Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Yesterday, Memorial Day, I drove through a local cemetery and saw all the flags, representing those who had served their country, many of whom had given their lives in doing so. For that reason, it's good to have cemeteries. They help us not forget. I find it saddening that so many have already forgotten.

But I find it amazing there are those who can stare directly into the face of truth and deny it. Denial of truth is encouraged in many parts of our world today. A huge block of the world's population now denies there was a holocaust. Others deny communism has taken many lives, despite the hundred million who died this past century in the Russia block, China, Cambodia and Viet Nam. Many believe the Salem Witch Trials resulted in the death of tens of thousands, despite historical data showing its numbers to be 25-50 people at most. Still others even deny the truth of what happened Sept. 11, 2001. 

Last March my niece, an Air Force Academy cadet, took a short trip to Bucharest, Romania, with three other cadets and an officer. Though attending a conference, they were able to visit some sites with the aid of a guide. More than the sites, most memorable to all five was learning that a significant portion of the Romanian people believe the events of 9-11-01 did not really happen. Their guide insisted on the fakery of the twin towers destruction and Pentagon, that it was the result of special effects staged to provoke the war against Iraq and Afghanistan. No amount of reason seemed to sway him that on 9-11-01 planes flown by terrorists actually did kill 2,900 people. 

I wonder how many Americans believe the same. Historically, groups of people have always chosen to believe falsehoods, especially when it fed the fires of their passion. But in today's climate of scientific provability, one would think things as huge as 9-11-01 or the holocaust could not possibly be denied.

One would also think that His miracles would prove that Jesus was greater than those around Him, possibly even the Messiah. In plain view of enemies and friends, He cured lepers, the blind, the deaf and the lame. In front of 5000 He multiplied a few buns and dried fish into a hundred baskets of food. He walked on water, turned water into wine, rose from the dead and appeared to hundreds alive. But that's not enough for some folks. It's easier to believe one's own version than see truth as it really is. 

Jesus said, "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father but by Me." (John 14:6) This is the ultimate truth that no one can change. Deny it, yes - but change it, no. Jesus is the only way to God. No one will come to the Father except through faith in His Son. Trusting what He did on Calvary and in the open tomb are all that is necessary for our salvation.  

If you find yourself in the presence of someone who denies obvious truth, stand up for what you believe. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


In the past I have tried to stay away from airing politically charged opinions, but I don't think I can or should any longer. I am retired, so I don't have to please those who employ me. I no longer represent a church body, so I need not fear church and state issues. I have a small readership, but no one is required to keep reading WEEKLY MESSAGE. If I have something to say, and technology and freedom allow me, now is the time to say it.

Today we are in a downward spiral in America, politically as well as economically. I used to say no President or Congress could change the course of government all that much. I figured government has so many policies and programs in place that require the status quo that we don't have to worry who is leading us on Capitol Hill. America would just keep going along much as it always has. 

I was wrong about that. Using the economic downturn as a springboard, our President and Congress have set in motion enough new things that will probably change our nation's course forever.

I wonder if politicians ever dreamed all this could fall into their laps so easily. There has always been the leftist desire to spread the wealth, but could anyone have imagined that things in the economy would come together to bring this about so quickly and easily? 

God always gives us the government we deserve. This was true in Old Testament and New Testament times and it's still true. Thus, we must deserve our current leadership which is bent on turning American from capitalism to socialism. Our elected leaders truly believe what they are doing is right. I do not believe DC politicians are floundering around, as some say, but that they are doing just what they want and believe is the right thing to do. And I'm sure they are amazed at how well and quickly they are doing it. 

I do not know if our present political leadership will accomplish all they are planning, but I do know the road ahead for America is going to be much rougher than the road behind. Given our fear of our political incorrectness, as well as our general inability to comprehend God's Truth, America will probably continue to slide more and more away from personal freedom and towards collectivist socialism. 

A News station today said polls reflect that only 21% now call themselves Republican while 53% call themselves Democrat. Those figures are not about political party membership; they show our rapid shift to the left, away from personal responsibility and towards a nanny state. They show a radical knee-jerk reaction to the past. They show what people are hoping will happen in the future.  "Change You Can Believe In" has duped a majority of our nation. It is change for the worse.

Jesus said in John 8:31-32, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." His Truth, of course, is about eternal life by faith, but the principle behind what He said is the best we can follow. The truth does set people free, if they are willing to stand firm in it. The reason so many are giving up their freedoms today is because they are giving up being Christ's disciples. They are running away from Jesus towards all sorts of shallow humanistic trends. 

Perhaps they are running in fear of the few who are turning our titanic ship of state around, directly into the path of the iceberg. Unless Americans rediscover the Truth, they will never be set free by the Truth. We are never set free by giving up freedom. True freedom comes only when we trust Jesus Christ as Lord, and then try our best to do what He tells us. Freedom does not come from turning over to government decisions we ourselves should make.

As sinners, we will always fail to do all that's right, but we must still try to do as much good as we can in our homes, churches and communities. The secret to a good society is individual responsibility of the citizen, not government programs. God forgives those who realize their error, and when they seek the Truth, He gives them strength to do what is right.

May God give Americans the faith to trust in Jesus Christ, the courage to speak the Truth in love, and the desire to do whatever it takes to keep the ship out of the path of the iceberg.

The Truth can still set us free!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


Margaret's son suffered brain damage during infancy. Margaret was unsure how much her son could understand, but despite her uncertainty, she talked to him about God and about Jesus his Savior. She told him Bible stories and prayed with him every day, asking God to help him mature. However, at four years old, the boy still could not speak. But Margaret continued to talk to him, pray with him and be the best parent she should could to him.

One day the boy required correction and discipline and Margaret tried to explain this to the boy, not knowing how much he could grasp. As she grew more frustrated, with tears in her eyes, she said, "What am I going to do with you."  At that moment her son spoke. It was hard for her to understand him at first, but he said the words again and again until she realized he was saying, "Pray, Mama!" 

The young boy, limited as he was in abilities, had been understanding her valuable lessons all along. He knew of his mother's faith in God. He knew she turned to God when troubled. He knew that God could help his mama, so he said, "Pray, Mama!"

Prayer changes things. It may not fix our problems immediately, nor does it always show us the way we need to take. But prayer changes things. It changes people and it changes situations. We Christians do not believe in fate; we believe in Jesus Christ who urged us to pray and promised to hear us. 

Jesus tells us in Matthew 7, "Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! ... Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you."

Prayer is an act of faith. It changes the heart of the one who prays and it can change the mind of God. Not always, but it can, as we see from examples in the Bible. God wants to hear from us. He loves hearing from us, whether about our own needs or the needs of others.

Pray, my friends!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


Today is my birthday, but I am not thinking much about it, because yesterday was the anniversary of the day 25 years ago when my first wife died in an auto accident. To those know this story I ask your pardon in rehearsing what you already know. I rarely speak of her, but today it seems right.

Sandra Oetting and I had been married just short of 16 years, and we had been blessed with two fine boys. We had married early and grown up together, moving from Ft. Wayne to St. Louis to North Dakota, then eventually to my first pastoral positions in North Dakota. We had just months before moved to Utah after southern California, and we were on our way to a "Welcome to Utah" party in Salt Lake City given by fellow pastors.

Thankfully we'd placed the boys with friends overnight, because at about 5 PM on May 4, 1984, our car went into an aerial spin and Sandy was thrown out and lived just two hours. And all I had were bruises and a cut finger. 

Sandy was a shy, gentle, sweet woman, a good mother and caring wife. She enjoyed playing the piano, adored her little boys and was loyal to her friends. She loved her Lord and accepted my calling in life, doing all she could to help in ministry, as all pastor's wives so graciously do.

After her death I made the usual mistakes, but fortunately had understanding family, friends and colleagues. A few years later my boys and I were blessed with Carol who adopted them and accepted and loved me, warts and all. Twenty five years ago now, and I often wish she could have seen how well the boys turned out.

One thing is sure - God is in control of our lives, always. There is never a time He takes a vacation from His children. He never leaves us alone. And though we will have times in life we can't understand, God eventually makes sense of them to us. He shapes us by our experiences and we are better for it. Or not, of course, depending on our actions and faith in Him. 

Sandy received God's highest gift at an early age. Now and then I wonder what life would have been like if the accident had not happened. God knows the reasons, and one day I will know more. Meanwhile, I give thanks for the blessings He has given through her, and am grateful that I learned a few lessons on my way down the road of life.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight." (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Thank You, Lord, for those wonderful people who walk beside us on our journey.