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Two days before my open heart surgery, my Christian neighbor told me that she had received confirmation from God in her prayers that He would extend my life because:  "He knows you will tell everyone about it!"  And to that mission I have tried to be faithful…from the time I awoke from surgery to the present day.   My wife and I have used my "heart story" to witness to medical personnel and even waiters and waitresses in restaurants as well as many others that God brings across our paths each day.  Truly God has not only given me a "new song" but a whole new mission field.  And so my new life focus is reflected by Ps. 40:3,10 which I feel was written just for this time in my life:

"He (God) has given me a new song to sing, 
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see what He has done
And be astounded.
They will put their trust in the Lord.
I have not kept this good news
Hidden in my heart; I have talked about Your
faithfulness and saving power.  I have told
everyone..Of Your unfailing love and faithfulness.

Life Stories

To Be or Not to Be!

Sent:  March 7, 2002

(Written after the death of Marilyn’s father and at time of her mother’s move to Indianapolis)


Subject:  To Be or Not to Be!



Good Morning Ethan & Emily:


There is a famous line from Shakespeare’s Hamlet that goes:  “To be, or not to be: that is the question.”


As I write this devotion this morning, Mamadarling (our kid’s affectionate name for their grandmother) and Aunt Joan are cleaning out the house in Huntington for Manadarling’s move later this month to Indianapolis.  Yesterday we were talking about Granddaddy’s tools and who might want them.  Certainly, any of us can always use a few more tools and gadgets…I guess we guys especially like them.


But what I want most from Tom’s things I already have…and that is an appreciation for his love for God and his continual thankfulness for all that God had done for him.  I continue to be challenged by his example, and if there is any one thing I would want to pass on as an inheritance to you…that would be it.


Often in his dinner prayers, Tom would quote the following verse from the Psalms.  I have used the King James Version, as this was how he memorized it, and it was how he prayed:  “What shall I render unto the Lord for all His benefits toward me?” (Ps. 116:12).  The New Living Translation which I like so well asks the question this way:  “What can I offer the Lord for all He has done for me?”


The next several verses provide an answer to this question:  “I will lift up a cup symbolizing His salvation; I will praise the Lord’s name for saving me.  I will keep my promises to the Lord in the presence of all His people.” (vv. 13-14 NLT).


Rather than Hamlet’s question…this, I believe, IS THE question for every believer.  But Hamlet did have one thing right…the answer is in “Being.”  For it is not the words of our mouths…but our actions that provide our own personal answer to that eternal question of how we can show our appreciation to God for all He has done.  We make the decision daily…moment by moment…as to whether we will BE thankful…and whether we will BE faithful and BE obedient to His Word.  Moreover, the life of obedience by which we demonstrate our love for Him is not played out within…but “in the presence of all His people.”


My prayer is that our lives will reflect this Being:


“I will give repeated thanks to the Lord, praising Him to everyone (Ps. 109:30).


“Lord, accept my grateful thanks and teach me your laws.  My life constantly hangs in the balance, but I will not stop obeying your law” (Ps. 119:108).


“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in Heaven” (Matt. 5:16).


“If you love Me, keep My commandments…He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me (John 14:15-23).


Never forget…God does not require our “sacrifices” and “hollow” or insincere worship…He desires only that we offer Him “thankful” hearts:


Speaking to the Israelites before the birth of Christ and before the end of animal sacrifices as a part of worship, God said…


“But I want no more bulls from your barns; I want no more goats from your pens.  For all the animals of the forest are mine, and I own the cattle on a thousand hills, Every bird of the mountains and all the animals of the field belong to me…I don’t need the bulls you sacrifice; I don’t need the blood of goals.  What I want instead is your true thanks to God; I want you to fulfill your vows to the Most High (Ps. 50: 9-14).  Again, He summed up the desire of His heart in the 23rd verse:  “But giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honors me.”



May we honor granddaddy’s memory and the example he set as he prayed, as we live lives that reflect the honor and praise due our wonderful Lord.


Whether to BE a genuine, obedient, and thankful Christian…and to live…or not to live such a life…THAT IS the Question!


Have a great day “acting” and reciting your lines by the way you live in the “greatest play of all.”


My love,






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