the lightning was no longer enough to hold my attention. As I leaned over, curling up into my daddy’s arms, a realization came to me, the fact that I would never have to leave home. My home was every time my sister and me stayed up late talking, every time my mother came in to pray and talk with me about everything before bed. I was completely at home whenever Ivy would sing to me in the shower, or sing to me anytime for that matter. It was home when I told Stacia that I loved her, or when I kissed Jeff on the cheek. Home was sitting next to memaw in church, having her caress my arm when I really should have been listening more intently to the sermon. Home was in my father’s arms. My home, now and forever, is with God. As long as that was where my home was, which I knew it would always be, I knew I would never be away from home. Because His arms will always be open to me. And I can always return to my family. But I am not worried. I hear there are a lot of thunderstorms in Arkansas.

God Bless, JFT

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Her hands had hurt as she had pulled bark from the trees, stuffing it into her pockets and looking around for anything else that might be edible. There was some grass in clumps beneath a tree, so she grabbed that too, and brought that home. Her children were starving to death, as was her mother and husband, to think of it, she was so weak she could barely walk herself, but they sat and ate the grass she had pulled up. It had come down to this; they were eating grass and bark, anything to keep alive.

During the summer, they had been able to catch rats, frogs, and even snakes, but still barely enough to stay alive. There had once been corn to eat, how wonderful that had been, but now that was just a distant memory. Before it was over, they had ground the cobs and husks down and made tasteless cakes out of even that. She still remembered when she had found the handful of baby mice under a rock, she brought them back home, one of her daughters was near death and needed to eat. She had boiled them, but no matter how long, they stayed together and doughy. Even her husband Jo asked her if she would eat that, but her daughter had been brave and eaten it anyway, and it had saved her life.

Jo had a nephew across the river in China, and there was food there, they knew it was a huge risk, but they had to try, or the whole family would die. They set out and snuck across the border, fording the Tumen River to China. They made it and were stunned at the abundance of food, they had never before seen a rice steamer, and there was so much food they didn’t know what to do. One week later they returned home with many bags of bulging rice for their family, they would make two more trips for provisions.

A few days after returning from their third trip, Jo was arrested, she suspects a neighbor informant told the authorities on them. The following day Han was arrested also, she never saw her husband Jo again. They kicked and beat Han with wooden rods and crushed part of her skull, then placed her hands on the hard concrete floor and stomped on them. Then, without further explanation she was released, she was three months pregnant.

She would later be told Jo died on a train after having his wrists tied above his head without food or water for ten days. She returned home to find all of the rice they had hidden had been taken by the police. The kids were hungry, and her mom had been watching them.

Han gave birth to a boy, but he starved to death two months after he was born. In desperation, her oldest daughter left to find food and never returned, they believe she was caught up in human trafficking and taken to China, and then her mother died. In less than a year, her family of eight was reduced to four. In North Korea, if someone has been arrested then the neighbors no longer trust you and they suspect you of something. One night in July 1998, two policemen came to their door, and told them to leave, and if they didn’t they would burn the house down.

On July 18th, Han, with her two daughters JinHye, then 11, EunHye, 7, and  son BoKum, 5 set out on a 100 mile walk for the Chinese border. Weak from malnutrition, Han could barely walk, and the first night they stopped at a friend’s house to lodge for the evening. She looked at Han with wide eyes, how can you do it, two high mountain crossings and the river still lay ahead? Everyone was too weak to carry BoKum and he was too small and malnourished to walk. But how could a mother leave her son behind? But if they stayed, they would all be caught. She took a night to think things over, she didn’t know what to do. The next morning, her friend said “leave him, I will take care of him”. Han agreed, and planned to return for him in five days after getting the girls safely into China, she promised to bring back food for her friend. “Why aren’t you taking me too” BoKum asked, and she explained that she was going to go get some food and bring it back, and then she would take him, then she gave him a ground corn cake, she wishes she had given him more. They walked for two nights, then crossed into china, hid in fields and stole squash to eat. Then heavy rains came and they could not cross back over, Han didn’t know how to swim, and the river was at flood stage.

Then Han heard Kim Jong Il was executing anyone who hadn’t voted for him in the election, Han hadn’t because she had been in China at the time. She got jobs in China, and earned money to get BoKum back, but it took her two months before she earned enough to hire a man to go get him. Sadly, he returned empty handed. The woman had abandoned the boy, and he was seen wandering aimlessly in a field singing “when is my mother coming”. A neighbor gave him a bowl of porridge out of pity, he died immediately afterward, common when people who are malnourished eat too fast. When she heard about BoKum, her heart was ripping out of her chest.

They spent 10 years in China, and were deported several times back to North Korea, but were always able to bribe their way back into China. The last time a Korean-American pastor paid $10,000.00 to North Korean guards to sneak them back. They went to the United Nations in Beijing and asked to live in the U.S.

After 16 months, they were given a home of freedom in the U.S., one that came at a very high cost. There are only 130 refugees from North Korea who have settled in the United States, but you never hear from them because they have families. If a defector speaks out, it will be taken out on the family they left behind, Han has no one left, they are all dead. That is why they are speaking.

Crosses adorn the walls of their home, they carry bibles with them everywhere, they are on a mission to educate the world about what goes on in North Korea. You see the polished military parades, but you don’t see the people disappearing, the Christians dying. Please take a moment to pray for your brothers and sisters in Christ, for all those suffering in that poor country. And tell Han’s story over and over to everyone you know. God Bless-Jim

This Story is True

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“Have you ever stopped to think about where you would be without Jesus. No, I mean really, not hypothetically, where would you be were it not for the blood and the body that were broken for us, no, not us, You?”

If was so cold, so cold in here, we huddled together because we had no choice, we were packed together like sardines, but our bodies were so emaciated from lack of nutrition that we no longer generated enough heat to warm each other. The sides of the train car had wooden slats that were just wide enough to look out of and see where we were headed to across the snowy countryside, and also wide enough for the icy wind to whip through the car, sucking what warmth we managed to muster away with it.

First we heard the sound of machine gun fire, and then the vibrations of bombs coming up from the tracks, right into the train. We heard the engine pour on more steam to the drivers, an attempt to go faster, you can tell when they do that because it is very loud, and we knew, someone was standing up for us. We looked out the slats eagerly and saw the planes flying overhead strafing the forward part of the train as we watched them ducking Nazi tracer fire, they were the fighter planes. There were much larger planes higher up also, and they were in what seemed like a slower circle, and then it came. The ground pitched and we were all thrown into the air, many of us knocked unconscious as the steam engine had taken a direct hit from a 500 Lb. Bomb, just a couple kilometers outside of Auschwitz. The car was on it’s side, and miracoluosly no one was dead in my car, we were all banged up, but alive. The Allies, led by the Americans had just raided Auschwitz and came to our aid, taking what Nazi Soldiers surrendered prisoner, and killing the ones that didn’t. I was just a very small child then, but will never forget that.

 

I am an old man now, but just a few years ago, I went to America from my home here in Jerusalem, I had been looking up information on the pilots and soldiers who had been involved in our liberation, you see it wasn’t just “my” liberation, but that of all my descendants as well. He was fifteen years older than I was, but still very sharp, and he recounted as he dived his plane back and forth over the train on which I rode, taking out Nazi Machine gun pods with each pass. He caught fire with nearly every pass, by the time he had finally set his crippled plane down, it was so shot up it was beyond repair, he was assigned a different one. I looked into this mans deep blue eyes, and I knew that without him and the heroic deeds he and his peers had performed, “I” would not be sitting here, in America in his living room, but would have been mere dust swept from a furnace. This man I barely knew I loved so deeply, and owed so personally, for without him I would be nothing.

 

Sometimes when I think of Jesus, and God, or I am listening to Christian music that praises them and uplifts us, I find us thanking Him for what He did for “us”, and while what He did for us was give us life, it was a personal gift, not a corporate one. I think about the blood of Christ and how precious it is, and how we as followers of His need to value it for what it is. Because we choose to become followers of Christ does not mean that His blood flows like water through a lawn sprinkler that we used to run through, laughing and playing in on hot summer days, letting it cover us and delighting in it’s coolness. His sacrifice for us is very personal, and it always should be, at least it will be for me.

 

It is really hard for me to think that Jesus could have actually thought of “me” while he hung on the cross two thousand years ago, or my great grandfather for that matter, or even my great grandchildren either. But is it hard for us to imagine Jesus walking on the water? Is it hard for us to imagine Jesus healing the leper, or raising the dead, or turning water into wine, and not just any wine (but the good stuff). Jesus is God’s son, Jesus can do what God can do, and God put the rings on Saturn because he probably thought they would look prettier that way. God created Horse head Nebula along with everything else in the galaxy and on earth in six days, so why would it be so hard to imagine that Jesus had you in mind while He was on the Cross, I believe He did.

 

So, back to the original question I began with, Have you ever stopped to think about where you would be without Jesus? No, I mean really, not hypothetically, where would you be were it not for the blood and the body that were broken for us, no, not us, You?”

I know where I would be, If I were even alive, Satan would have his hands wrapped around both of my ankles and would be laughing that deep bellowing laugh a dictator laughs when he knows he has you right where he wants you. And I would be like the desperate Jews on the train a couple miles outside of Auschwitz, except I would be looking frantically around for a clean firstborn lamb to redeem myself with, and there would be one no-where in sight. That is where I would be without Jesus, lost and headed for hell.

 

So think about it, in as often as you partake of the communion, is it personal to you, as it was to the Jews saved from the clutches of Hitler’s murder machine, or is it more corporate, does your mind wander? If it does, do not lose hope, we have all been there, but think about it a bit more the next time you commune with Him, when you take of His body that was broken for you, when you take of his blood that was spilled for you. Make it personal. God Bless-Jim

 

The Story Part Is Fiction, Based on Fact

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