Skip to main content


Showing posts from May, 2018

Psalm 19

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun, which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion, like a champion rejoicing to run his course. It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is hidden from its heat. The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes. The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forev

My Testimony

I joined the Navy on what turned out to be V-E Day 1945. I was in the recruiting office when we got the word that Germany had surrendered. I was in the 13th and then 19th companies in the fourth battalion. I rowed crew for most of my four years at the Naval Academy, but never got into a varsity boat except for the first boat in plebe year. Most of my classmates 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 Director. We were off Tanchon on the east coast of Korea, closing range to destroy some railroad cars. I left the Chief Fire Controlman in charge of Plot and proceeded to the Main Battery Director. When I got up to the Director, he did not know why he had me come up there. While I was there, we hit a mine on the port side. The explosion obliterated Gunnery Plot and flooded the forward fi

Dear Saints: Beyond Sound Doctrine

I am now 90 years old. I have been in pastoral and evangelism ministry in Moscow and Pullman since 1971. Consequently, I have gotten to know many people. However, who I am is not as important as the Scripture that speaks to all church members. Over my years of ministry across several denominations, states, and nations, I have encountered Christians with sound doctrine but not a sound Christian life . “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers” (1 Tim. 4:16). Some of my encounters with church members have taken place after a tragedy has happened, in which case everyone knows about their unsound, sinful life. In many cases, few people know about the inconsistency between the person’s life and doctrine. The local church might not know. In every case, the person with the sin does not get easily fixed. Some Christians seem to watch their doctrine more closely than they watch their lives. They have adjusted

Dear Friend: Do You Know God, Or Do You Know About God?

I am sitting under the apple tree in our backyard. Although we did not get to visit, I was very glad to meet you. I had asked God to cause our paths to cross. God is good! I am starting this letter to you because there are things of great importance that you may know but it certainly has not been through me and to my knowledge no one is pastoring you. There are two types of knowing. Here are a few examples: knowing that George Bush is President of the United States and knowing George Bush ; knowing that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world and knowing Jesus Christ ; knowing the definition of love and loving ; knowing the definition of forgiveness and being forgiven; knowing the definition of forgiving others and forgiving others. If we have been in an orthodox or evangelical church, we have been taught truths about God, sin, and salvation from sin. Since we know the truth, we think that we have experienced the truth. Many “Christians” have not experienced what they know and

Dear Friend: Getting Out From Your Parents' Religion

For the last several days you have been on my mind. You were born into a godly family. As a pastor's kid, you were under scrutiny by the congregation (or if not, you may have felt under scrutiny). It seems you have wanted to get out from under. Over the years, I have found that most Christians have two different doctrines (some have three): the ones they were taught and the one they believe, their gut feeling. These may not be contradictory to each other, but they are almost always different. The third doctrine is the evangelical, cultural one which they are in. You are not in the third one at all. Knowing your parents, I can guess, fairly accurately, what you were taught and learned about God and the gospel. Do your “gut” feelings agree with what you were taught, with the evangelical culture, or with neither of them? You may have already spent much time trying to figure this out. What is your “gut” feeling about: • the Father • the Son • the Holy Spirit • the body of C

Dear Friend: Forgive Us As We Forgive?

I have been thinking about our talk on forgiving. First, I would like to draw attention to two truths that seem to be contradictory. 1) "Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you" (Col. 3:13). "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you" (Eph. 4:32). 2. "This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart" (Matt. 18:35). "Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors… For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you" (Matt. 6:12, 14). The first truth sets Christ’s forgiveness for us as the means that makes it both possible and mandatory that we forgive others in the same way. The second truth sounds like our forgiveness of others is the basis of our being forgiven by God. All forgiveness begins with Go

Dear Friend: Searching for the Right Religion

I appreciated your clear explanation of your difficulty in believing, that is, the many sincere people who live by their beliefs but whose beliefs differ from evangelical Christianity and from each other. Your said we cannot all be right, but all of us could be wrong. I have observed the same things about these different kinds of believers and agree with you that we cannot all be right and it’s possible all could be wrong. It is possible that someone could be right, but not more than one. We agreed, I think, that believing something did not make it true. However, if it is true it should be believed. Rather than spending time comparing the sincere believers with each other, including me, spend your time searching for the truth, but not in the different believers. You can read the scriptures of the different world religions and apply what they say to believe and do. You may stop searching when you find the truth. The difficulty with many of these texts is that there is no means of kn

Dear Friend: Non-Christians Who Live Good Lives

Dear C, From what I know of your reputation, you are respected as a man of integrity, a good man. At the end of our last conversation you said something like this: The Christians who did not live like Christians were not your obstacle to believing in Christ. Your problem with Christianity was the people who seemed to live exemplary lives and did not believe, whom Christians seemed to think are condemned. You are not, as you are well aware, the first person to have this objection. Certainly I had it for the first twenty years of my life. Let me raise some other problems related to your problem. If God judges on merit, where is the bar? Is it high? How do you know? How high? Is it low? How low? Does God grade on the curve? What happens to those who do not make the grade? Do they go to Heaven anyway? If so, then the bar has no significance. If everyone goes to Heaven when they die regardless of their belief or character, does their character change when they die? How? Why? If th

Dear Friend: Submission & Bringing Up the Past

Dear A & V, You both had a question about a conversation we had several years ago about a wife submitting to her husband. I do not remember the exact words, although I would have said something from Ephesians 5:22-25. What surprises me is, “Who should care what I think or said?” Please meditate on Colossians 3:12-17. "Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts

Dear Friend: Forgiving Your Father

Thank you for giving me time to see you while I was in the area. I enjoyed my visit very much. The last prophecy in the Old Testament is Malachi 4:5-6: “See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse.” This was quoted in part by the angel Gabriel to John the Baptist’s father in Luke 1:17. Notice that verse 6 in Malachi has it both ways: “the hearts of the father to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers.” If this does not happen, the land will be struck with a curse. It seems that you have not yet turned your heart to your father. It is for one of two reasons: you cannot or you will not. If it is the first, it is because you are not yet saved. You say that you are saved, so then it must be the second: You will not. That is scary! Whatever happened

Dear Friend: People Who Offend You

A few weeks ago, after your visit, you left a copy of a letter with me. Your letter must seem right to you, or you would not have sent it to them and given me a copy. Your major premise in the middle of paragraph one is not biblical. You assume, as do many, that the offender is the guilty party and the offended is the innocent party. We have no clue in the Bible that this assumption is correct. Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift. (Matt. 5:23-24) If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. (Matt. 18:15) The first text says that your brother has something against you. That is not saying that you have sinned. Reconciliation needs to happen, and you are the one to take the initiative. It

Bad News/Good News

BAD NEWS… “At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.” (Titus 3:3) “For the wages of sin is death…” (Rom. 6:23) GOOD NEWS! “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possible dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom. 5:6-8) “He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.” (Titus 3:5-8) WORKS OF THE FLESH: “The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, i

Dear Friend: Deepest Bible Knowledge

Dear M., Thank you for the card and the Scriptures. They were very good texts. I memorized Hebrews 5:11-14 and 2 Corinthians 4:1-9 fifty years ago. Psalm 61:7 was the only one I did not recognize, but it was a blessing. Thank you. You commented on simple Bible knowledge and deepest Bible knowledge. Here is a favorite verse of mine: “But I fear, lest by any, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ” (2 Cor. 11:3). The saving Gospel of Jesus Christ is both simple and free. If it were not simple, it could not be for everyone. Some of us are simple. If it were not free, salvation could not be for everyone. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom. 6:23) You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possible dare t

Loud Joy

Heaven is not a quiet place. It is a place of cacophony. These are no unpleasant noises in Heaven. There is no grief, no crying. “But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly” (Heb. 12:22). In Revelation 5, we find that this noise is loud singing. This is so because God is rejoicing. “Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they were saying: 'Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!'” (Rev. 5:11-12). “The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing” (Zeph. 3:17). God Himself rejoices with singing

The Christian Life 4: The God of the New Testament

Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love…And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. (1 John 4:8, 16) This is a basic truth about God. He is love. Over the years, I have heard from people who think that the God of the Old Testament is a God of anger while the God of the New Testament is a God of love. There is a Hebrew word that is translated many ways in different English Bibles: mercy , steadfast love , and lovingkindness . From the Ten Commandments: “And showing mercy unto thousands of them that love Me and keep My commandments” (Exodus 20:6 KJV). The American Standard Version consistently translates this word as lovingkindness one hundred and seventy times, applying it to God. God does not change. He is "the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Heb. 13:7). Let us thank God that He is love. 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. (John 3:16) But God demons

In Christ: A New Creation

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (2 Cor. 5:17) In Christ is the key phrase. That alone means that the old is gone and the new has come. Let us thank God. "It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption" (1 Cor. 1:30). Wisdom from God is made up of three things: our past, our present, and our future. Our past is the moment of our justification, our righteousness given to us by God. "But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe" (Rom. 3:21-22a). "Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Rom. 5:1). This is forgiveness of sin in our hearts. Our present is our sanctification, our holine