Thursday, November 30, 2006

My father loved his Sunday Bible Class--a class he taught in different places for more than 35 years. He would often fly back home late on a Saturday night just to make it in to Sunday School the next morning. I think it was a time of refreshment for him; a time to relax and be refilled. It was during one of these special classes that he asked this question:

"Where is your heart?

There was no room at the inn for Jesus, but there's room at the cross for you. There's room for people in the Kingdom of God.

God says He’s prepared a place for you. The picture is of a great oriental palace, very popular in those days. And that palace has many, many rooms in it; luxurious suites all the way down to closet-sized accommodations. You are going to inherit a room in that palace that is in direct proportion to your life of service for Christ. In other words, Salvation is God’s gift to everyone, but the blessings of Heaven and eternity are individually bestowed on the basis of one’s life of dedication and service for Christ.

That’s why Jesus said, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth” because the moth and the rust corrupt it and the thieves break through and steal. (Matthew 6:19-21) But lay up for yourselves treasure in Heaven because if your reservation is there, nobody cancels it. If your reservation is there, the moth and the rust can’t corrupt it and the thieves can’t even get near it.

So where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. If you’re looking forward to being in the presence of Christ and can’t wait for the joy of seeing him, then your heart’s there and your treasure’s there. Unfortunately, there are too many people with one foot on earth and the other foot in Heaven. God calls us to be living sacrifices; the problem with living sacrifices is they have a nasty habit of squirming off the altar. There are far too many people trying to feather their beds on earth when they should be storing up treasure in Heaven.

How do you store treasure in Heaven? You do it by prayer, supplication, and thanksgiving. You store treasure in Heaven by service to God; by presenting your body as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God. You lay up treasure in Heaven when you permit the fruits of the Spirit to blossom in your life: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self‑control.” (Galatians 5:22, 23) You’re allowing treasure to be stored for you when you allow the Holy Spirit to live in you and work through you to touch the lives of others. Even a cup of water in the Master’s name will not go without its reward.

Do you want to know how to store treasures in Heaven? Obey God now. Let the fruits of the Spirit, the power of the Spirit, and the life of Christ be part of your life. Do you want to be sure of having great treasure in Heaven? Then don’t set any store on the permanency of your possessions on earth. Let the life of Christ be lived in you. You can’t do it yourself—let Christ do it. I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me." (Philippians 4: 13)

Sunday, November 26, 2006

"My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." 2 Corinthians 12:9

Sometimes I feel so weak . . . like I will never be able to accomplish my goals or I will never have the great joy of knowing--in the end--that I ran not just a good race, but a great one. Do you ever feel that way? So many things in life bring it on: Illness, injustice, financial worries, sin. I see myself as the clay vessel, always longing to be gold. I go to the Lord and say, "God, why did you pick me to do this? Who am I? I've failed you in so many ways. I've disappointed you countless times."

But He always comforts me. I go to the Psalms and David reminds me, "For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust." When I pray with my children at night, I say, "Thank you, Father, that you love us no matter what we do." There is such comfort in being loved no matter what.

Whenever I feel the heavy weight of the world, I remember the advice my Dad used give me, "Take one thing at a time. Don't try to do everything at once, it will overwhelm you." Move the mountain one shovel at a time.

And God will use us to move those mountains. He can take clay vessels and make them into gold. He is the Master Potter and He knows our frame.

Yes, I will fail. Yes, I will disappoint Him in some things until the day I finally kneel at His feet.

But He will always give me another chance. And He will love me no matter what.

Years ago I discovered this bit of wisdom from Theodore Roosevelt, a man who faced his failures and overcame enormous obstacles in life to become one of the greatest Presidents this country has ever known. He tried, and failed, and tried again.

"It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly...who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat."

Monday, November 20, 2006

Update on Debbie: Her heart is beating on its own and she does not need a pacemaker. We are cautiously optimistic and very thankful this Thanksgiving for God's mercy and for all of your prayers.

Thanksgiving is always a wonderful day but it's especially wonderful this year. It's comforting to pull out the recipes for Cranberry Whip, Sweet Potato Pie, Green Bean Casserole, Mashed Pototoes (okay now I'm getting hungry) and all those great standbys. God is so good to us . . . when I think of what I've learned from history this last year while I've been working on my Master's degree, it amazes me how fortunate we are to live in this time and in this place.

Washers, dryers, dishwashers, vacuums, televisions, computers, cars, boats, planes, antibiotics . . . this century is a reality our ancestors could only see as "magical" (and I mean that in a completely non-occult way). :) We are so blessed . . . so rich in spiritual and physical things.

I'm also thankful for the family and friends God gave me--people who love Him and sincerely try their best to serve Him. They are gifts--they teach me and love me even when I'm not very lovable. From my little sister Lani I've learned to put others first. She gives so much to so many people, I can only hope to be a little like her. From my dear friend Ronaele I've learned what it means to love with open arms . . . to be accepted for myself. Her friendship healed so many hurts. From my wonderful friend Dwayna I've been reminded of how precious--and rare--are the gifts of loyalty and generosity, and how sweet it is to spend time with Jesus. She brings joy to so many people. I could go on and on, but I'll stop for now (and start again at Christmas).

Tonight, I took my little six year old son to our favorite thrift store (it is a treasure-trove) and he found an awesome Hotwheels Space Station for $1.00. And I thought, God cares about the littlest thing. Justin was so happy with such a small gift, and I realized, this is how God must feel when we're truly thankful.

We are so blessed. In all the sorrows, in all the stresses of life, in all the regrets, God gently points us to the joy and says, "See what I've given you?"

Friday, November 17, 2006

"We have fellowship with Christ in His sufferings. We are not nailed to the cross, nor do we die a cruel death, but when He is reproached, we are reproached; and a very sweet thing it is to be blamed for His sake, to be despised for following the Master, to have the world against us." --Charles Spurgeon

I read this in my devotions this morning, and it was so comforting. Everyone likes to be liked--I know I do. But as Christians, there is something very wrong if we are popular. There is something dangerously wrong when the enemies of Jesus Christ love us and call us "brother."

Lately, I find myself thinking about the state of the Church today, and they are not happy thoughts. When Kevin and I moved back to Minnesota, we could not find one church in our area that wasn't teaching contemplative prayer or seeker-sensitive philosophy, or hadn't just limped through a recent church split.

One large Christian church we attended (Eaglebrook) had a coffee shop and bookstore in the l0bby, at least 3 huge screens (and I mean giant) hanging in the sanctuary, and a band set-up on stage that rivalled a Disney production in Orlando. The worst moment came during worship, though. The girl center-stage (leading the worship) talked to the audience like they were, well, an audience--instead of the Church of Jesus Christ gathered together to praise His name. This was bad enough, but when the strobe lights came on and started flashing all over the sanctuary, it was all we could do not to get up and walk out. Yes--they used strobe lights in church on a Sunday morning. Can you picture Jesus standing quietly in a corner as a mega-band blasts, a girl belts out worship choruses (projected in giant living color), and strobe lights flash everywhere (like the dance floor in Saturday Night Fever)? It was sickening.

The Pastor's talk was interesting--lightweight stuff about debt management--all milk. I later found out this was the same pastor who supervised preaching classes at Bethel Seminary and told a friend of ours (a student there) that he used too much Scripture in his sermons.

Another pastor at a different church told us he felt Joel Osteen was more dangerous to the Church than any cult. Although we disagree with Word of Faith teachers, all we could do was sit there and stare at him. When we asked him how a Christian could talk to a Mormon if he/she didn't know what they believed, he looked stumped. It was depressing.

What can we do in the face of this corruption? We can "fight the good fight" and never give up. Speak out--don't be silent. Be smart, be brave, take a stand; be tough and be loving. The world (and some fellow Christians) will hate us, but God will say, "Well done, good and faithful servant." And in the end, He is the only one who matters.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Christian Worldview Network founded by Brannon Howse ( posted these articles this morning:

11/15/2006: An Open Letter from Walter Martin to Richard Mouw:
NEW! By Walter Martin

11/15/2006: The Late Walter Martin's Daughter Takes on Her Father's Critic
NEW! By Jill Martin Rische

As many of you know, Dr. Richard Mouw (President, Fuller Theological Seminary) was instrumental in bringing together a meeting of Mormons and Christians in the LDS Tabernacle in Salt Lake City, UT. It soon became clear to those present that they were expected to participate in a joint worship service between Mormons and Christians (as well as other appalling events). The entire debacle reminded me a great deal of Elijah and the priests of Baal. Somehow, I can't see him singing along with Michael Card, Richard Mouw, Craig Hazen, and the cream of Mormon leadership in their biggest temple on earth. Mind-boggling.

For those who might be curious (or confused) about Richard Mouw and his public statements, I thought I would let his own words tell the story:

Opening remarks, Mormon Tabernacle, Salt Lake City Sunday evening, Nov. 14, 2004

Richard J. Mouw

"It is difficult for me to find adequate words to express how thrilled I am to be here this evening. Here we are, evangelical Protestants and members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, gathered together in this Salt Lake Tabernacle, for an event that is described as "An Evening of Friendship."

. . . I am now convinced that we evangelicals have often seriously misrepresented the beliefs and practices of the Mormon community. Indeed, let me state it bluntly to the LDS folks here this evening: we have sinned against you. The God of the Scriptures makes it clear that it is a terrible thing to bear false witness against our neighbors, and we have been guilty of that sort of transgression in things we have said about you. We have told you what you believe without making a sincere effort first of all to ask you what you believe.

I have formed some wonderful friendships with Mormons in the past few years. These friends have helped me to see the ways in which I have often misinterpreted Mormon thought. To be sure, as a result of those conversations I also remained convinced that there are very real issues of disagreement between us-and that some of these issues are matters of eternal significance. But we can now discuss these topics as friends And tonight many more of our friends have come together in this place for a very public and large-scale "Evening of Friendship." God be praised!

In just a month and a half we will greet the year 2005, which marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Joseph Smith. During this year there will be many occasions to pay special attention to Joseph's life and teachings, and I hope many in the evangelical community will take part in those events.

I personally take great encouragement from words that Joseph Smith uttered on the occasion of the founding of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in April of 1830: "We know," Joseph said, "that all men must repent and believe on the name of Jesus Christ, and worship the Father in his name, and endure in faith on his name to the end, or they cannot be saved in the kingdom of God."

Another Jesus . . . another gospel. And Richard Mouw takes great encouragement from it.

2 Corinthians 6:17-18

"Come out from among them
And be separate , says the Lord.
Do not touch what is unclean,
And I will receive you.
I will be a Father to you,
And you shall be My sons and daughters,
Says the LORD Almighty."

Tell people what you think!

Richard Mouw -

Fuller Theological Seminary Board of Trustees:

Merlin W. Call, Chair, Board of Trustees, Fuller Theological Seminary, and Attorney, The Law Offices of Merlin W. Call, Pasadena, California - (626) 432-5456

List of Fuller Board of Trustees:

Michael Card - or

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Most people remember Sir Arthur Conan Doyle as the creator of Sherlock Holmes, the brilliant sleuth of Baker Street. What is not so well known is that Sir Arthur was a Spiritualist--and a singularly dedicated one. He traveled the world with his family for the express purpose of spreading the message that the dead survived death, and could communicate with the living.

In his book Wanderings of a Spiritualist (1921), Doyle tells of seances and spiritualist "Rescue Circles" where believers would help a lost soul find its way to the "light."

The circle sits round with prayer and hymns while Mr. Love falls into a trance state.
The medium suddenly sits straight and his whole face changes into an austere harshness.
"What is this ribald nonsense? he cries.
"Who are you friend?" says Tozer (the host of the Rescue Circle).
"My name is Matthew Barret. I testified in life to the Lamb and to him crucified. I ask again: what is this ribald nonsense?"
"It is not nonsense, friend. We are here to help you and to teach you that you are held down and punished for your narrow ideas, and that you cannot progress until they are more charitable."
"What I preached in life I still believe."
"Tell us, friend, did you find it on the other side as you had preached?"
"What do you mean?"
"Well, did you, for example, see Christ?"
There was an embarrassed silence.
"No, I did not."
"Have you seen the devil?"
"No, I have not."
"Then, bethink you, friend, that there may be truth in what we teach."
"It is against all that I have preached."
A moment later, the Chinaman was back with his rolling head and wise smile.
"He good man--stupid man. He learn in time. Plenty time before him."

This account is chilling when viewed from a Christian perspective, since there can only be one dark source of this information. The cunning shown by demons in Doyle's encounters is simply horrifying; they will do or say anything to destroy us. Another example of this is found in Sir Arthur's comments on his own belief in Spiritualism:

"If this were the only life I do not know how the hypothesis of the goodness of God could be sustained, since our history has been one hardly broken record of recurring miseries, war, famine, and disease, from the ice to the equator. I should still be a materialist, as I was of yore, if it were not for the comfort and teaching from beyond, which tells me that this is the worst--far the worst--and that by its standard everything else becomes most gloriously better, so long as we help to make it so."

This world is the worst thing humans will experience? Preaching Christ is narrow-minded and deserving of punishment? A man dedicated to Christ will not see Him after death? There is no devil? These are the teachings of the demons, and we can never forget we are at war with them. We wrestle with powers and principalities bent on our destruction. What better way to get back at God, a loving Father, than to attack his beloved children?

As far as I know, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle remained a Spiritualist until his death. We can all safely assume that in that moment, he recognized his error. I used to think that the character of Sherlock Holmes was based on Doyle's personality, but after reading his work on Spiritualism, I have to say that Doyle reminds me very much of Watson (and he even looks like him). His life is a sad story, and the fact that he influenced thousands makes it tragic.

The world of darkness exists but we as Christians should never fear it--we have great joy and power in knowing that Jesus Christ conquered evil a very long time ago.

"Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood , but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints." Ephesians 6:10-19

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Update on Debbie: Her heart started beating on its own--but it has to get stronger before they will drop the pacemaker plans. Thank you all so much for your prayers!

When things like this happen, it's hard to understand God's plan. I know we've all been there. One of the most frequent questions Dad heard was, "Why do bad things happen to good people?" He answered with the story of a friend of his--way back in the days when God first called him into the ministry. This pastor was such a good man; so dedicated to preaching the Gospel. One night, he was driving home from church when he was hit by another car and killed. There are no easy answers for this--no pat words or formulas--and Dad didn't offer any. The only peace we have is to trust that God knows what He's doing. He has a greater plan than we can see.

And then there's the story of the young family who was driving home late one night from a wedding, only to be washed off the road in a flash flood. A young mother and her four little children drowned . . . only the young father survived. I heard him tell his story, and he is now telling it around the world. There was no bitterness or anger; only a quiet trust that seemed to radiate from his face . . . and I could see how God was glorified in the midst of such terrible tragedy.

I feel this way when I think of Debbie's situation. It seems so wrong that a 29 year old should be fighting to keep her life--it terrifies me. But I know that God has a plan, and He loves Debbie so much more than we do . . . and that's saying something. God will be glorified in this as He was and is in so many difficult situations.

I just have to trust Him.

"But as for me, I trust in You, O LORD; I say, "You are my God." My times are in Your hand." Ps 31:14-154

Friday, November 10, 2006

Many thanks to all of you who prayed for my sister, Debbie. She came through the surgery and is in the ICU. Please keep her in your prayers; her heart is still not beating on its own but the doctor is optimistic.

I will keep you posted. :)

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

It is a difficult day for me and for my family. My little sister Debbie (pictured with our dog, Bear) went into heart surgery this morning at 7:30 a.m. California time. She is 29 years old. Please pray for her safe recovery--and peace for all of us who love her.

Thank you.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

He must increase . . . I must decrease.

We sang this song in church a few weeks ago, and I don't remember anything else about it except these words. They stuck to my heart like glue, and I haven't been able to forget them.

He must increase . . . I must decrease.

Let's apply these six little words to Christian Televangelists . . .

Do they fit?

Or how about Seeker-sensitive Churches . . .

Do they fit?

Or maybe to a Seminary President or Professor basking in the spotlight . . .

Do they fit?

Perhaps this is the most difficult thing of all--to place Jesus first--to force ego to be nothing--to wrestle it down into the dirt and keep it there . . . where it belongs.

There is a beast inside all of us, and it doesn't want second place. More and more I've come to understand why Paul longed to be with the Lord.

It will be so amazing to be free of the darkness.

He must increase . . . I must decrease.

Powerful words--words that change hearts.


But just think of stepping on shore and finding it Heaven
Of touching a hand and finding it God's
Of breathing new air and finding it Celestial
Of waking up in Glory and finding it Home.
--Don Wyrtzen

Friday, November 03, 2006

Today I've decided to write about happier things. Life is full of so many sad things--it gets discouraging if you dwell on them.

When I was in high school, I grew to love the poetry of Emily Dickinson. She was a genius--so gifted--and yet she never became famous. No one fussed over her or published very many of her poems. And yet she kept on writing them in the face of overwhelming rejection and personal grief.

She never gave up.

I love her tenacity, and I want to be just like her. When I set a goal, I never want to give up--no matter what happens--or who tries to stop me.

Emily Dickinson did not live to see people praise her work, but today--150 years later--millions of people celebrate her talent. Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson . . . considered to be the greatest of American nineteenth century poets.

These are two of my favorite Emily Dickinson poems (but it's so hard to pick):

I'm nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there's a pair of us -- don't tell!
They'd advertise -- you know!
How dreary to be somebody!
How public like a frog
To tell one's name the livelong day
To an admiring bog!

And . . .

If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

In July, 1961, Dr. Vernon Grounds* wrote a short, but powerful article for my father's Religious Research Digest entitled, "The Oil Horn and The Plumbline." In light of today's liberal Christian Apologists and their "keep the cults comfortable" philosophy, the question remains relevant: Should we soft-sell the Gospel to avoid offending those involved in the cults, or should we tell the truth in love--a truth inherently offensive? Do we call religions that pervert the Gospel of Jesus Christ "Sacred Tribes" or do we call them Cults?

Dr. Grounds said this 45 years ago:

"Tact, graciousness, and courtesy are virtues which ought to mark the disciples of history's greatest Gentleman. But though in His gentleness, Jesus Christ never broke a bruised reed, He was by no means a “soft-sell” preacher. He spoke the truth in love, to be sure, yet His words were like sword thrusts and hammer blows. He did not lull the mul­titudes to sleep; He did everything, in Robert Louis Stevenson's phrase, "to stab them wide awake."

Very different is the ministry of some twentieth-cen­tury pulpiteers whose sermons are as hard-hitting as milk­weed down. The Carpenter, who could drive home truth with staccato power, would pour holy scorn on our modern vendors of "sweetness and light." Indeed, today our Lord might be held up as a red-light example of tactless, negative preaching. Nevertheless, such preaching is precisely the salt needed by the insipid stew of our secular culture.

Hence, the faithful minister of the Gospel whose preach­ing is as sharp and direct as an arrow hitting the mark some­times seem to be tactless and negative. Like a surgeon he must cut in order to heal. He must unmask lies, even pious lies, which keep souls from salvation. He must pulverize illusions so that life can be rebuilt upon the solid foundation of reality.

Plainly, therefore, we must stress more than the pas­toral ministry of comfort and love. We must stress the prophetic ministry of criticism and judgment. We must produce servants of God who carry in one hand the oil horn of redeeming grace and in the other the plumbline of Divine righteousness.

From a long-range viewpoint nothing is more important for the overall cause of the Gospel than a school of the prophets. Admittedly, the graduate education of ministers and missionaries lacks glamour, but that education is es­sential if we are to have prophets who will apply the strin­gent medication of God's Word to a world which is desperately sick."

Walter Martin pulverized illusions. He used sword-thrusts and hammer blows. Culturally, he was a tough New Yorker raised by my grandfather--a tough New York judge--but he tried to balance his in-your-face attitude with love. He passionately loved people--he loved them enough to tell them the truth. He was salt in the open wounds caused by false doctrine . . . and today, 17 years after his death, people still leave Mormonism (and other cults) because of him. That is the legacy of Walter Martin.

And in the end, Jesus prefers salt to sugar.


*Chancellor, Denver Seminary