28 October 2023
I’m in the process of learning “to be content
in whatever circumstances I am.”
I’m way behind the apostle Paul’s learning curve, especially when he says, “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am” (Philippians 4:11). But I am learning and accepting, however slowly. Don’t get me wrong — I’m glad to be here in Florida helping family. But, honestly, I’ve been homesick. I can’t remember a time when I’ve been away from home more than about five weeks at a time. Now it’s been over ten weeks. In fact, I was half-heartedly hanging up the crepe streamers for a “pity party” when the Lord had me encounter these words from Madame Guyon:
To me remains nor place nor time;
My country is in ev’ry clime;
I can be calm and free from care
On any source, since God is there.
While place we seek, or place we shun,
The soul finds happiness [continue reading…]
30 September 2023
Knocked for a Loop by the Whirlwind
Yessiree, it’s been an interesting period…
Lucky Elijah! He was taken up to Heaven in a whirlwind at the end of his life. But we’ve been caught up in an eight-week-long whirlwind and getting pretty banged up in the process. We’re not trying to leave our friends, supporters, and readers out of the loop — honest! It’s just that over the last eight weeks we’ve been “knocked for a loop” and we’re still trying to recover our equilibrium. Elijah was “one and done” with his whirlwind, but our whirlwind has led to a hurricane, followed by a storm!
A week before we left for Florida, I fell [continue reading…]
My 55th spiritual birthday, 31 July 2023
- But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.
- 1 Timothy 5:8 kjv
God’s “New Thing” Is Coming Clear
Please. Spare us the “move of God” jokes…
Denise and I have never had a desire (or funds!) to shuffle-board into some easy retirement in a “senior-living” resort. We love Jesus, He has kept us healthy in spirit, mind, and body, and in many ways we feel like we’re just beginning to come into some maturity of usefulness to the Body, especially with the rising “new generation.”
We have been praying about and anticipating a change of venue for some time now, and have been waiting on the Lord for His direction and timing, offering up much prayer over the matter. Given the various open doors we have had in northeastern Florida, we understood this region could be the most likely, but certainly not inevitable. Until now.
Now serious health [continue reading…]
30 June 2023
When they read it, they rejoiced because of its encouragement.
…they have proved to be an encouragement to me.
“How was Guatemala?” you ask. Well, never mind the 21-hour marathon to get from reveille to my first overnight location. Don’t count the fact that I had a head cold from the second day right through to the end of the trip. Ignore the experience of being smitten with… how do I put this delicately?… an “intestinal ‘souvenir’” from the early morning of my return-flight day right through my first full week back home. This Guatemala trip was very encouraging, maybe the best trip yet! (And that’s saying something, because I’ve been blessed with visits there almost every year since 2008.)
Yes, despite being “out of it” physically, teaching five to six hours on conference days in “feels like” 107° F. temperatures, and a daily regimen of cold showers, I’d return under the same conditions in a heartbeat!
Never been on a teaching trip like this? Then climb [continue reading…]
8 May 2023
A Misstep and a Watery Threat
- 37Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If any man is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. 38He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water.’”
- John 7:37-38 nasb
I’m glad they didn’t. I’m “negatively buoyant.”
Even though the Guatemalan pastors threatened to throw me into the pool during my visit last year, I’m returning to them in ten days to be the Bible teacher at their three-day conference / retreat (May 25-27). In their defense, I should note that their threat was made in good humor, that it arose in part from their hunger for the Word, and… well, perhaps I deserved it by inadvertently teasing them.
Let me rewind this story to last May 2022. Honestly, I don’t remember how the subject of John 7:38 came up briefly during last year’s teaching on Soul and Spirit. For some reason I touched it in passing, noting that when Jesus said, “As the scripture has said,” that there was no verse in the Old Testament from which He was quoting. As I [continue reading…]
31 March 2023
“Devote Yourselves to Prayer” (But…)
This is Edvard Munch’s painting of me not dealing well with life in the midst of trials.
The Holy Spirit has been challenging me of late to be “devoted to prayer” (e.g., Colossians 4:2-4; Acts 6:4). Given what’s unfolding in our lives, that’s a critical and helpful leading, a necessary discipline. But such prayerful devotion needs the Spirit’s direction as well, because…
…it’s possible to be devoted to praying for the wrong thing! Back in 1987 we faced a serious crisis of faith. Little more than a year earlier we had moved from suburban Southern California to rural Georgia by the Lord’s leading, in order to work with a small missions organization based in a small town. All went amazingly well for the first year. In addition to the missions work (developing teaching material for third-world pastors), the Lord opened [continue reading…]
28 February 2023
- 6…they enclosed a great quantity of fish; and their nets began to break; 7and they signaled to their partners in the other boat, for them to come and help them. And they came, and filled both of the boats, so that they began to sink.
- Luke 5:6-7 nasb
- 6…They cast… and then they were not able to haul it in because of the great number of fish.… 8the other disciples came in the little boat, for they were not far from the land, but about one hundred yards away, dragging the net full of fish.… 11Simon Peter went up, and drew the net to land, full of large fish, a hundred and fifty-three; and although there were so many, the net was not torn.
- John 21:6,8,11 nasb
Asbury, Tarrying, Shepherds, and Nets
Ah, timeliness! Weeks ago when I wrote the first draft of this newsletter, the “Asbury awakening” (awakening is what the wise school leaders there are calling it) had not yet begun. Whether Asbury is the start of an actual, nation-sweeping revival, or merely a foreshock of something to come remains to be seen. But…
On January 1st I heard a message from a dear pastor friend, Mark Sellers, which impelled me to transcribe, edit, and publish a Percy Gutteridge audio message. It took Denise and me six weeks of work, but that message — Why Revival Tarries — is now posted on our website. In it, Percy, my father in the Lord, proposed a challenging concept: Full revival tarries because there aren’t enough believers in the Church who are prepared by God to be used as His shepherds for all the newborn “sheep” who will enter the Kingdom — and the Church.
When the Holy Spirit moves in sweeping revival, multitudes come to Jesus. The relatively few pastors and spiritual leaders would be overwhelmed by the many souls who will come to Jesus in such a move of God. Without many individual, surrendered men and women disciplined and heart-prepared by the Lord to care for and disciple the converts, many of these new “sheep” could be lost.
I’d like to come at Pastor Gutteridge’s subject in a slightly different way. (In fact, [continue reading…]
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 –
Things can get uncomfortable, but exciting, when God starts to do a “new thing”!
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…]
29 November 2022
What a Bible Study in Daniel Taught Me
We 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…]
18 October 2022
Years Spent with John, Months Spent with Elijah
We experience lows and highs.
Nevertheless, we’re sustained by the Most High!
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…]
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…]