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Saturday, September 22, 2007

The Days of Unlocked Doors

Things aren’t what they used to be, and I’m glad they aren’t. If everything had stayed the way they were just a few years ago, I wouldn’t be able to blog or make a cell phone call or drive a car equipped with all-wheel drive. But some changes are disturbing.
In 1952 I passed a driving test and received a chauffeur’s license so I could every summer as a house-to-house bread salesman. The work provided an income I could apply to college, but it also gave me vivid snapshots of human nature. A few customers were grumpy or vain or stingy, but most were kind, friendly, and trusting.
Key rings were lighter in the ‘50s, because many families didn’t own two cars. Some didn’t own even one car. And it was common for people to leave their homes unlocked. Often, I would read a note on the door addressed to me: “Baker, please leave a loaf of bread and an apple pie on the kitchen counter. I have left money there for you.”
Am I being too cynical to imagine the havoc a note like that would inflict on a homeowner today? An intruder might walk right in, steal the money and whatever else he could carry, and walk right out.
So we lock our doors, trust very few people, and tote heavy key rings!
However, crime will be virtually nonexistent when Jesus rules the earth. Personal righteousness and universal peace will prevail, and everyone will enjoy a secure life (Micah 4:4).
If house-to-house bread salesmen resume business in Jesus’ kingdom, they might find notes again on unlocked doors.

“Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this” (Isaiah 9:7).

Friday, September 21, 2007

Atheism in the U.S.A.

According to a Barna study released in June, 5 million adults in the United States claim to be atheists. If agnostics and those who say they have no faith are counted as not believing in God, the number rises to 20 million—one in every 11 Americans. However, only 6 percent of adults over 60 have no faith in God. Does this last-mentioned statistic suggest many people change their minds about the existence of God as they closer to meeting Him?
Atheists may consider themselves non-religious, but in reality they are religious. They believe in what they consider their superior intelligence and self-reliance. They assume their philosophy of life and death is accurate, and therefore choose to live free of what the Bible teaches about human accountability to a divine authority. But ultimately, they will see the error of their ways. Proverbs 14:12 announces, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.” Furthermore, God has weighed in on the issue of atheism by declaring, “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God’” (Psalm 14:1).
Yes, it takes faith to believe in the existence of God, but it also takes faith not to believe He exists.
While traveling through the beautiful Irish Hills of Michigan years ago, I read a roadside sign that questioned, Why Live in God’s World without God? I wonder how an atheist might answer.

“The LORD lives! Praise be to my Rock! Exalted be God my Savior” (Psalm 18:46).

Written by James Dyet. © 2007, Jim Dyet

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Are We Having Joy Yet?

Have you noticed how frequently the word “fun” occurs today? A restaurant is a “fun” place to eat. Learning is supposed to be “fun.” And many churches believe worship should be “fun.”
Jesus proved that joy and fun are not Siamese twins. Joy can exist even when fun is absent. Having fun depends upon happy occasions, whereas having joy depends upon a close relationship with Jesus. Fun occurs when the good times roll, but joy abides in the worst of times as well as in the best of times. Joyful people can have fun, but people who have fun may not have joy. Those who conform to the ways of the world may have fun, but only those who conform to the will of God have real joy. Fun is temporary. Joy is eternal. Fun is manmade, but joy comes from God. Joy is neither physical nor material; it is supernatural and spiritual. A songwriter supplied accurate directions for finding joy. He wrote: “If you want joy, real joy, wonderful joy, let Jesus come into your heart.” Perhaps, it is time churches stopped asking, “Are we having fun yet?” and started asking, “Do we have Jesus’ joy yet?”
To have Jesus’ joy through thick and thin, in the storms of life as well as in the sunshine, in loss as well as in gain, in sadness as well as in gladness, in hurt as well as in health, we must maintain a close relationship with Jesus. We must abide in Him and in His Word. He told His disciples, “If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete” (John 15:10, 11).
Are we having joy yet?

—Adapted from The Master’s Plan for You, written by Jim Dyet, © 2002, The Amy Foundation, Lansing, Michigan

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Christian Fellowship

I have had second thoughts about blogging about the book of Revelation, so I cancelled the ”tour.” Perhaps I will write a book about Revelation someday.

I have been reflecting on the unparalleled fellowship believers enjoy. Sure, members of various organizations enjoy fellowship, but Christian fellowship transcends time; it will continue in heaven and last an eternity.
The hymn, “Blest Be the Tie,” celebrates Christian fellowship. It begins, “Blest be the tie that binds our hearts in Christian love; the fellowship of kindred minds is like to that above.” The story behind the writing of this hymn displays the jewel of Christian fellowship as well as a black velvet cloth displays the exquisite beauty of a sparkling diamond.
In 1772 John Fawcett loaded his belongings onto horse-drawn wagons and was about to leaver the small English village of Wainsgate, where he had served as pastor of a tiny congregation. He had accepted a call to be the pastor of a prestigious church in London. However, before he left Wainsgate, he witnessed a simple act of devotion that changed his destiny. The members of his congregation stood around him and wept because their beloved pastor was leaving. This display of affection touched John and his wife so deeply he unloaded his belongings and notified the London church that he had decided to stay in Wainsgate.
Ten years later, John Fawcett wrote the hymn, “Blest be the Tie,” to commemorate that 1772 event. He spent the rest of his life ministering to the little flock that loved him so dearly.
I became a pastor in 1958. Many of the Christians who called me “Pastor” back then have gone to heaven, but some who are still living keep in touch with my wife and me. Other church members of more recent times also keep in touch. Like the Energizer Bunny, our fellowship keeps going and going and going.
Last Sunday, I was a guest speaker at a church in Denver. Before preaching, I opened the church bulletin and read: “North Federal Baptist Church welcomes Dr. Jim Dyet to our pulpit. Jim is not a stranger here because he is part of our extended church family.”
“Family—that’s what Christian fellowship is all about. God is our Father, Jesus is our elder Brother, and we believers are brothers and sister. We belong to a forever family! Blest be the tie that binds!

“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God” (1 John 3:1).

“We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers” (1 John 3:14a).

© 2007, Jim Dyet

God is Redemptive Exodus 15:1-13

God Is Redemptive. Exodus 15:1-13
By James Dyet, reprinted from Anchor © Haven Ministries. Used by permission. copyright 2007

 “In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed. In your strength you will guide them to your holy dwelling. You will bring them in ...." (Exodus 15:13, 17)

Overworked and underpaid! Many workers today believe they fall into this category. however, that description pales when compared with the work conditions the Hebrews in Egypt had to contend with. They were slaves with the ever-increasing demand to make more bricks with less straw.
You can imagine how joyful those Hebrews were when God redeemed (delivered) them from Egypt and its bondage. Soon after God covered Pharaoh and his cavalry in the Red Sea, Moses and his sister Miriam led the Hebrews in praiseful celebration of this triumphant divine deliverance.
The apostle Peter wrote that God has redeemed believers by the blood of Christ (I Peter 1:18-19). The word "redeemed" in verse 18 means to buy in the slave market, to buy out of the slave market, and to set free. When Christ died for us, He bought us with His blood to set us free. Now we are no longer slaves to sin; we are free to serve God willingly and gladly (Romans 6:17-18). That's something worth celebrating, don't you agree?

Religion without redemption enslaves people by binding them to lifeless rules and ceremonies. But all who believe on Christ receive life and liberty.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Live Where You Live

Live Where You Live
written by Jim Dyet © 2007

“ . . . he blesses the home of the righteous” (Proverbs 3:33).

About every other year my wife and I scope out the Parade of Homes in our city. It’s fun to see what kinds of houses contractors and designers put on the market to entice buyers to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars. But viewing beautiful houses isn’t all fun, at least for me. Slipping footies over shoes before entering a model home may be a cakewalk for young lookie-loos, but it’s a killer for me. I have had the same inflexible back for decades. It might be simpler for a centipede to give itself a pedicure than for me to get my shoes into footies. You can imagine how my back feels after repeating the procedure at each doorstep of twenty-something houses. Ouch! Snap, crackle, and pop!
I have to admit some houses in the Parade of Homes seem like palaces compared to our house, but I am content to simply shuffle through them, return home, and appreciate what I have. At home, the taxes are lower, the yard is landscaped, my recliner feels so good, and the whole house is footies free! So, Lord willing, I expect to live right where I live for a long time.
From sea to shining sea, we plant ourselves in a variety of dwellings—from ranches to retirement villages, apartments to adobes, bungalows to boathouses, cabins to condos, and single occupancies to multiplexes. But where we live isn’t as important as how we live. Nor is what we spend on a place as important as important as what we invest in the days we live there. Sure, the grass may look greener elsewhere, but life may not be as rosy there.
Take stock of what makes the “good life” really good:
• the presence of the Lord;
• contentment;
• a clear conscience;
• joy and laughter;
• faith;
• a well-worn Bible;
• prayer;
• open lines of communication with family and friends;
• a reason to keep on keeping on;
• a grateful heart.
Someday you may choose to move to a different residence, and you may have to downsize. Nevertheless, you can take along everything that really matters. Check the above list again, and determine that today and every day you will live where you live until you take possession of your home in heaven.

“Lord, bless this house. May the joy of knowing you are present here brighten every corner and extend to my neighbors.”

© Jim Dyet

James Bond, James Dyet

James Bond 007 and I have some things in common. He is James; I am James. He is from the UK; I am from the UK (I was born in Scotland). He is in her Majesty’s secret service; I am in His Majesty’s sacred service. He has a license to kill; I have a license to preach. He is handsome; I am . . . well, the comparison had to end somewhere!
Let’s get back to the license to preach. The Associated Gospel Churches of Canada issued it to me November 6, 1958, but I preached my first sermon in November 1954 at a rescue mission on N. Clark Street in Chicago, Illinois, when I was a freshman student at Moody Bible Institute. I was ordained to the gospel ministry in October 1960, at Williamson, New York.
The license to preach rests in the top drawer of my desk. I see it whenever I open the drawer to retrieve a pen, a paper clip, a stamp, or a Post-it® note. Although nearly fifty years and thousands of sermons have passed since I received that license, I have never lost the wonder that God called me to teach His Word.
Back in 1962, while pastoring a church in Williamson, New York, I started dabbling in writing. Pulpit, a magazine for ministers published ten of my sermon outlines. It later accepted articles. Soon, the experience of writing for publication became a regular occurrence, as I authored curriculum courses and interactive Bible studies for Baptist Publications, later renamed Accent Publications. I joined the editorial staff of Baptist Publications in Denver, Colorado, in 1971; and then, until 2000 I was involved full time in the development of Christian education literature for Accent, Regular Baptist Press, and Scripture Press. I retired in 2000 from Cook Communications Ministries, the parent company of Accent and Scripture Press. Now, I do freelance writing, and I mentor about 135 students for the Jerry Jenkins Christian Writers Guild. Some of my students live in foreign countries: Canada, Chile, England, Scotland, France, South Africa, India, Australia, and China, to name a few.
Since becoming a pastor in 1958, I have always been involved in pastoral ministry. Even my three decades of full-time editorial work included pastoral ministry: sometimes part-time, sometimes interim, and occasionally pulpit supply. Now, closing in on age 72, I still preach almost every Sunday wherever I am invited. I feel privileged to be allowed to declare the good news that God gives eternal life to all who believe on Jesus as Savior, and I also feel privileged to be able to help believers grow in their relationship with Jesus.
Like me, my license to preach is showing signs of aging, but God’s call to preach is as fresh now as it was 50 years ago. And I wouldn’t trade that high calling for all James Bond’s fancy cars, super-high-tech gadgets, and good looks.

“Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel” (1 Corinthians 9:16b).