If We Remain Silent

Ever since the Fall of Man in the Garden of Eden (Gen.3), and then the confusion of languages at the Tower of Babel and the scattering of these language groups throughout the earth (Gen. 11), people groups have been at war with and discriminating against other people groups, trying to set themselves up as the “superior” group.  The history of the world is one of war and conflict and ethnic cleansing. We have examples of this in Scripture as well as in our history books and daily news broadcasts. When Esther (a Jewess) was queen to King Ahasuerus (or Xerxes) of Persia (modern-day Iran), she discovered a plot to annihilate her people. The book of Esther records  the exciting story of how her cousin Mordecai (who had raised Esther) challenged her to take a stand for their people, saying, “For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?” (Est. 4:14).
     Others, like Adolph Hitler, have also tried to annihilate the Jews. And sadly, many who saw what was happening remained silent. God, of course, did not let His “Chosen People” be destroyed, but some six million Jews lost their lives during the horrendous “Jewish Holocaust.” Today we have many Arab nations who have made it clear they desire to push Israel into the sea and eliminate the Jewish race.
     Throughout history we have had courageous individuals who have been willing to stand up for their convictions and against those who are persecuting certain people groups.  Daniel, taken captive as a youth to Babylon during the time of King Nebuchadnezzar, remained faithful to Jehovah God and was rewarded by being thrown to the lions, but “God sent His angel and shut the lions’ mouths” and Daniel suffered no harm, for which the king was actually very relieved and pleased because he really liked Daniel and knew he was truly a man of God.
     Many others have “dared to be Daniels.” Continuing to live faithfully for God in the midst of persecution, they have boldly taken a stand for their biblical convictions even at great cost to themselves. One such “Daniel,” and the one whose birthday we celebrate today, was Martin Luther King, Jr., born Jan. 15, 1929. He became a Baptist minister and activist and prominent leader in the African-American Civil Rights movement. In 1963, in the March on Washington, he delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. He expounded American values to include the vision of a “color blind” society. In 1964, King became the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for his work to end racial segregation and discrimination through civil disobedience and other non-violent means. He was assassinated April 4, 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee. King was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1977 and Congressional Gold Medal in 2004.   “Martin Luther King. Jr. Day” was established as a U.S. federal holiday in 1986. 
     In one of King’s speeches he said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter.”  He obviously didn’t remain silent about the things that really mattered to him!  Neither did Queen Esther. Neither did Daniel nor untold others who have stood up for the needs of others and for the truths of God’s Word, especially the Gospel, the “good news” of Christ’s death on our behalf to pay the penalty of our sins.  The Apostle Paul, who at one point had been persecuting Christians (followers of Jesus called at that time “The Way”) but then met the risen Christ while on his way to Damascus to arrest believers, was converted and became a missionary to the Gentiles that he had once despised, said, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek (Gentile)” (Ro. 1:16).  Paul knew first-hand the power of that Gospel to change lives and he began boldly proclaiming it to the Gentile world as well as to his fellow Jews (cf I Cor. 15:1-4). He ended up in prison for it on several occasions and ultimately lost his life at the hands of wicked Nero of Rome.
     Peter and John, two of Jesus’ disciples, also began boldly sharing the message of the death and resurrection of Christ for sin and were called before the Jewish Council (the Sanhedrin) who forbade further preaching. We read the account in Acts 5:18-20: “And when they had summoned them, they commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said to them, ‘Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; for we cannot stop speaking what we have seen and heard.’”  They couldn’t remain silent knowing people’s eternal lives depended on the message they had to share.
     The same is still true. God has placed us here on purpose for a purpose and that is to boldly proclaim, by how we live and what we say, that same message of the Good News of the Gospel of Christ. We are here “For such a time as this” (Est. 4:14).   Don’t forget M.L.K.’s statement: “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter.”
                Forever His,
                        Pastor Dave
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How to “Destroy” Your Enemies

So, do you have any difficult people in your life—those who bring out the worst in you, who know how to “push your buttons,” who “get under your skin,” who seem to be a constant irritant to you, who just plain annoy you?  I’ll bet you do, for it seems God puts them in our lives to help us deal with things in our lives that either need to be removed or added in order that we may be “conformed to the image of His Son” (Ro. 8:29). Sometimes it appears that we even have enemies who are out to destroy us.  They criticize us, spread rumors about us, and try to undermine what we are doing or are trying to accomplish. Have any of those in your life?  What do we do about these difficult people in our lives? 
     Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States, had some good advice. He said, “Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?”  Martin Luther King, Jr. made a very similar statement:  “Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.” Jesus, in His “Sermon on the Mount,”  said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you” (Mt. 5:44). The Apostle Paul wrote to the believers in Rome: “Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord. ‘But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in doing so you will heap burning coals upon his head.’ Do not be overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good” (Ro. 12:17-21).
     When I was working at Hyster Technical Center in Troutdale, Oregon, I had a secretary who was an agnostic. When she found out I was a Christian, she did all she could to razz me and make life as miserable as she possibly could.  I knew she needed the Lord in her life, but I just plain didn’t like her and my attitude toward her was pretty bad. I had a burden for her soul but had trouble even wanting to share with her. It would have been like “shoving the Gospel down her throat while I was trying to choke her!”  Well, one day God convicted me of my attitude toward this difficult person (He had placed in my life). I confessed my sin and told the Lord that He would have to be the one to love her through me because I didn’t even like her. It was amazing what happened. My attitude so changed that she noticed it and said one day, “Dave, why don’t the things I do seem to bug you any more?”  I was able to tell her what had happened in me and that for the first time she was probably seeing “Christ in me.”  She quit doing things to irritate me. To this day I don’t know if Maureen ever trusted Christ as her Savior (I left not long after our conversation), but I do know she got to experience firsthand the unconditional love that God had for her.
     God places difficult people in our lives to help us to grow and to become more Christ-like. Don’t miss the opportunities He is giving you!  Rather than allowing these people to make you an angry, bitter person, let God use them to mold and shape you. And who knows, you may be able to “destroy” some of your enemies by making them a friend, because. M. L. King, Jr., was right: “Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.” And by letting God love them through us, we are being obedient to Jesus’ command to “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”
    One thing that has helped me a lot is to pray for these folks whenever they come to mind. Rather than thinking about what they have done to me or how they have annoyed me, if I pray for them instead, my attitude changes.  I still have a ways to go, but I am making progress.  Keep in mind what Paul wrote to the Romans: “If possible, as far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men” (Ro. 12:17).  Some may not reciprocate your love and kindness, but at least it gives them an opportunity and then you, having done your part, are free from bondage to them caused by unforgiveness or bitterness or holding a grudge.
     Anybody in particular come to mind as you read this?  Pray for them right now and ask God to show you tangible ways to demonstrate His love to them. You may just destroy an enemy!
                Forever His,
                    Pastor Dave
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Only One Life to Live

We took the train to Oregon for Christmas, which proved to be a good choice since more than a foot of snow came down here just before we returned. The roads would have been quite treacherous the day we returned.  So, praise the Lord for the long train ride (turned out to be 14 hours).  We have done lots of snow removal since we got back but it is a beautiful winter wonderland!
     While in Oregon, we and our family got to attend a very entertaining movie called Jumanji, in which four high school students get detention. Their task is cleaning up a basement room in the school, but while there they discover an old video game which they try out and get “sucked” into the game, ending up in a jungle where they have to work as a team in order to escape and get back home.  One of the students ends up—before he realizes it—quoting the principal who while lecturing them said (in paraphrase), “You have only one life to live. How are you going to live it? Who are you going to be? The choice is yours.” 
     His statement is a good one for us to consider as we enter this new year, for he was right on.  We do have but one life to live. We won’t get a do-over or another chance. We have right now to determine not only where we will spend eternity, but also how we will live our life here.  First of all, we have a choice regarding the Person of Jesus Christ and what we will do about Him and His invitation to believe on Him and His work at Calvary to gain eternal life. We can either, by faith receive Him as our personal Savior, or we can attempt to live a good enough life to make it to heaven.  Unfortunately for those who are trying that, they will one day hear, “I never knew you, depart from me” (Mt. 7:23).  Eternal life is a gift (Jn. 3:16; Ro. 6:23), not something deserved or to be earned. We simply receive gifts; we don’t work for them (Eph. 2:8,9; Gal. 2:16).
     Second, if we have already made the choice for Christ, we still must choose, daily, moment-by-moment, what we are going to do with the rest of our life here on earth.  We can choose who and what we are going to be.  We can ignore the Word of God and the convicting of the indwelling Holy Spirit and just live for self and what we can “get out of life,” or, we can submit to God, resist the devil and offer our life a living sacrifice to the One who made us and paid the penalty for our sins.  Note the Apostle Paul’s challenge to the believers at Rome:  “I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect” (Ro. 12:1,2).  Paul gave a similar challenge to the Corinthian believers, writing: “For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all that they who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf” (II Cor. 5:14,15).
    When we consider what Christ has done for us and means to us, our response should be to live our life fully committed to Him, to love Him, obey His Word, and build up His Kingdom through sharing His love with others and showing them how they too can receive eternal and abundant life in Him. As an old chorus goes: “After all He’s done for me, after all He’s done for me, how can I do less than give Him my best and live for Him completely.” Amen to that! Or, as a poet once put it: “Only one life ‘twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.”
     So, as we start a fresh new year, learning from, but “forgetting what lies behind, and reaching forward to what lies ahead, (let’s) press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:13,14).
     We have but one life to offer. Let’s start this year by renewing our commitment to living it wholly for our precious Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father…Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord…It is the Lord Christ whom you serve” (Col. 3:17, 23,24).
      Have a joyous New Year. Maybe this will be the year of His return. “Even so come, Lord Jesus” (Rev. 22:20).
                Forever His,
                        Pastor Dave
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A Hallmark Christmas

Those of you who watch Hallmark Christmas movies raise your hand.  I thought so. Okay, you can put them down. We do too.  Why are they so popular?  Well, they are good clean entertainment with good morals, no bad language or violence, with attractive actors and actresses and beautiful settings in usually quaint rural settings.  They always turn out with a happy ending (i.e., except for the jerk of a boyfriend or girlfriend who gets dumped!) Usually (there have been a few exceptions), you can predict how it will turn out and who will end up together within the first ten minutes of the movie.  But they are feel-good movies that are very “family friendly.”
     There is, however, one key ingredient missing from the storylines. Never is there a mention of the real meaning of Christmas—the coming to earth of our Lord and Savior, the God-man, Jesus Christ.  There is instead a focus on the “Christmas spirit” which comes from the “magic” surrounding the season–the music, the festivities, tree decorating, gift giving, parties, baking cookies, usually an ice skating scene, and of course, snowfall on Christmas eve!  Quite often there is a “real” Santa Claus involved or an angel on assignment, and sometimes Christmas ornaments with magical powers. Normally the lead character has had a bad experience in a past Christmas, such as breaking up with a boyfriend or girlfriend or losing a parent or mate in death and as a result, has lost “the Christmas spirit.”  That spirit is revived when they again fall in love with someone and/or find themselves in a little community that goes all out in its Christmas festivities (again, which exclude any mention of why we have Christmas).  Occasionally, there is also a reconciliation with a family member with whom there has been a strained relationship.
     I’m reminded of the story about a birthday celebration for a young child. The family and friends met at a restaurant to celebrate, but the parents dropped off the child at a baby-sitter on their way to the birthday bash so he wouldn’t be a “bother.”  While that sounds ridiculous, I guess much of the world does that at Christmas. We have all kinds of parties and celebrations but we leave out the One whose birthday we are celebrating.  Christmas, after all is “Christ’s mass” or “Christ’s birth.” It is our reminder that “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life” (Jn. 3:16).  From Gen. 3:15 through the whole Old Testament, God promised to send a Deliverer who would first suffer as a sacrifice for sin and then return later to reign as King and bring “peace on earth.” For several millennia, God prepared the scene for the sending of His Son. All the prophecies given concerning His birth and ministry would need to be fulfilled in every detail. “But when the fullness of time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, in order that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons” (Gal. 4:4,5). One night an angel of the Lord appeared to shepherds out in the fields near Bethlehem and said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be for all the people; for today in the city of David, there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord (the promised Deliverer)” (Lk. 2:10,11).  The Apostle John, in His version of the “Christmas story,’’ wrote: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being by Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men…And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth” (Jn. 1:1-3,14).
     Although we don’t know exactly what time of year Jesus was born to Mary in Bethlehem of Judea, December 25th was chosen by Christians as the date to celebrate that earth-shaking event to counteract the pagan Saturnalia and Winter Solstice celebrations that took place during that time and also (possibly) to coincide with the “Festival of Lights” or “Hanukkah,” which celebrates the rededication of the Temple which had been desecrated by the Romans. Unfortunately, Christmas has become for so many just a time off work and a time to get together with family, exchange gifts, make lots of fattening goodies, and attend parties.  The One whose birthday it is is being totally left out, even though His coming is recognized every time you write the date. Our history is divided between “B.C.” (Before Christ) and “A.D.” (“the year of our Lord”).
    If you want the real “spirit of Christmas,” it comes, not from all the lights, trees, programs, music, family get-togethers, special food, or even from Hallmark movies! It comes from being in awe of the fact that God, the Creator of the universe, loved you enough to come to earth and be born as a man so that He could pay the penalty for your sin and give you eternal life. Speaking of the incarnation (God taking on flesh), Paul writes: “Who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Phi. 2:6-8).  To quote from a favorite Christmas movie, “And that’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.” Christmas is about gift-giving all right. It is about God’s gift of Jesus Christ, God the Son, sent to become our Savior. “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift” (II Cor. 9:15).  Have you received God’s love gift to you?  If not, why not do so this Christmas season. You will indeed discover the real “spirit of Christmas,” as God’s Holy Spirit comes to live in you.  If you have received Christ, share Him with others. He is the “gift that keeps on giving and giving and…”
     A joyous and Merry Christmas to you all, and a blessed New Year of serving Him and looking forward to His Return.
            Pastor Dave
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Our DAILY Bread

I recently had someone ask me why I need to study in order to teach Bible study, saying, “Don’t you already know the Bible inside and out?”  I recall a similar question when I was pastoring wondering why I needed to prepare a sermon: “Can’t you just preach from the heart?”  While I (we) need to teach and preach from the heart, not just from head knowledge, I (we)  must also obey the command to “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth” (II Tim. 2:15). If we are going to accurately and clearly teach God’s Word, it requires work—lots of study, research and prayer.  My wife and I spend many hours in preparation for the Bible studies we teach.
     Teaching God’s Word is an amazing privilege but also a very weighty responsibility. We need to be careful to teach what a passage really says by looking at the context, setting, cultural background, words used, and comparing it with other Scriptures, for God’s Word cannot say two things; i.e., it cannot contradict itself.  Since we are going to be having an influence on others, it is so important that we are directing them toward the truth, and not misleading them.  We will give an account before God for our teaching. That’s why James 3:1 says, “Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we shall incur a stricter judgment.”
     The Scriptures are full of warnings about false teachers who lead people away from the truth (Mt. 7:15-23; 24:3-5,11; II Cor. 11:13-15; I Tim. 4:1,2; II Tim. 3:13; 4:1-4; II Pet. 2:1-3).  There are also tests given to detect whether or not someone is a false teacher (I Jn. 4:1-6; 5:1; II Jn. 7-11; Jude 3,4,8-16; Rev. 22:18,19).  There may be some variations of interpretation of Scripture among those of us who teach God’s Word, but when it comes to the core doctrines of Scripture—the Triune Godhead, the deity of Christ, the atoning work of Christ, the inspiration of all Scripture, salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone—we must be rock solid. Jesus said, “Unless you believe that I AM (He) you will die in your sins” (Jn. 8:24). We must believe that He is indeed GOD (Jehovah) incarnate (Jn. 1:1-3,14). We must believe that “Jesus Christ (Messiah) has come in the flesh” (I Jn. 4:2). And we must believe that He is “the way, and the truth and the life” and that no one can come to the Father but through Him (Jn. 14:6 cf Acts 4:12). We must believe that we are saved solely through faith in Christ and His work and not by any works on our part (Eph. 2:8,9; Gal. 2:16; Tit. 3:5,6).
     One of the reasons it is so important for each of us to continue to spend time in God’s Word on a daily basis is so that we can detect false teaching when we hear it. One of the ways bank tellers are trained to spot counterfeit currency is to handle and examine the genuine bills to become very familiar with the real thing.  As followers of Christ, we need to do the same regarding the  truths of God’s Word.  The Apostle Paul complemented the believers at Berea that “they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily, to see whether these things (that Paul had taught!) were so” (Acts 17:11). 
     Not only are we to continue in the Word, reading, studying and meditating on it (cf Josh. 1: 8) in order to know what it teaches and to be able to detect false teaching, but we do it in order to get to know God better, for the Bible is really all about God and His wonderful plan of redemption through the sacrifice of God the Son in our place.  The more time we spend in His Word, the more we see His character and His love and the more we see our sin and the need for His work in our lives. When we both “read and heed,” our lives are being changed little by little into the image of Christ (cf Ro. 8:28,29). Our love for God is growing and when we do teach others, we are teaching not only from head knowledge of what we have learned, but from our heart in what we have personally experienced.  You cannot be a growing Christian if you are not spending regular, quality time in His Word. Paul said, “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ” (Ro. 10:17).  It is God’s Word that helps our faith to grow.  In order not to fall away from our steadfastness, we need to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (II Pet. 3:17,18).
     The Psalmist gives us some other benefits of being in God’s Word and meditating on it and memorizing verses that really speak to us or meet a need in our life. He wrote: “How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Thy word…Thy word I have treasured (hid) in my heart, that I may not sin against Thee” (Psa. 119:9,11);  “Thy word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path…The unfolding of Thy words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple” (vv. 105,130).
     The Apostle Paul, in writing to encourage young Timothy to be diligent in his study of Scripture (II Tim. 2:15), went on to say, “All Scripture is inspired by God (God breathed) and 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).
    The Bible is unique; it is unlike any other piece of literature ever written, “For the word of God is living and active (powerful) and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow; and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Heb. 4:12).  We study it, not to satisfy our curiosity and to just gain knowledge; we study it that it might transform our lives—and it does.  God cleanses us “by the washing of water with the word” (Eph. 5:26).  Like the manna in the wilderness that was life sustaining and needed to be collected daily, so God’s Word is our “daily bread” to bring and sustain life.  Study the Bible to be wise; believe it to be safe; practice it to be holy. If your study of God’s Word does not affect the way you live, either you are already perfect (not!), or are not studying correctly (with a heart for God). Bible study is meant to be a sanctuary, not a factory—it is worship!   Have you worshiped today?
     And that’s why I continue to study the Bible!
                Forever His,
                    Pastor Dave
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The Power of the Gospel

While working at Hyster Company in Portland, Oregon from 1969-1974, I had the privilege of having Ron Farrell as my boss in Systems Engineering.  Ron had a very brilliant mind and a very conservative life philosophy. Although he was not a Christian when I first started working under him, he had quite a biblical worldview and was definitely searching. Often throughout the day he would ask me questions about the Bible and how it applied to the issues of life. Many times I would have to say, “I’m not sure about that but let me do some research and get back to you.”  It really made me dig into God’s Word to try to give him a biblical answer. But, Ron, in his intellectual approach, struggled to take that step of faith to commit his life to Christ.
     Ron’s brother, Mike also worked at Hyster and, like Ron, wasn’t a believer but was a truth seeker.  He had questions about future events so I loaned him a book titled 666 by Salem Kirban. It spoke about the Rapture of believers and the period of Tribulation that would follow. He realized that he wasn’t ready if this rapture happened, so I shared the message of the Gospel with him and he prayed to receive Christ as his Savior.  The changes that God was making in Mike’s life were obviously noted by his brother, Ron.  One noon as they were out walking during our lunch break, Ron said to Mike, “It would be great if our dad had what you have. At least he’d have hope for the future life.” (Their dad struggled physically due to serious war injuries and had become bitter.)  Mike replied, “Ron, that goes for you too!” Suddenly it clicked in Ron’s heart and mind that he didn’t have to figure everything out before he trusted in Christ, he just needed to put his faith in what Christ did at the cross. In other words he just needed to believe the gospel which is simply the good news that Jesus died for our sins, was buried, and rose again.
     The Apostle Paul experienced firsthand the power of the Gospel to transform his life and consequently made sharing the message of the cross the focus of his ministry to others.  He wrote to the church at Corinth: “Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (I Cor. 25:1-4). Paul reminded them, “When I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified” (I Cor. 2:1,2).
     When Ron came back to work after lunch, for awhile he just sat at his desk staring ahead. He finally turned to me and said, “Dave, guess what I did this noon?  I trusted Christ as my Savior.”  It was so encouraging to see the changes that took place in Ron—some immediately and others progressively over the next weeks.  He realized that much of his worldview was very biblical, but his attitude of animosity toward those who disagreed with him was not. He said that when he asked Christ into his life he also asked the Lord to take away those animosities and God really did.  He used to bring The Wall Street Journal and read it before work. He started bringing a Bible and reading it instead, which prompted lots more questions during the day!
     Ron realized that he needed to share the Gospel with his wife and two daughters which he did.  When we gain eternal life, God gives us a burden to share it with those we love so they can find the same joy and hope for the future that we gained through the transforming power of the Gospel.
     A number of years after we moved back to Montana to be involved in full-time Christian ministry, Ron went to be with the Lord (April 26, 1993).  His family sent me a copy of the tribute that his daughter Debbie (Herman) wrote for the Memorial Service. What a great testimony to the power of the Gospel. I’d like to share just a bit from her tribute.
            “In the last few years, Dad had become very vocal and expressive about his beliefs, and I think for some people, that made them feel uncomfortable. My dad never intended to make anyone feel uncomfortable or uneasy, nor did he intend to force people to believe the way he did. But, I think because of what he experienced with the Lord when my Mom died, Dad could no longer keep quiet about God’s goodness and his grace. Dad became God’s messenger, so to speak, and whatever God put on his heart or mind, Dad spoke it. If you knew my Dad at all, you know he was never one to keep quiet when he had something to say (amen!).
            “Dad became a Christian several years ago. I was in junior high at the time, and that is when he led me to the Lord. Shortly after that, however, he began to struggle in his walk with the Lord. He experienced a series of ups and downs, and he openly admitted that he was backsliding. He never denied God, he always knew God was there, and he never passed up an opportunity on a Sunday morning campout with the Boy Scouts to share the message of Jesus Christ. God used him in spite of himself, and many boys came to know the Lord through him.
            “One of the reasons I think Dad struggled so much in his walk with the Lord during this time was largely due to the type of person he was. He was a leader. He wanted to be in charge and in control at all times. I think this is why he had such a difficult time letting go and letting God have complete control of his life. He knew that if he was going to truly walk with the Lord, he’d have to deny himself, pick up his cross, and follow God 100%, not just a part of him, but all of him. And either he wasn’t quite ready to do that or perhaps he didn’t know how because he was so used to being in control himself. Dad sometimes would say to me, ‘Deb, I know I’m not walking with the Lord like I should, and I don’t know what God is going to have to do to get me where He wants me.’  Well, two years ago, my Dad experienced the heartache of a lifetime when his wife of 34 years, whom he loved and cherished with all his heart, suddenly and unexpectedly died in his arms. The reality of the One who was truly in charge hit him like a ton of bricks. From that moment on, Dad set both feet firmly and securely on the pathway of God’s will for his life. Ron Farrell was no longer in charge. God was. Dad’s favorite verse was Romans 8:28 (‘And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.’).  On the day that my Mom died, this verse came to life for my Dad, and it carried a whole new meaning. Immediately, Dad felt God’s loving arms embrace him, the peace of God was on him, and God drew Dad to Himself. There Dad remained, resting securely in God’s hands and allowing Him to guide Dad through days ahead.”
     What a beautiful example of the transforming power of the Gospel of Christ.  I am so glad that God gave me the privilege and joy of sharing that Good News with my boss, Ron Farrell, some 45 years ago.  Obviously it didn’t end with him—Praise the Lord!  No wonder Paul said, “I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…” (Ro. 1:16).  If someone has shared that Good News with you, don’t keep it to yourself—pass it on!
            Forever His,
                Pastor Dave

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God Doesn’t Waste Anything

     When I graduated from high school, I contemplated the possibility of going to Bible school versus going to Montana State University and pursuing an engineering degree. My girlfriend (who would become my wife) had graduated a year earlier and was attending Prairie Bible Institute in Three Hills, Alberta. As much as I would have liked to be at the same school to be near Kathy, I made the choice to attend MSU in Bozeman, Montana, partly because I knew it would be a good test to see if our relationship was meant to be a life-long commitment. I knew if it could withstand the separation of 1,000 miles, that it was strong enough to make it in the future as well. We wrote lots of letters! Kathy graduated from PBI and worked a year in Libby at a newspaper and then we were married between my junior and senior years at MSU, and this past June 16 we celebrated 50 years of marriage!
     After graduation from MSU, I took several interview trips and ended up taking a job for Hyster Company in Portland, Oregon where I worked for a little more than five years.  During that time, God really worked in my life, helping me with assurance of salvation and allowed me to get involved on a lay basis with Campus Crusade for Christ.  I also had the privilege and joy during that time of introducing my boss, Ron Farrell, his brother Mike, and our secretary, Vicki, to Christ. I was then transferred to our proving grounds at Troutdale, OR to write test procedures. There I met a couple strong Christians, Norm and Gary, and we started having a Bible study at work during the lunch time. I had the opportunity to share Christ with a number of the employees there as well. We also started a home Bible study. 
     While I really enjoyed my work at Hyster and had developed a number of close friendships, God was at work redirecting our path. We could see that teaching God’s Word and sharing Christ was something God wanted us to do on a full-time basis. We interviewed with Rocky Mountain Bible Mission back in our home area in Montana, were accepted as missionaries and came back to Montana in April of 1974 to work under Kathy’s dad, Pastor Clarence Kutz, who, after retiring from the pastorate in Libby, had joined the mission. In the fall of 1975, Pastor Kutz was diagnosed with a very aggressive leukemia and went to be with the Lord that October.  Suddenly, I was thrust into the ministry full bore. For awhile I had nine Bible studies and youth meetings a week!  One of the Bible studies had grown to the point that they decided to start a church. Pastor Kutz was there while we poured the foundation and walls and then passed away.  He was literally in on the foundation of Three Lakes Community Bible Church near Troy, Montana, where I was then, unexpectedly, the pastor!
     Pastor Kutz was an amazing Bible teacher and excellent pastor, so I was very intimidated and felt very inadequate to fill his shoes.  But I realized that God makes no mistakes. I just had to depend upon Him and be who He made me.  I thought, “Oh, if I had only gone to Bible school instead of engineering school!”  I had even planned to take night classes at Multnomah School of the Bible in Portland, but hadn’t been able to do so before we left.  I did take a number of correspondence courses from both Moody and Prairie Bible Institutes, but my training was in Industrial and Management Engineering!  How had that prepared me for the pastorate?
     Well, I came to realize that God doesn’t waste anything.  I thought about how God’s preparation for the big job He had planned for Moses involved his spending 40 years tending sheep. I’m sure as he led the nation of Israel out of Egypt and to the Promised Land, he saw a lot of similarities!   I thought about how God prepared Joseph to one day become the heir to the throne in Egypt to be there to provide help to save his family during a famine. The preparation involved being hated by his brothers, sold into slavery, arrested on a false rape charge, and being forgotten in prison for a couple years.  In my case, my training in engineering led me to a place where I got to share Christ at work and see God transform lives. After his trusting Christ as Savior, my boss, Ron, started reading his Bible before work each day and then throughout the day would say, “Dave, what does this verse mean?” He had lots of questions which made me really start digging into Scripture for answers. My engineering training had given my the discipline of knowing how to study and research and now I could apply that to spiritual things. Probably nothing helps us grow more than teaching and discipling others. And this was in a real-life, work-place scene, not just a Bible school or seminary classroom. 
     My lack of formal Bible training  also caused me to really depend upon the Lord when I unexpectedly found myself the pastor of a newly formed church. I realized, as did the apostle Paul, that “we are not adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God” (II Cor. 3:5), and that “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Phil. 4: 13). Over the 37 years that I pastored Three Lakes Community Bible Church, I saw God work in many lives and situations. We also had the opportunity to start both a Bible camp and a Christian school. Due to the economy we had to close our school after 13 years, but the camp, Elohim Bible Camp, is still ongoing, run by Rocky Mountain Bible Mission. It has a full-time director and even hosts a Bible Training Center for Pastors.  God truly blessed the ministry of Three Lakes.
     Also, a number of our friends in Portland, including my boss Ron and his brother Mike, helped support the ministry of Rocky Mountain Bible Mission and Three Lakes. Ron passed away in 1993, but Mike continues to faithfully support our ministry.
     So, were my years spent at MSU wasted? Goodness no!  God used that training to put me in the place where He reached a number of those He had “chosen in Christ from before the foundation of the world” (Eph. 1:4).  And while there, God was equipping me for the ministry He had also planned out for me back here in Montana.  I am reminded of the truth that Solomon shared in Proverbs 16:9: “The mind of man plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps.”  
     When my boss, Ron Farrell, became a believer, his immediate response was, “My wife and daughters need to know Christ too.” He had a burden for them so also shared the gospel with them. Next week I will share with you the testimony his daughter, Debbie, shared as a tribute to her dad.
            Forever His,
                Pastor Dave
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