Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from 2020

Humiliation

“Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company or soldiers around Him. They stripped Him and put a scarlet robe on Him and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on His head. They put a staff in His right hand and knelt in front of Him and mocked him. ‘Hail, king of the Jews!’ they said. They spat on Him, and took the staff and struck Him on the head again and again. After they had mocked Him, they took off the robe and put His own clothes on Him. Then they led Him away to crucify Him” (Matthew 27:27-31).

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 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” (Matthew 11:28-29).


During this month, we are going to remember again the events of Matthew 27 and 28. However, I would like to draw your attention to the soldiers’ attempt to humiliate Jesus. At different times in our lives, we have all b…

April Ministry Letter: Anxiety

Dear Friends,

Early in my Christian life, I had several periods of deep and sometimes prolonged anxiety. In each case, someone else pointed me to God and His faithfulness and how to trust Him. In every case, my anxiety ended, and God answered my need.

God cares for us. The more we think about God the way God thinks about Himself, the happier our lives will be. As long as we think of Him according to our accusative thoughts which are not true, we will adjust our lives based upon those lies. We think that God has characteristics that He does not have. We think He is unkind, intolerant, impatient, waiting for us to step out of line so He can swat us. That is not true. He is the opposite: He is kind, faithful, and caring.

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet…

Discharging the Duties of Your Ministry (2 Timothy 3)

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry” (2 Timothy 3:16-4:5).

This is an instance where there should not be a chapter division. Notice that the Scripture is ins…

Timothy: A Simple & Complete Instruction

“Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save yourself and your hearers” (1 Timothy 4:16).

This is simple and complete. Your life and doctrine includes what you are and what you teach, what you do and what you say. There really isn’t anything else. The instruction is to watch these two areas closely and keep on living and teaching properly. The result is salvation for yourself and those you teach.

In the preceding paragraph, Paul amplifies this living and teaching. “Set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.” That is the living.

“Until I come devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching.” That is the teaching.


Join the #keepthefeast Bible Reading Challenge here. This post coordinates with today's reading.
Written 1980.

Christian Books & the Bible

This is an article by Chris Schlect from The Hammer magazine, a 90's publication of CCM.

“Of making many books there is no end” (Ecclesiastes 12:12).

The Christian literature industry is booming. Secular publishing houses all print Christian books. We can even find Christian books at the grocery store. We should rejoice that Christian literature is being so widely circulated, yet at the same time we ought to pray that there be a return to biblical standards in the market.

A serious temptation accompanies the widespread availability of Christian books, and those of us involved in literature ministry are particularly susceptible. Because so many books have been written about a multitude of subjects, it is far too easy to turn to a Christian book before opening the Bible. Books written by Christians are profitable only when they are approached as a supplementary—not primary—source of guidance. True godliness is cultivated in those who labor in the Scriptures, for there we find the Lo…

The Importance of Giving Thanks

“So they are without excuse; for although they knew God they did not honor Him as God or give thanks to Him, but they became futile in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened” (Romans l:20-21).

The increasing decadence that is described in the last half of Romans 1 starts with the choice described in verse 21: they did not honor or give thanks to God. All idolatry and immorality starts here.

This was written about people who had only natural revelation (not the Bible), and they were without excuse. How much more inexcusable are those who have special revelation (God’s Word, the Bible) and have been redeemed!

Thanksgiving is our basic means of praising God. It is, for our benefit, also a means of avoiding a critical and complaining spirit. “In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).



Join the #keepthefeast Bible Reading Challenge here. This post coordinates with today's reading.
Written January 1993.

Your Big Mouth (And What Proverbs Has to Say About It)

"He who is estranged seeks pretexts to break out against all sound judgment. A fool takes no pleasure in understanding but only in expressing his opinion" (Proverbs 18:1-2).

When I am estranged or separated from the Lord in fellowship, the last thing I want to hear is sound judgment. I will barricade myself against it. But since I cannot barricade against sound judgment with sound judgment, I must do it with pretexts—shallow, weak things which deceive only me. It is my attempt to stay estranged. If the searchlight of sound judgment breaks into my hideout, I find myself confessing, forsaking, and no longer estranged but restored to the Lord.

During my estrangement, I take no pleasure in understanding, but I am very eager to express my opinion. After I am back in fellowship, I am amazed at how stupid I was with my opinions. How I regret my big mouth. Truly it is foolish.



Join the #keepthefeast Bible Reading Challenge here. This post coordinates with today's reading.
Written …

Insight: Praying for Revival

This article of mine was originally published in Insight magazine for the leaders of the Officers' Christian Fellowship.

George T.B. Davis, in his book When the Fire Fell, tells a beautiful story of the movings of the Spirit on board the USS North Carolina, a battleship of the United States Navy, anchored in the harbor of New York.

“Among her complement of a thousand men were four Christians who discovered their spiritual kinship and agreed to meet for prayer. They were permitted to use a very retired part of the ship, on a deck far below the water line. Here, then, they gathered one evening. They were only four men, but they were a united band. They represented three denominations: one being an Episcopalian, another a Presbyterian, while two were Baptists.

“As they knelt in the dim light of a tiny lamp, the Spirit of God suddenly filled their hearts with such joy of salvation that they burst into song. The strange sweet strain rose to the decks above and there created great asto…

A Korean War Memory

This is another excerpt from my autobiography, Grace upon Grace, which will be in print in April.

On 6 September 1950, we left Task Force 77 to join Task Group 95.2 for gunfire support in the front line in Pohang Dong at the east end of the Pusan Perimeter. After twenty days on the front line, the Brush and the Maddox were sent north to the Chinese-Russian border to enforce the UN blockade.

I was in the first division, the deck division, for regular duty. When I was not on watch or at general quarters, one of my regular assignments as a junior officer was correcting charts. Corrections came down from the Bureau of Navigation; we would take our charts out and make the corrections. One sailor was assigned to work with me; he was also one of the men at the same battle station as me. While we were correcting charts together, I talked to him about the Lord, and he received Christ. The next day while correcting charts, he told me that he had a problem. I encouraged him to tell me about it. …

Autobiography: Agnostics and a "Jesus People"

Here is another short story from my autobiography, Grace Upon Grace, which will be in print this spring.

In the winter of 1971-1972, I was invited to take part in a panel responding to Gordon Lathrop, who was speaking in the CUB ballroom at Washington State University. Gordon was a Lutheran theologian and the chaplain of Pacific Lutheran College in Tacoma. I think I was selected because of my effectiveness in reaching high school kids in God’s Garage. The other panel members were Mr. Bowman, the United Church of Christ pastor, King Rockhill, the Methodist pastor, and professor Paul Brians, founder of the WSU Society for the Propagation of Militant Atheism. The panel members were not allowed to debate with each other, and were only to speak about Gordon Lathrup’s comments.

The ballroom was packed. Gordon started by making fun of Jesus people. After doing that for a while, he said, “Let’s talk about Jesus.” He said that there was not much known about Jesus. Only two things were certain:…

Required to Refute…Gently

“He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.” Titus 1:9

This sentence is a part of the qualifications of an elder in a church in a town in Crete. The elder is to encourage and refute: In order to do this properly the elders must hold firmly to the message.

We find other qualifications in 1 Timothy 3:2 like “gentle” and “not quarrelsome. “The reason I bring this up is the requirement to refute the opposition and yet not be quarrelsome. We see a statement in 2 Timothy 2:4 which confirms this teaching, “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...”

There is increasing opposition today to sound doctrine and to Christians. Christians must refute those in opposition but they must do it gently, kindly, and without quarreling.



Join the #keepthefeast Bible Reading Challenge …

Alibi Jim

A childhood memory from my autobiography:

There was one day on the farm that I did not want to hoe. I hoed one of the tomato patches for a while, then laid down in the dirt in the sunshine and pretended to be asleep.

After a few minutes, someone came to check on me and found me "sleeping." Everyone thought it was funny. I couldn’t tell them I was faking it. They would not believe me! Dad already had a nickname for me—“Alibi Jim.”

From the Autobiography: Hypocrites & Conquistadors

One day, a hippie named Hardy Cook came into the bookstore in College Park, Maryland. When he realized that he was in a Christian store, he felt obligated to tell me why he was not a Christian. I had heard the same story many times before. His reasons for rejecting Christianity were the Conquistadors, the Crusades, the Inquisition, and hypocrites.

When he finished, I asked him these questions.

“Are hypocrites Christians?”

“No!”

“Were the Crusaders Christians?”

“No!”

“Were the Conquistadors Christians?”

“No!”

“Were the Inquisitors Christians?”

“No!”

“Hardy, you just told me that you are not a Christian because of all these non-Christians. That doesn’t make any sense at all.”

I told him that I had been asked to speak at the InterVarsity Fellowship that evening in the Student Union Building and gave him the time and the room number.

It was a long room with a long table down the middle. There were about seventy-five students there. The room was so crowded that when I stood up to speak, I …

From My Autobiography: Sensei

When I was a first classman at the Academy, I read an article in PC, the British Officers’ Christian Union Magazine. It was written by Irene Webster-Smith, an Irish Quaker missionary to Japan with the Japan Evangelistic Band. The article was about how God used her in leading Japanese war criminals to the LORD in Sugamo prison.

At the end of WWII, Miss Webster-Smith was ministering with Inter School Fellowship. Before the war, she had run the Sunrise Home, a girls’ orphanage in Kobe, Japan. When she returned to Japan, there was no orphanage. Miss Webster-Smith had led to Christ a very bitter woman whose husband was on death row in Sugamo Prison for war crimes. The woman asked Sensei (Japanese for “teacher”), as Irene was known, to take her place and visit her husband. Sensei gave him a gospel of John and introduced him to the Father through the Son. She also told him that Jesus was named “Jesus” by God before Jesus was born, because He would save people from their sin.

When his wife …

Growing up in Nebraska

Here is another outtake from my autobiography:

Growing up in Nebraska, I did not know what an accent was, but I spoke Nebraskan. I was in many places during my eleven years in the Navy, so I lost the Nebraskan dialect. It got so I could recognize which part of the South someone was from—Carolina, Alabama, or Texas.

In the 1960s, the faculty of the Biblical Seminary in NYC was on the liberal side, but the students were evangelical because the seminary put a heavy emphasis on inductive study of the Bible. These students ran church youth groups in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, Manhattan, and Jersey City.

The students decided to have a conference at the seminary for all the youth groups and invited me to be the evangelist. Each group had a different accent. The accents were so thick you could cut them with a knife. During a break in the meetings, one group of school kids was talking together. Pretty soon, one of the kids came over to me and asked me where I was from. I told…

Evangelism on the Train

My autobiography has been written and will be in print soon. In the meantime, here is a little outtake from my many travels for speaking engagements:

One time in 1957 or 1958, I caught an overnight train home from the Coast Guard Academy to D.C. I had planned to spend the 8-hour ride sleeping.

The train stopped at Penn Station in New York City, and a woman boarded with several suitcases. I got up to help her stow her bags.

She sat down next to me. “You are the first person to be polite to me on this trip,” she said. “What do you do for a living?

I told her I was a graduate of the Naval Academy and ministered the gospel at the service academies to help cadets and midshipmen come to the Father. It is hard to imagine that I could have said anything that would have impressed her more. If I had said I was the Queen of England, that might have done it.

She told me she had been a Follies Girl for Ziegfeld back in the twenties and thirties and had dated midshipmen from the classes of 1928…

He Came Along

When Jesus sent the apostles as told in Matthew 28:19-20, it was much different from the way we send people on any kind of errand or missions. We send people because we cannot or do not wish to go ourselves. The sender separates himself from the one sent. The one sent goes alone. This is with mutual agreement, for if the sender said that he would accompany the sent one, the sent one would reply, “Why do you send me if you are coming along? Go do it yourself.”

That is not Jesus’ way. He sent and then He said, “Lo, I am with you always to the close of the age.” Jesus sent, and then He “came along.” Isn’t that wonderful?

But that is not the first instance of “sending and coming along” in the Bible. Jesus said, “And He who sent me is with me; He has not left me alone” (John 6:29). The Father sent the Lord Jesus, and then He came along. “He who sent me is with me.” He sent us, and now He goes along with us. How great it is to realize that no matter where we are or what our mission, He is …

Don't Be A Pharisee

“What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’ ‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went. Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing, He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go. Which of the two did what his father wanted?”

"The first," they answered.

Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him." (Matthew 21:28-32)


Jesus is not teaching the merits of delayed obedience here. He is teaching repentance for both the person who initially refused and the one who promised to obey. It seems to be easier, however, for those who know they are disobedient to repent than i…

Faithless Amazement

“When Jesus had finished these parables, he moved on from there. Coming to his hometown, he began teaching the people in their synagogue, and they were amazed. ‘Where did this man get his wisdom and these miraculous powers?’ they asked. ‘Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? Aren’t all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?’ And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, ‘Only in his hometown and in his own house is a prophet without honor.’ And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith” (Matthew 13:53-58).

The people in Jesus hometown were “amazed” but not positively so. They knew his power and authority were true. They did not like it. When they asked, “Where then did this man get all these things?” they did not want to know the answer. The question was accusative. They took offense. And because of their lack of faith, they deprived themselves of …