Thursday, April 26, 2012


  4. “GOD'S SAMURAI: LEAD PILOT AT PEARL HARBOR” by Katherine V. Dillon, Donald M. Goldstein and Gordon W. Prange
  6. “DESHAZER,” by C. Hoyt Watson
  7. “THE LIFE AND DIARY OF DAVID BRAINERD,” by Philip E. Howard Jr.
  9. “GROWING UP YANOMAMO,” by Mike Dawson
  10. “BORDEN OF YALE,” by Howard Taylor
  11. “LETOURNEAU: MOVER OF MEN & MOUNTAINS,” by R.G. Le Tourneau and R. G. G. LeTourneau
  12. “THROUGH GATES OF SPENDOR,” by Elisabeth Elliot
  13. “JOHN CALVIN: A PILGRIM'S LIFE,” by Herman J. Selderhuis
  14. “SON OF HAMAS,” by Mosab Hassan Yousef and Ron Brackin
  15. “ROBERT MURRAY MCCHEYNE,” by A. A. Bonar
  16. “JOHN PATON,” by Benjamin Unseth
  17. “GEORGE MULLER OF BRISTOL,” by Arthur T. Pierson
  18. “PEACE CHILD,” by Don Richardson
  19. “WAR AND GRACE,” by Don Stephens (A collection of short biographies of believers in Christ who endured and triumphed in times of War)
  20. “THE RESCUE: A TRUE STORY OF COURAGE AND SURVIVAL IN WORLD WAR II,” by Steven Trent Smith (not technically a Christian biography though it relates the fascinating story of the rescue of some missionaries fromthe Philippines during WW2)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends, if you do what I command you.”
John 15:17, “This I command you, that you love one another.”

Ernest Gordon was one of many British soldiers captured by the Japanese in the battle for Singapore in WW2. Ultimately he and thousands of other captives were taken to Banpong, Thailand. The Japanese command forced these prisoners into hard—sunrise to sunset—labor in building a 258 mile railway to further the Japanese war effort. They were beaten and tortured, fed little, and given no medical attention. Work was not going fast enough, so workers were beaten. Many died as a result of torture, beatings, and disease.

Gordon was not a Christian, but during his captivity he saw things that caused him to consider Christ. One such occasion was when a soldier was determined to save his best friend when he became ill. He gave up all of his own rations, without telling of his sacrifice, for the benefit of his friend. His sick friend recovered. He himself later died of starvation.

On another occasion, at the end of a day’s work, a guard declared that a shovel was missing. In a fit of uncontrollable rage, he yelled, “All die! All die!” Just as the guard was to begin shooting the captives, a man stepped forward. “I did it,” he said. The Japanese guard slammed the stock of his rifle onto the captive’s head. The captive sank to the ground, dead. When the shovels were counted afterwards, they were all there. The guard had been mistaken. The captive laid down his life for the sake of the others.

These acts of sacrificial love caused some of the prisoners to think. One of the captives was a Christian, but Gordon argued against his faith. He couldn’t understand how God could allow the death of 20 men a day to such ill-treatment. “Why doesn’t God so something?” he asked.

Another incident spoke again to Gordon’s heart. Frequently as the prisoners made their way through the local Thai villages they would come across yellow-robe Buddhist priests. The philosophy of these priests was non-attachment to the world. If a prisoner dropped at the side of the road, and was obviously dying, they would purpose to ignore him. They demonstrated no concern for the plight of the captives. One day the captives passed through a village where the people, at risk to themselves, gave them food and medicine. Upon inquiry, it was discovered that the village had been evangelized to Christ through the work of a missionary. Gordon was forced to again question the ultimate source of such love.

These three instances, amongst others, ultimately were used by God to draw Gordon into a saving relationship with the Lord Jesus. Other prisoners trusted in Christ as well. The prisoners began to hold worship services. They prayed. They created a Bible-lending library. They shared their faith with others. On Christmas day 1943, over 2000 men attended a service. Their captivity was transformed by numerous acts of faith and sacrifice.

Years following his rescue and release, Ernest Gordon wrote his great spiritual classic, “Miracle on the River Kwai.” The book includes these words, “I know the depths to which men could sink and the heights to which they could rise. I could speak from the experience of despair, but also of hope; of hatred, but also of love; of man without God, but also of man sustained by God. God in Christ has shared man’s suffering…even that experience which seems to defeat us all, namely, death.” The book ends with this sentence, “He comes into our Death House to lead us through it.”

The activity of sacrificial love by the Spirit-led believer flows ultimately from Calvary itself (1 John 4:19; Romans 5:5). Its presence in one’s life gives testimony to the Risen Christ and the greater love He has demonstrated in laying down His life for us (John 3:16; 1 John 3:16). That we might replicate His self-sacrificial manner is a mysterious and wonderful work of His grace. Apart from Him we can do no such thing, but by His gracious presence His love can indeed flow through us. What word or deed of love does God have planned for you and me this day? May it be done with a finger pointing towards our Savior!

Pastor Jerry

Saturday, April 21, 2012


John 12:10, “But the chief priests took counsel that they might put Lazarus to death also.”

Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. Lazarus had been dead and lying in a cave for four days. By His mere word Jesus called him forth. He came forth. It was an amazing miracle, irrefutable evidence bearing witness to the true identity of Jesus. There were many witnesses. “Many (who) beheld what He had done, believed in Him” (John 11:45).

There were two differing responses to that remarkable event. There were those who believed and those who refused to accept the truth. The chief priests and Pharisees heard about what happened. They “convened a council, and were saying, ‘What are we doing? For this man is performing many signs. (John 11:47). Their concern? That the people would believe in Him and the Romans would then “come and take away both (their) place and (their) nation” (John 11:48). They had no heart or concern for the truth. They were concerned only for their “place” and the earthly benefits associated with it. The verdict of their council? “So from that day on they planned together to kill Him (John 11:53). The miraculous raising of Lazarus from the dead was troublesome to them.

A great multitude sought after Lazarus (John 12:9). “The multitude who were with (Jesus) when He called Lazarus out of the tomb, and raised him from the dead, were bearing Him witness” (John 12:17). The word was spreading. Jesus had raised Lazarus, a man dead for four days, from the dead. They saw it happen. Jesus merely said a word—and Lazarus came forth from the tomb. They saw Lazarus. He had supper with his sisters and Jesus (John 12:1-2).

The light of the world came into the world—and there are but two responses to Him—come to the light (love the light) or hate the light. John 3:19-21, “And this is judgment, that the light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be manifest as having been wrought in God” (John 3:21).

So the religious leaders met together and came up with a plan. Kill Lazarus. Put him back in a tomb. Stop the witness concerning Christ. Stop the word from spreading. Stop people from believing in Him. It matters not what the truth is. We don’t like the light. He reveals things about us that we don’t want anyone to see. Let’s kill him and shove him back in a grave lest people keep on believing in this Jesus!

Jesus Christ died on a cross and was buried in a tomb. A stone, a seal, and a Roman guard were set in place to keep the light extinguished. Their evil deed accomplished, the religious leaders rested. But the light escaped. Risen from the dead He appeared “to Cephas, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time…then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles” (1 Corinthians 15:5-7). “He…presented Himself alive, after His suffering, by many convincing proofs” (Acts 1:3). Peter and John and the others were witnesses to the light. Filled with the Spirit they were boldly “proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead” (Acts 4:2). So the religious leaders “gathered together” in another council (Acts 4:5). They put Peter and John on trial (Acts 4:9). They worked again to extinguish the light. They commanded Peter and John “not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus” (Acts 4:18). But the light, the truth, could not be extinguished. People kept on believing. They kept on threatening and even murdering (Acts 7:57-60; 12:1-2). And so it has been ever since.

Why did they seek to kill Lazarus? Because “everyone who does evil hates the light” (John 3:20). Lazarus bore witness to the light. Why do believers even now suffer persecution? Because “everyone who does evil hates the light.” To the extent that you bear witness to the light you will likewise be an object of disdain. Don’t be surprised by this. “For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake” (Philippians 1:29; Cf. 2 Timothy 3:12; 1 Peter 4:12-13). Light-haters are always working to extinguish the light. But neither the Sun nor the light of truth concerning God’s Son can be extinguished by man. Lazarus lived. Jesus now lives. Nothing can change the truth. You can try to shut up or lock up those who bear witness, “But the Word of God is not (and cannot) be imprisoned” (2 Timothy 2:9). And not all will hate the light. Some hear the truth of the gospel—the power of God unto salvation—and believe. They come into the light and revel in His glory!

Pastor Jerry

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


I’m going to skip today's normal TFT devotional to share with you a beautiful story I just came across in the book I’m now reading, “God’s Samurai: Lead Pilot at Pearl Harbor.”

Mitsuo Fuchida was the lead pilot in the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor. He returned to Japan shortly afterwards and was received by the people as a great hero. He continued to advance in military positions throughout the Japanese campaign. He narrowly escaped death on several occasions and survived to the end of the war. Called upon to testify at the War Crime trials, following the Japanese surrender, he was troubled by the testimonies he heard regarding American prisoner abuse in Japanese prison camps. He assumed that such treatment was typical and must have also have directed towards the Japanese who had been held by the Americans during the war. He went so far as to travel to Uraga, Japan to meet with returning Japanese prisoners to find evidence of such abuse.

He met a man there, Sub-lieutenant Kazuo Kanegaski, who had previously served with him. He had survived the sinking of the carrier Hiryu only to be rescued by the Americans. He was ultimately taken to a prisoner camp/hospital near the Utah-Colorado border. Kanegaski told Fuchida that he never “saw atrocities in the American camps.” He went on to share an experience that he had there: “Something happened at my camp which made it possible for all of us interned there to stop nursing our resentment and to return to Japan with lightened hearts…Shortly after the end of the war, an American girl about 18 years old came to the camp as a volunteer social worker. She ministered to the Japanese with tireless energy and kindness. Her name was Margaret Covell. The men called her Peggy, as did her American friends. She spoke no Japanese, but the prisoners had picked up enough English to communicate with her. ‘If you’re uncomfortable or need anything, let me know,’ she would say. ‘I’ll do anything I can to help.’ With her conscientious care she touched the prisoners. She also puzzled them. Some three weeks after her first visit, one of the men asked her curiously, ‘Why are you so kind to us?’ ‘Because Japanese soldiers killed my parents,’ she answered.”

As the prisoners stared at her in astonishment, she explained that her parents were missionaries who had fled Japan to Manila where they thought they would be safe. When the Japanese captured the city they fled to the mountains. Japanese soldiers ultimately found Peggy’s parents and in their possession a small portable radio they mistook for a secret communications apparatus. They tried the couple as spies and convicted them. They were blindfolded, their hands bound behind their backs, and forced to their knees. As the husband and wife prayed—asking God to forgive their executioners--the Japanese soldiers beheaded them.

“Peggy, who had been living in the United States, didn’t learn of her parents’ fate until the end of the war. At first she choked with hatred for the Japanese. Then she began to meditate on her parents’ selfless service to them. Slowly she became convinced that her parents had indeed forgiven their executioners before death. Could she do less? So she volunteered to work with Japanese prisoners of war. Her example of charity and gentleness greatly impressed the men, and they loved her with a pure tenderness.”

Fuchida was puzzled by what he heard. “The Japanese considered revenge a beautiful moral. A man captured and awaiting death never forgave his captors. He prayed to be born again seven times, and to exact revenge in each life. And his sons and daughter to avenge him. The Japanese word for revenge, katakiuchi, means literally ‘attack enemy.’ Steeped in Japanese history and culture, Fuchida fervently believed in the principle of katakiuchi. Now he heard a story of unjust suffering and death, and a daughter left to continue the bloodline. But the tale featured no vow of vengeance from either the dying or the survivor.”

“Fuchida was thunderstruck. ‘This beautiful story overwhelmed me and made me ashamed,’ he reflected. He had come to Uraga with hate in his heart. What he found was goodness he could scarcely comprehend.” Ultimately Peggy’s example was used by God to help lead Fuchida to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus. He was saved and became an evangelist. He once shared the gospel from a platform standing next to Jacob Deshazer (the former Japanese prisoner who later returned to Japan as a missionary. Later Fuchida would even visit Jacob’s church in Salem, Oregon. God ultimately used Fuchida, that former pilot who brought death and destruction to Pearl Harbor, to spread the good news of Christ’s love throughout his homeland, to America, and even far away Germany.

Katakiuchi. That’s the way the world thinks and behaves. But to get even is not to get ahead. I remember an occasion in my own experience that had a profound effect on me. I was attending Faith Bible Church in Kailua, Oahu. God had been drawing me to Himself, but I still had a lot of questions. Sometimes it is the simple things that matter most in that process. I was at that church on a Sunday morning. The church had a Christian bookstore. The bookstore had been robbed the night before. The man who shared the news with the church did not speak evil of the offenders or complain about what had happened. Instead he led a prayer for the ones who had done the deed—a prayer that expressed both love and forgiveness. I had never heard of such a thing before. It caught my attention.

Peggy could have chosen a different route. It would have been both natural and acceptable to seethe in bitterness and nurture thoughts of revenge. Instead, looking to Christ’s example, with the Spirit’s leading, she took the higher route. Her parents would have been proud. Her Father in Heaven was no doubt pleased. And her acts of love reflected the great love she herself had experienced in Christ.

May the love that has been shed abroad in our hearts overflow from our lives and boldly testify to the greater love of Christ from which it flows!

1 Peter 2:21-23, “For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example to follow in His steps…and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering He uttered no threats.”

1 Peter 3:9, “Not returning evil for evil, or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead.”

Pastor Jerry

Quotations from “God's Samurai: Lead Pilot at Pearl Harbor,” by Donald M. Goldstein and Gordon W. Prange; Copyright 1990 by Prange Enterprises, Inc.

Monday, April 16, 2012


John 8:24, “Unless you believe that I am He, you shall die in your sins.”

Set before us is a clear and succinct statement of warning and remedy. The warning is to all since “all have sinned” (Romans 3:23). Sin demands and deserves punishment (Romans 6:23). God is holy and just. A day of judgment looms. “The wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience” (Colossians 3:6). They will “pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power” (2 Thessalonians 1:9).

To die in one sins is to die and then stand before God with no remedy in hand. No excuse will deflect His wrath. No amount of self-righteousness will stay His fury. To die in one’s sins is to depart this life, troubled as it may be, to an existence of eternal woe. One can only imagine the pain and suffering of such a place, where there is eternal weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 13:42). There is a great chasm fixed between heaven and hell—there will be no escape for the one who dies in his sins.

The broad path that leads to destruction is well-traveled (Matthew 7:13). It seems right to men, but ends in death (Proverbs 14:6). We are all broad-path travelers by nature. We are removed from the path only by God’s intervention.

The “unless” at the beginning of our text speaks to God’s remedy. There is a way and one way only by which certain doom can be averted. The remedy is in a person and bound up in our response to Him. The Gospel of John was written to proclaim the truth that “Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God” (John 20:30). Seven recorded miracles testify to His deity. Likewise, He Himself made seven “I Am” statements that affirm His identity. Two of these statements are in this context of our text. In the first Jesus declared, “I AM the light of the world (John 8:12).” In the second He said, “Truly, truly I say to you, before Abraham was born, I AM.” The statement was a proclamation of His deity.

S. Lewis Johnson commented on this matter, “Now, one must appreciate the language of the Bible to understand this, but this is the language of deity. Back in the Old Testament…when God told Moses who he was…God said, "I am that I am." Now through the Old Testament that becomes the language of deity. In fact, when you get to the prophets it not only is the language of deity but it is the self-existent Yahweh. "I am." When Jesus says "Before Abraham came to be, I am" he was claiming to be that covenant keeping God. One German scholar who has studied in some detail this question has said, "This is Jesus' boldest declaration. It means, 'Where I am there is God. Where I am there God lives, speaks, calls, asks, acts, decides, loves, chooses, forgives, rejects, hardens, suffers, dies.' Nothing bolder can be said or even imagined than for Jesus to say, 'I am before Abraham came to be.'" That's the kind of Savior we need. We have to have a Savior who is an eternal being.” That the Jews understood what Jesus was saying is demonstrated by their response (John 8:59, 10:30-33).

It is in this One—the divine Son of God who died for sins—that a remedy can be found (John 1:29). That He has done all that is needful to save us is without question. The resurrection was proof-positive that God had accepted His once-for-all payment for sins (Romans 1:4, 4:25; 1 Peter 3:18).

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners (destined to die in our sins), Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). This past weekend a man drowned in the Columbia River. His two year old son had fallen overboard. He dove into the fast moving water and handed his son to his father-in-law, but then he slipped underwater and did not resurface. He gave his life for his son whom he loved. God, in love, gave His son for rebellious sinners like us—so that we might not die in our sins. “Amazing love, how can it be that Thou My God shouldst die for me?”

The remedy for sin is appropriated by faith: “Unless you believe that I am He.” John’s gospel purposes to declare the truth about Jesus “that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:31). Salvation is appropriated by faith and only by faith. 90+ times the word “believe” appears in John’s gospel. The message, from beginning to end, is that salvation is by faith in Him (Cf. John 1:12-13, 3:16, 3:36, 8:24, etc.). This message—salvation by faith alone in Christ alone—is reiterated in numerous other Scripture texts (Acts 16:31; Romans 1:16, 10:9; Ephesians 2:8-9, etc.).

What is faith but trust? To believe in Him is to trust in Him. He proclaimed the truth about Himself. Some picked up stones to throw at Him…to their doom (John 8:59). Others believed in Him and were saved (John 8:30). 100 years ago yesterday the “unsinkable” Titanic hit an iceberg and began to sink. People donned life-jackets. Some were fortunate enough to find a seat in a lifeboat. Those lifeboats proved life-savers for those who got on board. They were saved, others perished in the cold North Atlantic. Jesus is a life-boat to those “sinking deep in sin.” To trust in anything else is to remain in one’s sins. “You can’t get to heaven in a leady old boat, ‘cause a leaky old boat it just won’t float.” To refuse to “obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus” is to face certain doom (2 Thessalonians 1:8). To believe in Him is to receive God’s remedy and the abundant and eternal life He alone can give.

Pastor Jerry

Friday, April 13, 2012


John 7:46, “The officers answered, ‘Never did a man speak the way this man speaks.’”

Matthew 17:5, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; hear Him.”

The chief priests and Pharisees sent their officers to bring Jesus to them. They returned without Him. “Why did you not bring Him?” they asked. “The officers answered, ‘Never did a man speak the way this man speaks” (John 7:46).

This was the typical response of those who heard Him. He had been teaching in the temple. “The Jews were marveling, saying, ‘How has this man become learned, having never been educated?’ (John 7:14).” Jesus response? “My teaching is not Mine, but His who sent Me.” His teaching was heaven sent.

Even as a young man His words brought astonishment to others: “And it came about that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them, and asking them questions. And all who heard Him were amazed at His understanding and His answers” (Luke 2:46-47).

He knew what to say when tempted. “It is written,” He declared (Matthew 4:4). And then, agonizing in the garden, He declared, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as Thou wilt” (Matthew 26:39). From the mouth of sinners sinful words flow: “Their throat is an open grave” (Romans 3:13). But Jesus never uttered a sinful word (1 Peter 2:22, “Who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth”).

Opponents tried to trick Him or trap Him in His words. But His wisdom was too great “and they were unable to catch Him in a saying in the presence of His people; and marveling at His answer, they became silent” (Luke 20:26).

The crowds heard Him speak and were amazed: “The result was that when Jesus had finished these words, the multitudes were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching as one having authority, and not as their scribes” (Matthew 7:28-29; Cf. Mark 1:22, 6:2).

His words imparted wisdom (Matthew 13:54), confronted sin (Matthew 23), expressed love (Matthew 11:25-30), and demonstrated power (Mark 1:27, 4:39; John 11:43).

From the cross He asked for the forgiveness of those who were mocking Him (Luke 23:34). He spoke of triumph in His death (John 19:30, “It is finished”).

Not all had ears to hear (Matthew 13:10-17). He spoke of difficult matters, and on one occasion, “many of His disciples withdrew, and were not walking with Him any more” (John 6:60, 66). “Jesus said therefore to the twelve, ‘You do not want to go away also, do you?’ Simon Peter answered Him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life.’ (John 6:67-68).

Jesus speaks words of eternal life. The way, the truth, and the life speaks truth unto life to those who will hear (Cf. 2 Timothy 3:15). His Word is powerful to save and transform (1 Thessalonians 2:13). Mary sat at the feet of Jesus and listened. She refused to be distracted by lesser concerns. Jesus said of her devotion, “She has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:42). The good part, the most important thing, is to hear what Jesus has to say. What is the one thing that you know that you could do that would most benefit you in your walk with Jesus? Is it not to hear what Jesus has to say, to devote ourselves to hearing and doing His word. “Therefore every one who hears these words of Mine, and acts upon them, may be compared to a wise man, who built his house upon the rock” (Matthew 7:24).

“No one ever spoke like this man” they said. He was no ordinary Man and they were no ordinary Words. Many heard Jesus and were amazed at what they heard. Lord help us to approach Your word with a heart full of eager anticipation. Help us to be continually astonished by what You have to say. May your Word work in us endearing our hearts and engendering praise, thanksgiving, and devotion.

Pastor Jerry