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Showing posts from August, 2007

Testing True and False

Here are three verses we can practice our True and False Test on. His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. (2 Peter 1:3 NIV) 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 Corinthians 9:8 NIV) Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (Ephesians 3:20, 21 NIV) After we answer “True” and thank God for the truth, then we should read the verses again and answer “Very true” and thank Him again. We should continue this for some time until the truth of our answer gets beyond our mental understanding and begins to seep into us, so that we are overwhelmed with wonder because of the magnitude of

Empowered to be Holy

Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied of Jesus. Praise the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come and has redeemed his people. He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David (as he said through his holy prophets of long ago), salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us—to show mercy to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant, the oath he swore to our father Abraham: to rescue us from the hand of our enemies, and to enable us to serve him without fear in holiness and righteousness before him all our days. (Luke 1:68-75 NIV) Notice that Christ came to rescue us and enable us . This enabling was so that we could serve Him without fear in holiness and righteousness before Him all our days. Isn’t it wonderful that He empowers us to be holy all our days? (An excerpt from On Being a Christian by Jim Wilson)

If Our Hearts Condemn Us

Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him. (1 John 3:18-22 NIV) There are two expressions in these few sentences, one seemingly disturbing, and the other reassuring. They are, “whenever our hearts condemn us,” and “if our hearts do not condemn us.” The second expression is the reassuring one. It is connected with confidence, answered prayer and obedience. It is wonderful to be in a state when our hearts do not condemn us. However with some of God’s people, the disturbing expression seems to be true more of the time. They are people who have hearts that condemn them. There is something

A Pure Conscience

A pure, clear conscience is a wonderful thing. A guilty conscience is an awful thing. We desire the one and do not want the other. However, there are guilty consciences that are filled with false guilt instead of true guilt. There are also seemingly clear consciences that are clear only because the conscience does not record; it has become seared. Even when a conscience is working well and is clear, that does not mean it is working perfectly according to God’s standards of right and wrong. The Apostle Paul said it this way: My conscience is clear , but that does not make me innocent . It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God. (1 Corinthians 4:4, 5) A person may say his “conscience does not hurt” as if that were proof that he was innocent. It does not hold. The conscience i

Making Restitution (part 1)

After hearing about restitution, people have come to me in a quandary. In years past they have stolen things. They do not remember the name of the place even if they remember the town. Or if they remember the place, it has long been out of business or the person has died or moved. In any case they do not know how to make restitution. The answer is in verse 8 of Numbers 5: The LORD said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites: ‘When a man or woman wrongs another in any way and so is unfaithful to the LORD, that person is guilty and must confess the sin he has committed. He must make full restitution for his wrong, add one fifth to it and give it all to the person he has wronged. But if that person has no close relative to whom restitution can be made for the wrong, the restitution belongs to the Lord and must be given to the priest, along with the ram with which atonement is made for him .’” (Numbers 5:5-8 NIV) You do not get to keep the money. Give it to the Lord! (An excerpt from On Bein

Just & Fair

Many people use “just” and “fair” with usage tending toward “fair.” It is an unconscious admission that the two words do not have the same meaning. Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, “synonyms. Fair, Just, Equitable, Impartial, Unbiased, Dispassionate, and Objective. “Fair” implies an elimination of one’s own feelings, prejudices and desires so as to achieve a proper balance of conflicting interests. “Just” implies an exact following of a standard of what is right and proper. Equitable implies a less rigorous standard than “Just” and suggests equal treatment of all concerned.” Notice the difference, “Just” is absolute . The other words are relative. “Just” is God-centered. “Fair” is man-centered. God is “Just.” We would like Him to be “Fair.” The words are very different.

Restitution (part 2)

If you are not familiar with the books of Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers, you may miss some great teaching on the Christian life. If you miss the teaching, you will miss the application. One of the greatest unapplied truths of the Christian life is restitution. This lack of application may be due to ignorance, fear, or pride, but whatever the case, it is a major hindrance to growth in grace and is a retardant to revival in the church. Here is the teaching from Leviticus 6:1-7: The LORD said to Moses: “If anyone sins and is unfaithful to the LORD by deceiving his neighbor about something entrusted to him or left in his care or stolen, or if he cheats him, or if he finds lost property and lies about it, or if he swears falsely, or if he commits any such sin that people may do¾when he thus sins and becomes guilty, he must return what he has stolen or taken by extortion, or what was entrusted to him, or the lost property he found, or whatever it was he swore falsely about. He must make re

Restitution (part 1)

Once there was a man who robbed a bank. I will not go into detail about how he accomplished it, but the result was $100,000 in his briefcase. Within five minutes of the event he was walking down the street with the briefcase (and the $100,000), when he encountered an evangelistic street meeting. He stopped to listen to the Gospel proclaimed in love and power. He was convicted and converted. In his new-found joy he talked with the evangelist and asked him what all of this joy meant. The evangelist explained to the man that his sins had been forgiven. “All of them?” asked the man. “Yes, all of them,” answered the evangelist. “Oh boy, now I can enjoy this $100,000.” “What $100,000?” “This $100,000 in my briefcase that I removed from that bank over there ten minutes ago.” “OK, let’s take it back.” The story is fiction, but the principle is true. The principle is simply this: being forgiven does not mean you get to keep the money. You may think that the principle is so obvious that you do

Taking Up One's Cross Daily

I just received a question: “Have you a study on taking up one’s cross daily?” Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:23-27 NIV) The paragraph is about dying. Better yet, it is about values and choices, dying being one of the choices based upon following Jesus. “Take up your cross.” This is not some unbearable task, some thorn in the flesh or someone unpleasant, like a roommate we have to endure daily. The cross is an instrument of physical execu

Humility (part 2)

God’s objective for us as seen in Romans 8:29 is that we be “conformed to the image of His dear Son.” In similar passages we are told to “put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:24), and that we “have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator” (Colossians 3:10). At one time we were created in the image of God. We lost that part of our God-likeness that had to do with true righteousness and holiness. Jesus came to earth in order to restore that likeness. We are to be like God. What is that like? Jesus! We are to be like Jesus. He is the “radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being” (Hebrews 1:3). To be like Jesus we must first know Him. One of the obvious characteristics of Jesus is His humility; He patterned and taught it. Let’s examine this pattern He left for us to emulate. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better t

Humility (part 1)

The way up is down. The way down is up. Contradiction, paradox, or simple truth? In Luke 14 at the conclusion of a parable about taking the place of honor, Jesus said, For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted. (Luke 14:11 NIV) Jesus came to the same conclusion in Luke 18 after telling the story of two men who prayed in the temple: I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted. (Luke 18:14 NIV) In the second parable one man thanked God that he was not a robber, evildoer, or an adulterer...that he tithed and that he fasted twice a week. He also thanked God that he was “not like other men…or even like this tax collector.” Jesus did not say that his statements were not true, so what did the man do wrong? He exalted himself. The other man was bad, and he admitted it. Jesus did not say that his statements were

Facts and Fiction

Over the years I have read history, not so much for the gory details but for the thinking that causes the action. Occasionally, I have read historical fiction. There is a difference. In the second I know I am reading fiction . In the first, I think I am reading fact but I might be reading fiction. In recent months I have encountered misinformation in books and magazines. Examples, “Biafra is in the Horn of Africa.” Actually, it is in Nigeria in West Africa. “The Shenandoah Valley is in West Virginia.” Actually, it is in Virginia. It is in Nigeria in West Africa. The Shenandoah Valley is in West Virginia. It is in Virginia. I don’t think these authors were lying. I am sure they thought what they were writing was true. Irregularly, I encounter misstatements in history. Since my knowledge is limited I assume much more of what I read is false, but I don’t know which is true and which is false. That does not make me cynical. I keep on reading and keep on believing, but I keep my eyes


Most of us can remember the joy we had when we received Christ. Perhaps some will have to make an effort to remember, simply because they no longer have joy. A friend came to our home in Yokohama, Japan, some years ago. He had been my roommate aboard an aircraft carrier, and during our time together he had become a Christian. On this visit he said, “I have that deep inner peace that I belong to Christ, but I don’t have daily victory. I don’t have daily joy.” Of course something was wrong. It is basic that joy, as well as peace, are results of salvation. Our joy is in our salvation. Jesus promised in John 16:22b: I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. (NIV) When the seventy returned from their evangelistic itinerary, rejoicing because of the power and authority they had and miracles they had done, Jesus told them their joy was misplaced… However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heave

The Yalu River

You may not have heard of this river. It is the boundary between Korea and China. The river flows southwest into the Yellow Sea. The river really marks the location of happenings. Here is a description of the area in 1907: Another center visited in 1907 was Shan Chun, along the railway north of Pyongyang. Surely not much could be expected from such a young mission center, for the missionaries had only been established there eight years. Yet when we were there, in town and country there were 15,348 believers—and no one is counted unless he attends church and contributes to its support . They had just completed a church seating 1,500. A year before their churches seated 800, but the membership was 870, so they must build. During the year that Central Church hived off five country churches; but when it was completed, its membership had increased to 1,445. And no street radiating from that church had a heathen family left; all had become Christian. Since they say in our Christian lands,

Christians, Capitalism, and Stretching the Truth

Capitalism is guilty of lying. Free enterprise stretches the truth. Here is an example in advertising. “ You deserve the best.” What is the best? Something very expensive! Who is the you? Everyone who has a television set! What is deserve? To be worthy of merit. That is like saying everyone is awarded Eagle Scout or the Congressional Medal of Honor because everyone deserves them. This word is ubiquitous in advertising. What is the catch? This thing you deserve is not awarded to you. You have to pay for it and you can’t afford it. Christians in advertising, refuse to lie.


“Present your case,” says the LORD. “Set forth your arguments,” says Jacob’s King. “Bring in your idols to tell us what is going to happen. Tell us what the former things were, so that we may consider them and know their final outcome. Or declare to us the things to come, tell us what the future holds, so we may know that you are gods. Do something, whether good or bad, so that we will be dismayed and filled with fear. But you are less than nothing and your works are utterly worthless; he who chooses you is detestable. (Isaiah 41:21-24 NIV) This is one of the many comments on idolatry in the Old Testament. Psalm 115 is another. We would like to think that idolatry is so self-evidently wrong that of course it disappeared out of this world long ago. It isn’t so. Idolatry may have changed. It still follows the pattern described in Romans 1:20-22: For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities¾his eternal power and divine nature¾have been clearly seen, being understood fro

The Teacher

Illustrations are an effective means of teaching truth or falsehood. They can be used to hammer home a truth and to make it easier to apply the truth. They are also easy to remember. They also make it difficult for the student to sneak by or ignore a strong command. On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” He answered: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to

Smooth Teaching

Go now, write it on a tablet for them, inscribe it on a scroll, that for the days to come it may be an everlasting witness. These are rebellious people, deceitful children, children unwilling to listen to the LORD’s instruction. They say to the seers, “See no more visions!” and to the prophets, “Give us no more visions of what is right! Tell us pleasant things, prophesy illusions. Leave this way, get off this path, and stop confronting us with the Holy One of Israel!” Therefore, this is what the Holy One of Israel says: “Because you have rejected this message, relied on oppression and depended on deceit, this sin will become for you like a high wall, cracked and bulging, that collapses suddenly, in an instant. It will break in pieces like pottery, shattered so mercilessly that among its pieces not a fragment will be found for taking coals from a hearth or scooping water out of a cistern.” (Isaiah 30:8-14 NIV) The first thing I notice is that this was written down “as a witness foreve

Stephen David's Testimony

The following is Stephen David's Testimony. Incredible, yes it is. He Transformed My Life It is written in the Holy Bible, “Declare His glory among the nations, His marvelous deeds among all peoples” (Psalm 96:3). I gladly take this privilege to testify of the goodness and the greatness of God in my life. The following message is a brief testimony of my life and most importantly, of His grace upon me. Life before Christ Family Background I was born in the year 1976, on September 30th, in a lower class family. We lived in an inner-city slum for years. Half of my life was spent there and I remember the difficult times our family went through. My papa was a bus driver and poured his whole life for the upbringing of our family. My mom was a housewife and she too sacrificed her life for the service of her children and husband. My parents begat three sons and one daughter, also adopted two cousins. I am the youngest and of course, the most pampered son. Religious Upbringing Our

Matt Meyer's Testimony

The following will begin to introduce the man who will, in the near future, take over most or all of Jim Wilson's responsibilities. That is, of course, if Jim slows down enough for this monumental, completed transition to take place. The testimony of Mr. Matt Meyer With faithful expectation my parents of Lutheran tradition from both German and Swedish descent had me baptized in the Missouri Synod Lutheran Church shortly after my birth. This was dutifully followed by primary education in a Lutheran parochial school that my father’s parents had sacrificially assisted in its construction. My training culminated in my confirmation as a Christian and member of the Lutheran church around my twelfth birthday. But all was not well with my soul. Shortly after moving to southern Idaho in 1968, my father divorced my mother for the second time. The first was after the birth of my oldest brother and sister the second time when I was about five, now the youngest of five. My mother started a

Jim Wilson's Testimony

The following is Jim Wilson's testimony to his classmates, but is meant for all to read. Enjoy! July 2007 Dear Classmates, Besides the greatness of the camaraderie that comes from the closeness and the danger in the military there is something else that I have appreciated. That is that “authority” and “obedience” are good words. The recognition of our mortality is also a great asset. I have not been the best at showing up at reunions, so many of you do not know me or even recognize my name. Here is a little background. I was in the 13th and then 19th companies in the fourth battalion. I rowed crew for most of four years, but never got into a varsity boat except for the first boat in plebe year. Most of us who are still alive have had narrow escapes in Korea, Viet Nam, or the Cold War. I had one remarkable event three months after commissioning. That is the time when the gunnery officer told me to leave my battle station in Gunnery Plot and come up to the Main Battery Directo

A Clean, Clear Conscience (part 2)

In the Bible we see instances of consciences that are clear, weak, evil, defiled, seared, corrupted, witnessing, testifying, good and cleansed. It would be easy to draw a conclusion that a good, clear and cleansed conscience would reflect God’s absolute moral law, and those who followed their consciences would not be guilty. Sometimes that is true, and sometimes that is up for question. Here are two of Paul’s statements: Now this is our boast: Our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in our relations with you, in the holiness and sincerity that are from God. We have done so not according to worldly wisdom but according to God’s grace. (2 Corinthians 1:12 NIV) My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. (1 Corinthians 4:4 NIV) In the first instance, Paul is innocent. However in the second, he says that a clear conscience does not guarantee innocence. We also have another criterion for our ac