March 28, 2015
Below is a tribute with photos that my mom wrote and sent out to her friends and relatives eleven days ago. It is about my grandpa who was born 104 years ago today.
My Daddy is Home with Jesus
On February 23, 2015, my father went to be with his Heavenly Father. It was just 33 days short of his 104th birthday. My mom preceded him long ago at age 53 in 1969. He leaves behind his second wife Gloria who he had married the year after my mom’s death. He also leaves behind his 97 direct descendants—his 4 children, 16 grandchildren, 42 great-grandchildren, and 33 great- great-grandchildren, all of whom are still living today, by the grace of God.
I was able to fly up to Duluth Minnesota to visit him at his bedside for four days in February 18-21 where he had been diagnosed with pneumonia. When I arrived I saw the strongest man I have ever known (both in body and spirit), now weak and seemingly asleep. When I got there I leaned over the bed and said, “Daddy, this is Janet. I just arrived from Dallas. I love you!” He opened his eyes a little, and took my face in his hands and kissed me and said, “I love you too. I am so glad you have come!” Those are precious words to me because over the next three days he didn’t talk much .
The hospital room was full with so many relatives that they couldn’t all be in the room at the same time. I was staying with my wonderful cousin Sharon and she took me to visit daddy each day. She also provided a record player which played hymns softly each day. On the fourth and last day I was there, there were only three of us in the room that morning and I was able to read John 14:1-6 to my dad and pray for him. My brother told me, before I arrived, how the hospital janitor came in one day and asked my dad if he was afraid. Daddy answered, “No I’m not! I’m going to heaven!” The janitor then prayed with him.
My dad had loved the Lord and served him at church as head deacon for over 30 years. He was strong-minded and sometimes some on the board would argue a point with him, but they usually came to agree with his posi- tion. I also learned at a young age that he usually was right. I admired this in him.
Daddy worked at the Duluth Steel Plant for 47 years and never missed a day for sickness or a blizzard; nor was he ever once late to work. He was president of the St. Louis County Fair and told the board he would be president only if they would promise not to sell liquor on the grounds and make sure that no ‘girlie shows’ were allowed on the premises. At first they argued with him but decided he was right. He held that office for 7 years.
Daddy loved fun and traveled a lot, still driving his van in his late 90s. He loved to laugh.
I will miss being able to sit in his living room when Tom and I visited him. We often listened to some of the 50+ Christian records on the old phonograph with him and Gloria, as daddy would sing along. Some say that he didn’t have a good singing voice, but it was music to me.
I was only able to spend those four days with him, and then he entered glory on the 23rd of February. I feel a deep peace as I look back on his life.
May God’s love be with you all,
5. My dad & mom (Eva) dressed for town centennial 1949
9. Daddy getting kiss from wife Gloria, 2014
March 26, 2015
In Amos 9:11-15 God says, “In that day I will raise up the booth of David that is fallen… and rebuild it as in the days of old, that they may possess the remnant of Edom… I will restore the fortunes of My people Israel… I will plant them on their land, and they shall never again be uprooted out of the land that I have given them,’ says the LORD your God.”
Because the book of Amos, possibly the oldest of the prophetic books, was likely written between 760-753 B.C. and thus over 150 years before Judah fell to the Babylonians, some people teach the falsehood that, through Amos, God was speaking about the Jews’ return from their 70-year Babylonian captivity. However, when God says, “…they shall never again be uprooted out of the land…”, we need to recognize that Amos 9:11-15 could not, therefore, be a prophecy about that return. For although the Jews were permitted to leave Babylon and return to their land around 536 B.C., they were again uprooted from their inheritance during their foiled 66-70 A.D. revolt, and then quite completely by 135 A.D. Yet what has been happening now for over a century? We see that Jews from all over the globe have been returning to the land of Israel –to their ancient homeland, to the resurrected Hebrew language, and to a nation that for nearly two thousand years appeared extinct.
Let us understand: God made a promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob concerning their descendants’ everlasting inheritance and it had much to do with a nation dwelling in a land with specified borders. (Num. 34:1-12 // Dt. 1:7,8) And even though God consistently warned that disobedience would result in being ousted from the land, the Lord also consistently vowed that He would later restore the nation to their inheritance, permanently. (Ho. 2:14-3:5 // Joel 3:17 // Zeph. 3:8-20) As the Lord promised in Zech. 10:6, “I will strengthen the house of Judah and save the house of Joseph. I will restore them because I have compassion on them. They will be as though I had not rejected them, for I am the LORD their God and I will answer them.”
In Jer. 31:36,37 we read, “‘[Never]’ declares the LORD, ‘will the descendants of Israel ever cease to be a nation before Me.’ …'[Nor] will I reject all the descendants of Israel because of all they have done,’ declares the LORD.” God is stating that in spite of the Israelites’ rebellion, He has sworn that He will never cease watching over them –to uproot and punish them (v. 28) but also to build, plant, refresh, and redeem them (v. 23-34) as a united nation (Isa. 66:7-13 // Ezek. 37:15-28) in the land of their forefathers, forever. (Dt. 30:1-6 // Ezek. 37:25) “For God will cleanse them, make an everlasting covenant of peace with them, and put His sanctuary among them forever.” (See Ezek. 37:23-28) He will return to the new temple (43:1-12), and Jesus, whom God has made both Lord and Christ, will forever govern Israel, as well as the rest of the nations, from David’s restored kingdom and throne. (Jer. 23:5-8 // Ezek. 37:24,25 // Mt. 19:28 // Luke 1:31-33 // Acts 2:29-36 & 3:20,21 & 15:14-18)
The apostle Paul says in Rom. 11:1, “I ask then, has God rejected His people? By no means! For I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin.” He repeats, “God did not reject His people” (v. 2), and the whole context reveals, in no uncertain terms, that he is referring to the literal ethnic Israelite nation.
But, as a group, did national Israel stumble? Yes, but “so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all!” (Rom. 11:11) Were they cut off from “the Olive Root” (v. 17) –the Promises and Blessings of the Covenant (9:4,5)– permanently? No, God’s Word repeatedly tells us that their unbelief is temporary (11:12,25 // Jer. 31:18,19,31-34 // Zech. 12:10-14 // etc.) and that not only is it possible for God “to graft them in again” (Rom. 11:23), but that He absolutely will! (v. 26) This He will do because, in regards to election, Israel is loved on account of God’s covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. (v. 28) “For God’s gifts and His call are irrevocable.” (v. 29) As the Lord continually promised through the prophets, including through Ezekiel’s vision of the resurrected Israelite nation and its literal temple (Ezek. ch. 35-48), God will not revoke His oath. As “the Sovereign LORD says: ‘…Because I swore with uplifted hand to give it to your forefathers, this land will become your inheritance.'” (47:13,14)
God has let it be known in His Word that it is not the righteousness of the Israelites that has earned them the deed to the land God reserves as His own (Dt. 9:5,6) –that piece of real estate which God cares for in a special way and watches continually (11:12) because He Himself owns it. (Lev. 25:23) No, it is instead due to God’s decision –His choice and election– to deed “His own land and inheritance” (see Jer. 2:7 & 16:18) to Jacob’s descendants (Isa. 14:1,2 // Ezek. 36:5,12) “as an everlasting possession” (Gen. 17:8), and this based on no less than these things:
1. His “everlasting covenant” (Gen. 17:7) with Abraham concerning specific land (15:18,19),
2. on His plan to make for Himself a nation which would bring blessing to the world (Gen. 12:3 & 18:18 & 22:18 & 26:4 & 28:14 // Isa. ch. 49 // Luke 2:30-32),
3. on His mercy to Israel for their sake (Lev. 26:44,45), and,
4. on His commitment to uphold the holiness of His name. (Ezek. 36:22,23)
For these same reasons, and because of His great love and compassion for Israel, His firstborn son (Jer. 31: 9,20), God will also cleanse the regathered Israelites (Ezek. 36:24-29), will pour out His Spirit upon them (same verses // Isa. 59:20,21), and will make them sparkle in honor (Isa. ch. 60-62 // Zeph. 3:20) as “the greatest of the nations” (Jer. 31:7), all for the glory of Christ Jesus who will, through Israel, His battle bow (Zech. 9:13-17 & 10:3-7), punish the nations and rule them from His throne in Jerusalem. (Num. 24:17-19 // Dt. 32:39-43 // Ps. ch. 2 // Isa. 9:7 & 24:21-23 // Mi. ch. 4 // Zech. 8:1-3 & 14:16-21 // Rev. 19:15,16) And the land of Israel will be divided “among the twelve tribes of Israel, with two portions for Joseph” (Ezek. 47:13) –divisions which have been specified by “what the Sovereign LORD says.” (same verse)
So the Lord will return to Zion (Isa. 52:8), to the “ruins of Jerusalem” (v. 9), and He will comfort His people (same verse), redeem Jerusalem (same verse), and in the sight of all the earth, shatter the nations who have attacked Jerusalem. (v. 10 // Zech. 12:1-9) Moreover, while specifying certain geographical places in and around Jerusalem, including “the whole valley where the dead bodies and ashes are thrown” (Jer. 31:40a), the Lord declares, “This city will be rebuilt for Me.” (v. 38) And He adds, “The city will never again be uprooted or demolished.” (v. 40c) Is the Lord speaking here about Jerusalem being rebuilt after the Jews returned from the Babylonian exile? No, for the city was later destroyed and the Jews were exiled again, this time for 1900 years. Is God speaking figuratively –about some spiritual land and city? No, He is mentioning specific, literal, physical places on earth.
What then should we conclude about those who are teaching that God is finished blessing and honoring the land and nation of Israel and the physical city of Jerusalem? Are they teaching what God’s Word teaches, or are they teaching doctrines made up by men? They are doing the latter and are thus denying the authority of God’s Word while elevating the philosophies of men. However, to continue to reject God’s plain and abundant revelation, and to spread one’s error concerning God and His Word, is to walk in rebellion, contempt, and blasphemy –which most definitely are no small sins in the eyes of the Lord.
March 22, 2015
Being holy has to do with conduct. The opposite of being holy is being sinful. Even so, we have many who try to tell us that being holy means to be separated unto God. But that is a misleading description, for by being separated unto God –by receiving this privilege– we are expected, yes, required, to walk in submission to His commands. If we are in His Kingdom –of which He is the King– then we are obligated to comply with His rules of righteous living. Holiness is about conduct.
1 Peter 1:14-17 states it plainly: “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’ And if you call on Him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile.”
There is a lot in those verses that we could discuss, but I want to point out that conduct is being emphasized. Conduct obedient to our Heavenly Father is being stressed. Conduct conformed to God Himself is being underscored. We are being ordered to reject the sinful conduct we displayed when we were ignorant of God and His holiness, and are being ordered to walk in a manner that pleases Him who will judge impartially everyone’s every deed. (See P.S. below.) Furthermore, we are being warned that in light of this situation, we are to fear The Judge throughout our lifetimes and walk in accordance with that holy fear.
So are we separated unto God through an acknowledgement of who Christ is, through a confession of sin, and through a request to be forgiven of sin? Or are we separated unto God through those plus through a persistence in holy conduct?
Let’s look at what Jesus says in John 15:10: “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love.” Is there any other way to abide in Christ’s love –that position in “Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath” (1 Thes. 1:10)– if we do not keep (hold to / obey / abide in / live in / persist in) the Lord’s commands? There is not. (2 Thes. 1:8,9 // Heb. 10:26-31) Jesus says that we must abide in Him in order to be eternally saved (John 15:6) and that this abiding comes from being obedient to His commands. (v. 10 again // see also 1 John 3:24)
It is critical, therefore, that this Truth be understood: Obedience to Christ = Abiding in Christ = Salvation from God’s wrath (Hell)
Righteous conduct is what holiness is about. So if a person does not have righteous conduct, then that person is not abiding in that place of being separated unto God. (Heb. 12:14 // 1 John 2:28,29)
P.S. Our “deeds” by which we will be judged include not only our actions, but also our words, thoughts, and motives. (Ec. 12:14 // Jer. 17:10 // Mt. 5:28-30 & 12:36,37 & ch. 25 // John 5:29 // Rom. 2:16 & 3:19 // 1 Cor. 4:5 // 2 Cor. 5:10 // Heb. 4:13 // Jude 1:15 // Rev. 20:11-15) Moreover, the deeds we did not do but should have –these omissions, considered disobedience, will help to condemn us. (Mt. 7:21 & 12:50 // 2 Cor. 5:15 // Eph. 2:10 // Ja. 2:10 & 4:17 // 1 Peter 4:2 // 1 John 2:17)
March 17, 2015
Below is a testimony and message that I received today, written (at my suggestion) to my readers, from someone who is seeking to better know God and His Truth.
Over the past six months, I have been involved in a huge battle. I’ve been wrestling with lies from the enemy… and it has been very tough. However, as hard as it has been, I know that God has not allowed it to happen for no reason. Instead, He is using this time in my life to help me solidify my personal trust in His Truth, which He has revealed to us in His Word. I will share a few examples of this in the following paragraphs.
First, God has reminded me of who His Word claims Him to be. His Word says that He is holy, pure, and without any darkness. It says that He is not only compassionate, merciful, and loving, but that He IS love Himself! He tells us that He is just and righteous. And we have the promise that He is the Truth, and never lies! Every word He says is completely trustworthy, and those who trust in Him will never be defeated. All of these truths of the heart and character of our God have cemented my faith (trust) in Him more deeply than before.
Also, He has used this time to help me to hold His Word above the words of man, even when men are well-meaning! I used to trust the words of men, but now I know in greater depth the importance of holding others’ words against those of Scripture. Any counsel of men that the Word confirms as Truth can be trusted, but any counsel that contradicts, adds to, or takes away from the Word of God, His own revelation to us, is false and should be cast away.
And, as a final example, this time in my life has been used by the Lord to show me what is really important in life. For, truly, what does profit man if he gains the whole world and yet forfeits his soul? The most important things in this life truly are God and the souls of the people that He has created. Keeping the huge importance of Eternity in mind each day helps us to keep the proper perspective. We are told that the two greatest commandments are to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love our neighbor as our self. Loving God… loving people. These two things overrule any and all other things in their utmost importance.
Indeed, times of trial in life are not easy. They can include great pain, whether physical or emotional. Many times countless tears are shed throughout the process. I can feel for those in these seasons of life, for I have been there. But, we cannot stop trusting that God will use these times for our good… He will use these times to shape us into the image of Jesus (Rom. 8:28)! His purpose for those in Christ Jesus is to mold us into His Own image (vs. 29)! And, truly, what Satan intends for evil, God can use for GOOD! So, don’t lose hope, friends. God can redeem even the most seemingly hopeless and painful situations… just think of how He used the death of His Son!
March 10, 2015
2 Cor. 13:5 commands us to examine and test ourselves to see if we are truly abiding in The Faith. But do most who claim to be Christians actually take this command seriously? Do most know how to examine and test themselves, and if they do know how, do they obey? Do they put themselves under scrutiny and check, using the Word of God, the reliability and quality of their claim to be in The Faith / The Truth?
With the exception of God, we are the ones who best know ourselves (unless we are in some form of denial). But, for those of us who wish to be honest with ourselves, and make such honesty a discipline, we should regularly interrogate ourselves and judge whether or not our priorities are in line with God’s. Here are some good questions to ask ourselves:
1. Am I in the habit of prioritizing the study of God’s Word over everything else? (Dt. 6:6,7 // Josh. 1:8 // Ps. 119:11,97 // Col. 3:16) –Not commentaries or blogs about God’s Word, but God’s Word itself..?
2. Do I give up movies, internet, shopping, texting, etc. in order to have time to meditate on God’s Word, or do I give up God’s Word in order to have time to partake of other activities?
3. Am I memorizing God’s Word so that I am hiding it in my heart and letting it dwell in me richly as we are commanded to do? (See verses above.)
4. Am I putting God’s commands into practice in tangible ways? (Mt. 7:24 // 1 Tim. 4:7) What are those ways?
5. Am I motivated (to know the Truth) primarily by a fear of Hell, or primarily by a deep love and adoration for the Lord?
6. Being that we are commanded to get baptized, and being that it is a public declaration of our pledge to forever follow Christ as our Boss, have I been baptized yet? If not, why not?
I suggest that we write out our answers to the above questions, that we lay the paper before the Lord, and that we ask Him to correct us where needed and affirm us where we are approved. I encourage us to listen quietly, intently, and humbly, making sure that we are being honest and open-minded to what the Lord speaks to us. And I warn us to make the changes in our lives according to what He points out.
I believe that anyone (over twelve years old) who has been born again longer than two or three years should be feeding and training themselves daily while testing themselves regularly. Our human Bible teachers should be nothing more than secondary coaches –those who help us stretch ourselves and who point us to Scriptures where we can investigate for ourselves as we learn to rely more and more on being taught directly from the Spirit in the Word. (John 16:13 // 1 John 2:27) In fact, the degree of eagerness we employ in searching out answers directly from God’s Word is a good indicator of whether or not we possess a genuine, earnest, and determined desire to follow Christ.
Using the above questionnaire should be a good aid in recognizing where we are at according to The Faith, and this so that we can make changes where necessary. For whether or not we are abiding in The Faith now does affect our future –both earthly and eternally.
March 3, 2015
We are to interpret God’s Word using God’s Word, doing this under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. We are not to create man-made doctrines based on a few select verses. And we are not to over-emphasize favorite verses to the exclusion of other verses so as to perpetuate those doctrines.
Why, then, is Eph. 2:8,9 so often quoted while verse 10 –which clearly is part of the explanation– is left out? The three verses say, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
These three verses say a lot, but my intent in this post is to remind us to be wary about those who rest their doctrine on verses eight and nine while not including the tenth! Teaching that does such a thing is minimizing (either intentionally or unintentionally) the requirement of obedience to Christ. Yet our Lord and the whole of God’s Word states that doing good, doing the will of God, and faithfully obeying Christ’s / God’s commands is a must for salvation.
Whenever Eph. 2:8,9 is used to discuss the issue of faith and works, verse 10 absolutely needs to be included, for it goes on to say that not only were we created to do good works, we are also to walk in those good works which God planned for us to walk in.
Therefore, for it to be taught that doing good works is unnecessary for salvation is to teach falsehood. What is the opposite of doing the good works which God preordered for each of us to do? It is to be rebellious. And being rebellious is to sin, and sin not renounced and rejected is to forfeit salvation.
Walking in the works which God prepared beforehand for us to walk in is to walk in obedience to the Lord. It is to live in consistent obedience to Christ. It is to be faithful to Christ. This is what faith really is, what it means, what it consists of. This is why works cannot be at all separated from faith. True faith is obedience (works) and obedience is faith. Thus faith is a mind and heart issue, as well as an action/behavior issue. There cannot be a separation of faith’s ingredients or it is hypocrisy / deceit, which, of course then, is unfaithfulness / disobedience / rebellion / sin.
There are so many verses that speak about the absolute necessity of being obedient to the Lord in all we do –which consists of action. There are so many verses that speak about the necessity of walking in the will of the Lord –which means behavior/conduct (as well as that mind/heart position of submission). Here are just a few:
1 Peter 1:15 says, “…so be holy in all you do.” That is a command to obey and it is about actions/behavior/conduct.
Rom. 8:13 says that if we live according to the sinful nature we will die. This is about actions/behavior/conduct.
Jesus says, “If anyone loves Me, he will obey My teaching.” (John 14:23) This is about actions/behavior/conduct.
Jesus says, “Those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned.” (John 5:29) This is about actions/behavior/conduct.
Jesus says that only those who do the will of the Father will enter the Kingdom. (Mt. 7:21) Let’s remember that the words “do” and “does” are about actions/behavior/conduct.
Jesus says, “If you want to enter Life, obey the commandments.” (Mt. 19:17) This is about actions/behavior/conduct.
Eph. 5:6 says that “God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient.” This is about actions/behavior/conduct.
1 John 2:29 says, “…you know that everyone who does what is right has been born of Him.” This is about actions/behavior/conduct.
And I could go on with verse after verse.
What then, are the works that do not benefit a person in acquiring salvation? The entire context of Eph. 2:8-10 reveals it. They are the works done according to our own will and in the power of our own flesh. In other words, works that will not help us to be saved are those works done in the flesh and according to the good things we (or other people) think should be done. But, to do works (actions) and walk in conduct (behavior) that is ordered by our Master (through His Word and His Spirit) is an absolute must.
Every teacher should make this distinction when explaining what faith consists of. It could be a matter of Heaven or Hell for our hearers. (1 Tim. 4:16)
February 24, 2015
Last evening at 8:40 p.m., 2/23/15, my Grandpa Wolff transitioned from this earth to be in Heaven with the Lord who he loved dearly. Here is what I wrote to someone last Thursday:
~~My mom flew to MN yesterday morning, deciding to do so just the afternoon before, to be with my grandpa on his deathbed. About 40 relatives were in and out of the room when my mom was there yesterday afternoon and she said more kept coming. Grandpa (who will be 104 on March 28) sat up a bit and talked a bit. They sang hymns and he actually sang a song too. What a blessing to be going in such a loved, cared-for way with family all around! Earlier in the week when a Christian custodian at the hospital asked Grandpa if he was afraid, Grandpa said, “No! I’m going to Heaven!” The guy then prayed for him, and that was an answer to my mom’s prayer that someone would. (Thankfully, Grandpa says he is not in any pain.)~~
Relatives took turns staying overnight at the hospital with Grandpa, and last night it was Val who was with him at the end. She had been reminding him of fun trips he had taken and he was smiling. When the aides came in to turn him over, she went out briefly, and that is when Grandpa breathed his last. I believe he did so with the happy memories flooding his body with peace.
Grandpa’s large extended family have all loved him, and I’m sure, like me, are so very grateful that he was a part of our lives.
P.S. Below are some photos of Grandpa over the last 15 years.
Grandpa and me, 2002