29 July 2022
3000 miles for new life in Christ…
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!)
Does anyone remember these “Cross & Crown” Sunday School attendance pins? I can’t recall, but I might have had as many as seven “shingles.”
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…]
27 June 2022
Caleb: “Giants? So Much the Better!”
Yes, giants, fortresses and all!
- “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
We returned to our COVID-interrupted tradition of celebrating my birthday during the pastors' retreat in Guatemala.
It seemed like nearly every pastor wanted a photo with me.
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…]
16 May 2022
Jesus is still
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…]
5 April 2022
Answered Prayer for the Honduras Trip!
The La Joya church-plant worship band warming up on Sunday evening, 13 March
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…]
6 March 2022
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.
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…]
9 February 2022
Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing
And obtaineth favor from the Lord.
50 Years and Counting!
Yes, 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.
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…]
16 December 2021
Christmas Crunch Time
This will be a short ‘n’ sweet newsletter,
because we’re all busy this time of year!
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…]
A joyous Christmas to all!
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
24 November 2021
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…]
13 October 2021
A Bumper Crop of Prayer Requests
Part of our goal in spiritual warfare is to pray
for the liberation of the “hard cases.”
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…]
Wait! Warfare AFTER
Victory? Yes, actually, because that’s the time we’re mostly likely to let our guard down.
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…]
5 May 2021
Yes, I know — the phrase in the newsletter title is usually “an open and shut case.” I'll explain in a moment but first I have a…
Newsflash for “Somebody,” the Intercessor
Our COVID vaccine shots don’t open doors,
but Jesus does!
I want to thank the Lord and somebody out there. I don’t know who. You may recall the last newsletter took on the theme of my “oomph-lessness.” I managed to hit the “send” button around 8 pm local time and I went to bed.
Somebody received the newsletter that same night and prayed for me. Dark and early, right at 04:00 the next morning (my preferred wake-up time, a schedule that allows me to spend over two hours in research and writing on [continue reading…]
Resting on the Rock(ing Chair)
3 April 2021
I’m so dog-gone tired that cat-naps won’t suffice.
I find myself envying ol’ Rip Van Winkle
just a bit!
This is what an idyllic vacation dream looks like for me; but it doesn't hold a candle to the Secluded Place where “He restoreth my soul.”
Yes, this newsletter is a bit late, and it’s a bit different. I just haven’t had the internal oomph to write it and get it published. Oh, don’t worry. External circumstances are going well, the blessing of God seems to be on our activities, the path ahead looks bright, and we are healthy. We had our Finest of the Wheat annual board meeting this past week, and we were all giving thanks to God for His goodness and blessing over the last year.
But having acknowledged that, I also realize that I’ve reached a point of temporary burnout. It happens now and then, since I usually go nonstop, and I’ve learned through experience that it’s nothing that should raise alarm bells. Experience has also taught me that it’s rather futile to harness the remaining “fumes” of my willpower in order to “blast through.” In burnout times, the most fruitful response, yielding the quickest recovery time, is to listen to Jesus when He says, “Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while” (Mark 6:31).
My idea of a [continue reading…]
28 February 2021
For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come. 9This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance. 10For to this end we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe.
1 Timothy 4:8-10 nkjv
Prepping for a new teaching season!
My next-door neighbor, despite being Virginia born and bred, is a lifelong New York Yankees baseball fan. This morning he and his family left for Florida so that he can fulfill a long-held dream of watching the Yankees during their Spring-training camp. (Of course, there’s also the small matter of visiting a Florida-based great-grandchild — their first!)
My neighbor’s neighbors (that would be Denise and me) are in “spring training,” too, but it’s not nearly so glamorous as swinging bats, snagging line drives, and signing autographs for fans. Yes, assuming we can [continue reading…]