Dear family and friends:

In January a dear friend of ours went ahead of us into the presence of Jesus after a battle with bone cancer. Mr. Herbert Lindley was a friend, a mentor, and a father figure to me. From the age of four or five, it probably seemed to my parents that I spent more time at his home than my own.

He had seven children, and I was always in the middle of them... both figuratively and literally. I could never begin to count the times we shared meals, trips, work and recreation together. As hard as he worked to provide the things his large family needed, they always made room to share with one more.

After my father died, 25 years ago this fall, Mr. Lindley began to take extra care to spend time with me and include me in things. Then in 1987, while I was away in college, he had a bad fall from a tree he was climbing on his farm in Tipton, TN, causing serious back and shoulder injuries, fracturing his skull. He never was quite the same after that day... and I mean that in a good way.

He made a full recovery from his injuries, even improving his physical health... but the real change was a spiritual one. This close encounter with death made all the difference in the next 20 years. Though he was already a Christian, his resolution to recognize the remainder of his life as a gift from God paid dividends–both to himself and his family–that will last for generations to come.

Never underestimate God's power to change a life sincerely committed or recommitted to Him. Martin Luther surrendered his life to God while caught in an electrical storm. John Newton, who wrote Amazing Grace, received Christ in a storm on a slave-trading vessel and later influenced abolitionist William Wilberforce, whose story is told in the current film, “Amazing Grace.”

Cindy and I continue to host our discipleship chat-room each week, and I continue to do follow-up on the online Response Center. Responses I have received indicating rededications to Christ include the following:

“I have been studying Scripture more and more. Your references to the Bible are both enlightening and inspiring. I certainly will [read the scriptures you quote] and will be eagerly awaiting your response. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking the time and trouble to counsel me, someone you don't even know or have ever met.” –Dean, a musician in Chicago

“I want to thank you so very much for taking the time to email me back and really read what I wrote. Also thank you very much for the scriptures that you pointed out...I grew up in a very bad, bad dysfunctional family, my father was murdered when I was two years old. I'm 28 years old, Chicano, with lots of tattoos, you know...I got what they call the homeboy look. I really wish that I didn't...Jesus has really worked wonders in my life, there's no doubt in my mind about Jesus, I am fully dedicated to the Lord.”

“You asked me how you could pray for me: pray for my family and I, in hopes that we would all get along…and for the Lord to continue to give me the strength that I need for each day's hard work. That He would watch my wife and children while I'm away. I know the sun shines on you softly; you are a good man for taking the time to hear me out. ” –Joshua, Arizona
I am confused, bitter and angry most of the time. My wife and daughter do not deserve me the way I am. I like material things and drink too much as well - I REALLY LOVE my wife and daughter and feel that if I continue in the path of self-destruction, that I might loose them as well as my life itself…Need GOD in my life. –Ralph, South Africa
Finally, please pray for “Arya,” in Tehran. Here's how our chat conversation went: Arya: “How’s life?” Me: “Life is wonderful. The Apostle Paul wrote, ‘for me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.’” “I hope so,” he answered. I wrote, “Has anyone ever shown you how you can know for sure?” “Not yet,” he said, then asked, “Do you know [the writer of the ‘Last Temptation of Christ’]? He loves Christ, but in different way.”
I wrote: “His ‘Christ’ is conflicted. The true One never was. At 12, He told His parents, ‘I must be about my Father's business.’”. “But I think his Christ is more believable,” he wrote back. “Even the temple guards said, ‘no man ever spoke like this man.’” I responded. “We gauge history from the date of His birth, His coming was predicted in over 300 specific ways, hundreds of years before He came...and in many of those places, it would’ve been beyond a conspirator’s power to fake, especially how Isaiah 53 and Psalm 22 described His brutalization in detail.” “I don't know, sir,” he said, “I just know if I change my religion in my country, I'm a dead man. By the way, I have no religion.”
When you pray for Arya, remember that there are lots of Aryas out there, for whom a decision for Christ would be much simpler if they shared our freedom. Praise God for the religious liberty He has given us in the United States. Thank you for joining us in using that freedom and the other blessings of liberty to reach out to people like Dean, Joshua, Ralph and Arya!
With love in Christ,
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