Brothers and Sisters in Arms
Well, this column marks my 13th year of writing “Israel Watch” for the folks at RaptureReady. Todd and Terry have been my dear friends for many years, and I have been grateful the whole way that they gave me this opportunity. And it’s the best of all possible worlds for me, as I would love to keep doing it for a long time…unless it’s time for us to be out of here! Like most of you, the readers, I think the Rapture would be a lovely event very soon!
This week, I’d like to reminisce a bit and then look forward, to the extent we can. That’s what us prophecy buffs do, right? Looking forward to our blessed hope.
At the time the guys asked if I’d like to write a weekly column about Israel, I was departing a place I had loved for a long time: New Leaf Publishing Group. I had been senior editor for almost 15 years, and I felt it was time to embark on a full-time writing career, if the Lord would bless that. That itself is a bit of a story.
When I started at “the Press,” I was honestly just looking for a job. Someone told me I should apply there, so I did. Lo and behold, the publisher, Tim Dudley, was looking for an editor! It was definitely God-orchestrated, as Tim was able to use my eccentricities and whatever skillset I had for the job to some good. We had a lot of fun over the years. When I arrived for work on a Monday morning, there was a giant stack(s) of manuscripts on my desk. I quickly discovered that the company was one of the leading publishers of prophecy books in the world. Tim’s dad had cultivated relationships with people like David Lewis over many years, and the company produced some of the best in this category.
Wouldn’t you know it: one of my first assignments was an edit of Storming Towards Armageddon. I quickly found out that the Press excelled at what I called “ensemble books,” those with multiple authors. The projects were headed up by a fellow named William T. “Terry” James.
Here is just one review of that book:
“The chapter on the rapture of the church by David Breese really got my attention. I had attended church for the first 18 years of my life in a Lutheran Church and had never heard or been taught about the rapture of the church. I became so convicted of my wicked life and I knew that if the rapture had occurred I would enter the Tribulation. I did not want to go to Hell and I kneeled for the first time ever and with tears in my eyes I asked Jesus Christ to save me and take me to Heaven. That happened on July 14 1995 and as a 30 year old my life was changed. I now am a senior in my last semester at _____________ and will assume the position of assistant pastor at _____________ at the completion of this semester. The truth of the rapture and the truth of what happens to people who do not trust in the Blood of Jesus Christ to save them from their sin is not being told enough.”
I was hooked immediately. Over time, I met Terry and his RR partner, Todd Strandberg. They have been among my favorite people for a quarter-century. Talk about missionaries to the world! Both have a love for people based on a desire to see the Gospel carried all over the world. Both are as solid as they come, ethical and genuine. I love them both.
A few years later, David Lewis asked me if I wanted to travel to Israel with him to do research on a new book.
Thus began my first trip to the “Holy Land” and many more followed. I realized that I had always had a love for the Jewish people. Today I have many Israeli friends, with many other Jewish friends around the world. These experiences led me to meet many other dear people.
A new Terry James book was always an event at the Press. It was literally like Christmas was approaching. It was here my love for and knowledge of Bible prophecy expanded exponentially. My father had taught me the basics years before (one of the great blessings of my life), but Terry and Todd took it to another level.
Seeing them at conferences over the years has been a great deal of fun and joy.
I have to tell a funny story on Todd.
Several years ago, he moved from Nebraska down to Arkansas, where I live. Being near Terry seemed like a good idea, so the retired Army dude packed up and headed our way. Now, I live in the northwest part of the state and realized Todd would be basically driving past my house on his way to the Little Rock area. We agreed to meet for lunch at an historical hotel near Eureka Springs.
I anticipated the visit for weeks.
When the day arrived, we met at the hotel restaurant and ordered. All I could think about was the amazing conversation on prophecy we were going to have.
Except I told Todd that the restaurant served luscious strawberry shortcake.
Well, as I fired question after question at Todd, he responded, but would then break in several times to say, “Wow, this strawberry shortcake is great!” And then he’d talk about strawberry shortcake. I would think, yeah, yeah, let’s get back to the topic at hand!
Over the years, we have all visited many times and discussed various topics. But it always seems to come back to the majesty and power of Bible prophecy. It has been a treasured friendship, one that will continue on for ages to come.
I am grateful to the team at RaptureReady for bringing me onboard. Honestly, it has been better for me than anyone else all these years, through good times and bad. When I suffered a difficult injury a few years ago, they stood by me until I could recover. Todd and Terry serve as living examples of the friend that sticks closer than a brother. (By the way, how marvelous that an Old Testament passage—in this case Proverbs 18:24—looks ahead to our peerless Savior, Jesus Christ.)
As I said, I anticipate more time with this gig. I am profoundly grateful to the readers out there who have stayed faithful and offered tremendous insights back. And guys, you have to stay sharp; I’ve found that some of the most insightful and tough-minded readers are women. They love the Lord and truly inspire me and give me enthusiasm for the future. Never has there been a time more important to share the Gospel through what I call the tool of evangelism known as Bible prophecy.
We can all participate in that. The world needs it.
Thank you again for 13 rich years. I love all you guys out there and greatly look forward to meeting each and every one of you.
Which we will all do one day, for sure!