Saturday, September 26, 2009


“Forty dollars? For that little part? Is that the whole wiring harness for the front turn signal?” The dealership parts clerk had surprised me.

“If the socket is rusted out, and the wiring alright, this is all you need”, he replied.

“I didn’t think it would be that much.” I told him my reasons for believing it should be 20% of the price. He smiled and said he was grateful that he wasn’t making payments on a new car, and that the 2003 model that I had was really a good car.

He then went on to show other things that were going on in the economy across the United States. He spoke of some their own dealership had also experienced.

Imagine this, I finally decided it was worthwhile to be friendly – after all, he had exactly what I wanted! It was just more than I wanted to pay. I paid the bill, grateful I could keep the car safe, and again thanked the Lord I wasn’t making high car payments!

Its amazing how poor, crippled, lame and blind we are at times, when the Lord throws us a banquet! Just look at the banquet of insight He gave to the group at the chief Pharisees’ house in Luke 14:1-14. (I know, I am picking up on his instruction to them – but I am amazed at His insight!)

Psalm 115:4,8 came to mind where it says that those who make idols are like them, and so are those that trust in them. (See especially verse 8.) “Yes, Lord,” I remonstrated, “I know.”

I am not very respectful when I can’t have my way! It seemed like my mother was with me telling me that I needed to enjoy the “humble pie”, whatever that means.

It occurred to me that I may have been subconsciously contributing to our 21st century problem. With a focus on the material, we have become so used to it, we forget Who provides the blessing in the first place.

The scripture is not against material things, but against a wrong view of them. A widow was provided oil; a student prophet experienced a floating axe head; the Israelites had the most nutritious wafers ever, called manna.

As I meditated, I began to realize that things like this drain spiritual stamina. It is so easy to become like my culture! When I do, it expects me to return the favor, and reproduce it, at its own price!

The gift of my most priceless possession, “integrity of heart” was being drained. I wasn’t happy to find the leak! I had worked thirteen years for an automotive supplier where it was against company policy to accept bribes for needed items and services, but I had still been bribed into feeling that automobiles were one of the main blessings of our culture. Where did that come from but my own heart? I am seeing every day that there is big blessing in realizing their ultimate cost as well.

Paul told Timothy, (and us), "As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy." 1 Timothy 6:17 (ESV).

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


My diary records that it was June 1st, 1970. We had been feverishly caring for the details of leaving Vryheid, Natal, South Africa, because furlough was due.

Last minute visits; farewell gatherings; taking our dog, Lassie, to someone to care for it while we were on furlough; (a hard time for us); sending off the last payment of a debt in South Africa I had been trying to pay off for two years, and so on.

All of a sudden a sense of urgency flooded over me concerning our impending trip, with all of the belongings we had to our name . . . what if it rains!

My emotions went into a whirl, beyond my personal control!

On an open pick-up truck, there is little hope for protection. In the midst of this sense of self-condemnation and fear, I went to a local shop and bought a plastic drop cloth – all I could afford. On the morning of departure, I secured it over the back of the truck, hopeful that this would help protect from the rain that was already beginning to fall. We packed under the cover of a large garage door, and left the loaded truck there, while our neighbors fed us breakfast.

The rain stopped. We began the trip in dry weather.

However, as we drove, the wind began to tear at the plastic. Soon portions of it were in shreds. The worst of my fears began to dominate my emotions . . . if it rained again, we were almost totally unprotected! I began to pray with our little family, that the Lord would get us through the storm. My head was beginning to pound with the stress.

It was black overhead, and in front of us. All of a sudden the pavement turned wet, and we began to see other vehicles coming towards us with windshield wipers on. There was no sign of rain on our windshield, but we were driving on wet pavement! After about a half-an-hour of driving, the storm completely cleared, and we were in sunshine. God had literally made a way through the storm!

Coincidental? If it was, it was perfectly timed! Miracle? Maybe, but others have experienced similar things. I would rather think that it was one of those bonuses that go along with being a child of God, in the ministry and spread of God’s Word, the Gospel. Unfortunately, I had found myself attempting to serve two masters – again – something Jesus warned against in Luke 16:13.

2 Timothy 2:9 says that the Word of God is not bound. If I happen to be the one bearing the Good News of that Word to someone – that Word has no chains or storm that will overcome it.

Do I mean to say that there will be no trouble in the Christian life? No! Otherwise the apostle Paul would not have suffered. But, whatever God felt Paul needed in his mission was safe, right along with him, unless God deemed it otherwise.

We had been the messengers of God’s Word and the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. God was going to take care of that Word.

Just this morning – 39 years later – I received an e-mail from a couple who were saved during that time in South Africa. They are thinking of coming to the U.S.A. to visit us. Friends come and go – but friends of Jesus – disciples – are forever!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


It was getting dark and raining again, as we traveled on dirt road towards Mt. Frere, from Pondoland, South Africa. As we went around the hairpin curve, close to the bottom of the valley of a large mountain range, I suddenly realized I had gotten too close to the shoulder, where the muddy gravel had piled up. Before I knew it, the VW mini van was bogged down to the chassis!

We were stuck – even with chains on!

Our emotions were unruly as we assessed the situation. We had a newborn, Mark David, in the middle of a vast area unreached by the Gospel. We were miles from any town. We had been on a “holiday” visit with the missionaries at Good Hope Mission in Pondoland.

It had been a relaxing visit. Our hosts did everything to make our stay comfortable. As it neared time for us to leave, it began to rain, showing no signs of letting up. (We had thought we were going to miss the rainy season!)

The Good News of the Gospel seeks out the lost, but I, as a young husband and father was now the one needing to be found!

I was proud of the way I kept my word, so made the decision to go on to the next stop in our “holiday tour”, so we could get back to our home base. Unfortunately it was even against the advice of the resident missionaries.

However, they were kind enough to loan me a set of chains, as we set out to make the trip over the rugged mountains. (We had notified the missionaries at our destination of our intent.)

Between two mountain ranges, it can get very dark very quickly. Being miles from the nearest town, and rainy conditions, there was no traffic. We did see one car in about three hours, who cautiously passed us on higher ground. We asked them to let someone know our plight.

To mock our feelings, the only thing we could get on our short-wave radio was SABC, and a radio program called “The Creaking Door” – not really the best listening for our situation! (Plus, there was no public cell phone service in 1967!)

It was lonely, and it was frightening!

Hope dawned when I saw a set of headlights appear on the winding road ahead. It was the missionary from the other station, who had sensed we were in trouble. Several came with blankets, medical supplies, shovels, and anything else they could think of – not knowing if we were completely down an embankment or not!

They dug us out, and we followed them safely to the mission station!

This enforced the truth that “lostness” is not cured by merely keeping sheep in a sheep pen. Lostness is in the nature of sheep. (Isaiah 53:6) They need a shepherd. People need spiritual leadership – always! A missionary cannot corral his sheep while he takes a little holiday on the beach! People cannot be cured spiritually merely by getting together in a church, obeying a set of rules, and living happily ever after. Lostness is a universal condition that can be helped by that, but it is not the cure. Sheep always need a shepherd, and a shepherd needs to care for his sheep, even when he needs a holiday!

I was stuck in mud, because sheep get stuck in the mud of life! A part of the Good News of the Gospel is found in the simple truth that all authority is ordained by God, for the reward of those do well, and the punishment of those who do evil. (1 Peter 2:14)

My reputation with God as a shepherd was in question. God had alerted the local missionary to my flaw as he tried to keep both me (and my parishioners at home) from being stuck in the mud! (I could have humbled myself and waited long enough to place a phone call on the local “trunk” to someone to care for our responsibilities, but I was too proud to admit I was the one that was “lost”!) (Psalm 23:3)

As I share my life in this blog, there are some areas that can only be cured by remembering the nature of sheep, and the need of the Good Shepherd, Himself. He has given us His Word, hidden as treasure, in the Bible.

Monday, September 7, 2009


Having faith in God, I was convinced that the intersection was safe. The traffic light and walking sign were in my favor, and traffic was stopped – at least so I thought! All of a sudden the metallic grey Ford Escape started moving towards me. I thought, "What is he doing, trying to intimidate me into getting out of his way?" (I had previously experienced this while walking!) Only as he drove right into me, did I realize he was determined to make a right hand turn on red as traffic, (all but me), cleared, but that He did not see me.

"This can't be happening to me! Am I going to make it? Will he ever see me?"

The car nudged right into me. I fell on to the hood of the car. The slap of my hands on the hood startled the driver. He realized what was happening, and was horror-struck, realizing that he could have killed me, or severely injured me! As I safely walked away, he profusely apologized. Then he drove on.

The sheer irony of it all came through when I sensed both anger and sorrow for him all at the same time. I had seen the sheer horror written all over his face. He had not intended to run over me! He apologized profusely, through his closed window!

I had to forgive him, you see, because just a few weeks earlier I had accidentally run a red light myself, forgetting that the light at our corner is usually flashing when I leave for work, but not during the day! I had it coming! I had accidentally disobeyed a known law, and he had done the same. Was I going to forgive? You bet! Otherwise I wouldn't be qualified to be forgiven for my incident. Thank God I am still alive!

Faith is much more than declaring trust in Jesus in order to go to heaven. Thank God for that wonderful news. But faith governs our everyday experience. By implication I can assume that the eternal world will be much more than hanging out with angels and playing a harp for thousands of years!

A gentile centurion once trusted Jesus, a Jew, so much that he told him he had to just speak a word, and his servant would be healed. Jesus marveled at that, saying to those around, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” (Luke 7:9) Since he, himself, was under authority, he saw that Jesus was no different in his relationship to God. (Luke 7:8)

Jesus used this as an example of faith as it related to healing. He gave a mere word, (at a distance), and the servant was healed. We may safely conclude that there is protection in faith. For example, the apostle Paul used the protection of a shield from fiery darts as an example of faith as it related to quenching the fiery and injurious darts of the enemy. (Ephesians 6:16)

Since ordinances of man are given by God for punishment of evildoers, and the praise of those that do well, (1 Peter 2:13-14), we can safely assume that we can have “faith” in that, as we patiently walk in obedience. (Hebrews 10:36)