Sunday, January 27, 2008



He raised his head and slowly lifted his tear-filled eyes after a brief but sincere prayer. I had never met this man before, but his first words to me as I sat down were, “I’m going home.”

So was I. After an enjoyable ministry to a convention of missionaries from Brazil and Urugary, I was headed home. But I had only been away from home for three weeks. He had been gone from home for more that 30 years.

Little did I realize that this small oriental man had suffered so much for so long. The Brazilian airliner was not far into its flight from Sao Paulo to Rio de Janeiro before we learned we were fellow believers. Afterwards he began to unburden his heart.

I was thrilled to learn that he was a pastor from Korea, and found he had been in San Paulo for all these years. Nothing about his conversation seemed unusual until he said, “I wish I could see your homeland. But I can’t I’m a North Korean and I am changing planes in Rio.

“Brazil was open to some of us after the war, and for all these years I have served the Lord here in Brazil. But now I’m going home.”

Further conversation revealed the man had been led to Christ by the pastor of a large church during the conflict between North and South Korea. His conversion took place in a refugee camp where he had sought safety after escaping from his own detachment after an argument with his commanding officer.

In time, the new Christian left his divided homeland in search of freedom. He settled in South America. Steadily his love for Christ grew and his desire to share the unsearchable riches of Christ prevailed.

As I thought of our common calling—both of us were preachers---I reflected on our differences. He was born in an oppressive society. I was born in a democracy. He came to Christ as he knelt in the mud of a smelly, crowded refugee village. I was saved in a lovely little church. He sought freedom from captivity in order to preach. I have always had freedom to preach about the One of whom I am bound—a slave of love.

He longed for home but until now was afraid to return. I am free to return home anytime. Nothing but my own cares or desires keep me away.

We were two different men from two different worlds. Yet because we had met the same Savior, we shared the same hope.

Now, both of us long to enter that place where differences of government, ideology, and race will not matter. We dream of the day when people from the four corners of the earth will come together as the sea and graves give up their dead. You see, we’re ready to go home!

“After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;” -- Rev. 7:9

Sunday, January 20, 2008


Ben Johnson a man’s man but he met more than his equal

Behind my desk on the ledge of my bookcase is a prized photo of Ben Johnson and me. It is a constant reminder that God can take a man out of a small unknown town and will make him something. His early days were rough and his running pal’s tough, but in the end he saw a greater star.

A long tall 6' 3" western star that was born in Oklahoma was about all I knew about Ben Johnson on the day I met him. He was in his 70’s, but still a large western type.

I learned he had been a ranch hand and rodeo performer when, in 1940, Howard Hughes hired him to take a load of horses to California. He decided to stick around (the pay was good), and for some years was a stunt man, horse wrangler, and double for such stars as Wild Bill Elliott, John Wayne, Gary Cooper, and James Stewart. His break came when John Ford noticed him and gave him a part in an upcoming film, and eventually a star part in Wagon Master in 1950.

He left Hollywood in 1953 to return to rodeo, where he won a world roping championship, but at the end of the year he had barely cleared expenses. A prize belt buckle that he won for calf roping was stolen from his car when he visited Houston in 1976; but on a repeat visit a decade later he was on radio station KIKK when a caller returned the buckle to him.
The movies paid better, and were less risky, so he returned to the west coast and a career that saw him in over 300 movies. Johnson's weather-beaten features made him an icon for any filmmaker chronicling the American West.

He initially turned down the role in The Last Show (1971), for which he won an Academy Award, because the script contained too many curse words. He later changed his mind when with the permission of the director, Peter Bogdanovich; he rewrote his part with the offensive words removed.
Ben received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1994
He died on April 8, 1996, in Mesa, Arizona, of an apparent heart attack while visiting his mother in the 'retirement community' where not only she but he himself lived. His wife of 53 years had preceded him in 1994.
"You know, I'd say that aside from Mr. Ford's help in my career, I'd lay any success I've had to not expecting too much. I never expected to become a star and was always content to stay two or three rungs down the ladder and last awhile. When I do get a little ahead, I see what I can do to help others," he had once said.

I met Ben and Carol Johnson at my former pastor’s church in Gilbert, Arizona, only a few years before they died. The Johnson’s had a beautiful home in Scottsdale but had no problems in attending the small mission church near them in Mesa where another friend, had befriended them and told them of a greater success. My young friend preached the funeral of both to a host of their Hollywood associates and friends who had watched him from his humble beginning until he became a true western star.

Many amass millions in this life only to leave it in a bank or invested away never to see it again. But what is laid up in heaven is forever. Their days were blessed on earth but they have a brighter forever.

Matthew 6:19-20
“ Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: “

Sunday, January 13, 2008



My wife, Delois, and I, last August celebrated 49 years of marriage and they have been pleasant and sweet years as we have served the Lord together as a real team.

On our most recent celebration, I was a patient at a St. Louis hospital during our anniversary and a therapist bought roses for my wife on that day since I was without my billfold or credit card for security reasons. He was a dear friend and celebrated the day with us.

As all of my readers know we have traveled to many areas of the world and ministered together. She has always been a close partner and companion.

I have especially grown to appreciate her these last 17 months of hospitalization and being homebound. She has been just as incarcerated as me caring for my every day needs and being the nurse for my wounds.

She and I had both been engaged before we even knew each other, but both engagements had been broken and nearly a year had lapsed before we met.

Our meeting occurred in February of 1958 and we were married in August. A brief period according to standards set 49 years ago.

Our introduction came from a state policeman who was from her church, but who attended mine on Wednesday nights.

He once asked, “Why have you never married?” I said, “I am waiting for God to pick one out for me.”

He became our cupid.

His invitation to visit him and his wife in his town was the beginning of our date life. We were taken by him to an A & W Root beer drive inn and he then dismissed himself. We looked at each other then I said, “Do you think this was a setup?” I’m sure glad it was.

That began a regular weekly drive for me to date her about 45 miles each way. I knew she was the one within three weeks and would have married her then, but the church I pastored would have looked with disfavor.

It was during our dating period that I found a five dollar bill the next morning after a date with Delois. I had a flat on my car two mornings before the day of the date and then the day of the date again.

I had been broke for a few days and couldn't understand the sudden testing on my already exhausted funds. In those days, I made all of $15 dollars a week at a young thriving church.

The next morning after the date I returned to the car and for a fourth time in a row I had a flat on the same tire. I grasp the steering wheel with tears about to flow when I spotted the money on the dash. Where did that come from I wondered?

I returned into the house where I lived in the attic apartment of a church deacon's home. I felt they had left the bill there, but they smiled at me and said they hadn't.

I didn't believe these precious people since they had been so good to me many times before and was convinced they had left it there all these 49 years until recently when my wife and I were recalling our dating days.

As I mentioned how good that couple had been to me and recalled that peculiar gift; she interrupted and said, "I don't want to take anything away from your belief in them, but I left the $5.00. I wanted you to come back at the end of the week and knew you couldn't without a miracle, so I thought I would help God out!"

Then she said, "I believe I made a good investment!

This August we will have invested 50 years in each one’s life. That is another miracle!

Of all our trips, the life together has been our best trip.

Isaiah 61:1
“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; “

Sunday, January 6, 2008


The beauty of the Mont-St-Michel

After a week in Spain my wife and I headed to Lit-a-Mix, France where I was to speak to a concave for missionary families that would arrive at this coastal city for a week. It was such a beautiful place and the families from Spain and France added to the wonderful time there.

After that event we rode with a couple farther into France visiting and speaking in a number of churches until arriving for a few days in Rennes for some relaxation. We had hoped to visit one of the military cemeteries in Normandy and photograph the marker of a soldier who was killed during the infamous invasion in World War II and taking the picture back to a mother who had always wondered about his burial place. The cemetery was well organized listing every person by section and row so our visit was brief but long enough to be stunned by the beauty of its layout.

As we headed toward Brittany's emerald coast we saw countless homes with thatched roofs many of which included the refuge for the animals along with the living quarters for the family in the same building. Then into the small towns where the old dress of the family traditions were still worn. Everywhere we went it was an event that we have not forgotten.

The walled city of St. Malo was a great place for a delicious lunch of Choucrute (Kratt and wieners with a layer of pork). The historic town, famous for its privateer past, ramparts and unique architecture was a delight. A walk around Saint-Malo's ramparts and ancient shops was a unforgettable experience.

However, we were yet to see the unique setting, beauty and architecture of the Mont Saint Michel. It is truly the "wonder of the western world" and is the second most visited place in all of France after the Eiffel Tower.

A Benedictine Abbey, it is unquestionably the finest example both of French medieval architecture and of a fortified abbey. The buildings of the monastery are piled round a conical mass of rock which rises abruptly out of the waters of the Atlantic to the height of 300 feet, on the summit of which stands the great church. This rock is nearly a mile from the shore, but in 1880 a causeway was built across the dangerous quicksand that occupies this space and is exposed at low water, so that there is now no danger in approaching the abbey. The monastery was founded about the year 708 by St. Aubert, Bishop of Avranches, and according to the legend, by direct command of the Archangel Michael himself, who appeared to the bishop in a dream on three separate occasions.

On the entrance heading up to the abbey are countless shops and cafes for the wondering pilgrim. Like many, before and after, we stopped in one of the cafes for another meal. Our friends from Rennes (pronounced Ren) remembered what they had at this very place on a previous visit. Snails were their selection. For most of an hour I viewed them as they with a small hooked wire pulled the meat from inside the shell that housed the slippery morsel. Finally, I decided I would taste the item. Well, it was not as bad as my imagination but something I have learned to do without.

After the meal and relaxation was over, we headed to the top to view the unusual place with all its features. It was worth the climb. After a longer that expected trip we returned back to the area when we had left the ladies. My wife's keepsake from this visit in a very small piano made of porcelain to remember this place in France.

In 1872 the French Government took over the abbey as a national monument and under took, none too soon, the task of restoration. The work has gone on almost continually ever since, and the restorers must be praised for the skill with which the great pile has been saved from ruin, and the good taste with which the whole has been done.

An Italian architect, William de Volpiano, was chosen as building contractor for the mount in the 11th century. He designed the Roman church of the abbey, daringly placing the transept crossing at the top of the mount. Many underground crypts and chapels had to be built to compensate for this weight. These formed the basis for the supportive upward structure that can be seen today. Today Mont Saint Michel is seen as a gothic-style church.

It remains one of the most beautiful places I have ever visitied. However, I am reminded more often for its reason for being. I cannot vouch that the angel St. Michael visited there but I do know the Bible gives to St. Michael four offices: 1.To fight against Satan. 2. To rescue the souls of the faithful from the power of the enemy, especially at the hour of death. 3. To be the champion of God's people, the Jews in the Old Law, the Christians in the New Testament; therefore he was the patron of the Church. 4. To call away from earth and bring men's souls to judgment.

Your visit from Him will surely be someday.

Jude 1:9, Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, do not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008


(Photo by Jim Jeter)
Yosemite Falls - Third highest in World.

Every Beginning has a ‘Then’

We have just completed the year of 2007 which brought an end to what started just 365 days ago. All of us can look back and see good and bad but all of us would agree how it flew by.

Now 2008 is here and it will be just as short so make all the days count for right.

It has been 23 years ago that the event I will share with you today happened, but it seems like yesterday to me.

I’ve never been one who allowed closeness with many. One such person was nearly 15 years younger than me. This may have been true of him toward me also since I was one of a few with whom he shared a closeness.

We had opportunity to spend many times together in Bible conferences, revivals, leadership meetings, and other denominational gatherings. He and I had another thing in common in that we began to preach at an early age. He at 12 and I at 17. However, his tenure ended at his death three months after his 35th birthday and I am still going at 70.

I remember while we were both speaking at the California Christian College in Fresno , we visited the Yosemite National Park . My friend was so overwhelmed by the beauty that he continued all that day repeating. “I just can’t believe it…just can’t believe it!!!”

Then May 22, 1985 changed everything. At just over are 35 he departed to bask in the sunlight of Heaven. To walk on golden streets. To gaze upon the ineffable glories that surrounds him—Forever!

In my imagination I see him lost in the wonder and admiration of the heavenly glories, surveying the unutterable wonders of his saviour.

On earth he often was insecure, but always was secure in preaching about the Old and New Testament saints. Today he pleasures with them as the new boy down the street.

Someone once told me a friend is a person to whom you do not have to explain anything. He was one for me. Few have ever met with such a lost -- for few ever had such a friend to lose. I did!

On the morning of his funeral God gave me this tribute to such a friend:

It is not for us to ask "WHY?" but rather "WHEN?"
Since each of us will depart so prepare for "THEN."

The Question is "WHERE" is our spirit going
With full assurance in Christ - Knowing.

For Life exists in the Father's Son
And only in Him is earth's victory won.

Our beloved Lord who still lives today,
Preached of the end with the power to sway.

He never promoted the "WHY" But preached about "WHEN"
So all of His followers would go "THERE" when it came to "THEN."

And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:
Hebrews 9:27