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Showing posts from April, 2017

Saying the Apostles' Creed

Over the years, I have often not been comfortable reciting the Apostles’ Creed in church. This feeling was not based on unbelief, but on believing the creed. As the congregation mumbled it in unison by rote, it seemed as if there was no conviction in their recitation, or, if there was belief, their mumbling was as if they were saying, “So what?” Then one Sunday over 50 years ago, I was in the Presbyterian Church of the Covenant in Bala Cynwyd, PA. The congregation stood up and shouted out the Apostles’ Creed. I had a sense that they believed it. Of course, they might have been trained, but it was still good to hear and to participate. Do you believe it? It is great truth. Thank God for this wonderful truth, then say it like you mean it. I believe in God the Father Almighty; Maker of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord. He was conceived by the Holy Ghost, and born of the virgin, Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and

Unborn Life

A few years ago here in Moscow, a man was convicted of double murder for killing his wife and unborn child. At first I was convinced that he was innocent because he said he was, but later he admitted doing it. That is not the issue I am addressing today. The issue is that the unborn child was considered a living person who got murdered. When a couple wants a baby and the wife gets pregnant, they are glad and consider what is in her to be a baby. They find out the sex of the baby before the baby is born. If a woman gets pregnant and does not want to be pregnant, she considers it not a baby but something less than human, and has the baby killed. This makes no sense. In one case, a man is convicted of murder, and in the other case it is supposedly not murder. In the first case, it is a baby, and in the second case it is not a baby. This makes no sense. I am expecting two more great-grandchildren this summer, which will make a total of twenty-eight. God is the creator of lif

Different Kinds of Christians

There are very real Christians in all Christian denominations. By "real Christians," I mean that they believe the gospel of Jesus Christ and have the character that is the result of such belief. However, whenever there is a real, there are counterfeits of the real. They are called hypocrites. The Church is not full of hypocrites, but certainly there are some. In these churches, there are also “seekers.” They seek and don’t find. After a few years, they hang it up. There are other kinds of people in these same churches. They are sleepers, spiritually blind, or ignorant. They may be agnostic and don’t want to know God. They enjoy being religious and sinful at the same time. None of this will fool God. Which of the two lists below describes you the best? The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and

Finishing the Task

In February, I read of a group of Christian organizations, mission agencies, and churches who have formed an association called Finishing the Task, which you can read more about here . Here are some facts about the task to be finished: • There are 3,021 people groups that are still beyond the reach of the gospel. • There are 1,369 known, unengaged people groups located in 169 different countries. These have a combined population of more than 30 million. • 711 people groups have been adopted but do not yet have any effort for church planting. • 758 have no gospel recordings. • 1,747 have no oral Scriptures. • 986 have no written Scriptures. This information was taken from Sounds , the monthly publication of Global Recordings. Global Recordings is a member of FTT. It is wonderful to have a task that can be finished. The Great Commission has an objective greater than making Scriptures available. The Church’s objective is making disciples of all nations and teaching them to obe

Worry & Answered Prayer

“So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them” (Matt. 6:31-32). There are two reasons not to worry. First, that is what the pagans do. Do you want to be like the unbelievers? Second, your Father knows that you need all these things. “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matt. 6:33). I remember 4 January 1958. We lived just off Piney Branch Road on Aspen Street in Washington, D.C. It was a Saturday morning. We had a little food in the house, but it was not the kind that our three preschool children like: no peanut butter, milk, bread, eggs, or orange juice. We had no money to buy food. Standing in the dining room, Bessie and I read this passage from Matthew to God. We told Him that we were not anxious and that we were seeking first His kingdom and His righteousness. The mornin

Reminders for Christians

Jesus said: "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). Another reminder: St. Paul wrote, "Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life" (Phil. 2:14-16).

The Duties of the Ministry

Daily I have new people coming to the house for help. Most of them are Christians with problems. The others are unbelievers with deep problems (meth, heroin, promiscuity). This is my current meditation: 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 people 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. (1 Tim. 4:1-5)

The Second Coming: A Comfort

Thank you readers for all of your encouraging comments sent to me privately. There is a truth that the New Testament mentions far more than more commonly known truths like baptism. It is the second coming of Jesus. Here is one of many references: “We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in Him” (1 Thess. 4:14). This event is called the “blessed hope” and is a means of comforting each other. It is a wonderful event that is sure to happen. It is no doubt about it. We are to wait for it patiently and gladly. The next-to-last verse in the Bible says, “He who testifies to these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus” (Rev. 22:20).

My Favorite Scripture

Since the summer of 1949, my favorite Scripture has been Psalm 91. I escaped death three times in the first year of the Korean War. I have trusted the promises of this Psalm. Recently, I have noticed the different persons in the Psalm. Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked. If you say, “The LORD is my refuge,” and you


Jesus said, “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out—those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned” (John 5:28-29). This teaching from the New Testament is not taught often in the Christian churches today. Here is Paul’s teaching on the same subject: I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed - in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will

The Father

I would like to draw your attention to many paragraphs in Scripture. The content will be self-evident. These are from the first two chapters of 1 Corinthians. Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus…. God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord…. I thank God that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius…. Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe…. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that ar

The Son of Man

In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed. (Dan. 7:13-14) When Jesus called Himself the Son of Man, He was referring to this person. The Jewish leaders knew what He was saying and did not like it. Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. (Matt. 24:30) 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. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes i

Addictive Societies

There are several different societies here in Moscow. Some of them cross over into each other. I am not thinking of formal societies such as farmers, businessmen, or the societies at the University of Idaho. I am thinking of things like the widespread drug society (for several kinds of drugs), which includes selling, stealing, and anything to keep the habit. Some other "societies" are those for sexual promiscuity, pornography, profanity, and alcoholics. People who are living normal, healthy lifestyles are unaware of, or do not want to be aware of, these addictive societies. We might want to rescue the people in them. Keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh. (Jude 21-23) Here is an uncomfortable verse of Scripture. “To the pure, all things are pure

How to Witness: The Ministry of Reconciliation

Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Opponents must be gently instructed, 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. 2:23-26) Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who

All Authority & All Wisdom

Please notice the superlatives in the following three Scriptures: Jesus: “Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age’” (Matt. 28:18-20). All authority, all nations, to obey all that I commanded, with you always, to the end of the age. Paul’s prayer: “For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have

Why the Speed Limits?

The reason people drive fast is not to get to their destinations quicker. That is a rationalization, an excuse. If you need to drive 300 miles, and the speed limit is 60 mph, that would mean five hours driving. If you drove 65 mph, you would arrive 25 minutes sooner. If you are only going thirty miles, you would arrive 2.3 minutes sooner. The time saved is negligible. People drive 65 mph only because they love to break the law. They do not (usually) drive 85 because they are afraid they will get pulled over. At 65, you can break the law without fear of getting a ticket. It is the nature of human beings to rebel. If Johnny's father tells him not to touch Suzie’s doll, what does that mean to Johnny? It means "Touch it!” It never occurred to Johnny to touch the doll until his father told him not to. One of the first words a baby learns to say is, “No!” He is willful and rebellious. He was born that way. This may surprise you. This is the same reason people break the Ten Comma

Favorite Verses

When I was a little boy, I thought I would stay that way forever. It did not happen. Here I am still thinking I will stay this way forever. It is not happening. Here are a few of my favorite verses in Scripture: Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved. (Acts 4:12) The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. (2 Cor. 4:4) The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments. (1 Cor. 2:14-15) Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) You wi

The Way to Be Returned to Joy

There are two basic truths regarding Christians in relationship to sin: It is possible to sin, and it is possible to not sin. Christians are not convinced that the second is true. They mistakenly read the statement as, “It is impossible to sin.” Of course, that is false. That would contradict the first truth, “It is possible to sin.” We know that sinning is possible because God made provision for Christians when they do sin. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). I have addressed the second truth elsewhere. (For a complete discussion of that, see Dead and Alive: Obedience and the New Man .) The first truth is my subject today. It is possible to sin. Not only is it possible; it is also probable. In fact, it has already happened. When a Christian sins, there are immediate consequences. The first consequence is discipline from God. And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that ad

An Important Question: Are You Ready?

My life is made up of seeing people, all kinds. It seems that most of these people are having their life changed. There are some who do not come into victory. Please pray for me for wisdom, power, and love so that more of them would walk in the light. One of my earliest times of seeing people was 28 September 1950. My ship, the USS Brush (DD745), hit a mine off Tanchan, North Korea, at 12:19 September 26, 1950. I had been ordered out of my battle station minutes before. I left the chief petty officer in charge and went. When I reported to my boss, he could not remember why he had asked me to come. The explosion obliterated my battle station. The chief was blown out of the room, but he only lived two hours afterward. One sailor was pulled out alive, but five were killed instantly inside the station. We lost a total of 16 men, and more than 30 men had third-degree burns. Because I was the Christian on the ship, I was delegated to conduct the funeral service when we buried the chief