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.

First Word – JESUS

Early in my ministry I had a pastor who was called to preach when he couldn’t even speak a word.  He had a membrane grow across the opening in his voice box so the only sound that he could make was a grunting sound. But there was nothing wrong with his mind and he was clear that God had called him to preach.  He would try to preach but no one could understand him.  They were compassionate and considerate but they were not receiving the message.

Finally, a voice therapist discovered the growth over his voice box and thus began the process of opening up the voice box so that he could speak.  They would poke red hot needles through the membrane, cauterizing the opening so that it would not close up, and then letting it heal.  The next operation was to enlarge the opening more by the same process until the opening had been enlarged enough to allow him to speak.  Then came the final day when he would speak his first word, and he said JESUS.

I was listening to a radio preacher who was bringing a Christmas message and was speaking on an often overlooked person of the Christmas story, Joseph, Mary’s husband.  In his message he made the point that there is not one word that is recorded that Joseph ever spoke.  That surprised me so I began to search the Christmas story once again to see if that was correct.  Technically, he was correct in that he was not quoted as saying anything, however it is also recorded that he named Him, JESUS which was the direction of the angel of the Lord to so name him.  The only word that we are certain that he spoke is the name, JESUS.

 Matthew 1:21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins

Mt 1:25 And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.

Since Joseph was not the father of Jesus the naming rights then would fall to the mother, Mary, who also named Him JESUS, which was also under the direction of the angel Gabriel, who was sent from God.  We can therefore conclude that Jesus was named by His Father, God; by his stepfather, Joseph, and his mother, Mary.

Mt 1:21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.

Lu 1:31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.

Lu 2:21 And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

This then is the heart of the Christmas message.  A savior has come to save us from out sin, and His name is JESUS.

 Ac 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

Who Were The Wise Men

During this time of year we often hear the Christmas story that we have loved so long.  We remember the story of Joseph and Mary, the shepherds, the crowded Inn and the Wise Men.  In Matthew we are told that they came from the east but little else.  That provoked a number of questions to me and I searched the Scriptures to find out any information that I could.  It is not something that I had ever heard about and wondered, how did they know about Jesus’ birth?  Why was it so important to them to make such a journey and then to offer gifts?  Here is what I found:

Wise men are mentioned several times in the old testament.  They are first mentioned in Es 1:13 Then the king said to the wise men, which knew the times, (for so was the king’s manner toward all that knew law and judgment:  and again in Jer 10:7 Who would not fear thee, O King of nations? for to thee doth it appertain: forasmuch as among all the wise men of the nations, and in all their kingdoms, there is none like unto thee.  But the Greatest number of references to the wise men are in the Book of Daniel.  You will find them mentioned in 2:12,13,14,18, 24, 27, 48, 4:6, 18, 5:7,8, and finally in Matthew 2:1, 7.

In Chapter 2 we learn of the story of King Nebuchadnezzar had a dream and called for the magicians, astrologers and the sorcerers to shew him his dream or they would all be destroyed.  This included Daniel and his three friends.  Daniel asked for time and said that he would bring the king his dream and its interpretation.  After much prayer and patients the Lord gave Daniel the dream and its interpretation.  The king was so impressed that he made Daniel head over all the “wise men”   From this information I speculate that Daniel gained many followers as he had saver their lives and had demonstrated such skill in interpreting the kings dream that they were not only indebted to Daniel but saw the opportunity to learn from him.  I am not naive to think that all of them felt that way but since they were now under his authority they had no choice but to follow him at least for the time being.    We know from history that there were some who took every opportunity to rid themselves of Daniel but the Lord delivered him from all his oppressors.

The group of “wise men” were made up of magicians, astrologers and sorcerers.  A group that we would consider dark spiritualist.  Daniel did not berate them for their error but rather took the opportunity to teach them God’s ways and I can see that some of them took it to heart and became true followers of the one true God.  It is not a stretch to believe that because Daniel’s powers were so great that his influence lasted for about 600 years.  Add to that the fact the the entire world was under Nebuchadnezzar’s rule so that he would have had the best “wise men” available and would have collected them together. Furthermore, the wise men came from the East, which is where the Assyrian empire was located.  Assuming that the star appeared at or near the birth of Christ, it would have taken some time to go through the records to find the prophecy of the coming Christ and then to understand that this was the announcement of that event.  Then there was the preparation and the trip that could have taken several months and they would have arrived about a year and a half later.  That is deducted from the fact that the wise men went to the house not the manger and why Herod killed the babies 2 years old and under.

I readily admit that there is some speculation in this series of events and that the “proof” does not exist for it but the only reason I share ti is because I wanted to know where they came from and I never got a satisfactory answer.  Thinking back over it, I have come to the conclusion that it does not matter if this is correct or not, for the event of the birth of Christ so overshadows everything else.  Some things must be left to the wisdom of God. What I needed to know was not how it happened but what happened.  Christ came into this world to free me from my sin and that is the reason for the season.

 

 

Customs

I knew that customs differ in other parts of the world but I did not know how much.  While I was in China, I had the opportunity to observe this first hand.

After our first session we were enjoying some food together and I noticed that there were different ones that would suddenly place additional food on my plate without me indicating in any way that I wanted more.  At first I thought that they were just excited to see an American and wanted to show special attention.  But then I noticed that there would be two or three bringing me more food at the same time and I began to wonder what was going on.  I would be eating my soup and someone would be pouring more soup into my bowl while I was eating it.  Another would peal an orange or open a fig, or add more meat.  I was getting full and I couldn’t keep up with their hospitality.  I said that I didn’t want any more but it kept coming.  I certainly didn’t want to offend anyone but I didn’t know how to stop the flow of food, either.

I was raised in a country setting in southern Missouri.  We were very poor and food was quite simple.  It was beans and taters for the most part.  Occasionally we would fry a chicken and if we got tired of the menu we could switch it around and have taters and beans.  In the summer we also added the garden veggies and rarely we would have beef or pork if one of the neighbors were butchering.  Because times were tough we didn’t waste anything and my parents taught us to always clean our plates.  It was the courtesy of the times to show your appreciation by eating everything.  The cleaner the plate the better.  I also taught my children to clean their plates.  The thought of wasting food was never entertained.

Then I went to China and learned that the custom there is quite different.  You show your host that you are full by simply to stop eating.  If you clean out your plate it means that you are still hungry so they put more on your plate.  I didn’t know that so I was trying to empty my plate and sending the wrong message.

I think that sometimes we study the Bible without knowing the customs and miss a lot of it’s meaning, in the same way I did by not knowing the customs and setting.  One of my tools in my library is a book titled, The Life and Times of Jesus, The Messiah” by Alfred Edersheim.  If you don’t have the book, I suggest that you try to get a copy.  It will help you to understand the customs of how it was in Jesus’ time and add meaning to such places as the Lord’s supper and many others.

 

Baby Steps 1

With the translations all moving ahead, I am beginning to make plans for their publication.  I am currently assembling a list of publishers to check out to find the next step in the Lord’s plan.  I do not see clearly as to the timing or the means of this effort so the first step is through prayer.  My prayer is that the Lord will make me sensitive enough to detect His leading.  It is not my job to gather the resources or to make the decisions, for this is His work.  My most important job is in prayer.  My tendency is to try to do His job while ignoring my job.  I think there are a lot of people with that mentality.   We waste resources, motion, time and opportunity in attempting to control the situation, rather than follow the Lord through it.

I did not start this project but it was given me by the Lord.  I do not know what the Lord will do with it or even if I would ever complete it, but look at what the Lord has done, so far.  First, I was asked to do a job that I had no inkling that I could do and that was to write the book.  I stumbled along for years starting and then stopping.  I knew that I had been given insights into faith because of the many experiences that He had led me through but I did not feel qualified.  Then He gave me I  1Co 1:27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;  Neither my skills or abilities qualified me but my Lord chose me because it would be easier for others to see Him, because no one would even think that it was from me.  Then I remembered that even the apostles were uneducated men but were qualified by the Lord.

Then came the finishing of the book.  It was clear that I needed help and it came from the most surprising source.  My number three son, Daniel, who has a masters degree in English and is a College professor who teaches English as a second language, stepped forward and offered to polish it for me.  He didn’t want any credit for its content and refused any recognition.  He only wanted to help me, knowing my limitations.  He was of tremendous help in moving me through its completion.

By this time in my life I was beginning my retirement so I had the time.  Also, I had just discovered that I had stage 4 cancer in my neck and the back of my tongue.  That urgency was also a help in keeping me on track. Later, the Lord healed me completely from the cancer and the book was finished and published.  That alone was amazing but there is still more.

to be continued . . .

 

 

Grave Clothes

Joh 20:5 And he stooping down, and looking in, saw the linen clothes lying; yet went he not in  6 Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie 7 And the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself.

Easter is, in my estimation, the most significant holiday on our calendar. It has been stated by bible scholars that the resurrection is the most significant event of all time.  Sadly though, it gets second billing in our society, to Christmas which is the second most significant event on our calendar.   For the next few days I will be sharing some nuggets that I have found in the Scriptures concerning Easter.

Today, we are looking at the event of Peter and John’s first look into the empty tomb.  The first thing that they saw was the absence of Jesus’ body.  This would have been a terrible shock, for they had witnessed His death and it was a certainty.  Immediately, speculation as to what had happened began as they tried to make sense of what they were seeing.

The first piece of physical evidence was that they noticed the grave clothes lying where they were.  What exactly, did that mean?  If you are not familiar with the burial ritual you may miss this but when a person was burred they first covered their face with a cloth or napkin that could allow a viewing without complete removal of the grave clothes.  Then they were wrapped in a sheet which also covered the napkin.  Then spices were scattered over the body to counter the stench of deteriorating flesh. Then they were rolled up in a sheet to prevent body movement due to normal deterioration.  This would prevent false hope to those later visiting the grave in thinking that they were somehow still alive because of the reactive movement..  Then the sheet covering the body was tied in place with strips of cloth the full length of the body to keep the sheet in place.  Finally, the body was laid in the tomb.  It would have appeared as our concept of a mummy.

What Peter and John saw upon entering was the grave clothes still tied in their position as though it still contained a body, but the body is now missing.  What a strange thing to take in as they observed where He had lain.  How could Jesus’ grave clothes remain in their position and the body exit without disturbing them.  That was a real puzzlement.

The second piece of evidence was the napkin that had been placed over His face.  It had been removed from the grave clothes as well and was found lying separate from the grave clothes and had been folded.  I have heard of the custom of the folded napkin meaning that the person was returning and it contains another truth about Jesus, that he is coming again, but I prefer to think that it has another meaning which is perhaps even more meaningful.  If you recall that at the moment of His death, the veil in the temple was ripped from top to bottom, signifying that the access to God was opened to everyone.  I think that the folded napkin has a similar meaning that He wants us to now see him as alive rather than dead.  We aren’t looking for a corpse but one come back from the dead and has extended the invitation to as many as believe to come and share that life with Him.

It is now time for you to examine the evidence and to choose to believe or doubt that He is victor over death, hell and the grave.

Evolution?

I saw an article today that claimed it had proof for evolution.  The “proof” was the bones of a young girl that died in an underground cave 12 to 13 thousand years ago and had different characteristics than that of her descendants, such as different facial structure and appearance.  I marvel at the incessant attempts to manufacture evidence for a theory that cannot be substantiated.  I say this because of a number of reasons.  First, change within a species is not proof of evolution.  Evolution holds that life is evolving in complexity and that it crosses the universal law of God that each species reproduces after its own kind.  Their position claims that it is a slow process and takes tremendous amounts of time, but archaeological evidence shows just the opposite.  One of the evidences that they give is the example of the Eohippus.  50 million years ago it was about the size of a dog and had multiple toes.  Today it is much larger and now has hoofs. This is an example of change within a species, which no one denies.  But the Eohippus never became another species, like say a monkey.  It has always remained within the same species.  Furthermore, there is not one single evidence of any species ever becoming another species.  This is true for all species whether small or large; simple or complex.

Second, the archaeological evidence shows just the opposite change from what evolution claims.  Instead of life generating into greater and greater levels of life, we see a degenerating  of life from complexity to simplicity.  For example, the hoofs of the horse have changed from the complexity of toes to a single hoof without joints.  In the example of man, the evolutionist hold that man is getting better and better.  They support their position with the extended knowledge of man, his longer life over the last hundred to two hundred years and his increased height.  If man were evolving upward, we would see man becoming a higher life form.  He would be doing an increasingly  better job in relating with others, and in caring for one another.  Instead, what we see even with the increased knowledge, is a world with the means and intent to destroy others.  We see greater degrees of degradation, bodily mutilation, opression and destruction. We see more wars and less peace.  We see mass killings by governments, sometimes in the millions and people reduced to the level of animals. Treachery knows no bounds, just as the Bible says, “times will wax worse and worse.”

Third, it goes against tried and true practice.  There is no record of someone planting a  seed of any kind and growing a different crop.  Every seed reproduces a crop after its own kind.  If you plant wheat, you always get wheat, add infinite-um.  How confusing life would be if you could not depend on God’s law of like kind.  I am fully aware of grafting and it procedures.  Yes you can plant an apple tree and after it grows, you can graft a peach limb onto the apple tree and get both peaches and apples from the same trunk, but the apple limbs always grow apples and the peach limb always grows peaches.  You do not later find peaches and apples interspersed on the limbs.  They retain their genetic structure and just share a common root to supply the nourishment.  Furthermore, you will never find this condition without man’s intervention.  It never happens naturally.

The evidence does not show evolution but rather degeneration.  Our bodies wear out and everyone dies from something.  Sin affect all life and has a degenerating effect on all life.  It injures, mutilates, destroys and ultimately kills.  The only remedy for sin is the blood of Jesus.  In Him alone is life.

My Ministry

I am making this post for those of you who are asking exactly what is my ministry?

I am not currently pastoring a church but I still do preaching whenever I can.  Preaching is a real part of my ministry and I do pulpit supply whenever I have the opportunity.  I have studied the subject of revival extensively and understand it well.  I have preached in the last two Senior Adult Bible Conferences at First Baptist Church, Keller, Texas.  I have preached a revival on the Sioux Indian reservation in North Dakota as well as in small to large churches.  My preaching ministry began in 1970 so nearly a half century of various settings.  Once I used a pot belly stove as a pulpit.

A second area of my ministry is teaching.  This may be the strongest gift I have because it is the most recognized by others.  When the Lord called me to the ministry, the emphasis was on teaching.  It seemed to me that was what the Lord wanted me to do above all else.  Explaining the scripture in a way that it is usable brings me joy.  I teach a Sunday School class each Sunday and have spoken in conferences on several occasions.  I love teaching along with the other aspects of the ministry.  One of my greatest joys is seeing the light come on in other people.

My ministry also includes missions.  I have pastured churches in pioneer areas where all there was, was a mission.  It did not have any deacons or other paid employees. I know the struggle of doing missions.  It required all that I could give to it and even then it was not enough.  As a pastor, I started a mission in a small community that did not have a christian church of any kind.  Several of my most cherished friends are missionaries.  Two of the translators that are working on translations of my book are missionaries.  I pray for them and their work.  I try to help others to see how faithful they are and how they labor in the work of the Lord.

A forth area of my ministry is writing.  I never thought of myself as a writer until I was searching for a book on Faith that explained what faith is and how it works.  I found many books with faith as a topic but I could not find the book I was looking for.  It was then that the Lord laid it on my heart to write that book.  I was the last person that I would have ever guessed should write such a book.  While it is true that the Lord had led me through many faith experiences, I was poor in English, a bad speller and totally inexperienced.  Yet the burden would not leave me so I began struggling to do something that I had no clue on how to do it.  Fast forward several years and my #3 son who majored in English, who now has a masters degree and is teaching English as a second language, started working with me. After several months I had completed the book I couldn’t find.  Certainly the Lord should be credited with that accomplishment.  Since then I have found a penchant in writing and have written some poems, songs, stories and even published some articles.  The project that I am working on now with several translators is the translation of my book into 4 other languages, mentioned in a previous post.  In addition to that I am working on some additional books.  More on that in the future.

Finally, a fifth area of my ministry is consulting for construction projects.  After working in the construction industry for over 50 years, I have learned a few things that make my skill set unique.  I have a vast experience from the contractors vantage point having worked there on every level from sweeping floors to owning my own business twice.  I also understand the church’s view, having pastored churches successfully through the construction phase.  I also understand the mechanics, having a background  in engineering.  And finally, I understand the financial side, having established my own finance organization for my own company, and borrowed a huge amount of money to do a 68 townhouse subdivision.  Now I can use that preparation for the Lord’s work.

These are the major areas of my work but I am also involved in whatever the Lord should so place on my shoulders.  I know that He is in control and He is the one that enables it to happen.  Truly God has chosen the foolish things to confound the wise.

Preparation

I spent several hours yesterday working on the lesson for this weeks Sunday School class.  After studying it in the students quarterly to get their view of the lesson, as well as going through it in the teachers manual. in addition  I have studied the material over many years, so I have a good working knowledge of the material as well.  Now begins the process of taking that information and weaving it into a lesson that will be applicable to my group.  I intend to do that in the remainder of the week.

I also spent time on finalizing the first lesson of the study that I will begin next Wednesday on, Holiness as a lifestyle.  This study is forcing me to do a lot of introspection and self examination.  I am constantly reminded that they that preach the gospel, must live of the gospel.  It is very humbling.

Today I posted another article entitled Don’t Miss the Opportunity.  As I was going through the drill of posting an article with pictures, I made several mistakes and had to ask my son, who is visiting from Japan, how to do it.  He got me straightened out and I made myself an instruction sheet on doing that one operation.  It is all a part of the learning curve and I will get better at it.

Now to continue about FYI:  He is a christian pastor from China.  He was establishing churches and was quite good at it.  He was so good that the government invited him to leave the country so he came to America.  While here he attended Southwestern Seminary, and joined our church .  Soon thereafter he started a Chinese mission church under the umbrella of our church.  He became a US ciltizen and continued to work in the mission church.  Soon he began to feel the drawing of the Holy Spirit to his home land to continue his work there.  About this time I became acquainted with him and we bonded immediately.  He applied for a visa to China as an American citizen and it was granted.  A few months later he was back in China doing what the Lord has led him to do.  Upon my pastor’s recommendation, I asked him to pray about translating my book.  He didn’t want to do it at first but after prayer he said that he believed the Lord was in it so he agreed to do it but couldn’t start until he was able to get some other things in place.  He has informed me that he is using the book as a training manual to train new pastors.

Surprise!

I checked my email and I was overjoyed to hear from my co-laborer from China.  He will be here for a few days to take care of some items of importance and plans to meet with me about the translation.  He is also meeting with our Mission pastor to lay the ground work for a mission trip to China.  The problem is that China has passed a new law that is more restrictive on religious activity and it goes into effect on Feb. 1 of this year.  Please pray for God’s wisdom to know how to proceed.

I cannot give you his name or tell you about the details for his safety so I will identify him as “FYI”.  FYI is my co laborer in China that is translating my book into Chinese.  When I met him, we bonded immediately.  The Lord has done all the work in setting up this cooperative effort.

It started in the mind and wisdom of God but I became more aware of it a few years ago while I was living in Maryland.  I began to feel a restlessness and a leading to leave Maryland.  I had been living there for 27 years so I wasn’t sure about what I was sensing.  I didn’t have a place or a purpose in mind so I knew that it wasn’t my desire to move.  I put it before the Lord in prayer and asked Him to confirm and direct it.  Looking back, I think the Lord had been working on me for a while.  My wife and I had tried to sell our home the year before.  We had it on the market for months with over 200 site visits, yet not a single offer.  Now a year later we put it on the market again at the same price and it sold immediately.  In fact we had two offers at the same time and it sold for more than our asking price.  To make a longer adventure shorter, we moved here over two years ago and joined our church and through all that I met my translator, FYI.  To be continued. . .