One Year Summary

As of January 1, 2019 I will have posting on this blog for one year. During that time I have posted 153 different post and have had 1710 different contacts to this website from 29 different countries During that time there have been 69 contacts that have responded in writing from countries as far away as Japan and China.

Included on this site are the 153 blog entries divided by month and topics; a new section that is titled Activity and is under construction; Articles that I have published in the past; A Q&A where you can pose a question about the Bible or its doctrine (teaching) and other appropriate topics; and a section titled The Mystery of Faith that is on my book and how to order it. Coming later this year will be a section on some select messages that I have preached and have been recorded.

Events of the past year have been teaching weekly in the Senior Adult Sunday School; a speaker on the Annual Senior Adult Bible Conference, hosted by our church; the translation and printing of my book in Chinese; and a 10 day mission trip to China which included worshiping with our Christian family in China. This year (2019) I am projecting two mission trips, one trip back to China and a second trip to Japan, which will hopefully begin a new work in Japan.

The status of the translations of my book, The Mystery of Faith, is as follows: The Chinese translation has been completed and printed and is being used as a training manual for new pastors in China. The Russian translation is nearing completion of chapter 5. The Japanese translation is also in chapter 5. The Spanish translation is moving slower due to family needs but is in chapter 3. I am currently searching for a publisher to print each of these translations so that they are available to people everywhere. More on that as it develops.

I am so amazed at what the Lord has done with this simple step of obedience. This is a brief report of the past year and some projections for the coming year. Watch for the LinkedIn page that is coming soon. If you subscribe to it you will receive a notice each time I make a post and it will also be linked to this site as well.

Arrows in a Good Man’s Quiver

Psalms 127:3-5 Lo, children are a heritage of Jehovah; And the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows in the hand of a mighty man, So are the children of youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: They shall not be put to shame, When they speak with their enemies in the gate.

The Holidays are nearly over and life will soon get back to normal. We have been blessed to have 4 of our 7 children and their families, home for Christmas. Our other three could not make it but we still had contact via phone. Family is so important to us and we have a great time whenever we can get together. Truely we are greatly blessed and our hearts are full. This scripture has come to mean a lot to us and is so true.

Did I say normal? What I mean is back to a routine. The thing is that all routines undergo constant change. The one thing that is certain is that change is constant. But change is not necessarily bad. The joy of seeing our children grow up and become responsible adults raising families of their own. Then there are the grandchildren and later, the great grandchildren.

What does it mean to grow up? That is, at what point are we grown up? Is it when our body reaches a certain point of development? Could it be when we reach a certain point of mental maturity? Or is it when we have become what God had in mind for us to be? I think it includes all of the above possibilities. The important thing is to remember that everyone is at a different stage in their development yet they are to be valued as though they had already reached maturity. For example, an embryo is a person in development, a small boy is to be considered as a man in development, a youth is an adult in development and a person is a child of God in development. The only thing that can become a person is an embryo, the only thing that can become a man is a small boy, the only thing that can become an adult is a teenager, and the only thing that can become a child of God is a person.

How far reaching is the understanding of family. No wonder that the happiness is his whose quiver is full of them.

Is There Such A Thing As Darkness?

I was thinking the other day about God, and my thoughts traveled to a story that I heard about a teacher who was berating a class about believing in God.  His argument was that there was no physical evidence of God’s existence.  He argued that because you cannot see God; that you cannot hear God; that you cannot touch God; that you can neither smell or taste God; that God cannot exist and that you cannot prove His existence.  Then a student raised his hand and asked a question.  Sir, do you believe that there is such a thing as cold?  The professor replied, “certainly I do.  Everyone knows that cold exists.”  The student replied, “actually, Sir, there is no such thing as cold.  There is only the absence of heat.”  Then he asked a second question, “Sir, do you believe that there is such a thing a darkness?”  This time the professor was a little hesitant, but replied, “yes, there is such a thing as darkness.”  The student replied, “actually, sir, there is no such thing as darkness.  There is only the absence of light.”  He then asked the professor if he had a brain.  The professor replied that he absolutely did to which the student replied, “Sir, using your logic then, since we cannot see your brain, nor can we feel your brain, nor can we hear, smell or taste your brain, then you must not have a brain.  The conclusion of this argument must be that there are things that exist that we do not understand nor perceive.

My thoughts then proceeded to the concept of Hell and what those in hell will face.  We know from scripture that the only reason a person will go there is that they have rejected God and His will for man (which is only good).  Joh 3:15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. Time and time again they have rejected the goodness of God and all His ways.  They have lived under grace and it has made them disgusted.  They have fought everything that is right and good to have their own way.  We also know that Hell was not made for man but that it was prepared for the Devil and his angles.   Mt 25:41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:  A person winds up in hell because he has rejected God and all that He is, in preference to a life without God.  God doesn’t send a person to hell because of their badness but because of their rejection of His goodness.  They choose to go there to get away from God and His authority on their lives.

Then I began to consider what life would be like without God and His grace.  Goodness would be absent.  Justice would be nonexistent.  Pleasantries and ease would be gone.  Rest would never come.  There would be no light but the continual absence of light.  There would be no hope as their hope was in themselves.  The absence of everything that fulfills our lives would be gone and all that would be left is the hollowness that fill a life without hope and goodness.  These results would pervade the darkness and then one heavy realization would settle in, that it did not have to be that way but when you reject all that is good then you choose all that is bad.  I pray that you will make wise choices now while there is light.

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving this year has taken on a whole new dimension.  I have so much to thank the Lord for that I hardly know where to start.  The top of the list is my salvation.  I used to think that I was a pretty good guy and that I didn’t have all that much sin to be forgiven for.  Now I see just how much sin there is.  The older I get the more I see my sin and sometimes it seems that I have more than I had when I was first saved.  The truth is that it was there all the time but I just had not seen it for what it is.  I find that now, sin is more repulsive and devastating so I am more thankful than ever for His forgiveness.

Next, I am thankful for my family, especially my wife of nearly 53 years who has stood faithfully by my side and is a continual source of blessings.  The Bible says in Psalms 127:4-5 As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth.  Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.  My wife and I have 7 children; 21 grandchildren and  10 great grandchildren who are a continual source of joy.  There were plenty of times that it was more than hard with the burden of raising my family but now that burden has turned to joy and hope.  Seeing them build their lives on solid principles and grow in grace and knowledge of the Lord is a constant pleasure.

I am thankful for my church family.  They are a tremendous blessing in more ways than I am conscious of.  They not only minister to my spiritual needs but also to my social needs as well.  It is nice to be edified by healthy support and encouragement as well as prayers, music, sermons, teaching, and on and on.  I thank God for my church family.

I am thankful for my ministry.  It gives me an outlet for all my erg serve a real purpose.  I really enjoy sharing the Word of God and ministering to others in their faith walk.  One of my favorite verses is III John 4, I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.  I am thankful that the Lord moved me here to Texas to meet several contacts that I am working with to translate my book into 4 other languages.

I am thankful for my health.  I have been completely healed from stage 4 cancer as well as from an infection in my leg that put me in the hospital for 8 days with level 10 pain.  It was so great that my body just shook under it.  I was on 7 different antibodies at the same time just to save my leg and my life.  I didn’t return home for 31 days but even in the midst of all that, the Lord worked a miracle in healing and even the nurses were asking me about the Lord.  Just last week I got the good report that they could not find any problems with my heart, even though I am a diabetic, am overweight and have family history of heart issues.

I am thankful for God’s provision for life.  I haven’t always had all I wanted but I have always had what I needed and enough of my wants to keep me occupied.  I have seen God come through more times than I can remember.  From total strangers walking up and telling me that God directed them to give money to me; to boxes of groceries when I was totally out; to a school changing their written policy to open the way for me to enter that school, etc.  This walk of faith has been the most exciting venture that I could ever have imagined.

I am thankful for God’s unspeakable gift in the Holy Spirit who teaches me, guides me, comforts me, and enables me to do the will of God.  I cannot live up to His standards but the Holy Spirit enables me to walk according to His will.  Philippians 2:13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

I am thankful that I was blessed to make the mission trip to China and see the underground church at work.  They were an inspiration to me in many ways.  Faithfulness under fire may be an apt description.  I am thankful for God’s protection and the prayers of so many around the globe and was able to return home safely.

The list goes on and on.  I am indeed a blessed man.  My prayer for you is that the Lord will watch over you and bless you as you follow Him by faith.

 

Update 9-27-2018

I just got an email from Pastor Takeshi in Japan.  His home in Japan was damaged in the recent earthquake and then following that, they had a typhoon, but little damage from that.  I don’t know how much damage there was but he reported that they were still living in the house.  To complicate the matter further, he was gone during the events, on another mission trip to China.  After he returned to Japan, he was traveling across Japan during the week and only home on weekends so he hasn’t been able to address the damage. When I met with him when we were in Japan I also noticed how involved in the work, his family was.  His wife and oldest daughter were a tremendous support to him and were quite interested in our being there. I marvel at the sacrifice missionaries make in their service to the Lord.  It causes me to look at my own life and answer the question, what is it costing me to serve the Lord?

He will be making two additional trips to China yet this year.  They are usually about two or three weeks long and they travel to many churches as the need there is great.  He also sent me an 11 page report from his translator who travels with him on his last trip.  If you would like to read it just let me know and I can forward it on to you.  The people in China are really struggling because of the living conditions and oppression and they need hope.  The traditions are often demanding and the examples of how life can be are very rare.  To make matters worse, there are a number of false religions that are turning the government against all religions as they do not know the difference between the true believers and the false ones.

So how many Christians are there in China?  I have heard a number of reports and I don’t know how accurate they are.  A few years ago I heard that there were several million Christians there.  Then a little latter the number was 30-40 million.  The next report I heard that the number was upward of 60 million.  More recently I heard that the number was close to 100 million and the most recent report was that it could be approaching 300 million.  I am not sure that anyone really knows how many there are, but this much I do know, most all of them are living in very difficult conditions and have little hope of anything more than that.  Perhaps that is why so many are turning to Christ.  He is the only one offering them more to life.  If the government could only see that this is a tremendous opportunity for them to not only improve their lives but to also strengthen their nation and extend their favor with the people.

If the number of 300 million is close to accurate that would mean that one in 4 or 5 of the people in China are Christians which is a phenomenal number.  Compare that to America where one in 50 to 100 are Christians.  I remember reading about the Great Revival in America when, at its peak, one in seven were Christians and the amazing events that took place.  Work stopped at times because of the presence of the Holy Spirit working with the people.  Lives were transformed instantly.  The story is told of a man in a buggy came under such conviction of his sin, just as he enter a county where revival was happening that he fell out of the buggy to his knees begging the Lord to save him.  On and on it went and was so powerful that it transformed the nation.  My prayer is that the Lord would do it again in China, and also here as well.

Preparation

When thinking about what goes into making a trip all it can be, I think that preparation is one of the most important things you can do.  It will enhance your trip in many ways; it will expand it, it will enrich it, it will extend it, it will enable it and it will preserve it.

In planning for my trip to China, I have already begun to experience it in many ways.  First, I have had to plan where and when I was going.  Since I am going with others there was the necessity of coordinating all our schedules and finding a time that would fit all of us.  Then there was the destination.  In this case, I will be traveling with the others for much of the journey, but then I will be separated from the others for several days and traveling alone to a place that I have never been.  That can be daunting to some and exhilarating to others.  In my case it is some of both.  Fortunately, I will be meeting with someone I know and He knows the place, customs, etc.  I will literally be in his hands.

Then there is the securing of my passport (which I already have), the visa (which came in last week, and the plane tickets which have been purchased.  These are extremely important as they allow access to this part of the world and determine a lot of your schedule.

Another thing I have done is read up on the places that you will visit and the customs and culture that you will be experiencing.  The more you know about your destination, the more that you will enrich the experience.  It was enlightening to discover some of the history and current activities where I will be going.  One highlight for me is that my destination grows some of the greatest produce in China.  Since I have a lot of experience in produce (both growing and eating which I love), this will be a treat for me to taste some of God’s treats that I have never had the opportunity to enjoy before.

Planning on what you will take with you is also important.  What you will wear will be affected by the climate you will be in and the customs of the people.  Things that you will need like medicine, personal items (make a list and update it regularly), and things that may not be available there that you have need of.  Preserving your experience is also important.  Your camera, pencil and paper, gifts, etc  Think it through and then rethink it again.  Don’t fret about it but your anticipation will enhance the actual experience.  It will also give you a sense of preparedness that will allow you to enjoy the trip to the fullest.

One of the things that I am looking forward to is the actual flight.  I will be flying nonstop to Seoul, Korea, then an hour and 10 minute layover, then another nonstop flight to Guangzhou, China (near Hong Kong), an overnight layover and then on to my final destination (another 5-6 hour flight).  Altogether it will be about 24 hours flight time plus layovers.  So who in his right mind would be looking forward to such a grueling flight.  Me, of course.  I have the choice to suffer through it or turn it into an experience that will be of benefit. I simple made the choice to not suffer but to allow myself to be stretched to the point that I will be able to contain the blessing God is giving me.  It is a choice, you know, so I plan to spend some time getting to know those with whom I travel with.  I plan to do some exercising on the plane so that my legs don’t develop problems that you get on long flights.  I also plan to watch the terrain and the people to notice the changes in the land we fly over and to pick up on anything that will help me once I get there.  I plan to do some writing while in flight and anything else that will keep my mind occupied.  When I have exhausted all other avenues, I may even get some sleep – though it is hard for me to sleep on a plane.

We all have a trip ahead of us that these thoughts could help us prepare for – from here to eternity.  We should secure the proper credentials (salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ).  The trip won’t take long (a moment, in the twinkling of an eye) so we won’t have to fill time because time will be no more.  There are some things that we will want to take, such as our works of faith, our testimony, our hope, our eternal body, etc. that we will need when we get home.  We should study the Word of God to teach us about our final destination to make our arrival even more enriching.  It will help us to understand what is happening.  We won’t need to pack because we will be given a robe of righteousness that will never wear out and everything will be ours to serve our Lord with.  There will be no more sorrow or tears and all will be glorious.  Don’t you want to meet me there?  All aboard!!!

 

 

Summer Bible Conference Underway

We are now in our Senior Adult Summer Bible Conference which runs from yesterday through Wednesday.  Yesterday we had two speakers in the afternoon that both spoke on aging but from a totally different perspective.  Both were great and gave us several valuable insights.  One of the highlights for me was that it can be (and should be) one of the most productive times of our lives.  We have the opportunity to influence more people with more lasting insights than we have ever had the opportunity to do.  Today, Tomorrow and Wednesday we will have two speakers each day; the first speaking at 10:00 AM and the second will be speaking at 11:00 AM and repeating the times each day.

I will be speaking on Wednesday at the 10:00 AM slot.  My message is on John 6 where Jesus gave one of the great “I AM” teachings, I AM the Bread of Life.  All of the messages are being recorded and you can go to our Church’s web sight and listen to them at your convenience.  If You would like a copy of any or all of the messages (on a CD), drop me a note in the response box and I will try to get it to you.  If you live outside the US there will be shipping charges as I am not a business but an individual living on a fixed income.

Do you remember a blog that I wrote back in January about this blog being an ongoing adventure and that we would see the Lord in action, on our journey home.  Later I told you about my being asked about making the trip to China and later I shared with you that I was indeed going?  Yesterday, I found out that the entire trip is going to be paid for.  Since I am on a fixed income, and it was not part of my budget, it was going to take the Lord for it to happen.

The operation of faith is one of the strong point in chapter 4 of my book, The Mystery of Faith. Faith operates in the following manner: God initiates faith, then man believes, then God finishes it or brings it to pass.  Since God had initiated my making the trip to China, it was up to me to believe that He would provide what was needed to make the trip.  Since I then believed it was indeed God setting it up, I had compete trust in Him to bring it to pass.  This is how faith operates.  I did not go to God to make this happen, but He came to me with the request for me to go.  I wasn’t the one initiating the action, nor was I the one who initiated the request.  The request was the result of my response to God’s request for me to go.  He always finishes what He starts.  This is His chosen means of operation.  Until we get this operation down, we will continue to struggle with our faith and how God intends for us to walk.

Love In 4 Directions

I am sure that many of you already know about the various meanings of the word Love, in the Bible.  There is ‘eros‘ which is the physical or lustful attraction; there is the ‘phileo‘ love which is brotherly love such as a parent for a child; and there is ‘agape’ love which is the love of God that is supernatural.  Our focus today is not on what kind of love but on the agape love that is to find a home in our heart and finds it’s expression in all directions.

First, we are to Love God back with the same love that He loves us.  That means that we have no other gods that we hold in comparison to Him.  He alone is God and there is none other like Him.  Until we get to know Him we do not love Him.  The more we get to know Him, the more capable we are to love Him, for God is Love.

The next area of our love that must be developed is to love one another.  That is to love those of your family and those to whom you identify such as your church family.  This requires some stretching and maturing.  Sometimes we forget that our love for one another is not based on how we feel about the other person.  It is not based on what they do for you but on their value which is not always apparent.  Sometimes their value will not become apparent for a long time but love can’t wait till then.  They need to be loved whether or not their value has appeared.  The world will know we are Christians by our love.  Love does what is best, not what is convenient, or easiest or even by what is desired.  It is the expression of what erupts out of the heart from our concerns and understanding of the others needs.

The third direction of our love is focused toward our neighbors.  That is those to whom we have contact in our everyday living.  It includes those who cut in front of you in traffic, your fellow employees, the beggar, the down and out as well as the up and out and even your business acquaintances.  You are to love them and seek for their good.  This will take even more growing to develop a love that is ever a blessing.  Some people are not easy to love.  The negative, the critical, the depressed, the gossip, the one who never stops talking, the gossip, and on and on it goes.  These people are all hurting and need your love.  They come from all sorts of backgrounds and bad situations yet God loves them and we are to love them with His love, too.  We have to learn to live with each other yes, but it is even more important to learn to love each other.  This love will cover a multitude of sins.

Finally, we are to love our enemies.  They are the ones who are not fair or merciful.  They attack us and all we stand for.  Sometimes they are from outside our world and come at us suddenly and without cause.  Sometimes they are close to us and hurt us the deepest.  Sometimes they are cruel and sometimes they are sly.  It doesn’t matter what they attempt but what does matter is the attitude that you express when they do.  They are expecting a fight but they are not expecting your love.  These are the ones who have the least love in their lives.  They have probably endured the worst treatment, have been taught the least, had the worst examples and come from the most dysfunctional families.  They can only be won by love.  To that they will respond.  Not at first but they can be won if your love is real.  They will cost you the most and they are the hardest to convince but they are some of the most loyal and dedicated of all.  The apostle Paul comes to mind as a great example.

God is not looking to punish us but to redeem us.  He paid the ultimate price so that we might have eternal life.  To God, we are each worth more than the entirety of this world.  There are a number of tools that God will use to reach the isolated and unloved, but the greatest of them is Love.  Love is God’s chosen means of reaching the hearts of men.  So how is your love growing?  When you are loving, you are expressing the very nature of God.

Forgiveness

Matthew 6:14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:

2Corinthians 2:7 So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow.

1John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Forgiveness is a concept that is often misunderstood and has therefore not brought the peace and relief that was intended.  We hear phrases like “Forgive and Forget” or “God will forgive us because He loves us”.  Though these type of phrases are well intended, they do not properly represent the truth about forgiveness.  You do not have the power to just forget.  You will still remember long after forgiveness has been given.  Forgiveness does not wipe the memory, but it justifies the memory.  Further, God’s forgiveness is not based on his pity or compassion for us but it is based on the death of His Son, Jesus Christ.  If we reject His Son and His work on the cross, we also reject His forgiveness and we remain condemned.

Forgiveness is not excusing the trespass but accepting the cost of the trespass for yourself.  Forgiveness is not discounting the trespass as though it doesn’t matter for it does matter.  Forgiveness is not overlooking the trespass for the barrier it has brought will continue to grow until it is addressed with forgiveness.  Forgiveness is understood as ‘giving forth’  or giving to the extent of the need.  Forgiving will cost you something.  It not only hurts but also requires something from you that is beyond your human ability.  To forgive requires that you go to God to receive the grace and mercy that is required by the offence.  It is not a natural thing but is a supernatural response of the Holy Spirit to reach the heart of the offender and to reconcile man to God and man with man.

When we shut up our forgiveness several things happen.  First there is a conflict between you and God.   To refuse to forgive is a slap in God’s face for what He has done for you.  Second, your concern for the offender should be cause enough for you to forgive him.  To withhold forgiveness reveals a lack of love for your fellow man as well as a lack of faith in God.  Third, when we withhold forgiveness it causes a barrier for us in our growth and we become bitter and the longer it goes on, the more bitter we become.  Further, it hinders our spiritual life is every way and we open ourselves up to the tricks of the Devil.  There is every reason for us to forgive as it exposes God who lives in us, to the world, it improves our relationships and people skills and equally importantly, it not only improves our disposition and attitude but also settles the war inside of us, restores our joy and peace and builds us in multiple ways.  We are all on a journey to our eternal home so lets enjoy the trip.

Train Up A Child – Consequences

Pr 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

When we are training up a child it is important to note that there is a way he should go.  He should not be left to his own choices because he has not yet learned that there is a difference.  Every choice has a consequence that is either a blessing or a curse.  Bad choices produce bad results.  Good choices produce good results.  It seems so simple yet we have parents letting the kids decide the choice without preparing them for the consequences, and then letting them avoid negative consequences.  Without feeling the consequence of their actions, the child is not taught how to make decisions, but is taught rather that it doesn’t matter and he does not develop a sense of which way to go.  Further, he fails to develop a sense of true values which may even lead him into a destructive behavior.

When a child is not taught that there is a consequence to every action, both good and bad, then he becomes confused about life.  In spite of what society may say, there is a right and a wrong.  It is not determined by how I feel about it, rather, it is determined by its consequences.  If you don’t like the consequence of the heat of the stove, then don’t put your hand on it.  It doesn’t take long to figure out that choices have consequences.  You not only hinder a child from making good choices, but you put a roadblock in front of him that hinders good choices.

This is why the Lord allows us to face so many choices in life to help us make good choices, that we will be blessed and live a fruitful life.  One of the responsibilities of the parent is to enforce these lessons of life. If a child fails to obey the parent there should be consequences but the consequences should not be to punish, but to correct the process of making good choices.  The child should take the responsibility of the choice and thereby the consequence.  Proverbs 19:18 Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying.  God provided a place for spanking and it will not damage the child but it is quite sensitive, due to design.  Spanking should be only to enforce this lesson of consequences and we should not swerve from it for the child’s sake   It is an act of love and should be followed by other expressions of love.  Whenever I found it necessary to administer a spanking, it was always followed up with hugs and consolations.  The purpose is to turn the child, not to punish or administer justice and should always be accompanied by grace.  Ephesians 6:4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. 

Proverbs 29:17 Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul.  I meet so many parents and/or guardians that are totally exhausted in the battle of who is going to rule the day.  If you fail to carry out your responsibility to teach this lesson, the child will become confused about life and get the idea that he calls the shots and will wear you out.  Your responsibility begins at birth and is built over time but once done will bring you reward for your making the right choice.  This is one of the most important lessons that a child is to learn – that there is a right way and to know what it is.