Books authored by Dr. James Dyet. Purchase on

Saturday, December 18, 2010

My Crown Fell Off

The dental hygienist picked at my teeth, buffed them, and flossed. Then she X-rayed. She and a dentist examined the X-rays and informed me I needed a couple of fillings, a root canal, and a new crown. Bad news just before Christmas! I hadn’t suspected any problem with the tooth that needed the root canal and a new crown, but the X-ray provided incontrovertible evidence of decay at the gum level. At dinner that evening further evidence turned up. The old crown fell out of my mouth and landed on my dinner plate.

The next day, I sat in a dentist’s chair for almost three hours while the dentist drilled out decay, performed a root canal, and shaved away some gum tissue to get at decay lurking below the gum line. A staff member installed the fillings and attached a temporary crown where the old crown had fallen off. At first, she thought she could us the old crown as a temporary one, but she quickly abandoned that idea when it fell onto the back of my tongue.

Now I have a better bite, but so does the dentist—right into my savings.

If it hadn’t been for an X-ray, I wouldn’t have realized decay was destroying the affected tooth, but eventually the realization would have struck hard and signaled the end of the tooth. Sin is decay of the soul that affects every human being. Some individuals may not realize they are sinners, and a few may deny the fact altogether. But like an X-ray, the Bible exposes our sin and tells us Jesus came to earth to provide the perfect remedy for sin. When an angel of the Lord informed Joseph that the virgin Mary would bring forth God’s Son, he instructed Joseph to name the baby Jesus, “for He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). Even Mary was aware that she needed to be saved from sin. She sang, “My spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior” (italics mine; Luke 1:47).

I could tell you how much my dental bill was, but I won’t. Your empathy might spoil your Christmas. Suffice is to say it cost a lot. However, having the decay of sin removed from my soul cost me nothing. But it cost Jesus everything. He purchased my redemption by shedding His blood at the cross.

If you want a condensed, but powerful, version of the Christmas story, read the apostle Paul’s words in Galatians 4:4 and 5: “But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.”

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

God and Big Government

Big government seems to involve itself in many areas of our lives. It demands that we buckle up when we drive, measure up to building codes, and pay up when taxes are imposed on everything from what we wear to what we eat. Our cars are taxed, our homes are taxed, our income is taxed, and our fuel is taxed. It’s almost ironic that our nation declared its independence from England in 1776 to avoid unfair taxation. We have certainly managed to tax ourselves into a corner! So it’s understandable that most of us would like big government to go on a crash diet.

But big government did something two millennia ago that led to the greatest benefit ever to reach the human race. The big government at the time was the Roman government headed by Caesar Augustus. He decreed a census in which everyone had to go to his own town for registration (Luke 2:1-3). Because Joseph belonged to the house of David, he had to register at Bethlehem.

There you have it— God used big government to draw Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem, where biblical prophecy said the Savior would be born. Micah 5:2 announced, “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel . . ..”

Of course we shouldn’t conclude that what happened 2,000 years ago gives big government a ringing endorsement. Caesar Augustus served God’s purpose unwittingly. Nevertheless, we should conclude that God holds ultimate control over history. He is far bigger than any big government and is committed to positioning and using all things for our good and His glory.

The story of Christmas brings hope—real hope!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Shepherds and God's Lamb

A group of shepherds got the surprise of their lives when the angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone around them. Perhaps “surprise” isn’t quite the right word—they were terrified. Who wouldn’t be? But the angel of the Lord arrived with good news of great joy. The shepherds had nothing to fear but every reason to rejoice. The angel had come to bring the wonderful news that the Savior, Christ the Lord, had been born. He had been born “for all people”—even for those lowly shepherds. Furthermore, the angel told the shepherds where to find the Baby.

How appropriate that shepherds left their sheep and went into Bethlehem immediately to see God’s Lamb, the One who would carry away the sin of the world! Unlike the wise men that would visit the infant Jesus later on, the shepherds had nothing but themselves to present to the newborn Savior. But that is exactly what we have to bring to the Savior when we come to Him. As the hymn writer said, “Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to thy cross I cling.” After all, we cannot contribute anything to salvation. It is God’s gift to us to be received by faith (Romans 6:23; Ephesians 2:8, 9).

As you give and receive Christmas gifts this year, ask whether you have believed on the Savior and received the gift of salvation. If you have, why not respond as the shepherds did after visiting the Baby Jesus? They glorified and praised God. If you haven’t received the gift of salvation, believe on Jesus now.

“Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:15)

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Happy Holidays?

Have you strung your holiday lights, purchased any holiday gifts, viewed a holiday parade, put up your holiday tree, mailed your holiday cards, and made your holiday plans?

What’s with all this “holiday” talk? Frankly, I am tired of hearing and reading “holiday” instead of “Christmas.” When did we fall into the practice of bowing to political correctness instead of acknowledging the reason for the season? Do you think Islamic countries call Ramadan “holidays”? Of course not! They could care less about political correctness. So why should Christians in a so-called Christian nation hesitate to say “Christmas”?

Let’s say it together, “Christmastime is here.” Once again, “Christmastime is here.”

Merry Christmas, everybody!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Do You Have a Back Scratcher?

Do you have a back scratcher? If you do, you know how handy it is for relieving an itch that you can’t seem to reach. But another kind of back scratcher exists that all of us might be better off not having. It’s the human back scratcher, the person who says in effect, “I’ll scratch your back if you’ll scratch mine.” In other words, he will do something nice for you if you will do something nice for him.

Too many Christians are back scratchers. They play up to someone who is able to do them a favor. They seldom go out of their way to do something nice for someone who cannot repay the favor. The Good Samaritan was not a back scratcher. He rescued a wounded traveler who had been robbed, stripped of his clothes, beaten, and left half dead on the road that led from Jerusalem to Jericho. He didn’t even check to see if the poor man had medical insurance. He bandaged his wounds, poured on oil and wine to soothe the inflammation and fight infection, and then he put the “patient” on his own donkey, transported him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day he paid the innkeeper handsomely to take care of him, and promised to reimburse the innkeeper later for any additional expenses.

Jesus commended the Good Samaritan for his selfless actions and singled him out as a worthy example to follow (Luke 10:36, 37).

So if our backs itch, let’s buy a brush, but brush off any thoughts of human back scratching. Surely we can do something neighborly for someone today who isn’t able to repay the favor.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Election Day

Election day has arrived. Gloria and I voted early, but millions of Americans will cast their votes today, and we will all stay close to our TVs tonight to find out who won and what issues prevailed.

Election is not only a political process; it is also a theological truth. First Peter 1:2 describes believers as “elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father.” Although Christians have debated the subject of election for centuries, the fact remains, God elected us. One group believes He elected us because He knew in advance (foreknew) that we would believe on His Son as our Savior. The other group believes that he knew in advance (foreknew) we would believe on His Son as our Savior because He chose us to do so. The second group sees far more in the word “foreknowledge” than simply prior knowledge. It bases God’s foreknowledge on His determined purpose. For example, Acts 2:23 links God’s foreknowledge of Jesus’ crucifixion with His determined purpose that Jesus should die for us. The first group believes what man does regarding salvation determines God’s decision. The latter group believes what God does determines man’s decision regarding salvation.

Complicated? As they say in Minnesota, “You betcha.” But anyone who sincerely questions whether he can be saved because he may not belong to God’s elect can resolve the issue by simply believing on Jesus as his Savior. Jesus said, “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out” (John 6:37).

I cannot explain why God elected me, but I do know I cannot take any credit for my salvation. I owe it all to the triune God’s grace, love, and redemptive plan (1 Peter 1:2).

As we await today’s election results, we hope for a better tomorrow, but nothing is guaranteed. However, God’s election carries the guarantee of a better life now and forever for all who believe (1 Peter 1:3, 4).

May God bless America!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Too Much Money?

Does too much money have you?

I know some wealthy Christians. Some of them support the Lord’s work generously; others support themselves generously. Obviously, the former group practices good stewardship; the latter group doesn’t. The former group doesn’t have too much money, but too much money has the latter group.

Too much money has people if
• they squander it on selfish interests;
• are ungrateful;
• refuse to give liberally to the Lord’s work;
• always crave more;
• assume a snobbish attitude;
• waste it on worldly pleasures;
• place a higher value on it than on their children;
• fail to help the needy;
• think it can buy happiness;
• think it offers lasting security;
• think it can buy true friends;
• expect special privileges.

We don’t have to wait until Thanksgiving to thank the Lord for what He has given to us and to accept the responsibility of wise stewardship. Offerings to churches and Christian organizations have decreased this year, and unemployment has risen. If you and I have more than we need, shouldn’t we give more of what we have to support the Lord’s work and offer a helping hand to the needy?

James 2:15 and 16 offer these challenging words: “Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, ‘Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?”

Friday, October 22, 2010

Making Good Time Or Making the Time Good?

PILOT: I have some bad news. We are lost, but there is some good news: our navigator just informed me that we are making very good time.

We are all making very good time on our journey through life, aren’t we? Doesn’t it seem only recently that we were high school or college students or employees at our first job? James 4:14 reminds us that our life is a vapor “that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.”

Two evenings ago one of my college classmates (Class of ’57) called me to ask how I was. During our conversation, he told me he disconnected all his incoming calls because he was weary of receiving news that another friend had died. That’s kind of a morose testimonial to the fleeting nature of life, isn’t it?

But life does pass quickly, so how can we make the years count instead of simply counting the years? According to James 4:15 we should say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.” And 1 John 2:17 attaches a golden hue to the practice of doing God’s will by stating that “he who does the will of God lives forever.”

So, if we follow God’s direction all the days of this life, we will never lose our way or our purpose for living.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Joy began to ripple from a mine in Copiapo, Chile, last night. The ripple extended to faraway countries as the world watched the first of 33 trapped miners emerge from a dark chamber half a mile below ground. As I write this blog, the number of rescued miners stands at 12. We can only imagine the relief and joy the rescued miners are experiencing after 69 long days and nights in their sealed underground chamber. They owe so much to their own indomitable spirit, to the prayers of many, to the grace of God, and to the engineering genius and persistence of those who planned and performed the rescue.

My grandfather was killed in a mine explosion in Scotland, and my father worked in a mine when he was a boy. He always referred to the mine as “the pit.” “Jim,” he would say, “if we hadn’t left Scotland and moved to Canada, you would be working in the pit today.” That word “pit” occurs in Psalm 40:2 in several English versions of the Bible. King David wrote: “I waited patiently for the LORD; and He inclined to me, and heard my cry. He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps. He has put a new song in my mouth—praise to our God” (Psalm 40:1-3a).

I think we lost some spiritual treasures when many churches banished hymns from worship. When I watched the first rescued miner step out of the rescue capsule, I thought of the hymn, “He Lifted Me.” The first stanza says, “In loving kindness Jesus came My soul in mercy to reclaim, And from the depths of sin and shame Thro’ grace He lifted me.” The chorus follows: “From sinking sand He lifted me, With tender hand He lifted me, From shades of night to planes of light, O praise His name, He lifted me.”

Life may never be the same for the rescued Chilean miners. For sure, it is never the same for anyone who has been rescued from the depths of sin and shame by the grace of our loving Lord!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Absolutely Only One Way to Heaven

Do all roads lead to heaven? Many liberal-minded people seem to think so. There is only one God, they insist, and He (or she, or it) is too nice and loving to refuse admittance to any sincerely religious person. But how does that thinking square with what Jesus said. “I am the way,” Jesus told His disciples. “No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). The apostle Paul, who left religion in the dust when he believed in Jesus, the risen Son of God, as his Savior, wrote in Galatians 1:8, “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned.”

These are strong words. There is only one way to heaven. Jesus is the Way; and there is only one gospel (message of good news). That gospel announces that Jesus “died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared” (1 Corinthians 15:3-5). Jesus provided eternal life for all who believe (John 3:14, 15), and His resurrection affirms that fact.

But in our eclectic, tolerant culture, liberal minds deflect absolute truth as quickly as an upright deflects a football that hits it in an errant field goal attempt. Nevertheless, without absolutes life would be chaotic. For example, it is absolutely true that 5 plus 5 equals ten, but if you reject that absolute and believe 5 plus 5 may also equal 15, try paying for a $15 purchase with two fives and see what happens. Also, it is absolutely true that we must eat and drink to stay alive. If a person rejects that absolute, he may not be able to argue his point for very long.

If our hope of going to heaven rests on anything or anyone other than Jesus Christ, it is a false hope. But if our hope of going to heaven rests on Jesus Christ, it is a “living hope” made possible by “the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3). And that’s an absolutely wonderful hope!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Super Glue Is Bad for the Eyes

Eye drops are a normal regimen associated with cataract surgery. Super glue is not! Unfortunately, a cataract patient reached for what she thought were eye drops but mistakenly grabbed super glue. Drop! Drop! Presto—sealed eyes. Surgery was required to cut away the glue.

Eyesight is priceless gift. So is the ability to see life from a biblical perspective. However, certain distractions may keep us from seeing things as God wants us to see them and even close our spiritual eyes as tightly as super glue closed the eyes of the unfortunate cataract patient. Anything that distracts us from God’s Word also keeps us from seeing His character and ways. As a result, we fail to see the folly of trying to satisfy the cravings of the heart and soul with empty philosophy, insecure wealth and possessions, mindless entertainment, and fleeting pleasures.

King David valued keen spiritual vision. He prayed, “Open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things from Your law [Word]” (Psalm 119:18).

Let’s keep super glue and a safe distance but keep God’s Word close at hand.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Par-don My English

Sometimes the English language doesn’t make sense. The words, good and hot, may have nothing to do with temperature. Far out may have nothing to do with distance. Space cadet may not identify a person studying to be an astronaut. A blast often refers to a good time, not an explosion. And grass may mean something entirely different from what we see on our lawns.

Often, the golf term par doesn’t make sense when we apply it to non-golfing situations. A teacher may write on a report card: “Johnny’s work has not been up to par recently.” Taken at face value, this report would mean Johnny’s work has been outstanding. After all if a golf score is not up to par, it is below par and, therefore, outstanding. A Father’s Day card may read: “Dad, when it comes to fathers, you are far above par.” Meant to flatter, the term far above par is hardly music to a golfer’s ears. And who hasn’t shrugged and sighed that a string of bad circumstances is par for the course. How can a string of bad circumstances be such a good thing as par for the course?

God’s words, written in the Bible, are consistent with His character. He is truthful (Deuteronomy 32:4); His words are truthful. He is wise (Jude 25); His words impart wisdom (Psalm 119:98). He is faithful (Deuteronomy 7:9); His words are faithful (Psalm 119:86, 138; Titus 1:9). He is the author of peace (1 Corinthians 14:33); His Word is the agent of peace (Psalm 119:165). He is the Creator of life (Genesis 1:1); His Word generates spiritual life (1 Peter 1:22, 23). God says what He means and means what He says.

Read Psalm 119:97-104, and expect God’s words to direct you in the right way. His words are par for the course any day and every day!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Bible and the Bard of Avon

Rumor has it that William Shakespeare slipped his name into Psalm 46 when the King James Version was nearly completed in 1610. According to the rumor, he did this to commemorate his 46th birthday. If you count 46 words from the psalm’s beginning, you will arrive at the word “shake.” Counting back 46 words from the end will take you to the word “spear.” Omit “Selah” from each count.

Whether William Shakespeare left his mark on the Bible is highly debatable, but his writings allude to the Bible so often it seems clear the Bible left its mark on him.

Some believers mark their Bible as they read it. They may underline key words, phrases, or sentences. Or they may highlight certain verses in color. Green identifies verses that refer to spiritual growth and/or eternal life. Blue identifies verses that refer to heaven. Red is used for verses that refer to blood atonement. Black identifies verses about sin, and gold identifies verses that contain promises. But marking the Bible means little or nothing if the Bible doesn’t leave its mark on us.

A life marked by the Bible will help others see the reality of Christ’s presence and power. It may persuade some to believe on the Savior.

King David testified, “Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You” (Psalm 119:11).

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

What Part of "All Things" Don't We Understand?

About 2,000 years ago Asaph the psalmist, musician, and choir director was almost at wits end. He had puzzled long and hard to understand why wicked people prospered. Life just didn’t seem fair. He wrestled with a heavyweight question, “Does the Most High have knowledge?” (Psalm 73:11b).

Asaph finally discovered the answer in “the sanctuary of God” (verse 17). Not only did God know the wicked were prospering while His people were suffering, He also knew He would punish the wicked someday. He would destroy the wicked, sweep them away, and “despise them as fantasies” (verses 19, 20).

Maybe you have stood in Asaph’s sandals or you are wearing them right now. You look at unfair personal situations and wonder if God really knows what is going on in your life. If He knew your troubles, wouldn’t He fix them—make them go away?

What Christian hasn’t been tempted to think God doesn’t know everything? Sure, He knows all about the composition of outer space, but does He know all about the bills piling up on my kitchen table? Does He know how badly I am hurting from the loss of my spouse? Does He know my son hasn’t contacted me for weeks? Does He know how lonely I feel? And what about those nagging joint pains that keep me from doing things younger people do so easily? Does He know?

“Open theism,” A new twist to theology (a twisted theology) insists God doesn’t know everything. If correct, this theology can’t put its arms around us when we hurt and assure us God understands and cares. It leaves us quite alone and helpless to see God at work in our dark days.

But the Bible is still the best theology book, and it still teaches us that God is all knowing. Nothing escapes His knowledge, not even that recent utility company’s rate increase or that sudden stiffness of the right knee.

The apostle Peter often put his foot in his mouth, but he spoke wisely in response to Jesus’ third interrogation, “Do you love me?” He responded, “Lord, you know all things” (John 21:17).

Let’s side with Peter in the open theism debate. The Lord does know all things. If we know He knows all things, we can trust Him to use all things for our good and His glory.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Tired of Self-Service?

I had bronchitis frequently when I was a kid, but good old Dr. Harkness was only a phone call away, and he knew how to get me well. Moderns might consider him old-fashioned, but he was just right for me. He answered Mom’s phone calls personally and came to our house within hours of receiving a call. Medical attention has changed since Dr. Harkness toted his black bag from one patient’s house to another. Today, we visit the doctor’s office—an arrangement that may be best for us but not as convenient as the doctor-to-home visit of long ago.

Does it seem to you that service isn’t what it used to be? When gas was 19 cents a gallon, a service station attendant would fill the gas tank for you. He would also pop the hood and check the oil, check tire pressure, and wash the windshield. Not bad for 19 cents a gallon! Today, gas costs almost 3 dollars a gallon, and you pump it yourself. You may find a bucket of water and a squeegee at the pump in case you want to wash the windshield. If you need to put some air in your tires, you can drop quarters into an air compressor and attach an air hose to each tire valve. However, at my age, getting back up from a crouched position to pump air into a tire may lead to another visit to the doctor.

Self-service has arrived at the grocery store too. I prefer a checkout clerk’s voice to that of the automated voice at the self-service counter, but my wife likes the self-service feature. She enjoys talking back to the automated voice, but I don’t think the machine scans her items any faster because she talks back. Of course, you bag your own items at self-service. And have you noticed how extinct baggers have become?

Big box stores epitomize self-service. Don’t look for an employee if you want to know if a certain item available. Your guess is as good as the employee’s. And don’t expect an employee to check the inventory in the stock room to see if an item has arrived. It isn’t going to happen.

Have you watched the TV show, “The Apprentice”? After each show, a fired contestant strides out of an elegant high-rise office building and walks to a cab. The cab driver remains behind the wheel while the passenger open a rear door and loads his or her luggage into the back seat before hopping aboard. When did cabbies stop helping passengers with their luggage? Apparently, self-service has reached the taxi business.

Fortunately, we don’t have to take a do-it-yourself approach to Christian living. If we did, we would fail, Jesus said plainly, “Apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Knowing we need help to be what we ought to be and to do what we ought to do, God has given us the Holy Spirit. As the name “Comforter” implies, the Holy Spirit is alongside to equip, encourage, and exhort us to lead a productive life.

Now here is an amazing truth: the Holy Spirit is even more readily available than old-fashioned Dr. Harkness. He is in us and with us forever (John 14:16, 17).

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Restored Faith

The prophet Elijah tumbled. He had shown tremendous faith by confronting and triumphing over 450 prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel, but his faith deflated faster than a punctured balloon when Queen Jezebel threatened his life. He fled far into the desert, where he asked God to end his life. To put it plainly, Elijah was depressed.

Some forms of depression have medical causes and require medical attention, but others, like Elijah’s, result from a lapse of faith, worry, weariness, and a sense of overwhelming guilt. Elijah’s faith went poof when Jezebel said “Boo!” He worried and ran for his life. Exhausted, he plopped down under a broom tree and asked God to take his life.

So how did God restore Elijah’s spiritual and emotional well-being?

First, He let Elijah rest (1 Kings 19:5a). A pastor used to say, “Christians on their way to heaven should be in bed by eleven.” If we fail to get adequate rest, we may succumb to depression.

Second, God fed Elijah and provided a jar of water too (vv. 5b, 6). Proper sleep and nourishment often help us move out of “the dumps.”

Third, God gave Elijah a new revelation of His presence. He showed Elijah He was with him in the stillness as well as in life’s exciting times. He was present in the desert just as He had been on Mount Carmel (see vv. 12, 13).

Finally, God gave Elijah new assignments. He commissioned him to anoint a successor and two kings (vv. 15, 16). God doesn’t write us off when we write ourselves off. He has specific assignments for each of us. A sense of mission rejuvenates us.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Joe Louis and I

A photo in my office shows Joe Louis, a sports commentator, and me. Joe and the sports commentator were playing golf. I was caddying for Joe. At the time, I was 14, and Joe Louis, the former Heavyweight Boxing Champion of the World, was everybody’s hero. I considered it a privilege to be his caddy, and to this day I treasure his autograph and the photo.

Joe was good golfer. He hit long, low, straight drives, but had a tendency to “punch” the ball. He was also a gentleman.

Struggles face the Christian who endeavors to live according to the Bible. Trials and temptations might knock us down for the 10 count if it were not for the Lord’s sustaining grace and our resolve to “fight the good fight of faith “(1 Timothy 6:12). I can assure you the “fight” doesn’t slacken as we grow older, but neither does the Lord’s promise to take care of us. He said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Thursday, September 9, 2010

After the Fire

A wildfire in the mountains northwest of Boulder, Colorado, destroyed 136 houses, damaged 24 additional houses, and forced hundreds of evacuees to leave their possessions and treasured keepsakes behind. The loss is staggering.

The Bible describes the Judgment Seat of Christ as an event that will test believers’ works by fire (1 Cor. 3:12-15; 2 Cor. 5:9, 10). If we spend our Christian lives in selfish pursuit of personal gain, nothing we did or amassed will survive the fire of testing. But Jesus will reward whatever we do for His honor in this life. Eternal value is intrinsic in words and deeds that honor Him. It is not wrong to have possessions and wealth, but it is wrong for possessions and wealth to have us. Good stewardship recognizes that the Lord entrusts us with things and money, and will demand an accounting someday of our stewardship.

None of us can carry so much as a penny or a pendant into eternity, but we can carry our reputations with us.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Coming to Grips with Hearing Aids

Recently I started wearing hearing aids—reluctantly. And I must confess I don’t wear them as often as I should. I wasn’t wearing them last week when the nurse who prepared me for cataract surgery asked, “Have you had anything to eat or drink?” I responded, "No thank you.”

In my defense, I can tell you it was an early-morning surgery. I may have been feeling too tired to listen to the nurse.

I was having my left hearing aid adjusted the other day. The audiologist adjusted it and placed it in my ear. “Are you chirpin’?” she asked.

I thought she asked, “Are you German?” I replied, “Nein. Ich bin nicht Deutsch.”

So there you have it—I definitely need hearing aids.

Jesus underscored the importance of hearing well. He cautioned, “Therefore take heed how you hear” (Luke 8:18). Many who heard Him speak, failed to really hear what He said. His words went in one ear and out the other so quickly that nothing registered. Those who should have pondered His words and obeyed them chose to ignore them and therefore continued living in the same-old, meaningless way.

A pastor observed, “I think I know what I say when I preach, but when people tell me what they heard, I wonder if my mind is going bad.”

Hearing aids aren’t for everyone, but we could all benefit from an occasional self-check of our hearing. We can’t afford to miss even one iota of God’s message when we read or hear His Word.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Humbling Words

“What were the years that you pastored our church? I know I was pretty young, but you had quite an impact on me and I never forgot you. We all had very fond memories of you and your family.”

These kind words reached me today from a woman in Pennsylvania who was just ten years old when I resigned in 1967 from the church I pastored in Altoona. Her parents, brother, and sisters had started attending the church when I was the pastor. She tracked me down the other day after reading a few articles I had written for a Sunday school paper she received in the bulletin of the church she attends near Bedford, Pennsylvania.

It is humbling to think the Lord would use what I said or did so many years ago to help shape the life of a ten year old. We must never minimize the importance of ministering to children. As the twig is bent, so grows the tree.

Another woman who was about eight or nine in the Altoona church, when I was the pastor, will be visiting our daughter Sherrie in Denver next week. They have maintained their friendship since 1967. They will be present September 5, when I preach at Spring Valley Chapel, several miles north of Colorado Springs.

Pastoral ministry offers many challenges, but the dividend of knowing how the Lord has shaped the lives of His “children” makes it all worthwhile.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Shall We Gather at the Park?

Shall we gather at the park? A park is a fun place, isn’t it? Well, at least one church thinks so; it gathers at a Denver park every Sunday for fun-filled worship. The pastor says his church doesn’t teach any doctrine; everyone just tries to have fun. Maybe he thinks doctrine might ruin a day of fun in the park as quickly as a sudden downpour.

I’m not opposed to fun at the right time, but shouldn’t a church teach doctrine?

The Greek word didache, translated “doctrine” in the New Testament, derives from the word didasko, meaning, “I teach.” Didache in the New Testament refers to the body of teaching—the truth—that Jesus and His apostles communicated to believers. The believers who witnessed the formation of the church on the Day of Pentecost “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching” (didache, Acts 2:42). Based on what they learned, the early believers developed such a strong faith that they attracted thousands to Christ, forged a bond of close fellowship, endured severe persecution, and launched a vigorous relief program. Attention to doctrine produced dynamic living.

The apostle Paul instructed Timothy: “Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine” (1 Tim. 5:17). Also, he urged Titus to set a good example in a number of areas, including “doctrine” (Titus 2:7).

Strange, isn’t it, that New Testament believers assigned such a high priority to doctrine in the life of the early church? The apostles never asked, “Are we having fun yet?” Perhaps there were no parks in the first century!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Is President Obama a Christian?

According to media reports, one out every five Americans polled about President Obama’s religion thinks he is a Muslim; four out five think he is a Christian. Perhaps we need another poll, one that asks respondents what they think a Christian is.

The term “Christian” appears for the first time in the Bible in Acts 11:26, when people in Antioch applied it to a specific group of men and women that had “believed and turned to the Lord” (11:21). This group was expanding dramatically as “many people were added to the Lord” (v. 24). We may conclude on the basis of this passage of Scripture that a Christian is anyone who has believed, turned to the Lord, and been united to Him.

A widespread misconception persists in America that a person is a Christian if he was born in a so-called Christian nation and is not an atheist or a Jew or a Muslim or a Hindu or a member of some other non-Christian religion. The misconception is reinforced if the person attends church, at least at Christmas and Easter. But the Biblical concept of a Christian is that of anyone who has received Jesus Christ as his Savior, believing that He died on the cross for our sin and arose bodily from the grave (John 1:12; Romans 6:23; 10:9, 10, 13; 1 John 5:11-13).

So being a Christian has everything to do with a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and nothing to do with where we were born or where we worship or how often we worship. If you do not have a personal relationship with the Savior, why not believe and turn to Him today?

Friday, August 6, 2010

Doctor of the Heart

I have been reading Doctor of the Heart by Isadore Rosenfeld. Dr. Rosenfeld appears weekly on Fox New Network’s “Sunday Housecall” and answers questions on a wide variety of medical topics with clarity and humor.

When I first heard Dr. Rosenfeld, I detected what I thought was a slight Canadian accent. I was right. Although his parents emigrated from Europe, they settled in Montreal, where the widely acclaimed cardiologist grew up and studied medicine at McGill University. His career has spanned six decades in which he has treated famous celebrities as well as non-celebrities and traveled internationally. He has received numerous awards and is an attending physician and the Ida and Rossi Distinguished Professor of Clinical Medicine at the New York Presbyterian/Weil Cornell Medical Center.

In spite of Dr. Rosenfeld’s professional stature, I learned from his book that we have a few things in common. His parents were from Europe (Russia). My parents, too, were from Europe (Scotland), and so was I. He grew up poor in Canada, and so did I. As an adult, he moved to the United States, and so did I. He occasionally visited relatives in Terre Haute, Indiana. I served as a pastor there before moving to Colorado. His father died of a heart attack in Canada, and so did mine. He has written books, and so have I, although I am sure the sales numbers are far from similar.

Dr. Rosenfeld is an acclaimed doctor of the heart; I am not. However, in my writing and preaching I try to minister to the heart. Just as a strong, healthy heart is essential to good physical health, so a healthy spiritual heart is essential to a joyful life that honors God and blesses others. Of course, even the most gifted doctor of the heart cannot do what Jesus, the Great Physician, can do—give people a new heart and eternal life.

Aren’t you glad you know Jesus, the preeminent “Doctor of the Heart”?

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Do You Fit In?

How well does that old dress fit you? You know, the one you wore on your honeymoon. Or, if you are a man, how well does that suit fit you that’s been hanging in the closet for the past ten years?

A little snug in places?

Not to worry; it’s out of style anyhow, isn’t it?

Do you sometimes feel like an old dress or an old suit? Does it seem like you just don’t fit the times or fit in with the younger crowd? When your kids and grandkids talk about updating Windows, do you think they plan to replace the house windows? Do you think modern music resembles a steamroller crushing a thousand metal trashcans? Do you wonder when restaurant servers stopped saying “ma’am” and “sir” and started calling customers “guys”?
And what happened to plain old cup of coffee? It tasted fine, didn’t it, when it was simply called a cup of coffee? Why did somebody have to make ordering coffee so complicated? It must be that giving coffee fancy names justifies the exorbitant price. Who would have thought twenty years ago that so many people would pay about $3 for a cup of coffee and stand in line to order it?

How can a grandparent possibly fit in with coffee shop yuppies that order something like a Cappuccino or a Frappuccino or a Caramel Machiato or a Mint Mocha Chip Frappuccino or Mocha Valencia? Why do they give coffee names that sound like Mafia figures? I feel like a fossil when I ask for a cup of regular coffee.

If you are like me, sometimes it’s hard to fit in, but we are still around to meet the challenges of modern life. Fortunately, if we belong to God’s family, we always fit in with Him. He is our best friend and confidant in every challenging situation. Change may swirl around us, but God remains the same—reliable, purposeful, loving, merciful, and invincible.
That old dress or suit may not fit us any longer, but our relationship with our heavenly Father can be a perfect fit today and always.

—Written by Jim Dyet. Adapted from 40 Days to Your Best Life by Joe Ragont and Jim Dyet, © 2006, Honor Books, Colorado Springs, Colorado

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Come On, Christians!

A local merchant used to purchase space in our newspaper to voice his concerns about what he perceived to be a decline in patriotism. He always ended each brief article with the appeal, “Come on, America, we can do better than that.”

Facebook has put me in touch with many friends. Some are young; some are about my age (not as young as we used to be). Some are Christians; some are not yet Christians. I enjoy getting updates from all my Facebook friends, but some updates by a few of my Christian friends concern me. Occasionally the language is crude or vitriolic and contains swear words. At the risk of offending those friends, let me point out what they already know: Christians should honor the Lord by their words as well as by their actions. We are called to a higher standard than our non-Christian contemporaries.

So, come on, Christians, we can do better!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Save the Date? Maybe Not.

An unemployed woman in Colorado Springs has paid $1,200 to purchase advertising space on bus benches. They advise: “Save the Date! Return of Christ May 21, 2011.” She believes Armageddon, which she perceives to be the end of the world, will arrive next year.

I have to wonder if she explains in a job interview that she can’t work past May 21, 2011.

Although the topic of Christ’s return intrigues me, I wouldn’t spend a dime to advertise the date of His return. It’s not because I’m Scottish; I simply don’t know when He will return. Nor does any one else, except God. Didn’t Jesus tell His disciples, “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority”? (See Acts 1:7.)

I do know, however, that believers should hope for Christ’s return, and while they hope they should lead a credible Christian life (1 John 3:2-3).

Do I feel tempted to sit on a certain bus bench and block the date? What’s your guess?

Monday, July 12, 2010

How to Handle Negative Emails

Do your daily emails resemble mine: mostly negative? You know the kind—the economy is sinking; our freedoms are vanishing; our politicians are unscrupulous; our health care is scary; our national security is eroding; our medicines are dangerous; and our cars are unsafe. Although many of the emails are credible, few, if any, are inspirational. I am always glad, therefore, when an email slips into my Inbox that offers some humor or encouragement to brighten my day.

Yes, current conditions can darken our outlook as surely as black paint darkens a park bench. But Christians should be optimistic realists, realistic about the perilous times we live in but optimistic about the future God has carved out for us. Here are a few encouraging statements from Scripture that offset those negative emails we receive daily:

Isaiah 26:3—“You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.”

Zechariah 14:9—“And the LORD shall be King over all the earth.”

John 14:27—“ . . . My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

Romans 8:37—“ . . . we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”

Philippians 4:19—“And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”

Colossians 3:4—“When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.”

Revelation 22:7—“Behold, I am coming quickly!”

We don’t have to deny that national and international conditions are grim, but we do not have to dwell on them. If we look around us at what is negative, we can become depressed; but if we look above us to the God who is in control, we can be at rest.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Handshakes on Demand

A friendly smile and a firm handshake may determine the difference between a friendly church and a standoffish one, but as far as I’m concerned this kind of welcome is most meaningful when it occurs spontaneously before and after a service. By now, you have probably figured out that I am not much for a howdy handshake on demand. What good is it if a worship leader tells everyone to move about and shake hands with others “after we sing this chorus or hymn” (whatever a hymn is) if no one shakes hands before or after the service?

I’m sure some friendly churches are small for legitimate reasons, but others are small because they don’t really want to grow. They make visitors feel unwelcome and convey the notion that “this is our church, and we want to keep it that way.”

Congregations used to sing, “Brighten the corner where you are.” Think of your church as a corner that you can brighten by flashing a big smile and extending a sincere handshake to every visitor. Don’t wait for a handshake-by-demand time to be announced!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


Large hail pummeled our house and neighborhood Sunday night. Monday night was calm, but another horrific hailstorm struck us Tuesday night. Ping-pong size hail slammed against our house, tore through a window screen, and smashed our solar address box. Our insurance agent has offered to send someone to inspect the roof.

Hailstorms can rankle nerves as well as wreck property, so I can scarcely imagine how frenzied earth-dwellers will become when the seventh bowl judgment of the tribulation period occurs. It will hurl “great hail from heaven upon men” (Revelation 16:21). Each hailstone will weigh about 100 pounds. Ouch!

But even 100-pound hailstones will not break down the hardness of the human heart. Revelation 16:21 reports, “Men blasphemed God because of the plague of hail, since that plague was exceedingly great.”

I hope Colorado never sees another hailstorm, but I might as well hope for five-cents-a-gallon gas prices. As long as cool mountain air collides with the plains’ hot, dry air, an occasional hailstorm is inevitable. However, I won’t experience the devastating hailstorm Revelation 16:21 predicts. At that time, I will be in Heaven, where conditions are always favorable and my home is eternally indestructible (1 Peter 1:3-4).

Friday, July 2, 2010

The Blame Game

Gloria and I had a coupon for $20 of food at Fat Burgers. The coupon cost only $10 online. What a deal!
I don’t eat burgers very often; they are not on my healthful-foods list. But an occasional burger won’t kill me, will it? Besides, Fat Burger cooks up such tasty burgers.
There’s more to the story. Fat Burgers’ milkshakes are also not on my healthful-foods list, but they also taste good, and an occasional milkshake won’t kill me either.
Nevertheless, I had planned to order only a burger and a fountain drink—a Diet Coke until my wife and the order taker pressured me to order a milkshake. They reasoned I could order $20 worth of food for just $10. Why skimp?
I succumbed to the temptation, and after draining the last drop of strawberry milkshake, I excused my dietary sin by blaming my wife. If she hadn’t found such a good deal on line . . . if she hadn’t talked me into the milkshake. And then I remembered the old story of Adam and Eve. When confronted with his sin, Adam told God the woman He had brought into his life had given him some of the forbidden fruit, and he ate it. In other words, Adam engaged in the blame game. He blamed not only Eve but also God. After all, God had give Eve to him.
From Adam until now, the blame game has been popular. Here are a few comments that prove my point:
“I wouldn’t be such a nag if you would help with the kids and the housework once in a while.”
“How do you expect me to get good grades in that class? The teacher puts trick questions in every test.”
“I admit I have a hot temper, but my parents abused me when I was a kid.”
“So I get into trouble, but I had good friends where we used to live. If you and Mom hadn’t moved away from the old place, I wouldn’t have gotten mixed up with a gang.”
“The traffic light switched from green to red before I could stop.”
“I would have birdied the 15th hole if Fred hadn’t sneezed just as I was putting.”
“Sure, the economy’s a mess, but we inherited eight years of poor management.”
“It’s all Bush’s fault.”
Blaming others for our sins doesn’t fool God. The only way to shake off our guilt and become blameless in His sight is to believe Jesus took the punishment for all our sin, admit our guilt, and receive Jesus as our Savior. King David wrote: “I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity, I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the LORD’—and you forgave the guilt of my sin” (Psalm 32:5).

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Long-Lasting Marriages

Strange For Sale ads appear from time to time like the one that offered a wedding dress “worn only one time by mistake.” Recently Gloria and I have been receiving 50th-anniversary announcements from friends. In each case, the wife wore her wedding dress only one time, but not by mistake. Of course, there are many reasons why a marriage may crumble quicker than the wedding cake, but here are a few reasons many Christian marriages last 50 years or longer:

1. Each person chose to marry the person God chose.

2. The husband and wife entered marriage with personal faith in Christ.

3. The marriage was never a 50/50 proposition; it was a 100/100/100 proposition. Each person was 100 percent committed to the other and both were 100 percent committed to Christ.

4. Selflessness prevailed over selfishness.

5. Both parties perceived anger as one letter short of danger.

6. “I love you” was demonstrated not simply enunciated.

7. Forgiveness displaced resentment.

8. A sense of humor kept the couple young at heart.

9. Prayer lifted burdens from the couple’s shoulders and onto the broad shoulders of Jesus, our Burden Bearer.

10. Two exercises were banned from the marriage: running up bills and jumping to conclusions.

11. Compliments flowed freely; negative criticism was rare.

12. The couple’s hair turned gray or white, but the flame in their hearts always glowed brightly for each other and the Lord.

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Hen and the Hog

It’s a fable, but it makes a good point.

A hen and a hog had been driving since 4:00 A.M. along Route 66 in the early 1060s. They were hungry and anxious to find a place to have breakfast. At last, they saw a roadside café with a flashing neon sign that advertised “Ham & Eggs.” The hog pulled the ’59 Mustang into the café’s parking lot and parked.

“Just a minute,” the hen cautioned the hog, “I don’t think I want to eat here.”

“Why not? The hog asked.

“Because the sign advertises ‘Ham & Eggs,’ “not Eggs & Ham. How do you rate the top billing?”

Motioning the hen to exit the car, the hog replied, “Think of it this way. For you, it is just a contribution, but for me, it’s total commitment.”

Christian living is not supposed to be simply a contribution. It involves total commitment. Can we embrace the apostle Paul’s philosophy of life? He stated: “The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Huntsville G8 and '58

President Obama must be impressed with his accommodations at Huntsville, Ontario. Huntsville, about a two-hour drive north of Toronto is the site of the 2010 G8 Conference. Located in the Muskoka region, Huntsville offers excellent Canadian scenery and abundant wildlife. I know Huntsville because Gloria and I visited there in the fall of 1958, a few months after our June 7th wedding.

A church in the Fellowship of Evangelical Baptist Churches of Canada had invited me to candidate for the position of pastor and had booked Gloria and me into a local motel. Our accommodations were vastly different from those of the current G8 leaders. They are guests at Huntsville’s luxurious, 800-acre Deerhurst Resort, whereas in 1958 Gloria and I stayed at a small motel about five grades below rustic. A tiny bathroom separated our cramped room from a room occupied by hunters. We entered the bathroom from our room; the hunters entered it from theirs.

Because it was moose-hunting season, all the men of the church, except one elderly fellow, were stalking moose in Muskoka. Consequently, only a largely female congregation heard me preach.

After church, we ate at a home where a rat had fallen into the well, and the hostess served undercooked pork. It was almost as pink as our faces were when we learned we would share a bathroom with hunters.

My memory may dim as my age advances, but I don’t think I will ever forget the Huntsville experience Gloria and I shared 52 years ago. Many older pastors learned a long time ago to say, “Where He leads me I will follow. What He feeds me I will swallow.” I don’t think the G8 leaders at Huntsville will have to swallow anything unsavory, and I hope you and I don’t have to swallow any unsavory policies they cook up there.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Bible Conferences Never Die; They Just Fade Away

A Bible conference—yes, a Bible conference—is under way here in Colorado Springs. The speakers are good, and the sessions are well attended, mainly by white-haired, bald, and dye-haired believers. I think the senior believers miss the good old days, when Bible conferences were annual events in churches across North America. I could be wrong, but I think the Bible conference movement declined when a growing number of pastors abandoned expository preaching and embraced topical sermons.

Now we have sermons and seminars on finances, divorce recovery, relationships, church growth, and self-image. These are all worthwhile concerns, but maybe we wouldn’t need so many sermons and seminars about them if we hadn’t buried solid Bible preaching and teaching alongside the dinosaurs about 40 or 50 years ago.

Yes, I’m old fashioned. I still believe 2 Timothy 4:2 offers the best advice a young preacher can receive. Paul instructed young Pastor Timothy to “preach the Word.” He realized the time would come “when men will not put up with sound doctrine” (v. 3).

A sermon may be cleverly composed of snippets of video clips, book quotations, and cartoons, but if it doesn’t communicate God’s Word as it is to people as they are, it makes white-haired, bald, and dye-haired Christians hunger for a Bible conference.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Are You Ready to Order Now?

Our son-in-law Jim, Gloria, and I met for dinner last night. A friendly, 60-something waitress took our order and then took it to the kitchen. Three minutes later she returned to our table and asked, “Are you ready to order now?”

“We just did that,” I replied.

Things were not going well, and I kind of expected to receive two bills at the end of the meal, three minutes apart.

God doesn’t mishandle our prayer requests, does He? He never asks us to repeat a request. It is as impossible for Him to mishandle our prayers as it is for Him to stop loving us. With full confidence we can cast all our care on Him, knowing He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7).

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Plumber and the Preacher

Picture it—you call a plumber to your house to fix a broken pipe. He repairs the pipe, and you pay him for his time and whatever parts he installs. It is a normal transaction.
Now picture this—your church calls a supply preacher to fill the pulpit because your pastor is on vacation or sick. The supply preacher drives a considerable distance to minister to your congregation, preaches, and returns home without having received any compensation. Incredible? Perhaps. Uncommon? Not as uncommon as you might think.
I have supply preached often without knowing what compensation I would receive. Sometimes the compensation has been a big fat zero. Nevertheless, I would rather preach without pay than be paid not to preach.
Churches ought to be businesslike, offering fair compensation for ministry. Jesus said, “the worker deserves his wages” (Luke 10:7), and the apostle Paul instructed the Corinthian church to do everything “in a fitting and orderly way” (1 Corinthians 14:40).
Maybe we need to elect more plumbers to serve as church treasurers!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


Gout! If you don’t have it, don’t feel deprived. It is painful. Late last week it attacked the big toe on my left foot, threw me off balance, and put an indefinite hold on golf plans.

Isn’t it shocking how one painful joint can hurt the whole body? I don’t know if the apostle Paul had gout, but he clearly understood how even a small part of the body can weaken the whole body. In 1 Corinthians 12:14-27 he drew an analogy between the physical body and the spiritual body, the Church, and pointed out the interconnection of all the parts of the Church body. Each believer’s role in the Body is important to the smooth functioning of the entire Body. When one believer suffers, we all suffer.

We may think we can contribute very little to the cause of Christ today, but that kind of thinking is wrong. We serve the Lord and others best when we faithfully do whatever the Lord has assigned. Nothing in God’s will is insignificant.

Friday, June 11, 2010

A Breakfast Stroll

Life was good. The risen Son of God was serving His disciples breakfast on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. This was absolutely the best men’s fellowship breakfast in history! And it was an ideal time and place for an after-breakfast conversation. But the conversation must have been a bit too personal and uncomfortable for the disciple Peter. Jesus asked him three times whether he loved Him. What a tough question! Not long before, Peter had denied Jesus three times.

But Peter told Jesus he loved Him. And then Jesus predicted that Peter would ultimately face an extremely painful test of that love. In his old age, Peter would experience martyrdom. But “follow Me,” Jesus said (John 21:19.

Turning around, Peter saw the disciple John tagging along. “But Lord, Peter asked Jesus, “what about this man?” (v. 21).

Like Peter, we may question the way Jesus has mapped out for us to follow. Why does it lead through sickness, pain, trials, and persecution? We may wonder what He has planned for other Christians? Will they experience hardship or sail unscathed through life? If such thinking occurs to us, we need to listen closely to Jesus’ response to Peter’s question. “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me” (v. 22).

Let’s follow Jesus today and every day without regard for what others may or may not do!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Herbert Lockyer Jr

While reading the obituaries in this morning’s issue of The Gazette, I saw that my favorite teacher at Moody Bible Institute, Herbert Lockyer Jr. passed away June 7, here in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He was just two months shy of 97. I assumed he had died years ago, but the Lord must have kept him on earth this long for a purpose.

Mr. Lockyer’s father wrote several books including, All the Men of the Bible, All the Miracles of the Bible, All the Promises of the Bible, All the Parables if the Bible, and All the Messianic Prophecies of the Bible. He was also a popular Bible conference speaker. Herbert Jr is best remembered as a teacher at Moody, its alumni director for several years, and a minister. I remember him best as my Old Testament Synthesis teacher during my first semester at Moody.

I was a fairly new believer when I sat under Mr. Lockyer’s teaching, so I knew practically nothing about the Old Testament. But Mr. Lockyer brought me up to speed, and did so in an entertaining manner. He spoke with a bit of a Scottish accent, which appealed to me because I was Scottish born and had a Scottish upbringing. After only a few class sessions, I was able to impersonate Mr. Lockyer quite well. His teaching also appealed to me because it combined information and inspiration. He understood from personal experience the challenges and privileges of Christian service.

Now Herbert Lockyer Jr is basking in the presence of his Lord and Savior and enjoying heaven’s eternal pleasures and activities. I am thankful for his influence on my life, and I hope he greets me someday in heaven with an unforgettable trace of a Scottish accent.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Attitude Check

I receive many emails from Christians about how bad conditions are nationally and globally. Guess what? The emails neither inform me nor surprise me. Doesn’t the Bible predict a proliferation of evil and calamity as time passes? “In the last days perilous times will come,” Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 3:1). What surprises me is how morose and almost panicky some Christians have become by overdosing on our troubled times. Does Jesus’ legacy of peace and joy terminate at page one of the daily newspaper or at two minutes into a TV news broadcast?

Sure, we should be realistic about political and economic conditions, and we can vote and express our opinions, but we can also pray, witness, and live above the circumstances. Jesus said, “Be of good cheer. I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

We have a choice. We can dwell on the negative and let gloom and despair invade our hearts or we can be of good cheer and thereby defeat defeatism and reflect the truth that God is in control.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

W, X, Y, Z

Our granddaughter Jessica Whiting graduated from high school yesterday. The ceremony took place at Mackey Auditorium on the campus of the University of Colorado, Boulder. Because the diplomas were awarded alphabetically, she was the last member of her graduating class to receive a diploma. Naturally, as a proud grandfather, I believed the principal had saved the best for the last. Isn’t that why dessert, the best part of a meal, is last?

No doubt those whose names fall into the last section of the alphabet have learned to cope with being the last ones to be mentioned for recognition. However, Jessica is an honor roll student deserving of special recognition. So she is the only COVA 2010 grad whose name appears in today’s blog. Congratulations, Jessica!

When Jesus said the last shall be first (Matthew 19:30), He was referring to all who assign their highest priority to following Him in spite of personal sacrifice. Prominent leadership positions in Messiah’s Kingdom are reserved for them.

A faculty member reminded Jessica’s graduating class that the future holds many choices. She encouraged them to make good choices. Following Jesus all the time is not just a good choice; it is the best choice.

When Jesus assigns leadership roles in His kingdom, I don’t expect Him to do so in alphabetical order. Perhaps some Wagners, Walkers, Wallaces, Whitcombs, Whites, Whitings, Yoders, Youngs, Zablowskis, and Zimmermans will be among those called first.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Numb Lips

Yesterday I sat in a dental chair for two hours—no small task for me. I never sit that long in one place unless I fall asleep watching a baseball game. Seven fillings later I left the dentist’s office with two severely swollen lips and a severely diminished checking account. My lips stayed swollen and numb for several hours. When I tried to drink juice from a glass, the contents poured from my mouth to the kitchen table. I tried using a straw, but I could not siphon the juice up the straw. Any attempt to speak resulted in malformed words; I sounded like a drunk.

I learned how essential lips are to functions most of us take for granted.

The Bible teaches us to use our lips wisely to—

• disperse knowledge (Prov. 15:7);

• continuously offer the sacrifice of praise (Heb. 13:15);

• greatly rejoice (Ps. 71:23);

If we use our lips to do these things today, the Lord will be honored, we will have great joy, and others will be blessed.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Make Room for Rover!

I’m glad Molly, Rosie, and Sadie have a safe home and owners who love them. But thousands of dogs are homeless. Abandoned by owners or suffering the consequences of over breeding, many homeless dogs live in locked cages or other confined spaces. Many suffer physical abuse. Some circle nervously hour upon hour because they can’t run free. Probably, they will never experience the fun of playing fetch or enjoy a friendly pat on the head or a stroll in a park.

Fortunately some kind souls rescue dogs and find good homes for them. Our daughter Sherrie lavishes love on four rescued dogs. Having three dogs, my wife and I cannot add to the pack, but every time I see dogs up for adoption at PetSmart, I want to bring them home.

If you have room in your heart and home for a dog that needs a friend and wants to be your friend, why not grab a dog collar and a leash and visit a dog adoption shelter? There’s a dog there that’s right for you.

Christians should never be content to enjoy the safety and blessings of belonging to Jesus’ fold without trying to bring others into it. Jesus said, “I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also” (John 10:16). Perhaps today you will reach out in compassion and love to someone who needs to be rescued. There is always room in Jesus’ sheep pen for another rescued person. He promised, “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out” (John 6:37).

Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Great Divide

Why do some Christians lead distinctly Christian lives, while others seem to blend in with a culture characterized by egotism, hedonism, and materialism? I don’t think we can chalk up the difference to the amount of exposure each group has had to the Word of God—although it seems to me that Biblical preaching is fading. Possibly the latter group only professes to be Christian, but that possibility makes me wonder how so many people can attend church Sunday after Sunday for years, hear the gospel, and fail to believe in the Christ of the gospel.

Joshua 23:11 may help us understand why such a great divide exists between Christians who honor God and those who are worldly. Joshua was about 110 when he addressed Israel and delivered the exhortation found in Joshua 23:11: “So be very careful to love the LORD your God.” If the Israelites devoted themselves to God, they would be distinct and blessed in the Promised Land; but if they chose to blend in with their pagan contemporaries, they would suffer dire consequences. They would experience defeat, misery, and expulsion from the Promised Land.

This Memorial Day weekend, as we remember those who sacrificed their lives to preserve our freedom, may we also remember our Lord’s sacrifice. He died to gain our freedom from sin, sin’s punishment, and the futility of a life spent without God. So let’s be very careful to love the Lord our God.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Ultimate Appointment

I don’t want to sound morbid, but many of my friends have died recently or are closing in on that ultimate appointment. Unless the Rapture occurs in our lifetime, we will all fulfill the prediction that “it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).

When I was a teenager and a new Christian, I heard a preacher say, “Life is short. Death is sure. Sin’s the cause. Christ’s the cure.” Back then, I focused on the second half of the poem; the first part didn’t mean much to a young person. Now I am focusing quite often on the first part. Life is short! Time does fly—whether you are having fun or not.

Many of my friends who died recently or may do so soon are Christians. I know Heaven is their eternal Home, and it is certainly a better place than Planet Earth. Not a single tear falls in Heaven. No one there experiences even a nanosecond of pain or sadness. Boundless vitality, perfect peace, and complete joy are a few of the benefits of living in Heaven. The greatest benefit is that of enjoying God’s presence forever.

Do you sense life is short but you lack assurance that Heaven is your eternal address? If so, here is the best news you will ever encounter:

(1•• Jesus died our sins, arose from the dead, and is alive forever (1 Cor. 15:3-5);

(2)• He offers you eternal life as a free gift (Romans 6:23; Ephesians 2:8, 9);

(3)• You can have eternal life by believing in Him as your Savior (John 1:12; 1 John 5:11-13).

By the way, life in Heaven begins when we die, but a heavenly life begins when we believe in Jesus.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Good Fruit Is Good Any Time

Apparently some people think you shouldn’t eat fruit on an empty stomach. I don’t think my stomach is ever empty, so that isn’t an issue for me. But yesterday the doctor who answers questions on FOX News every Sunday morning set the record straight: we can eat fruit any time.

However, the Bible distinguishes between good fruit and bad fruit (Matt. 7:17-19). Good fruit is identified as the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22, 23) and the fruit of righteousness (Phil. 1:11). Bad fruit appears as hypocrisy, false religion, and unrighteousness. Good fruit is spiritually nutritious and healthful. It is good for us all the time. Bad fruit is toxic and unhealthful. It is harmful all the time.

Bad fruit is plentiful and easily accessible. It sways from the lowest branches of the entertainment industry, consumes far too many news stories, characterizes profane conversation, and spills out in hateful words and deeds. It causes dedicated Christians to tire of this old, sinful world. Good fruit, on the other hand, is neither plentiful nor easily accessible. It flourishes in the lives of only a minority of people. We find it in the words and deeds of Christians who are serious-minded about their relationship with Christ. They take the Scriptures seriously, and they refuse to fit into a worldly mold. Their philosophy of life differs radically from that of the unregenerate culture. Their values are absolutely correct and correctly absolute. They know what they believe, where they will spend eternity, and what their mission on earth is.

I grew up in a fruitful area. Cherries, peaches, apples, pears, plums, berries, and grapes grew profusely. Often, branches loaded with fruit drooped from private gardens, over walls, and above sidewalks. It was easy to walk along a sidewalk and pluck a delicious piece of fruit from a low-lying branch. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if our lives made the fruit of the Spirit just as accessible as we walk through life? It certainly would offer a significant alternative to what the world is shoving in our faces.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

What's in It for Me?

Two brothers, cheered on by their mother, asked Jesus for prominent positions in His kingdom. James and John had their hearts set on the messianic kingdom. However, Jesus was focused on the cross. The brothers wanted to reign, but Jesus planned to redeem. They wanted to be served, but He wanted to serve. When they made the request, they hoped Jesus would give them what would make them happy, famous, and powerful, but Jesus wanted them to follow Him in humble ministry on behalf of others. You can read about this incident in Mark 10:35-45.

Many things have changed since James and John asked for prominent positions in the kingdom, but the human heart hasn’t changed. Unless individuals submit to Jesus’ lordship, they will try to exchange roles with Him, wanting Him to grant whatever they wish: happiness or fame or wealth or . . . . What’s in it for me? Self-centered individuals ask, while consumer-focused churches offer a menu list of options.

Jesus’ response to James and John seems out of tune with modern Christian thought and practice, but it is as relevant now as ever. He said, “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all” (Mark 10:43-44).

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Sitting at the Master's Table

“Don’t let your dog come near the table when you are eating. Plan to eat first and then feed your dog. Yadda, yadda, yadda!”

If you can follow these rules, more power to you. I tried, failed, and threw away the training manual. I guess I’m softhearted. My willpower melted the first time Molly looked at me with begging eyes as I stuck my fork into a scrambled egg. She has enjoyed scrambled eggs since that defining moment. I can’t share everything I eat with her because it would likely make her ill, but I slip small portions of food to her whenever she sits at my feet and stares at me.

What’s her favorite food? Eggs, beef, bacon, cottage cheese, Swiss cheese, and ice cream. Since she is a Maltese, she would probably prefer a Mediterranean diet, but I wouldn’t. So she will have to be content with my food choices.


King David wanted to show kindness to former King Saul’s family members. Saul had tried to kill David, but Saul’s son Jonathan had befriended David and even saved his life. Now both Saul and Jonathan were dead, victims of a fierce assault by Israel’s archenemy, the Philistines.

But David learned Jonathan had a crippled son Mephibosheth, who was living in a desert place. Apparently Mephibosheth was hiding from David. He must have thought David would take revenge on him because his grandfather Saul had tried to kill David. But David had kindness, not killing, on his mind, and he dispatched a servant to bring Mephibosheth to his palace.

Second Samuel 9 tells what happened next.

When Mephibosheth entered David’s presence, he bowed low and asked David, “What is your servant, that you should notice a dead dog like me?” (v. 8). David responded by giving Mephibosheth property, servants, and the privilege of eating at the king’s table as one of his own sons (vv. 9-13).

What David did for Mephibosheth demonstrates what Jesus, the King of kings, has done for believers. He has shown kindness to us by bringing us to Him from a desolate place in life, He has graced us with gifts and a title deed to a mansion in heaven, and He allows us to sit at His table, where we fellowship with Him daily and feast on His Word.

Give thanks today for all the good things you enjoy at the Master’s table!


“He has taken me to the banquet hall, and his banner over me is love” (Song of Sol. 2:4).

—From Meditations for Dog Lovers by Jim Dyet © 2005, AMG Publishers/Living Ink Books

Saturday, May 15, 2010

A Plea for Balance

Vertigo is unpleasant. It hit me suddenly yesterday and threw me off balance. At the same time, my blood pressure spiked. I am feeling somewhat better today, but I am still kind of dizzy.

Balance is something we take for granted until we lose it. If you try to walk a straight path without a sense of balance, you may fall or bump into objects. Similarly, if you try to negotiate the Christian life without a good sense of balance, you will likely fall or hurt yourself or others.

The balanced Christian life keeps us from leaning too far left or right. We stay upright and make steady progress toward the goals God has set for us. The well-balanced Christian does not let feelings push aside his faith. He refuses to let current world crises undermine his confidence in God. He takes a sane, sensible, scriptural approach to prophecy. He majors on the majors instead of on the minors. He depends on Scripture, not circumstances, for guidance. He stays rooted in sound theology, and refuses to let trendy pop psychology govern his actions.

Well-balanced Christians are precisely what a dizzy, tottering world needs.

Friday, May 7, 2010

A Christian Approach to Political Concerns

It must have been tough to live as a Christian in the Roman Empire. The emperors were pagans. None of them held Christian values, and several persecuted believers mercilessly. Nero set believers on fire as human torches. What would Christians have posted on facebook if it had existed in such anti-Christian times?

Would they have scorned, ridiculed, and insulted the political rulers? I don’t think so. Their role was to pray for those who ruled them, submit to every ordinance, serve as ambassadors for Christ, walk in love as children of light, and seek a city whose builder is God.

As citizens, we don’t have to roll over and play dead; we can express our opinions and convictions in love, be gracious, manifest the fruit of the Spirit in our words and deeds, and vote. We can be assured that God is still on the throne and fully in control.

May God bless—and rescue—the USA!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Garage Sale!

I guess you can find a good bargain at a garage sale. I found a good wheelbarrow at a neighbor’s garage sale. He even inflated the front tire for me. Most of the time, though, I walk away from a garage sale wondering why the stuff for sale wasn’t trashed. After all, who wants a size-10 combat boot paired with a size 12? Why buy a rusty grill that can’t stand straight and is full of holes? What does anyone want with an 8-track player? And what good is a rake that’s missing a dozen teeth?

Strange, isn’t it the value some people attach to junk?

Before becoming a believer, the apostle Paul (Saul of Tarsus at the time) valued religious junk highly. He thought God did too. He was proud of his religious pedigree, seminary training, and devotion to religious works and ceremonies. But one day he saw how worthless his religious “treasures” were, so he walked away from them and embraced the Cross. He put his trust in Jesus for salvation. He wrote: “I count them [his religious credentials and efforts] as rubbish, that I may gain Christ” (Phil. 3:8).

Martin Luther understood Paul’s value system. He said, “Man only needs Jesus Christ.” Like Paul, Luther stopped trusting his religious affiliation and efforts to save him and, instead, trusted in the sufficiency of Jesus’ sacrifice at Calvary.

Ephesians 2:8 and 9 teach that God saves us by grace not works. Religious deeds fit the sinner’s need about as well as a mismatched pair of combat boots fit his feet.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Our on the Salt!

A few protestors are objecting to the emblem attached to the hospital at Fort Carson Army Post. It shows a cross in front of the mountains and the Latin motto, "Pro deo et humanitate," meaning “For God and Mankind.” The emblem must go, the protestors insist, because it violates the principle of separation and state. This is just another indication that secularists might be happy if all Christian symbols were removed from public property.

Perhaps those symbols will be gone someday, but Christians will still be present unless the Rapture removes them. In the final analysis, Christians must serve as salt to preserve our nation and influence non-Christians to believe on the Savior. It is good that Christians live in communities across all across the United States, work in a wide variety of industries, and attend numerous schools. God has shaken the salt everywhere.

The powerful influence of lives that reflect God’s saving grace cannot be capped, muffled, or silenced. Let’s keep the salt level high so people will thirst for God.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Where Have I Been?

Where have I been? Right here, but I have been too busy to write a blog. In the past three weeks I have

• preached three Sundays;

• completed a week of devotionals for a publisher;

• completed a Bible edit for a Sunday school curriculum quarter;

• completed a week of devotionals for a publisher;

• written discussion questions for a publisher;

• completed a week of devotionals for another publisher;

• written an assigned 18,000-word inspirational journal; and

• mentored writing students on line.

The Lord gives enough strength and wisdom for each day as we serve Him.

Yesterday, I received the results of two heart tests that were performed last week: a resting echo of the heart and an echo of the carotids. It had been a year since I had a nuclear stress test and three years since I had an echo of the carotids. The cardiologist reported that I am doing well. Nothing had changed since the previous tests.

I am thankful for a good health report. Walking daily and keeping my weight under control are significant health factors, but ultimately the Lord holds my days—and yours—in His hands. He keeps us here until He wants us there!