"An Inside Perspective"

February 2017

My Dear Family in Christ,

Ever-precious greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ! I am a list type of guy. I keep lists for this and lists for that, partially because my memory is not what it used to be, but also because I am an innately organized fellow by nature. I like, more so enjoy, all my proverbial ducks in a row.

I think that is why I so delight in what is coined by theologians as Systematic Theology. Basically, it is just a good, orderly presentation of biblical truth, doctrinal ducks structured all in a row that are easily studied and retained. On an aside, let us be mindful that doctrine does not give Life, but simply elucidates the Life Giver Himself, Jesus Christ, who is altogether lovely in all of His ways. Doctrine is the artist that paints the brilliantly colored portrait of our glorious God in all of His multi-faceted hues.

I also keep a prayer list. It is fluid. People are added to my list as they are woven into my life by the Lord. They are at other times deleted as He moves them on their way. I have learned that some folks are sovereignly sown into our lives – but for a season – and that we are to lovingly implant an encouraging Word into their hearts as they pass through.

There are others, however, that permanently stay on our prayer list. Of course, these would be family members, assorted lifelong friends, and others who “we know” the Lord has permanently placed into the fabric of our lives. Such is our duty; such is our stewardship; let us faint not in our diligence!

I recall my emotions, back in the late nineties, when my father passed away. I remember coming upon his name on my prayer list for the first time after his death. It caused me intense drama of contemplation, if not speculation, as I probed the heart of God concerning him. I was traumatized by the unknown. In death, all is settled. We do not pray for the dead. Yet, I felt compelled to know where my Dad was. I just could not let it go.

There are only two sides of the proverbial salvation coin. It is written, “He that is not with Me, is against Me...” (Luke 11:23a). If a person does not receive heads, then they have indeed received tails. If tails is their lot, then they will never know heads. My personal angst, if not my pain, was in the fact that I did not know where my father had gone; albeit, I knew of a truth – that he was somewhere!

Hope, Faith’s eternal fellow, told me, “You know that you had been faithful for all of those many years by sharing the gospel with your father. Although he never responded to you, he may have responded to God. As far as you know, Philip, he had ample time, as he slowly died by the side of that creek, to call upon the Name of the Lord. You clearly told him how; therefore, Philip, your father must be in Heaven.” Sweeter words I never heard, as Hope comforted my troubled heart!

But immediately, Doubt (Hope’s bitter adversary), quickly rebutted, “Let’s look at the evidence, Philip. You yourself know that although he had promised, your father never once wrote you back in all those many years. Even though your mother said that he read all of your letters, that certainly does not imply that he called upon the name of the Lord in the end. He is in Hell, Philip. Look that fact in the face! How good is your God now?” Doubt, my miserable companion, harped on and on in my head.

Imagine, all that spiritual drama came from just seeing my father’s name on my prayer list! Well, I crossed it right off. It was over; I was resolved. The Lord had taken my Dad and done exactly what was just and true in light of His holiness. I knew it and accepted it. By faith, I trust that the Lord always works righteousness – my duty is to worship.

Beloved, my faith is not in the character of my father, nor in any other for that matter; but my faith reclines only in the Person and the work of our great God and Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ! He always does all things well, even the judgment of men!

It is written, “Likewise also, the good works of some are manifest beforehand and they that are otherwise cannot be hid.” (1Tim. 5:25)

This past year, we lost our beloved Jane Frank. Mother Jane, as I affectionately coined her, was the co-founder of this ministry. Immediately after her death, I came upon her name on my prayer list. Well, I crossed it right off. It was over; I was resolved. It was very different. I was extremely joyful. With full assurance of faith, I need never pray for her again.

Mother Jane had run her race, she had finished her course, and she had entered her rest. I knew it. I was exceedingly glad. She was “Jane the Baptist” to me. Mother Jane, with deep love for me, always pointed me toward her Christ, crying tirelessly, “Philip, behold the Lamb of God!” Due to her witness, I have indeed beheld Him, and I am His. Wonder of wonders – I am saved, and I will see my precious Mother Jane again (and perhaps Dad too) on Jordan’s other side. Beloved…