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"A Christian is one who bets his life that Christ is right."
Elton Trueblood in " A Place to Stand" (p. 60)
Willie Nelson's classic song, "On the Road Again", sums up part of my life at the moment. For the past 7 years, while addressing my bladder and lung cancer, I have stayed close to home and limited my travel. This has been good for many reasons.
First, my part in working with God in terms of healing has been to do what I know needs to be done in order to strengthen my body so that the immune system can be most effective. James, the brother of Jesus, wrote: Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins (James 4:17). My lifestyle includes a vegan diet (i.e., vegetarian minus dairy products), rest, exercise, reduced stress, positive attitude, benevolence, pure water, flax seed oil, juicing carrots, etc. It's tough to do this while staying in hotels while traveling. So, I've stayed close to home.
James counseled those seeking elders' prayers for healing (James 5:14-16) that if a person has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. As an elder in churches since 1973, I have participated in praying for the sick many times. Sad to say, I have witnessed few successes. Often the prayer is simply for wisdom for doctors whose diagnoses may not even be correct.
But then I realized that the "sins" James refers to are not only moral sins elders often ask about prior to praying - "Are there any unconfessed sins in your life?" - but also wrong lifestyle decisions including lack of rest, exercise and unhealthy diets. Can God heal a chain-smoker suffering from lung cancer? Yes! But I have no doubt that quitting smoking is the least God expects before he engages. Can God heal someone wrestling with adult-onset Type 2 diabetes? Yes! But, as even the American Medical Association, Harvard School of Medicine and other experts have counseled for decades, a vegan/vegetarian diet is a big step in the direction of maintaining and restoring health.
Second, one of the great blessings of the cancer journey has been that lawyers around the globe understand that they have the primary responsibility to meet locally, organize nationally and cooperate regionally. I can facilitate the work through our national and global staff of 12 - the best staff money can't buy - but I am not Uncle Sam. I am a brother that can help bear the burdens with others but not carry the burden for them.
Third, God knows that people are not inclined to pray for healthy lawyers. I've addressed scores of churches and conferences over the past 7 years and have often asked how many in the audience prayed for a lawyer the previous week who was not a member of their family. Most of the time, not a single hand goes up. God knows this. He gave me the "gift of cancer" to put this ministry and me on prayer lists.
Fourth, I have absolutely no doubt that prayer for Advocates International and my health has moved the hand of Almighty God. In July 2005, the Advocates Latin America network set aside a day to fast and pray for me. I may be the only lawyer in the world who's had an entire continent pray in that fashion. Thank you, all, for your prayers!! Half in jest, I've said that if total healing from cancer eliminates prayer support, I don't mind living with cancer for at least 30 years just to keep the prayers coming.
The most recent cancer marker blood test in the fall of 2006 showed a 1.2 on a scale of 1 ("party time") to 7 ("choose your favorite hymn"). So, I'm "on the road again" and loving it! In October 2006 I spoke at the Latin American network conference in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic - my first regional conference since 2002. This month I spoke to 500 students and faculty at RegentLawSchool, as well as 900 students at The Master's College, and several seminars and a luncheon at PepperdineLawSchool. My theme has been What if God is? Really is! The Author of Life? I've enclosed the general outline that has several quotes and verses that are special to me. I've asked Regent University to help us prepare the recorded talk for our website.
On February 22-28, 2007, Bobby and I will be in the Dominican Republic to address law students, as well as a Prayer Breakfast of 500 leaders in Santo Domingo on How the Dominican Republic Can Impact the Globe in the 21st Century! The answer is found in Acts 1:8 and Philippians 4:13. In March, I will be in Lisbon, Portugal, with my good friend Fernando Lojas (along with Marvin Kramer from Israel) to address a conference of about 200 lawyers and scholars on the American experience with religious freedom.
I love sharing His-Stories. Along with David, I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the Lord has done (Psalm 118:17), and since my youth, O God, you have taught me, and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds. Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come (Psalm 71:17-18).This is my passion! Telling His-Stories is thrilling to me!
Along with Elton Trueblood and untold millions of others through the centuries, I've bet my life that Christ is right. My role now is to roll out the stories pointing to the God of His-Story who is engaged through available people, while...
Living in His-Story,
P.S. The letter to the President of the College of William & Mary is an example of reaching out to someone in leadership and his institution to help correct a mistake.
P.P.S. Your prayers and gifts are impacting the globe. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
WHAT IF GOD IS? - REALLY IS! - THE AUTHOR OF LIFE?
LESSONS FROM TRIALS ON A LAWYER'S JOURNEY
By Samuel E. Ericsson
Question Presented:Whether credible evidence points to a God who
is engaged in the lives of lawyers and law students and the legal process?
"A Christian is one who bets his life that Christ is right." Elton Trueblood
"I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen; not only
because I can see it, but because by it I can see everything else." C.S. Lewis
"Prayer is talking to God about what we are doing together." Dallas Willard
P - Perspective precedes purpose: Thinking outside the box; life as story
"All the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be." Psalm139:16
"I have always felt life first as a story - and if there is a story
there is a story teller." G.K. Chesterton
Joseph's His-Story in Genesis 37-50. Joseph to his brothers 22 years after being sold: "And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you." Genesis 45:5
"Life can only be understood backward but must be lived forward." Soren Kierkegaard
R - Responsibility requires a response: Pretrial discoveries - Never owner,
always steward; God in the details and who is the Client
"For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works,
which God prepared in advance for us to do." Paul in Ephesians 2:10
"He who believes in the God of Providence is prepared
to see his hand in all things which come to him." E.M. Bounds
A - Availability anticipates action by God: A landmark trial closes a door
"Go and do likewise." Jesus to lawyer in Good Samaritan parable in Luke 10:25-37
"In the Kingdom of God, no one can see so long as he remains
merely a spectator." Nathan Soderbloom
Y - Yielding yields yield: A law student impacts the law that opens doors
"Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever
sows generously will also reap generously." Paul in 2 Cor. 9:6
"There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign, does not cry, ‘Mine!'" Abraham Kuyper
E - Examples exceed expectations: An invitation to Moscow in 48 hours
"Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart." Psalm 37:4
"Cease not from exploration for the end of your exploration is to arrive
where you started and to know the place for the first time." T.S. Eliot
R - Rewarded by our Redeemer's results: Starting over at 46
"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you;
and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria,
and to the ends of the earth." Final words of Jesus in Acts 1:8
"Some people see things as they are and ask ‘Why?'
I dream of things that never were and say, ‘Why not!'" St. Augustine
Advocates International Mission Statement: Bearing witness of Jesus Christ
through the legal profession by encouraging and enabling advocates to
meet locally, organize nationally, cooperate regionally and link globally.
L - Local meetings - Invitations to Sofia, Bulgaria + 500 other cities and towns
"And let us consider how we may spur one another on to love and good deeds.
Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing,
but let us encourage one another - and all the more as you see the Day approaching."
O - Organize nationally - Advocates Korea + 100 active or emerging groups
"Be very careful, then, how you live - not as unwise but as wise, making
the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil." Paul in Eph. 5:15
R - Regional networks - Advocates Latin America + 5 other continents
"The one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world." I John 4:4
D - Disciple globally - Advocates International = Power of 3
"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love
Him, who have been called according to his purpose." Paul in Romans 8:28
"We must all preach the gospel and sometimes
it is necessary to use words." St. Francis of Assisi
"I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the Lord has done." Psalm 118:17
"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Paul in Phil. 4:13
February 1, 2007
President Gene R. Nichol
The College of William & Mary
P.O. Box 8795
Subject: Turning the Wren Chapel cross crisis into an educational opportunity
Dear President Nichol,
Our family is following with great interest the debate over your decision to remove an 18-inch cross from the front table in Wren Chapel. Our William & Mary family includes our daughter (Class of 1996), son-in-law (Class of 1995) and nephew (Class of 2010). Your predecessor, Tim Sullivan, was a classmate at Harvard Law School in the 1960s.
I'm told that the same Chinese character represents both "crisis" and "opportunity." W&M has a great opportunity to use the current controversy about the cross as a teaching moment. Must the public square, including chapels built from funds donated by churches, be thoroughly sanitized of all religious symbols for fear that a few may misperceive the presence of a relic as state endorsement of religion? We're revisiting an era more than two centuries old when antidisestablishmentarianism was debated.
I have spent over 30 years of my career wrestling with the dynamics of freedom of religious expression. As an advocate in the US Supreme Court and around the globe on behalf of scores of faith traditions, the standard applied in every case has been the Golden Rule that is embraced in some form by most religions on Planet Earth.
In 1982, during my 10-year tenure leading Christian Legal Society, CLS proposed that Congress adopt "equal access" as a practical solution to the volatile "school prayer" controversy. The Equal Access Act, passed by Congress in 1984, followed the equal access principle articulated by the Supreme Court in its 1981 Widmar v. Vincent decision that protected the freedom of religious expression on university campuses.
More than 20 years after the energetic battles in the early 1980s, even the most vocal opponents of equal access agree that it has worked quite well. One reason for its success is that the philosophical cornerstone of equal access is the universal Golden Rule: people should treat others with the same care and respect they want for themselves. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught that the Golden Rule "sums up the Law and the Prophets." The Golden Rule is the essence of good law and fairness.
I also served on the steering committee that opened chapels at Dulles and Reagan National airports. The committee that met for several years included representatives
from the Jewish, Muslim and other faiths, as well as several Christian traditions. The chapels, as is true at scores of public airports in the US and around the globe, have religious symbols representing various traditions. If public airports can have chapels with religious symbols - including those that may offend some - without violating the First Amendment, why should public universities ("the marketplace of ideas") sanitize its chapels simply because a few may misperceive state endorsement where there is none? A survey of First Amendment history may be the best remedy to address misperceptions rather than bending policies to fit feelings instead of the Constitution.
We believe that Wren Chapel should be a meeting place available on an equal access basis to all faiths, as well as those who may embrace no particular tradition. All groups can display their icons or religious symbols important to them when they use the Chapel for religious functions. For centuries the Chapel has served a religious function. It is not the locker room, cafeteria or dorm, or even a Town Hall.
When the former Chief Justice of Albania heard about the current controversy he wondered about the difference between sanitizing Wren Chapel of religious symbols and the wholesale secularizing of Albania in 1967 when Enver Hoxia (the dictator from 1946 to 1984) decreed atheism to be the official religion. From 1967 to 1984, the mere possession of a cross, crucifix or Bible meant a 10-year prison term. Chapels, churches, mosques and synagogues were converted to bars, gyms or warehouses, or demolished in the name of secularism. I endorse a secular state, but secularism is not neutral. Advocates International has worked with lawyers, judges, politicians and religious leaders in Albania since 1992. Today the U.S. Helsinki Commission considers Albania as a model for religious freedom in the Balkans. The Golden Rule works.
To turn a crisis into a teaching opportunity at W&M, why not run an essay contest on The Practical Application of the Golden Rule at William & Mary in the 21st Century? As a grateful parent of a graduate of W&M, I'm willing to provide $5,000 in prizes to encourage both students and faculty to be creative, wise and practical in helping W&M learn from history, religion and philosophy in resolving this debate.
Incidentally, the co-author of the June 1982 CLS memo to Congress proposing equal access was a 1979 W&M grad who clerked for me after graduating from Georgetown Law School. His first assignment was to finish the equal access memo to Congress. Seven years later, in a bit of serendipity, the same W&M grad worked in the US Solicitor General's office. The Solicitor General asked him to prepare the US government brief defending the Equal Access Act that had been the fruit of his first task as a lawyer seven years earlier! In Mergens v. Westside School District, the Supreme Court upheld the Act by the same 8-1 margin it had ruled in the Widmar v.Vincent university case.
We remain available to serve you and your committee in helping resolve this matter.
Samuel E. Ericsson
Founder & President