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A New Thing

21 January 2023

18“Do not remember the former things,
Nor consider the things of old.
19Behold, I will do a new thing,
Now it shall spring forth;
Shall you not know it?
I will even make a road in the wilderness
And rivers in the desert.”
– Isaiah 43:18-19 nkjv

Dear Friend,

A potted cactus serves as a backdrop for the title image, 'Behold, I will do a new thing.'Things can get uncomfortable, but exciting, when God starts to do a “new thing”!1

Once is a happenstance. Twice is probably a coincidence. But three times? Hmm. Receiving a word three times may mean that the Lord is trying to get our attention. In less than two weeks, from three different people (none of whom knows the other two, but all three have track records of hearing God) we have received this word — “I will do a new thing.”

I’m well aware that “I will do a new thing” is a stock phrase in well-meant, but uninspired, man-conceived prophecies. I also know it’s a favorite text for New Year’s messages, from both pulpit and page. This is different; this resonates. “By the mouth of two or three witnesses every word shall be established” (2 Corinthians 13:1b).

What does it mean for Denise and me here and now? I have [continue reading…]

The Most High Ruleth

29 November 2022

What a Bible Study in Daniel Taught Me

Dear Friend,

Image of a round 'I voted' stickerWe research, we vote; perhaps we even campaign. But the results are in the hands of a sovereign God!

One of the most important things I’ve accepted about God’s sovereignty, I learned from teaching an extended Bible study on the book of Daniel forty-seven years ago. Nebuchadnezzar, a pagan, kingdom-swallowing dictator, a cruel, self-centered sovereign with terrible anger-management issues was at the pinnacle of success.

Then his lifestyle and world were overthrown. Three times in Daniel 4 he hears a heavenly refrain that shakes his soul. Initially, in a dream he hears heavenly beings speak an inescapable maxim to him (Daniel 4:17); next, in his throne room, he hears Daniel repeat it as he interprets the king’s dream (v. 25); and finally, in his heart, he hears those same heavenly beings carry out God’s divine judgment against him as they invoke this truth: [continue reading…]

Highs & Lows Before the Most High

18 October 2022

Years Spent with John, Months Spent with Elijah

Dear Friend,

Title graphicWe experience lows and highs.
Nevertheless, we’re sustained by the Most High!1

Spending the last three full years of my life in the intimate company of John the Baptist while researching and writing The Exceptional Messenger has meant that I’ve also spent months in reflective fellowship with Elijah the Tishbite. (Some of you have commented on how much the book’s Squaring John with Elijah chapter has helped you.) One of the many things I’ve come to appreciate about Elijah is what James 5:17 says about him:

Elijah was a homoiopathēs man…

Homoio-who now? The King James probably comes the closest to the Greek here when it renders the word as a man subject to like passions. The homoi- prefix means like, similar, resembling. But once you know that the pathēs part of the adjective comes from the verb-cluster páthō / páschō / pénthō family which means suffer, feel, or vex, you pick up on James’ idea: Famous, powerful Elijah, the “super [continue reading…]

A “Moving” Testimony

29 July 2022

Dear Friend,

Map of a move across the United States3000 miles for new life in Christ…1

One of the first things I ask a new Christian acquaintance is this: “How did you come to Jesus?”

My 54th spiritual birthday comes around on the last day of this month, so let me share how the Lord brought me to Himself.

Not “Bad Enough” (but No Apologies for That!)

A dangle of Sunday school attendance pinsDoes anyone remember these “Cross & Crown” Sunday School attendance pins? I can’t recall, but I might have had as many as seven “shingles.”2

I don’t have a “lost in depraved sin” kind of testimony, but I make no apology for that. Those of us who didn’t have to “hit bottom” before giving ourselves to Jesus can consider our testimonies to include a blessèd dollop of the prevenient grace of God, which kept us from such traps and ensnarements. But we may have had the opposite problem: thinking we were “too good” to need Jesus. After all, weren’t we Christians just because we’ve been good church-go-ers?

I was taken to church every Sunday of my childhood life, from the day I was infant-baptized. As soon as I was old enough for Sunday school, that got added to the never-miss weekly list, as were the dangle of perfect-attendance pins. Junior high brought along the additional weekly attendance at youth group. When I was old enough, I earned my God & Country medal in Boy Scouts even before I earned my Eagle medal.

There was just one small problem. I had no way to know that [continue reading…]

“Give Me This Mountain!”

27 June 2022

Caleb: “Giants? So Much the Better!”

Title image for 'Give Me This Mountain!' showing a large fortress on a mountainYes, giants, fortresses and all!1
  • “As yet I am as strong this day as on the day that Moses sent me; just as my strength was then, so now is my strength for war, both for going out and for coming in. 12Now therefore, give me this mountain of which the Lord spoke in that day; for you heard in that day how the Anakim were there, and that the cities were great and fortified. It may be that the Lord will be with me, and I shall be able to drive them out as the Lord said.”
  • Joshua 14:11-12 nkjv

Jim with Gladys de Chávez cutting his birthday cake at the ESUM Guatemala pastors' conferenceWe returned to our COVID-interrupted tradition of celebrating my birthday during the pastors' retreat in Guatemala.
Jim with one of the many pastors at ESUMIt seemed like nearly every pastor wanted a photo with me.2

Dear Friend,

I awoke the last day of ESUM in “Reu” (Retalhuleu), Guatemala at 5 AM. The teaching had been exceedingly well received so far for two straight days. This day, May 28th, was the last day of the conference and the last day of [continue reading…]

“He Went About Doing Good…”

16 May 2022

Dear Friend,

Graphic of the words of Acts 10:38Jesus is still doing good!1

April flew by, May is accelerating, and I have a plane to catch early this Friday, May 20th, for my teaching trip to Guatemala (May 20-31). Let me take a break for a few minutes, sit down, and share with you some of April’s highlights.

I’m reminded of a line from Peter’s sermon at Cornelius’ house. Speaking of the Lord’s earthly life, Peter said, “God anointed Jesus with the Holy Spirit and with power… He went about doing good and healing…”

What a down-to-earth description of the Lord’s ministry! Jesus is [continue reading…]

Honduran Encounters

5 April 2022

Answered Prayer for the Honduras Trip!

Dear Friend,

A Honduran worship band with guitar and an accordianThe La Joya church-plant worship band warming up on Sunday evening, 13 March1

Consider this communique a praise report! While you were praying for last month’s Honduras trip, God was answering and blessing. Maybe it’s just because I’ve been Covid-restricted in my travel for two years, but it really seems like this trip took the prize for the number of God-timed and God-ordained arrangements.

Plus, the Lord kept me in the best of health, and He preserved us on the road — we witnessed (but didn’t participate in!) two head-on collisions. All thanks to God and many thanks to you all for your prayers.

I fired off many pages of narrative to my wife Denise while I was gone — way too much to condense here.

Perhaps the story can best be [continue reading…]

Honduras, Ho!

6 March 2022

¡Buen Viaje!

Dear Friend,

A family dinner One nice thing about returning to Honduras annually is nurturing relationships. Here’s a pre-birthday-party dinner to which I was invited in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. (The honoree is the young lady in polka dots at the far corner of the table, a youth leader in the church.) The folks were sheepish about asking me to the actual party afterwards, but were very pleased when I accepted the invitation.1

Buen viaje is the Spanish equivalent of bon voyage. The clock is ticking down to my “o’dark thirty” departure on Thursday this week (3/10/22). Destination: Honduras! When I last left Honduras, almost exactly two years ago, the borders were closed just a few days later because of COVID restrictions. This is my first going “anywhere” outside the States since those lockdown measures went into effect.

I mentioned in the last newsletter that Denise and I had just celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary. It’s a happy, heavenly “coincidence,” then, that the requested subject of the pastors’ teaching seminars (three in two places) will be the challenges of husband-wife ministry.

We certainly aren’t the [continue reading…]

Remembered Gifts

9 February 2022

Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing
And obtaineth favor from the Lord.
—Proverb 18:22—

50 Years and Counting!

Dear Friend,

Photo of the the Kerwins marching from their 'I do' into the rest of their livesYes, Mike took most of the shots on our Big Day, but this shot (and its Photoshop restoration) was courtesy of Steve Bryson. Click the photo above for a larger version of the image.1

At the end of January we celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary. Due to unusual weather here in southeast Virginia, we were snowed and iced in, but we had a great time for all that. We enjoyed the day snuggling, discussing some interesting points of scripture, sharing a special meal, talking with each of our three daughters by phone, and working through our 50-year-old wedding-picture negatives with a view towards finally creating our wedding album! Thank you, Mike Ollila for your photography that day!

Someday soon we will [continue reading…]

Christmas Short ‘n’ Sweet

16 December 2021

Christmas Crunch Time

Dear friend,

Image of small candy canes overlaid with the title 'Christmas Short 'n' SweetThis will be a short ‘n’ sweet newsletter,
because we’re all busy this time of year!1

In the weeks leading up to Christmas it seems especially true that “there aren’t enough hours in the day.” My usual habit is to arise between 4 AM and 5 AM in order to study and write. During the last several weeks, in those “wee hours,” I have been meditating on and “Greeking out” in the story of Gabriel’s visit to Mary in Luke 1:26-38. My heart’s desire has been to gain a deeper understanding of the Holy Spirit’s role in true New Birth.

I have come away awed at the “newness” of an “old thought” — the Logos Himself became a partaker of our human nature (Hebrews 2:14) so that we might become partakers of His divine nature (2 Peter 1:4). There’s been no need for an alarm clock to [continue reading…]

Christmas Resources 2021

Pine branches and a bright red Christmas ornament on a score of musicA joyous Christmas to all!1

Every year the number of our Finest of the Wheat Christmas-related posts grows. Here, all in one place, is a quick list of what is available on our site at the moment.

Our resources consist primarily of Bible studies focused on various aspects of the story of the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, as well as poems, hymns, and carols celebrating Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany.

Christmas Bible Studies

by Percy Gutteridge

by Jim Kerwin

from the manuscript of
The Curious [continue reading…]

Your “Acción de Gracias”: Deeds, Not Words

24 November 2021

Dear Friend,

I am a writer, so I think about words a lot. Perhaps worse, I am a language student, spending time each day learning and reviewing Spanish, New Testament Greek, and biblical Hebrew. Occasionally while talking to someone, my wires get crossed and I can’t pop out the appropriate English word, because the equivalent Spanish or Greek or Hebrew word sets up a lingual roadblock in my brain. Sometimes those “roadblock words” and phrases are better or richer than their English counterparts. I submit to you two of those: acción de gracias (from Spanish) and [continue reading…]

Liberating “Prisoners of War”

13 October 2021

A Bumper Crop of Prayer Requests

Dear friend,

Photo of barbed wire and concertina wire against a dawning horizonPart of our goal in spiritual warfare is to pray
for the liberation of the “hard cases.”1

Remember last newsletter when I casually asked you to send along any prayer requests you might have? I remember for sure because — overnight! — my daily prayer list grew by almost 30 people. So September 2021 became special because of the extended, focused concentration on prayer.

Most of the new names on the prayer list were of those suffering from the coronavirus, some hospitalized, a few in intensive care. One brother had to be re-admitted both to the hospital and to ICU. Thankfully, he’s home again. But for one sister, [continue reading…]

Warfare After Victory

Summer 2021

Dear friend,

Dark cloud image serving as the backdrop for the title graphic, 'Warfare After Victory'Wait! Warfare AFTER Victory? Yes, actually, because that’s the time we’re mostly likely to let our guard down.1

My spiritual mentor, Percy Gutteridge, taught on more than one occasion that one of the times to be most wary of enemy attack is right after a spiritual victory. That pretty well sums up our summer so far: victory in the form of ministry in the Midwest during June, followed by persistent spiritual warfare. But we have broken through to victory as August winds down.

Another trip to Honduras [continue reading…]