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Showing posts from October, 2017

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

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 sacrif

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 inordin

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 ( 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

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

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

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 i

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

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, tw

Bessie & Mrs. Mother

Bessie’s mother died when she was five years old. Her father got a job in Calgary, and his children did not want to go with him, so they stayed and raised Bessie. Bessie had a friend named Dorothy Diehl (later Flaxman). Mrs. Diehl acted as a mother to Bessie. Bessie did not want to call her “Mrs. Diehl,” nor did she think she should call her “Mom,” so she called her “Mrs. Mother.” That’s how I knew her. All her children knew that Bessie called her “Mrs. Mother.” Mrs. Mother’s maiden name was Armstrong. Mrs. Mother and her brothers and sisters called their mother Ole Mama. Mrs. Armstrong was very much a matriarch. Everyone did what she said. In January 1935, Ole Mama made a pronouncement to the clan. “We have all lived for the devil long enough. We're going down to the revival to get saved.” Bessie went with Dorothy and the entire Armstrong clan to the Christian Missionary Alliance revival. She and Dorothy were acting up. They were going to be asked to leave. At the invitation,

Food Memories

I have always enjoyed eating. Bessie was a great meat-and-potatoes cook, as well as mac and cheese. My daughters-in-law are gourmet cooks, so I have been blessed. My mother made navy bean soup. She let the beans soak all night. She made homemade bread. The loaves were enormous. The bread was cut an inch thick, and the slice would cover a dinner plate. We would cover the bread with soup, then cover that with ketchup. It was great stuff. For my 90th birthday party, my descendants sent for Mom’s navy bean soup recipe from my brother Ken. The others had bowls for soup with bread on the side, but I had mine on a plate with the soup spooned over the bread. It was very, very good. When Mom baked bread, she would take extra dough, fry it in bacon grease, and coat with sugar. It was called fried bread. It was great, too. This morning I was eating a very good crispy, juicy Golden Delicious apple, and, as my custom has been for the last eighty years, I ate everything but the stem. I can onl

Imitation & A Navy Story

Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. (Phil. 4:9) Paul said something similar to the Corinthians: I am not writing this to shame you, but to warn you, as my dear children. Even though you have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. 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…Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law

Partial Christianity

In recent days, I have been struck again by the partial repentance of the kings of Israel and the partial repentance of the kings of Judah. Here are two examples from many. Israel: “Yet Jehu was not careful to keep the law of the LORD, the God of Israel, with all his heart. He did not turn away from the sins of Jeroboam, which he had caused Israel to commit” (2 Kings 10:31). The last sentence was said of every king of Israel. Judah: “He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, but not as his father David had done. In everything he followed the example of his father Joash. The high places, however, were not removed; the people continued to offer sacrifices and burn incense there” (2 Kings 14:3-4). This last sentence was said of Amaziah and his son, grandson, and great-grandson. Amaziah was one of the good kings of Judah. Hezekiah, his great-great-grandson, turned things around. “He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, just as his father David had done. He removed the

Paul's Approach to Evangelism

I speak the truth in Christ—I am not lying, my conscience confirms it in the Holy Spirit—I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race, the people of Israel. Theirs is the adoption as sons; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen. (Rom. 9:1-5) Brothers, my heart's desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved. For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God's righteousness. Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes. (Rom

The Flu

At this time of year, the flu is often in the news. Many people are hospitalized, and some die. We are encouraged to get our flu shots. There is still time. I get one every year. However, there is another disease that is pandemic. Without the cure, it is extremely deadly—in fact, it has a 100% mortality rate. It is malignant. There is no serum and none on the way. There are no vaccinations for it, and there is no immunity. This disease is called sin. Here are a few of its symptoms: Coveting Adultery Stealing Lying Murder Sex outside of marriage (heterosexual or homosexual) Stealing Idolatry Blasphemy Dirty talking Do you have any of these symptoms? There is a cure! It is found in the New Testament. Read it.

Afraid to Evangelize?

When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power. (1 Cor. 2:1-5) Paul’s resolution caused him to feel weak and afraid when he was proclaiming Christ. But the result was a demonstration of the Spirit’s power. It would have been easy for Paul to trust in his own eloquence and superior wisdom to bring men to Christ. But his converts would have been the result of man’s wisdom, not of God’s power. That may be one of our problems today. We get converts based on man’s wisdom. A simple resolution might make the difference: “to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ