Copyright © 2019
An excerpt from the forthcoming book
The John the Baptist Experience
In prophecy, when do deer walk
and when do they leap?
When the imprisoned John the Baptist sent two of his disciples to Jesus, he had one question in mind: “Are You the Expected One, or do we look for someone else?” (Matthew 11:3 nasb)
Jesus didn’t answer them directly at first. He believed in “show and tell,” and Luke tells us what John’s two disciples saw with their own eyes:
At that very time He cured many people of diseases and afflictions and evil spirits; and He gave sight to many who were blind.
With the long day’s ministry over, the Lord approached John’s two representatives.
Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and report to John what you hear and see: the blind receive sight and the lame walk, [continue reading…]
A Busy Month in the “Work Zone”
25 September 2019
Teach me, my God and King,
In all things Thee to see,
And what I do in anything
To do it as for Thee.
— George Herbert —
“‘Work zone’? Didn't we use to call that
a dining-room table?”
What does a missionary teacher do when he’s not traveling abroad? (As you know, I’ve been sidelined a bit for medical reasons.) Well, it’s been a busy, productive month doing work that other people can’t see… just yet. The Lord can see it, and if He’s pleased, we’re happy. There’ve been “housekeeping” issues that have been left undone for a long time. This hiatus from travel has afforded the opportunity to catch up, starting with some long-overdue vascular “plumbing.”
Surgeries “in Vein”
The Passage of Time
22 August 2019
Crown Him the Lord of years,
The Potentate of time,
Creator of the rolling spheres,
The Eternal One has His appointed times!
Since the last newsletter, I celebrated the 51st anniversary of giving my life to Jesus. In the scope of eternity, 51 years isn’t even a blip on the radar scope. But such milestones provide a moment for reflection and thanksgiving for the goodness of God, and sober us when we consider the end of earthly life is approaching faster than we realized.
Part of preparing for eternity, as well as serving in the “now,” is in reviewing the things He has taught us. One thing I’ve learned in 51 years is that knowing the will of God for any given situation isn’t nearly as challenging as knowing God’s timing. It’s God’s marvelous timing I’d like to share about this month.
“My Times Are in Your Hand”
My times are in Your hand.
— Psalm 31:15 NASB — [continue reading…]
This tapestry? Tourist stuff!
But God's tapestry is a weaving for eternity!
16 July 2019
Normally I’d feel more than a bit frustrated getting this “June” newsletter out so late. Instead, with all the health challenges I’ve faced since returning from Perú, I’m very thankful to send this off at last! There’s at least one blessing in the delay: The “lost” time has afforded the opportunity to step back and get a better perspective of God’s artistry in bringing together so many different threads to make a rather intriguing Peruvian tapestry.
Threads of Unexpected Colors and Origins
A “Flying” (Literally!) Report from the Field
28 May 2019
I can't quite remember how many birthdays I've spent while teaching in Guatemala!
I’m dashing this off during a layover in the Atlanta airport. I’ve just finished 11 days of ministry in Guatemala and I’m spending this, my 67th birthday, on a 20-hour marathon journey, flying a “dog leg” flight path (via Atlanta) from Guatemala City to Lima, Perú. (It’s cheaper to go “the long way,” and we’re all about being good stewards.)
Anyway, the verse that best sums up what the Lord has done in the last month — the days leading up to departure, the teaching, and the interactions in Guate — seem best summed up by one of my favorite verses about Jesus: “He has done all things well” (Mark 7:37a).
Despite what it says on the bucket —
Let's Not! (Oops — too late!)
“What did you say? I can't hear you over the fan noise!”
If “April showers bring May flowers,” what do April leaks bring? Squishy carpets and domestic discombobulation, that’s what!
This is the “April” newsletter, but the deadline, um, leaked into May. This late edition got a bit waterlogged, so to speak! Apparently, just a few hours after we left for a granddaughter’s birthday and some ministry in Florida on April 10th, we had an upstairs pipe start leaking. Water has this God-given nature of wanting to flow downhill. In our case, “downhill” meant through the wall, and through our downstairs ceiling, into our entryway, living room, and dining room. The situation would have been worse, but our Christian neighbor, Donna C., caught the problem before it gave Noah’s Flood a run for its money.
Such fun to come home to! After our carpet was cut out and trashed, and the bathroom floorings and cabinets were removed, 11 noisy fans and 2 large de-humifiers ran for four days to dry the place out. Much of our living space consists now of bare concrete floors, and [continue reading…]
Oh, the Irony!
Does your “fuse” get blown, too? Not a little modern teaching on faith seeks to “electrify,” but winds up being simply “shocking.” Let us point you to something that's far more “grounded”!
Irony is something I’ve learned to savor, even if it is somewhat bittersweet at times. Consider this unexpected reaction from a reader…
Twice a week on our ministry’s Facebook page, we share a link to “things old and new” on our website. Usually on Thursdays we share a hymn or devotional poem; on Mondays we share a link to a Bible-teaching article (or, once a month, our current newsletter). The response has been encouraging and the “Likes” for the page have grown. (By the way, have you “liked” our page on Facebook yet?) So far, so good, but…
For the last five weeks or so, we’ve been sharing chapters from Percy Gutteridge’s classic, foundation-laying book Faith Is Substance. Most folks who’ve taken the time to read it have found it liberating and enlightening. But one commenter really “gave us an earful,” lumping us together with “freaks” who are pushing semi- [continue reading…]
Fruit, More Fruit, Much Fruit in Guatemala
Fruit, more fruit, much fruit
Have you noticed what happens when God answers prayer? Answered prayers generate the need for more prayer! This is part of God’s design for us to grow in our fruitfulness, responsibility, and Christlikeness. It moves us along the “fruitfulness spectrum” that Jesus laid out for us: First “fruit” (John 15:2b), then “more fruit” (John 15:2c), and finally “much fruit” (John 15:5,8). And notice how this “fruit” passage intersects with prayer — “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples” (John 15:7-8).
When what we pray in Jesus’ name receives an answer from the Father, we aren’t allowed to pause too long and [continue reading…]
Looking Back at a Carrier — and Its Tugboats!
I’m reminded of a special “cruise” we took in 2008, right after my first missions trip to Guatemala. We were guests of Petty Officer Bruce Wasson (now pastor of Morningstar Church in Scottsville, Virginia) on a “Family and Friends Day” aboard his ship, the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Harry S. Truman. What a privilege to be out to sea, out of sight of land, on the deck as jet fighters were launched and recovered, to see one of these “birds” [continue reading…]
Rough Times in Country ‘X’
Leaders who couldn’t attend
the April gathering also received
their Bible dictionary
and one-volume commentaries.
It’s nearly Christmas! And I want to give thanks, to the Lord and to you, for the “Christmas in July” which a group of forty pastors in… well, let's call it “Country ‘X’” in Latin America… experienced this year. I’d like to keep them out of the limelight for security reasons, “just in case.” (But you can read more about their national situation in recent news, as well the murder of a pastor and [continue reading…]
The Giver and the Given
When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources,
Our Father's full giving is only begun.
God, as the Giver and the Given,
calls for us to give and be given.
As I was waiting on the Lord this morning, I was reminded that He asked me to give up three major things during my senior year of high school. (That was 49 years ago, if anyone is counting.) Although each thing requested seemed large and costly at the time, none of the decisions to obey was difficult or required a protracted inner struggle, because Jesus was my Lord. The cost was counted, and each transaction was [continue reading…]
Our “Plan A”
A man's heart deviseth his way:
but the Lord directeth his steps.
Proverbs 16:9 KJV
All any of us should want
is God's will for our life.
If things had gone according to “Plan A,” right now Denise and I would be just returning from a three-week teaching trip in Perú, having ministered to about 140 leaders in the cities of Lima, Jicamarca, Huánuco, and Chancay. There was one small problem with that – barely a tenth of the amount needed for travel came in. And so, since we're completely dependent on the Lord's supply for these trips, it was easy to determine that Jesus must have [continue reading…]
Denise and Jim at Iowa Holiness Association
Camp Meeting 2018
I do a lot of travel in order to teach the Bible. In the process of traveling and teaching I learn a lot. And I think what I learned while I was ministering in Iowa recently will give an important, additional focus to our ministry going forward.
It's only in the last four or five years of my overseas teaching that people have begun to think of me and treat me as a “missionary.” That label came as a surprise, because I hadn't thought of myself as a missionary, but rather as an itinerant teacher. Lately 95% of my teaching has been in foreign countries, so I've had little involvement with the spiritual needs of my fellow believers in the United States and Canada.
Context in the Cornfields of Iowa
Jim and one his favorite students
That's why my week of ministry as the Bible teacher at the annual Iowa Holiness Association camp meeting was such a wake-up call. I went there with a burden from the Lord: “Don't tell them what you do overseas; teach them what you teach there.” So, [continue reading…]
Yes, Best.Trip.Ever (Despite “Doing a ‘Denise'”)!
The mind of man plans his way,
But the Lord directs his steps.
His & Hers:
One friend accused us of taking the
“they two shall be one flesh” thing a little too far…
I probably shouldn't say this, because only God can judge the merits and results of a given missions trip. But right now, my post-Guatemala “high” is such that I want to call last month's Guatemala trip the Best.Trip.Ever!
This is despite the fact that I had two rather blatant spiritual attacks during the trip. One was a disconcerting bout of dizziness and related vision problems as soon as I arose from my seat after the plane taxied to the gate in Guatemala City. The other, as many of you know, was the pratfall I took on the first day of teaching at the pastors' retreat. (I missed a step down.) The results of my face-plant were [continue reading…]