Thursday, August 24, 2006

Prayer for Uncle Ted

Danny is a man in our men’s Bible study. To the best of my knowledge, he is the first believer in his extended family. Danny has faced many trials in his young life. He is an over comer, has had a drastic change in lifestyle and conduct, a lover of the Word, doer of the Word, a pleasure to be around.

His Uncle Ted (in his 50’s) lives alone. He had a stroke and lay on the floor for four days before anyone found him. Uncle Ted ended up in the hospital in a coma. The prognosis was not good—an estimated 3 weeks in the hospital, then to a nursing home for rehabilitation with the possibility of never leaving the nursing home.

Danny felt led to go to the hospital and lay-on hands and pray for his uncle. The 25 mile drive to the hospital was filled with doubt about what he should do, but he pushed on in obedience even with these doubts hounding him.

When he arrived at the hospital and told his cousins what God had put on his heart, they told him they didn’t want him in the room but that he could remain in the waiting room. He waited and prayed.

Hours later he asked again if he could see his uncle, pray over him and lay on hands; reluctantly, his wish was granted. He prayed believing God would heal his uncle.

Last week we were told the story of Uncle Ted, so we prayed. This week Danny was asked about Uncle Ted. Danny said, “He walked with his walker to McDonalds to get an ice cream cone!” What?! “Yes,” Danny said, “his speech is even coming back!”

Goosebumps ran up the back of my arms. God is still in the business of healing people, transforming lives, and Danny continues to share that good news.

Driving home from the cities I called a friend whose son-in-law is battling cancer and has experienced a set back. We have to be careful, this good news of Uncle Ted’s recovery could be unsettling, leading to questions and doubt of why God is doing that for Uncle Ted and not for us?

I wanted to bring hope. A reminder and evidence of God’s healing and transforming power but many times it doesn’t happen on our time line. Uncle Ted’s story was accepted with tears of joy. Oh Lord, grant us patience while we wait for your timing and your healing. We wait with expectation for your coming. Come quickly, Lord Jesus, come!

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Thirty Short Years

I recently came across the following piece which was written on October 4, 1991, 25 years to the day of my joining the Air Force. It was written with consideration of the brevity of life, the universal nature of man’s problems, and the only solution: Jesus Christ.

"The twenty-three mile ride to Willmar in the ’60 Chevrolet pick-up was uneventful. The conversation was sparse and measured. At best, my Dad looked troubled.

It had to be hard to take your youngest son to the bus station to go off to the Air Force. The year was 1966; Viet Nam was in full swing. My pacifist, farmer, father didn’t consider it a war worth fighting. I thought the heaviness of his heart was due to the fact that I wouldn’t listen to his side of the story, but I was wrong.

We waited for the bus passing time in idle chatter and then he said it: “Thirty years, Jerry, thirty years.” He said, “Thirty years ago I married your Mom and after today, I’m alone again.”

When you are 18, thirty years seems like a long time. When you are 44, thirty years seems much shorter.

He was a good looking young farmer; strong, with big hands; the youngest son of a Lutheran German immigrant farmer. She was the oldest daughter of the same stock: German, solid, and Catholic. They had to love one another for a Lutheran and a Catholic to marry in 1936 was not something taken lightly in our farming town.

In the late thirties, times were improving. By 1941, they had a daughter and a son. Dry weather and hail challenged their perseverance, but crop prices were getting better. They lived through the Armistice Day storm, “just barely,” he said, “but we made it.”

He would remember the Day of Infamy and in his mind, FDR was rock solid. At the start of the war, he was 32 and farming; he never got called. His boyhood friend, Rudy Trapp, went to Europe—he never returned. He would reminisce, “with Rudy Trapp in left field and me in center, not many balls got by us.” And he would add for emphasis, “You better believe it!”

By 1947 they had another daughter and another son. Machinery was easier to get, crop prices were getting better. Frost, dry spells, hail, good crops, bad crops, good prices, bad prices were their companions. A growing family kept them busy.

“It started as a pain in her ribs,” he said, and five years later, he buried his wife. I was young but I remember it. He never remarried; “Pearl was the one for me, why should I get married again,” was his feeling.

The two older children married. Grandchildren began to fill his life but time continues to march on. His hair began to leave his head, what was left turned from brown to grey. He was a combination of boisterous and quiet; opinionated, belligerent and gentle. He always seemed to be missing a part of his life. As I got older, I realized what it was—it was Mom.

The bus arrived, my mind was spinning. The drive back to the farm in the ’60 Chevy pick-up must have been lonely—really lonely. Only thirty short years, he said, thirty short years.

He often said he wanted to die in his carrot patch. God granted him his wish. There was no one there when the angels came. He was alone except for his faithful dog, Butch standing guard.

Lord, slow me up. Make me appreciate my family now. Continue to use this past to teach me. Hold me securely. I have hope; I look ahead. With Jesus, I will not be alone.

James 4:13-14: Now listen you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money. Why you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”

Jesus said in Matthew 28, “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world.”

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Attending a Great Event—The end of wretchedness

Friday I attended a memorial service for my 101 year old Uncle Francis who died in Arizona last winter.

The memorial service was not the great event I’m talking about. The great event was at the memorial service when a woman proclaimed an end to the wretchedness of man. No, she didn’t stride to the front of church and make a formal announcement; no, she just slid it in John Newton’s hymn “Amazing Grace”. She changed the line “Amazing grace that saved a wretch like me” to “Amazing grace that saved a soul like me.”

Now I realize John Newton’s Amazing Grace is not the inspired word of God but its timeless message is true. Oh, Old Beef here doesn’t like being called a wretch either. I mean, on the whole, I’m a good ol’ soul, not too threatening. Oh, I tell a lie now and then, and I lust after my neighbors wife, but at least I’m not a wretched drunk like Bubba and I have not had an abortion like that woman who lives on Highway 71 while all the time I denying I’m a glutton…

As she sang, we cows and bulls of Bashon (read Amos Chapter 4) didn’t even squirm in the pews. We didn’t even belch or much less chew our cud. No, we all just sat there and went on being our “good ol’ soul” selves.

God help us. God doesn’t grade on a curve. All sin is sin to a Holy God. Denying the truth doesn’t make it go away. We are all wretches at the foot of the cross. We should all be found face first in blood stained dust at the foot of the cross not changing words to timeless hymns to make ourselves feel better. The only way we will be found clean is by the shed blood of Jesus Christ and that alone. God help us wretches. We need your help Lord now, more than ever. We hear the hoof beats on the horizon but we are not about to listen or change (Isaiah 66:4).

Friday, August 04, 2006

Caller I.D.-ing the Lord

Caller I.D. bugs me. Why do people need it? When I ask, most people dance around my question. I believe the real truth is—we don’t want to talk to certain people.

One defense of Caller I.D. is that there are times when we need our privacy, our time alone. May I suggest if this is true, don’t pay the monthly Caller I.D. charge, and just don’t answer the phone!

Why should this bother me? Let’s say you are a member of a service organization and need to line up workers for the yearly local celebration. You call someone; no answer; after 3 calls you find yourself talking to an answering machine and leave a message. You call again one week later to confirm if Bubba is going to be able to work at the celebration but again get no answer. I highly suspect you are a victim of “Caller I.D. itis”—probably it’s symptomatic of a fear of mine that some people just don’t want to talk to Old Jer!

In Isaiah 66:4 it says, “So I also will choose harsh treatment for them. And I will bring upon them what they dread. For when I called, no one answered, when I spoke, no one listened. They did evil in my sight and chose what displeases me.”

How many times has the Lord called and we chose not to answer. (Caller Him.) When He spoke we chose not to listen.

Remember there is a limit to God’s patience (Romans 1:20-32). The more we Caller I.D. Him when He calls, the less sensitive our conscience becomes and pretty soon we are going through our rituals (read Isaiah 66) with no feeling or passion. We become cold hearted with a backslapping, smiling, two-faced demeanor. God help us!

Who does the Lord esteem? Isaiah 66:2 says, “This is the one I esteem, he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.”

Maybe we need to be a little less protective of our privacy and “our own time” and tremble at His Word.

Oh Lord, forgive me for turning away; keep my conscience alive. Give me the power to obey and not Caller I.D. you when you call. Amen