Archive for January, 2022

SOPHISTICATED SWINDLERS

January 30, 2022

“The Bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand we are obliged to act accordingly.” — Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855)

In this age we fancy ourselves smarter than in Kierkegaard’s day. We simply interpret Holy Writ to meet our needs of the moment. No literary work in all of human history has been  distorted in more ways than God’s Word. Heartbreaking. All we are is more sophisticated swindlers, still desperately in need of a Savior.

So many sincere self-styled christians will learn on Judgment Day that they were sincerely wrong. So many denominations today are doing deals with the devil, bowing the knee to the degeneracy of the day, whatever may be in vogue, compromising orthodoxy to accommodate the orthopraxy of the most demented culture our country has ever encountered. God will not be mocked (Galations 6:7).  Jesus’ words in the Gospel of Matthew should cause every one who claims to be a Christian to do some serious soul-searching.

“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. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness’” (Matthew 7:21–23). In all of eternity you will never hear a more terrifying command than that.

For the sake of your eternal soul, “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith” (2 Corinthians 13:5a). Your primary examination tool should be Holy Writ itself. Let scripture interpret scripture. Ignoring or refusing to believe the hard parts is a failing grade. Is “your truth” God’s truth? All of it? If not, yours counts for naught.

Most importantly of all in your self-examination, pray that the “Holy Spirit will lead you into all truth” (John 16:13), that you will not be crying for the mountains to fall on you on Judgement Day, but rather you will hear, “Well done my good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:23).

“Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2b).

See you in church.

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/


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