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Woe to Those

In the book of Isaiah, several chapters stand out in my memory. One of them is chapter five. Here are a few verses from it. It is God’s rebuke to Israel, 700 years before Jesus’ time on earth.
Woe to those who draw sin along with cords of deceit, and wickedness as with cart ropes, to those who say, "Let God hurry, let him hasten his work so we may see it. Let it approach, let the plan of the Holy one of Israel come, so we may know it." Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight. Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine and champions at mixing drinks, who acquit the guilty for a bribe, but deny justice to the innocent. (Isa. 5:18-23)These verses apply, I think, to the United States today. Verses 24 and 25 describe the judgment of Israel because of their sins.

Merry Christmas!

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it…. The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:1-5, 9-14)This is the Christmas story according to …

Giving

Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life. (1 Tim. 6:17-19)

Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven. You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, "Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.&quo…

Obeying By Imitating

Example and imitation are not just the best means of teaching and learning: they are commanded in Scripture.
Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care, serving as overseers—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. (1 Pet. 5:2-3)

Therefore I urge you to imitate me. For this reason I am sending to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church. (1 Cor. 4:16-17)

Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God—even as I try to please everybody in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved. Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ. (1 Cor. 10:32-11:1)

Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but …

Church Discipline & Restoration

The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient for him. Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him. (2 Cor. 2:6-8)This may be the man spoken of in 1 Corinthians 5. If not, he is still a man who has been under church discipline. This discipline has worked, and the man is repentant. What is the instruction to the church?

1. Forgive him.
2. Comfort him.
3. Reaffirm your love for him.

Why? So that he will not be overwhelmed with excessive sorrow.

We do not see much church discipline today. When we do, we do not see the restoration of the repentant man as described above. Not to do this is sin on the church’s part. The church is made up of individual Christians who do the forgiving, comforting, and loving.

The Reason for Christmas

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. (Gal. 1:3-5)

But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. (Gal. 4:4-5)These two verses give us the reason for Christmas:

 to rescue us from this present evil age
 to redeem those under the law so that we might receive the full rights of sons
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (2 Cor. 5:17)

The Christmas Story

Merry Christmas! Many of us know the Christmas story from Matthew and Luke. However, you might know it only from Christmas pageants, carols, and Christmas cards. (Most of them are only partly true.)

This Christmas season, read the Christmas story to your children from the Bible. You will find the story of the Wise Men and the Star in Matthew 1:18-2:23 and the story of the shepherds and the angel in Luke 2:1-39. There are also several other short accounts of this event in Colossians 1:13-20, Hebrews 1:1-4, Galatians 4:4-5, and Philippians 2:5-11.

Here is another account:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it…He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize …

Writing Your Testimony

Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom He hath redeemed from the hand of the Enemy. (Psalm 107:2)

And the Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will. (2 Tim. 2:24-26)

When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. (Rom. 6:20-22)

Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the dev…

Isaiah & Micah

Isaiah was an intellectual prophet with a big vocabulary. He prophesied at the court in Jerusalem. As a prophet, he wore sackcloth from his waist down and sandals until God spoke to him, recorded in Isaiah 20:2-4: “At that time the Lord spoke through Isaiah son of Amoz. He said to him, ‘Take off the sackcloth from your body and the sandals from your feet.’ And he did so, going around stripped and barefoot. Then the Lord said, ‘Just as my servant Isaiah has gone stripped and barefoot for three years, as a sign and portent against Egypt and Cush, so the king of Assyria will lead away stripped and barefoot the Egyptian captives and Cushite exiles, young and old, with buttocks bared—to Egypt’s shame.’”

Micah, who prophesied at the same time, was in Samaria when he also had to go barefoot and naked. Micah 1:8-9: “Because of this I will weep and wail; I will go about barefoot and naked. I will howl like a jackal and moan like an owl. For Samaria’s plague is incurable; it has spread to Judah…

The God of All Comfort

Did you know that God the Father is described as the God of hope, the God of all comfort, the God of peace, and the God of love?

Here are some of the texts.
May the God of hope fill you with joy and peace in believing so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Rom. 15:13)

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction. (2 Cor. 1:3-4)

The God of peace be with you all. (Rom. 15:3)

Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely, and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thess. 5:23)

Now the God of peace who brought you up from the dead, that Good Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good… (Heb. 13:20)

The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. (Phil. 4…

Demons in Recent History

When you enter the land the LORD your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there. Let no one be found among you who sacrifices their son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD; because of these same detestable practices the LORD your God will drive out those nations before you. You must be blameless before the LORD your God. (Deut. 18:9-13)Here are a few accounts of demon possession in the Bible.
They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law. Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an impure spirit cried out, “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come…

Antidepressants, Anxiety, and Depression

Time magazine recently had a cover story on antidepressants. The article says there are 16 million depressed people, one third of whom do not respond to treatment with antidepressants. Another 6 million are anxious.

I will not dispute whether these facts are correct. I suspect that some of these depressed people, maybe many of them, are Christians.

The Thessalonian Christians were told to rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and in everything give thanks, for this was the will of God concerning them. Notice the three superlatives: always, without ceasing, in everything. These are not suggestions. They are commands.

We see the same thing said to the Christians in Philippi. “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard…

Floating Down the River or Praying in Jesus' Name?

Over the years, I have heard people say, “I don’t believe in Jesus. I just pray directly to God.” The awful part of their statement is they think it is a virtue or righter than the Christian belief. Here is what God says: “Who is the liar? It is whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a person is the antichrist—denying the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also” (1 John 2:22-23).

Others say they are Buddhist or Zen or just “spiritual.” Buddhists pray to idols; if they are well-informed, they know that Buddha is not listening, because Buddhism says that all consciousness is evil—Nirvana is like floating down an endless river in a fog. Zen is meditation to yourself, inward. There is no consciousness or praying to someone else.

Get your theology from reading the Word. Quit absorbing it from the world.

Are You a Disciple of Jesus?

Are you a disciple of the Lord Jesus? Here are a few things to look at. These are evidence of discipleship.
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. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (Gal. 5:22-24)

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God…. Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. (Col. 3:1-3, 5)

But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices a…

Your Word

“I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.... Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long.... Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path” (Psalm 119:11, 97, 105).

This month I will finish my year’s reading of the Bible, once through the Old Testament, and twice through the New Testament and Psalms. It has been such a great blessing. Every day I want to teach what I have learned that day.

Are You Only Listening?

“It is better to heed a wise man’s rebuke than to listen to a song of fools” (Eccl. 7:5). It may have been always so, but at present we seem to have plenty of songs from many fools. We also seem to be short on wise men. The greatest shortage, however, is in heeders. A heeder is one who listens (pays attention) and obeys what he has heard. James said it this way: “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says” (James 1:22).

In my early Christian life, I memorized many verses of Scripture. I succeeded in deceiving myself. I was not obeying the Scripture at all; I was not heeding. I thought I was spiritual because I knew the verses.

It is a dangerous to be a listener. There are many good teachers of the Word. There are many more listeners. They flock to good teachers. The teacher should not be pleased that he has many listeners, unless he is going to teach them how to be heeders. This is one of the clear requirements in the great commission: “teaching them…

What Pleases the Lord

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness, and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. (Eph. 5:8-10)This verse tells us what you were and what you are, and from this we have two assignments:
Live like what you are (goodness, righteousness, and truth).
Find out what pleases the Lord.How do we live like children of the light? By grace! We are saved by grace. We live by grace. We are forgiven by grace. We obey by grace.

How do we find out what pleases the Lord? First, want to know what pleases the Lord. Second, read the Bible looking for truths to obey by grace. Third, pray for spiritual acumen when you are reading the Bible.

We are anticipating the new year. We are waiting with patience the Lord’s return, not necessarily in that order. I get letters daily from prisoners requesting Bibles and other help. I also receive letters from prisoners requesting copies of How to Be …

Opening Eyes

Here is a question that some of you might have. “I am increasingly being faced by family, friends, and acquaintances who state that all religions lead to God and there is no one source of written revelation from God. This attitude immediately dismisses anything I might share with them from the Word of God. What is a good approach with these people, an approach that will invite them to evaluate their false belief and leave the door open to more conversation?”

First, what the unbeliever wants to hear or not hear should not determine what the believer says. The unbeliever does not believe the Word of God. Of course he doesn’t! He has not heard it. “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” Before he can believe, he must hear the Word. It is the only source of faith.

We get our orders from God, not from unbelievers. However, that does not mean that we should force the word, for “the god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of …

Abiding in Him

To abide is to live in one place for a long time. An abode is where someone abides. (So a motel is not an abode, because you do not stay there permanently.)

Here are a few wonderful texts on abiding.
He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. (Psalm 91:1)

Therefore let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father. (1 John 2:24)Jesus also talks about abiding.

“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). When we abide in Him, we bear much fruit.

“If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you” (John 15:7). Answered prayer.

“By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples” (John 15:8). When we abide in Him, we become His disciples.

“If …

Giving Thanks: How I Learned to Thank God in Everything

There are two verses on thanksgiving that I had to learn several times, but which are now fixed in my life. They are Philippians 4:6-7 and 1 Thessalonians 5:18.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 4:6-7)

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thess. 5:18)I had memorized the Philippians passage sometime in 1951. From 1953-1954, I was in graduate school in Monterey, CA. At Christmastime, I helped set up an Officers’ Christian Union conference for officers and their wives at Mt. Hermon over the New Years’ weekend. I found out there was an InterVarsity staff conference happening the same weekend, so I asked the director if we could borrow their speaker. We did, and the conference was a blessing.

We had the last meeting on Sunday mor…

Preaching the Gospel Effectively

There are many ways of teaching both truth and falsehood. One of the most effective ways goes by several different names: memorization, grammar, catechizing.

This is a good way to teach, but even when it is used with the truth of the gospel, the teaching may not result in faith. When that is the case, it is because some things are missing, generally in the teacher. These somethings are: 1) the power of the Holy Spirit, 2) love for the student, 3) preaching boldly, 4) preaching in the name of Jesus Christ, 5) fear.
But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, "LORD, who has believed our report?" So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Rom. 10:16-17)

And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers…that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking …

Shoveling Walks

We moved to Moscow from Ann Arbor, Michigan, in September 1971. That means I have lived half my life in Moscow. I lived 17 years on the East Coast, 18 years in Nebraska, 3 years in Michigan, 2 years in Japan, 2 years in California, and a few months in Bremerton, Washington. Moscow has the best four-season climate in the country. That first winter we had 70 inches of snow. Over these 46 years, I have noticed that many people do not shovel the sidewalk at their residence, and some businesses do not shovel their walks. In a residence, it is a kindness and a consideration for the neighbors. For a business, it is just good business. If you are old like I am, you can hire someone to do it. If you are young, you can volunteer to shovel your neighbor’s walk.

If you are human, healthy, kind, and considerate, you can shovel neighbors' walks. Don’t have time? Make time. If you are lazy, pay someone else to do it. If you are a Christian and do not shovel your walk, people may wonder what kind…

Thanksgiving

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever. Cry out, "Save us, God our Savior; gather us and deliver us from the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name, and glory in your praise." Praise be to the LORD, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Then all the people said "Amen" and "Praise the LORD.” (1 Chron. 16:34-36)This is the first time in the Bible where three things happened and were recorded together in worship. It was the return of the ark of the covenant to the City of David. The three things were music, singing, and thanksgiving. David may have been the bravest man in the history of the world. He may have been the greatest general in history. He may have been the greatest musician and the greatest poet, and he was a man after God’s own heart.

Look for thanksgiving also in the Psalms and in Paul’s letters. Here are just a few:
Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song. (Psalm…

Pray for Workers

Every day I come across verses of Scripture I want to preach, proclaim, shout, or sing. Here is one:
An oracle is within my heart concerning the sinfulness of the wicked: There is no fear of God before his eyes. For in his own eyes he flatters himself too much to detect or hate his sin. (Psalm 36:1-2)This is such a good description of the sinfulness of the wicked. The wicked man cannot even see, much less hate, his own sin. The reason is that he flatters himself. This is the ultimate expression of selfishness and self-conceit.

Please pray with us using the command in Matthew 9:37-38 as your prayer: “Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.’”

Light

Today's post will be all Scripture. These are a few favorite verses of mine.
This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. (1 John 1:5)

The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. (2 Cor. 4:4-6)

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. (1 John 1:7)

In the sight of God, who gives life to everything, and of Christ Jesus, who while testifying before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you to keep this command without…

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.

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 hu…

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 …

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 vis…

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 affecti…

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…

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…

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.

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.

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.

An Uncomfortable Question

One of the questions I have asked individuals over the last several years is, “Do you want to be godly?”

The question is probably counter-productive. The answers are hesitant, preceded by looking around the room. When the answer is, “Yes,” it is because they know it is supposed to be the right answer.

Here are a few verses for meditation:

“Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt. 5:48). It does not matter what the definition of “perfect” is. Whatever it is, it is “as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

“But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do” (1 Pet. 1:15). The same reasoning follows this command. We are to be holy because God is holy.

“Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children” (Eph. 5:1). We are to imitate God in love and forgiveness.
We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. (Col. 1:28)

For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed…

Everything Good

May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. (Hebrews 13:20-21)

Worshiping at the Wrong Altar

I have been overwhelmed with God’s expressions of His view of idolatry:

Disobedient: “You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol 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 fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me” (Deut. 5:7-9).
Stupid: “But their idols are silver and gold, made by the hands of men. They have mouths, but cannot speak, eyes, but they cannot see; they have ears, but cannot hear, noses, but they cannot smell; they have hands, but cannot feel, feet, but they cannot walk; nor can they utter a sound with their throats. Those who make them will be like them, and so will all who trust in them” (Psalm 115:4-8).
Demonic: “Do I mean then that a sacrifice offered to an idol is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, but the sacrifices of p…

Your Attachment to Money

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matt. 6:19-21)

But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. (1 Tim. 6:6-10)Jesus and Paul both taught on attachment to money. Above are two examples of their teaching. In our wealthy evangelical society where wealth seems to be normal and not inordinate…

Why I Have Lived This Long

In recent months, I have been asked why or how have I lived this long. I have reflected on it and have come up with several answers.

• God had made work to do in me and through me.
• Inheritance: although my father died at 67, my older brother died at 67, and my next younger brother died at 67, my mother lived until she was 89.
• I did not drink or smoke.
• I jogged for thirteen years, swam laps for a couple of years after that, and walked for more years.
• I think that the main reason is that I have not been anxious for more than 60 years, although there have been temptations to be anxious.
• Walking in the light. “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).

I am willing to discuss any one of these. Comment here, write (jimwilson27@frontier.com) or call me (208-882-4383).

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, &q…

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)

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 yo…

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.

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 f…

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 inc…

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 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 m…