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March 27, 2015

“Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.”Hebrews 9:22b

Easter greetings to our friends & co-laborers in Christ…

Anastasia joins me in wishing you a most glorious Easter Season, trusting that you are flourishing with a liberated and purified soul through the above inviolable truth—all from our Savior’s supreme sacrifice some 2000 years ago.

Here in the book of Hebrews the author is writing to the Jewish community, endeavoring to show them a better way to access God than through the Old Covenant with its myriad of ceremonies and sacrifices. These sacrifices had no power in themselves to heal the rupture between God and man; the blood of animals could not wipe away sin, but only covered it up temporarily until the next sin. Then the ritual had to be repeated again and again. Oh, for a permanent solution.

Indeed, that solution was promised and the devoted Old Covenant worshipers yearned for the arrival of the One upon whom “the Lord would lay the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6b).

That day arrived when God in His unfathomable mercy and grace sent His Son to planet earth with a New Covenant to bring sinners into a permanent and personal relationship with Him. Jesus, this sinless and righteous God-man, who “didn’t consider equality with God as something to be grasped, but made Himself of no reputation…being made in human likeness…as a man…humbled Himself and became obedient to death—even death on a Cross.”

Forgiveness is such a costly, costly thing. We dare not take sin lightly for it required such a transcendent sacrifice. But Christ’s love is so exceedingly great that He voluntarily became that “sacrificial Lamb” on our behalf. His death would be the only sacrifice that would satisfy God and fulfill the Old Law of sacrifices and ordinances.

Through Christ’s shed blood on the Cross a sinner could now access God by acknowledging his own sin and anchoring his faith in Messiah. In turn, God would transform the sinner into a new creature in Christ, cleansing him—every sin ever committed would be forgiven—to such a degree that he would be as pure as Jesus Christ himself at that moment of transformation. Furthermore, he would be guaranteed eternal life with his Creator; he would be infused with the power of the Holy Spirit and imputed with Christ’s righteousness. What superlative blessings God bestows upon His followers!

When I heard this Truth for first time, I couldn’t believe that all my gross sins that had accumulated over 38 years could be forgiven! But when I repented and believed on the Carpenter from Nazareth, they were forgiven and I haven’t recovered yet from such grace—and hope I never do.

“I worship you, Master, Your cause will I serve,
For You gave me pardon I didn’t deserve.
I sing of Your mercy, Your death in my place;
I praise Your compassion and glorious grace.

“Dear Savior, I thank You for dying for me
And praise You for rising, this sinner to free.
Your power is matchless, You grace is so vast;
My song of your goodness forever will last.”1

Medical Update
In recent months we considered relocating to another nursing facility in eastern Pennsylvania. However, with the health issues that we’re confronting, those plans have been aborted for now. Anastasia continues on a gradual decline with her dementia (FTD) but fortunately the issue of her choking on her saliva, etc. has abated. She continues her daily routine but needs assistance in showering, eating and preparing for bedtime. She amazes me with her contentment. Throughout the day she sings hymns and prays within her heart; her life is surely a living translation of the Gospel.

My health has been improving gradually with limited cycling coming into play in recent days. However, I remain in physical therapy attempting to regain strength for my wobbly legs but hoping that by the end of summer they will be greatly improved. A recent MRI and CT showed no cancer in my left thigh or my lungs. For this we are most thankful. However, these imaging tests will continue to be taken every three months since the latest pathology report was positive.

Ministry Update
With my back, legs and lungs on the mend I’m hopeful to restart my writing regimen. We’re planning for a revised edition of “Praying Your Prodigal Home” and “Anastasia’s Poems” in the coming months. Also, I’ve been able to accept a few speaking engagements with a wonderful meeting in January and two scheduled in April with small groups of men. These have always been times of refreshment.

In closing, we have been most conscious of God’s unfailing love and faithfulness over these decades, but particularly in recent years. We have pondered the various trials that have plagued us in aging and occasionally have wondered how this will all end. We’ve concluded that it’s best to maintain that “upward look” as we’re leaning towards Glory desiring only His will to be worked out through our lives, knowing that whatever may befall us is part of His glorious plan. With His perfection and our imperfection, we truly know that the best is yet to come!

Words cannot express our deep gratitude for your friendship, prayers, love and support over these years!

He has risen,

Richard Burr

  1.  A Song of Redemption; Anastasia’s Poems, Country Pines Publishing; 2013
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