BUCK UP, CHRISTIAN!

January 24, 2021

Conservative Christian leaders and pastors are warning of hard times ahead. John MacArthur told his congregation last Sunday (Jan. 17), in reviewing God’s grace in the amazing achievements of his church through the challenges of 2020, “We don’t win down here.” Author Rod Dreher said, “Jesus Christ promised that the gates of hell would not prevail against his church, but he did not promise that hell would not prevail against his church in the West” (The Benedict Option).  A chilling thought indeed as ill winds blow in America.

The ever-optimistic Apostle Paul, whose back bore the tracks of his hard times, who endured injustice second only to our Savior Himself, would tell us to buck up. God’s grace shines brightest in such times. A child of God senses the Father’s presence most profoundly in adversity. I can see it in the posts of Christian friends. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen more scripture quoted or more biblical allusions among my FB friends than I have in recent weeks, and that is a good thing. I can see it in our church family—the cultural foreboding and the absence of fellowship caused by the virus lockdowns has made us all appreciate one another so much more as we devise new ways to love and serve one another. I’m so glad I’m a part of the family of God in these sanctifying trials.

We struggle with political defeat as starkly contradictory anti-Christian executive orders issue forth from a new president who touts his piety, but God did not put us here to fight political wars. Our chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever, wherever He sovereignly places us, and that cannot happen in hard times by human striving. You must be wrought upon by the Holy Spirit to exude joy in the Lord in the midst of trials. There is no better witness. There’s laid up for you a “…treasure in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Matthew 6:20-21).

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4).

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18).

See you in church.

INAUGURATION DAY 2020

January 20, 2021

Dear friends, if this is a hard day for you, remember this. If this is a good day, remember this: 

God is sovereign.  He has foreordained whatsoever comes to pass. He rules in all things.

“Our God is in the heavens; He does all that He pleases” (Psalm 115:3).

…He does according to His will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay His hand or say to Him, “What have you done?” (Daniel 4:35)

“In Him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will” (Ephesians 1:11).

“Behold, I am coming soon” (Revelation 22:7, 12).

Our God reigns.

THIS IS NOT A DRILL

January 19, 2021

The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation, by Rod Dreher.

Christian, if you didn’t read this book in 2017 when it was atop the bestseller list, now would be a good time. Its timeliness is self-evident from the title. I found it helpful to reread it (a rare thing for me, aside from the Bible) this past week:

Dreher declares “the culture war that began with the sexual revolution in the 1960s has now [post-Obergefell] ended in defeat for Christian conservatives. The cultural left—which is to say, increasingly the American mainstream—has no intension of living in post-war peace… It is pressing forward with a harsh, relentless occupation, one that is aided by the cluelessness of Christians who don’t understand what’s happening. Don’t be fooled: the upset presidential victory of Donald Trump has at best given us a bit more time to prepare for the inevitable.”

Events in three short years have proven him profoundly prophetic—what we have seen is the opposite of “post-war peace.” That “bit more time to prepare” ends tomorrow. “This is not a drill.”

Dreher begins with a critique of modern culture and an ominous prediction for its future, and follows with “stories of conservative Christians who are pioneering creative ways to live out the faith joyfully and counterculturally in these darkening days.” It is a smorgasbord of food for thought and helpful actionable ideas at a time when it is desperately needed. Highly recommend!

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:24-25).

CODGER DREAMS ON A WINTER WEEKEND

January 17, 2021

Facebook can be cruel in other ways than just censorship. While we were hunkered down in an indoor vegetative state on this cold, snowy winter weekend, they tried to entice me into a pity party with this suggested flashback of one of my favorite toys. It inflamed my retirement ennui at a vulnerable moment—mid-January in Ohio—but only briefly. If we still had this plane—a Piper Turbo Arrow—we could have escaped this weekend to Siesta Key, FL, (our home in the ‘80’s), for pizza at Mr. Gatti’s and ice cream at Big Olaf’s Friday night, spent Saturday soaking the cold out of our bones on the world’s best beach and been back in Ohio for worship Sunday evening, knowing the whole time that no matter how long we lingered we could not miss our flight home.  Sigh… Alas, an impossible dream at this age­—I’m not super-confident in two dimensions, and three would be foolhardy. 

The hallmark of codger daydreams is nostalgic memories. This pic evokes many, with son in the co-pilot seat, not yet tall enough to see over the instrument panel, and wife and infant daughter, the most relaxed flyer in the family, in the back: Bahamas, Florida’s Gulf Coast and California’s Big Sur at 1000’ MSL just offshore—breathtaking Divine artistry.  They and many more float through my housebound reverie.  It’s the Holy Spirit’s way of reminding me of the amazing grace He has showered on my life. I knew it then, I know it now, and the best by far is yet to come. A Midwestern winter may be grim, but beloved family in the neighborhood (that infant daughter and her family) is an overwhelming compensation—the reason we’re here. I am grateful!  What God has foreordained I would not deign to change.

“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).

See you in church.

AMERICA’S MELANCHOLY

January 10, 2021

“How melancholy does the face of our Earth appear when we reflect on the reign of Satan on it, on the influence of the dragon and the beast and the false prophet [of Revelation].” (Philip Doddridge, in Piercing Heaven: Prayers of the Puritans)


I wonder what the Reverend Doddridge would have to say about the state of affairs in the colonies today. I believe he would choose a stronger adjective. But the same Sovereign, Immutable God of Puritan England still reigns with the same plan He put in place before the world began. Therein lies my assured hope and comfort in the current chaos.

The Holy Spirit, speaking through the Apostle Paul to the Romans (13:1) in the days of Nero, said, Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” The same Triune God who instituted Nero’s horrendously evil reign also establishes twenty-first century US presidents. He knows exhaustively the depths of depravity, corruption and lust for power that reside in the fallen human heart. Two millennia after Paul wrote those words, the greatest nation on earth has survived for an unprecedented two-and-a-half centuries in spite of multimillions of such fallen creatures battling one another to govern themselves—an ongoing miracle of God’s Amazing Grace. But Grace is given, not earned, or America would not exist as a Nation. When it suits His incomprehensible purposes He can withdraw it. The Old Testament is replete with examples of Israel’s divine judgements, and it was abundantly clear they deserved it. Our national and personal transgressions are of the same magnitude as ancient Israel … or greater.

Whether we are facing the beginning of the end times prophesied in Revelation, or another dose of well-deserved Divine judgment, I reside securely in the palm of His hand (John 10:28) in this brief pilgrimage through time. With such security I’m just going to let my little light shine in the gathering darkness until that time, in the city of God, when “night will be no more” and the sun will not be needed, “as the Lord God will be their light” (Rev. 22:5). 

So we do not lose heart… this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).

See you in church.

THE REST OF THE CHRISTMAS STORY

January 3, 2021

God did not send His only begotten Son to be born in a barn, live a short poverty-level life, and be crucified as atonement for sin and then turn it over to depraved man to accept or reject the deal. When our Sovereign God begins a work, including this rescue mission, he finishes it—he leaves nothing to chance or fickle sinners.

Jesus spells out His plan in six statements beginning with “No one…,” found in the Gospel of John. His words are simple enough for a youth to grasp, profound enough to stagger the mind of an intellectual:

1. “No one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again” (John 3:3).

Fallen man is spiritually dead and cannot see, let alone choose to believe the gospel, until God gives him spiritual rebirth. Just like his physical birth, man has no control over it.

2. “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him” (John 6:44).

The indwelling Holy Spirit inclines the will of those reborn to come (Eph. 2:4-5). They choose to believe Jesus because God has given them the want—inclined their will—to choose Him.

3. “No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

There are no paths to God other than faith in the completed work of His son, Jesus Christ.

4. “No one takes it [life] from me, but I lay it down of my own accord” (John 10:18).

Jesus’ death on the cross was not a catastrophic accident. It was divinely planned as an atonement for the sins of those chosen for rebirth.

5. “No one can snatch them out of my hand” (John 10:28).

A reborn soul drawn to Jesus will never fall away—he cannot lose his salvation. 

6.) “No one will take away your joy” (John 16:22).

Seven simple words that need no explanation. This plan of salvation for sinners is the very core of the Bible: The free gift of God—“eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Ro. 6:23b)—the most important, transformative message that can enter the mind of man.

“No one…”: Jesus explains saving grace, by JDW, expounds on these six statements, readable in an evening.  The ebook is free today and tomorrow, Jan 3-4, 2021.

See you in church.

A NEW YEAR. A NEW YOU?

January 1, 2021

Behold the old year has passed away. Behold the new year has come. Will it truly be a new year for you or just a replay of all the previous mundane years–same old sins, same old self-centered sloth, same old rejection of the truths of God, same old blindness to the reality of His existence? It doesn’t have to be that way. God can create a new heart in you and you can be a new you (John 3:3, 16). Ask Him!

Oh Lord you numbered all my days/ Before the first one was./ They dwindle down but they’re your ways–/ My rebirth you must cause./ Renew in me a heart ablaze,/ Eradicate my flaws.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

HAPPY NEW YEAR

December 31, 2020

Should old friends and yesterdays be forgotten? That is the question that revelers will be asking in unison tonite. Curiously, Auld Lang Syne’s author, Robert Burns, the greatest Scottish poet who ever lived, did not publish it in his lifetime, perhaps because it did not meet his standards of artistic profundity. Superficially it’s a vacuous ditty that never answers the question yet, in the mystery of rhymes and words, it provokes deep feelings as only poetry can in the nostalgia of New Year’s Eve.

The Bible makes it crystal clear that remembering is a very big deal—the word appears 234 times—none clearer that Deuteronomy 8:18—“You shall remember the LORD your God…” Israel had seven divinely, meticulously mandated annual festivals, and three of them were specifically about remembering God and His great miracles on their behalf. But New Year’s Eve wasn’t one of them. Nevertheless, as the culture worships at the altar of old and new, it’s a great time to remember the blessings of God and joyfully anticipate another year of earthly life in the palm of His hand.

At this stage of my life time has accelerated—New Year’s Eve occurs more frequently and all my yesterdays are as last night’s lightning flashes. I remember them as miraculous manifestations of that Light of The World that knit me in my mother’s womb and holds me in the palm of His hand and controls my next breath and has even grander plans for me beyond my comprehension. So I’ll celebrate by remembering my unmerited blessings and be deep in a long winter’s sleep as the ball falls, with visions of a Happy New Year that will never end. Our God reigns!

DISPATCHES FROM THE GLORY ROAD

December 29, 2020

 “…the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy” (Job 38:7).

Introduction: Oct–Dec, 2015. Outside the big window a bitter night wind howled thru the multi-colored leaves of autumn in the north woods. Inside an emaciated, speechless, intermittently conscious old man lay with his torso angled up among a maze of wires and tubes running into his body. A bedside nurse quietly monitored multiple computer screens and digital readouts that told her the younger of the Wetterling brothers, though drugged into a calm facade, was desperately fighting for his life. In the hushed and dimmed post-midnight buzz and hum and gurgle of the Mayo Clinic’s CCU (intensive care for cardiac patients), I sat facing him at bedside, my forearm resting on the bed railing, praying, pleading, and begging for God’s mercy. His eyes opened and locked on mine.  He slowly raised his arm from amid the rumpled sheets and weakly clasped my hand as if to arm wrestle, a well-practiced sport in our youth. His forearm pivoted on his elbow as he slowly wagged our hands sideways no more than two inches, his fixed gaze otherwise expressionless for several seconds, then his hand went limp and he drifted off again. Never has more love been conveyed between two humans than that moment, and it will be with us for eternity—we’re brothers by birth and the blood of Christ.

He joined the church eternal five years ago today.

DISPATCHES FROM THE GLORY ROAD, a short story based on my Facebook posts written in the heat of that battle for friends and prayer warriors, is available in ebook format at Amazon ($0.99).  For a free PDF formatted version (26 pages), email request to  jdwetterling@yahoo.com .

THE LIGHT

December 27, 2020

“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone” (Isaiah 9:2, circa 740-701 B.C.).

Isaiah’s seven century prophecy fulfilled: 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” (Luke 2:8-10).

 “…the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned” (Matthew 4:16).

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:5).

“For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6).

I am so thankful, this Christmas Season, that God’s light has shown in my unworthy heart, and I pray that it has shown in yours as well, dear friends. There is no greater gift.

See you in church.  


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