Churchie Feeds

Why Tom Came Back

Just Call Me Pastor - Mon, 07/19/2021 - 11:00

Happily, the church I was pastoring was attracting young couples with little children, along with many other age groups.

Among these couples were Tom and Nancy. But after they had come to Sunday worship with their children for three weeks, Tom was absent on week four. 

As Nancy gathered the children to depart that fourth week, I asked her if Tom was ill. Tears filled her eyes as she told me of a decision he had made. He didn’t need to go to church, he had said. He could manage his life without it. 

I learned that Tom had a good job and was providing well for the children, and his Sunday golf game was with new friends whom he enjoyed. Sunday church was in the way and therefore taken off his schedule.  

As I recall, perhaps it was the next Sunday I asked Nancy to be away from home the coming Thursday night. I told her I wanted to visit with Tom alone.  

After getting the two children into bed she went to the mall for the rest of the evening. When I rang the doorbell, Tom, who was expecting my visit, met me at the door with his engaging smile. He was a cheerful and self-confident man. 

We sat down together and our conversation was easy and mutually affirming. Toward the end of the visit I mentioned that I had noticed his absence from church recently and asked if he would share with me the reason. (My interest, of course, was his eternal destiny, support for his wife, and his influence on his children above all.)  

Tom responded to my question but never lost his smile, and his decision seemed fixed. Before leaving his home I took an index card from my pocket and holding it in hand I asked if he would do me a favor.    

Seeming mildly amused as he received it, he said he would try. 

I asked if he would agree to read the card at least once a day for two weeks; and then I would come for a second visit. I offered a prayer, we exchanged respectful farewells, and I went to my car. 

When I went to his home the second time, the man who met me at the door was different. He was warm again but there was no smile. He moved almost urgently to the subject of faith. 

In a very short time we were kneeling together at his bidding. With tears, and before the Lord, he was confessing and asking forgiveness and resetting his values. 

What could have stirred such a change? It was the simple but penetrating word of our our Lord Jesus Christ printed on the card I had left with him:

What good is it for someone to gain the whole world yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? (Matthew 8:36,37)

It was not I but the Lord who had arrested his attention. The Spirit of God, working through scripture, had penetrated his consciousness. 

This story illustrates what Christians everywhere believe about the power of God’s word: “… for the Word of God is living and active.” And also: “It divides even to the dividing of soul and spirit, joints and marrow” (Hebrews 4:12,13). 

Sometimes, even with Scripture, it takes repetition to let the light in and illuminate the soul.

That conversation and prayer took place more than 60 years ago. I heard recently that Tom’s wife had died. I phoned him across the country. He wept as we talked. He was still serving the Lord.

(Names and some details changed to maintain Tom’s privacy.)

Image info: Justin See (coming back) (via

Categories: Churchie Feeds

On Loss and Life’s Meaning

Just Call Me Pastor - Mon, 07/12/2021 - 11:00

The world is too much with us: late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers …

These are the first two lines of a sonnet by William Wordsworth, English poet of the nineteenth century. As a poet of the romantic era, he believed the clank and roar of the Industrial Revolution with its belching smoke stacks had smothered the beauty of the natural world.  

Sprawling factories, and the obsession of making profit from man’s labor, had so captured the attention of the masses, he seems to proclaim, that they had obscured Nature from human wonderment, a bitter loss

In a much more ancient era, the wise man who wrote the Book of Ecclesiastes goes further than Wordsworth, with a penetrating summary not merely of Man and Nature but of the whole drama of life in both its temporal and eternal dimensions. 

And speaking even more directly to eternal matters, our Lord Jesus asks, “What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world yet forfeit their soul, or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?” (Matthew 16:26). 

There is more in Ecclesiastes and our Lord’s words than in Wordsworth: not only the loss of Nature’s beauty but also the loss of the soul. The aged writer of this book summarizes his findings about life’s meaning with these words: 

“Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14)

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Categories: Churchie Feeds

In the Eyes of God and Man

Just Call Me Pastor - Mon, 07/05/2021 - 12:53

Ten years ago, I wrote a blog based on episodes in which people were carelessly overlooked by highly trained professionals. No doubt these episodes were the result of their own distraction, busyness, or routine.  

For example, I recounted a story of a dentist and assistant who hovered over my open mouth while having a conversation as though I wasn’t even there. Another experience was of my ordering and paying for my fast food order while the employee serving me was talking in an uninterrupted stream to her coworker.  

My wife, Kathleen, heard a conversation while being prepared for cataract surgery to the effect of, “Let’s hurry and get this done so we can get out of here early.” Sedated less than they realized, she responded with a pleasant and wry comment, leading the surgeon to pause, come over to her, and reassure her that she would get excellent care, which in fact she did.

I suggested ten years ago that this kind of interpersonal oversight might be uncommon, and yet the aim should be for it to never happen. That is because, according to Christian theology, every person bears the image of God, and deserves equal respect and dignity. 

And now, ten years later, living independently but in a different circumstance, a beautiful retirement-village-within-a-building, Kay and I have committed ourselves to “serving” everyone around us with utmost respect and consideration, even though we are often the ones being served.

Given that we’re both 95, our village staff does many things for us: cleaning, meal preparation for the dining room, hanging a clock on the wall, fixing our small refrigerator, and so forth. And with the strict quarantine of the past year much relaxed, we have contact with a larger number of staff persons, whether in the dining room, at the concierge desk, or in building management. And we are finally meeting some lovely neighbors in nearby apartments. 

In the cosmopolitan Toronto suburbs, we are in a United Nations of national origins, and with many young people. We work hard to remember names, some of which we’ve never encountered before. We telegraph, and occasionally directly indicate, that we are people of faith. We attempt to engage and affirm and respect deeply. 

I suppose one could say “That’s just good etiquette.” Yes, that is true, but for us, it is also more: It is that everyone we encounter each day is of equal value in the eyes of God, and therefore in our eyes.

Photo credit: (via Zdenko Zivkovic

Categories: Churchie Feeds

Money and Parental Influence

Just Call Me Pastor - Mon, 06/28/2021 - 17:04

Last week I mentioned in my blog that my father had worried that I might be a spendthrift, based on my behavior towards money as a child. (I was not.) His interest in managing money well came right out of both of my parents’ life stories.

Both grew up in coal-mining families near Manchester, England, well acquainted with grinding poverty. Even after coming to Canada at about age 20, they initially lived close to destitution, despite being very hard workers.

During the Great Depression they did not have to appeal to the government for what was then called Relief, nor did they need to turn to the soup kitchens of the day. Instead, with a plot of land on which to grow vegetables, they relied on their own hard work and resourcefulness to stay a step ahead of hunger.

Though they didn’t rise above real poverty until in their thirties, they were never poor-minded. Even when impoverished through no fault of their own, they were the proud working poor who would be horrified to think someone else should provide for them. They were not paupers.  

My father stood 5’4” and my mother was about 4’11.” As homesteading immigrants from England to the harsh prairies of Western Canada, they had no savings to fall back on, and no family to rescue them. They knew that if they were ever to come to a place of basic financial security it would be by their own ingenuity and hard work.

They were not complainers, but occasionally they gave us glimpses into how exacting their pioneering life had been. Once my mother spoke of a time of drought early in their days in Canada when she walked three miles across the prairies to the nearest neighbor to exchange a few turnips for a few carrots so there could be some variety in their diet. All of this helps me to understand why they lived so carefully right up to the end of their lives.

In the summer of 1929, about 25 years after their arrival in Canada, and now approximately 45 years old, my parents moved from their small plot of land into Estevan, three miles to the north, and bought a stucco bungalow at the corner of Third Street and Souris Avenue. This was a part of my father’s long-range plan to become a merchant. He had already built a small bakery on Main Street, and my older brother, Wilf, had left school at age 15 to take a crash course with a baker on Fifth Street.

But only months later, the Christmas season of 1929 turned joyless with the infamous stock market crash in November of that year that ushered in the Great Depression. The situation was complicated by the serious drought that turned some parts of the province into what was called a dust bowl. That decade was often referred to as the Dirty Thirties. 

I was four that Christmas and there were no presents. One of my earliest memories is of the pall that seemed to rest on the family during that season. I learned later as an adult that my parents had feared they were going to lose the house, which in fact they soon did. And the bakery was under a similar threat. 

To face this crisis my father rented a vacant store up the street from the bakery. There he started a second-hand store. His hope was to make extra income to save the bakery.

Eventually, the store evolved into a furniture exchange. The bakery also slowly evolved into a small grocery store. But they never lost an awareness that poverty might return at any time. They never ceased to be frugal.

I review this family history because I know that in ways both conscious and subconscious it influenced my psyche. Kathleen’s story also includes a beginning in near-poverty; she and I are together careful with money but not as frugal as my parents were.

My father’s primary financial counsel was that one should always put a little aside for “a rainy day.” Five years into our marriage for the first time we had a fixed though modest income as a student pastor in Lexington, Kentucky. We then took this advice seriously and began a lifelong practice of saving something, however small that amount might be. Three years later, at our first church after seminary I remember committing to save $22 a month.

I wonder now if our parents’ history and example were training that made it easier for us to answer the call to pastoral ministry. Training in how to live modestly and to stretch a dollar takes away a distraction that might impede a life of ministry. I don’t recall ever asking a church we were going to serve what the salary would be. 

At the same time, how could Kathleen and I have guessed that from our humble but hard-working beginnings a calling to the pastorate would place us in fields of service both in Canada and the United States, and for brief periods in several other countries of the world? And we are indeed thankful to be in retirement years, living carefully but without financial worries and able to give some of our means even now to the Kingdom.

Photo credit: (via theritters

Categories: Churchie Feeds

Re-post: At Ninety-Five, I Remember My Father

Just Call Me Pastor - Mon, 06/21/2021 - 13:16

It is now fifty-four years since my father died at age eighty-one. And though I am now ninety-five, I still think of him nearly every day. Sometimes when I’m shaving I see traces of his visage looking at me from the mirror.

He was a little man, 5′ 4” and 125 pounds, but when I was growing up he was strong, and I never thought of him as other than the main man in my life. 

He (and my mother) came to Canada from the Lancashire coalfields, near Manchester, England, at the turn of the twentieth century. Long before I was born, he and my mother homesteaded in southeastern Saskatchewan. There, he was from first to last an immigrant. In his Lancashire dialect he could speak in one sentence about “the ‘air on his ‘ead” and in the next about “the hair in the hatmosphere.”

He did not finish even a year of formal schooling; quarantined in grade one due to a scarlet fever outbreak, he never returned to school, for reasons the family has never been able to explain.

At twelve, he went into the coal mines as his father’s helper. He told horror stories of those years — of fistfights underground with other boys over filled coal cars, of the hardship of going underground before dawn and emerging after sunset, thereby seeing daylight only on Sundays during the winter months.

Across his long life, he was a coal miner, a market gardener, a Watkins door-to-door salesman, a merchant, and, especially for me — a father.

You will understand that Dad was not a cultured man, but from his coal-mining family and village society he absorbed solid Victorian values that worked well then — and might add something worthwhile to our values today.

He was exceedingly motivated and worked hard. He stood by his family through thick and thin. He had vocational ideals for his children. For example, he told me that when I was born he envisioned that someday he might provide for me a little service station in town where I could pump gas for a living. I honor him for that long-distance plan.

Even though not an active believer until late in life, his values always included church attendance. Out of family solidarity, he sat with the family faithfully Sunday after Sunday. At sixty-one, he experienced a Christian conversion.

When, at nineteen, I made public that I would go into some form of Christian ministry, he was supportive of the idea; without any fuss, he put aside the plan he had made for me to manage a clothing store in our home town.

I don’t recall that he gave me a lot of time as a child, but he gave enough. I recall the time he took me north of town to the fairgrounds where he helped me fly my homemade kite. He took me and my younger sister out to the open spaces near the high school to play catch. 

He had done a lot of boxing in the coal-mining communities of his youth and in turn taught me a little about it, passing on what he himself was good at.  

I still think of him nearly every day because the importance of fatherhood has been cultivated in me through a lifetime of ministry. I’ve gone to the maternity ward of hospitals often to congratulate new parents and in some cases especially a starry-eyed father. I’ve visited in homes where things were not going well between a father and son. I’ve preached often on the Fatherhood of God and the light God’s fatherhood casts on human fatherhood.

Sadly, I’ve seen the fading of the vision for fatherhood in society and even in the church. From my perspective, young men who lack the courage to marry and embrace the challenge and responsibility of fatherhood suffer from a lack of imagination. At the same time, I’ve watched new fathers take over the assignment with inborn paternal instincts.

Experts might give my father a “B” grade by today’s standards. He didn’t do for me everything a father could do, but no father ever does. The point is, he did the things that matter. He showed me the value of hard work. He taught me early (and with some fear that the lesson wasn’t sticking, though it actually did) that “money doesn’t grow on trees.”

He valued honesty. He had respect for God. As I grew up and after I left home he showed quiet pleasure when I succeeded in getting the education he only vaguely saw the value of.

And for all of these simple reasons, even though he has been gone for fifty-four years, I revere his memory and thank God almost daily for what he gave me.

Photo credit: Jon Mitchell (via

Categories: Churchie Feeds

Re-post: Rediscovering Fatherhood

Just Call Me Pastor - Mon, 06/14/2021 - 13:19

When David Blankenhorn published Fatherless America: Confronting Our Most Urgent Social Problem (1996), he lifted the veil on the diminished state of fatherhood in the United States. His, sadly, is now only one of many books and publications documenting the absence of fathers in many homes, and the corresponding rise of single motherhood.  

“Scholars estimate,” he reports, “that before they reach age eighteen, more than half of all children in the nation will live apart from their fathers for at least a significant portion of their childhood.” Now, twenty-five years later, surely that number is significantly higher and still rising.

Students of the subject say that a clear vision of fatherhood has been fading for more than two hundred years. Some say this started with the Industrial Revolution. A father’s work and his family life were increasingly separated. With the loss of a child’s knowledge of his or her father’s work, participation in one another’s lives, and as a result emotional bonds, became weaker.

Traditionally, for Christians (and adherents of other faiths), fathers are to play four roles in their children’s lives: as (1) irreplaceable caregiver, (2) moral educator, (3) head of the family, and (4) family breadwinner. Viewing it from a Christian perspective, one might add: (5) spiritual guide, or priest of the family. Each role deserves its own essay, and many might not agree with these roles.

Even though the traditional roles described above may need nuancing for life in the twenty-first century, it might be helpful for dissatisfied fathers to discuss with their wives the above list of roles and to ask three questions together:    

(1) Do I cultivate an emotional bond with the family? Do I talk to my children regularly on their level about their concerns? If a nine-year-old son were experiencing bullying on the playground would I become involved with him in seeking a solution? When something is bothering my children, do I notice? If a twelve-year-old daughter is having her first crush on a boy in school, would I have something to say to help her through it wisely?

(2) Do my children know my basic convictions about right and wrong? Have I taught them how to be moral and upright? Even more, have I shown them by my behavior how to be a person of integrity?  

(3) As a Christian, do I talk about Jesus? See that the family attends church? Pray on a regular basis? During family devotions? At table? At bedtime? When serious problems arise? In the Christian family, this responsibility should not be left solely to the mother, though it all too often falls on her shoulders.

Pondering these questions and establishing a plan for remediation where appropriate could rebuild family life and the role of father, one home at a time, until the world is changed.  

Photo credit: JeffS (via

Categories: Churchie Feeds

Re-post: Trusting God, 24/7

Just Call Me Pastor - Mon, 06/07/2021 - 11:00

The writer of Psalm 34, King David, begins with a resolution to “extol the Lord” (praise him highly) at all times. We might call that a 24/7 pledge, to praise Him day and night, in good times and bad. 

Is that kind of 24/7 attention to praising God possible in today’s world? Our pace is super-fast, troubles abound, and the distractions of life are innumerable. And we get little encouragement from a non-devout culture. Rather than focusing on God in Christ, our culture is largely secular, defined as “of this age only, wanting no underpinnings of the divine in life’s superstructure.”

Another definition might be “if God exists it doesn’t matter.” That’s not the same as atheism, meaning “there is no God.” Or agnosticism, meaning, “He may or may not exist; there isn’t enough evidence to be sure.”

Many do not deny that there is a God; they simply think he’s not important enough to pay serious attention to. 

He’s like a big red engine at the fire station. If our house is on fire we are glad to have it come screaming to our aid, but we wouldn’t want one parked in front of our house day and night. God, like a fire engine, is only for emergencies.

Psalm 34 was apparently written after emergencies. David had narrowly escaped death at the hands of King Saul (1 Samuel 21:10-15). He sought refuge by fleeing to Gath and offering himself in the service of Achish, Gath’s king. Then he learned that his life was in danger there, too. So, he feigned insanity in order to be driven off and thus escape.

It can seem strange that in a time like this, David would respond with a commitment to praising God at all times.

All of this engaged my interest, and with my pencil I began to shade every reference to God in this psalm, both nouns and pronouns. The page now looks as if it has the measles. 

Listen to David’s testimony: “I sought the Lord and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.” And this: “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

He even indulges in a burst of instruction: “Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear [honor, respect] of the Lord.” And, “Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from telling lies. Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.”

How do testimony and instruction like this relate to trusting God 24/7? A continuous trust in God means not only that we call on him in desperate moments but that we seek to live in accordance with his righteous standards at all times.

We may praise him with words, and we acknowledge his reality 24/7 as well when we live in accordance with his righteous standards at all times.

This psalm is richly nourishing to the spirit, and is a precursor to the promises of our Lord himself. To his distraught disciples Jesus said, in John 14: “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” And, “Whoever has my commands and keeps them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.”

I’ve learned from both Scripture and experience that in order to know the assurance of King David’s psalm, and to embrace the additional promises of our Messiah, Jesus, we must follow the right sequence.

It is not: (1) experience his goodness in all sorts of ways and then (2) eventually trust him; it is rather (1) trust yourself to him, and then (2) experience his goodness and care in all sorts of ways.

Image info: Kevin Dooley (via

Categories: Churchie Feeds

Repost: Eating Grapes at Walmart*

Just Call Me Pastor - Mon, 05/31/2021 - 11:00

Kathleen and I were standing in the express line at Wal-Mart waiting to pay for two items. The line was long.

As we waited, Kathleen whispered to me, “Look at that man up ahead. He is eating grapes out of his bag before they’re weighed.” 

A woman ahead of us overheard Kathleen’s comment. She, too, had seen the man snacking as he waited. She turned and said, “I suppose you’d call that stealing.”

Then she added, “Maybe stealing doesn’t matter for an older person like him in the way it might for someone younger with a fresher conscience.” But, after a pause, she corrected herself. “You’d think it would matter more because he’s closer to the Judgment.”

It was an unexpected comment. And it identified her immediately as someone whose thinking was shaped by Christian truth. Though strangers until that moment, we shared the conviction that our conduct in this life will come under judgment in the life to come (Revelation 20:11-15).

Even hundreds of years before Christ, the Preacher of Ecclesiastes wrote:

God will bring to judgment both the righteous and the wicked, for there will be a time for every activity, a time to judge every deed. (Ecclesiastes 3:17)

Not all Christians think that way. Some believe Christ’s death for us at Calvary gives us a complete pass as to any final judgment. And in one sense that is indeed true (Romans 5:9,10). By faith in Christ we are justified — that is, we are cleared of the penalty for our sins.  

But there is another side to this truth. The Apostle Paul reminded young Christians in Corinth, a city notorious for its moral laxity: 

… we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. (2 Corinthians 5:10)

His use of the word “all” includes believers. If we take his words to heart, they mean that, although we are justified, we will nevertheless be judged for the quality of life we have lived as Christians. That is one of several reasons why Christians take the commandment against stealing seriously. 

Not just taking a few grapes, but stealing on tax returns; failing to pay debts; not returning library books; “stealing” answers on a test.  

On this matter, the Apostle Paul did not absolve himself. He said in his defense before the Roman Governor Felix in Caesarea that believed at the end of time there would be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked. “So,” he went on, “I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man” (Acts 24:16).

Our brief conversation with a stranger in a check-out line was good for us. It made us freshen our thinking on the relationship between believing in Christ and behaving as Christians ought.

*I am reposting for a few weeks as I prepare more extended material for a writing project, which I will be telling you about soon.

Image credit: Thorsten Hartmann (via

Categories: Churchie Feeds

Re-post: A Lesson in Patience

Just Call Me Pastor - Mon, 05/24/2021 - 13:04

I’m ninety-five years old, yet I remember the summer of 1943 well. At age eighteen, I spent four months working on a farm in Saskatchewan. That experience was one of the most life-shaping of my early years.  

The growing season is fairly short at that latitude in Western Canada, so when it came time to sow the fields, the equipment had to be ready with the seed on hand, and every hour was made to count.

My boss, Harold, went out to the fields shortly after four in the morning, filled up the planting drill with seed, and, as dawn broke, mounted the McCormick-Deering W-40 and began sowing. At eight, I went out to relieve him; he came back to the field at one; and I returned at six and continued sowing until dusk, near ten. In about two weeks, the fields of the 1200-acre farm were sown.

As fall approached, and with it the time to harvest the grain, the workdays were similarly long — sunup to sundown.

Self-propelled combines, tractors, and trucks were small back then, requiring many more back-and-forth passes per acre. It felt almost frantic to pull up the short-bed, two-ton GMC truck to the combine, take on a dump of wheat, race for the granary a half mile away, shovel off the load into the auger, and be back at the combine again twenty minutes later for another load.

This schedule included meals on the run, brought to the field in a non-insulated cardboard box.  

But between the spring days of sowing and the fall days of harvesting, the farmer had to wait. He waited patiently with his eye on the skies. A hailstorm could flatten his ripening grain. An early frost might damage his crops. Lack of rain could reduce the yield severely.

But he was not idle. During that uncertain season, he worked hard at secondary chores, repairing sheds, servicing machinery, getting a few hundred chicks started, and milking three or four cows, all the while waiting in hope.

In my months on the farm, I learned why farmers can seem stoical and steady.  

After the seed is in the ground they must trust nature to be kind. They don’t start to harvest the day after they sow. There’s a long wait. And during that time, everything else they do is subordinate to the one event that makes all their work worthwhile — a coming harvest.

That must be why the Apostle James used the farmer as an example of the kind of patience Christians should have as they labor on. He said, “Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains” (James 5:7).

Like the farmers, we wait in hope, but we carry out our duties as we wait. The steadfast hope of the Lord’s coming keeps us actively patient.

Image credit: Sir Mervs (via

Categories: Churchie Feeds

Re-post: Luke’s Unique Telling of the Good News

Just Call Me Pastor - Mon, 05/17/2021 - 11:00

While the four gospel writers, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, give substantially similar information about Jesus, St. Luke gives us more detail than the others about Jesus’ coming.

The angel Gabriel made the announcement to the Virgin Mary; the birth took place in Bethlehem; the shepherds received the news from an angel, backed by an angel chorus; and the baby was blessed by two aged worshipers at the temple.

But after that abundance of information, Luke gives no more detail about Jesus’ childhood until he is twelve. 

At that time Mary and Joseph took him to Jerusalem for his first Passover. Luke’s comment after this trip is: “Then [the boy] went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them … And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man” (2:51-52). That is all we are told.

And then there is another period of silence lasting 18 years. This silence is broken when Jesus begins his public ministry, at 30 years of age, according to tradition. Surely Luke, the careful historian, had access to details of these two gaps in the account of Jesus’ life. He must have had good reason.  

But then Luke gives us ample information about his three years of ministry: where he went; the followers he chose; his teachings, miracles, encounters with enemies, and friendships. So of the 24 chapters of Luke’s account of the Gospel, the majority are devoted to Jesus’ birth and the three years of his ministry.

It is striking that even greater attention is given to one particular week of his life (19:28- 23:56). It spanned the traditional Passover observance in Jerusalem when a lamb was sacrificed for the people’s sin, to the day Jesus, God’s Passover lamb for all people and all time, was crucified.  

The details of that week are where Luke’s story was pointed from the start of his gospel account. His earliest reference to the reason for Christ’s life appears in chapter 9 verse 51:  “As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem [and his crucifixion].” The Message paraphrases Luke’s words as follows: 

He gathered up his courage and steeled himself for the journey to Jerusalem.

It was not his wish to go. He knew what he would face. Yet he was resolute, on an appointed mission, to die under the Father’s judgment for the sins of the world.

During that momentous week, Luke reports, Jesus taught in the temple; ate the Passover meal with the Twelve; cautioned Simon Peter; gave instructions for the disciples’ ongoing ministry; prayed his anguished prayer on the Mount of Olives; and was arrested, disowned by Simon Peter, and given a contrived and flagrantly lawless trial and unjust verdict.

He was then brutally marched to Calvary where he was nailed to a Roman cross. Before sundown, he was hastily buried. So far as any of his followers knew, it was all over.

In summary, Luke clearly did not intend to write a biography of the life of Christ, giving equal attention to every period of Jesus’ development. Luke’s report was to include the fullest detail about his mission: he came into the world to proclaim the good news of his kingdom and to die a sacrificial death for sinners.

So, Luke’s kind of writing requires a special title. It is not a biography. It is not even a history, though we believe it is historical. It is a Gospel. It is “good news.”

And the last chapter of Luke’s Gospel account completes the good news. He who, so far as his followers were concerned, was entombed with finality on a Friday evening, was raised to life by the power of God on a Sunday morning. 

As the risen one, he presented himself to the unbelieving disciples. He ate with them, stayed long enough to help them overcome their very real uncertainties, then was taken up to Heaven.

Luke closes his account with these words about his followers: “And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God” (24:53). Hope for all believers had been born. It is hope for this life and hope for the next, sealed for us by our Lord’s resurrection!

Image info: Agnus Dei by Francisco de Zurbaran

Categories: Churchie Feeds

Re-post: The Scourge of Divorce

Just Call Me Pastor - Mon, 05/10/2021 - 11:00

When one sees at close range the price many pay for the dissolution of a marriage, divorce can be accurately called a modern scourge. My last counseling contact before transitioning from the pastorate years ago to answer my church’s call to denominational leadership was with a woman who was not a member of the church but had been sent to me by her friends who were.

She reported that her husband had recently shocked her with the announcement that he didn’t want to be married to her any longer. He gave no other reason. Divorce proceedings began immediately. Since that traumatic day, she had lost more than 40 pounds, and even with her doctor’s help she could not seem to stop the loss.

I believe that local churches everywhere should be the first line of defense against this scourge. A substantial preaching ministry lays the groundwork for marriage.  So does Sunday school or small group ministry, if they engage with biblical truths that support marriage and family life. Here are four additional suggestions.

Godly example and/or testimonials. If there is a couple in the church who have been married 50 or more years and who still manifest a gentle love for each other, why not make a five-minute interview with them a part of a Sunday-morning or other service? Such an interview could be done twice a year, each time with a couple that is told in advance the questions that will be asked. (An off-the-cuff interview may be worse than none at all.) This could be planned for the early part of the service, when school-aged children are present; the seeds of successful matrimony are planted early.

Weekend retreats. Good things happen when people participate in a well-planned weekend retreat, undergirded with prayer. Such a retreat could be for couples, teenagers, or single young professionals. Outdoor activities, some competitive games, good food, laughter, and an effective Bible teacher can be used by God to reinforce biblical truths about marriage, renew hope, and set some who attend on a whole new course.

Counseling. Some troubled marriages will need a counselor. This person could be a pastor, staff person, or a respected older lay person. A member of one of my congregations said to me, “I’ve watched you for eight years to decide whether I could talk to you.”

Small groups. One pastor reported that when he divided his congregation into small groups the requests for his counsel diminished. It seemed that some people began to get the help needed in the intimacy and trust of small groups. Within such groups, there may be couples who can be carefully screened and equipped to give basic help to those in marital difficulty.

Focus on marriage and family should not come at the neglect of single people, lest they come to feel like “second class citizens.” And those who have had a failed marriage, or are single parents, must not get any sense that they are being pushed to the sidelines, either.

The point is that the resources of the congregation should be marshalled to counter the divorce scourge and hold up marriage as a gift from God to be nurtured and, when necessary, healed. When this is done with devotion and in the power of God’s Mighty Spirit, the life of the whole congregation and society should feel the health-giving effect.

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Re-post: What Did the Apostle Paul Look Like?

Just Call Me Pastor - Tue, 05/04/2021 - 01:30

The Apostle Paul appears in 15 of the 28 chapters of The Acts of the Apostles. He is also the author of 13 of the 21 epistles in the New Testament. 

I find myself wondering what he looked like. Was he bearded? Tall or short, slight or heavy? Was his complexion clear, or pocked and wrinkled?  

A document from the middle of the second century AD claims to know. It is The Acts of Paul and Thecla, which was not included by church fathers in the New Testament. Yet it was read widely in the early church.

According to this ancient writing, Titus’s description of Paul was given to Onesiphorus, who was to meet Paul as he approached the city of Iconium. He was to watch for a man who was “small in size, bald-headed, bow-legged, well built, with eyebrows that met, rather long-nosed and full of grace.”

The Thecla in the name of the writing lived in Iconium, a young woman who at that time was engaged to be married. She was so fascinated by Paul’s message that she abandoned her engagement and declared lifelong virginity. In the early years of the church, contrary to now, some thought that virginity was holier than marriage.

The description of Paul’s appearance may have been kept alive for a century through oral tradition before it was written down. This description is still alive in the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church.

But, whether true or not, this ample description of the Apostle can be used to illustrate the larger truth that we don’t know much about the physical features of most Bible characters because physical features are not the critical issue. So details are sparse.

In Genesis we are only told that Rebekah was “very beautiful” and described as nimble of movement (Genesis 24:15-21). We know only that Jezebel, Ahab’s pagan queen, “painted her eyes and arranged her hair” (2 Kings 9:30). Absalom was handsome in appearance with a generous mop of hair (2 Samuel 14:25,26). And we’re told that Saul, who became King of Israel, was handsome and a head taller than his fellow Israelites (1 Samuel 9:2).

In the New Testament, we learn of Zacchaeus only that he was short in stature (Luke 19:3); Bartimaeus was blind (Mark 10:46); and we infer that the Apostle John was likely slight of build because he was a good runner (John 20:3,4).

Remarkably, we have no description of any of the 12 disciples. We are not even given details about the physical features of Jesus, our Lord, even though we have detailed reports of his activities covering three years of ministry.

Though “attractiveness” has been shown to be an advantage in human life, it seems that what matters most about the Bible characters we encounter is not their physical features but their hearts (character) and their motivations. In the Bible, the heart is the seat of physical, spiritual and mental life. It is that aspect of our beings known fully only to God.

According to Jesus, the human qualities that bring us the greater and deeper happiness stem from the state of the heart. He said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God” (Matthew 5:8). For Jesus, the heart counts first and foremost.

None of this is to say that our physical features don’t matter at all. We do the best we can with whatever God has given us through our DNA – we may arrange our hair or powder our faces or wear elevator shoes.

But by current standards the Apostle Paul wouldn’t stand a chance. Few would want to be described as Paul was.  Except that what radiated out of him, giving symmetry to all else, according to the story, was this: he was “full of grace.”

“Full of grace!” That’s what we hope and pray can be said of us. Abundant grace of heart and character!  


Categories: Churchie Feeds

Mary Magdalene: A Post-Easter Reflection

Just Call Me Pastor - Mon, 04/26/2021 - 11:00

During my recent careful reading of the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ death and resurrection I was surprised by the large place Mary Magdalene holds in the story. Remember that she was possessed by seven demons when she first encountered Jesus. He delivered her. This is recorded in two Gospel accounts, Luke 8:2 and Mark 16:9.  

All four Gospel writers place her at the tomb on the Sunday morning of Jesus’ resurrection (Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:1; Luke 24:10; John 20:1). In fact, the Gospel of John places her there twice, first when she discovered that the tomb was empty and ran to notify Peter and John, and again, presumably having followed them back, after these two had seen for themselves and then had left (John 20:1-2,10-11).

She is the only one the two angels at the tomb addressed directly: “Woman, why are you crying?” (John 20:13). Even more significantly, she was the first to see and speak to the resurrected Christ (20:14-16).

And then, she was the one who carried the good news to the apostles — that Jesus had indeed risen from the dead. (20:18).

Consider the story in more detail.

On the first Sunday after Our Lord’s crucifixion, Jesus’ followers were in utter confusion. The Jewish sabbath was over. The feast of unleavened bread was still in progress. But Jesus, in whom they had lodged such hope, was dead and buried –- permanently, they thought. 

For a small group of women who had supported Jesus’ ministries out of their own resources, all that was left was an emotional visit to Jesus’ tomb. There, they could finish the work of embalming and grieve together.  

Based on her history of deliverance from demon possession, Mary Magdalene had reason to love Jesus profoundly, and also to grieve deeply his brutal and shameful death.

John says that on that Sunday morning, she was first to notice the stone covering the opening to the tomb had been rolled to one side, and first to peer into the tomb, likely still by moonlight, and to see that the ledge where his body had been laid was bare. (See John 20:1.) 

What could this mean? She drew a mistaken conclusion and, likely distraught, hurried back into the city to report to two of the apostles: “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!” (John 20:2).

In the darkness and in her grief, the possibility of a resurrection from death would be the last thing to occur to her.

As the passage of John 20:11-17 tells us, after her return to the tomb a short time later, after reporting to Peter and John, a stranger materialized behind her and repeated the question the two angels had just put to her: “Woman, why are you crying?” and adding, “Who are you looking for?” Mary thought he was the gardener, and addressed him, perhaps with an edge in her voice: “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”

At that moment, the risen Lord spoke her name, Mary … and she recognized the voice and responded with great surprise, “Rabboni!”

Before she hurried off for this second time, this time to carry exciting news, Jesus gave her notice of his coming ascension to the Father.

Why would Jesus give her such attention? Women in Palestine in the first century were on the bottom rung of the social ladder. A shocking rabbinic saying went: “Blessed is he whose children are male, but woe to him whose children are female.” Another rabbinic saying goes: “Let the words of law be burned rather than delivered to women.”

The Gospel was ahead of its time. It elevated womanhood. Here is a woman whom Jesus had delivered from demon possession. Then to top all else, the Master had trusted her first with the Good News of his resurrection and coming ascension.

And she became the first human to bear this good news to others (John 20:18).

Image credit: John Taylor (via

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A Missionary’s Unexpected Petition

Just Call Me Pastor - Mon, 04/19/2021 - 11:00

I have known many admirable missionaries across my 95 years, but one stands out especially. 

I was in my early twenties when I first met the Reverend J. W. Haley, a man known for his fervent prayer and bold faith. 

In 1902, he was appointed to serve in a developing missionary field in South Africa, leaving behind his pastorate in Westview, Saskatchewan. In 1933, by then an experienced missionary, he traveled from South Africa to the Congo in Central Africa to investigate a new opportunity for the Gospel. This trip opened a strong field in Free Methodism’s missionary efforts. 

Soon after the missionary’s work in the Congo began, God sent an unusual visitation of his Holy Spirit to that region. The Congolese people experienced a deep awareness of sin and a strong impulse to confess sins openly. This work of the Spirit went on for some time and many came to faith. 

Sometime in the middle of the 1940s Rev. Haley, now back in his homeland, visited Lorne Park College, a Free Methodist junior college near Toronto, where he addressed the students in a chapel service. I was a student and part-time staff, and afterwards I had a conversation with this unpretentious man whom I greatly admired. 

I mentioned my fundraising efforts for the college. I explained that took a singing group out to a congregation, had the group present special music and then I spoke of the ministry of the college and received an offering. Rev. Haley offered to make the school’s ministry part of his prayers.

Our paths crossed during the following summer when he was at the Maple Grove campground near London, Ontario, to represent overseas missions, and I was there to represent the college. I mentioned his promise of prayer, and he sent me to the missionary cottage where he said he would join me.

After a bit of conversation, he turned a chair around and knelt. I followed his lead. After a short period of silence, he began: “Lord, there is so much in us that needs forgiving.”

I was startled. I did not expect a prayer like that from a man of such spiritual strength. The opening sentence of his prayer remains word-for-word in my memory to this day. And I have come to see how acknowledgment of the need for forgiveness is appropriate in even the most mature Christian’s prayers.

With the passing of the years I believe ever more deeply that prayer is deficient if it does not have a note of penitence in it. After all, we are speaking to God, the Almighty, who is utterly holy, and lives in realms of light without a trace of sin. We may be his redeemed creatures, but even if we are filled with the energy of his Spirit, we need the benefits of the atonement continuously.

The Apostle John puts it this way: “My dear children, I write to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father — Jesus Christ the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for our sins, but for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:1-2). 

In living out the life of faith, we can be certain of our redemption through faith in Christ Jesus. And at the same time, we grieve over human deficiencies and foibles that limit our influence for Him. 

Being certain of our Father’s help, we can pray each day: There is much in us that needs forgiving.

Image credit: Alexander Baxevanis (via

Categories: Churchie Feeds

From Unbelief to Faith in Christ

Just Call Me Pastor - Mon, 04/12/2021 - 11:00

The Christian Scriptures repeatedly present the resurrection of Jesus as a historic fact and a central issue for faith in Christ. Scripture also reports that many moved from unbelief to faith that he had indeed risen from the dead. As recorded in 1 Corinthians 15:1-8, this was so for Simon Peter and the other disciples, Mary Magdalene, and a gathering of 500.

In this blog we’ll see how faith came about for a Jewish rabbi who was initially passionately resistant to faith in Christ Jesus.  

We first meet this man as Saul of Tarsus, a highly educated young rabbi in Jerusalem who was present when Christianity’s first martyr, Stephen, was dragged outside the city and stoned to death (Acts 7:54-8:1). 

Stephen, a disciple of Jesus, had  just recounted a large piece of Israel’s history before the Sanhedrin, the ruling council of Jerusalem. At his conclusion and in response to their refusal to believe in Jesus, he courageously charged them with resisting the Holy Spirit as their ancestors had done. This enraged them, and they responded by stoning him to death.

Saul stood guard over the executioners’ coats and apparently looked on approvingly as Stephen was cruelly murdered (Acts 6:8-8:1).

We next meet Saul walking the road between Jerusalem and Damascus, a distance of approximately 206 miles. He carried letters from the high priest, authorizing him to arrest and bring to Jerusalem men or women in the synagogues of Damascus who were committed to this new “Jesus cult” (Acts 9).

How intense was his commitment to his assignment? He is described in the Acts of the Apostles as “breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples” (Acts 9:1).

As he and his companions approached Damascus, however, a brilliant light flashed around him, and he fell to the ground.  

As Acts 9 documents, a voice asked, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”Saul responded, “Who are you Lord?” The voice replied, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting.”Saul got up, and having been blinded, was led by the hand into the city.

In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. God instructed him to go to a certain street where Saul was waiting. Ananias was afraid because of Saul’s reputation, but he obeyed. Saul’s sight was restored, and he was baptized and filled with the Spirit.

Within days, Saul (renamed Paul, and now St. Paul) was preaching the Gospel in the synagogues of Damascus where he had earlier planned to search out disciples of the “Jesus way” to be persecuted or killed. With his remarkable turnabout and new zeal, his life soon came under threat from status quo Jews in Damascus. So great was the threat that fellow believers had to lower him over the city wall in a basket to escape. 

Years later, after his many travels to establish churches in Asia, Macedonia and Greece, he set his course to return to Jerusalem. At his stops for fellowship with members of young churches along his route, tears of love and faith flowed among them. Believers pleaded with him not to go to Jerusalem, but he remained resolute. 

Arriving in Jerusalem, he was very soon in trouble with mobs who at times called for his death. As a Roman citizen, he was protected by the Roman military. He was also tried by Roman authorities one after the other: Felix, Festus and Agrippa. 

Three times while he was held in Jerusalem, and then for most of two years in Caesarea, he pointed back to his spiritual turnaround on the Damascus road. That encounter with the living Christ became the defining moment of his life.  

Due to his Roman citizenship he was treated with some consideration by the authorities in Caesarea, before being sent on to Rome for a trial under the emperor’s court. 

In Rome, false accusations raised against him again and again aroused the masses. This gave him the opportunity to bear witness to his faith in Christ, though always grounded in Israel’s historic faith. 

For instance, he assured those who heard him at his trial under Felix that he was still a full-fledged Israelite (Acts 24:14-16).  

While facing his likely execution as a martyr, in a letter to the Galatians, he witnessed his living faith in the resurrected Christ thus: 

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)

Paul had become ablaze for Christ.

Image credit: coolio-claire (via

Categories: Churchie Feeds

What a Savior!

Just Call Me Pastor - Mon, 04/05/2021 - 14:20

By request of Glenn Teal, interim pastor of the Greenville (Illinois) Free Methodist Church, Kay and I recorded for his congregation a video message about Jesus’ last words on the cross. Jesus did not deliver these words in a dying whisper, which is what we would expect. Rather, he proclaimed in a loud voice: “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” You can view the video here.

For those who don’t read online, here are my two primary points:

First, after a brutal flogging and crucifixion, when Jesus died, his life was not taken, it was given,with a firm, loud voice, according to plan, to save us from sin and death.  

And second, Jesus then ascended to the right hand of God the Father, where, on behalf of believers, he intercedes for us even now.  

Hallelujah, what a Savior! May all the world know that Jesus died and rose again, to free them from sin and death. And, as well, may all know that, for those who trust in him, Jesus is interceding actively on our behalf before the Father!

A blessed Easter to you and your loved ones.

Image credit: Kimber Shaw (via

Categories: Churchie Feeds

Praying for Our Daily Bread… Abandoning Tomorrow’s Worries

The Idol Babbler - Fri, 07/27/2018 - 20:31

“How great the value which this truth teaches us to attach to each single day! We are so easily led to look at life as a great whole, and to neglect the little to-day, to forget that the single days do indeed make up the whole, and that the value of each single day depends on its influence on the whole. One day lost is a link broken in the chain, which it often takes more than another day to mend. One day lost influences the next, and makes its keeping more difficult. Yea, one day lost may be the loss of what months or years of careful labour had secured. The experience of many a believer could confirm this.”Andrew Murray

A good friend of mine posted this quote on social media. I can relate, because there are days where my goal is to just get through it… rather than slowing down to take in the moments that God has given me.

Praying for Our Daily Bread

This goes along with something which has impacted my prayer life recently… realizing that my prayers (as taught by Christ Himself) ought to focus on today, and not necessarily tomorrow or the next day, but today. Not that it is wrong for me to pray about tomorrow, but maybe it is more proper for me to pray for TODAY, how I am to deal with what I might see on the horizon. The thing is, the horizon may or may not ever come. Therefore, I ought to instead focus on asking the Lord to be with me this day. After all, Jesus did not teach His disciples to pray for tomorrow’s bread, but today’s…

Matthew 6:11 (HCSB)
Give us today our daily bread.

A few verses later, Jesus made this point about putting too much emphasis upon tomorrow, rather than today…

Matthew 6:33-34 (HCSB)
But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

The half-brother of Jesus would later also touch upon this concept when he wrote to the 12 tribes in the dispersion regarding their materialistic mindset…

James 4:13-15 (HCSB)
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will travel to such and such a city and spend a year there and do business and make a profit.” You don’t even know what tomorrow will bring — what your life will be! For you are like smoke that appears for a little while, then vanishes.
Instead, you should say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”

Abandoning Tomorrow’s Worries

It is so tempting to get caught up in what tomorrow might bring.

As James wrote, we must realize that our lives are “like smoke that appears for a little while, then vanishes.” It is why Jesus encouraged that our prayers be rooted in today, instead of tomorrow.

May we (Christians) learn to pray about the moment we are in, abandoning the worry we create when we lose sight of the peace that Christ has provided us….

Philippians 4:4-7 (HCSB)
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your graciousness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Godspeed, to the brethren!


Categories: Churchie Feeds

Loving His Manner

The Idol Babbler - Mon, 07/02/2018 - 23:46

This blog article can now be found here.

theidolbabbler is now a proud blog contributor to the Bible Thumping Wingnut Network.

Categories: Churchie Feeds

A Simple Way to Explain to an Unbeliever Why We Are Guilty Before God

The Idol Babbler - Sun, 06/24/2018 - 23:17

This blog article can now be found here.

theidolbabbler is now a proud blog contributor to the Bible Thumping Wingnut Network.

Categories: Churchie Feeds

That Helpful Tension

The Idol Babbler - Wed, 06/13/2018 - 19:46

Matthew 22:34-40 (HCSB)
When the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they came together. And one of them, an expert in the law, asked a question to test Him: “Teacher, which command in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.”

Jesus said that “all the Law and the Prophets” depend on love. They do not depend on anything else. If we take away love, we take away the foundation.

What happens if we take away love, what would all the Law and the Prophets then stand upon?


When Paul wrote to the Corinthians, he talked about this same theme, mentioning some other things which become meaningless when love is removed from the equation…

1 Corinthians 13:1-3 (HCSB)
If I speak human or angelic languages
but do not have love,
I am a sounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
If I have the gift of prophecy
and understand all mysteries
and all knowledge,
and if I have all faith
so that I can move mountains
but do not have love, I am nothing.
And if I donate all my goods to feed the poor,
and if I give my body in order to boast
but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Possessing a great acumen for oration, having an incredible wealth of knowledge, or even consistently displaying a sincere religious fervor, none of these things matter if they are not backed by love. Not even an impressive resume of charitable giving carries any weight when love is not in the picture. Take away love, you take away everything. When it comes to God and love, we must remember: when John described who God is, he said that He is love…

1 John 4:8 (HCSB)
The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love.

If love is what the Law and the Prophets depend upon (as Jesus taught), and if God is love (as John tells us in his epistle), then His commands to us are actually an expression of who He is. They describe His character, His essence. Violate His commands, you then not only violate love, but you also violate who God is.

Does that possibility give you pause?

It should, because we all know that we do not always love. John even warns against ignoring the fact that we fail to love. Look at what he writes…

1 John 1:8 (HCSB)
If we say, “We have no sin,” we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

That Helpful Tension

John goes on though, giving us hope. Yet, he does not release that helpful tension, holding it all together, which keeps us sober in our walk…

1 John 1:9 – 2:11 (HCSB)
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say, “We don’t have any sin,” we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us. My little children, I am writing you these things so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father — Jesus Christ the Righteous One. He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not only for ours, but also for those of the whole world. This is how we are sure that we have come to know Him: by keeping His commands. The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” yet doesn’t keep His commands, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly in him the love of God is perfected. This is how we know we are in Him: The one who says he remains in Him should walk just as He walked. Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old command that you have had from the beginning. The old command is the message you have heard. Yet I am writing you a new command, which is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. The one who says he is in the light but hates his brother is in the darkness until now. The one who loves his brother remains in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him. But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness, walks in the darkness, and doesn’t know where he’s going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

Godspeed, to the brethren!


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