My Brother Died Today

101562_DKM_02[3].jpgFred, second from our right, at a birthday party (1962).

“For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.  For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven, inasmuch as we, having put it on, will not be found naked.  For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed but to be clothed, so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by life.  Now He who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave to us the Spirit as a pledge (2 Corinthians 5:1-5).”

 

Fred was 63 years old.  Pancreatic cancer took a visible toll and took him fast.  As sad as the last two weeks have been, today is also pretty exciting because Fred surrendered to Jesus Christ many years ago.  Today, right now, Fred is with the “firstborn from the dead,” eyeball to eyeball with Jesus of Nazareth.  Wow!

IMG_4455.JPGFred and me (in the saddle) at our Detroit home in 1966

I’m very sad and miss him, but if the resurrection is true (and I’ve bet my life on it as a fact) then this is also a celebration!  A weird rollercoaster of emotions, I know, but either Jesus did rise from the dead and we have a whole new world to enjoy with Him forever with our redeemed loved ones, or as Paul said, “we are of all men most to be pitied.”

When death comes, religious mumbo jumbo is the most worthless and empty thing imaginable, trying to be good with man-made traditions.  That’s religion, but I’m talking about an empty tomb in Jerusalem.  It’s about the man Who came back to life, God-in-the-flesh, rescuing us!

Watching the visible cancer slowly destroy Fred’s mortal tent reminded me of the invisible cancer we all share (sin).  We are all dead spiritually because of sin, and in the process of dying physically too (Ephesians 2:1).  A hereditary cancer passed down from Adam.  Paul said in Romans, For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.”

IMG_4472.JPGThe Three Amigos (me, our older brother Joe, and Fred) in 2015

Thankfully, Jesus proved that His death satisfied God’s requirement to solve the sin and death problem when He rose from the dead and killed death.  If you are “in Christ” then your grave can be just as empty. How can you be sure and excited about your death, absolutely, 100 percent sure death has no sting for you?  The answer is above, in 2 Corinthians 5:5.

God offers a “down payment” to guarantee He will follow through on His commitment to save you from your spiritual cancer.  His pledge––a thing that is given as security for the fulfillment of a contract or the payment of a debt––or “earnest money” as we say in a business transaction, is the Holy Spirit Himself.

His deal to you is this…give up. Stop trying to be good enough.  A corpse can’t do anything, and spiritually you are a corpse.  Let Him take charge of you, body and soul, and invite His Spirit into your body to be in command.  It’s simple.  Repent and believe.

Paul summed it up in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?  For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.”

You can be absolutely certain your death is dead too, if the Holy Spirit is inside of your body because you asked Him to come in on His terms…total surrender (“not your own”).  You are not a Christian if He is not inside of you right now.

IMG_4473.JPGA week to live with Lilly, the latest addition to our family

Fred didn’t live a perfect life, but he had the Pledge inside of his earthly tent.  God guarantees this transaction with a down payment of Himself.  An empty grave in Jerusalem is darn good collateral that God will complete His deal with you.  Without Him, you are spiritually naked and in grave danger.

Jesus, the Living Water, is our only hope to defeat death.  As Jeremiah prophesied about Him, thousands of years before His death and resurrection,  “O Lord, the hope of Israel, all who forsake You will be put to shame.  Those who turn away on earth will be written down, because they have forsaken the fountain of living water, even the Lord (Jeremiah 17:13).”      

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

August 6, 1988

8-6-88 6The Wedding in Reading!

And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son, and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come (Matthew 22:1-3).”

Almost 30 years ago, I sent Bob Dylan an invitation to our wedding, and just like the guests in this parable, my hero didn’t come. Despite that snub, inspired by a Dylan song called, “The Groom’s Still Waiting At The Altar,” I wrote this for the back of our wedding program for those who did come:

IMG_4327.JPGZimmy, after he got engaged (gave his life to his Messiah)!

Well, it’s hard to believe that our wedding day is finally here! We’ve been looking forward to this day (and sharing it with all of you) for a long time. Excitement, anticipation, and joy are just a few of the emotions that we’ve been experiencing in thinking about our wedding day. The day that I am finally united with my bride, and she with me! But even more important than our wedding day is another wedding day that we’d like to invite all of you to now.

This wedding is a very special one because it is a wedding that is being arranged by God and everyone is invited. It says in the Bible that Jesus Christ is the groom and that the bride will be everyone who accepts His proposal. This very unique couple will one day be united forever in Heaven, but only those people who choose to respond can be His bride. When I asked Amy to marry me, it was then up to her to decide whether or not she wanted to choose to enter into that commitment with me. It wasn’t until she did accept my proposal that we could get to the point we are at here today.

In the exact same way, each of you must consider Jesus’ proposal. “Proposal?” you may be wondering. “When did Jesus ever propose to me?” Well, He said it a long time ago, but more important than what He said is what He did. Jesus demonstrated His own love toward us, in that while we were sinners, Christ died for us. That was His proposal, one of action. In the same way, through our action, we must respond to that sacrifice by accepting Him as our groom.

Several years ago, Amy and I both decided to accept His proposal of love. Since then, we have both been anxiously awaiting the day that we are united with Him as our groom. As you watch our ceremony today, we’d like you to think of the wedding that is yet to be in Heaven. We’d like to see all of you there too, but that is your own personal decision. After all, that’s precisely what love is, a personal choice.

Thanks for sharing this wedding with us. Hope to see you at the other one too.

8-6-88 13aWho needs rice?

So the next time you go to a wedding, think about His proposal to you, but realize He won’t wait forever. Eventually, there will be a wedding with or without you, just as ours was… without Bob Dylan (Revelation 19:7).

8-6-88 9.jpgOff to the Bahamas!

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Genesis Land

IMG_2940.JPGBenny the camel 

In Hebrew it’s called “lekh-l’kha” or “lech lecha.”  This was the famous “call” to a 75-year old man named Abram to leave his home in Ur of Chaldees and to go to an unknown place, a place that God would show him, as recorded in Genesis 12:1-3,

 “The Lord had said to Abram, ‘Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.’”

IMG_2934.JPGEliezer, the servant of Abram

And so the Hebrew nation was promised, and so it began with a man who was told to leave Mesopotamia (“between the rivers”), his home in the wealthy city of Ur with almost 25,000 people, for Canaan…what would become Israel. Abram obeyed God and left, not knowing where he was going, but by faith he believed God (Hebrews 11:8).

Today, within a two-hour walk of where Abraham is known to have settled, you can meet Abraham again in the heart of the Judean desert, at a place called Genesis Land.

Genesis Land is a time machine that transports you back to around 2000 B.C. to Abraham’s tent, where the famous hospitality of the desert is in full force as we see in the Bible when Abraham has three guests visit him (Genesis 18:1-8). This land is a harsh place and a good host was obliged to provide food, water, and shelter (sometimes this was a matter of life and death in an arid land like Judea). Abraham even bowed to the three strangers which may seem strange to us, but it was typical desert hospitality, as was washing their dusty feet (John 13:1-6).

After a welcome introduction from his servant, Eliezer, you are robed and invited to break bread with Abraham in his tent (a full meal with six fresh salads, breads, beef kabobs over yellow rice, date honey chicken, dried fruit, and tea or coffee).

IMG_0315.JPGTwo at a time!

While you enjoy this scrumptious feast, Abraham himself welcomes you to his home and explains how he came to be here. The re-enactor, Josh Goldsmith, does a masterful job of portraying the Father of the Jews and oozes hospitality (Hebrews 13:2). He really connects with you and you get the distinct feeling that you are his dearest friend. This is the essence of the shepherd tent hospitality so famous in the Scriptures (Exodus 2:20).

After this very satisfying meal and a truly pleasurable time with Abraham (who makes you feel like a prince), it’s time to leave…by camel!

One of the must-do things when you go to Israel is ride a camel, and here at Genesis Land you are given the opportunity to do just that. It’s just one more thing that reminds us of the rich heritage that Israel has had over the centuries as a welcoming land to strangers, as Josh puts so succinctly,

IMG_2938.JPGTaking a break

An experience at Genesis Land is intrinsically inspiring because it brings the Bible to life in the actual setting of our ancestors. Sharing the power of Abraham’s hospitality ismething people can relate to themselves and translate it into their own lives. The world would likely be a better place if we spent more time sharing each other’s company.”

Screenshot 2017-07-13 16.26.34.png

Josh “Abraham” Goldsmith and a friend

Amen! And doing it over a hot meal in a cool tent, and later on a warm camel, makes it all the more enjoyable. Be sure to stop in to visit with Abraham while you are in his land of the Bible. It’s guaranteed to be a refreshing stop that you’ll never forget on your own lech lecha!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Jesus Boat

IMG_2100.jpgA remarkable catch

In a life lived in a desert country, a drought is as much a part of living as dying. It’s a harsh place, especially in biblical times when those in Galilee depending on fishing to make it. A drought almost always brings bad times, even death.

Late in January 1986, during one such drought, between the ancient harbors of Gennesar and Magdala, local residents (ironically fisherman brothers like Peter and Andrew) made the chance discovery of a boat’s oval outline in the muddy lake bed. Word spread like wildfire. In less than two weeks, local newspapers were announcing discovery of “the Jesus Boat!”

Archaeologists, called to examine the still unexcavated vessel, announced it was the first ancient ship ever found in the Sea of Galilee. They suggested that it was built and used between 100 B.C. and 100 A.D. – the time of Jesus of Nazareth!

Marathon round-the-clock excavations ensued, racing against both now-rising waters of the Sea of Galilee and treasure seekers. The archaeologists even invented new techniques of excavation and preservation as they went along. Just before the site was flooded, the almost completely intact hull was fully excavated, encased in polyurethane, and floated to shore for further study and conservation.

The boat is almost 27 feet long, just shy of eight feet wide, and roughly four and a half feet high. It was probably of the Sea of Galilee’s largest class of ships. Fore and aft sections were most likely decked and it had a mast, meaning it could be both sailed and rowed depending on the weather.

Evidence of repeated repairs suggested the boat had a long life. Studies of ancient ships suggest this vessel had a crew of five (four rowers and a helmsman). The ancient Jewish historian Josephus Flavius referred to such ships holding 15 people. Skeletal remains from Galilee during this period indicate males averaged five feet, five inches tall and roughly 140 pounds. Fifteen such men could fit into this vessel easily. So that begs the question did Jesus and His 12 men sail together in this boat?

IMG_2099.jpgThe race was on to preserve it, and won

The Galilee boat dated to the general time of Jesus’ ministry. It was the type used by Jesus and the Twelve, and was large enough to hold 13 men no problem. It could indeed have been in use at the same time He sailed the sea here, but Jesus cannot be connected to this particular boat with any degree of certainty. Yet, it does help us visualize daily life in Galilee, as Jesus knew it.

You can see the Jesus Boat at the Yigal Alon Center (operated by the Kibbutz Ginosar) on the western shore of the Sea of Tiberius. It’s something you should not miss and can only truly be appreciated when you see it in person. You’ll be treated to a fascinating video about the boat’s history, discovery, and trip to this museum. The gift shop has some amazing items about the boat as well. If you exit at the rear of the museum you’ll come out to the Sea of Galilee where you can take a boat ride on the same lake that Peter and his friends fished.

It’s all rather surreal when it sinks in that these men really lived here, droughts and storms and all, and used a boat just like this one. Perhaps the other amazing part of this story is how a drought gave life, maybe for the first time ever, to a kibbutz and their two fishermen named Moshe and Yuval. I think Peter and Andrew would approve. Be sure not to miss this once in a lifetime experience.

Like the thousands of fish taken with it, it’s a keeper!

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Charles Orde Wingate

Screenshot 2017-06-27 13.03.13.png

The great Wingate all smiles as usual

Sometimes a short life, lived to the fullest, is the most rewarding. This could be said of the son born in 1903 to a British officer in India who lived for only 41 years, but they were full ones. A solid Christian who believed in the prophetic place of Israel in his beloved Bible, Charles Orde Wingate would, in the spirit of his hero Gideon, go on to make Israel a safer country. His Plymouth Brethren upbringing made him not only a devout believer in Christ and Israel, but his six siblings helped forge a fierce and independent fighter too. A glimpse into his early military training sheds some light on this unique soldier’s character.

In 1921, Wingate entered Britain’s officer training school for artillery. Like most military schools, first-year students got pretty rough treatment for minor infractions. One punishment used on plebes had them strip and run a gauntlet of knotted towel raps from seniors, and then tossed into an ice-cold tub of water. After a minor cavalry offense (he was an extremely talented rider), Wingate refused to take the humiliation and instead took the offensive in approaching each senior, toe-to-toe, daring him to hit him with his towel. Each one refused, all the way down the line. When Wingate successfully challenged the last boy, he flung himself into the cold tub to the shouts of his classmates. A leader was born.

After his military education, Wingate served in the British army in India and Sudan. In 1936, after studying the history of Palestine’s Arabs and Jews, he was transferred to his dream post, Israel. He would spend three hard years here and earn such distinction for his actions in defending Britain and Israel that the College of Physical Education in Netanya would one day be named in his honor, as would Wingate Square in Jerusalem, a forest at Mount Gilboa, and the Orde Youth Village in Haifa.

Screenshot 2017-06-27 13.04.15

“Nowadays people seem to imagine that impartiality means readiness to treat lies and truth the same, readiness to hold white as bad as black and black as good as white.  I, on the contrary, believe that without integrity a man had much better not approach a problem at all.  I came here with an open mind and I testify that I have seen.  I believe that righteousness exalteth a nation and righteousness does not mean playing off one side against the other while you guard your own interests.”

 Captain Wingate earned the love of the Israelis almost instantly, when as an innovative intelligence officer, he put a stop to the deadly raids and riots by local Arabs. His reputation, albeit somewhat eccentric, was sealed as surely as Gideon’s with his men when he took the trouble to learn Hebrew and set up a commando style camp at the Spring of Harod to train his infamous SNS.

The “Special Night Squads” that Wingate trained, and personally led with extremely unconventional methods, were made up of Haganah soldiers. In the spirit of Francis Marion and John Mosby, they combined audacity, surprise, and mobility to thwart Arab incursions in night attacks and even defensive stands protecting the Iraq-Haifa oil pipeline. Moshe Dayan was trained by Wingate and attributed his leadership to making the famed IDF what it would one day become. Underlying his passion for Israel was a firm belief in their right to their biblical homeland, as well as the source for his Christian faith, and something that made him beloved as a “friend of Israel.”

His successful ambushes and brutal attacks, along with his strong stance for Zionism, made him more controversial that Britain preferred and in 1939, under Arab pressure, he was transferred back to England. He would arrive just in time for the outbreak of World War II.

Screenshot 2017-06-27 13.08.54.png

Airborne Orde

In 1941, he fought in Ethiopia and helped liberate it from the Italians by creating the Gideon Force (a small guerrilla unit made up of Ethiopians, British, and Sudanese soldiers). Wingate recruited some SNS friends to help him and with the aid of local fighters, they continuously harassed the Italians and their supply lines. By the end of the Ethiopian liberation, his Gideon Force of less than 2,000 fighters forced the surrender of almost 20,000 Italians.

In Burma, he organized and trained the Chindits, a special-forces jungle unit named for the Burmese Lion (the Chinthe) that operated behind the Japanese lines. Although a dangerous environment to fight in that proved costly in lost British, Gurkha, and Burmese soldier’s lives, their deep jungle penetrations caught the Japanese completely off guard and forced them to alter their plans to fight the Chindit incursions instead.

Screenshot 2017-06-27 13.08.06.png

His untimely death was front page news

Sadly, Major-General Charles Orde Wingate was killed in an airplane crash in Burma in 1944 and eventually buried in Arlington National Cemetery (several Americans died in the crash, and with all 10 men burned beyond recognition, they were buried together at Arlington).  Churchill called him “one of the most brilliant and courageous figures of the second-world war.” Knowing Wingate, his Israeli title from the Yishuv (Jews in Israel before 1948) of “ha yehdid” probably meant more to him than the Prime Minister’s praise. It translates simply as what he always wanted to be, “The Friend (of Israel).”

 

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Our Dad Who Art in Heaven

Dad  21.jpgMy dad at 21 (who is now in Heaven)

For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they (Matthew 6:25-26)?”

Some say we view our Heavenly Father through the lens of our earthly father. A sort of imprinting from their characteristics in how they raised us, whether generous, severe, distant, or approachable, your dad affects how you see God. Since we just honored our dads with Father’s Day it seems appropriate to comment on our Heavenly Dad.

Jesus described Dad as benevolent, valuing us more than all of His other creation (that incidentally, never worries; some say that man is the only creature who does worry). When the disciples were in danger of drowning, Jesus rebuked them for not trusting Dad, and quieted the tempest with a word (Mark 4).

333881_303831199675408_100001455907156_857843_485470024_o.jpg

Dad, far right, at his brother’s wedding.

Dad considers you precious and He will take care of you, even if your life isn’t as you think it should be because of real needs with money, your health, or maybe even your own father. Does Dad really see us as precious? Yes, definitely! Jesus goes on to say this,

“And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?  And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these.  But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you?  You of little faith!”

Dad & His Father at the Mule Barn.jpg

My dad at 6 with his dad (not sure if he’s in Heaven)

What does this tell us about our Dad in Heaven? He loves us (or Jesus is a liar)!

“Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’  For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

The key to claiming this promise is to put Dad’s interests first (He loves people), His kingdom (sharing the gospel with those people), and He promises to care for your needs. And if you are in the deepest pit, it doesn’t mean that Dad stopped loving you. Just look at the cross. Dad didn’t just say it, “He demonstrated His own love for us in that while we were sinners, Christ died for us. So come back! You are worth so much more than anything else Dad made. No worries!

Mom and Dad.jpg

My dad at 70 with my mom (also in Heaven)

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Gardening with General Patton

For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive (1 Corinthians 15:21-22).”

Screenshot 2017-05-15 16.22.43.png

General Patton on Memorial Day in Nuremberg 1945

At our house, Mother’s Day is all about death. My wife loves flowers, which means seeds go into the ground to die with the hope that something new pops up beautiful and alive. It’s a good “death” for the seeds and my garden-savvy wife looks forward to caring for some gorgeous flowers.

First Corinthians 15 is the Bible’s “gardening chapter.” It’s also about planting seeds (death), hoping a new life results (resurrection). Do you see your death that way, as a good thing? According to the Bible, death can be a great event, a miraculous change to be anticipated with intense joy, just as we do with our Mother’s Day flowers.

Screenshot 2017-05-15 16.26.58.png

Sgt Meeks, his friend and valet, was the only black pallbearer at Patton’s funeral

Patton knew death, but he didn’t fear it and wisely asked, “Did you ever stop to think that death may be more exciting than life?” The Apostle Paul agreed and said, “…to die is gain.” For a genuine believer, death is a friend that brings us eyeball to eyeball with Jesus Christ! That’s mighty good news, if you’ve trusted Christ for your salvation.

But if your sin remains, then you should fear death and the coming judgment (and don’t kid yourself and think you’re not that bad. If you sin just three times a day and live 70 years, that’s over 76,000 sins! A just God cannot be righteous and ignore that.)

Those 76,000 transgressions are a moot point, however, because we’re all born with a sin disease that’s fatal. Paul said, “…by a man came death…as in Adam all die.” Bob Dylan agreed and wrote, “I was blinded by the Devil, born already ruined, stone cold dead as I stepped out of the womb.” If you’re a human being, then you’re contaminated by heredity with Adam’s sin. Sin is fatal and death is certain (Romans 6:23).

Screenshot 2017-05-16 16.34.25.pngPatton with his flowery wife Beatrice and their son

Despite that, death can be a friend…if you repent and believe. The litmus test of your belief is your complete assurance when death arrives, as Paul wrote to the Thessalonian church:

 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope.  For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus.  For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep.  For the Lord 

Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.  Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.  Therefore comfort one another with these words.

There are two types of people facing death, those who grieve with hope and those who grieve without it. For a genuine Christian, it’s not a loss at all. It’s a tremendous gain to pop up again beautiful and alive with Christ.

I pray you’ll choose to grieve with hope and accept Christ.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized