Jim Wilson is the retired director of Community Christian Ministries in Moscow, Idaho. He will be posting regularly, so check back in soon!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

The Humility Harness

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. (Eph. 4:2)
Notice the word “completely.” Apparently it is possible to be completely humble and gentle. We see it Philippians 2:5-7 as well: “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.”
• Made himself nothing
• Humbled himself and became obedient to death
• Even death on the cross
“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.” We are to be humble, completely, just like Jesus. "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls" (Matt. 11:29).

Get into the humility harness with Jesus.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

A Study of Isaiah 58

One of my favorite chapters in the Bible is Isaiah 58.

The first five verses are God telling the religious people why their prayers are not answered.
Shout it aloud, do not hold back.
Raise your voice like a trumpet.
Declare to my people their rebellion
and to the house of Jacob their sins.

For day after day they seek me out;
they seem eager to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that does what is right
and has not forsaken the commands of its God.
They ask me for just decisions
and seem eager for God to come near them.

"Why have we fasted," they say,
"and you have not seen it?
Why have we humbled ourselves,
and you have not noticed?"
Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please
and exploit all your workers.

Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife,
and in striking each other with wicked fists.
You cannot fast as you do today
and expect your voice to be heard on high.

Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,
only a day for a man to humble himself?
Is it only for bowing one's head like a reed
and for lying on sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call a fast,
a day acceptable to the LORD?
The next ten verses give three different conditions and the wonderful results of meeting them. Verses 6 and 7 give conditions:
Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?

Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe him,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Verses 8 and 9a give the result:
Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.
Then you will call, and the LORD will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
9b and 10a give conditions:
If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
And if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed…
10b-12 give the answer:
Then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.

The LORD will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.

Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.
Verse 13 gives the condition:
If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath
and from doing as you please on my holy day,
if you call the Sabbath a delight
and the LORD's holy day honorable,
and if you honor it by not going your own way
and not doing as you please or speaking idle words…
Verse 14 gives the answer:
Then you will find your joy in the LORD,
and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land
and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.
The mouth of the LORD has spoken.
Over the years, I have occasionally met the conditions. The answers are always wonderful. One of our great joys is seeing our children and grandchildren meet the conditions.

Here is a New Testament counterpart:
Then Jesus said to his host, "When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” (Luke 14:12-14)
How many of the saints obey this at least some of the time?

Monday, November 13, 2017

Finding Out Basic Problems (Counseling Basics)

In many years of meeting with Christians who are in trouble of some kind, I try to find out basic problems. To do this, I ask questions.

1. What is your mouth like? “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of” (Luke 6:45).

It is amazing how many “Christians” talk dirty. The answers I get go like this:
“I work on a fishing boat.”
“I work in a restaurant kitchen.”
“I’m in the Marines.”
What they are doing is giving me excuses for talking dirty—as if that was an adequate answer.

2. When was the last time you read all of the New Testament?

They say, “All of it?”

3. I ask for their life story. I find out many things that they do not know they are telling me.

4. Do you have more joy in your live today than you had when you were converted?

I know the answer—it’s no. The reason for the answer is that they have years of unconfessed sin. I found out that was true for me when I had been a Christian for 3 ½ years. Two years later, I found out again. My first awakening was in the spring of 1951 on a ship in the Sea of Japan. I was awakened by reading The Calvary Road, given to me by two women missionaries in Japan. I cleaned house—I confessed every sin I could remember since I had become a Christian. It was wonderful. Several years later, I found out that I had again accumulated unconfessed sin. This time, it was by reading Continuous Revival. I will be glad to send one or both of these books to you. You can reach me here, at jimwilson27@frontier.com, or at (208) 882-4383.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Son of Man

Jesus uses the term Son of Man about 80 times in the Gospels, referring to Himself. Here is one of those times. “No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man. Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him” (John 3:13-15). This is followed by John 3:16.

We can see, because both result in everlasting life, that the Son of Man is the same as the only-begotten Son. The Son of Man probably refers to Daniel 7.
As I looked, thrones were set in place,
and the Ancient of Days took his seat.
His clothing was as white as snow;
the hair of his head was white like wool.
His throne was flaming with fire,
and its wheels were all ablaze.
A river of fire was flowing,
coming out from before him.
Thousands upon thousands attended him;
ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him.
The court was seated,
and the books were opened….

In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed. (Dan. 7:9-10, 13-14)
The Jewish authorities knew what Jesus was referring to when he said, “Son of Man.”

Thursday, November 09, 2017

Raising Children Who Stay

Recently, there was a family party for me. I was more of an observer than I was a participant. All of the greatgrandchildren were whooping it up. Not all of my descendants were present. Heather, Ararat, and their three children were not there; Mallory, her husband, and their two children were in Canada; and Brooke, Daniel, and their four kids were in England.

This was my basic observation: all of the marriages seemed to be perfect marriages. All of the children were obedient (22 were present), and there were no fights among any of the cousins.

Why have I been so blessed? I have done some thinking on the subject. I watched other families and asked them how they did it; I watched others and observed how they didn’t do it. I had to do a lot of changing over the years.

For instance, my first nine years as a Christian were in the Navy. I was a disciplinarian. I did not want my sons to grow up to be sissies. I was hard on them. I woke up and changed and started to be expressively affectionate to them.

It was easier with Heather. While I was still in the Navy, I was visiting a Christian family and waiting for dinner to be served. I asked the little daughter to sit on my lap. She did. However, she did not want to get off. That told me that she was not getting enough affection from her father. She was starved for it, and trying to soak it up from me. I knew that if nothing changed, she would be pregnant by the time she was 16.

It turned out that she was 17 when she got pregnant. At that time, I made a decision that I was not going to let that happen to Heather. Years later, when Heather was a senior in high school, I went up to her room as usual to tuck her in bed and kiss her goodnight. She said, “Dad, I know why you’re doing this. You are afraid I will get my loving somewhere else.” I said, “Right on.”

You may not know this, but I think it is unwise to allow an 18-year-old child to attend college somewhere other than at home. They are not old enough to be autonomous. Yet 18-year-olds who are away from home think that they are autonomous.

People respond to this with the fact that I let my 18-year-old sons join the Navy. Yes, I had been in the Navy. There they were under authority, not autonomous. In addition, I visited Douglas in the Navy in New London and in Norfolk, and I visited Evan in El Centro. When Heather was still single and doing mission and teaching work, I visited her in Egypt, California, Pennsylvania, and Turkey.

They all knew that they were still in the family. When Ararat got interested in Heather, she called us from Istanbul to tell us of his interest. I replied, “Shake him.” She said, “What do mean, shake him?” “Get rid of him. You know how to get rid of guys.” “But Dad, I’m interested in this one.” “Well,” I said, “that’s different. Now I will take charge of the courtship.” There I was with a 31-year-old daughter 10,000 miles away, and I said I was going to take charge. Her reply was, “Ok. I don’t want to do anything stupid.”

I know many Christian families. Some of them have children who are not believers or have gone astray. One of the reasons this happens is that the child realizes he is not loved or respected, so he goes off in order to get love and respect. It doesn’t work. We did not do everything right, but we caught ourselves in time, so we have had no tragedies.

Here are two of the Bible texts we have counted on.

The second commandment: “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments” (Ex. 10:4-6). One thousand generations. Currently, we have four generations, down to our greatgrandchildren.

Deuteronomy 11:18-21: “Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land the LORD swore to give your ancestors, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth.”

I am willing to say more on the subject if you want to discuss any of it. Reply here or email me at jimwilson27@frontier.com. I have also written on how to lead your adult children back to the Lord.

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

God's Love & Ice Cream Love

Let’s look at John 3:16. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

God is love (1 John 4:8).

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” (1 Cor. 13:4-7).

Love is patient.
Love is kind.
Love is not jealous.
Love does not brag.
Love is not arrogant.
Love does not dishonor others.
Love does not seek its own.
Love does not take wrongs it has suffered into account.
Love does not rejoice in unrighteousness.
Love rejoices with the truth.
Love never fails.
Love bears all things.
Love believes all things.
Love endures all things.

Other things fail.

This is the love God has for us: “Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted” (Heb. 2:14-18).

The love 1 Corinthians 13 talks about is the kind of love we are to love God with. We are returning His love to Him in obedience. We love because He first loved us.

Love is expressed in two directions. Love expressed upwards (towards God or those in authority over us) is done through obedience. Love downward or horizontally is given sacrificially for the benefit of the one loved.

Expressing love this way also provides information. Jesus said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35). By this love that they can see, everyone will know that you are a follower of Jesus Christ.

It also gives us knowledge about ourselves. “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love” (1 John 4:7-8). This love or our lack of it give us knowledge about our relationship to God.

John 3:16 is expressed again in 1 John 4:10-11: “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”

The “world” God loved in John 3:16 is not the world of rocks, trees, and rivers, because only individual unbelievers are capable of believing and responding to love given. Rocks and trees are not. The world is capable of believing—all of mankind. The part of the world that believes will not perish. “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them” (John 3:36).

The only people who can love as God loves are those who have believed that Jesus died for them. When they believe, they receive the fruit of the Spirit. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law” (Gal. 5:22-23).

The rest of the world is left to “love” in worldly, erotic, or selfish ways. None of this love is obedient or sacrificial. Unfortunately, many Christians think in the same terms as the unbelievers. They think they love someone, but what they really love is themselves—the benefits they get from being around the person. It is the same as “loving” ice cream. Many Christians are not up to loving their enemies, neighbors, spouses, other Christians, or God. They are Christians living like the world.

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Election Day Reflections

In January 1949, I marched with the Brigade of Midshipmen in Truman’s inauguration. In 1961, I put together an evangelistic dinner for the Corps of Cadets from West Point and the Brigade of Midshipmen from the Naval Academy following Kennedy’s inaugural parade.

My history with presidents includes: 2 years under Calvin Coolidge, 4 years under Herbert Hoover, 12+ years with Franklin Roosevelt, almost 8 years with Harry Truman, 8 with Eisenhower, 2 with John F. Kennedy, 6 with Lyndon Johnson, 6 with Richard Nixon, 2 with Gerald Ford, 4 with Jimmy Carter, 8 with Ronald Reagan, 4 with George HW Bush, 8 with Bill Clinton, 8 with George W. Bush, 8 with Barak Obama, and 1 now with Donald Trump.

For many of my years, I looked at the President of the United States as the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces. Each president swore to uphold the Constitution of the United States.

This year is not a presidential election, but here are the qualities I have looked for in presidents and politicians in the last forty years (not in order of importance): integrity, sexual morality, good economic policy, small government, states’ rights, socially conservative. I also look at their religion, family, and profanity. If I consider these at all, it is difficult to find a qualified man. I did not vote for Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election.

Monday, November 06, 2017

Thoughts on Psalm 102

Psalm 102 has some wonderful truths:

“Let this be written for a future generation, that a people not yet created may praise the LORD” (v. 18). We are one of those future generations.

“In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. Like clothing you will change them, and they will be discarded. But you remain the same, and your years will never end” (vs. 25-27).

Isn’t this wonderful? The heavens are going to wear out like old clothes which we throw away or give to Goodwill.

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Two Reasons People Are Hurting

There are two great needs in the world today. Actually, they overlap.

The first need belongs to the billions of people who are lost and are going to die without Christ.

The other group is made up of Christians who do not think they are loved by God, by their parents, or by friends. They are loved by God, but they have believed the lie of the devil that God does not love them. As far as their perception that other people don’t love them, it may be true or false.

God has a solution for both groups. The first is that Christians are to make disciples of the world. The second is that God has commanded Christians to love God, their neighbors, wives, brothers, and enemies with a sacrificial love. This is not happening. The result is that many people are being short-changed on receiving love. Consequently, they are hurting very much.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Only One Option for Reaching God

Have you seen the COEXIST bumper stickers? People tell us that they have their truth, and we have ours. Among nominal Christians, other religions (some of them), and even some real Christians, there is a belief that various ways can lead to God. Here are three verses that followers of the Way should meditate on:
Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved. (Acts 4:12)

No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also. (1 John 2:23)
There is no wiggle room in these Scriptures. They are either true or false.