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They Didn’t Throw Me in the Pool

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

Dear Friend,

Title words 'They Didn't Throw Me in the Pool!' distorted in the waters of a swimming poolI’m glad they didn’t. I’m “negatively buoyant.”1

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…]

La Bendición Rechazada

derechos de autor © 2023

por
Jim Kerwin
texto traducido por
Pastores Fermín y Lilian Chávez
con
Inés María González Valdés

Preparando el Escenario

Mientras escribo estas palabras, no está lejos el centenario del Avivamiento de la Calle Azusa. Considerando el derramamiento del Espíritu Santo que cambió al mundo en 1906, muchos académicos y escritores, maestros y predicadores estarán pensando “¡Lo que Dios ha hecho!” El mover de Dios en aquella humilde iglesia convertida en almacén, convertida en establo, convertida en misión en la Calle Azusa 321 en Los Ángeles, puso en marcha una imparable ola de crecimiento de los pentecostales y carismáticos que en el año 2000 (94 años después de la Calle Azusa) sumaban casi 524 millones en todo el mundo.1

Tan cierto como el hecho de que somos humanos, [continue reading…]

Devoted (but Misdirected?)

31 March 2023

“Devote Yourselves to Prayer” (But…)

Dear Friend,

Edvard Munch's painting 'The Scream'This is Edvard Munch’s painting of me not dealing well with life in the midst of trials.1

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…]

We Are the Net

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

Dear Friend,

Asbury, Tarrying, Shepherds, and Nets

Photo of a group of fishermen gathered around a full netHearts prepared by God, working together…1
Cover for the e-booklet 'Why Revival Tarries'Like almost all our Bible-teaching articles,
this is available for free on our website.
Or for a whopping 99¢ you can download it
to your Kindle reader.

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…]

1: On the Brink of Failure?

This entry is part 1 of 2 in the series The John the Baptist Experience: Book 3

The John the Baptist Experience
Book 3: The Fellowship of the Forerunner
Chapter 1: On the Brink of Failure?

Copyright © 20231

by
Jim Kerwin

A Personal Story

Title graphic over a photo of the Jordan River in IsraelThings could still go wrong if… and unless…2

As we launch into this final book in the series, let me share a very personal experience, something from my early days as a Christian. This cautionary tale contains a dollop of wisdom that I believe applies to us as we prepare to implement the full-orbed Gospel in our sharing with those around us. At first, this anecdote may seem to have nothing to do with our subject of John the Baptist or his heart-preparing message; but please humor me — there is an important point to make.

I found — and was found by — the Lord Jesus in 1968. Once I had a glimpse of Him, and all He offered to me and required of me, my heart’s cry was and has been, “My utmost for His highest!”3 Among other things, that has meant seeking to [continue reading…]

2: The Secret of John’s Appeal

This entry is part 2 of 2 in the series The John the Baptist Experience: Book 3

The John the Baptist Experience
Book 3: The Fellowship of the Forerunner
Chapter 2: The Secret of John’s Appeal

Copyright © 20231

by
Jim Kerwin

Title graphic over a photo of the Jordan River in Israel“What did you go out into the wilderness
to see?”2

We need to answer an important question we haven’t asked yet. Why were the crowds attracted to John? What was his appeal? Who in their right mind would voluntarily, willingly go great distances — on foot! — to hear his hard message about their sinfulness, about God’s demand for repentance, and about a Messiah for whom John was but “the opening act”? To answer that, we need to respond to the question Jesus put to the people, “What did you go out into the wilderness to see?” (Matthew 11:7; Luke 7:24)

I have considered Jesus’ question for over four years as I have “lived” with John in the Scriptures. Why did the people go in droves to hear him? Why did they respond so readily? What did they go “out into the wilderness to see?” I believe they went out to see a man who was Spirit filled and Spirit fruited, a man who lived close to God, and (surprise!) a man whose soul and spirit were keynoted by [continue reading…]

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…]

Messiah’s Missing Months and the Magi

This entry is part 3 of 5 in the series The Curious Corners of Christmas

Copyright © 2022

by
Jim Kerwin

Not Enough Christmas Time!

IMAGE-DESCRIPTIONAvailable soon as a Kindle e-booklet…

Time is what keeps everything from happening at once.”1 Most of us love the Christmas season, but few of us are happy about its relationship to time. Children feel like there’s too much time to wait until Christmas morning arrives. Time-starved adults, especially parents, feel there’s not enough time, like everything is “happening at once” — special church activities, seasonal school events, work-related parties to attend, family reunions to plan, decorating, shopping, wrapping, baking, and cooking. Stress, and finally, exhaustion, seem like unavoidable parts of our annual Christmas experience, mostly because too much activity gets crammed into too little time. There’s just too much “happening at once,” but it’s our tradition. It’s how we celebrate Christmas, and that may never change this side of Jesus’ return.

But coming from that frenetic mindset, without meaning to spoil things (most especially God’s truth!), it seems like we’ve also allowed our out-of-breath, out-of-time approach to Christmas to cloud and confuse our understanding of the Bible’s true “Christmas story.” We’ve tried to cram too many events into too little time, making it so the Bible narratives “happen at once.”

Because the integrity of the Scriptures and God’s truth is paramount [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…]

6: The Angel and the Speechless Priest Prophesy

This entry is part 6 of 12 in the series The John the Baptist Experience: Book 1

The John the Baptist Experience
Book 1: The Exceptional Messenger
Chapter 6: The Angel
and the Speechless Priest
Prophesy

Copyright © 20221

by
Jim Kerwin

Visiting Memories

Visitors were allowed to call on John in his cell at certain times. Through this “grapevine,” John had heard about how Jesus had associated him with the “Elijah prophecy” at the end of Malachi. John wondered how much of what Jesus declared about him had come through revelation, and how much of John’s own story Jesus had learned by other means.

John was just finishing his morning prayers when other visitors arrived. They were the ones to whom the guards and bars couldn’t deny admission, whenever they came. They were [continue reading…]

5: Squaring John with Elijah

This entry is part 5 of 12 in the series The John the Baptist Experience: Book 1

The John the Baptist Experience
Book 1: The Exceptional Messenger
Chapter 5: Squaring John with Elijah

Copyright © 20221

by
Jim Kerwin

A Question for You

Matthew 11 relates the story of the imprisoned John sending two of his disciples to Jesus with this question: “Are you the Expected One?” (Matthew 11:2-3) They see some of Jesus’ miracles, receive a prophecy-based word of encouragement for John, and they leave to report back (vv. 3-7a).

Jesus then turns to the crowds and launches into an unfolding of John’s ministry and its importance. Do you remember Jesus’ final statement regarding John in this passage?

  • 14“And if you are willing to accept it, John himself is Elijah who was to come. 15He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
  • Matthew 11:14-15

In that phrase “Elijah who was to come,” Jesus is referring to [continue reading…]

DD1-6: Verb Voices and Violent Versions

This entry is part 12 of 12 in the series The John the Baptist Experience: Book 1

The John the Baptist Experience
Book 1: The Exceptional Messenger
Deeper Dive 6:
Verb Voices and Violent Versions

Copyright © 20221

by
Jim Kerwin

Matthew 11:12 —
A Thorny Translation Challenge

As we have seen, Matthew 11:1-19 is that wonderful passage in which Jesus teaches about John the Baptist.2 First, He sends a message of encouragement to the imprisoned John. Then Jesus uses the opportunity to point the crowd to John’s fulfillment of the prophecies in Malachi 3:1 and 4:5-6 (the latter being the “Elijah prophecy”).

Matthew’s account of the events and teaching that day is very clear — except for one verse that has proven to be something of a thorny challenge to translate and interpret. That verse is Matthew 11:12—

“From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force.”

What makes it “thorny”? Because [continue reading…]