Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Hello, Again

I know its been awhile since I’ve posted and certainly appreciate all the friends who have contacted me wondering where I’ve been. December has certainly been a busy month; there’s been lots I could have written about.

We’ve had a good month at Shorewood as we are working to pay down the debt on our mortgage, which we will be refinancing soon. Looks like we’ll cut the indebtedness in half as well as reduce our interest rate by over two points. That’s like getting a raise!

My trip to Detroit went well for the TV taping but I came home with the beginnings of the flu. Have you been watching Forgotten Truths via the net? I have—we don’t have DirectTV. Its great! No, that’s not self promotion—its just fact. I don’t watch myself, frankly, but focus on the way the program goes together—how the camera shots move, the editing, etc. Tom does a GREAT production job and we have a truly outstanding crew! The message ain’t bad either—but then, preaching grace makes anyone sound good!

I also had to send Cynthia back to Mobile on my birthday. Her dad unexpectedly had open-heart surgery and she spent several weeks there. He is still in the hospital but doing well. It meant I got to spend some "home alone" time (no biggy) and endure the flu on my own (now that is a biggy!). I managed to read a couple of books that I’ll try to report on in the next few weeks, along with having unexpected “quiet time” to study the books of John and I Thessalonians (which I’ll start teaching in January).

Cynthia got home the Monday before Christmas, so I was happy again. Sunday the 21st was a truly bitter day in our area. It was –2 as I drove the church that morning with wind chill at –30. We had a good crowd anyway, considering the holidays and the weather. That evening was a bit different. With the weather still threatening, we had a “corporals guard” (as Mel puts it) for the study—but had 50+ hookups on the Internet! We did better on Wednesday, the 24th. We don’t make a big deal of Christmas—I have never put up a tree or decorations, even raising three boys—but it is a natural family time and we certainly do promote that.

I encourage our folks to remember and appreciate the “Real Miracle”—that is, the incarnation of God the Son into our humanity (John 1:1,2, 14; Gal. 4:4). That’s what the real issue around Dec. 25 is all about—and why the vain religious systems of the world have sought to usurp it.

Thinking alone those lines, Matt sent me a list suggesting that Isaiah 55:8 is still true: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.” Some of the ways that this is true:

As for beauty, man thinks it is glorious, but God says it is vain (Proverbs 31:30).

As for riches, man thinks they are greatly to be desired and praised, but God says the love of money is the root of all evil (1 Timothy 6:10) and “riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away” (Proverbs 23:5).

As for men of high degree, man thinks they are impressive, but God says “men of high degree are a lie” (Psalm 62:9).

As for the prosperity of the wicked, man thinks it is desirable and fascinating, but God says it is foolish and casts men into destruction (Psalm 73:18).

As for trouble, man thinks it is a nuisance, but God says it brings spiritual growth (Romans 5:3-5).

As for poverty, man thinks it is to be avoided at all costs, but God says it can be better than riches (Proverbs 15:16-17; 19:1).

As for children, man thinks they are a burden, but God says children are a heritage from the Lord and happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them (Psalm 127).

As for evolutionary theory, man thinks it is brilliant science, but God says it is the vain babblings of science falsely so called (1 Timothy 6:20).

As for foolish laughter and filthy jesting, man thinks it is fun and cool, but God says it is vanity (Ecc. 7:5-6) and brings His wrath (Ephesians 5:4-6).

As for self-promotion and self-praise, man thinks it is wise, but God says, “whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted” (Matthew 23:12), and, “Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth” (Proverbs 27:2).

As for the pride of life, man thinks it is commendable, but God says it is of the devil and will pass away (1 Timothy 3:6; 1 John 2:15-17).

As for religious harmony, man thinks it is expedient, but God says Christ has no part with Belial (2 Corinthians 6:14-15).

As for human nature, man thinks it is basically good, but God says there is none that doeth good, no, not one (Romans 3:12).

As for religion, man thinks all religions have some truth and lead to the same God, but God says that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, and no man cometh unto the father but by Him (John 14:6).

As for hell, man thinks that it is a religious myth, but God says it is the destiny of every man that dies without Christ (John 3:36, Eph. 5:6).

The wise man will align his thinking with God’s by humbling himself before Him and studying His Word. “... for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God” (Luke 16:15).


Monday, December 1, 2008

Don't Miss Church!

Its never a good idea to miss church! When the saints gather—there is a reason to be there. If you miss, you loose. Ask Thomas (John 20:24)! Ask folks at Shorewood last Sunday morning!

I was about half way through the morning message when the fire alarm system began to chirp. In just a moment our men determined it was not a false alarm and we immediately cleared the building. Imagine the excitement of the 180+ adults and 40+ children making their way into the snowy parking lot; the fire department arriving with three big trucks accompanied by an EMS vehicle and two police cars! Wheeeee!

It turned out that the motor in one of the heating units (there are 9 in all) had malfunctioned and caught fire. This filled the vent system with smoke, which set off the alarm sensor and called the fire department. But there was no further damage to the building and no one was hurt. It did bring the morning meeting to a conclusion with a bang.

So, for all those watching via the Internet we wanted to let you know everyone is fine. We had our regular evening meeting, in fact a number of us worked as usual in the building all afternoon.

For those who were absent, well they’ll have to hear about it second hand. There are now a couple of hundred stories available to listen too!


Saturday, November 29, 2008

Bama Won!

We just got home from Alabama. Drove a bit over 3,000 miles in all. While driving last night we listened to the Friday night version of the Grand Ole Opry over Nashville's WSM. They announced it was their 83 anniversary night! I used to listen to the regular Saturday edition when we lived in Alabama--it was a weekly ritual. I would listen to the Opry while reading the Pastoral Epistles (something I did each week--still generally do, in fact). That will only make sense if you're from Alabama (or perhaps Tennessee!!).

Our goal was to make it home before the Alabama/Auburn game was over. My brother called Cynthia each time Bama scored and we made it home in the middle of the fourth quarter. She was excited to see the last touchdown--more so that her team won. My dear wife bleeds Crimson Red. Otherwise she is pretty normal.

We had a good time in Mobile. Nathan and Bryant think the "bay house" is Alabama. They are too young as yet to know the difference, but they are old enough to enjoy it! We played in the water and hiked in the "big woods." We all ate too much on Turkey day. Family time is good time.

While driving down we got a call that the father-in-law of one of Cynthia's sisters had died. I had the opportunity to conduct the grave side service--interestingly, it was the only time the gospel was given. Mr. Bush knew the Lord; I had personally heard his testimony. So it was easy and a joy to point folks to "life in Christ Jesus." I thank God for opportunities like this!

Now we have a busy week ahead. I wish every believer had the privilege of being a part of a good, sound, active grace church! It fills life with excitement and joy! Its the real reason Cynthia and I were anxious to get home tonight. She's busy at the moment getting her Sunday School class lesson ready; I've already got my a.m. study on "Paul's Prayer Template" (Phil. 1:9-11) done and am almost finished with the p.m. study. Just taking a break to answer email (37 of them) and post this before I finish that--and read I Tim. thru Philemon!


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Watch Forgotten Truths!

Thanks to Tom Bacon I just learned that it is possible to watch Forgotten Truths via the Internet. Simply go to http://leseanet.com/wht1.asx at the time of the broadcast and you will join us live! Now, those who do not have DirectTV can be a part of our audience!

That also reminds me to remind you that we have purchased 13 weeks of prime time on DirectTV channel 367. We are now on at 8:00 p.m. Saturday. This new audience has already been very responsive and we are praying we will have the needed funds to continue this time slot when the 13 weeks come to an end. One brother donated half the cost in an effort to help us reach out to a larger group of viewers. So, join us: if you do not have DirectTV, join us via the Internet. If you have DirectTV, we are on channel 367 at 8:00 and 11:00 p.m. Saturdays.

Cynthia and I are currently in Mobile for Thanksgiving. David and his family have joined us for this family time. We had a long drive down on Sunday evening and Monday. Its fun playing with the grandchildren! Before we left I got the next issue of the Grace Journal to the printer, another month’s programs for Riches of Grace and Daily Bible Time done. We also had an important business meeting at Shorewood Sunday afternoon. I will be working at least two of the days we are in Alabama—laptops mean you never “can’t work”—but hope to have a couple days of diversion. My strength hasn’t been the greatest the last few weeks. Just when I thought I had turned that corner it seems it may have been a dead end!

While in Michigan for TV taping, Tom told me a viewer had asked I personally call him. He and his wife have been watching and are rejoicing in understanding the message of grace. She just had a stroke. He told me she had been able to say to him, “Call Brother Jordan and ask him to pray for me.” “That’s how important you’ve become to us,” he said to me.

The very next day a lady facing potentially life-threatening surgery called. She didn’t want to go through it without having taken the opportunity to personally tell me how her life had been changed by what she was learning through the program. “I’ve known something was wrong—now I know what’s right!”

I don’t get to personally talk to a lot of callers, but these two are representative of the majority we hear from. The Word rightly divided brings light, understanding, clarity, joy!

Then I got a call from a lady in our assembly whose husband had just died. When she had gotten saved, several years ago, and started reading (and understanding!) her Bible, he thought she had joined a cult. Things were so strained at one point that he almost had her committed! Anyway, they have been divorced for some time, but when he was diagnosed with cancer she became his primary care-giver. She would gently tell him, “Jesus died for you, not Mary. Only He can save you.” Along the way, he gave clear testimony to having come to faith in Christ alone. Now he was in heaven and she wanted to have a memorial service.

It was a “hard crowd.” Although she and two of her daughters are believers, there were no others in evidence among family and friends. Romanism was heavy in the background, but grace won the day. I was able to give a clear presentation of the gospel to a remarkable attentive—even curious—audience. We pray the seed planed may sprout!

By the way: Fred Bekemeyer had a heart procedure done this morning and things went okay. He has some blockage issues but they were not as bad as first thought, but they did discover a new porblem that will now need monitoring. We look forward to Fred being back to full strength very soon.

Have a great Thanksgiving—the most authentic Christian holiday possible!


Thursday, November 6, 2008

A Year Ago Today

A year ago today (November 5) I had 89 radiated “seeds” implanted into my prostate gland. It wasn’t a real good day! I had never been sedated before—never even been to the hospital except for a few outpatient tests. The first thing I remember after awakening is a nurse standing at my feet with a Geiger Counter! When I asked her what she was doing, she told me they had to get a radiation reading. “But you didn’t put them in my feet!” was my reply. Still makes sense to me!

Anyway, it took about a week and a half for the radiation symptoms to begin to appear. Don’t worry, though, because the immediate aftermath of the implants was misery enough to carry me through until the impact of the radiation began to appear. I mostly recall it as a “site-specific” miserable experience.

It was not until January that the pain levels subsided enough to call them “no real problem,” and it wasn’t until the August/September time frame that the chronic fatigue began to become simply fatigue. It is actually much better at this point—a year later. Doctors don’t seem to understand why it has lingered so long; but it has!

I am happy to report that my doctor reports I am doing very well. My PSA numbers are the lowest they have been in five years (if we can trust the current tests—which he isn’t sure he can, yet!! Wheeee!!! They don’t call it the “practice of medicine” for no reason). The pains are mostly gone and my energy level allows me to work 40-50 hours a week (not back to the 60+ level just yet).

Also, all the bills are paid so far. They do keep dribbling in, but they are paid. This is thanks mainly to so many friends who generously contributed to the Medical Fund established to help with this. My health insurance had (in fine print on page 23 of the 24 page policy) an exclusion clause for just the problem I experienced! “Standard practice,” they informed my, for men over 50.

So there you have the annual update. One thing: If you are or have in your life a man who is 50 or older, get an annual PSA test. It is a simple blood tests, takes only minutes and costs about $100. Every man will eventually have prostate problems; the only way to know if it is cancer is via the PSA test. Having it annual is the only reason I caught mine in a very early stage and thus have a high probability of successful treatment. So: get the test done annually.

The reason I started blogging was to keep folks up-to-date on my progress. I have enjoyed the outlet and will keep doing it even without the need for an “organ recital” on my health. Thanks for visiting and reading and commenting. Its enjoyable to keep in touch this way.

My dad used to say, when he would hear someone longing for “the good old days,” that "these may be bad times, but they are only times we are given--and despair is no an option." I agree. I have learned not to get my comfort from the “odds of recovery,” or any such foolishness. My comfort comes from the God of All Comfort and is founded on the excellency of the power of the Word of His grace to us in Christ Jesus. II Cor. 4:7-18 and Romans 8:18-39 and Eph. 3:13-21 become part of one’s experience when you don’t waste your cancer/problems, but use it as an opportunity to trust in the living God!

As Paul says, “Not I, but Christ.” That’s the reality. My weakness is where His strength is made perfect. PTL! Without that need, there would be no appropriation into our experience of the blessings of our identity in Christ Jesus. And who would want to miss that!


Tis The Day After

It can’t be denied that something good happened last night. Those who supported other candidates would be wrong to deny it, and would, quite simply, be denying reality. The good thing that happened was the election of the first African-American president in our history. That in itself is remarkable because even a few years ago, it was unthinkable. And it is an important step forward for our country. Frankly, I am thrilled for my African-American friends--and for my country.

As I watched the events in Grant Park last night I confess it was an amazing sight, and an amazing moment, and we would do well to be glad about it even if we voted for someone else. By the way, I did vote for someone else. No, I didn’t vote for John McCain either—got ya on that one, didn’t I! I simply haven’t found the two major parties to reflect my views of the world of politics—and I consider it a waste of my vote not to cast it for my convictions.

But last night was a special moment, no matter who you supported. I have a few more thoughts about this, but its late and I want to get to bed.


Saturday, November 1, 2008

A Different Kind of Start

We had a good beginning for our conference here in Phoenix. The crowd filled the meeting room and the children’s program was overflowing. Folks have traveled from New Mexico, California, Washington, Nevada, Michigan and Illinois to join the Arizona saints. We started by studying “Bible 101”—a study of the right division of Scripture. Don is posting the sessions on PalTalk.com under the “Helpers of your joy” room in the Christian section.

One event prior to beginning gave the conference a different kind of start and made the night's topic all the more appropriate: When John Verstegen was about an hour from Phoenix, he called Rick with news of a sad nature. Barry Curtis (a member of John’s assembly in San Juan Capistrano) had emergency surgery this morning and it was discovered that he has terminal cancer. At age 40 and the father of a young family, this is stunning news. John, of course, turned around and returned home to be with Barry and his family.

John recounted that as he talked to Barry yesterday he said, “I’m so thankful to have learned this message! If we were still in the confusion we were once in, Sil and I would be basket cases now!” To this we can only say, Amen!

Rather than fearing that God has abandoned them, or doesn’t really have their best interests at heart, Barry and his family are resting in the understanding that even though the curse is random, God’s love and provision for us is in Christ Jesus and thus unalterable and unaltered even by the most extreme of circumstances. “There is no temptation taken you but such as is common to man. But God is faithful!”

And it is His faithfulness to us in Christ Jesus that gives the consolation and good hope through grace that can/will/does strengthen Barry and Sil (and all the saints) unto every good word and work during the days ahead.

So we continued on with the conference, remembering the Curtis family and all the California saints in prayer and resting in the riches of God’s grace to us in Christ Jesus made so clear and evident through His rightly divided Word.


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Hello From Mesa

Cynthia and I are currently in Mesa, AZ. We flew here yesterday. It is hot! We left temps in the 30s and arrived to the 90s.

This afternoon we went by and looked at the property Rick's assembly has purchased in Tempe. It is in a great location just off the major East/West corridor (Hwy 60). I will be teaching at their midweek meeting tonight. Then the conference starts Friday evening. They already have a large number of folks staying in the hotel. Even had a couple from Michigan show up last Sunday for the conference--always great to have early birds! So we are expecting a good crowd. I made a couple of special radio programs for our Riches of Grace program which airs here on Sunday morning's over KXEG, and hope to have some listeners join us too.

One other piece of good news: Starting on Saturday, November 1, we will be airing Forgotten Truths in prime time! We have purchased 13 weeks on DirectTV channel 367 at 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time. This puts the program on at 8:00 p.m. Central, 7:00 p.m. Mountain and 6:00 p.m. Pacific Times. We will continue with the midnight airing too. The late night program has gotten good response; pray that this venture into prime time will reach many with the Word rightly divided. One of our core goals is to get the message of grace into the market place. Radio and (especially) television are tremendous vehicles to this end!

Frankly, funding these type efforts has become quite a challenge. The income for Grace School of the Bible, for example, has taken a significant hit over the past four weeks as economic uncertainty has gripped the country. Lets pray for one another during these times, especially that we not be gripped by the spirit of fear that is so pervasive just now. II Tim. 1:7 is still in the Bible! I Tim. 6:6-8 is too. Lets not just claim to be followers of Paul, lets be followers of Paul as he was of Christ--depending on the truth of the Word of His grace.

I'm sitting here with my grandkids' dogs answering email and working on an article on John 1:29. Cynthia and Linda are at Hobby Lobby getting things for the conference children's program, the grand kids are at school and Rick had work to go do. Just thought I'd say hello before things get so busy I won't be able to get to my computer.


Friday, October 24, 2008

"Love ya!"

My friend, Johnny Hall, departed to be with Christ last Tuesday afternoon. He had been in a South Bend, Indiana, hospital for a little over a week. Cynthia and I enjoyed a wonderful time of fellowship visiting with him and his wife, Mary Jo, last week. It was obvious that Johnny would soon be moving to heaven. After 58 years in a wheel chair, today Johnny is walking the streets of glory!

As a 19-year-old soldier, Johnny’s earthly sojourn was forever changed when he was cut in half by machine gun fire during the Korean War. His life was saved, but he lost the use of his body from the waist down. He spent the remainder of his life in a wheel chair—a real American hero worthy of our greatest honor and respect. I was privileged to conduct his memorial service today. The chapel was filled with family and friends touched by his generosity and life. He was then buried with full military honors at the National Military Cemetery at Fort Custer, Michigan, where his earthly house awaits the trumpet sound.

Johnny was much more, however, than a soldier: he was a saint of the Most High God and an ardent student of His Word. I first met Johnny in the mid 1960s while I was a senior in high school. At the time he and Mary Jo lived in Mobile and my interest in Bible study and preaching the gospel to the lost made it natural that we would became fast friend. When I was struggling to understand the Bible version issue, he was a source of both information and encouragement. I was often in his home, studying the Word and discussing doctrine. We had wonderful times that have become some of my happy memories.

As a young soldier, Johnny paid a tremendous price for his country. Yet he never ever complained about his lot in life. He endured unceasing pain for all the years I knew him. During one of our times together he was in especially sever agony. Through the obvious suffering, he said to me, “Ricky, all my legs ever do for me is hurt”—but he immediately added, “Oh, but isn’t God so good!”

Johnny never allowed the bitterness of self-pity to poison his spirit; rather he filled his heart with the love and grace of God found in Jesus Christ. His example (and instruction) taught me as a teenager a lesson about I Thess. 5:18 that has never left me: It is “in” everything, not “for” everything, that we are called upon to "give thanks." Even in his most difficult circumstances, Johnny could always “rejoiced in the Lord” and all He has done for us.

The Halls returned to Indiana in the early 1970s and when my family moved to Chicago in 1979 we were able to see them again. You never left Johnny’s presence or ended a conversation without him saying, “Love ya!” For Johnny it was far more than just words. You knew he meant exactly what he was saying.

The Berean Bible Church of South Bend meets in the Hall’s home each week. These saints have an active ministry and enjoyed Johnny’s leadership and influence. Many reading these lines have attended our Summer Family Conference and enjoyed Johnny’s harmonica playing. Frankly, it was hard not to be influenced by this brother!

While his “seat will be empty,” we can only rejoice that he is with the Saviour he loved and served so long. Pray for Mary Jo. She has been a faithful helpmeet and now must adjust to a new life. She said to me this afternoon, “I just don’t know how anyone could go through all this if they didn’t have the Lord.” God’s grace has been on display in Johnny and Mary Jo for all to see. Thank you, Lord! And as Johnny would say, “Love ya!”


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The "Other Guy"

A friend sent me a note suggesting that we need to start praying for the “other guy.” In light of I Timothy 2:1-3 and Titus 3:1,2 I think he has a good point:

Who is the “other guy"? It’s the guy I’m not voting for on November 4. Doesn’t matter what his name is because I’m not voting for him. I’ve made up my mind and I can’t be moved away from my decision. There isn’t anything that could done or said that could change my vote. Let me say frankly that your “other guy” may be the guy I’m going to vote for. Fine. So be it. I’m not here to tell you how to vote or even to argue the matter.

But the increase in hostility, frustration, malice, name-calling, taunting, dissembling, rumor mongering, and general anger about the election can be seen and heard and felt all over the country--on both sides. If I were so inclined, I could do a rhetorical flourish and say, “And all this name-calling and hostility and the animosity must stop here and now.” That and about $5 might get you a nice cup of fancy coffee. The animosity isn’t going to stop because people are increasingly dug in about “their guy.”

So I propose something more modest and achievable. Starting today, prayer for “the other guy" and his running mate every day between now and November 4. And don’t use prayer as a weapon. Simply pray for them, for their spouses and children. Pray that God's Word will touch their hearts and that they will truly listen.

We all have a role to play. We can free ourselves from anger and frustration by praying for someone with whom we have profound differences. Since I truly believe in the power of prayer, I know it will do my own soul good.

So that’s my commitment. I’m going to pray for the “other guy” every day between now and November 4. Care to join me?


Friday, October 17, 2008

"Construction Completed"

It’s been awhile since my last post. Thanks for all the notes wondering where I’ve been. No, I haven’t been ill or down physically. In fact, in that regard I’m doing much better. My PSA count (a couple of weeks ago) was the lowest its been in probably 6 years. PTL! So, let me see if I can give an account just for those who thought I was loafing around eating Moon Pies and drinking D.P. as I listened to Ray Stevens.

When Cynthia and I returned from Oregon (on a Wednesday evening) I had radio to do the next day. On Friday I traveled to Grand Rapids to speak on Saturday (along with David Reid) at the conference there. It was great to be with Bryan Ross and the saints of the newly established Grace Life Church and see how the work has progressed. They have already been able to purchase their own meeting location and anticipate moving into the completely refurbished building in the next few weeks. Exciting! There is plenty of room in the Grand Rapids area for a strong testimony to the rightly divided Word and the message of grace we rejoice in—and Grace Life Church will provide just that!

Then we had a good day at Shorewood. I continued Philippians in the mornings and began a four part study on Bible Numbers in the evening (I’ll start I Thessalonians after that). Cynthia and I spent the week answering the school phone in order to give the Keable’s a needed break. Actually, Ray had a series of doctor’s appoints to get treatment for his long standing back problems. We are hoping against hope they provide some much needed relief for him. I began teaching the book of Ruth on Wednesday.

The next week I caught up in the office, worked on finishing the next Journal, worked on preparations for Shorewood’s Annual Business Meeting, did more radio Thursday and had an Elders meeting, Thursday evening, along with the regular Shorewood studies. I answer as many as 70 emails a day and write numerous letters each week, so this can be added to the mix each week. I also traveled to Detroit on Tuesday to do the TV taping. I was able to once again do five programs this time.

Last Sunday we had our annual church business meet. We have more than one business meeting during a year, of course, but this is the big one at the close of our fiscal year. It is where we set a vision for the year ahead. On Tuesday Cynthia and I were in South Bend, Indiana and Thursday we both flew out of O’Hare--she to Mobile to visit her dad, whose health is failing more and more; me to Charlotte, NC.

Currently I am in Concord, North Carolina, for a conference with Perry Lemons and the saints of Royal Grace Bible Church. Meetings start this evening and although it is currently raining there is already a good crowd reporting for the conference. We had some of the best smoked BBQ you could ever set your affections on for lunch—and for supper yesterday! I’m in “hog heaven.”

This morning a group of us visited the Billy Graham Library. It takes almost three hours to go through the whole presentation and is quite impressive. You begin by entering doors that are located at the foot of a cross that rises to the top of the structure. You conclude the tour by exiting through a walkway shaped like a cross. Not a bad way to begin and end!

One touching thing to see was to grave site of Ruth Graham. I carried away from the visit two memorable quotes—one from her grave and another from the video presentation of a lady’s testimony. The lady, after recounting her own conversion to Christ, commented, “I am so thankful to God that He was willing to take on Himself a body—one just like the one I so long to get out of!” Through her testimony I kept thinking of Rom. 8:3 and II Cor. 8:9. Then there is the quote Ruth Graham herself chose for her grave stone: “Construction Completed. Thanks for your patience.” That made me think of Eph. 2:10 and Phil. 1:6.

Well, that should catch you up some. I’ve got to get dressed now. They are coming for me in a few minutes. I didn’t have time to tell you about loosing my luggage on the trip to Detroit or the broken airplane on the trip to Charlotte or the various other odds and ends of the past few weeks. But then you’ve probably got plenty of such things of your own to laugh (or groan) about!


Monday, September 22, 2008

Time on the Pacific Coast

We just concluded the conference in Rockaway Beach, Oregon. It was a wonderful time of study and fellowship. John Verstegen, Corey Richardson and I taught through the first two chapters of Colossians. What a thrilling section of God's Word, focusing on the preeminence of Christ. Chapter 1 defines the doctrine; chapter two alerts us to the necessity of defending the doctrine again "grace killers." We had a grand time of instruction. You can hear the messages here and see pictures.

One special feature was the outstanding singing. It seems these saints--many of whom have no regular grace assembly to personally attend--hunger for the annual fellowship this conference affords them and when it comes time to raise their voices in song they go all out. Sort of like making up for a year's worth of not having the group to sing with! It was truly heartwarming.

There are good things happening in the Pacific northwest, especially between Portland and Seattle. The faithfulness of the saints has begun to reap real dividends and they are set for some real advancements in the near future. It's a real privilege to be a part of their company!

By the way, the leadership is largely in the hands of young couples with growing families. While it seems that some branches of the so-called grace movement have experienced a significant "graying," this is not the case with most of those with whom we fellowship. That is something that causes my heart to rejoice--especially as I myself grow grayer!

Dan Cobb put the studies live on Paltalk so folks from the net were able to join us live. Dan is a jewel, a faithful servant to those looking for Bible study information.

Cynthia and I are staying at the Stouts' ocean front motel--Twin Rocks Motel. We have a spectacular view of the Twin Rocks and the vista of the Pacific. This is a place we could really get used to! The Stouts have are such generous hosts, making our stay enjoyable in every way. Bill and Dennis' parents began attending these meetings from their earliest days. The brothers also go "way back" in this annual conference. Sharing this weekend with them has become something I look forward to each year. It is another example of the "fellowship in the gospel."

We will be spending Monday and Tuesday in the Portland area, flying back to Chicago on Wednesday. Life/ministry goes on.


Monday, September 15, 2008

Ones On the Way

I have often reported that grand kids are God’s reward to parents for not killing their own kids. As grand parents of seven lively and wonderful grandchildren, Cynthia and I have discovered that everything we ever heard about grand kids is true. They are wonderful!

We just got word that David and Stacy are joining the “three-boys-club.” Stacy is pregnant and they have learned that it will be another son. We had three boys. Rick and Jody both had twins; they have one boy and four girls between them. David has traveled the all-boy route. Rick’s twins just turned thirteen; he called last week and offered to send them to live with us until they are eighteen! Payback is sweet!!

Marvin and Louise Taylor are great-grand parents. Marvin says, however, that nothing surpasses grand children. I believe he is right.

Anyway, for ages I have been collecting “grand parent thoughts.” To celebrate number eight being "on the way," I thought I’d share one of them with you. We thank God for our grandchildren. And we pray for them—daily, fervently. I pray that they know:

--enough of sin to drive them to the Savior, to make them understanding toward others and to keep them humble.

--enough of failure to turn them to the overcoming grace of God and make them wise and strong and smart.

--enough of heartache to appreciate the comfort of the Holy Spirit and to fill them with kindness.

--enough of betrayal to appreciate God’s faithfulness and make them loyal.

--enough of struggle and hardships to find strength in Christ alone and make them faithful.

--enough of the bruises in life to toughen them and make them gentle.

--enough of disappointments to open their eyes about people and give them discernment and judgment.

--enough of ugliness to appreciate the beauty always found in the heart of God and in His creation.

Enough--but no more than that, please.

If it were up to me, I would keep them from sin and pain and heartaches. And yet, I know all too well how these dark elements in life build character within us when they are mixed with God’s abounding grace available in Jesus Christ. The ever abundant, all-sufficient grace of God teaches us—and thus from our sin, we learn the blessings of mercy and grace; in our pain, we learn strength and endurance; through heartaches, we comprehend love and faithfulness.

Above all and through all this, I pray that they may grow up to know intimately, love intensely, and serve intelligently the God of all Grace, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Proverbs 17:6 says, "Children’s children are the crown of old men." Cynthia and I are the happy possessors of eight such crowns--from the oldest to the youngest: Danielle, Ricky, Emily, Kayla, Hanna, Nathan, Bryant and “one’s on the way.” No gift in life has filled us with greater joy and purer pleasure than the children of our children. If you knew them, you would accuse the Almighty of favoritism toward us.


Thursday, September 11, 2008

Good News on 9-11-08

In the “good news today” department: The experiment that could have eaten the world was a success and we’re apparently still here. There is a fine line between scientific endeavor (which we applaud) and the arrogance of man as shown at the Tower of Babel. Sometimes you’ve got to wonder what we’re shooting for.

We love mankind’s desire and ability to explore, discover and understand--love huge engineering tasks that display collective learning, achievements and advancements. But science can be a religion—the CERN complex one of its cathedrals.

Theoretical physicists may well be “bracing themselves for a revolution” and experiencing “palpable excitement.” Believers, however, are looking forward to hearing more about how God has wired up this universe that He spoke into existence.


911 and 4

A friend mentioned to me the other day that she could tell how busy I was by how often I update my blog. That’s not too far off, actually! Almost daily I will think of something to write about, many times even making a note to myself to remind me later to post it. Then life gets in the way. Yesterday, for example, I had three counseling sessions, made two hospital calls, studied for four hours, answered a couple of dozen emails, wrote five letters and spent time with Cynthia (who was babysitting sick grand kids most of the day) trying to figure out what to do about her dad’s sudden turn of bad health (he experienced heart failure Tuesday evening and is in intensive care at the moment)—should she go down there; wait until things develop further?

Anyway, I’m not complaining, just letting you know I am not sitting under a juniper tree sipping D.P. all day. But you already knew that!

We were in Ridge Farm last weekend. The Leaches came from PA to attend the conference and visit for a few days. Morris has been trying to get us to a local steak house for years, so we went down early to enjoy an evening with the Chesnuts before the conference got going. Dan Gross, Ray Keable, Morris and I were the speakers. I taught John 1:29, John 6:29 and John 20:29—needed to get those “29s” out of my system!

They returned to PA Tuesday evening—traveling via Amtrack—and got home Wednesday evening ok. Its always good when they come for a visit. We get to laugh a lot.

This morning I watched a few moments of the 911 memorial service from the Pentagon. I was struck that the news channels had people talking—talking—talking during the activities, even up to and including the moment of “silence.” I suppose they can’t help themselves—they obviously think they have such important things to say and love hearing themselves saying it. Thank God for C-Span, where I eventually got to watch what was going on.

While on C-Span, I noticed they were playing a press conference (on one of their other channels) where Ron Paul was speaking. Frankly, he makes too much sense to be a politician! His idea of America being a republic and not an empire would go a long way to solving many of our so-called international problems.

That got me to thinking: I prefer celebrating July 4th. Oh, I understanding remembering September 11 and why we do that too. But few still have memorial moments for December 7th—Pearl Harbor Day; or many other such important dates I could list and no one would know why.

But we all know July 4th. I like it best because it represents the best of what America is all about. Freedom. Liberty. What concepts! These are essentially Christian concepts; at their root they are Bible concepts. They certainly have nothing to do with religion! Nor human wisdom or philosophy. Nor politics, for that matter!

What a juncture in history when the forces of national life and spiritual awakening converged to form the most amazing moment in the history of the Time of the Gentiles! A new land open for discovery and development; a place to put into form and substance the spiritual impact of the Protestant Reformation; a opportunity to throw off Saul’s armor and walk with David’s sandals and sling.

As we watch the tail lights of this “great experiment” slowing disappearing over the dam, I still like to remember what was. So, as I go to make next week’s radio programs (my big task for the day) and study for Sunday and the upcoming Oregon conference, my mind is buoyed by the memory that even when folks don’t fully realize it (as our founding fathers surely didn’t), God’s Word has an impact that far exceeds what seems possible or real. That’s true for nations. It’s true for you and me too.


Tuesday, August 26, 2008


FYI: That is the year Dr. Pepper was introduced, making it the oldest major soft drink. Coke didn't debut until 1886.

Just thought you should know.


Monday, August 18, 2008

Odds and Ends

The saints at Berean Bible Ministries, San Juan Capistrano, had a memorial service in honor of our friend Keith Spoelstra's promotion to glory. Keith has been a champion for the message of grace on the west coast since the 1950's and will be missed by us all. You can listen to the service on their web site at HelpersOfYourJoy.com.

We had a very busy weekend. Last week was my week to put together a month's worth of radio: that's 20 Daily Bible Time and 4 Riches of Grace programs. I now have a studio set up at the church building so I'm no longer making the programs at home--my home studio was taken over by Cynthia in a bedroom remodeling project! This makes it a bit more of a formal process to make the program. At home, I could do it on a "when-I'm-ready" schedule (in shorts and tee shirt!); at the church building I have to at least get dressed up a bit more!

Anyway, it is a great privilege to still be doing radio. I believe in radio. We do TV and I know how tremendously effective it can be. But TV is still "owned" by the charismatic/Word of Faith crowd. Radio, on the other hand, has long been the bastion of more evangelical focused ministries. We have been on our station in Chicago, Salem Communication's WYLL (AM1160), since March 1992. It has been the base from which we have established churches across the Chicago metro area. We are also on a dozen stations in different states. Between the radio and cable television program we average over 300 phone calls per month--the great majority of which are first time callers!

You can hear our weekly and daily radio programs at ShorewoodBibleChurch.org. Check them out!

Saturday morning we had the last summer edition of our Timothy Fellowship. Alex gave an excellent study on "redeeming the time," after which a dozen men hit the streets to pass out gospel literature in our neighborhood. In the late afternoon we enjoyed a "third wedding celebration" for Jen and Bill Hatters--a delightful backyard bash. They "got married in a fever" without telling anyone, then had a ceremony in Seattle for their west coast friends and now here for friend in the Midwest. Now we all believe its true!

In between all this, Cynthia worked on CD and DVD orders, along with restocking the GSB shelves, making over 2,000 copies. Friday we took receipt of another shipment of 4,000 CDs and 2,000 DVDs along with albums, cases and shipping material. It is a lot of work, but wonderful to see the message going out!

Sunday morning I began teaching the book of Philippians. We are beginning our study in Philippians by spending three weeks in the Book of Joshua--not exactly a normal beginning, I realize. Many years ago, F. B. Myers wrote about the comparison between Joshua and Ephesians (J. Sidlow Baxter picked up on this in his excellent book, Explore the Book). The idea is that Joshua focuses on "possessing your possessions"--taking actual possession of the promised land; the same emphasis is found in Ephesians, only directed as possessing the "all spiritual blessings" bestowed upon the Body of Christ.

Paul's epistles are arranged in our Bible according to a spiritual design intended to produce the "godly edification" needed to perfect the saints. This "milk to meat"/"childhood to adulthood" progression follows the "doctrine, reproof, correction" pattern: Ephesian (doctrine), Philippians (reproof), Colossians (correction). As we recognize this relationship, we properly appreciate the Divinely intended impact of Philippians.

Unfortunately, it seems the self-absorbed nit-wittery of our age has christened Philippians as the "Handbook of Happiness" and the "Epistle of Joy." While joy and rejoicing are certainly present in this epistle, it's real focus is more readily seen in Phil. 1:9-11, 2:12, 13 and 3:14. "Working out" the appropriation of our life in Christ by abounding in "knowledge and judgment" that gives us the single mindedness to press toward that mark--in other words, to "possess our possessions" in the details of our lives. Actually, Philippians contains no less than ten specific examples demonstrating how to put "grace into shoe leather" (the path, of course, to true joy and rejoicing!). Since that is how Joshua 1:3 begins that book's focus, it is fascinating to see how Philippians also parallels Joshua in these areas. Interesting to me, anyway. You can listen to the studies on ShorewoodBibleChurch.org and decide for yourself!


Sunday, August 10, 2008

Farwell to Solzhenitsyn

I actually had the following written before I got word about Brother Spoelstra’s homegoing. I, frankly, didn’t want to take away from its importance so have waited a few more days to post the following. Two great saints at home in one week!

Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn, writer, Nobel Prize winner, and the most famous Soviet dissident died at the age of 89 on August 3, 2008 in his home near Moscow. He lived a long and hard life, but he died the way that he wanted to: "He wanted to die in the summer – and he died in the summer," his wife Natalya said. "He wanted to die at home – and he died at home.”

Solzhenitsyn spent many years in the Soviet Gulag system and wrote his masterful Gulag Archipelago to chronicle the horrors of the brutal labor camps. One of Russia’s greatest writers, he will be remembered as an unyielding champion of freedom who dedicated himself to revealing the horrors of socialism and exposing the ultimate evil of Lenin, Stalin and their cabal of mass murderers. He became a moral and spiritual leader who exposed and condemned the nefarious nature of the socialist ideology that served as the basis for the monstrous communist slave camps established from Siberia to Ethiopia, Cuba to Vietnam, China and Yugoslavia.

Exiled from Russia in the early 1970’s he taught at Stanford University for awhile and later moved to Vermont where he lived with his family for years. In 1990 Gorbachev restored his citizenship and he returned to Russia in 1994 and actively participated in the reform process.

I had the opportunity to meet Solzhenitsyn in the mid-80’s. He was working on editing his works in English with a son of one of the saints in our assembly here. We traveled to where they were working and had the privilege of spending a brief time with him. He had a clear testimony of trusting Christ as his Savior and was quite forthright in saying that it was God’s grace that had and did sustain him through difficulties and joys, alike.

A short article chronicling his life can be read here.


Friday, August 8, 2008


Down South there is an old saying, “When in trouble, remember your 8’s.” The reference is to Romans 8 and the verses containing 8—verses 18, 28, 38. It’s good advice!

The first twelve years of a century contain a day like today, at least as far as the calendar is concerned. But today will be a special one to remember. No, not because the Olympics began today in China. The Olympics long ago ceased to be about simply athletics and became a political party for the use of propaganda. No, something far more memorable happened on 08-08-08.

This afternoon our dear friend and fellow soldier, Keith Spoelstra, graduated into the presence of the Savior he loved and served for seven decades. In the Scripture, the number 8 is the number of a new beginning. So it is for Brother Keith—and triply so!

I saw Keith in the hospital last Monday and reminded him that soon he would be with the Lord Jesus and once again see his beloved Lilly. His eyes sparkled with joy, even as they moisten with emotion. John Verstegen saw him yesterday and related to me how Keith, though almost too weakened to speak, would finish the verses John was reading to him. Such are the last days/thoughts of a veteran soldier.

Keith and Lilly were in our home often in years gone by. Their wit was irrepressible; sort of an on-going stand-up comedy team. Our boys loved them!

My favorite memory of Keith has always been of him debating II Thessalonians 2:13 at the Cedar Lake Conference in the late 1970’s. It was my first trip to the Berean Bible Fellowship’s summer conference. I arrived only to discover that there was a controversy raging over Calvinism. No one seemed willing to engage the debate too fiercely, perhaps because most of the BBF leaders were themselves Calvinistic, really rejecting only the one point of Limited Atonement.

But Keith (along with Harland Shriver, Floyd Baker and a few others) were standing against the tide. Actually, Keith was doing so more openly than anyone I could locate that week. One afternoon Q&A session was given to a “debate” over II Thessalonians 2:13. On the Calvinist side was a brother who was touted as the smartest of the smart, an unbeatable debater. Then there was Keith. From Win Johnson on down, Keith was considered, jokingly, at best to have “no chance.”

Since I didn’t really know any of these brethren, I watched and listened with keen interest. The Calvinist did his usual song and dance through II Thess. 2:13—all the while making it clear that his use of the Nestle-Aland Greek text was to be unchallenged. Then it was Keith’s turn. Everyone seemed to wonder at his foolishness to expose himself to such an opponent; what would/could he possible say to this presentation.

Well, it was amazing. Keith simply read the verse, going through it phrase by phrase from a purely dispensational point of view (what an idea at a mid-Acts conference!!). The verse came alive in front of my eyes: The “salvation” in the verse was salvation from the danger in the contest—verses 1-12’s exposition of the Anti-Christ and the 70th week of Daniel. The “beginning” was located by the fact the Thessalonians were called to this salvation by “our gospel” (v. 14)—I can still remember Keith stretching his neck, cocking his head and asking, “And when did Paul’s gospel begin to be preached?” The only answer that crowd could give was obvious: the beginning of the Dispensation of Grace. His conclusion: From the very beginning of the dispensation of grace God had chosen the Body of Christ to be saved from the culmination of the Lie Program destined to culminate in the 70th week of Daniel by it being delivered into the “eternal glory” of our Lord Jesus Christ at the rapture. In other words, the verse is talking about the "pre-trib" rapture!

Having thus completely rid the verse of the Calvinist’s assumptions, he sat down. The Calvinist brother quickly dismissed as foolish all Keith had said and gave another Greek lesson. For Keith’s rejoinder he simply said, “Well, in my Bible the verse still says the same thing it did a moment ago,” then reviewed what he previously said and went on to point out the weaknesses in the Calvinist’s assumptions and assertions.

It was that clear appreciation for the rightly divided Word of God and his simply grasp of great truths that won my heart and endeared this Brother to so many of us. That week I was privileged to become a friend to Keith and “Doctor Lilly” (as Mel Dary always called her). They quietly gave me a copy of Keith’s book on Calvinsim that had been banned by the BBF Board from distribution at their conference—they took me to lunch to give it to me (they gave me several more copies to take home out of the trunk of their car after the conference had ended!).

When we exited the BBF in the late 80’s due our unwillingness to adopt their view that the KJB is filled with mistakes and errors, Keith joined our fellowship of rejects. He was already highly regarded by our brethren and continues to be so even now. He didn’t have to stand with all those “young men” but he did so because his heart was with us. Frankly, I believe he saw the life, the conviction, the future (if you will) in those rejected brethren and I think he recognized that we were indeed his crowd. I, for one, have never regretted going outside the “camp” of the establishment of the so-called grace movement. Neither did Keith.

At any rate, a soldier has moved to heaven and we shall miss him. By the way, Keith was awarded the Purple Heart twice as a soldier during WWII, but his real soldiering came his service for his Savior. Even in his last few years when preaching has not been possible he was a constant testimony for the gospel of grace to those about him and a heartening encouragement to the saints in Southern California and across the country. As Paul said of David, “after he had served his own generation by the will of God, he fell on sleep” (Acts 13:36). Now the baton is in our hands. May we follow his example!


Sunday, August 3, 2008

Having Fun Too

I just finished teaching the last camp session of the day. We leave after the morning meeting tomorrow. We have had a truly blessed time.

One interesting occurrence was that I had to preach in my pajamas this evening. Well, its a bit of a story. This afternoon I have been wearing a pair of cargo shorts that it turns out I slept in last night (I can't really remember why!). After supper I went to our room to change and couldn't get in because Cynthia had locked the door and I didn't have my key. She didn't arrive at the meeting hall until we were underway and it was too late for me to change. So, it was really her fault I had to preach in the pj's--something I've never done before but that the crowd thought was great. I was also wearing my "Ricky Ricardo shirt" (actually a really nice Cubavera) so it was a good thing there is no video of the meeting!

When I finished tonight, closing in prayer, immediately every hand the the hall went up! They were, of course, playing a joke on me. It isn't the first time that has happened at camp! Anyway, I do appreciate the fellowship we have in the gospel of grace--and that we can have loads of fun along the way. I had pointed out during my message that God has quite a sense of humor--I didn't realize it would be demonstrated in such a dramatic fashion at the end of the study!

At the moment, while I'm using his computer again, Dan is discussing his adventure with Mitch Schmidlin to visit several cemeteries in the LA area. Turns out he once discovered a dead aunt he didn't realize had died--although she would be 120+ if she was still alive! This trip was to show Mitch (who is from Michigan) some of the graves of famous people. Actually its something I might like to do--but I'm married! Dan and Mitch aren't.

Goes to prove that "after meetings" can go down hill quick! But we are having lots of good laughs.


Saturday, August 2, 2008

Hello From the Mountains

I'm writing this note from the San Jancinto mountains in Southern California. Idyllwild is the nearest town--about 6,000 feet elevation. Beautiful setting. We drove up from the coast with the "three Dutch gals" (Helen, Paula and Rachel) here for the conference. It was fascinating watching them take in the terrain--desert, lakes, hill country and then real mountains. They are having a great time seeing America and rejoicing to get to know the grace believers here.

Camp has been great. I had a "bad day" Thursday--I still forget that I can't do everything! Otherwise, I've been ok. The preaching--by Keith Baxter, my son Rick and John Verstegen--has been right on the mark. It is wonderful to see parents with kids that I knew when they were kids themselves! To see how God's Word has taken root and borne fruit makes the years of camp ministry more than rewarding!

One interesting feature of this meeting is the Q&A session after each study. The informal nature of the setting allows more give and take and keeps everyone on their toes. This morning before Keith had finished his closing prayer hands were already up!

One lady came in yesterday who has been involved (with her husband) in the ministry of Gene Scott. She has been listening to PalTalk and come to an understanding of right division and the grace life. Thanks to Dan Cobb (dandc_3 on PT) our teaching sessions have been on line. He also let me use his computer to post this note (on the condition I say something nice about him). Check HelpersOfYourJoy.com to hear the messages.

This morning we got a call that our dear friend and fellow soldier Keith Spoelstra had a heart attach yesterday. Now in his 90's his future is uncertain as far as recovery--his eternal future is secure, however. Keith has preached the message of grace for decades, coming from a grace family that goes back to the "early days" of the grace movement. Soon he will move to heaven; we'll miss him but for him t will be "far better."

The news about Brother Spoelstra (who has ministered many times at this camp) makes our joy all the more sobering and real. Far more than an emotion/circumstance based happiness, the joy of the Lord flows from the God of hope filling us with joy and peace in believing (Rom. 15:13).


Monday, July 28, 2008

Ready To Go, Again

I just finished packing my suitcase. I leave in the morning for California. Cynthia and the AZ grandkids flew out this morning to Mesa. It has been great having them here for almost the whole month of July. I know they are glad to be home, but we'll miss the excitement and "action" they bring to the house! But first we have one more week together in the mountains of southern California.

Cynthia will drive over from Mesa with Rick and family along with some of the saint from there. I am flying directly to Orange County along with Susi Grist who is from Sweden. She has been here for several weeks to attend conferences and didn't want to fly to a strange airport alone (and there is little stranger than a California airport!); I didn't want to make the 8+ hour drive, and I also I got an extra day to catch up on things here.

The California Family Camp has long been a wonderful time of fellowship and blessing. Headed up by John and Lori Verstegen and the saints from Berean Bible Ministries, San Juan Capistrano, folks from across the southwest (and beyond) assemble in Idylwild to enjoy the beautiful mountains and rejoice in the message of grace. I'll be speaking each evening; John, Rick and Keith Baxter will be teaching in the mornings.

I got an email Monday from a brother who listens to our Sunday services via the videocast from Shorewood. He commented that "You were really diggin' taters this morning!" That's a way of saying that the message was really hitting home--and it's music to the ears of an Alabama boy. I learned years ago that teaching/preaching needs to aim at the heart as well as the head. I pray earnestly that I not only make the message accurate and clear, but that it also hits the intended target--the heart of the hearer. There is nothing more exciting than having God's Word "working effectually in you that believe." And there is little that compares with "so speaking that a multitude believes." I hope to dig some taters in California this week!


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Forgotten Truths

I promised to get the address for Forgotten Truths on our web site and this blog, so here it is:

Forgotten Truths Ministries
13630 Common Road
Warren, MI 48088
(586) 778-5032

All donations are tax deductible, if that is important to you. You can send donations to the above address or call to use a charge card.

As we talked about at the conference, this ministry is having a tremendous impact and we simply can't imagine it going off the air. It is one of only two national television broadcasts that proclaim mid-Acts dispensationalism. For a short preview of the show, click here and here and here and here

A ministry like this is dependent on regular, monthly support in order to both continue and expand. Why not prayerfully consider the part you or your fellowship should be having in making this ministry possible. Forgotten Truths should be in your missions giving--and so should Grace School of the Bible, by the way!


Heads Up Today!

Cell Numbers Go Public Today!

REMINDER....all cell phone numbers are being released to telemarketing companies today and you will start to receive sale calls.

YOU WILL BE CHARGED FOR THESE CALLS. To prevent this, call the following number from your cell phone: 888-382-1222. It is the National DO NOT CALL list. It will only take a minute of your time. It blocks your number for five (5) years. You must call from the cell phone number you want to have blocked. You cannot call from a different phone number. It takes about 20 seconds, but you must call from the number you want blocked.

Or go online to www.donotcall.gov to register.

(HT to Charolette Randolph for the reminder!)


Great Time In Palatine

When we arrived home last Friday from the conference our Internet connection was down. Comcast has just now gotten it going again. There is slow and slower; we seemed to be on the slowest side of the service list!

We did have a great time at the GraceImpact '08 conference. The new location was a good move, it seems. Great facilities!

The Internet connection at the hotel wasn't the best but, thanks to Bob and Lou and David and Edward and Little Rick and a couple others, we did manage to stream the preaching sessions fairly successfully. We sure had lots of good feedback from those joining via the net. This looks like it has a future!

This morning I took the last of our house guests to the airport. The Baxters went home Saturday, David and his family left Sunday, the Strydoms left Tuesday and Alice Candee moved out this morning. Our Arizona grand kids are still here until next Monday. At least the house is not completely quiet yet!

Debbie Keable and Cynthia are pretty worn out. So are Kathy Wouters and the folks who worked so hard with her to provide the children's program and activities. It is a wonder to watch these ladies labor so tirelessly and with such skill and love. I long ago abandoned the effort of trying to keep up with Cynthia; Ray doesn't try to keep up with Debbie anymore, either; Jeff never even thought about keeping up with Kathy--its the steel-plate-in-the-head thing (that's an inside joke I wont try to explain!). We just "wonder" around attempting to stay out of the way, thanking the Lord for our good fortune in the spouse department!


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Support Our Show (S.O.S.)

Tuesday, 8:45 p.m.

An amazing thing just happened in our evening meeting. Tom Bruscha of Grace Bible Church, Warren, Michigan, gave a report on Forgotten Truths (our weekly TV program aired mainly over DirectTV). Frankly the report is a bit discouraging. Income to the program has been on a downward trend for some months. When I was there making programs last month we made the decision about how we would end the broadcast if necessary.

Tom reported to the conference audience that we face the almost unthinkable task of take Forgotten Truths off of DirectTV by the end of September if things continue as they are now. A dear saint, an elderly, retired school teacher, spoke from the audience about how the program couldn’t be allowed to end. I’ve known Zelma for some time so I invited her to give her testimony.

She told of being in religious bondage for almost seven decades, only to be liberated into the sunlight of grace by watching “a strange looking man furiously drawing on a chalkboard.” “ I saw the program by accident and it change my whole life.”

Zelma lives in a project on Chicago’s Southside. Yet I know that she already gives, as she says, “out of my poverty” to get the message of grace out. Now she was asking how to help on a monthly basis with Forgotten Truths. “I’d be ashamed if that program went off the air,” she declared, adding, “I just don’t understand grace people!”

One man arose from the audience to say that he wanted to help. He offered a challenge: He would match any gifts up to $5,000 to keep Forgotten Truths going. Before he finished his statement a lady raised her hand to contribute $6,000! Then a couple offered $2,000 and another couple another $2,000 and another man $1,000. In a matter of three minutes not only had the $5,000 challenge been met but more than doubled!

It was touching; amazing. I know all of these folks and, frankly, outside of the man who gave the original challenge all the others were giving out of much more limited resources. Yet the message of grace has gripped their hearts and they simply could not see the silencing of our television show. This was not an “emotional” appeal, but rather a very serious minded moment that was touching to behold as it unfolded.

My own wife and I had decided some time ago to donate our government “stimulus” check to the work of the ministry—half to Grace School of the Bible and half to Forgotten Truths. We know what it is to sacrifice for the ministry and the joy of ownership it gives. It was wonderful to witness others join in that blessed fellowship.

So, rather than Save Our Show we say: Support Our Show. Forgotten Truths is one of only two national programs proclaiming the Word rightly divided over our nations airways. It is, in fact, the only one that does so from a King James Bible believing viewpoint, with a grace-life emphasis and a clear understanding of grace edification issues. If these things are dear to you, perhaps you should join our S.O.S.


Grace Impact '08

I haven’t had time to send out a note until this morning. We are having a great time at the conference. It doesn’t surprise me, but it does thrill me! This year, due especially to the economic challenges we all face and the new venue we had to adopt, we really had no idea how attendance would be or how the accommodations would work out. Turns out that both have been better than we have expected.

Attendance is about the same as last year—which is exceptional given the costs of gas! It looks like we will not drop below the 200 mark until the last day. Some folks simply can’t “endure to the end!” We have a great host of first timers this year.

The Internet has enhanced this a bit by allowing those not able to make the trip to attend via the live streaming. It has been a bit spotty due to service interruptions caused by the hotel’s system getting overloaded, but for the most part it’s gone well. We had, for example, 12 hookups this morning as soon as we logged on—at 6:45 a.m.! In other words, viewers were up earlier than we were! Every time service has been interrupted we have almost immediately gotten at least half a dozen emails telling us the connection had been lost! Bob, Lou, David and Edward have done a great job with the sound and recording systems, along with the Internet. My twelve year old grand son, Rick, has been our evening camera man—taking after his dad who started at thirteen!

This is the 25th Anniversary of Grace School of the Bible. We aren’t waving lots of banners or passing out awards, however. Rather we are demonstrating exactly what the school is about by allowing its fruits to speak for it. Rarely, in our day, can you gather such a group of men to preach the rightly divided Word with such clarity and power. Men with a message are what our ministry has always been about. I realize many even in the so-called grace movement don’t care for us; that’s ok. We really don’t mind. It saves us from the confusion of compromise and accommodation such associations foster. I learned years ago that one of the most effective means of protecting my ministry is to speak boldly the things we believe.

There is often a call for “unity” among the saints. This is almost always done in the context of “getting us together” in some organization or association or endeavor. But, as many of the saints of ages past have pointed out, this is too often simply a call for “union,” not real “unity.” The fact is, if you are preaching Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the mystery and I am preaching Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the mystery—then we are united in the truest sense of the word, even if we are not in the same fellowship/location/organization/association. Some folks, however, aren’t satisfied with having a local ministry—or perhaps are unable to generate one—and thus seek to ride on the coat tails of others. I can almost guarantee you that if you will get busy winning lost folks and edifying saints where you are, soon you’ll have so much to do that you will not be so concerned about what others are doing where they are! It is an interesting thing.

One of the joys we have experience over the past 25 years is a true unity among the brethren. Last evening, for example, we had an after-meeting with our preachers to discuss a couple of doctrinal questions that seem to raise their heads from time to time (e.g., the question of the place of “works” in the justification/salvation of O.T. saints; the security of believers in Time Past). We desire to speak with a unified voice on these type things and, frankly, some of the “traditional” statements of mid-Acts dispensationalists have been less than clear on some of these matters. So we met, had a couple of presentations of various views and then a long study session of give and take. It lasted about three hours, will continue this evening, and was a delightful time of give and take. The evident spirit of warm regard among brethren was a benediction. I’ve seen meetings like this turn into blood baths! Not so with men schooled in the grace life. PTL!

It is this type “fruit” that tells me we have been and are on the right path. Making the edification of the believer through Paul’s specific design for this task our goal has rewarded us with a most unique fellowship. The thing I have heard so many so often call for, we are privileged to experience. It is humbling to be part of such a group of grounded, godly men.

But, hey, don’t get me wrong: we’ve got plenty of problems! That’s why it takes grace as our life to make it happen. Frankly, what makes something true is not how effective it's supporters are able to apply it, but "what saith the Scriptures." Its just touching to see grace truth be more than a doctrine to believe, but also become a life to live.

Please join us via the web-cast if you.


Friday, July 11, 2008

Newest Form of Evangelism Motivation

We are surviving the pre-conference party! Sixteen of us are enjoying close communion in our little domicile--and having a great time. The Strydoms and Baxters were both delayed arriving yesterday due to bad weather but we finally collected everyone and had all in bed by 3:00 a.m. this morning!

One treat is the time to catch up on what's happening in everyone's lives. It also give us a chance to have lots of fun. One of the high points came when Keith shared the following clip with us about the newest methodology in the field of confrontational evangelism motivation. You'll get a kick out of this one too:

Linebacker Evangelism at its finest! Click here for the YouTube video and get ready to be motivated!

We begin the summer conference tomorrow evening. George Foyer told me he would be praying for us like a Pentecostal (translate that "with great zeal and sincerity") and I recommend II Thess. 3:1,2 as a guide too.


Monday, July 7, 2008

Redeeming Some Time

Last week was a busy one. I was in Detroit Tuesday for TV taping. We made four programs and my energy level was really good. Tom came out of the production room after our second program to tell us that we had just finished my 700th program! We have done more than that, actually, but that is how many I have personally done. There have been times when we needed programs when I was not available and Tom or one of the other brethren made them.

We’ve been making The Message of Grace program for over 19 years. Currently we receive (on average) 300+ calls per month from our TV and radio programs. The Forgotten Truths calls go to Detroit and average something in the 20+ range each week for first-time callers. Keeps everyone busy!

Our three Arizona grandkids also arrived last Tuesday. We have had a blast getting to know them again (how they are growing up!!!) and “grandpa training” them—I feel a great obligation to have them properly traumatized so as to be able to handle life successfully!

We spent the 4th at Jody’s with his family. Sunday was a good day at Shorewood, even though we had about 50 of our folks up in Wisconsin on a camping trip. They got back Sunday afternoon and seemed to be glad to be back in civilization. I still haven’t figured out exactly who won the paint-ball-war. For some reason the adults tell somewhat different versions than the teens.

This week we are preparing the final details for the summer conference. It begins Saturday evening, but folks start arriving Thursday—at least those staying at our house before the conference. We’ll have our David’s four, the Baxter four, the Strydom three, the Arizona three plus Cynthia and me. After the conference we’ll add Alice to the mix and perhaps a couple more. It makes for “close communion” but also a great time. I am ever thankful that my dear wife is given to hospitality—even though she is putting me on the family room floor with the boys! Oh, yea. “Company” gets our room, don’t ya know.

I think Lou and Bob have figured out the details for getting the conference sessions on to the Internet. If they are successful, the sessions will be video streamed live at ShorewoodBibleChurch.org. The schedule is on the Conference Page at GraceImpact.org. Join us and then let me know how it works.

Last Wednesday we actually had more hookups via Internet than we had people in the auditorium for the study! First time that’s happened that I know about. There is no reason for anyone to be “stranded” without a grace church to attend in light of modern technology!

Yesterday I taught two lessons that I did for TV last week. The teaching time on the TV program is 26 minutes; took twice that at church. Nice to have more time to “massage” the message in a bit! Topics: “Building on the Wrong Right Foundation” in the a.m. and “The Pause That Refreshes” in the p.m. They’ll be on the SBC web site for you to listen to. These were two rather strong messages about following Paul.

A couple of weeks ago someone pointed out to me that the name “Paul” not only means “little” (from its Latin meaning) but also “pause; to cease; to refresh” (the underlying Greek etymological meaning). I got to thinking: Little fits great with Eph. 3:7,8 and I Cor. 15:10; but Pause fits great too, since the ministry and message committed to Paul marks a dramatic pause in the prophetic program—just at the moment when prophecy called for Christ to “judge and make war” He interrupted the prophetic plan with the unprophecied mystery program of “grace and peace!!” Actually the “pause” meaning for Paul is a bit of a stretch (although a very interesting one if you have eyes to see it!) but it sure fits—and makes great preaching! And the message of grace is surely "the pause that refreshes!"

By the way, I am writing this from the waiting room of the car repair shop where Cynthia’s car is being worked on. Nothing like having car problems in the middle of a busy week! And naturally they can’t find anything wrong. Just wait till she drives it again—then we’ll see! For now, however, I'm just redeeming some time catching up here--and thanking God for laptops (I've also answer 22 emails sitting here)!