Summer Time

Summer is a busy time for many people.  My daughter was on a mission trip to Greece and we spent 4 days in Oklahoma with the grand kids.  Then were off to Colorado for  10 days for our family reunion as well as my sister’s golden anniversary..  As soon as we got back on Saturday, we had our grand daughter and 4 of her friends here for 4 days.  I just had eyelid surgery yesterday and am making that adjustment.  Coming up on June 1st is our grand daughter’s graduation and on June 10-14 is the Southern Baptist Convention in Dallas.  It will be good to review with other co-laborers their work with the Lord.

Coming up in August is the Senior Adult Bible Conference.  This year it will begin on Sunday afternoon, August 5 and continue through the 8th.  There will be two speakers each morning, one at 10 AM and one at 11 AM.  I will be speaking on the 8th at the 10 AM slot.

It appears that the China mission trip for Oct-Nov is still moving forward in the planning, but cautiously as there are still some obstacles to overcome.  Please be one of our prayer partners that will under gird this effort.

The translations continue to move forward slowly but continuously.  Every time I hear of progress, I praise the Lord.  This is a work that He initiated and I am just an observer.  I am excited to see how He intends to use this work.

I am praying for each of you as you discover to amazing plan that God has for each of you.  I am seeing the Lord use you in some really amazing ways.  May the Lord Bless you in every way as you serve Him.

 

Great Expectations

2Peter 1:3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:

Have you come to the point in your Christian walk that you have discovered that you just can’t reach that point where you don’t measure up to your own expectations, let alone the expectations of God?  Surprisingly enough, your expectations are probably higher than those of God.  I know this sounds wrong but lets examine it for a moment.

By now, you have read enough scripture to know that God’s standard is perfection.  The Bible says, be ye holy as I am holy.  Like you, I tried to be holy.  Time and again I said, this time I won’t be distracted or this time I will stay focused, etc.  Each time I failed and then felt guilty (which I was) and the disappointment in myself grew.  It was so frustrating.  I remembered other times that it seemed like heaven came down an nothing could move me from my love for Jesus.  I had do many questions.  What was the difference?  What was wrong with me?  Why did I fail so miserably?  . . .

The underlying problem wasn’t in my heart, my love for God was real.  I didn’t misunderstand God’s standard of perfection, either.  He never compromised His standard.  So what was the problem.  My dad used to say, You can’t fix it until you know what is broke. (See earlier post on Broken Rules)  The problem was in my perception of how to achieve that level of living.  I was trying to be holy when that is impossible and God was just letting me know that He has a better way.  He will enable me to be Holy.  What I can never achieve, He will empower me to become by bring us closer and closer to Him and learning His ways and what He is like.  This divine power is given as a gift and it enables us in every way to live the life of godliness.

I wasn’t trying to hard, I was trying to do it on my own without Him, to please Him.  The truth is that He is already pleased with me just as I am.  He doesn’t expect me to do it without His power, in fact He will block any and all efforts for me to move in that direction.  He will do the changing if He so desires.  Remember, we are His workmanship.  We don’t need to please Him, just obey Him.

Join the Prayer Team

I am writing to those of you who follow my blog or even drop in on occasion.  I am asking for your help in expanding my readership.  If you are willing to help me in this effort there are a few things that you can do.

  1. Pray for me and this ministry.  I am in the planning stage of making a mission trip to China this fall.  As you may know, China has stiffened their laws concerning religious activity and there is great danger in even going there.  My plan is not to go on a big religious campaign but only to obey the Lord.
  2. Enlist others who will join you in prayer for this journey and follow my blog.
  3. Make comments on the articles, both good and bad.  Healthy criticism is an act of love and I really do want to know how to be a blessing.
  4.  Let me know what your interest are.  If I am not hitting on your subject of interest, let me know and I will do my best to include it.
  5. Ask me questions concerning the Bible that you need help with.  This website is for the purpose of assisting you on your journey and to share with you what I have gleaned along the way, on my journey through these troubled times.
  6. Share with me things that may help others that you have collected, such as a short story, a poem, an insight, etc.

Thank you in advance for all you do to further the kingdom of God and to be a blessing to others

Brother Vernon

Update – 5/7/18

I am currently on vacation in Colorado and just attended our family reunion.  This year it also included my sister Charlene and her husband Bernard’s  50th wedding anniversary.  This is an event worth celebrating as not too many actually make it together that long.  There are a lot of major events during that time.  Some are derailed by the events of life and refuse to continue on together.  Some face tragedy and one of the mates are lost.  Some may survive physically but loose there capacity to continue their marriage because of mental limitations.  On and on the reasons go but when one is actually able to celebrate their golden anniversary then it is a major accomplishment indeed.

So it is with the Lord and his saints.  One day we will stand in an all to gather different place after time for us is no more, and we will celebrate another occasion that is even greater than this.  That occasion will be that we have finished our course, kept the faith and received our crown from the Lord.  Just as faithfulness to one another is vital in a marriage, faithfulness to the Lord is even more important.  The Bible notes that times will wax worse and worse and we will face many hardships and difficulties.  How we face these times can be a strength to others.  How we stand will be a testimony to the Lord.  Our faithfulness is rewarded with strength to overcome and comfort beyond understanding.

One of these difficult times has come during this time we are on vacation.  One of my daughters and her husband adopted two boys who were damaged goods when they arrived at her home.  Their problems have not been diagnosed properly and they are having a very difficult time.  I am asking my readers to pray for this family to find the help they need so desperately need.  Thank you ahead of time and I will post the answer they receive at that time.

Deficiency in Prayer

Ro 8:26 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit Himself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.

Today’s post is on praying.  If you have walked with the Lord for a while, you no doubt have had prayers block.  It is when you meet with the Lord in your prayer time and just do not know how to pray about some matter.  It may be because you lack knowledge of the real need.  It may be because the request conflicted with your spirit as to the real need.  It may be because you are being challenged by demonic obstruction or some other possibility.  We may sense the need for prayer but simply cannot identify in your spirit what you are sensing.

Whatever the cause, you need not be defeated in your prayer effort.  The  autobiography of praying Hyde was insightful for me as I struggled with this problem some years ago.  Praying Hyde was a young preacher that felt his calling was not to be the spokesperson but the prayer warrior behind the scenes.  It is said that while the preacher was preaching, he would be in a secluded place praying and sometimes he was heard just groaning in prayer.  This is in perfect harmony with the above verse.  If you cannot get it out verbally then send the prayer to God in the form of a groan and the Holy Spirit will translate the prayer accurately for you.  That is just one of His responsibilities.  Where ever you are deficient, He will make up the difference to complete the request.

Furthermore, the Lord knows our thoughts.  Consider  Job 21:27 Behold, I know your thoughts, and the devices which ye wrongfully imagine against me. Also,  Mt 9:4 And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts?  Nothing is hid from God.  If you are struggling with a prayer, know that the Lord not only knows your heart but is also there to make you successful in prayer.  He is more desirous for your victory than you are.

I am encouraged by the story in Daniel 10 where he set his heart in prayer an prayed for three weeks before a messenger from God revealed that his prayer was heard from the first day but the answer was delayed three weeks in coming because it was hindered by satanic forces.  It is an awesome thing that we have been included in God’s plan to fight these satanic forces in prayer.  It is an unseen battle that we fight but we know that God is the victor and we are a part of that battle.  It is not in the physical utterance of sound but in the thoughts and intent of the heart.

Pain

My oldest daughter has a low pain tolerance.  Once, when she was in grade school, she was stabbed in the hand with a freshly sharpened pencil.  It became infected immediately and was causing her great pain.  When I tried to look at it, her fear of me increasing her pain level was so great that she couldn’t even allow me to even look.

I have know many people who have endured great pain and have even endured great pain myself.  Pain can cause great fear and is difficult to endure.  So why did the Lord include it as a part of life?  I submit the following reasons in answer to this question:

  1. Pain is a warning of danger. The Lord has provided amazing healing powers that are built in to our bodies, yet not all healing is automatic.  Sometimes your healing will require assistance beyond what is built into your body.  For example, if you break a bone it may need a splint, or cast, or even surgery and screws to hold the bone in place.  Failure to address the issue will cause extenuated limitations, even to the point of death.
  2. Pain demands attention.  It needs to grab your attention, which is does quite well.  It doesn’t matter what you are involved with, when pain announces itself it cannot be ignored.  It gives the situation an importance that it demands.
  3. Pain is a demonstration of love.  One of the things about love is that it does what is best, not what is easiest or the most enjoyable.  God’s love for us mandates that He provide the means to insist on our care for our bodies as it is the temple of God.  He wants the best for us and is more intent in our completion according to His standards, than He is on our own success rate.
  4. Pain is trans-formative in that it makes us mold-able.  It breaks down our resistance to change and cause us to become willing to move in a given direction.  People who endure great pain often say, I have no choice.  You become pliable like plastic that is forced into a mold.  It causes us to go where we would not go and become what we would not become
  5. Pain is a teacher. Consequence is a great instructor and guide. Often we hear with our ears but not our hearts.  Instructions have to find a lodging in our hearts in order for us to learn.  When we suffer the consequences of our actions we learn its importance.
  6. Pain helps the memory.  Because pain is so repulsive, we will take great care to avoid it when possible.
  7. Pain highlights the importance of the details.  Often we tend to major on the big things and to minimize the minor details.  Greatness is in the minutia, or the seemingly unimportant details.  The major things are obvious but the minutia is essential.

Wisdom speaks and says that it is good to make friends with pain.  You will not enjoy pain but you can be benefited by it.  Pain is for our good.

Baby Steps 5

I was sharing the story of our experience with the pastor in Japan with our educational pastor and how gifting had opened up such a rich experience, when he suddenly said, You need to be teaching your book to our people, and then added this fall.  It was so sudden and unexpected yet somehow I knew that this also was from the Lord so I agreed and the time was set.

I had no basis on what to expect or how many would attend.  As the class began there were about 15 that showed up that first night and it grew several more during the classes on the book. Interest was high and several were asking questions and adding their insights.  One night after class there were a couple or three standing around and visiting when a lady spoke up and said, I think the Lord is asking me to translate your book into Spanish.  I was both stunned and surprised as I knew very little about her.  We began discussing the idea and I left her with the request that she pray about it and then we would talk some more.

Come to find out, she was quite sincere and told me what she did for her job was working with translations into Spanish.  She was a member of our church and her family was also members.  I was still a little shocked by this recent turn of events but I did sense the Lord’s fingerprints all over this so I suggested that she move along and send me chapter one when she finished it.  She then told me that because of a sick mother and other commitments that it would be a few months before she could begin but that she would proceed.

Since then she has finished the first chapter and sent it to me.  Then I didn’t hear from her for several months.  I didn’t have her phone number but I did have her email so I dropped here a note and said that I had been praying for her but did not get an answer.  A few more months went by and one day I met her and her husband in the hall at church.  She then shared that she had been going through an extreme situation with her mother as well as several other matters.  She assured me that it was coming to an end and that she fully intended to continue.  I ran into her a few weeks later and she said she had been working on it and now has chapter two almost completed and that she would send it to me shortly.  She also reported to me that she is dealing with other situations that is causing her a lot of delay but that she could use the prayers to help here through this current time.  Please lift her up to the Lord in your prayers as well.

 

Baby Steps 3

A second bond came from a pastor in Japan that I met on a trip to visit my son who was living and working in Japan.  My wife and I were visiting our son, Daniel, in Japan.  While we were there we determined that we wanted to visit a Christian church to have the experience and to aid us in our understanding of their culture.

We asked our daughter-in-law if she knew where on was and she put us in contact with a church.  The church then sent a car to pick us up as we didn’t know our way around the area.  We were so appreciative and wanted to thank them in the right way.  I knew that gifting was a big thing in Japan but we were on our way already so there wasn’t time to buy something.  Then I remembered that I had a copy of my book with me and determined to give that as a gift for their care for us.

Upon arrival, we were directed into the church and introduced to the pastor.  I then presented the pastor with my gift, not knowing if I was doing it right.  He hesitated for a moment and then he got misty and I thought he was going to cry.  I asked, did I do something wrong?  He replied, No you don’t understand.  You see, I have been praying that the Lord would send me someone to encourage me and you are him.  Then I felt like crying.  Our bond was immediate as we both felt that this was a divine appointment.  I am not sure what he told the congregation but after the service we were surrounded by everyone and they all wanted to talk with us.  At one point I was talking to four people at the same time, trying to answer their questions and my wife was trying to talk to two more.  All the while the others were crowding around to listen.  This went on for the better part of an hour so we didn’t get any time to speak with the pastor.  He then requested for us to join him for lunch the next day.

Darla, wasn’t feeling well the next day so I went on alone.  I was met with the pastor, his wife, his daughter and son-in-law at a fine restaurant and enjoyed a great meal.  He shared that he had read my entire book and was so impressed that he asked permission to use it in his work and of course I agreed.  He then told me of a member of his church that was impressed by our visit that she had determined to read my book as well.  The pastor challenged her with the question, you don’t speak English nor do you read English, so how do you intend to do that.  She replied that she had considered it and had decided that she would get an English/Japanese dictionary and read it that way. (Note, so far she has read three chapters.)  My immediate thought was, Lord give us this kind of dedication.

Our bond was instantaneous and has continued to this day.  He became my second translator though I wasn’t  even looking for another translator.  He now calls me his mentor though I learn from him continually.  His heart is so big that it includes all of Japan and China.  He has made at least 9 trips to China to train the young pastors there. Because of his schedule, the translation has been going slow but recently the Lord sent him an assistant so the work will gather momentum.  His goal is for all of Japan to read the book and to put their trust in the Lord.

to be continued . . .

Translation Update

Today I received an email from Pastor Takeshi in Japan.  I rejoiced to hear how the Lord is blessing there in Japan and China.  As you may remember, he is pastoring a church in Japan and doing the translation of my book into Japanese.  He reported that there was a spiritual attack on their church from a noted person who was spreading false teachings throughout the area and how they countered that effort through prayer.  He also reported that there were two young disciples who are planting a new church in China and need prayers as the persecution there is growing.  There are also some other young Christians who are growing in the faith and are standing against the opposition.

He also reported that the Lord sent him an assistant to help him in the work there and therefore he will be able to devote more time to the translation of my book (The Mystery of Faith).He has been working on it but it has been slow.  He is currently on Chapter 5.

I have not heard for my translator in China in some time but our church has and the mission trip to China is now resuming and is in the planning stage.  It is looking like some time in the late fall but is not set at this time.  The last I heard was that he is on Chapter 6.

The translation into Russian is moving along and he is on the last part of Chapter 3.  I have noted that he is getting faster and having an easier time translating as he is understanding more of what the book is about and how it is structured.

About a week or so ago, the translator into Spanish contacted me and is finishing up on Chapter 2.  She has had a lot of sickness in her family and her mother has needed a lot of care so her work has not progresses as fast as she hoped.  Still she is continuing.

I am so amazed at what the Lord is doing with my book.  I never in thought that I would see it published when I first started it but I felt that it was what the Lord wanted me to do so I did it in obedience to Him.  Now I see Him doing other things with it.  I found out that it is being used as a training manual in the underground church in China as a training manual for new pastors.  Biblical training is almost non existent there so any help is deeply appreciated.

After the translations are completed, they will need to be checked by other translators to validate the content and prepare them for publication.  Hopefully, they will be a blessing to many people.More on this as we get closer to the time for the next step.

A Guarded Grave

One day as I was going somewhere with another person on some matter and as we passed a cemetery in the country and he spoke up and said, “You see that cemetery over there?”  I answered and said I did.  Then he made an announcement that caught me off guard and said, “They keep a Sheriff and two deputies over there 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.”  I thought about it for a minute and said “Well, why do they do that?” as I couldn’t think of anything that mandated such an action.  I wasn’t prepared for his answer when he said, “Cause they are dead.”  You see, I was thinking that they were alive.

Easter is all about the resurrection of Christ.  It is not about the easter bunny, or the latest fashion, or candy or a ‘must attend’ religious holiday.  It is about the greatest event in history, and brings hope to a lost and dying world.  There is hope beyond the grave.  Life does not end at death, but rather, in a real sense it is just the beginning of life.  Our eternity is determined by our belief in Christ.  How we respond to Him reveals how we believe.

Yet, it is interesting that the only person to come forth in victory over death is one whose tomb was guarded to keep His body in it.  It is also interesting that those who had repeatedly been told that it would happen were the hardest to convince that it did.  It is also interesting that those who refused to believe in Him, took all the precautions they could to prevent it from happening.

Take a look at Matt 27:62-66 where we find Pilate saying “Ye have a guard; go, make it as sure as ye can.”  So they went and made the sepulcher sure, sealing the stone, the guard being with them.  Notice that they stationed soldier to guard the tomb.  That meant that no outsiders would be able to tamper with it and falsify his resurrection.  It also meant that the religious leaders  were keeping his followers from gathering at the tomb and creating an insurrection out of their grief.  In reality, the soldiers validated the resurrection in that they keep all hands off of the scene. (compliments of Rome).  Secondly, they sealed the tomb with the Roman seal.  To break it would have brought the Roman armies and their power against them.  It was a metal catch, like a lock that fastened the round stone to the rock behind and it was covered in a wax and impressed with the Roman seal.  Though it could have been opened easily it would leave the evidence in the wax that could not be copied again without the seal imprint.

The stone was rounded so that it could be rolled into place at the entrance to the tomb.  It rolled in a channel that was cut out of the rock and guided it into place.  The stone was large enough to cover the tomb entrance and was several inches thick which would have required two or three men to roll it into place.  Yet in Matt 28:2 a lone angel rolled back the stone and then sat upon it.  Some have speculated as to why the stone was rolled back.  It is easy to assume that it was so that Jesus could exit the tomb but later he walked through walls so I don’t think that is the answer.  I believe that it was for the purpose of us being able to look inside the tomb and sharing to the world that He is not here but He is risen from the dead!