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.