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

Friday, October 20, 2017

No Other Name

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)
This statement is either true or false. Peter said it to the high priests Annas and Caiaphas in answer to the question, “By what power or what name did you do this?” This was after he and John had spent the night in jail, after seeing the church grow by two thousand, and after they had healed the cripple in the name of Jesus.
Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: "Rulers and elders of the people! If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple and are asked how he was healed, then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed.” (Acts 4:8-10)

Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John replied, "Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God's sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:18-20)
Isn’t this a great dialogue? The statement Peter made was true. He was filled with the Holy Spirit.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Your Eyes Will See the King

“Your eyes will see the king in his beauty and view a land that stretches afar.” (Isa. 33:17)

“For the LORD is our judge, the LORD is our lawgiver, the LORD is our king; it is he who will save us.” (Isa. 33:22)

Here are five wonderful attributes of God: King, beautiful, judge, lawgiver, and Savior. Here are a few more qualities of His in relationship to believers:

“The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” (Zeph. 3:17)

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

My 70th Rebirthday

Today is my 70th re-birthday. These 70 years have been 70 years of the grace and faithfulness of God.

Please read these verses on the quantity of grace:
From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. (John 1:16)

But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: "God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6)

But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God's grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many!...For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God's abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ...The law was added so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more. (Rom. 5:15, 17, 20)

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. (2 Cor. 9:8)

And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. (2 Cor. 9:14)

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. (2 Cor. 12:9)

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace. (Eph. 1:7)

The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. (1 Tim. 1:14)

And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. (1 Pet. 5:10)
This grace has been given to me in many ways:
• my birth
• saving my life at two years old (scarlet fever, diphtheria, smallpox)
• my family in growing up
• receiving Christ at 20 years old
• saving my life at 22 (mine explosion)
• my wife and my marriage of 58 years
• my children and grandchildren and their husbands and wives, and my great-grandchildren
• saving my life at 77 years with quadruple-bypass surgery
• the grace of preaching Christ for 70 years
• a multitude of friends in Christ
• many instructors within and outside the faith
• common grace
To those of you who also know the grace of God, thank you for your participation with me in preaching Christ.

“Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord” (2 Pet. 1:2).

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Gardening With Squirrels

This will not be a spiritual post. It is just my observations. My desk is next to a wide window facing east at the back of the house. The lilacs next to the alley are still green. The apple tree next to the house is ripening its apples; they will be ready in a couple weeks. The leaves on the cherry tree are going bright orange. The last two years, I watched a squirrel eat the leaves in the early spring; when the white blossoms appeared, the squirrel ate the blossoms. Then the green cherries appeared. He ate them. Later, he ate the ripe cherries. I did not get any cherries.

I suspect my father would have opened the window and shot the squirrel with a shotgun. I do not own a shotgun.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Bronco Busting

After Dad got back on his feet from his heart attack, he went to the horse barn and bought horses, two of which were off the range. They had never been broken. One day he hired a bronco rider to break one of the horses. We cleared everything out of the yard to give the horse plenty of room to buck. After that, the rider mounted, and the horse began to buck. Then we realized that we had not taken down the clothesline. Nothing bad happened.

I asked Dad if I could break the other horse. Dad said no. I was 15, and he did not want me to get hurt. I kept asking him. One day there was two feet of snow in the yard. He said I could break him. We held him while I saddled him. I got on him, and he began to buck. He had a hard time because of the two feet of snow. I kept whipping him to keep him going. Finally he was sweating so much that he was very tired and then quit bucking. I rode him for a while and then took him to the barn. I was very pleased with myself for having broken him.

I had a female Dalmatian dog whose name was Sally. I thought she had run away. It just occurred to me that a hawk or an owl had gotten her. Because I thought she had run away, I took my horse to go look for her. I saddled and mounted him. He did not buck. I walked him out of the yard to the road where I got him to trot. I was very pleased, so I got him into a lope and then into a run. Suddenly the horse stopped. I did not stop. I flew over his head and landed hard. They horse went back to the barn. I walked home embarrassed. My father was amused.

One time my father was taking several horses to the horse barn to sell. The horse barn was a separate part of the stockyards. We had no truck, so I was leading them behind a wagon that he was driving. My mother was in the wagon leading the horses to be sold. It must have been Sunday evening, because L St. was lined up for miles with trucks full of cattle headed for the stockyards. L St. was an east-west street. The trucks were headed east to the Omaha stockyards. They were coming from central Nebraska.

Dad was approaching L St. from the south. Apparently, he would have to get in line with the trucks. Ken may have been a year old. A car came up behind the wagon and honked its horn. This scared the horses being let, who ran up alongside the right side of the wagon and then beside the team. This spooked the team into a run and then into a runaway. Dad could not control the team. It was on a dead run headed for the line of trucks. Dad told Mom to jump, which she did, but she jumped facing the wagon, thinking she’d be able to land running. Somehow the runaway team got through the line of trucks. Mom ended up with stitches in her head.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Hitting Close to Home

I just came across this article written in 2007 by Matt Meyer, my successor as director of CCM. It speaks to yesterday's blog post.

After a number of weeks of coming for counseling, a young Chinese woman recently called on God to forgive her sins. For several of the last weeks, she was sure that God was real and good and that she was a sinner, but she was having a hard time connecting her sin with the death of Christ on the cross. When she was asked to describe what she meant by “being a sinner,” it was clear that her focus was horizontal instead of vertical. She thought she was sinning against her husband, family and herself. When she finally understood that our sin or lawlessness as John describes it is first against God, the lights came on. “I’ve broken God’s laws,” she repeated numerous times as the realization finally hit home.

Do we have the same sense that we are breaking God’s law when we avoid those passages that hit too close to home or perhaps are just a little too inconvenient for us to obey?

She had a number of good questions that followed her prayer of confession. What church should I attend? Do I now need to support the church? How do I pray? How often should I pray? I’m such a little baby, and I need to learn so much.

As we worked through the Lord’s teaching on prayer, we also turned to the 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and in everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” Instead of worrying about everything in the Bible, we suggested that she start by just practice these three verses diligently.

“But this is impossible,” she responded.

We assured her that that was the point. If you start by giving thanks in every circumstance, good and bad, you will find your self praying continually – either confessing your sin of thanklessness, asking God to help you be thankful, or praising Him with thanks. Then, when thankfulness is present, rejoicing will surely follow. Like this new believer, we need to be diligent that our joy is not burdened by active disobedience or unconfessed sin.

“Those who forsake the law praise the wicked, but those who keep the law plead against them” (Prov. 28:4).

In the Living translation, the second half of this verse reads, “those who obey the law fight against evil.” The verse sounds even clearer when spoken by a teenage boy to his father regarding the speed of his vehicle in relationship to the posted limit. Like much of the Bible, this verse is much more understandable and applicable than we would at first think.

Isn’t it enough to have just read or even memorized the passage? No. James commands us to “become doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.”

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Read Them Fast

We as Christians spend a lot of our time trying to figure out the meaning of Scripture verses which are not very clear. What are we going to do with these verses after we understand them? Let's consider our options:
a) Believe them.
b) Obey them.
c) Teach the meaning to someone else.
d) Debate the meaning with someone else.
Normally the vote goes to c) and d).

What about the verses which are very clear? Now c) and d) are not options, because everyone understands them. We are stuck with a), b), or both. Here is a possible evasive alternative—read them fast and don’t meditate on them!

Here is a better sequence:
Are the verses true?
Are they authoritative?
Thank God for them.
Meditate on them.
Obey them!
Please practice on the following passage:
“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).
You may ask, “Do I have to do this all of the time?” I am not sure there is anyone with authority to answer your question. Of course, if it is a rhetorical question, then you already have the answer.

Here are some questions to ask yourself about the passage:
1. Have I ever obeyed these commands of Jesus?
2. How many times?
3. Do I want to obey?
4. Do I intend to obey?
5. If so, when?
6. If so, how many banquets am I willing to provide for how many people?
7. I would rather give money to a skid row mission so they can obey this command.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The Omaha Stockyards

Here is another story. My brain is now 90 years old, so it might be light fiction!

I spent the last two years of high school in the Omaha stockyards. Since the early part of the 20th century, 22,000 head of cattle had come through the stockyards every day. My life revolved around those 22,000. Bucking bales from railroad cards (90-lb. bales of prairie hay) into hay barns.

We would stack the hay to the roof of the hay barns. Right next to the roof was a bale not in tight. We would remove the bale. Immediately behind the bale, there was a long tunnel in the bales. We (17-year-old boys) would go into the tunnel and close up the entrance with the bale we had removed. At the other end of the tunnel, there was a square amphitheater with the baled hay as seats and the center for wrestling matches. We had sooey whip fights and wrestling matches. We could not be seen or heard. It was soundproof

One other activity was removing the excrement from the cattle and hog yards with fire hoses, two men on each hose. This also meant water fights.

On Saturdays, we would pitch sheep manure in the sheep houses. Almost all of the hogs, sheep, and cattle had gone to the packers by Friday afternoon. One Saturday, we heard a high-pitched, “Baaaaaa!” It did not take long to find the lonely lamb that had been left by the packers. We all wanted it, but everyone else lived in the Omaha city limits. I lived on ten acres at 45th in Harrison in Sarpy County.

I went out into the cattle yard and found a cow making much noise. It had not been milked, so it was hurting. I got a bucket for fighting fire and milked the cow. I diluted the milk with water and went back into the sheep barn. I put my right hand into the bucket with my little finger sticking up. With my left hand, I held the lamb’s head down with its mouth over my little finger. We kept the lamb alive.

I did not know how to get it home on a city bus. Animals were not permitted. I had to hide it in a paper grocery sack hoping the driver would think I had groceries. When I got on the bus, the grocery sack went, “Baaaaa.” I named it Mary Ann after a high school classmate who had a lot of flaming red hair. There was no connection. (The lamb did not have red hair.)

Since I was at school or working, my mother had Mary Ann. And Mary Ann thought my mother was her mother and went everywhere my mother went. She would jump in and out of the clothes basket when mother was hanging clothes. A few weeks later, we found Mary Ann dead under the house. We found no reason.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Bessie & Mrs. Mother

Bessie’s mother died when she was five years old. Her father got a job in Calgary, and his children did not want to go with him, so they stayed and raised Bessie. Bessie had a friend named Dorothy Diehl (later Flaxman). Mrs. Diehl acted as a mother to Bessie. Bessie did not want to call her “Mrs. Diehl,” nor did she think she should call her “Mom,” so she called her “Mrs. Mother.” That’s how I knew her. All her children knew that Bessie called her “Mrs. Mother.”

Mrs. Mother’s maiden name was Armstrong. Mrs. Mother and her brothers and sisters called their mother Ole Mama. Mrs. Armstrong was very much a matriarch. Everyone did what she said. In January 1935, Ole Mama made a pronouncement to the clan. “We have all lived for the devil long enough. We're going down to the revival to get saved.”

Bessie went with Dorothy and the entire Armstrong clan to the Christian Missionary Alliance revival. She and Dorothy were acting up. They were going to be asked to leave. At the invitation, an older woman asked Dorothy if she wanted to respond. Dorothy said she would if Bessie would. Bessie said she would respond because Dorothy was her friend.

That night, Bessie went home and told her sister Molly that she had been saved. Molly asked, “What does that mean?” Bessie replied, “I shook the preacher’s hand.”

Apparently she had been saved. She found her mother’s Bible and was in it from that point on. She was active in ISCI in high school. She went to Prairie Bible College in 1939, graduated in 1942, and became a missionary to homesteaders in the Peace River country of Alberta. Then she was on ISCI staff in Toronto from 1945-1947 and in Calgary from 1947-1948.

Bessie went to the first international missions conference in 1946 (Dec. 27-31) in Toronto. (This conference is now called Urbana.) There she committed herself to foreign missions. In December 1948, she went to Yokohama to restart the Kyoritsu Bible College for Women. I met her in November 1950. I was very impressed. I was the only man there for dinner with the women missionaries: Miss Webster-Smith in her sixties, Mary Ballentyne in her forties, Bessie in her thirties, Maxine in her twenties.

I said, “Bessie, how old are you?”

“Thirty-one. How old are you?”

“Twenty-three. Why didn’t you wait for me?”

“I didn’t know you were coming.”

I asked her to marry me several times from February to July. She said yes in July. We were married in April 1952 in Yokohama. We were married 58 ½ years. She went to be with the Lord on September 18, 2010.

Monday, October 09, 2017

Food Memories

I have always enjoyed eating. Bessie was a great meat-and-potatoes cook, as well as mac and cheese. My daughters-in-law are gourmet cooks, so I have been blessed.

My mother made navy bean soup. She let the beans soak all night. She made homemade bread. The loaves were enormous. The bread was cut an inch thick, and the slice would cover a dinner plate. We would cover the bread with soup, then cover that with ketchup. It was great stuff. For my 90th birthday party, my descendants sent for Mom’s navy bean soup recipe from my brother Ken. The others had bowls for soup with bread on the side, but I had mine on a plate with the soup spooned over the bread. It was very, very good.

When Mom baked bread, she would take extra dough, fry it in bacon grease, and coat with sugar. It was called fried bread. It was great, too.

This morning I was eating a very good crispy, juicy Golden Delicious apple, and, as my custom has been for the last eighty years, I ate everything but the stem. I can only remember one exception to this. The summer of ’48 I was on the USS Coral Sea in the Mediterranean. When I was a kid, any body of water was an invitation to throw or skip rocks. Here was the whole Mediterranean Sea, and no rocks to throw. So I saved up my apple cores just to throw them into the sea. I sacrificed one pleasure for another.

I am not a tea or coffee drinker, but I enjoy sweet iced tea with lemon. However, after I drink the tea, I eat the lemon rind. It is so good.

In July 2012, Luke Mays and I were driving back from southern California along the Pacific Coast Highway. We stopped at a fruit stand and bought a honeydew melon. I cannot describe it. It was far better than any melon I have ever tasted before or since.

My favorite food is pot roast of beef with mashed potatoes and gravy. Bessie’s self-adopted mother, Mrs. Mother, had the best pot roast of beef. (It is hard to cook this dish poorly, so I am pleased with nearly all I’ve had, but hers was the best.) My second favorite food is Bessie’s beef stew—it was great! I have eaten so much of each that it was probably sin.

Here are a few other favorites:

• Slow-cooked oatmeal cooked with raisins, eaten with milk or whole cream and brown sugar
• My Aunt Annabelle’s eggs fried in a very hot pan in bacon grease
• Eggs over-easy, seasoned in the pan with pepper and salt
• Corn on the cob, picked immediately before it is in put in boiling water
• My mom’s potato soup
• Heather’s potato corn chowder
• I make the best spaghetti.

Almost five years ago I was in Omaha with my nieces’ families. We went to a steak house called the Charleston. I have never had a steak so good or a baked potato so good or a salad so good. It might seem hard to improve on a baked potato or a salad, but they did it.

On the whole, I am not fond of Italian food, but I had lasagna in a private home in Bellevue, Nebraska. It was wonderful. I do not think I would be able to say that about any other Italian food, because it is generally my least favorite.

When I was visiting Gospel Recordings, Don Eckels took me to a French restaurant in Hollywood. I ordered soup. It came in a big tureen. I have no idea what kind of soup it was, but it was great.

At present I eat very little, regardless how good it is. I thank God for it. If your cooking did not make my list, I still thanked God for it.