He Came To Jesus – II

September 6, 2013
Romans 10:9-13

(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

For over 14 years my friendship with Morris flourished.  In both subtle and direct ways I shared Jesus Christ with him.  But he still insisted he could not turn away from his revered Jewish grandmother’s religion.  I prayed for my friend often, asking God to speak to his heart and bring him to faith in the Lord Jesus.  I knew God’s promises included Romans 10:9-13:

    …if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that
    God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.  For with the heart one
    believes to righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made to salvation. 
    For the scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” 
    For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all
    is rich to all who call upon Him.  For “whoever calls upon the name of the
    Lord shall be saved.”

One possession Morris treasured above all else.  He carried in his pocket a gold wristwatch his grandmother gave him when he went away to serve in the army during World War II.  She was not a wealthy woman, and had scrimped and saved to purchase this gold watch.  As she strapped it on his wrist, she gave him her blessing, and told him to always wear it, and it would keep him from harm.  The leather strap was broken when he showed the watch to me, and it had long ago stopped keeping time.  But, in Morris’ mind, his grandmother’s blessing still rested upon that watch.

Morris was hospitalized more than once due to diabetic complications.  Once when I visited him in the hospital, he shared with me some of his war experiences.  He said he had never told anyone about some of the horrors of war, but he credited the watch and the blessing of his grandmother with saving his life more than once.  With shaking voice and tears rolling down his cheeks, Morris told me of his infantry unit advancing toward German lines under heavy fire.  “My buddy on my right was blown away.  The guy on my left was hit and fell dead.  Why was I spared?  It must have been my grandmother’s blessing protecting me!”  I tried to tell him that God had kept him alive and injury free for a purpose – a purpose that maybe only God knew.

It was a few weeks before Christmas about a year later – a very busy time for a pastor – when I received a call from Morris.  He was in the hospital again and he needed me to come out to see him – a trip of 200 miles.  “Morris, I am so busy in my church with Christmas approaching.  I can’t come out right now.  How about after Christmas?”  But he insisted, “No, you have got to come out now.  I have something very important for you, and it can’t wait.”  I promised him I would make the trip.

Two days later I was at the hospital front desk, making inquiry for his room number.  I was informed that he had undergone a heart catherization procedure, and was in the recovery room.  He had left instructions with the doctor and nurses that, should I arrive, he wanted to see me immediately.  So I was ushered into the recovery room where a nurse was applying pressure to the thigh incision.  Morris told me to open the drawer of the bedside stand and retrieve a wrapped package.  Then he told me to open it.  Inside this oblong package was a watch case – and inside a gold watch, specially ordered from the Philadelphia mint just for me!  But before Morris strapped it on my wrist, he took the watch and rubbed it back and forth against the watch his grandmother had given him.  “Now you have my grandmother’s blessing,” he said.  Then he lovingly put it on my wrist.  I felt I had just been adopted into a Jewish family!!!

About a year later Morris was very sick.  Charlie, his son, called and told me his dad was nearing the end.  Would I conduct his funeral, and would I also be willing to bring my Model A out to be part of the funeral procession?  By this time I was the proud owner of a 1930 four door sedan, and the procession was to be all Model A’s

I drove out and arrived about nine o’clock at night.  Morris was then in a nursing home, and his family was just coming out as I was walking in the front door.  They came back to Morris’ room with me, but warned, “Don’t expect too much.  Dad has been in a coma for three days.  He hasn’t spoken, eaten or drank anything.

Morris was lying on his side with his hand resting through the raised bed railing.  I knelt down and took his hand.  I said, “Morris, it’s Chip.”  He opened one eye and looked at me.  Then he said, “Chip Norton, it’s good to see you!”  Then he closed his eye.  I said, “Morris, I have to ask you something.  Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior?”  He took a big breath, and said, “Ummm-hmmm!”  I then asked, “Do you know your sins are forgiven and that you are going to heaven?”  Again, a deep breath, and another, “Ummm-hmmm!”  That was the last thing Morris ever said!  He died a couple of hours later.

Two days later I officiated at his funeral, and Morris was wearing his gold watch, now repaired and with a new leather strap.  One surprising thing about this Jewish man’s family of six children – five of them were strong Christians!!!  The funeral was a celebration of an old man graduating to glory!  I can hardly wait to see Morris in heaven!

He Came To Jesus – I

September 4, 2013

Romans 13:8-10

(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

Telling the story in my last blog about Kay reminded me of others whom the Lord has brought into His kingdom using me over the last 48 years that I have been a Christian.  I pray that these stories will not be taken as prideful bragging, but will encourage other Christians to share their faith in different ways to bring people to Jesus.  I was reading this morning in Matthew 13:23 that true believers are to be fruitful, “…some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.”  The fruit that God desires is people brought into His kingdom.  Will your life of faith in Jesus Christ result in 30, 60 or even 100 people coming to saving faith in the Lord?

I was looking for a scripture that suited my friendship with another friend, Morris.  I chose Romans 13:8-10:

    Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has
    fulfilled the law.  For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery”,
    “You shall not murder”, “You shall not steal”, “You shall not bear false witness”,
    “You shall not covet”, and if there is any other commandment, are all summed
    up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself”.  Love does
    no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

You see, I loved Morris.  I met him at his place of business when I was looking through the front windows of his showroom, salivating over the antique automobiles on display.  I love old cars, I always have, especially Model A Fords!  And Morris had two of them in his showroom!  He came around the corner and asked, “May I help you?”  That was the start of a 14 year friendship.

Morris was a Jewish used car salesman.  He did not practice his religion, but he revered his grandmother, a devout Jewess, and he relied on her piety to get him into favor with God.  As I got to know Morris and his wife, Ellen, I began to love this man and his wife, both in there late 60’s.  Every time he took one of his Model A’s out of storage, he would stop in front of the Baptist church parsonage, give a toot on the ‘Ahoogah’ horn of the old Model A, and take me for a ride.

He kept a small notebook and pencil in his shirt pocket, and wrote down all the goofy jokes he heard as he made his rounds among friends and acquaintances.  Then he would relate them all to me – goofy and lame – I laughed at them all!

As I got to know and love Morris, I earned his trust.  He confided in me that I was the only minister he had ever really gotten to know.  One of his favorite lines was, “Chip, you have the honest eyes of a used car salesman!”  I think it was a compliment!  Out of that trust, I earned the ‘right’ to share Christ with Morris.  I remember one day I was even bold enough to say, “Morris, you need to accept Jesus Christ as your Savior!  You need to have your sins forgiven!”  He replied, “I know, I know.  But I can’t give up my grandmothers religion!

I came home and wrote him a long letter.  In it I explained that he would not be giving up his grandmother’s religion if he accepted Jesus as his Savior.  He would be fulfilling it!  “Jesus,” I wrote, “was Jewish, and Christianity came out of – was built upon – the Jewish religion.

Once a year we had a special Sunday evening service in our Baptist church inviting all the other ministers and laity of all faiths to attend.  And attend they did!  Every year a roll call was taken of the faiths represented.  When the Jewish religion was called, one man who had attended the event for years stood up.  I invited Morris and Charlie, and they came.  When the Jewish religion was called, three stood up!  And the congregation gasped to see Morris in a Protestant church for the first time!

I moved away, being called to another church on the other end of Pennsylvania – over 200 miles away.  I remember asking God with tears in my eyes, “Lord, who is going to take care of Morris when I move?  How is he ever going to come to faith in Jesus?”  But we stayed in touch, and I visited him as often as I could.

For a tough old business man, Morris had a heart of gold.  I sat in his office one day and told him that my daughter was going to have a baby.  He didn’t say anything but began to write on something behind the desk.  He then tore out a check for $200, handed it too me, and asked, “Is this enough?”  Another time I walked across the state of Pennsylvania with my dog, Kinky – yes, Kinky, but that is another story! – to raise money for Baptist missions.  Morris sponsored this Baptist pastor for $100, a Jewish man contributing to a Baptist ministry!

I will have to finish my story about Morris in the next blog.  Don’t miss it, because it is well worth reading!

She Came To Jesus

September 2, 2013
Isaiah 55:8-11

(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

Isaiah 55:8 through 11:

    For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways, says the
    LORD.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher
    than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.  For as the rain comes
    down, and the snow from heaven, and does not return there, but water the
    earth, and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower,
    and bread to the eater, so shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;
    it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it
    shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.

We sometimes think we have to push forth the Word and drag people to Jesus in order for them to be saved.  Such a style of witnessing turns a lot of people off, so they end up not saying much about the Lord and His salvation to anyone!  If that is our thinking, it is not God’s, especially in light of the scripture above.  According to Isaiah 55:11, if we simply give out the Word, God will use that Word to convict and convince others of their need for Him.

You see, according to Hebrews 4:12, “…the Word of God is living and powerful…”  The Holy Spirit uses that Word to draw people to Christ.  So if you just give out appropriate scriptures – and that’s the only thing you do – God says, “…so shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.

I saw this happen in a marvelous way with a lady who has become a dear friend of mine.  Twelve years ago a friend introduced us.  Both she and he were struggling with issues from their past that so affected their present that they were seeking support in an internet chat room dealing with mental illness issues – depression, anxiety, bi-polar and the like.  Frank was a new Christian.  I led him to put his faith in Jesus a few months before.  When Kay found out he was a Christian, she began to pepper him with questions, in a somewhat hostile manner.  He quickly said, “I don’t know the answers!  But I do know someone who does!  Would you be willing to talk to him?”  So I inherited Kay, and in the twelve years since, my wife and I have become good friends with this woman and her husband.  And we have never met them – except by internet contact!

As I got to know Kay via e-mail, I learned that she had received ill treatment as a little girl from her father.  As a result, she just could not conceive of God as being her Heavenly Father!  And that, among other things, made her keep her distance from the Lord.  Yes, she had a lot of questions, such as why would God allow such things to happen to a little girl as she had experienced.  I patiently dealt with every question, giving her scripture and explaining in simple terms how it applied to her situation.   I never pressed her to accept Jesus Christ as her Savior.

After about six or seven weeks of correspondence, she wrote me an e-mail I have saved in my files and still treasure:

    Chip, what is happening to me?  Last night I felt like I had so messed up my life,
    and I needed to talk to God.  I told Him how I had made a wreck of things and
    that I needed Him in my life.  Chip, I feel so light and free!  What is happening
    to me?

I answered, “Well, Kay, you just got saved!”  And I went on to explain in more detail the spiritual transaction that occurred between her and God the night before.  She has gone on to become a serious and growing Christian, finding ongoing victory in some of the issues with which she struggled, and still working on others.  I have seen her give wise counsel to other people over the internet, people who are struggling with some of the same stuff that has affected her life.  She and her husband are both active in a church I had the privilege of helping them pick out.  One of her three sons has become a strong Christian also, and I see her witnessing of her faith in Jesus in many different ways to family and friends.  I have told her, “I wish I could clone you and put you in dozens of different churches!”  I am very proud of my friend.

But the point is that I didn’t push Kay to become a Christian I just gave out the Word, and the Holy Spirit did the rest!  He is up to the task, because His Word “…shall not return…void, but it shall accomplish what…[He pleases], and it shall prosper in the thing for which…[He] sent it.