HOW SHOULD WE THEN LIVE IN AMERICAN BABYLON?

September 18, 2021

“Armed with a big vision of God and a passion for divine grace,” Dr. Owen Strahan this past week declared, “The world is on fire, but our God reigns. We must always remember that.”

In 1976 Francis Schaeffer wrote his classic,  How Should We Then Live, a life-changing book for many readers over the years and it’s
more relevant today than ever. This week Dr. Strahan, in his weekly podcast, The Antithesis, picks up Schaeffer’s mantle, in my view, with his timely message entitled, “Plant Gardens: On Living Like an Israelite in Babylon.”

Strahan reads from Jeremiah 29:4-7: “…thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.”

Strahan’s commentary prompted much thought and soul-searching. Unlike the Israelites of Jeremiah’s day, God has not sent Christians in America into exile in Babylon, but He has brought the modern equivalent to America. Note well that God spoke through Jeremiah “…to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile.” They did not get there by accident, they got there by God’s design–He sent them. Like 21st century America, Israel compromised its faith and incurred God’s judgment.

Our Babylonian exile means hard times for us, too, but it’s our Sovereign God’s plan for the sanctification of His chosen. As the Apostle Paul told the Romans, all things work together for the glory of God and the good of God-lovers, even the bitter medicine we wayward children earn along the way. If we are to remain salt and light in this increasingly pagan nation, it is of utmost importance to be a part of a Bible-believing church that does not compromise its faith with the culture. If that is not your church, find another. The pandemic of “cultural relevance” that’s been sweeping liberal Christianity for the last century has led to irrelevance and apostasy. There is  no other way to prevail, even thrive against the gates of hell than as a part of the one true church–the remnant–discipling fellow believers, holding one another up in prayer and joyfully, corporately exalting our Risen Savior Jesus Christ under sound uncompromised, unapologetic Gospel preaching. In our Sovereign God’s plan we’ll also draw lost souls, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to see and savor the salt and light of the only safe refuge in a world aflame.

Pray for the welfare of America, “…pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” The stakes could not be higher. The devil prowls like a roaring lion seeking the ruin of souls, and he’s on a roll in 21st century America. Then cultivate your garden and don’t stress over what’s beyond the reach of your hoe. God’s got that part of the plan as well. He is the God of Providence at every level, and your times–the total ordering of your life–are in His hands, Christian (Psalm 31:15) Rest in that. Therein is the peace that passes all understanding.

Please find 30 minutes to listen to Dr. Strahan’s podcast entitled, “Plant Gardens: On Living Like an Israelite in Babylon.” His practical life application of this scripture is just excellent for our times.

See you in church

EXAMINE YOURSELVES…

September 12, 2021

EXAMINE YOURSELVES…

If on this Lord’s Day morning you are sitting in your recliner sipping coffee and reading God’s Word and suddenly your front door is kicked in and three men charge into the room with automatic weapons pointed at you and ask “Are you a Christian?”what would you say?

If you knew there was a chance that you would be killed in a hail of bullets if you went to church this morning would you go?

Some of our Afghan Christian brethren are answering these questions in the affirmative this morning. Meantime Americans who claim they’re Christians will not be in church this morning because there is a less than ten percent chance they might catch a virus and a less than one percent chance it might be lethal (unless you’re over 70 and then it’s 6 percent). Americans who claim they’re Christians are silent in the workplace and the public square, not from fear for their lives but fear of being ostracized for their faith. Americans who claim they’re Christians remain silent as millions of innocent unborn children are being murdered by their mothers in no less gruesome ways than our Afghan brethren. Americans who claim they’re Christians vote for politicians who claim they’re Christians who aggressively advocate for the murder of children. Americans who claim they’re Christians are silent as some of God’s demented image bearers rebel at their God-given gender and declare themselves otherwise…and demand we celebrate their rebellion instead of praying for their healing. And Americans who claim they’re Christians are silent as our nation’s highest court codifies the trashing of God’s covenant of marriage.

Jesus had some words for those ashamed to speak up in His defense:

“For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels” (Mark 8:38).

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21).

The Apostle Paul had similar sound advice for the Corinthians that likewise speaks loudly to our day in America:

“Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!” (2 Corinthians 13:5)

One hundred percent of Americans stand a 100% chance of dying. “…and then the judgement.” Hell is populated with self-deluded souls who were sure they could meet the test (Matthew 7:21-23).

Oh Lord, my soul is sorely vexed in this adulterous and sinful age. At 3 score and 17 years in this fallen world I am more and more willing to be a stranger and more and more longing for your heavenly kingdom. I confess America deserves your judgment as much as Sodom and Gomorrah and ancient Judah and Israel. But you have promised, O God, “…if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14). Gracious Father, your sure promise is conditional–“if…/ then…” The absence of your “then” in this sin-ravaged land indicates we have failed to deliver the preconditional “if.” O Sovereign God, be pleased to incline our wayward will unceasingly to that end, with full assurance in your promise that our times, and the timing of our deliverance, are in your hands. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

See you in church.

TO A BELOVED SISTER IN CHRIST

September 5, 2021

Foreword: Beth is a much loved member of our church family. She received a heart transplant in the spring and while her new heart is doing fine, her kidneys never began to function again after surgery and she is on dialysis three times a week. Recently she had to go on supplemental oxygen because her lungs were not adequately functioning. Please pray for Beth as she continues to put up a valiant battle that is an inspiration to all of us who know and love her. 

Beth posted this on FaceBook on August 31, 2021 and it is so typical of her witness:

UPDATE: Heart Transplant Biopsy # 10 Results – No rejection of the new heart. Praise the Lord! See Surgeon tomorrow morning at St. Vincent for consultation regarding the catheter for peritoneal dialysis. God has been and continues to be so faithful to me, even when I am undeserving of His faithfulness. And, that’s the thing… there is absolutely nothing we can do to earn His love, His mercy, His grace, His faithfulness, His goodness, His Salvation. If we could earn our way to heaven or earn our way to receive all His blessings, then we wouldn’t need a Savior. “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness”. ~ Lamentations 3:22-23


Dear Beth,

I have a little brother, now in heaven, who loved the Lord with the same witness-to-the-world enthusiasm as you. He was my lifelong best friend. Actually John was just 16 months younger and from the earliest years we were the same size and very athletic, also like you. I’ve never met another man who claimed, as I do, that his little brother was his role model as to godly manhood, fatherhood, and selfless servanthood. He did not have a heart transplant as you did, but his heart was overhauled numerous times, and, like you, he had additional major maladies. He came back from hard knocks time and time again, just like you. Through it all he was a powerful witness to our Gracious God, to the very dying seconds of his life at the age of 70, when he silently raised a feeble hand off his death bed and pointed his index finger heavenward.

Beth, I never met anyone like him until I met you. You are living, breathing proof that being a Christian witness is not just about toughing it out in hard times. It’s much more of the opposite, in fact. It is a complete submission to the will of our Sovereign God, while recognizing one’s utter helplessness to draw as much as another breath against His will, and to cheerfully, gratefully proclaim the same to the world in the midst of relentless personal adversity. Those of us in your church family who know and love you shudder in awe and admiration at how our Lord is using you to show us how to be a joyful witness to Him in ALL circumstances. I thank God that I am blessed to call you my little sister in Christ. I pray He will continue to grant you an abundant measure of that peace that passes all understanding that you so winsomely exude. Our Sovereign God promises that His chosen will persevere. So very great is your reward.

“The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:5–7).

Our God reigns,

JD

MEMORIES OF MUNDANE MOMENTS

August 29, 2021

This meme triggered a timely nostalgia attack this week–I needed a place to hide out from the shameful, sorrowful events on this vale of tears. It was my favorite pastime as a restless teenaged country boy at the wheel of a rusted out ’51 Ford. I formulated and fleshed out my life’s hopes and dreams to the sound of tires crunching gravel and a muffler that had outlived its usefulness as I meandered down country roads going nowhere in particular. By God’s grace a surprising number of those aspirations came to pass.

I still indulge in drives in the country on quiet two-lanes. It’s a great escape from the deluge of dismal daily news distressingly beyond my control of late. But I know who is in control, and I can meet with Him on back country roads, marvel at His magnificent creation, and ponder with thanksgiving all that He has done for me. It’s my answer to Luther’s question, “What will you do in the mundane days of faithfulness?” God speaks in such mundane moments.

“Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).

He speaks from the pulpit, too. See you in church.

IN DUE TIME THEIR FOOT WILL SLIP… (Deut. 32:35)

August 22, 2021

Who would have the audacity to edit “the greatest sermon ever delivered on the North American continent” based on the above scripture? Someone whose feeble mind needs shorter sentences to follow the brilliant thought of its author, the great theologian, Jonathan Edwards. 

It’s been twenty-five years since I edited Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, delivered July 8, 1741. It has consistently been one of the most visited pages of my author website. Every year since, I have revisited it and found myself profoundly moved, thinking, “Never has this message been more timely.” This year, with my country codifying and celebrating the sins of Romans 1, Christian churches and families under more attack than I’ve seen in my lifetime, and our government’s monumental malfeasant disaster in Afghanistan that has emboldened our external enemies and outraged our allies, its timeliness has taken a quantum leap. Never have American sinnners given God more reasons to be angry. Surely His wrath is building like roaring flood waters behind a precarious dam and only “the mere pleasure of God” keeps it from bursting.

The following are some key excerpts followed by a link to the entire sermon and a free ebook of it. Do your soul an eternal favor this Lord’s Day–“take up and read”:

“I am dwelling on this awful subject so that unsaved people in this congregation might be awakened … Almost every natural man that hears of hell fools himself into thinking he shall escape it. He flatters himself in what he has done, what he is doing and what he will do to insure his safety. Everyone figures out in his own mind how he will avoid damnation, and convinces himself he’s a pretty smart guy and his schemes will not fail … But foolish people miserably delude themselves…”

“The many and continual experiences of men throughout the ages prove that apparent health and safety do not mean that their next step will not be into another world … Unsaved men walk over the pit of hell on a rotten covering, and there are innumerable places in this covering so weak they will not bear a man’s weight, but no one can see them. All the means of taking sinners out of this world are in God’s hands, and they are universally and absolutely subject to his power and determination …”

“[Hell] is a great furnace of wrath, a wide and bottomless pit, full of the fire of wrath that you are held over in the hand of God, whose wrath is as provoked and incensed by you as any of the damned in hell. You hang by a slender thread, with the flames of divine wrath licking about it, and ready at any moment to burn it in two. In spite of that you have no interest in Christ the Mediator, and nothing with which to save yourself, nothing to keep away the flames of wrath.”

“Oh sinner, think about the fearful danger you are in.”

See you in church.

“Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”

MORNING MERCIES

August 15, 2021
Colorado National Monument

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness (Lamentations 3:22–23).

I believe, with Augustine (A.D. 354-430), and with sound scriptural warrant, “Once saved, always saved,” but that doesn’t preclude me feeling born again with the dawn, especially when the dawn comes up like thunder as it did this day of our Lord over our rig perched on the rim of the Colorado National Monument. You cannot experience the true joy of a sunrise until you’ve experienced the Son-rise in your heart–your spiritual rebirth (John 3:3). I’ve routinely arisen before dawn since my youth on a midwestern farm, where our Sovereign God saw fit to bless me with the Son-rise in my heart. I see new mercies every morning: a new day to hunger and thirst after righteousness, a new day to proclaim what the Son of God has done for my soul, and one day closer to eternal glory in the presence of my Savior.

In the fullness of my years, after a dark night, when the aches of arthritic old bones too long horizontal drive me from bed to find relief in the vertical, there comes the glorious dawn, when the Son proclaims to the world through His surrogate, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). Indeed, the Apostle John attests, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not [and will not] overcome it”
(John 1:5).

One day soon “morning will break eternal, bright and fair” for those who are in Christ. They “will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light” in everlasting glory. All else will weep and gnash their teeth in darkness without end. When the roll is called up yonder, will you be there?

See you in church.

WHERE TWO OR MORE ARE GATHERED…

August 8, 2021

She lives alone in a beautiful brick one-story home atop a lush grassy hilltop a hundred yards off a busy up-and-down, tree-lined street in the wooded hills of north suburban Cincinnati. Massive trees form the borders of the manicured acreage, blocking the view of anything else man-made. As I drove up the curving drive to her home I felt like I was back in the country of my youth rather than the middle of suburban sprawl . She smiled and waved from her covered swing in the yard near an enormous stately oak tree planted by her husband shortly after they were married. It was a sunny and bright and perfectly temperate summer afternoon, a scene from Fried Green Tomatoes, without a hint of the fiesty ostentation. I joined her on the swing, just big enough for two, and  presented her a gift from the Dorcas ladies at church. It was two beautifully handcrafted quilts and I asked her to choose one. Her short-term memory is not what it used to be, but she still knows what she likes–she chose one without hesitation.

It was my first visit to this dear widowed saint, a longtime member of our church, so I was loaded with interview questions to learn more about the little lady renowned for her sunny disposition, love for Our  Lord and penchant for memorizing scripture. I learned she raised four children on that little piece of paradise and now has 14 grandchildren and 45 (and counting) great-grandchildren. She now shares that idyllic hilltop with a son and family who built a home opposite hers atop the knoll, allowing her to stay in her home with family close at hand. This old country codger confesses I lusted mightily for her lifestyle: an ideal agrarian ambience yet with all the essentials of old age just a very few minutes away, not least our beloved church within a mile.

After an hour of cordial conversation I read some scripture and a brief commentary and we had a sweet season of prayer to our Sovereign God.

This world is increasingly alien to me. An epidemic of incoherence has swept the culture, and descriptive adjectives like “insane…disintegrating…imploding” are no longer hyperbole. I have never felt Rev. Dr. Carl Truman’s comment more deeply than I do these days: “It should be the Christian’s natural state that the times are out of joint and that we do not truly belong here.” But I found a hallowed refuge on a sunny summer afternoon, in a covered swing on a grassy knoll with a 92-year-old saint in communion with our Lord and Savior. Surely the presence of the Lord was in that place. Dear Father, I pray that by your grace this ministry gave as much as it received.

“For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20).

See you in church.

SUNSET ON LIFE’S LITTLE DAY

August 1, 2021
Sunsets top left clockwise: Ridge Haven, NC; Mississippi River at Nauvoo, IL; Siesta Key Beach, FL; Patagonia Lake State Park, AZ; Marathon, Florida Keys; Cape Blanco, OR.

“Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day.” Eat, drink, be merry…, the pagans say.
For a child of God it’s just a prep,
And our Sov’reign Lord guides every step.

“Sunrise, sunset, swiftly flow the years.”
Mountaintops, valleys, great joy and tears.
Almighty God’s plan e’er time began:
Live for His Glory—by Grace you can.

By Grace has God brought us safe thus far,
His Word and Spirit are our lodestar.
Such abundant blessings we’ve received,
A lifetime only God could conceive.

Revelation says he’s coming soon.
Then for eternity we’ll commune
With the Triune God who made us all.
Won’t you join us? Please answer His call.

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

“And behold, I am coming soon.
Behold, I am coming soon…
Surely, I am coming soon.”
(Revelation 22: 7, 12, 20)

See you in church.

“No one…”

July 25, 2021

God’s plan of salvation for sinners–the greatest thought that can ever enter the mind of man. The Kindle edition is FREE at Amazon for three days starting today.

“JD Wetterling has given us nothing less than the Gospel in all its simplicity, beauty and glory. If this message is news to you, read this book and let God speak to your soul. If this is news you have heard a thousand times, allow yourself to hear it again, and let your faith be strengthened and renewed.”
Tim Challies, pastor, author, book reviewer, blogger at challies.com 

See you in church.

“No one…”: Jesus Explains Saving Grace, #6 of 6.

July 24, 2021
Sunrise on Marathon Key, FL.

The joy begins at number #2 of 6 and lasts forever, and furthermore takes a quantum leap at death.

These six quotes by Jesus comprise God’s plan of salvation for sinners as recorded in the Gospel of John. A small book I wrote a long time ago, entitled (2nd edition, 2016) “No one…”: Jesus Explains Saving Grace, spends a chapter on each one of these six quotes. It will be available in Kindle edition at Amazon FREE starting tomorrow for 3 days.


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