Trust in the Lord and Do Good

  I enjoy listening to “In The Market” on Moody Radio. Janet Parshall, host of the daily broadcast, deals with current issues and how we, as Christians, should respond.  She doesn’t shy away from tackling tough, controversial topics. As Janet says, with all the turmoil, evil, and craziness in our world today, the U.S.A. included, it would be easy, as a believer, to just “pull the covers up over our head and try to ignore it all.”  This past fall in the United States we have witnessed numerous tragic shootings, and unbelievably sickening treatment of Brett Kavanaugh during the hearings to confirm him as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. And then came the campaigning for the mid-term elections with all the heated rhetoric and mud-slinging. Even after the election, the turmoil continued with recounts and charges of voter fraud and candidates unwilling to accept defeat. It is sickening and disheartening to see the depths to which this “great nation” has sunken in such a short time. We listened to a special Moody radio program at Thanksgiving about the Pilgrims and the beginnings of our nation and how the emphasis was on freedom to worship and serve God and proclaim His Good News of love and forgiveness. Our first universities were established as places to be trained in God’s Word to be able to teach it to others. My how far we have strayed in our short history.
     I’m sure you too have been struck by how very sinful the times are in which we live. Sin and the war it wages against mankind is everywhere. You can’t visit an online news source, turn on the television, or tune in to your favorite radio station without being reminded of the wickedness of our day. It has penetrated every level of our society. And the problem isn’t unique to our country. It is universal.
     As believers in Jesus Christ, we love what He loves and hate what He hates. We love righteousness, justice, truth, peace and holiness. So, we are grieved by sin and its awful effects that so dominate the culture around us. We long for justice and for things to be set right. We want to see the lies and deceit exposed for what they are and long to see God and His Word exalted and sin judged.  We can surely identify with John the Apostle’s closing benediction of the final book of Scripture: “Even so, come, Lord Jesus!” (Rev. 22:20).  And, it is tempting to want to “pull up the covers” and just stay there till Jesus returns to make things right.
     And we are not the first ones to feel that way. Ever since sin took place in the Garden of Eden, believers have longed for evil and wickedness to be judged and for justice to rule.  It is easy to have the attitude that “being good doesn’t pay,” for we see how many seem to prosper in their evil scheming and not get caught or punished. Even if their wickedness is exposed, nothing is done about it. the Psalmist was obviously bothered by this as well, as we have a number of the Psalms we refer to as “imprecatory” Psalms which cried out for God to judge those who were working against His plans and purposes and making life difficult for those who followed God’s commands. But, inspired by God, David wrote: “Do not fret because of evil-doers. Be not envious toward wrongdoers. For they will wither quickly like the grass, and fade like the green herb. (You continue to ) Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the LORD; and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust also in Him, and He will do it. And He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your judgment as the noon day. Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him. Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who carries out wicked schemes. Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; do not fret, it leads only to evil doing. For evildoers will be cut off, but those who wait for the LORD, they will inherit the land. Yet a little while and the wicked will be no more…but the humble will inherit the land, and will delight themselves in abundant prosperity” (Psa. 37: 1-11).
     It is important that we view our current culture with an eternal perspective and not become “weary in well doing” (Gal. 6:9) and just wait for the Lord to come and take us out of here. We can trust that one day soon “The Lord will come who will bring to light the things hidden in darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts” (I Cor. 4:5). But meanwhile, we are to continue doing good, and dwelling in the land and cultivating faithfulness. We are not helpless bystanders in a world gone amuck, but have at our disposal  the most powerful, life-changing weapon to fight corruption and evil in the world, one that is not dependent upon a particular political party or piece of legislation. It is the Word of God which alone reveals the means of ultimate deliverance from sin and judgment. It is the only means the Holy Spirit uses to bring people into a right relationship with God and change them from the inside out. In this world of “bad news” we have the “Good News” of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul wrote: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…” (Ro. 1:16).  The gospel alone has the power to save souls from Satan’s kingdom of lies and deceit, wickedness, and death, and to bring them into the glorious kingdom of God. In a depraved, perishing world, God continues to gather a people for His eternal glory—to praise, serve, and enjoy Him forever, and we have the privilege, and responsibility of sharing that “Good News” in a world that desperately needs it. Jesus said “I will build My church and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it” (Mt. 16:18).  Since “gates” were used for defense, it implies that the church (we believers) are to be on the “offensive,” taking the Gospel to the remotest parts of the earth, which includes not only the neighbor next door, but also the countries “closed” to Christianity.
     So, don’t go into hiding, waiting for this all to end and Jesus to get you out of here. We are to continue being “salt and light” (Mt. 5:14-16), and the more corrupt and darker it becomes, the more we need to “show up.” After all we are Christ’s Ambassadors on earth with the privilege of representing Him to others so they might be reconciled to God (II Cor. 5:18-20). This is the “season of lights”–Hanukah and Christmas. Make sure your “light” is also shining!”
                Forever His,
                        Pastor Dave
    
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Keeping Your Balance

  We enjoy watching gymnastics and are amazed at the abilities of the gymnasts. All of the events are impressive, demonstrating the gymnasts amazing strength and flexibility and timing, but one in particular shows the athlete’s balance and that, of course, is the balance beam. I’m sure at some point in your life you have tried to see how long you could walk on a railroad rail without falling off. Now raise that rail to 4 feet off the ground and try it!  A balance beam is 16 feet long, 3.9 inches wide and 4.1 feet off the ground. It is wider than a rail but gymnasts doesn’t just walk on it; they perform tumbling combinations to demonstrate acrobatic skills and must also stay on the beam the whole time. They have 1.3 minutes to show their skills. That may not seem like a very long time, but I bet it seems like an hour when you are trying to keep balanced and not fall off.
     Keeping your balance is a much-needed skill, not just in gymnastics, but in all of life.  We need to keep the tires balanced and the wheels in alignment on our vehicles or we have difficulty staying on course. In order to stay healthy, we need a balanced diet (which doesn’t mean a chocolate bar in both hands!). Financially we need a balanced budget where we don’t spend more than we make (or we end up like our government!). Sports teams need to have a balanced attack, not dependent on just one player,  but all working together, with each contributing according to his/her special abilities. The same is true for a local assembly of believers. The Apostle Paul compared the church to the physical body, which has many members, all serving an important role and necessary to the proper functioning of the body (I Cor. 12:12-31). Just as it would be ridiculous for the foot to say, “because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,” or for the ear to say, ” because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body,” it is also ridiculous to say that because you don’t have particular spiritual gifts that you are not really needed in the local assembly. If you are a believer, you have been gifted by God to serve in the body of Christ. Paul wrote: “But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit (spiritual gifts) for the common good” (I Cor. 12:7).  Rather than envying what others can do, thinking that you don’t have anything to offer, keep in mind Paul’s statement in I Cor. 12:11: “But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.” God did not leave anyone out and is the One who decides what gifts to give each of us that will best complement the body to make it healthy. To the Ephesian believers, Paul wrote: “But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift…being fitted and held together by that which every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love” (Eph. 4:7-16).  If you decide you aren’t needed, or don’t want to get involved, then the body is “out of balance” and suffers. There needs to be a balance of teaching, administering, showing mercy, service, worship, outreach, missions, etc. for a church to stay in balance and be healthy. The church needs YOU!  CH_ _ CH is nothing unless UR in it!
     And, speaking of the church, there needs to be a balance in teaching from God’s Word. It is our nature to fall prey to the “perils of the pendulum,” and emphasize one doctrine and neglect others. For example, we may exclusively teach on the sovereignty of God and neglect the teaching of the free will of man and his responsibility and accountability. Or we may put all of emphasis on evangelism and very little on discipleship and missions. Or we may get hung up on prophecy and neglect the development of our everyday walk and witness.  When Paul met with the elders from Ephesus, he told them, “For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose (KJV = counsel) of God” (Acts 20:27). Paul boldly declared all the truths of God’s Word—creation, election, redemption, justification, adoption, conversion, sanctification, holy living, etc. and strongly condemned those who adulterated the truth of Scripture (II Cor. 2:17; II Tim. 4:3,4). “All Scripture is inspired by God (from Genesis through Revelation) and is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (II Tim. 3:16,17).  It is crucial that we study and teach and preach all of God’s Word and not be a “Scripture-plucker,” with just a verse here and a verse there to teach what we want God’s Word to say or to just emphasize one portion of the “whole counsel of God.”
     Another area where we are prone to get out of balance is in the area of our physical versus spiritual conditioning. Our culture today is quite obsessed with health and fitness. I just heard that people in our country spend and average of $100,000 in a lifetime on fitness centers, exercise equipment, diets,  protein drinks, etc. to keep their bodies in top shape. Now, it is good to do what we can to stay healthy and in shape (someone said, “round is a shape!”)  for we only have a ministry as long as we have a body, but don’t neglect to exercise spiritually. Imagine how spiritually strong and healthy we would be if we gave as much effort to spiritual conditioning as to physical!  Paul wrote: “For bodily discipline (exercise) is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come” (I Tim. 4: 8).  We tend to spend much time on our physical bodies which are temporal and little time on the inner man which is eternal. Paul wrote: “Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (II Cor. 4:16-18). How much time (and money) do you spend on the “outer man” versus the renewal and growth of the “inner man”?  Has your life gotten “out of balance”? 
     “Keeping your balance” is important in every area of life. Gymnastics is not the only venue with a “balance beam.” But, none is more important than your spiritual life. We are here to glorify God in all that we do (Col. 3:17, 23,24) and in order to do that, must “seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Mt. 6:33). How are you doing?  Have you gotten “out of balance?”
                Forever His,
                    Pastor Dave
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Keep God’s Word as the Main Thing

   I wrote a “Wisdom of the Week” on June 23, 2014 entitled “You’ll Never Make It As A Missionary” about friend and missionary, Doug Nichols, who along with his wife Margaret, were classmates of my wife Kathy at Prairie Bible Institute in Three Hills, Alberta from 1963-1966. While Margaret (Jespersen) grew up as a missionary kid in China, Doug came from a very dysfunctional home. His step-father told him he was “worthless.” His three brothers died in prison and his sisters have been married five or six times. His own life was headed for destruction until a Christian classmate in college befriended him and introduced him to Christ. That friend went on to attend PBI and invited Doug to join him, but he struggled there and had to have special tutoring. Some even told him he was wasting their time and his money. When Doug told them he wanted to be a missionary, they said, “You’ll never make it as a missionary!”
     But, with great effort—and the grace of God—Doug managed to graduate from PBI in three years (It’s a four-year school)! But, then he was turned down by some thirty different mission organizations to which he applied. Finally “Operation Mobilization” accepted him and he ended up as a missionary in India. Later, he founded “Action International Mission,” and now he and Margaret serve with “Commission To Every Nation,” as well as acting as “Global Missions” advocate and assisting “Christian Growth Ministries” and “Grow International Ministries” in the Philippines. The struggling PBI student that was told he would “never make a missionary” has been in missions now for more than 50 years and has been used mightily by God to spread the Good News of the saving power of Jesus Christ throughout the world!  The life and ministry of Doug Nichols is a great illustration of the truth of I Cor. 1:26-31: “For consider your calling, brethren that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised, God has chosen, the things that are not, that He might nullify the things that are, that no one should boast before God. but by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification , and redemption, that just as it is written, ‘Let Him who boasts, boast in the LORD.’”
      One thing Doug has always stressed in His ministry is the importance of God’s Word—keeping it the main thing. When he stayed in our home to hold a Missionary Conference at Faith Bible Church, we discovered one of his mottos is “No Bible, no breakfast.” He wouldn’t eat until he had some time in the Word.  In a recent newsletter Doug told of an experience He had while battling cancer. I asked his permission to share it with you. Again, it shows the importance of making God’s Word our focus, of reading it and sharing it and letting it do its work.
     “During my cancer treatment years ago, Margaret had to rush me to emergency one night. As the doctors worked on me through the night, not really knowing what to do, they called Margaret into the hall the next morning to explain my situation to her. About that time, a chaplain came in to see me and I thought, ‘Well this must be it.’ 
     “As the chaplain talked softly to me for a few minutes, I finally opened my eyes and as tactfully as I could in my pain, said, ‘Is that the stuff you share with people all the time?’
     “He said, ‘What do you mean?’
     “I said, ‘Well, I’m dying of cancer. I do not want to hear talk about the sweet breeze blowing through the trees, the smell of flowers or the birds chirping. I am dying! You need to read the Word of God!’ 
     “He said, ‘The Word of God? The Bible?  Where do I get a copy?’  I said, ‘For Pete’s sake, you are a chaplain! Read from the Gideon Bible here on the table.’
     “As he picked up the Bible he asked, ‘Where do I read?’
     “I said, ‘Well, why don’t your start with Romans?’  (I forgot when you are dying you are supposed to read Psalms, not Romans!)
     “So, he began to read Romans chapter one. In my pain I went to sleep just as he got to verse 16, ‘For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…’ What a great verse to go to sleep on!
     “The next day, he came to see me again and asked, ‘Can we read the Word of God some more?’ As he read and we talked, I challenged him to use the Word with more patients because even in our misery, agony, pain and discomfort, the Word of God brings hope. The Scripture says, ‘So faith comes from hearing by the word of Christ’ (Ro. 10:17). So, let’s read the Word of God and share the Word and let it do its work!”
AMEN!

            Forever His

                Pastor Dave
P.S.  Doug is the one who had us compile 60 “Wisdom of the Week” devotionals and printed 1500 copies to hand out to pastors in the Philippines. 259 were given out at a Pastors’ conference in October. There are some 41,000 untrained pastors in the Philippines. They are in need of Bibles and study materials and cannot afford to purchase them, so CTEN, through the three ministries mentioned above, supply materials to these needy pastors. A special thanks to those of you who helped on the cost of printing the “Wisdom of the Week” devotional book to be part of that distribution.
    
    
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Thanksgiving and Praise

  “Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth. Serve the LORD with gladness; come before Him with joyful singing. Know that the LORD Himself is God. It is He who has made us and not we ourselves; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him; bless His name. For the LORD is good; His loving-kindness is everlasting. And His faithfulness to all generations” (Psa. 100).
     Note that this brief but beloved Psalm, which calls on all men to praise and worship the LORD (Yahweh) because He is God (Elohim—vv. 1-3) and He is good (vv 4,5), distinguishes between thanksgiving and praise (v. 4).   We are to give thanks for what God has done and we are to praise God for who He is. Thanksgiving and praise are a genuine part of faith, for they demonstrate our trust in the goodness and sovereign control of God, acknowledging that He works all things (good and bad) together for good to those who love Him, as He conforms us to the image of Christ (Ro. 8:28-30). Not everything is good in itself. Some things are cruel and evil and hurtful and hateful; but God weaves them together into a pattern that is to our eternal benefit. He has guaranteed it (Ro. 8:18; Heb. 12:9-11).
 Giving Thanks for what God Has Done:
           
          1.  In Samuel’s farewell address to Israel, he challenged the people saying: “Only fear the LORD and                   serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you”
               (I Sam. 12:24).
          2.  The Psalmist, David, wrote: “Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget none of His benefits; Who                   pardons…heals…redeems…and Who satisfies…I will give thanks to the LORD with all my                            heart;  I will tell of thy wonders” (Psa. 103:1-5; 9:1,2). 
           3.  Thanksgiving should accompany all our prayer requests. “In everything by prayer, with                                    thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God(Phi. 4:7).
            4.  True thanksgiving does not depend on circumstances and keeps our spirits sweet in the midst of                         adversity.
                    a.  Paul and Silas were found singing praises at midnight after being beaten and placed in stocks                             in prison (Acts 16)
                    b.  The prophet Habakkuk wrote: “Though the fig tree should not blossom, and there be no                               fruit on the vines; though the yield of the olive should fail, and the fields produce no                                 food; though the flock should be cut off from the fold, and there be no cattle in the
                         stalls, yet I will exult in the LORD, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation” (Hab. 3:17,18).
                    c.  When the three Hebrews faced Nebuchadnezzar’s fiery furnace for failure to worship his gods                             and the golden image he had set up, they responded: “If it be so, our God whom we serve                             is able to deliver us from the furnace..But even if He does not…we are not
                          going to serve your gods or worship the golden image…” (Dan. 3:17,18).
                    d.   When Daniel heard that a statute had been passed that he could only pray to to King Darius,                              “He entered his house…and continued  kneeling on his knees three times a day,                                        praying and giving thanks before his God, as he had done previously” (Dan. 6:10).
                    e.  The Apostle Paul, who faced tremendous adversity, wrote: “In everything give thanks, for                               this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (I Thes. 5:18), and to the Ephesian                           believers wrote: “Always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus
                         Christ…” (Eph. 5:20).
                    f.   In the most difficult circumstances, there are things for which to be thankful. If you can’t be                                 thankful for anything else, thank God that you don’t have to pass through that trial alone, that                             He will be with you and not forsake you (Dt. 31:6-8; Isa. 43:2; He. 13:5). Knowing this, the
                        heart of faith can give thanks for all things.
Praising God for Who He Is:
            1.  Praise is an important element in prayer and worship. Note in Psalm 100 that the psalmist praises                     God for His goodness, His loving-kindness and His faithfulness (v. 5). 
            2.  The song of praise must be related to the object of praise. When praising God becomes a mindless                    thing which is more influenced by evocative music than genuine heartfelt gratitude, watch out!                           Genuine praise must spring from Who God Is. Praise should be the natural response of Christians                      caught up in love and gratitude for the Lord and for all He means to us.
            3.  With our colleagues at work, with our family and neighbors, with our classmates, what our lives                           declare about our faith will either endorse or negate what our lips say. Does the way we live shout                       “PRAISE” ???
“Enter His gates with thanksgiving and, and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him; bless His name. For the LORD is good”
(Psa. 100: 4,5a). 
    Have a wonderful Thanksgiving time and don’t forget to offer up your praise and thanksgiving to the One who made it all possible.
                Forever Grateful,
                    Pastor Dave

            

    
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The Real “War to End All Wars”

World War I, known as “The Great War,” officially ended when the “Treaty of Versailles” was signed on June 28, 1918 outside the town of Versailles, France. Fighting, however ceased seven months earlier when an armistice—temporary cessation of hostilities—between the allied nations and Germany went into effect on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.  For that reason, Nov. 11, 1918 is generally regarded as the end of “the
war to end all wars.” In November 1919, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Nov. 11 as the first commemoration of “Armistice Day” and it was celebrated with parades and public meetings and a brief suspension of business beginning at 11 a.m. An act approved on May 13, 1938, made Nov. 11th a legal holiday, one dedicated to world peace. It was primarily a day set aside to honor veterans of WW I, but in 1954, after WW II, the act was amended and called “Veterans’ Day,” a day to honor veterans of all wars for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.
     Unfortunately, “the war to end all wars,” did not bring lasting peace. It wasn’t long until World War II broke out and then the Korean War and then came Vietnam and Desert Storm and on and on it goes with nations rising up against nations. Of course, almost every person would prefer to live in peace. Our annual observance of Armistice Day (now Veteran’s Day) wistfully expresses the hope that when the current war is settled, it will be the final war, and there will be peace. The word “armistice” is from the Latin and means “arms standing still.”
     But, there is no real peace; there were numerous wars back during Roman times and Babylonian times and medieval times and all times! Even today there are dozens of small “wars and rumors of wars” going on in any given year just as Jesus prophesied in Mt. 24:6 and they will continue until Christ, the “Prince of Peace” (Isa. 9:6) returns to “speak peace to the nations” and to  establish His kingdom of peace “to the ends of the earth” (Zech. 9:9,10). The fact is, there can be no lasting peace between nations or between men until there is peace between men and God. Only the Lord Jesus Christ can make such a peace, for He alone is the “Prince of Peace.” Indeed, He has already paid the price to make such true and eternal peace, for He “made peace through the blood of His cross,” and is thus able “to reconcile all things unto Himself” (Col. 1:20).     
     We must await Christ’s return to earth to reign before we have “world peace” but until that time we, as individuals, can experience both peace with God and the peace of God in our hearts.  Because Jesus shed His blood on our behalf to pay the penalty for our sins (II Cor. 5:21), we can put our faith in Him and be reconciled to God. Paul wrote: “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ro. 5:1).  We can also experience inner peace—the “peace of God.” Paul’s exhortation to the Philippian believers was: “Be anxious, for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God, and the peace of God which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6,7).  Interestingly, the Apostle Paul wrote this letter while a prisoner in Rome!  But, Paul didn’t complain about his situation. He had “learned to be content in whatever circumstances” he found himself (Phil. 4:11). He was at peace with God and had the “peace of God ruling in His heart” (Col. 3:15). As Jesus shared with His disciples in the upper room just before His arrest and crucifixion, He told them He would be going to prepare a place for them but that their hearts need not be troubled, (Jn. 14:1-3) and went on to promise:  “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you. Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you, not as the world gives, do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful” (vv. 26,27). Notice that it was His peace which He promised. That is a peace that is not dependent upon outward circumstances. No matter what the turmoil and chaos in the world around us, we can have that “peace that surpasses all comprehension” guarding our hearts and minds.
     So, no matter what is happening in your life today, for this you have Jesus, and “He himself is our peace” (Eph. 2:14).
                Forever His…In His Peace,
                    Pastor Dave
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Another Godly Legacy

  Two days after the celebration of life service for Ellis (Al) Stewart (long-time friend and elder at Three Lakes where I pastored), I was involved in a memorial service for another dear saint, Phil Lemen, to whom God gave 96 years on this earth.
     After retiring from pastoring at Three Lakes, Kathy and I returned to Faith Bible Church which was our home church from the mid 1950’s through the late 1960’s. Kathy’s dad, Clarence Kutz, was the first pastor at FBC and our wedding  (June 16,1967) was the first service in the upstairs sanctuary, so this fellowship has always been very special to us.
     When we returned, we saw a few familiar faces from the past, but lots of new folks. Among them was the Lemen couple, Phil and Olivia. I started teaching the monthly Bible study at the men’s breakfast. Phil faithfully attended, and though in his nineties,  always learned the memory verses I assigned. Often he was the first one to quote them for us. Phil had much wisdom from his many years and shared lots of insights from Scripture and from his many life experiences. Though he had been a Christian for many years, He still had a great desire to keep growing spiritually. What an inspiration he was to us all!
     For a number of years, Phil and Olivia would drive to Texas and stay for the winter in a little community called “Bibleville,” which is next to Rio Grande Bible Institute. Those who lived there would help out at the school in whatever ways were needed. Phil and Olivia, among their other ministries, sang in a choir. They also enjoyed many special concerts and great Bible teaching.
     Just a few years ago they decided they could no longer make the trip south so sold their home there and remained here in the winter. I had started a weekly Bible study at a local Laundromat, “Moody’s Dirty Laundry,” Jay Moody, the owner and a friend and neighbor, has a classroom at the Laundromat where he often teaches EMT classes, so I asked if we could have a men’s Bible study there. Phil, again eager to keep learning God’s Word, began attending. Several of the fellows who attend have military backgrounds, as did Phil, so they had a great time sharing stores of their service days. Phil’s desire for spiritual growth right up to the very end was such an encouragement to all of us. He would often have a little twinkle in his eye during our studies which meant he had something valuable to offer. We will really miss him. But the impact he had on our lives and on his family will continue.
     At the memorial service, two of his sons got up to share memories of their dad. One son shared how Phil’s faith has been passed down to the next several generations, for not only are his children walking with the Lord, but also his grandchildren and great grandchildren. Phil definitely followed the command in Psa 78:5-7 regarding passing on your faith in Christ and His Word. It reads: “That they should teach them to their children. That the generation to come might know, even the children yet to be born, that they may arise and tell them to their children, that they should put their confidence in God and not forget the works of God.”  Phil was also a great man of prayer and he always participated in our prayer time at Bible study.  Once when his son had come to visit, he got in on Phil and Olivia’s morning devotions. After reading a devotional and the Scripture that accompanied it, Phil prayed. He prayed for every family member by name. He had been married before his marriage to Olivia (His wife had died and Olivia’s husband had died), and he prayed for all his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren and then for Olivia’s side. He prayed for an hour for ninety-some individuals! 
     The other son who came for the memorial service shared how Phil would not always discipline them right away after they had done something wrong. Sometimes it would be two days before they found out what the punishment would be!  He finally asked his dad why he had done it that way and Phil shared that when he grew up his father would often discipline in anger in an abusive way and he was determined to never do that to his children. He broke the chain of abuse for which his family is very appreciative.
     As I considered the life of Phil Lemen, I  couldn’t help but think about a few of the spiritual giants of Scripture and what they had written about them as they approached the end of their earthly lives: “And Abraham breathed his last (KJV = “gave up the ghost”) and died in a ripe old age, and old man and satisfied with life (KJV = “full of years”) (Gen. 25: 8). The same is written of Isaac (Gen. 35:29), David (I Chr. 29:28), Jehoida (the priest…II Chr. 24:15) and Job (Job. 42:17). All these references describe men who died as believers, mature in their faith. We can now add to that list: “And Phil Lemen breathed his last and died in the ripe old age of 96, full of days, and has been gathered to his people!” He definitely fought a good fight, finished the course God set out for him, kept the faith and will receive a crown of righteousness (II Tim. 4:7,8).
     Thank you, Lord, for allowing Phil to be part of our lives these last few years.
                Forever His,
                    Pastor Dave
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A Godly Legacy

  Before we left for a trip to Oregon recently to visit family and watch some sporting events, we went to visit Ellis (Al) Stewart, an elder from Three Lakes Bible Church where I pastored.  Al had just returned from the hospital and had some serious breathing problems. He was on oxygen and would be pretty much confined to his home with someone there to care for him. Al was one of the first members of Three Lakes. I had the privilege of uniting him and Ida in marriage on Dec. 31, 1976. What a courageous man Al was. He married a widow with seven children!  But Al loved the Lord and that love poured over to his stepchildren–as well as to everyone else around him–and they soon accepted him as their own “papa.”
     Al set such a godly example for his family, friends, neighbors and church family. He spent much time in God’s Word and prayer and had committed many verses to memory. I would give memory verses in our men’s Bible study that he faithfully attended and he would always be one of those who learned them. Al and Ida had a burden for children and young people and in 1978 donated some of their property to start a Bible Camp. Several of us at Three Lakes worked very hard on the property and in July 1979 had the first week of camp at Elohim Bible Camp. It is now “Elohim Bible Camp and Retreat Center” run by Rocky Mountain Bible Mission, has a full-time director, and holds several weeks of summer Bible camp along with many retreats throughout the year and is also host to a  three-year Bible Training Center. Over the years thousands of children and youth have attended the camp with hundreds making decisions for Christ. Many have also graduated from the Bible Training Center and some of them are currently missionaries or are pastoring churches. All of that began with the burden and vision that Al and Ida had for young people.
     Al was also a great encouragement to me as pastor. He served in leadership for most of the time I pastored and we worked together on not only building the camp, but building the church and its additions over the years. We hunted together. (Every opening Sunday of rifle season, we would go to Al and Ida’s for lunch and then Al and I would take our guns for a walk in the woods! We both loved being out in God’s creation and had great fellowship, so it didn’t really matter if we shot anything. I did, however, get my first elk while hunting with Al.)  We also both enjoyed gardening so would share how our gardens were doing. Al also enjoyed watching sports and we would often watch some football together–even on his old fuzzy black and white television!  He would always ask our son Grant about how his basketball team had done when Grant was coaching in Troy. Al was also faithful about attending his grandkids sporting events.  But most of all, we shared a common love for the Lord and His Word. Al’s encouragement and example helped us through some difficult times at Three Lakes and was a big reason for my pastoring there for 37 years.
     While in Oregon, we got word that Al had gone to be with Jesus. We were so glad we had made the trip over to see him before we drove to Oregon. We were able to share lots of memories, a big hug and tell Al how much we loved and appreciated him.  Al had been our greeter at Church and one of our children’s favorite memories of Al was the big hugs they got when we got to church.
     A week ago Saturday I had a graveside and then a celebration service at Three Lakes for Ellis (Al) Stewart. He had just had his 81st birthday when God called him to heaven. The gymnasium/activity building where we met was packed with family and friends. Al had 114 grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren!  Not all of them could be there, but many were, along with neighbors, friends and church family. What a blessed service of celebrating his life! I counted 16 of his family, friends and neighbors who got up to share their special memories of Al, all of them sharing how he showed his love to them in so many ways. And, many of them had come to know Christ as Savior because of him. He was “not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Ro. 1:16). Al had a burning desire for the salvation of his family and would take special trips just to go and share the message of God’s love and forgiveness with family members.  
     When Al left this earth, he left behind all his property and possessions. He was pretty proud of the big bull moose head mounted in the living room of their “stone house.” He had lots of guns and fishing tackle and gardening equipment and paintings and crafts that Ida had made over the years. He had chainsaws and axes and a special cribbage board (he loved to play), but all of that got left behind. The Apostle Paul wrote: “For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can take nothing out of it either” (I Tim. 6:17).    But what Al did leave behind is the impact he had on all our lives–that godly legacy he left us. Each of us who knew him has been affected in some way by the life he lived. Our son Grant, and daughter Heidi each sent us emails of what Al meant to them and the godly influence he had on their lives. I knew I wouldn’t be able to read them at the service, so had someone do that for me. When I got up to share my devotional, I told the folks I didn’t really need to say much after what Grant and Heidi had written. They really said it all as they shared the role Al had played in their lives to help make them who they are today. Kathy and I too can honestly say that part of who we are is because of Al Stewart. We will all miss him greatly, but his influence will remain in each of our lives. He truly “fought a good fight, finished the course God set before Him and he kept the faith. As a result, there is a crown of righteousness awaiting him” (II Tim. 4:7,8).
     What about you–what kind of legacy are you creating that you will leave behind?  Who you are will be far more importanat than what you have.
            Forever His,
            Pastor Dave .
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