January 1, 2009
Dear family and friends,
As John and I ended the old year last night watching the One Thing Conference from Kansas City on the internet, we want to take the challenge presented to live more and more focused on the Return of our Savior Jesus and pray for his soon coming. Never since the early church has there been such a worldwide expectancy that the day is indeed closer than we we first believed.
Getting older, John at 69 and I at 63, we know that our earth time is getting shorter even if we live to be 80. Having experienced cancer and its treatments of surgery and radiation make us even more aware that even with full healing our bodies will continue to age. Death is inevitable for us all, and the Bible says after that there is a judgment.
This past Christmas season I felt compelled to go through all the Scriptures in the New Testament that speak of God's salvation in Christ and what that means for those who believe he is the Son of God with all of its ramifications, promises, and warnings and write them out by hand (more imprinting than clicking on the computer). I was caught up in all that I "saw" afresh. I was struck that almost all of the times that Scripture refers to "the word of God" it means either Jesus in his incarnation as God or Jesus as the Messiah who was born, died, was buried, was resurrected, and ascended and will return again for all those who have put their trust in Him as John the Baptist called him..."the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world." Because of my background the first idea that comes to mind when I hear "the word of God" is to think of the written Scriptures, but that is not usually the case as it is used in the New Testament. Read it yourself, and check me out. One hundred and fifty chapters in the entire Bible speak of his second return to earth and only 89 to 90 speak of his birth. Every book in the New Testament speaks of his Return and living in light of the fact. It has been a long time since I have heard sermons like John and I heard these past few days on the Return of Christ and how it should form the way we live today. If it did that for Christians who lived 2,000 years ago, how much more should it impact and dominate us as we face the year 2009 with severe economic failings and predictions of far worse things with wars and rumors of wars that never seem to abate but escalate at every turn.
No president, king, or head of State will be able to offer the kinds of solutions that we really need, even those with the best of intentions. Most of the world is indifferent to their Creator God, and some actually hate him...but he is coming as God has promised, and he does not lie. Even his delay has shown his mercy because he wants all men to come to know him as he is... the Savior of mankind, "the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world," the Son of Man who has restored the gift of life and a relationship to God that was lost in Adam. We like those in the days of Noah are getting married, having babies, and doing life oblivious to the fact that the day will come suddenly when there is no other opportunity to call on the One who offers us forgiveness of sins and a life that begins now to be culminated in its fullness when he returns and sets up his kingdom. I am not ashamed to say that John and I both believe this, and we want to live more boldly proclaiming this to those we meet and to encourage our children and grandchildren to not waste their lives on the dribble of this life with all of its counterfeit allurements and time fillers that are full of vanity...how many there are.
We are not depressed although we are more sober, yet filled with hope because the Day is approaching! We want to be less entangled with stuff and comfort which pulls on us even more as we age. How to know what to enjoy, what to give away happily, and still enjoy the wonderful times of family and friends knowing it is but a foretaste of heavenly joys and community that will never end for those who know and love the Lord Jesus.
Our earthly joys are full even in the midst of cancer treatment and the inconveniences of a fallen world. Caleb and Betsy added grandchild number 24 on October 3rd, Marjorie Ann "Margo" which makes 12 girls and 12 boys at this juncture. He is still in the Army at Ft. Benning, Georgia and is preparing for a stint longer in the military. John Reid is in banking, and he his wife Laura and their 3 children live in Germantown. Only an hour and half away, we get to see them some when we are Stateside. Howard, recently returned from Iraq (Hallelujah!), and Michelle and 3 kids are stationed at Ft. Sam Houston in Texas for another year and a half. Farr, writing and teaching in medical ethics at the U of Chicago, and Kimberly with their 4 children now live in Flossmoor, Illinois where he commutes to work on the train. Dan Lindquist, working in investments, and Micah with their 4 children live in Wheaton. Dan Gunn works for COPA an airline whose hub is in Panama City, Panama. He and Marvi and their 5 children live there where we join them next door about half of the year. David, a chaplain assigned to a Ranger unit based at Fort Lewis, is getting ready to soon deploy to whereabouts unknown. He and his wife Mia and 4 children still live near Tacoma, Washington where they still "nest" as of now. The wives... all are busy homemaking, and three of them are homeschooling. My Mother at 83 has developed painful sciatica which has really slowed her ability to walk, sometimes having to use a walker to "get going" for the day. She is gracious and told me recently that she prays for the measure of health that God plans for her at this time in her life and the grace to accept it.
We plan to head back to Panama February 4 for about 3 and a half months. We look forward to what the Lord has in store for us. We pray for many of you as God brings you to mind, and we invite those of you who know and believe than God responds to the prayers of his children that we and you as well will walk in joyful obedience to Him. I challenge you if you have not ever read the entire New Testament with focus on who Christ is and what he has provided for you in his person, to get some colored pencils and have the time of your life as you rejoice in God's heart for those of us who have trusted in Him. It could change your life as it is changing mine.
Finally I want to include a picture of Margo and an attachment of a clip from "The Nativity Story" which depicts in the faces of Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, and magi the wonder of Christ at his incarnation, not fully understanding just what it all meant and another clip from a documentary that will rip your heart out portraying the way so many of us have lived our lives indifferent to the price that has been paid to give us life. May you be found in his righteousness, that of Christ's, not your own,( no matter how good), lost in wonder, love, and praise on that great day when the trumpet sounds!
2009 might be the year!
Leeba and John Curlin
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This is his first coming...
the price paid...