Don’t be a Groupie!

John 3:27-28

John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven.

Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before Him.

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A quick review: My last post in John’s gospel was on Saturday the 28th. There was a debate, apparently, between John’s disciples and some Jews over the subject of purification. Then some of John’s disciples came to him and pointed out that lots of people were going to Jesus for baptism, instead of to John.

Here we have John’s reply: Everything he had was a gift of God, including those who responded to his ministry. People who responded to Jesus were to be received with thanksgiving, and not with criticism. John was completely clear that there was to be no division between his followers and the followers of Jesus.

John then reminded his loyal followers that he had told them before that he, himself, was not the Christ. He was the messenger, the forerunner, to proclaim that Christ was coming. He did not try to elevate himself above Christ; he did not, in false humility, deny the calling that God had put on his life. He simply went about doing the work he was called to do.

I’ve been thinking about John’s statement here for several days. If we would all simply do whatever it is that God has called us to do, not elevating ourselves or calling attention to ourselves, there wouldn’t be so much division and dispute among believers. We fuss and fume about things we just ought not to even be discussing. I’m not talking about points of doctrine here, or anything God’s Word very clearly defines.

I’m talking about the apparent need we have to raise ourselves above others in our service to Christ. Our tendency to follow the latest hue and cry that some famous preacher, speaker, or writer has been teaching, and raising that person (without his knowledge or consent) to a level far above most other believers.

After all, if he/she is famous and has thousands of loyal supporters, he/she must be right. Right? And we should get on the bandwagon. We tend to become groupies–to align ourselves with fame and power.

I’m not terribly fond of bandwagons. I’ve seen to many “greats” become full of pride and self, and come tumbling down from the heights to the depths of ignominy.

That won’t happen if we simply do what God has called us to do, and quit worrying about what someone else may be doing.

Am I saying that if we simply follow God’s call, we will never suffer? No, of course not. But we will not be pulled into the trap of money, fame, adulation and worldly praise. We’ll go about our work until Jesus comes, or God calls us home.


The holiday season, starting with Thanksgiving, always makes me a bit nostalgic. Most of my memories are good, warm, fun; filled with laughter good food, friends, family. There are, of course, some that are outstanding.

One that comes to mind, because this Christmas marked our 50th as a married couple, is the first Christmas after our first child was born. He was only four months old, but he was totally fascinated with the pretty decorations, the lights, and the pretty music. How do I know he liked the music? Because he waved his chubby little arms in perfect time to it. And he still loves music 🙂

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We took him up to Iron River, MI, that Christmas. His Kreger grandparents were so excited. Mike was the first grandchild on both my side of the family, and Terry’s. Having little kids, even infants, makes Christmas all the more special. Maybe that’s because the very first Christmas, even though it wasn’t called Christmas yet, was all about a Baby.

There were Christmas trips to South Carolina to visit my parents. One memorable trip stays in my mind. We were in the mountains, and it was growing dark. We were driving an old van, and Terry had been concerned about some mechanical issues, and he traveled with tools stowed in the back. Our four teens were stretched out on mats and blankets, dozing off and on. And then it happened. In my memory, I think it was a broken timing chain. I could be wrong. But it wasn’t something Terry could fix with bubble gum and safety pins 🙂

I don’t remember if someone stopped to offer help. This was pre-cell phone, so I’m pretty sure it was either another traveler or perhaps a cruising police officer. In any event, we got a tow into the nearest town, where there was a garage still open. The owner kindly agreed to help us, and he worked while we snacked on vending machine junk food. It was fully dark by the time we were back on the road, due to the help and kindness of strangers. We could have been stranded for two or three days if people hadn’t been willing to help us.

Christmases with the grandchildren haven’ t been frequent, because there’s a lot of distance. But for the last 15 years or so, we’ve been able to enjoy Christmas with our daughter and her family. When I think about it, how fast they’re growing up, I hold each season of the year, not just the winter holidays, especially close to my heart.

I don’t know how many more Christmases I’ll enjoy before the Lord takes me to heaven. Each one will be treasured because of the One we honor; because of family and friends, because of memories of Christmases past.

Who knows, there could even be a great-grandchild sometime in the next few years 🙂


John 3:25-26.

Then there arose a question between some of John’s disciples and the Jews about purifying.

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 And they came unto John, and said unto him, Rabbi, He that was with thee beyond Jordan, to Whom thou barest witness, behold, the same baptizeth, and all men come to Him.

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The baptizing work that both John Baptist and Jesus did during this period seems to have been a continuation of John’s habit of baptizing those who repented of sin and gave their lives to living separated from sin.

We don’t know the specific nature of the dispute between John’s disciples and the Jews, except that it concerned purification. Some of the Jews may have felt that only the priests could perform a rite of purification; they did not recognize that John was sent by God. And of course, they didn’t recognize Who Jesus was, either.

John’s disciples complained that “everyone” was going to Jesus for baptism. This is much the same as our tendency to say, “Well, everyone else is doing so-and-do,” in an effort to justify our own behavior. John’s followers were apparently protective of him, and felt that Jesus was, in a sense, poaching on John’s territory.

They, too, clearly did not understand yet Who Jesus was.

I think it is interesting, in this passage, that there was already dissension among followers of John and of Jesus, trouble in the church before the church was even established.

Psalm 133:1-3.

 “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!

It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments;

As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the Lord commanded the blessing, even life for evermore.

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Baptizing Work of Jesus and John

John 3:22-24.

After these things came Jesus and His disciples into the land of Judaea; and there He tarried with them, and baptized.

And John also was baptizing in Aenon near to Salim, because there was much water there: and they came, and were baptized.

For John was not yet cast into prison.

Jesus and His disciples had traveled south into Judaeah (Judea), where they stayed for a time. He preached and taught and baptized there.

In the meantime, John the Baptist was still working just south of the Sea of Galilee, where there was plenty of water, and was baptizing people there. The exact location of this place is arguable, but it isn’t the place as much as the work he did that is important.

He had not been arrested and imprisoned yet, but the time was drawing near.

I’ve often wondered if John knew his time on earth would be short; if he was aware that prison awaited him, and probable execution. Perhaps he was so zealous because he did understand that his time was short, but that’s just supposition on my part.

In any event, these three verses serve as a transition from the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry near His home town of Nazareth, to the more southern reaches of Israel where He spent a great deal of time.

The Gospel of John focuses on Jesus’ work in Judea, while the synoptic gospels tend to talk more about His work near Galilee. This is not a contradiction; it is simply a difference of focus because of John’s presentation of Jesus Christ as the Son of God.

Walk in the Light

John 3:20-21.

For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.

But he that doeth truth cometh to the Light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

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I’m using John 3:20 again because the contrast is so important. In verse 19 we learned that men love darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil.

The next verse, verse 20, elaborates on that theme. Those who do evil hate the light. They do not want the light to expose what they do under cover of darkness. Darkness is the friend of evil because it covers their evil deeds.

I’ve lived long enough to remember a lot of evil. Some of it wasn’t exposed until years later, but sometimes it was done in the light and discovered quickly. I’m thinking of the assassination of John F. Kennedy, for instance. I was not a supporter of JFK, but his murder was indeed evil. What we need to remember, though, is that the planning and working out of the details was done in secret. There are still theories out there, never proven, about who was really behind his death. Lee Harvey Oswald was the one who pulled the trigger, but we are still “in the dark” about who was behind the entire plan.

There are other examples, but this post is not for the purpose of bringing any more attention to the perpetrators of evil.

My point is that we all–even those who claim to be Christians—are guilty of hiding our sins under the cover of darkness. Or, as is true of some things that used to be considered crimes, we legalize them so we don’t have to hide any more. What we forget is that when sin becomes legal, we lose just a little bit more of our conscience as a nation.

What do I mean? Well, I remember a particular western TV program that my dad loved. But one night, one of the characters used a four-letter word. Dad got up and switched off the TV (no remote controls yet–this was in the early 60’s) and we never watched that show again. There was a lot of pushback from viewers, but it didn’t matter. The choice had been made that the show should be more “realistic.” And a chip of good moral conscience in our nation broke off and was crushed.

Now, you can scarcely find a TV program or a movie that isn’t full of profanity, and the F-Bomb has become the only adjective that some people know. And it all started in the darkness of some editing room when a producer or director or editor decided not to cut the language out.

What sins do Christians hide under cover of darkness?

Pornography. Adultery. Reading material that is impure and poisonous. I don’t really think I need to go on. So much of it has to do with sexuality, which is what Satan first poisoned when he tempted Eve, then Adam, to disobey God. The very first thing they noticed after that moment of disobedience was that they were naked. It had never concerned them before. So they stitched together some fig leaves to cover themselves, and they tried to hide from God as the evening twilight fell.

It didn’t work then, and it doesn’t work now. A day of reckoning will come, in which every one of us will answer to God for what we have tried to hide under cover of darkness.

The good news is v. 21. When we do that which is right and good, we have no need to hide. We can live outside of the darkness, and walk in the Light, because He is the Light.

Some people feel that living such a goody-goody life is boring.

I have never found God to be boring.

I have, however, found that to knowingly choose to hide in darkness leaves me feeling ashamed and as if I need a bath.

Walk in the Light. You’ll never regret making a choice that you can do in the light.

Christ, the Savior

Merry Christmas! As we honor the birth of Jesus Christ, may we humbly remember the real meaning of this day. Amidst all the wrappings and gifts and feasting, the laughter and time set aside for family, may we never lose sight of the reason: Christ, the Savior, is Born!

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Light and Darkness

John 3:19-20.

And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.

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JESUS is the Light of the World (John 8:12). The Light came to the world, and some received the Light. He is still the Light of the World, and some still receive Him.

But even His own people, the Jews, as a nation, refused Him. They wanted a great king who would overthrow the oppression of Rome, but Jesus was nothing but a Nazarene, a carpenter, of no account when it came to matters of importance like whether or not they should pay taxes to Rome.

In spite of clear prophecy; in spite of His miraculous works; in spite of His fulfillment of Old Testament scripture, His own people refused, as a nation, to receive Him.

They preferred to stay in darkness rather than to step into the Light. The Bible tells us that men love darkness rather than light because, in the darkness, their evil deeds are hidden.

We shouldn’t be surprised but such a concept. We know very well that when we want to do wrong, we prefer not to have a bright light shown on us. We prefer our sinful behavior to be hidden, because we want others to think we’re something we are not.

What we forget is that Jesus IS the Light. We cannot hide from Him.

Proverbs 20:27. “The spirit (conscience) of man is the candle of the LORD, searching all the inward parts of the belly (the hidden things of the heart).

He sees. He knows us. The amazing thing is that still, He loves us and continues to offer salvation through the shed blood of Jesus, and His resurrection, if we will only believe and receive the Light.

Sometimes I grow so weary of the evil that is perpetrated in our country, and around the world, in the name of what is right. We have become so tangled in lies and accusations and counter-accusations that it’s hard to find the truth.

God knows. He understands why we want to do things under cover, in dark basements, secretly and away from the light. The day will come when all of us will answer to Him for our refusal of the Light, and the evil deeds we pursue under cover of darkness. There will be no way to avoid the Light when that day comes.

All of us need to stop and consider what we do in secret, thinking we’re hiding it from God.

Nothing but the Blood

John 3:18. “He that believeth on Him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the Name of the only begotten Son of God.

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The first question people may ask is, “But what about those who have never heard the gospel of the saving grace of Jesus?” That is a separate question, and the Apostle Paul deals with it quite well in Romans 1 and 2.

This passage has to do with those who have heard the gospel, but who have rejected it purposefully. Those who came into contact with Him, and with the Apostles, who had seen Him and walked with Him, have no excuse. Some rejected Him then, and they are answerable for that rejection.

What is the condemnation to which they are subject? The Greek word for condemn, used in this context, has a strong sense of judgment by a higher authority; punishment with no parole.

In other words, anyone who refuses to accept the salvation offered freely to all, with no condemnation at all, will suffer the consequence of that choice. They will spend all of eternity in hell, with no chance of escape.

“Oh, God is cruel!” No, He absolutely is not! Over and over, in both the Old Testament and the New Testament, God has outlined the importance of blood sacrifice for sin. He established clear boundaries with clear consequences that were clearly understood by His people.

The glory of the New Testament is that Jesus, wholly God and wholly man, became the blood sacrifice that not only covers sin, as animal sacrifice did in the Old Testament; it cleanses sin, washes it away, never to be brought back to our account.

The sin we’re talking about here refers to the the sin nature with which every human being is born. It is that nature to sin, passed down through all mankind from Adam (Romans 5:12), which is redeemed, cleansed, forever forgiven when one comes to repentance and salvation at the foot of the old rugged cross.

Sunday Morning Coffee: Family

Christmas and family. This week our family from Germany came in on Tuesday evening. They’ll leave on Monday morning to go on to Ohio to be with Janan’s family on Christmas day. It’s been so good to have them here. It’s just three of them, now that Victoria and Ethan are off living their own lives now. Time goes so fast. Mike is sitting here talking about classmates who are now grandparents. Kind of makes me stop and think, for sure.

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It’s sock weather. Warm socks, and if you’re like this group. colorful socks. I’m wearing some, too. Saw my cardiologist yesterday, and he encouraged me to start wearing compression stockings to control the edema in my ankles. They’re warm, and really quite comfortable. Now I need to find some that aren’t white, though. Not quite ready to look like Granny Grunt in public 🙂

I taught my homeschool co-op class on Friday, and those students have become like family. I sure do miss them when they graduate, but it’s always great to see them when they come home for Christmas break.

Tomorrow we’ll be with our church family, something we look forward to every Sunday. We wish we could be more involved, but the 40-minute drive limits us a bit, especially now that we both have some difficulty driving in the dark.

Wednesday, we’ll be with my daughter and her family. It will be a relaxing day, especially once she gets the always delightful meal on the table and can take a little break.

I’d love to see my South Dakota family, but that will have to wait until summer. And my son and daughter-in-law in England. Hard to tell when we’ll manage to get together with them. So much distance. My kids didn’t ask me if it was okay with me that they all moved so far away!

So–wishing you all a very warm and Merry Christmas this week. May your days be merry and bright 🙂

God So Loved

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved.

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John 3:16 is without question the most beloved, most-used verse in all of scripture to direct people to salvation through Jesus Christ.

Whom did God love?

He so loved the world. He did not wait for all the people of the world to love Him. His love was offered freely to all, not just to His chosen people. He offered His love while it was still the world, that is, the whole system of the world. Economy, education, religion–all the major world systems. He loved in spite of the corruption of all the systems of the world. Remarkable.

The idea that God loved not only His chosen people, but ALL the people of the world, was revolutionary to the Jews, who believed they alone were the object of God’s love. And He SO loved: loved immeasurably, loved without limit.

How did He show His love?

He gave His only Son as a blood sacrifice to cleanse the world of sin. How could that be? The atonement for sin had to be perfect, spotless, without blemish, without sin. That is why He was born of God.

The atonement for sin also had to be born of a human, to share the human condition, to suffer in our place for the sin that was placed on Him. The Bible says that He became sin for us ( II Cor. 5:21). He suffered, in His humanity, as we deserve to suffer.

That whosoever believeth in Him: Salvation is available to all. II Peter 3: 9 says, “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”

Should not perish: To perish, in this context, means to lose eternally the available relationship with God, and to spend eternity in hell, with no further chance at redemption.

But have everlasting life: Everlasting life is eternal life with God, in a place we have difficulty imagining even with the descriptions we have in God’s Word.

God did not send His Son into the world to judge, or condemn, the people of the world. God sent Jesus into the world to provide salvation , to provide a way of escaping the condemnation of hell.