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|Happy Birthday, Jesus||12/25/2009|
It is a wonderful time of the year. My heart overflows with joy and gratitude for the fact that my health continues to improve. I have regained much energy and experience little discomfort from the serious staph infection following hip replacement surgery. We had the supreme joy of having our entire family together this past weekend. There were 19 of us. That includes our three children, their spouses and our 11 grandchildren. It has become a rare occasion when everyone's schedule is such that we can actually spend a day or two together and enjoy a meal. We had people spread out all over the house. I wish we could have all been in one room at one table but that was just not possible.
We were celebrating the birth of Jesus and the fact that each one of us knows the Father in a very real and personal way. This is possible because Jesus not only offers us forgiveness, life now and eternal, but he also gives us a meaningful and real relationship with the Father. It's sad to think that some people are discussing whether or not it is appropriate to say "Merry Christmas" or place manger scenes in public places. Many have drifted away from this personal experience...the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus.
While we were together, I had to deliver a message from my heart. Of course, it was tearful for me and for some who listened. I expressed my gratitude for our youngest daughter's miraculous victory over a very serious battle with cancer, our son's amazingly restored eyesight as he battles macular degeneration, and, of course, gratitude for my own well being. I pointed out that each of our grandchildren has wonderful parents and expressed appreciation for their fathers. But I made it clear that however perfect or imperfect our parents may be, coming to know the Father in a very intimate and meaningful way is more important than I could adequately describe. I shared with each of them that I could see that they have this personal relationship.
As I thanked God for the wonderful birth of Jesus and the gift He offers, I also encouraged the family to pray that we would be able to inspire a spiritual unity among the family of faith. This week, Betty and I attended the memorial service of evangelist Oral Roberts, who died last week at age 91. In May of this year, Betty and I had the wonderful privilege of visiting with Billy Graham in his home in North Carolina. He is also 91. When Billy Graham visited with Oral on the phone a few days before his passing, Oral told him, "I am close to going home." Sure enough, he did. When Betty and I were with Billy Graham, we could tell that he, too, was anxious to be in the presence of the Father and be rejoined with his wife, Ruth, who he referred to as the "greatest Christian he ever knew." Oral and Evelyn Roberts are now together forever in the presence of God.
As I sat at the funeral in the midst of a wonderful crowd of Pentecostal and charismatic leaders, I was reminded of the love that has been expressed to me and Betty. As an evangelist from a Baptist background, it's refreshing to share a love that crosses denominational lines. We truly worship the Father of all believers.
Many years ago, I went to Oral privately and asked him to forgive me for the unkind things that I had said about him as an evangelist. He tearfully responded, "This is one of the greatest moments of my life." I then shared, "Oral, I think we cut you off and, in many ways, pushed you out. Even your own denomination did not seem to receive you and you became an island to yourself, perhaps experiencing a lonely walk." He said, "It has been lonely. You have no idea how much it means for you to be here."
We prayed together and soon a large group of ministers from all denominations gathered with Oral there on the campus of the university he founded and expressed love for him. It was a great moment of healing.
As I sat in that memorial service and listened to the gratitude expressed for the influence of Oral Roberts, I believe I heard the Lord speak these words: "It is difficult for my family to hear the father's heart because so many differences, disagreements and disharmony has pulled them apart."
If we are, in fact, the body of Christ and each part is to supply every other member as it has need, then can we not conclude that it is possible we do not hear as clearly as we should when we are not doing what Paul encouraged the church to do, which is to seek diligently to "preserve the spirit of unity and the bond of peace?"1 As a birthday gift to Jesus, Betty and I not only want to live in harmony as a couple, but we want to inspire believers all over the world to learn how to live in harmony as members of God's great family. We don't have to agree on everything, but we can be kind and speak the truth in love. May God grant us the grace to walk in the light of this truth.
Happy Birthday, Jesus. This Christmas, I give You all of me in a commitment to help fulfill your prayer in John 17, that we be one with Father as you are and be perfected in unity.2
1 Ephesians 4:3
Author: James Robison
Editor: Randy Robison
Word Count: 1580
About the author: James Robison is the founder and president of LIFE Outreach International, a Christian media ministry and mission relief organization. He and his wife, Betty, host of the television program Life Today; He has authored numerous books, including The Soul of a Nation, The Absolutes: Freedom's Only Hope and True Prosperity.
Media Contact: Randy Robison, editor at jamesrobison.net . Photo available upon request. Reprint rights granted with attribution for complete, unedited article. Revisions allowed only with approval.