≡ Menu

Interesting Times!

4 June 2024

“Life” Deferred by Loving Service

Dear Friend,

Text saying, 'May you live in interesting times!'“Chinese curse?” No, but it’s certainly a day-to-day challenge for faith!

“May You Live in Interesting Times!” Someone once pointed out to me the humor of a Chinese curse that says, “May you live in interesting times!” I can’t vouch for the accuracy of that quotation, nor even if it’s actually Chinese in origin. Nevertheless, Denise and I are “living in interesting times” right now. Note that it doesn’t seem so much of a “curse” as it does a long-term challenge and test of faith and endurance and loving service.

Aerial photo of Orange Park HospitalOne of our son-in-law’s “homes away from home” (HCA Florida Orange Park Hospital)1

Within 27 hours of our arrival here in Florida in early April, our son-in-law had to be admitted to the hospital for ten days; thus, we immediately went into full-time grand-parenting mode. Then, just a few weeks later, he required another hospitalization episode, this time in the Tampa area (3+ hours away) for seven days. We are thankful to be here to serve our family in their time of great need. But there’s an undeniable wisdom in God’s normal order — young folks in their 20s, 30s, and 40s possess the energy to have and raise children; for septuagenarians it definitely creates “interesting times”!

A birthday party for Jim at last year's ESUM conference in GuatemalaNo Guatemalan birthday party for me this year! (Does this mean I don't have to increment my age this year?)2

GUATEMALA: Many other matters in our lives have been sidelined for a time. By early April, I was asking, “Would I be able to go to Guatemala as scheduled during the first ten days of May?” I asked the Guatemalan pastors to have a “Plan B” speaker ready for their annual retreat /Bible-teaching conference in case I couldn’t come for the May 3-4 event. They graciously made the decision for me, canceling the event, with an eye towards rescheduling for another time. It was a good thing, because I was needed here for full-time duty!

NOWHERE CLOSE TO SETTLED (but “moving” that direction): We have had little time for serious house hunting. Besides, we need some very clear guidance and intervention from the Lord about this matter. Meanwhile, almost all of our “earthly goods” are in storage (which is far more expensive than we thought).

Nevertheless, we’re making progress where we can. Our new Florida Finest of the Wheat Teaching Fellowship board members are in place, and we should have our first meeting soon. The legal paperwork for changing operations from Virginia to “The Sunshine State” is moving towards completion; and the Lord supplied the legal fees in a most unusual way. We are grateful to Him for all His provisions and His continued help in this transition.

A Tribute Concerning “Matters”

Ray Rempt with his three sonsRay Rempt (left) and his three sons3

Competing for the same weekend as the Guatemalan pastors’ conference was a memorial service near Seattle for one of my two fathers in the Lord, Ray Rempt. (See Giving Thanks for a Life from a few months back.) Even though I couldn’t attend, I was asked to share a short word, to be read at the service by another. Such was the continued craziness here that I couldn’t find the time to write it. However, “better late than never,” so let me share it here.

Ray Rempt officiating at a wedding in 1971Most modern photos of Ray show him without a beard; but I have a hard time remembering Ray in any state of beardless-ness. Or wearing a tie and coat. Here he is on August 8, 1971, when he was officiating at our young church’s second wedding.

I remember Ray taking the elders of our small fellowship into his confidence when he said, “I preach the same thing for 13 weeks and call it a series!” That, as it turned out, was actually a good thing. Too often preachers and teachers flit from subject to subject. There’s little time for the seed of a particular truth to germinate, take hold, pop out of the ground, and produce fruit. Dealing with a subject “six ways to Sunday,” approaching it from different angles and providing many examples over nearly a quarter of a year, can establish a truth forever.

We lived in “interesting times” in early 1971 when Ray began his series on restitution. True Spirit-generated repentance comes from realizing that we have sinned against a holy God, and it produces a changed, submissive, obedient heart toward Him. But repentance also has a manward element, because we have also sinned against men. Our response: restitution. If we have wronged people — by stealing from someone, cheating a person, lying or gossiping about them, and a host of other injuries — we need to set matters right with them. Is that legalism? Hardly! Restitution towards others provides many benefits: a restoration of earthly relationships, a practical, visible outworking of genuine sorrow for sin, and (quite often) a testimony of which other people take notice.

Well, conviction gripped nearly everybody in our fellowship as Ray preached about restitution, and for several months, as the Holy Spirit wrestled with our hearts, we would “go get matters right.” Often at a fellowship meal, someone’s seat would be empty.

“Where is Brother So-and-So?”

“Don’t know. He just said that he had a ‘matter’ to attend to.”

“Matter” was the codeword for an act of restitution. It was a private affair.

Photo of Ray and Pam Rempt with Steve and Tracy BrysonRay must have done a good job at that wedding on 8/8/71, because here is a shot of Ray with his wife Pam and the couple he married — our dear friends Tracy and Steve Bryson — who will celebrate their 53rd anniversary in two months!

Restitution was a vital process to experience as a young Christian! In God’s wisdom, it allowed a psychological release from guilt, making us right not only with God but with man! Plus, we derived an additional, unforeseen benefit — a strong disincentive to sin. (No one wants to go through the embarrassment of confession and restitution a second time!) For instance, because of how thoroughly gossip was dealt with by the Holy Spirit during this time, our fellowship remained almost entirely free of that insidious malady for the rest of our time together.

Thank you, Ray, for being faithful and thorough with all your “series,” especially the one on restitution! What you taught (and taught and taught) still, um, matters!

Plugging Away at Publications

Once I recovered from our month-long packing ordeal in March and the initial week of full-time parenting, I caught up on rest enough to resume my daily pre-dawn writing schedule. Those hours are almost always “interesting times,” too, and they have produced two more e-booklets:

Cover of the e-booklet 'The Testimonies of the Three Invisibles'Available as a 99¢ Kindle ebooklet
and free on our website
Image of the cover for 'The Holy Spirit as the Spirit of BurningAvailable as a 99¢ Kindle ebooklet
and free on our website
  • The Testimonies of the Three “Invisibles” — Three godly people are included in the Gospel account of the Natal Narrative. If the Holy Spirit saw fit to include them in the story, why do we skip over them? They have some important things to teach us!
    Two of these “invisibles” aren’t very well known; hence their “invisibility.” But the third “invisible” hides in plain sight! Though exceedingly well known for a key and decisive role in the Christmas chronicle, it’s as though a shroud of invisibility cloaks this person’s function as the source, literally the “treasurer,” of the Spirit-inspired narratives of the Nativity.
  • The Holy Spirit as the Spirit of Burning by Percy Gutteridge — People usually think of Samson as a strong man, a Spirit-empowered warrior and judge of Israel. But he was a weak man, too, ultimately losing God’s blessing. His enemies gouged out his eyes and enslaved him to serve them by “grinding in the prison house.” As we read Samson’s life story in Judges 13-17, it becomes a sobering, cautionary tale of a man of God ensnared. How do we escape if God’s enemy has already ensnared us? In exploring Samson’s life, Pastor Gutteridge introduces us to The Holy Spirit as the Spirit of Burning (Isaiah 4:4), and how His flame can melt the bonds that bind us.

Clipboard Captivity — No, that’s not a book title! Currently on Denise’s editing clipboard are at least five other chapters.

Image of the cover for the ebooklet 'The Sevenfold Holy Spirit' by Percy Gutteridge

Two are for the upcoming “Christmas book,” and three for book #2 of The John the Baptist Experience (actually one chapter plus two “deeper dives”). Some of those drafts have been “clamped captives” on Deni’s board since December. And, no, that isn’t a criticism of Denise; it’s a measure of how crazy-busy our lives have been for the last five months.

And as soon as this newsletter goes out, I’ll be busy finishing the update of the e-booklet version of Percy Gutteridge’s The Sevenfold Holy Spirit and starting on a refresh of his The Holy Spirit as Dew. There will be plenty of other drafts on both of our clipboards to keep us busy through the summer months!

Please Prevail with Us in Prayer

The great thing about “interesting times” is that they cause us to press into God. Out of those times come powerful testimonies of God’s faithfulness. Here’s how you can come alongside us in prayer:

  • SALVATION AND HEALING: Most of you know that we have moved to Florida, in no small part because our son-in-law is fighting a rearguard action against fourth-stage bladder cancer. Pray with us for his new birth as well as his healing.
  • WISDOM: We are asking God for great wisdom in buying a home here. The unknown future weighs heavily on the decision. (For instance, will our family need to move in with us long term?) We need super-clear leading from the Lord.
  • HEALING: Only recently discovered: someone close to us has serious health issues. Further testing and potential surgery will reveal the extent of the challenge.
  • OPEN DOORS: Our primary “ministry” right now is to our family, helping them through what may well be a long, difficult time emotionally and financially. But small doors are opening up for local teaching-ministry opportunities. We never try to “push doors open”; nevertheless, it would be encouraging to establish ministry relationships with more churches.
  • INSPIRATION IN OUR WRITING MINISTRY: We may be through the entire first-draft stage of The Curious Corners of Christmas by mid-June, allowing for an early September publication. Refining and compiling the chapters of Percy Gutteridge’s The Emblems of the Holy Spirit seems like it’s on target for early November. And it would be a blessing to finish another four chapters in The John the Baptist Experience, Volume 2, by year’s end.

Thanks for walking through this season with us. I look forward to the time that I can begin to report on missions trips and other more visible “fruit” of ministry. Meanwhile, we want to engage our current assignment with joy and love. “Interesting times”? Indeed, because there’s never a dull moment when following the Holy Spirit’s leading!

Much love in Jesus,

Jim

Tax-Deductible Donations Gratefully Received
Have you thought about making this a monthly gift?


  1. Photo of Orange Park Hospital is from the HCA Florida Healthcare website.
  2. Though from my personal archives, this shot was taken by one of the pastors.
  3. All the photos of Ray Rempt in this newsletter were supplied by Steve Bryson.
0 comments… add one

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Previous post: