Archive for February, 2021


February 28, 2021

Everyone needs a friend like my friend, Fred. This dear brother in Christ has a laugh that will chase the bluest blues away merely by saying, “Hello.” His laughter-filled greeting, whether by phone or in person, took leave briefly when His beloved bride went to be with Jesus last year, but God was gracious and gave it back to him after a respectable grieving period. Some folks would say Fred has ample challenges to his happiness. At age 91, he needs a few fancy gadgets to get up-and-down in his favorite lounger and move around the house that he still lives in alone. Recently, while doing what old men do in the middle of the night, he fell and badly shattered his right arm and shoulder. It took a great deal of persistence and pain to get his good hand over to his fancy gadget watch where he was able to call 911. The docs fixed him up with some structural metal and screws and he is in rehab for an extended period with no visitors allowed.  But of course friendly Fred, by God’s grace, took his laughter with him and now he cheers up the army of medical technicians who parade in-and-out of his room through the day. His sunny disposition shines right through my cell phone when I call him.

Oliver Wendell Holmes said of his friend and oft-times dinner companion, world-renowned Harvard Professor Louis Agassiz:

“His social hour no leaden care alloys,

His laugh rings loud and mirthful as a boy’s.

That lusty laugh the Puritans forgot,

What ear has heard it and remembers not?”

I don’t think Fred would appreciate the dig at that false Puritan stereotype any more than I do, but those of us who are blessed to be his friend would agree Oliver nailed one of Fred’s most endearing traits.

More importantly, Fred, the epitome of a godly, generous family patriarch, is an ebullient witnesses to our God, who laughs, too (Psalm 2:4).  And what better way to witness to Him than to live out the sunset of our lives with the laughter-filled joy that comes from the knowledge and assurance of what awaits a child of God.

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice” (Philippians 4:4a).

See you in church.


February 21, 2021

“Be of good cheer, Master Ridley, and play the man, for we shall this day light such a candle in England as I trust by God’ grace shall never be putout.” That advice was offered to Nicholas Ridley by Bishop Hugh Latimer, in 1555, as fires were lit under both of them tied to stakes in the public square in England during the Protestant Reformation under Bloody Queen Mary.

Today we live in a post-Christian, post-truth culture where we are increasingly ridiculed and marginalized, but I don’t know of a single Christian who is being forced to stand knee-deep in kindling. While the Bible prophesies hard-times, we are far from Reformation or Revelation levels.

There is a street name mentioned in the Bible—Straight Street (Acts 9:11)—and archeologists have even found an old engraved stone in Damascus indicating such, but nowhere does it mention Easy Street. In fact, as Jesus was briefing his disciples on his imminent crucifixion he said, I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

Luther laid it out this way: “When the offense of the cross ceases, when the rage of the enemies of the Cross ceases, when everything is quiet, it is a sign that the devil is the doorkeeper of the Church and that the pure doctrine of God’s Word is lost.” (Commentary on Galatians)  

Well, then, we must be in great shape! Keep up the good fight, Christian! You can count on the win. Latimer’s light has not gone out, nor will it. Like “the Light of Men…the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:5).

“Count it all joy, my brothers…” (James 1:2).

See you in church.


February 14, 2021

The culture is suffering a hurricane of false gospels. Nonsensical slogans untethered from Truth or reason are proclaimed as wisdom of the ages. Aged adolescents work themselves into emotional frenzies under absurdly addled notions, and the cry of their depraved hearts makes headlines. They are like so many “… children tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes” (Ephesians 4:14).

“…but he’s got a good heart.” How often have you heard that excuse? Jesus said, “…No one is good except God” (Mark 10:18). Heresies are spawned in “good hearts.” A tired old English proverb claims “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” 

Scottish pastor Horatius Bonar (1808-1889) said, “…let us beware of that unscriptural, unphilosophical sentimentalism which affirms that the heart may be all right when the head is all wrong.” 

Bonar’s contemporary down in London, CH Spurgeon, concisely echoed, “A man may be sincere, but sincerely wrong.”

 Doctrine is vital—false gospels abound.
 Be a Berean—prove your dogma sound. 

“…they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so” (Acts 17:11).

There is one anchor and only one in this hurricane. There is one absolute truth and only one in this nonsensical age: Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” All else ends badly forever.

“There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:4-6).

See you in the church of the One True God.


February 10, 2021
The Memphis Belle with instructor pilot, Maj. “Blinkie” Smithie above, JDW below
L to R: B-1, B-2, B-52. Pic by Matt Haskell (check out his Fb page)

This old man is dreaming dreams again…(Joel 2:28), the reminiscing kind, stirred up by last Sunday evening’s impressive formation fly-by of a B-1, B-2, and B-52 at the Super Bowl in Tampa Stadium. I’m not a bomber guy, fighters were my thing, but 21 years ago I had the extraordinary blessing of flying in the left seat of a B-1 in another very special fly-by. With its wings swept back it felt a lot like my beloved old F-100, complete with control stick between the legs, and it rolls just pretty as you please. If I had to fly a bomber, this would be my choice. The following is from Grace in the Growing Season, by JDW.

The Memphis Belle rolled wings level at 1000 feet above the ground over the “Initial Point,” an irregular patch of red Piedmont clay amid the new green of spring, on our run-in line to the target. The late afternoon sun in our eyes reduced visibility to a mile and a half as we stared intently through the windshield, searching for memorized landmarks. The target was nine miles away and we were traversing a mile every twelve seconds, leaving no time to consult a map. Flying into the sun instead of coming out of it violated normal rules of engagement, but this was not a bombing run, nor was it World War II…and this Memphis Belle was not a famous B-17 (now in the USAF Museum in Dayton). It was March 24, 2000, and we were flying an aviator’s memorial salute in a B-1B bomber, affectionately called the “Bone” (that’s B-1 without the hyphen).

Somewhere up ahead a crowd of grateful citizens assembled in a cemetery behind a little country church in western North Carolina. They were there to honor an American hero. Thomas Ferebee, the Enola Gay bombardier who pickled off the atomic bomb on August 6, 1945, ending World War II, was being laid to rest. The tension mounted as the miles streaked by under the drooping nose of the B-1, driven by Major “Blinkie” Smithie of the Georgia Air National Guard in the right seat. We had only one chance to get it right and there had already been a major adjustment. After taking off at the precise time needed to give us a few extra minutes for contingencies, the funeral director relayed a message by cell phone, forwarded to our cockpit enroute, saying our Time-over-Target needed to be moved up 18 minutes. That’s not a problem for a sleek bomber with four powerful engines and wings that can be swept back 65 degrees in flight, making it look and perform much more like a rocket than the original World War II Memphis Belle. Blinkie advanced the throttles and we accelerated like a Harley Davidson.

It was an extraordinary providence that put this writer in that cockpit on such a momentous occasion. By the grace of God and generosity of the Georgia Air National Guard (a story for another day) I was getting an orientation flight in one of America’s best peacekeepers 27 year after I completed my hitch as a USAF fighter pilot. We were less than thirty seconds from the target now and recognition would have to be instantaneous. “Cunni” and “Buckit,” our offensive and defensive systems officers, called out course corrections over the intercom from their battle stations behind us filled with a dazzling array of electronics, all beyond the comprehension of old vets like Thomas Ferebee and me.

Then, out of the haze, a meandering country road materialized with cars parked bumper-to-bumper, right on the nose. We passed low over the mourners at a respectfully slow funeral pace—300 knots—with wings spread like a gliding goose. Blinkie tapped the afterburners, pulled the nose up, banked to the right, and that thoroughly modern Memphis Belle spiraled upward above our departed brother-in-arms as if our supersonic angel were transporting his soul to heaven. Invisible and insignificant though my role was, chills ran down my spine.

It was over, but the world is still a dangerous place and the citizen-soldiers of the Georgia Air National Guard had a critical mission to practice. We swept the wings back again and flew off on a simulated strike sortie. Blinkie and the boys put that beautiful Bone through its paces and I experienced first-hand its amazing capabilities, a mighty comforting memory in the middle of the night in this troubled world.

Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers…” (Matthew 5:9). I believe He is similarly disposed toward noble peacekeepers.

A Lament: Our Winter of Discontent

February 7, 2021

 O God, our country is a mess.
 Can we endure in such duress?  
 Burned out downtowns and blood-stained streets 
 And threats of more such horrid feats. 
 Our governance through compromise
 By noble souls, good-willed and wise,
 Once deemed the wisdom of the age,
 Has been usurped by dolts who rage.
 Our prez takes pride in piety
 And puts his soul in jeopardy--
 With sinful edicts he mocks God,
 Who in due time will wield the rod.
 Elections used to set our fate.
 Now they excite a vicious hate,
 Our common ground has disappeared.
 Are these the end-times we have feared?
 PC has spread—metastasized—
 And politics have putrefied.
 World hist'ry proves internal rot
 Can fell a state without a shot.
 Kids choose their sex despite the facts
 And moms kill babes in selfish acts.
 Sex deviants think that they have won,
 Till that day comes all meet the Son.
 There was a day we used to say
 That God smiles on the USA,
 But in His wrath we too can trust—
 God gave them up in all their lust. (Ro. 1:24) 
 Such sinfulness will not end well,
 His Word declares eternal hell.
 They've swapped God's Truth for Satan's lie,
 And been appointed twice to die. (Rev. 20:14)
 John Adams' wife once wrote to him:
 It's God who mounts this whirlwind.
 In sovereign grace this storm He steers,
 Trust Him alone to calm your fears.
 'Twas good advice from Abigail
 Her family Bible she knew well.
 Our God's in charge and for His kin
 The end will be a glorious win!  

"And unto him who mounts the whirlwind and directs the storm, I will cheerfully leave the ordering of my lot, and whether adverse or prosperous days should be my future portion, I will trust in His right hand to lead me safely through, and after a short rotation of events, fix me in a state immutable and happy…Adieu!" (Abigail Adams in a letter to her husband, Sep. 16, 1775, quoted in John Adams, a biography, by David McCullough.)
 Dear friends, consider Mrs. Adams' calm assurance and bold conviction during a perilous time for our country…and emulate Abigail.
 “...fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).
 “Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation. When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish. Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God” (Psalm 146:3-5). 
 See you in church. 

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