THREE OLD FRIENDS

January 23, 2022
Jim Tilley, Gary Eglinton, JD Wetterling

Three old men closing in on eight decades on earth–have been friends since we were students at a little government trade school on the eastern slope of the Rockies over half a century ago. Two graduated with distinction while I didn’t make the grade (another story of God’s grace) and took the college ROTC route to rejoin them as fighter pilots in the U.S. Air Force. We each survived a few hundred combat missions in Vietnam. Jim had a distinguished career in the cockpit in service to his country. Gary changed careers and distinguished himself in the medical profession in that hardest of all places to make it–New York New York. I retained the attention span of my childhood and bounced around in a few different trades. Today Jim is an ageless ski instructor in the High Sierras, Gary dwells among the swells of SW Florida but keeps his hand in his former profession while knocking around on his cruising cat; and I was led to volunteer work in the Lord’s vineyard in the mundane Midwest, an immensely gratifying ministry I was born for. All have been uncommon lives that we never could have imagined as we stood bracing in the ranks 60 summers ago.

A Sovereign God directed the steps of each, though they might not acknowledge that to the degree I do, and brought us through the valley of the shadow of death and gave us meaningful, productive lives. Amazing Grace! I pray that we’ll be enjoying far greater camaraderie in our Maker and Redeemer’s heaven a thousand years from now. Lord, may it be. Amen.

“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps” (Proverbs 16:9).

See you in church.

A TRAUMATIC WARNING

January 17, 2022

SINNERS IN THE HANDS OF AN ANGRY GOD, by Jonathan Edwards, July 8, 1741, is generally recognized as the greatest sermon ever delivered on the North American Continent. Listen to it delivered by Max McLean. I do not recommend you try to multitask while listening, especially driving! https://youtu.be/VWYEHEs8ZzU

Read a hard copy of the sermon here: https://www.jdwetterling.com/_b_sinners_in_the_hands_of_an_angry_god__b__126962.htm

A PRAYER FOR ONE WHO DOES NOT SEE

January 16, 2022

“[My friend], our days dwindle down to a precious few…”

Have you ever felt the burden of an old unsaved friend who is living out his latter days oblivious to the impending doom he faces? I have a few and the peril of their souls weighs heavily on me. How can you love a friend who does not know the Lord in a saving way and NOT warn him of his peril? God’s Word is clear on our mandate (Ezekiel 3:18–19). The most dismaying cases are those who casually claim to be a Christian and profess they are “good enough to get into heaven.” Such self-righteousness is the best evidence that they are not. If such were even possible the Son of God would never have needed to come to earth and endure the unimaginable pain of death on the cross.

Recently I had a phone conversation with one of those friends, catching up on how 2021 had gone, and I heard the last sad chapter in a string of tragic chapters for him in recent years. After a tormented night I awoke, concerned that he had reached the end of his rope and  thinking he just might be receptive to the only hope mankind has–God’s truth. I launched one more electronic effort, beginning with the quote above borrowed from one of my favorite Willie Nelson songs. He expressed his thanks but said, “I’m fine with my beliefs.” I have to forcibly remind my grieving self that I can only take God’s Word to my friend’s ear–God must get it from his ear to his heart. But “the God of endurance and encouragement” bids me to persevere in “the good fight of faith,” (Romans 15) and I am still left with a powerful weapon:

“The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working” (James 5:16).

I have no righteousness of my own but that imputed to me through my Lord and Savior’s atoning work on the cross. Dear Gracious God, though I am unworthy, I come to you in the righteousness of Christ which you have credited to me. Please give my friend a new heart and eyes to see your truth, then, Holy Spirit, incline his will to repent and believe it while there’s still time. I pray in Christ’s name, Amen.

God’s declaration: Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3).

God’s promise: “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you” (Ezekiel 36:26).

God’s explanation: “… it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13).

God’s gift: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

See you in church.

SWIFTLY FLOW THE DAYS

January 9, 2022

Four agragian urchins–siblings–circa 1948, in an antique version of a little red wagon. The Grapes of Wrath attire belie a wonderful, well-fed, well-loved childhood with one major upgrade during adolescence–indoor plumbing. All matriculated in a one-room country grade school, one of the last in Illinois, and were brought up in the fear and admonition of the Lord in a little Swedish Lutheran Church built by Grandfather and his friends. All four earned college degrees financed, with some scholarship help, by Dad on 160 acres … and one courageous, compassionate country banker. The younger two of 4 J’s (as Mom signed the Christmas cards) have gone to their reward and the eldest turns 80 tomorrow (Jerilyn, upper left). As the bride’s father sang in Fiddler…, “Swiftly flow the days.”

Life hasn’t been all roses for all of us–God did not promise such–but his goodness and mercy have followed us all our days, and we expect him to continue to fulfill the balance of that promise in his own good time: we shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever. (Psalm 23:6). Our Sovereign God reigns–what comfort, what peace amid the chaos of this convulsing culture.

James 4:14 (ESV): What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever (Psalm 23:6).

But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”— (1 Corinthians 2:9)

See you in church.

JOY

January 2, 2022

This ought to give those activist atheists excited over the perceived decline of Christianity reason for pause: My favorite Bible app, much used and much-loved, called YouVersion, loaded with features, including a vast inventory of Bible reading plans and daily devotionals, one of just dozens of apps on the market, nearly all of which are free, recently announced they passed the 500 million downloads milestone! They finance their operation entirely on donations so there are no advertisements in them. In their year-end fundraising post on social media they reported the following:

IN A SINGLE SECOND OF EVERY DAY:
–Two people install YouVersion Bible app
–1,179 people load a chapter of the Bible
–227 people play  a chapter of audio
–4 people start a Bible plan
–11 people share a verse on social media

Every second, 24/7! Those numbers are truly mind-boggling! And that’s just one Bible app of many. The Holy Spirit is at work in the world, just as God’s Word promises. Pay no mind to the crisis-mongers, the Gates of Hell will not prevail. Our God reigns! Face the New Year with optimism and joy in your heart–your best coping mechanism and your very best witness. When dejection and discouragement threaten, take it from James (1:2): “Count it all joy….”  Rest always in the Son of God’s umbreakable promise to his chosen: “…No one will take away your joy” (John 16:22b). To do otherwise belies your faith. And remind me I said this in the year ahead when you see my post veering  into Chicken Little’s ditch. Joyful New Year.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope” (Romans 15:13).

See you in church.

https://youversion.com/the-bible-app/

ANOTHER YEAR BESTOWED

December 31, 2021

Introspection and counting blessings, home alone with my bride, are my thing on New Year’s Eve. Back in my skydiving college days my uncle boldly predicted that I would not see my 25th birthday. There were some times in the war when I thought he was going to be right. For nearly four score years I have lived two standard deviations from the mean–an uncommon life uncommonly blessed. There is a God and he is merciful to fools and fighter pilots and incorrigible sinners. I am living proof.

I am grateful to my Sovereign God for giving me another year, well beyond the lifespan of the last three generations of Wetterling men. He has fixed the quantity of my days so I can focus on the quality, to enjoy life with the wife whom I love, all the days of my vain life that he has given me under the sun, because that is my God-given portion in life. (Eccl. 9:9). And by his grace I will run with endurance the race that is set before me (Heb. 12:1).

With one small edit the meme-maker speaks for me this New Year’s Eve. I look back on my life and I am seriously impressed I’m still alive…because I know why: By the grace of God alone, an old acquaintance that will never be forgot, from whom all blessings flow and to whom is due all my praise and worship for time and eternity.

O God, you’ve numbered all my days
Before the first one was.
They dwindle down but they’re your ways--
My fitness you must cause.
Please stoke in me a heart ablaze,
Eradicate my flaws.
I need your grace in these last days
To get my Lord's applause.
Amen.

SOUL BROTHERS

December 29, 2021

I don’t know if time exists in heaven, but if it does my soul brother/blood brother, John, is celebrating his 6th anniversary today, and “there’s no less days to sing God’s praise than when they first begun.” He promised to hold a seat for me at the marriage supper of the Lamb, but far more importantly, so did The Lamb. See you soon, beloved brother, in our Sovereign God’s own good time.

“Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb” (Revelation 19:9).

“Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29a).

HARK!

December 26, 2021

This applies to all y’all…all the time. Perhaps you’ve seen that meme that’s going around. “Q: Do I need Jesus to go to heaven? A: You need Jesus to go to Walmart.” This is why he came. As you celebrate the season, forget not the reason that babe was born in Bethlehem–omnipotent God veiled in helpless human flesh, came to die for the salvation of many. From the splendor of his throne room to the stench and squalor of the manger, to a humiliating, agonizing slow death on a very public cross between two criminals, he came to die to save depraved, rebellious souls.

Non-believers who do not know Christ as their Lord and Savior live life oblivious to the reality of their impending doom. The birth of Jesus is the Divine Solution for those who believe. The Incarnate Deity died…for me!  He is “…a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11), who is with “you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).

“…if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).

“I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

See you in church. We’ll sing, “Glory to the newborn king….” May it reverberate in your brain and resonate in your heart forever.

JOY TO THE WORLD

December 25, 2021

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger” (Luke 2:8–12).

This Christmas Day seek that Savior, friend, and know that joy. He is Christ the Lord. He is the answer to what ails you and this fallen world.

“…seek the Lord your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul” (Deuteronomy 4:29).

Merry Christmas

FLIGHT PLANNED FOR HOME

December 22, 2021

A Christmas message to old friends:

Dear old fighter pilots,

Here’s my Christmas wish–decidedly unwoke: When my allotted days are up (Psalm 139:16), please don’t say that I “flew west.” When it applies to ourselves and our loved ones, we sure come up with some esoteric euphemisms to keep from choking up on that “d” word that we were so cavalier about when it applied to the enemy. But we’ll be just as dead…to the world.

I don’t know what’s west, but I know where I am going. I am flight planned to fly home (my forever home in heaven) and it’s been signed off by the Head Shed, and I’m just cooling my jets in a mighty comfy alert shack with the love of my life awaiting the call to launch, which I do not anticipate anytime soon.

How can I be so sure I’m flying home? It has everything to do with that babe born in the manger in the Middle East 2000 years ago, the Son of God who, at great cost and incomprehensible Grace ransomed my soul, and the irresistible power of the Holy Spirit that changes hearts. Unworthy? For sure! Grateful? Overwhelmingly so!

If our Sovereign God can work a miracle in my stone cold heart, he can do the same for you, if he hasn’t already. May you all enjoy that gift this Christmas.

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11).


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