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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Mysteries

An angel told some shepherds they would find Baby Jesus “wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” Who provided the swaddling cloths? Perhaps Joseph and Mary had carried them to Bethlehem in case Mary would give birth there. Perhaps the innkeeper provided them. In that case, he may not have been as mean as we have been led to believe. What is truly significant is the fact that cloths covered Jesus’ body when He was born and also when He died (John 19:40).
            The Incarnation is a far greater mystery. Jesus’ life did not begin with His birth at Bethlehem. He is eternal. He always lived in face-to-face fellowship with God the Father. John began his Gospel by asserting that “in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). He described the Word as the One through whom everything was made (v. 3). This eternal Creator, the Word, John wrote, “became flesh and dwelt among us” (v. 14). Those few words describe the Incarnation. How could God the Creator become a human being like us in every respect except one? He did not have a sin nature, because He was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of a virgin.
            Of course, Jesus became human and led a sinless life so He could die as our perfect sacrificial Substitute. First Corinthians 15:3 and 4 tell us plainly that “Christ died for our sins . . . was buried . . . and rose again.” His resurrection proved that God accepted His sacrifice for our sins (Romans 4:25). But why did He love us so sacrificially? That’s an unsolvable mystery. We didn’t deserve such love. Romans 5:8 states that “God demonstrates His own love toward us, that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
            Another Christmas mystery: Why do so many people celebrate Christmas but reject the Christ of Christmas? John 1:11 conveys the astonishing, sad news that Jesus, the Word, “came to His own [His own creation and His own people], and His own did not receive Him. If you haven’t received Jesus by faith as your personal Savior, why not receive Him today? The gift of eternal life will be yours (1 John 5:11, 12).
            Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Best Gift Ever

Yesterday a friend gave me a Scottish Black Watch wool tam that he had purchased in Scotland. As a Scottish-born admirer of the Black Watch, I will wear the tam proudly.
My friend paid for the gift, and I received it without having to contribute anything to the purchase price. He had paid for it in full.
Christmas is a celebration of the most costly and most cherished gift God has given to us. The angel who announced the arrival of the Gift, said: “Today . . . a Savior has been born to you.”
Don’t miss the importance of the Christmas message. The virgin-born Son of God came to Earth to save you and me, and He accomplished His mission on the cross. There, He announced, “It is finished,” which is the equivalent of saying, “Paid in full.”
Salvation—forgiveness and eternal life—is a gift that demands nothing from us (Romans 6:23; Ephesians 2:8, 9). Indeed, we can contribute nothing to its purchase. Although church-going, good citizenship, generosity, and kindness are commendable, they cannot pay for even a small part of salvation. 
So what should we do? Just as I received the Black Watch tam joyfully and thankfully, so each of us must accept God’s gift of salvation by receiving Jesus as our Savior. The apostle John wrote that “as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become the children of God” (John 1:12).
May you rejoice this Christmas in the wonderful, priceless gift of salvation!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Another School Shooting!

Another school shooting—this time in Arapahoe High School! Armed with a shotgun, an angry young man, a senior at the school, intended to shoot the teacher who had dismissed him from the debate team, but upon learning he was targeted, the teacher safely exited the building. In his rage, the shooter critically wounded a 15-year-old female student before taking his own life.

I have always had a high regard for Arapahoe High School. Our family’s first home in Colorado was only a few miles from Arapahoe High. My roommate at Moody Bible Institute spent his entire teaching career there. Also, our son-in-law Jim’s brother teaches and coaches at Arapahoe. Education is serious business there.

In an effort to protect faculty, staff, and students, Arapahoe went on lockdown, and so did many other schools. 

How can we prevent future school shootings? That’s a big question that defies simple answers. Nevertheless, it might help to restore the right to acknowledge and honor God in the classroom. Doesn’t it seem to you that school lockdowns have increased since God has been “locked out”?

It might also help if parents would train their children to reverence and obey God. A proper relationship with God fosters a respectful relationship with others. Yes, what the world needs now is love—love for God and love for others.

Take time to pray for the critically wounded 15-year-old Arapahoe student and for all the students, faculty, and staff.  Also, pray for our nation. We have hurts that only God can heal.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Imitate God!

If imitation is a form of flattery, are we Christians flattering the culture or the Creator? Ephesians 5:1 instructs us to “be imitators of God.” So let’s examine our lives to see whether our words and actions resemble God’s character and ways or the character and ways of an antichristian culture!

What drives our actions? Are we obsessed with wealth and possessions? Do we neglect what is eternal in a relentless pursuit of what will soon pass away? The culture tells us to put ourselves first and obtain what we “deserve.” God commands: “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard 0ne another as more important than himself” (Philippians 2:3).

What characterizes our vocabulary? Have crude, vulgar words seeped into what we say and write? If so, we have flattered the culture instead of God. Either by osmosis or deliberate choice some Christians have copied the language of their pagan contemporaries. If we want to flatter God, we will abhor ungodly words and, instead, pray as the psalmist did, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight, O LORD, my rock and my Redeemer” (Psalm 19:14).
Let’s imitate God at home, in the workplace, in the neighborhood, and even in Facebook!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Cellophane Golf Ball Wrappers

Here is an excerpt from my book, Straight Down the Middle.

"As a teen working in a golf course’s pro shop, I was impressed with the colorful appearance of the golf balls in our glass showcase. Penfolds, Titleists, Spaldings, U.S. Royals, and Dunlops came colorfully wrapped in cellophane, and each one sold for less than a dollar. Today, the price might be $25, $30, or more. Even an empty box that once held a dozen cellophane-wrapped golf balls may fetch nearly $100 today.

"The bright wrapping certainly enhanced a golf ball’s appearance, but it added nothing to its performance. Each ball’s true value was determined by what it was after the wrapping came off.

"God’s Word instructs us not to judge a person’s worth by outward appearance. When Israel demanded her first king, the people selected Saul strictly on the basis of his good looks. He was tall and handsome. If they had selected their first king on the basis of how he looked to God, they would have selected David, a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 8:19-20; 13:13-14; 16:6-13).

"James 2:1-5 rebukes those who judge others by their outward appearance, and insists God places the highest value on faith and faithfulness—spiritual qualities.

"If people could gain God’s approval by outward appearance, the Pharisees would have earned a triple-A rating in His sight. But God’s gaze penetrated the Pharisees’ robes and phylacteries and revealed their corrupt hearts. He accepted only those who believed on His Son—even beggars in tattered garments and lepers with ugly sores.

"When God measures a person’s worth, He puts His measuring tape around the heart and not around a designer dress or tailored suit.

"Read 1 Samuel 16:1-13."

Friday, December 6, 2013

Indestructible JOY

Gloria and I lost some of our JOY! Specifically, we lost the Y from the lighted JOY sign we place on our front lawn every Christmas season. Perhaps, the Y lost its lights because a strong wind struck the sign. I tried to restore the lights by tightening each bulb, but the Y remained dark. Let’s face it, a lighted JO does nothing to brighten the Christmas spirit, so I unplugged the sign. We still have joy in our hearts, though, not only at Christmastime, but always.
Indestructible, permanent joy comes from knowing the real meaning of Christmas and responding appropriately by trusting in Jesus as the Savior. The angel who announced the Savior’s birth told the shepherds, “I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10, 11).
Even severe trials cannot steal joy from those who live by faith. While incarcerated, under guard 24-7 and facing the possibility of execution, the apostle Paul wrote Philippians, “the epistle of joy.” You can’t read that New Testament letter without seeing Paul’s joy spill from its pages.
Furthermore, the apostle James taught believers to “consider it all joy” when we “encounter various trials” (James 1:2). Neither ill-health, nor unemployment, nor a wrecked car, nor an empty pocketbook, nor frozen water pipes, nor any other trial can rip real joy from our hearts.
Let’s rejoice in Jesus and the abundant life He gives to all who receive Him. Lights may fail to shine from a Christmas decoration, but the joy in us can reflect the Light of the World and perhaps attract others to Him.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013


In the Anglo-Saxon language "thankfulness" means "thinkfulness." At 78 I am thinking with thankfulness of the many opportunities God has given me to proclaim His Word. My first pastorate was in New York State, when I was a student at Houghton College. I opened a closed church, Rawson Valley Baptist Church, and ministered there until I graduated and had to return to Canada in 1958. My most recent pastorate ended a couple of weeks ago. It was Faith Evangelical Free Church, Louviers, Colorado. Between those two ministries, I have preached in every part of the United States and in Canada, too. I am thankful that God gave me the privilege of doing so.

In my "thinkfulness" today, several highlights of ministry stand out, for which I am thankful:
• I preached at Chicago's Pacific Garden Mission every Sunday morning during my final two years at Moody Bible Institute ('56, '57).
• I preached at First Baptist Church, Dallas, Texas, in 1977. Dr. Criswell was the pastor then.
• In 1998 I shared God's Word at the 100th Anniversary Celebration of the golf course, where I had caddied as a boy. The planning committee of St, Catharines Golf and Country Club had read my golf book, Out of the Rough, and had invited me to be the club's featured guest.
• I spoke at the 2001 Michigan State Governor's Prayer Breakfast in Lansing, Michigan. This annual event is well attended by elected officials and representatives of businesses throughout the state.
My desire is to keep preaching whenever and wherever the Lord leads me. Sharing His Word is a privilege for which I can never be too thankful.

--Jim Dyet

Saturday, November 23, 2013

50th Anniversary of the Assassination of John F. Kennedy

The 50th Anniversary of the Assassination of John F. Kennedy touched off many memories shared by the media. I was working part time at a hamburger restaurant in Rochester, New York, to supplement my pastoral salary when the news broke. A profound silence gripped the restaurant. The next evening, our church in Williamson, New York, held a prayer service for the Kennedy family and our stunned nation.

I suppose everyone about my age remembers clearly where he or she was when news of the assassination interrupted the regularly scheduled broadcasting. Undoubtedly, my generation’s memory reaches back even farther—to the difficult years of WWII. Those were years of sacrifice, patriotism, and self-discipline.

They were also years of shortages. Gas, certain materials, and some food commodities and household items were rationed. It was nearly impossible to buy butter, but margarine was available. It came packaged in a clear bag with a quarter-size button of dye attached. If a customer squeezed the button long enough, the dye would spread until the contents of the bag looked like butter. Of course, anyone who had tasted real butter knew the difference. Lookalikes are not necessarily the same.

I am old enough to remember when pastors fed congregations genuine life-related Biblical messages. Those were the days! Perhaps your pastor preaches in that historic tradition, but many others simply squeeze the dye button, so to speak, and serve a poor substitute for the real thing. So expository preaching is becoming scarce. 

In the Times of the Judges, society cared little about moral absolutes. Consequently, “every man did what was right in his own eyes”(Judges 17:6). Today we call that practice “situational ethics.” Not surprisingly, a scarcity of God’s Word marked the Times of the Judges. First Samuel 3:1 reports that “the word of the LORD was rare in those days.”

We often hear believers lament the deteriorating moral conditions of modern times. “We need a revival,” they say. Who wouldn’t welcome a national revival? But before we can have a revival, we need a reBible. It’s time to open the Bible in the pulpit and in the pews and taste the pure Word of God. Haven’t we had enough of a tasteless substitute?

--James Dyet

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Unashamed at the Big Game

“I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes . . . “ (Romans 1:16).

Gloria and I are Broncos fans. Our Bronco flag is waving outside in a cold wind, and we will be cheering for the Broncos this afternoon. But we will be cheering from the comfort of our family room, unlike thousands of fans that have chosen to brave bone-chilling temperatures at Sports Authority Field.

If you watch the game, you will see a flood of Bronco orange cover the stadium, and you can expect to see some outlandish outfits and homemade orange-lettered signs in support of the home team. Some displays of loyalty may lead you to conclude insanity has invaded the stadium. However, you will not see a paper sack draped over any fan’s head. Not a single Bronco fan will be ashamed to declare his or her loyalty.

Christians ought to be unashamed of the gospel. Whereas the Broncos win some games and lose others, the gospel declares the good news that Jesus is victorious over sin, Satan, and the grave.  He is omnipotent and invincible. He saves all who believe on Him and makes us more than conquerors (Romans 8:37). Now, that’s something to cheer about.

May our loyalty to Him increase, and may we unashamedly say—and show—that we are on the Lord’s side.