Rescue the Perishing

Rescue the perishing, care for the dying
Snatch them in pity from sin and the grave
Weep o’er the erring one, lift up the fallen
Tell them of Jesus, the mighty to save
(Fanny Crosby; William Doane)

I am writing this edition of the Praiseletter on the 17th anniversary of the 911 terrorist attacks, September 11, 2001.

Watching the news this morning and viewing the solemnity of individuals at “ground zero”, reading the names of those who perished that tragic day, I am once again brought back to the shock and horror of that terrible event.

Like most of you, I remember exactly where I was when the news of the attacks began to unfold. We had just left on a tour to Washington state. Somewhere around the Colorado, Wyoming border, heading north on I-25, we began to hear reports on the radio of a plane crashing into one of the trade towers in New York.

We pulled the tour bus over to the side of the road, turned on a TV inside the bus and began to process the horror of a terrorist attack against our people on our soil.

I think for many, myself included, some of the most shocking and heartbreaking images of that day were of the people who chose to leap to their deaths from that burning building rather than endure the anguish of the consuming flames.

Those of us who witnessed the events of that day will never forget. Those who were too young to observe or understand must be taught and reminded of the historic cost of freedom that this nation has paid and continues to pay.

The death toll of the 911 attacks stands at 2,996. That’s a staggering loss! Here’s a breathtaking statistic as well; In the U.S. approximately 6,775 people die every day! Disease, accidents, crime and a number of varied reasons account for this staggering number of daily deaths.

While I wrote that last sentence, the phone rang and the wife of a long time friend called to let me know that her husband, my friend, had just passed. This is the reality of life and of death. Scripture tells us clearly: “And it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgement.” (Hebrews 9:27)

Everyone we know, everyone we see around us daily has an appointment that will be kept.

This may seem to be a dark and disturbing topic to cover in this letter, but I believe it’s imperative that we as Christians maintain a proper perspective on the reality of death so that we might live with a proper perspective of our lives as Christians and our responsibilities to those around us who are perishing.

Down in the human heart, crushed by the tempter
Feelings lie buried that grace can restore
Touched by a loving heart, wakened by kindness
Chords that are broken will vibrate once more

Continuing on the theme of “Gospel Missionaries” from last Praiseletter, I implore you to ever consider the call He has placed on each of our lives to rescue the perishing and care for the dying.

You are the most qualified person in the universe to reach someone God has placed in your sphere of influence, with the message of the gospel!

They won’t come to my concert, they won’t come to your church or perhaps any church, but because of the relationship they have with you (in God’s divine order), they may find life in Christ.

Then the question becomes, “are you prepared to share the gospel of Jesus Christ when the opportunity arises?”

In Christ, I was blessed just a couple days ago to have a conversation with the man who led me to faith in Christ. I thanked him for his obedience and concern to, all those years ago, talk to a young man who had a lot of “rough edges,” about the love of Jesus and His power to save and forgive. I also reminded him of a piece of advice he gave me early on in my Christian walk, which I now regard as perhaps the single most important piece of advice I’ve ever received.

One Sunday morning as I was making my way to sit down, my pastor (the one who led me to Christ) asked if he might have a word with me. I responded, “Yes, of course.”

During this early season of my Christian life I began to receive many invitations to come to various churches and sing and share my testimony. I was occupied many a weekend with this new and exciting ministry opportunity.

This particular Sunday morning to which I refer, my pastor gave me the following advice: “Dallas, you’re going to have all of your life to minister but only this one chance to prepare. Stay home (in church), let me teach you, disciple you and build a foundation for your life and ministry on the Word of God. Go out occasionally to develop your ministry and necessary skills, but most importantly take this time to prepare, study and grow in the knowledge of His Word.”

Too many Christians have experienced the life changing reality of the truth of the gospel because someone shared that truth with them. Yet they have not taken the time or effort to prepare and build a foundation on the Word of God so that they might present that same gospel to others.

We must be, as the saying goes, “ready, willing and able” to at any moment as the Spirit guides, share the truth of the gospel message with those who are perishing.

Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. (2 Timothy 4:2)

Rescue the perishing, duty demands it
Strength for thy labor the Lord will provide

Beck to the narrow way, patiently win them
Tell the poor wanderer a Savior has died.

My challenge in this letter to each and every one of us is to be sure we are prepared to share the wonderful saving, healing and comforting message of the gospel with those all around us who are perishing and dying.

Remember, we have each been commissioned to go, preach and disciple!

Direction for the “going” will be guided by His Word and His Spirit. The words of our mouths and examples of our lives must “preach” the reality of the gospel. “Disciples” will only be made as we build a foundation of the Word of God under their feet.

We can’t expect to replicate if we can’t articulate!

Let us each consider this an assignment to dig deeper, study more and prepare so we might effectively present the gospel to the needy who surround us every day. In so doing we will Rescue the Perishing.

Rescue the perishing, care for the dying
Jesus is merciful, Jesus will save

Gospel Missionaries

I recently had the privilege of speaking to a missionary organization. As I was preparing for our time together, I thought of the many missionaries we have known through the years. I reflected with great joy on the missionaries we have been privileged to support through the years in such far away places as China, Africa, South America and Central America. We’ve also supported missionaries here in America serving among the Native Americans, inner city outreaches and prison ministries.

I have always been impressed with the sacrifices that these chosen ones are willing to make to spread the Gospel, win souls and advance the Kingdom of God here on earth.

I’ve long enjoyed reading books about missionaries; how they grew up, how they sensed God’s call on their lives and the great adventure of surrendering to that call.

Often times and it would seem in most cases, surrendering to that unique call of service brought with it tremendous challenges, difficult circumstances and often great sorrow.

I remember back in the 60’s, hearing of a man named J.W. Tucker, a missionary to the Congo, who was killed on Thanksgiving day, 1964. I was in bible college in 1966 when I was exposed to his story by way of a slide presentation. At the end of that presentation, the question was asked, “Who will go to fill this vacancy?”

At this point, I had only been a Christian for about a year and I had never considered such a possibility. The chapel where the Tucker story had been presented was finally empty of all the students except one. Me!

‘Til the wee hours of the morning, I knelt and prayed, trying to ascertain whether or not God wanted me to prepare to fill that vacancy in the Congo.

Finally, it was as though I sensed the Lord almost laughing (just an impression I had in my mind) as He resolved for me the issue at hand.

I concluded that it wasn’t that He wanted me to go to the Congo, but He wanted to know if I’d be willing, should He so lead (pretty sure He already knew). I settled that issue right there, long ago. Yes, I’ll live my life and exercise my ministry with a willingness to respond to Your leading, whenever and wherever that may be.

In reflecting on all these things as I prepared to share with the missionary organization I mentioned previously, I thought one of the most difficult and intimidating challenges for those called to bring the Gospel (especially to unreached areas) must be in considering how to tell someone about God who has never heard about Him.

This thought took me to Romans chapter one. I know I’ve read this book many times through the years but, as is often the case, this time I saw something a little more clearly.

In the sixteenth verse of Romans one, Paul writes, “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…”

In other words, the power of God to save the lost is inherent in the message of the Gospel itself. It is not our talent, our intellect or our persuasiveness that will “win the day”.

Neither is it our competency!

Understand, we should all employ the talents He has given, the knowledge and wisdom He has imparted and with a
passionate concern, seek to persuade those who desperately need a Savior. However, these are all just tools to present the gospel.

The power to save is not in the tools but in the message of the gospel. Competency might be defined as the ability to efficiently use all the tools at our disposal to help achieve a successful outcome.

But even in this, the power of the gospel to save is not resident within the realm of competency but rather and solely within the message itself.

This should be a great encouragement and relief to us all, as we are most aware of our own inabilities and shortcomings.

None of this is an excuse to resign to do less or settle for sloppiness but rather to illustrate the difference between the presentation of the gospel and the power of the gospel.

Let me say clearly here, we are all missionaries! We have each been commissioned to “Go into all the world, preach the gospel and make disciples.”

“All the world” may mean across the ocean, across the country, across the street or across the table, but every true believer has been commissioned. About this, there can be no debate.

Whether on some foreign field or in our own neighborhood, the question remains, “How do we tell people about God
who don’t even know there is a God?”

But wait, isn’t that question perhaps flawed, in view of Paul’s letter to the believers in Rome?

Romans 1:18 goes on to say, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.” Romans 1:18-19

So God has made that which is known about Himself both evident within them and evident to them.

Question: who is the “them” this verse is speaking to? Answer: the ungodly and the unrighteous!

Paul continues: “For since the creation of the world, His invisible attributes, eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.” Romans 1:20

“Clearly seen,” “being understood” and “without excuse” are very telling statements. It reminds us of Psalm 19 where David writes, “The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.” Psalm 19:1-2

This reminds me of a story told to me by a Lutheran missionary some years ago. The missionary was on a passenger boat traveling on a river in China. As he sat on a deck chair reading his Bible, an elderly Chinese gentleman sat down beside him. At one point the Chinese gentleman asked the missionary about the book he was reading. The missionary replied that he was reading the Bible. The Chinese gentleman asked what the Bible was. The missionary responded by saying it was a book about God, His love for mankind and His purposes and plan to redeem mankind from sin. The Chinese gentleman said “So, there is a God?”. The missionary responded, “Why, yes! The Chinese gentleman remarked, “I thought so!”

I love that story, that testimony! A man who never heard a sermon, didn’t go to church and didn’t even know what a Bible was had concluded there must be a God. “I thought so!”

How can that be, some might ask. Well, Paul has just told us by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, “Because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.”

But this is not salvation! This is God going before, preparing the way, if you will.

This is God enlightening, wooing and influencing the ungodly and unrighteous.

But salvation comes by no other means then the message of the substitutionary, atoning work of Calvary’s cross.

“…And without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins.” Hebrews 9:22. This again is why Paul writes, “And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.” 1 Corinthians 2:1-2

Remember what we said earlier? It’s not the talent, intellect, persuasiveness or competency but rather the message of the Gospel. “Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”

This should be an encouragement to each of us as we realize, according to scripture, that God has already revealed Himself to the ungodly and unrighteous.

Our part or commission is to articulate, demonstrate and propagate the message of the Gospel, “For it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes.”

Remember always, we as true believers, each and every one are Gospel Missionaries.

A Tribute to Tula

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And don’t lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.”
Proverbs 3:5-6 (NAS)

No, Tula is not some sort of acronym for the previous scripture. It’s actually the nickname my mom was most known by to family and friends, though her real name was Viola.

Proverbs 3:5-6 was a favorite scripture of mom’s and often appeared on birthday cards, Christmas cards and letters that mom sent to my brother and me over the years.

Mom passed on to Heaven on the twelfth of April this year at the age of 96. I thought it would be most appropriate and honoring to her to dedicate this edition of the Praiseletter to her memory.

Viola Sophia Holm was born in Minnesota on Sept 25, 1921. She was the youngest of five children born to Raymond and Sophia Harbrecht. She married Howard Curtis Holm on June 6, 1942. Though WWII kept “Curt” and “Tula” (the names by which they were known to most family and friends) apart for a time as Curt served in the Army, they enjoyed a long and wonderful marriage of 58 years.

They raised two sons; Douglas, born Oct. 2, 1945, and Dallas, born Nov. 5, 1948. After Curt’s retirement in the mid 70’s from Sanitary Farm Dairies/Land O Lakes, they moved to Lindale, Texas.

Tula worked most of her life as an executive level secretary. She served the Lord at Praise Ministries for twenty-two years as secretary to her son, Dallas. She was always “the life of the party.” She loved to travel, camp and volunteer for everything. She loved the Lord, she loved her husband, family and friends.

In recent years she would often say, “I wish I could just go to bed and wake up in Heaven.” She did! Somewhere in the early morning hours of April 12, she passed peacefully in her sleep. Her struggle here is over. Her life in Heaven has just begun. She is survived by her two sons, their wives, four grandchildren, eight great grandchildren and one great great grandchild, born the day of her passing. She was a blessing and was blessed! (Obituary)

She was a blessing to me in more ways than time or space permit me to share.

Sufficeth to say, she was a great mom, a great example of what a Christian should be and a great model of a faithful wife and loving mother.

She was also a tremendous blessing to me and so many as she served faithfully and tirelessly at Praise Ministries.

We’ve always tried to answer all of the mail that comes into our ministry. From around 1980 to 2002, which would represent the years mom worked at Praise Ministries, I guarantee we responded to thousands of letters! Every one of those letters would have been typed by mom and signed by me. She always made sure I read them, responded, (usually by pen) then she would type them and mail them.

One of her other responsibilities at the ministry was to type and proofread the Praiseletter. Though she retired around 2002, I still think of her in a special way every time I write this letter because it was always a cooperative effort between us.

Just days ago we celebrated Mother’s Day. It was the first for Doug and me without mom. However, the sadness of loss was far overshadowed by the wealth of precious and fun memories that will forever accompany our every remembrance of her.

I want to say a sincere thank you to every one of you who took the time to send an email, a letter or card to offer your love and prayers in our time of loss. Some sent in a gift to Praise Ministries in her memory. That was such a blessing!

Mom and Dad never had much money so there was nothing for them to leave behind. But gifts were given by others at the time of my dad’s passing in 2000 and now my mom’s. These gifts, in their memories, were so honoring to the Lord, honoring to them and exemplative of how the Body of Christ comes together. Thank you!

Proverbs 3:5-6 wasn’t just a scripture mom put at the bottom of a card or letter to add some spiritual punch or perhaps a challenge to “straighten up” in seasons of our lives where that was exactly what my brother and I needed. It was a gift given, not only written but lived out by two wonderful parents who had to trust in the Lord because their resources were limited.

Though neither mom or dad were able to pursue what we now call “a formal education,” both were abundantly knowledgeable and wise because they didn’t lean on their own understanding. Rather, they gained the most valuable understanding, knowledge and wisdom from God’s Word.

God was always the top priority in our family and in our home and consequently our paths have been and continue to be directed by Him.

Mom and dad left behind sons, daughters in law, grandchildren and great grandchildren who all love the Lord and endeavor to walk the path they walked. And now, even a great great grandchild, (on my brother’s side) born the day of mom’s passing, will I’m sure, join in this family journey.

Thank you for allowing me to share a little bit of my mom’s journey and influence with you.

We had a small graveside memorial service with family and a few friends after mom’s passing. She outlived almost all of her family and close friends, so a service of some kind in a building didn’t seem necessary or even appropriate.

In this letter, however, several thousand of you who in some way have been directly or indirectly touched by mom’s life, have participated in a final “memorial service” that she could have never imagined.

Thank you again for joining our family and so many friends in a tribute to “Tula”.

Understanding the Holy Spirit

“Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” ( 1 Corinthians 3:16)

Just the title of this Praiseletter triggers thoughts, emotions and a broad spectrum of doctrinal beliefs within this readership.

Some may jump for joy as they anticipate a discussion of spiritual giftings, miraculous manifestations and what a “spirit-filled” life should look like; at least according to their doctrinal position, experience and understanding.

Others may begin to get a little nervous, fearing that we may embark on a discussion of some of the aforementioned topics. This could be somewhat uncomfortable to those who feel a little calmer just not talking too much about the Holy Spirit because perhaps they have not been taught properly who He is and what He desires.

Thus, I write this letter, most simple and yet profound in its implications as we consider just a couple key issues concerning the Holy Spirit and us.

The Holy Spirit According to Scripture

First of all and most importantly, let’s look to God’s Word.

“But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.” (Romans 8:11)

What a clear and important statement for us to grasp from God’s Word! His Spirit gives us life and so apart from His Spirit we cannot have life.

This verse speaks not only of physical life, but spiritual and eternal life as well.

So here is a most important point to understand and embrace. Every true believer is indwelt by the Holy Spirit. That may seem an obvious truth to many but I can tell you there are many who believe (in various ways) that one can be saved and then receive His Spirit at some later occasion.

We say things like, “I received Christ” or, “I asked Jesus into my heart.”

These statements are fine and attest to a very real truth but sometimes lead us to an improper conclusion.

Jesus and the Holy Spirit

Jesus said, “But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper (Holy Spirit) shall not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.” (John 16:7)

When we say we receive Christ, it is His Spirit in fact that we receive. We know from Scripture that right now and since His ascension, Christ is at the right hand of the Father.

“This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses. Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God (Acts 2:32-33)

Before Stephen was stoned he proclaimed, “Behold, I see the Heavens opened up and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God…” (Acts 7:56)

The writer to the Hebrews says: “Now the main point in what has been said is this: we have such a high priest, (Jesus) who has taken His seat at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the Heavens.” (Hebrew 8:1)

Through our terminology and perhaps a view of the famous painting of Jesus knocking at our heart’s door, we invision an image of this bearded, robed savior walking into our being somehow.

It is true He has, but it is by His Spirit.

God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit

This easily opens the door to a lengthy discussion of the Triune Godhead. Time and paper do not permit that just now.

This we know from Scripture: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Each a separate person with a distinct function, if you will, within the Godhead, yet each fully God.

Toward the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry, He gives every true disciple a clear and powerful commission: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and Son and the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 28:19)

If you do not believe in a Triune Godhead, this would probably be a good time to fold up this letter, place it in the file of your choice and maybe see if there is something good on TV.

Yes, it’s rather sarcastic humor but I’ve heard and read all the best arguments of the “non-Trinitarians” and find them to be lacking biblical support and scholarship.

How Much of the Holy Spirit Do You Have

Some say, “Christians have the Holy Spirit, but sometimes, they don’t have all of the Holy Spirit.”

This then begs the question, “How much of the Holy Spirit do they have?” Sixty-two percent, ninety-three percent or maybe just twenty-seven percent?

The Scripture always refers to the Holy Spirit as a person and understands Him to be just that. Indwelt by a partial person of the Godhead does not make “biblical sense.”

Perhaps a more legitimate question is not how much of the Holy Spirit we have, but rather how much of us the Holy Spirit has.

We can approach and discuss this point in so many ways but here’s what Scripture desires that we know and affirm: one of the absolute greatest moments in biblical and human history is when God decided to literally dwell within us by His own Holy Spirit.

Fully God in mortal man
This was His eternal plan
Temples made of flesh and blood
Never more of stone or wood
Holy lives His glories show
Heaven reaches here below
Holy Spirit, You have come
Make us more like God’s own Son

The Holy Spirit Dwells in You

As a true believer, it is absolutely essential that you realize the Spirit of the Living God dwells in His fullness within you!

Scripture says, “However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him..” (Romans 8:9)

This verse makes it clear. If you do not have His Spirit, you don’t belong to Christ. But if you do belong to Christ, you therefore have His Spirit.

Is there more to be discussed about the Holy Spirit; His ministry to and through us? His giftings? His ministry as Helper, Teacher, Comforter? Yes, to be sure, but none of those things will help us to grow as we should in Christ and be conformed to His image as He desires, unless we understand He dwells within us fully by The Holy Spirit!

Christmas Memories

I don’t know why exactly but it seems this holiday season, more than any other, I have been flooded with memories of past holiday celebrations.

As I write this letter, I am rejoicing being able to walk down the stairs from our bedroom, sit in a chair in my studio and write to you.

Reflecting on Seasons Past

Shortly before Thanksgiving, I had a low back disc issue which laid me out flat for almost two weeks. Pain night and day like I’ve never experienced before. I don’t share this to solicit your sympathy (though your continual prayers will be greatly appreciated) but rather to let you know that through this painful experience I had lots of time to think.

I tended not to think too much about big and complex issues because the sheer bulk of these more weighty matters seemed to only add to the pain.

With the holiday season literally at our doorstep, I found myself reflecting on seasons past with oft accompanying laughter that released endorphins to perhaps, in a small way, mask some pain.

“A merry heart does good, like a medicine.” (Proverbs 12:25)

One of my first holiday recollections was of a Thanksgiving my family, along with grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins, had celebrated together many years ago when my brother and I were just young boys.

I shared this story through Facebook over the Thanksgiving holiday and perhaps you’re already familiar with it. You know, the one where the baby chicks my brother and I were given at Easter became part of the Thanksgiving meal some months later.

This, of course, being announced to me by a cousin as I was about to bite into my second piece of fried chicken! Oh well, they were cute when they were little and tasty when they were older. I guess that’s a good thing.

But that was Thanksgiving and now we’re staring Christmas right in the face. How did it come around so quickly?

All I Ever Wanted For Christmas

I remember when I was a boy it seemed as though Christmas would never come, especially those last couple of weeks.

At Christmas time, I would wear that Montgomery Ward catalogue out. I could find the toy section in an instant and then within the toy section, I would flip immediately to the electric train page.

Oh man, all I ever wanted was an electric train. Usually, there would be a picture of a Lionel train, an American Flyer train and then a Marx Toys train of some kind.

I wanted a Lionel that had real smoke, a whistle and a light. Maybe if my folks saw me enough times glued to that page of trains they’d get the hint.

I remember once I picked up the catalogue to “assume the position” on the train page because I thought my dad was about to walk by. To my shock, the train page and several other of the toy pages were missing; ripped out it appeared! “It must be my brother!,” I thought.

Later, I was to learn (and I can’t say how) that they had been ripped out in response to a higher calling than a boy’s silly dreams. They found their way to our outhouse which was 50 feet or so behind our little dwelling.

The train page was gone and my life, it seemed, had gone off the rails!

I never got that Lionel train and that’s ok. A little later in life, I realized my parents could not have afforded such a toy. They did eventually get me a Marx Toys train, which I cherished greatly and still do.

Yes, I still have it and it still runs. Maybe I’ll set it up again this Christmas.

Christmas Memories

When I was a boy, we celebrated Christmas with lights, trees, and even Santa.

Now I know there are some who have great disdain for this kind of pagan ritualized celebration and I respect their right to that opinion.

But somewhere through all the trees, tinsel and turmoil, my brother and I clearly understood it was all about Jesus.

We understood it most clearly when we went to my Aunt Lorena’s house to celebrate their Christmas.

When you walked in the front door of their beautiful home, your eyes immediately went to the large Christmas tree with a literal sea of presents cascading out from beneath.

For my brother and I it was kind of a good news/bad news scenario. The good news is that there was going to be a grand display of Christmas present opening. The bad news was that it was their Christmas celebration for their kids and grandkids. We would be onlookers, pretending to be overjoyed at the wonderful gifts our cousins were receiving but really kinda wishing we were home opening our own.

We might get a book or something, but I only saw that as a possible tunnel for my hoped for Lionel train to go through.

But I digress…

The Most Important Present of All

The first and most important thing that happened before all the gift opening was that we all had to sit down quietly around the tree. Do you know how hard that is for a bunch of kids that have already eyed their gifts and can’t wait to tear into them?

Aunt Lorena would say “Now everyone, before we open presents for ourselves, we’re going to open the most important present for Jesus.”

Then Aunt Lorena would have one of her grandchildren, usually the youngest capable of reading, find the envelope with Jesus’ name on it. The child would bring the envelope to my Aunt Lorena, and she would beam with a joy that would not be equaled the rest of the evening.

She would then remind us that this was Jesus’ birthday we were celebrating and that every good gift comes from Him.

We would sing “Happy Birthday” to Jesus, then Aunt Lorena would open the envelope and explain to us where the generous check inside was to be designated.

Many a missionary and ministry around the world received a wonderful gift on Jesus’ birthday.

When I was little, I guess I kinda thought Jesus got the short end of the stick. All the kids got boxes of presents, toys, and gifts too wonderful for words, it seemed. Jesus… just an envelope!

But as I grew and came to know Christ, I realized that Aunt Lorena had it all figured out just right.

It really is so much more blessed to give than to receive. (Acts 20:35)

Christmas Memories…

It’s been a joy to share some Christmas memories with you. I hope they brought a smile to your face. Perhaps, you were also in need of the release of some endorphins!

Most of all, I pray you have a blessed Christmas. And as you celebrate this holiday in the right spirit, always remembering that it’s Jesus’ Birthday, I pray that you too will make rich, joyful and lasting Christmas memories.

Dallas Holm Website Top 10 Products for 2017

As the new year is coming to a close, it’s a great time to reflect on the year that God has blessed us with. 2017 really has been an amazing year and I’m eternally thankful for the ministry God has given me. To reflect on 2017, my team went through and put together a list of the 10 most popular items from our website during 2017.

Atop the list is the Words of Hope & Comfort Book & CD Set, followed by Good News Blue CD. If you are still doing some Christmas shopping, these would be some great gifts.

It is my hope that our music and words will provide you with encouragement and joy as God closes another year and welcomes us into 2018.

Without further ado, here are the top 10 products for 2017.

The Thanksgiving Chickens

This morning, as I was thinking about the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, I remembered a particular Thanksgiving from many years ago. But to set up the memories of that Thanksgiving past, I must begin with Easter.

A Thanksgiving Story that Began on Easter

When my brother and I were just kids, our folks bought us little baby chicks one Easter. They were really cute, soft and fun to play with. We put them in a cardboard box with a lamp overhead for warmth. With sawdust on the floor of the box, some water and feed to nourish them, I guess we thought they had it pretty nice.

Of course it didn’t take long for them to grow, become a little less cute and quite frankly, more of a burden than a blessing. We finally put up a little chicken wire fence in the back yard and our visits to the chickens were more a duty than a pleasure.

Finally one day my dad said, “Boys, let’s take these chickens down to Ray and Jane’s where they can be cared for better.” My Uncle Ray and Aunt Jane lived on some acreage down near the Mississippi River. They had lots of geese and chickens, so it was a perfect situation.

Now, fast-forward to the Thanksgiving past to which I referred earlier.

Some of my best memories are of family gatherings, especially down at Uncle Ray and Aunt Jane’s. Uncle Ray was my mom’s oldest brother. My mom also had a sister and another brother. All her siblings were married with children so we really were one big happy family. All our cousins along with my brother and I would enjoy running around their woods, chasing the geese or canoeing up the river.

But this one particular Thanksgiving, with all our family gathered together around Ray and Jane’s table, offers up only one clear and lasting memory.

Yes, we had turkey and dressing, cranberries and sweet potatoes (which I hated as a kid). But Aunt Jane made the best fried chicken in the world and would always have some available.

Somewhere into about my second piece of chicken, my one cousin (Ray and Jane’s youngest boy) asked, “Hey, how do ya like that chicken?” I said it was great. I hoped that was the right answer ‘cause I feared he might beat me up or something if it wasn’t! ‘

He said, “It ought to be great, you guys raised it!”

Suddenly it began to settle into brother’s and my mind that we were eating the Easter baby chicks!

My Uncle Ray yelled out in his deep, loud Marine Corps voice, “Judas Priest!! Don’t tell that to your cousins!”

But it was too late, we had been told and suddenly Aunt Jane’s chicken didn’t seem quite as good as other times.

All of That to Say This

So, what’s the application of this story at this time and this Thanksgiving?

I’m not sure. It’s just a vivid memory. I can clearly see my grandparent’s faces, all my uncles, aunts and cousins. I still don’t know who or what Judas Priest is and I still love good fried chicken.

I think it’s all about the memories. My grandparents, my uncles and my aunts who gathered around the table that memorable Thanksgiving have all passed. Only my mom remains, at the age of 96.

In just a short time our family will gather together around the Thanksgiving table. Linda and I will be the grandparents. Our children and their spouses will be the uncles and aunts. And our grandchildren will be the cousins who will be running around, playing and making memories.

I have nothing but good memories attached to every Thanksgiving holiday in my life. Only once was the chicken a little sub-par, but even that only enhanced the memory of a great family time.

This Thanksgiving, slow down just a little. It’s really not all about the food, the football and all the fuss. It’s about family, fun and finding new memories.

Take it all in, every face and every moment. Become like a great HD video camera, recording everything for future reference.

Of all the effort that’s put forth to create a great day of Thanksgiving, let’s make sure the greatest effort is to create wonderful and lasting memories!

Be My Shelter

As I reflect upon the lyrics to Be My Shelter, written some twenty-seven years ago, I can’t help but think how many, even now and in recent days, have in a very real sense lived out those verses.

BE MY SHELTER
I have watched the storm clouds gather on the horizon
I have listened to the distant thunder roll
I have felt a stronger current in the ocean
I have felt a stronger current in my soul
I have felt the earth tremble beneath my feet
I have heard the breakers crash upon the shore
I have seen a stronger wind begin to gather
I have heard the raindrops pounding on my door
(Be My Shelter Through The Flame 1990)

Finding God in the Storms of Life

Many find it difficult to see God’s hand in such overwhelming circumstances. Whether in nature’s fury or in “the storms of life” as we say, can God be found in the midst of the storms?

There’s a relatively obscure verse in an often overlooked little book in the Old Testament that I believe may help us answer the question. The book of Nahum says: “In whirlwind and storm is His way, and the clouds are the dust beneath His feet.” (Nahum 1:3)

The context of this verse is God’s judgment against Ninevah. Ninevah had responded to His prophet Jonah approximately one hundred years earlier, repenting and thus avoiding destruction. However, they did not continue in a repentant attitude and now the prophet Nahum is once again warning of their certain demise.

In prophesying of God’s power, Nahum reminds the Ninevites that, “The Lord will by no means leave the guilty unpunished.” (Nahum 1:3)

Should we then deduce from this that God’s storms are only to punish the wicked? A brief recollection of several accounts from scripture should influence us otherwise.

Noah and his family were used to showing us that humanity could be saved and blessed in the same storm that punished the wicked.

Jesus walking on storm-tossed seas gave the disciples and gives us an insight into the true Master of the Universe.

A severe storm was necessary to give us the comfort we receive from Jesus’ “Peace be still” moment. The Psalmist writes, “He causes the vapors to ascend from the ends of the earth; Who makes lightning for the rain; Who brings forth the wind from His storehouses.” (Psalm 135:7)

God is in the Storms and in the Calm

In all of this, I hope we see that God’s sovereignty is realized every bit as much in the storms as in the calm. His pre-determined eternal purposes come in thunder and silence, In clouds and blue skies, In rain and in drought.

I love the end of that verse in Nahum; “The clouds are the dust beneath His feet.” In other words, what we might refer to as clouds in life’s storms are actually the evidence of His presence. They’re the dust beneath His feet.

I know there have always been storms, earthquakes, wars and rumors of wars. However, I must say that as I look at North Korea, Iran and elsewhere; as I see nature literally groan (as scripture said it would) with birth pangs toward a new heaven and new earth; as I observe the signs of the times in light of God’s Word, I must conclude, The Day of the Lord approaches swiftly!

All the earth is groaning
Waiting for the Day
Find me to be faithful
Lead me in The Way

As Christians, I believe we should see and discern in all of these things our ultimate destiny; In His presence forever!

I can almost hear the host of Heaven singing
I can almost feel the power around the throne
While I wait to make that final distant journey
And until I finally make that place my home

Be my shelter, be my sanctuary
Spread Your mighty loving wings and cover me
Be my Savior from the adversary
Be my ever present help in time of need

In Christ,

Dallas Holm

P.S. Let’s remember to pray for those who have been devastated by the hurricanes and be willing to always do what we can to be His helper in time of need.

It’s God’s Will

If in all of life’s journey, the smooth stretches as well as the rough, we could assess and conclude it’s God’s will; what peace, joy and comfort we would possess!

Unfortunately, we have too often been taught or influenced to believe that God is in the “good” and the “easy” but not so much in the “difficult” and “trying.”

However, one thorough reading of the story of Job will assure us that all his circumstances, both tragic and triumphant, were under the absolute control and dominion of God Almighty.

I know through the years I have often quoted Oswald Chambers. Perhaps some of you think My Utmost for His Highest is the only book, aside from the Bible, that I’ve read. I assure you, though I’ve read that classic book many times, I have read many others by various authors.

But once again, I find one of his quotes so timely and pertinent to the occasion of this letter.

“There is a distinct period in our experience when we cease to say – ‘Lord, show me thy will,’ and realization begins to dawn that we are God’s will, and He can do with us what He likes. We wake up to the knowledge that we have the privilege of giving ourselves over to God’s will. It is a question of being yielded to God.” (O.Chambers)

A thorough grasp of the essence of this quote could and should bring such peace and simplicity to our lives.

When scripture says, “Fret not thyself for tomorrow…” (Matthew 6:34) it actually means just that! When Paul writes to the church at Philippi, “Be anxious for nothing…” (Philippians 4:6) he is encouraging believers to trust that their prayers offered in thanksgiving, minus anxiousness, will produce “The peace of God which surpasses all comprehension…” (Philippians 4:7).

Put simply, all we really have any control over is our relationship to Jesus. And if we are rightly related to Him, then wherever we are is where He has us. If we only feel we’re in God’s will when things are going “smoothly” then perhaps we might determine that we’re not in God’s will much of the time.

I don’t know about you, but it seems to me much of life is challenging, as scripture assures us it will be. Again, let’s look at Matthew 6:34. Some translations say: “Therefore do not be anxious for tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (NAS)

Wow, what encouraging words! Every day will have trouble! Try to get an audience for that message on the average Christian TV station. If that’s true, (and God’s Word says it is) then believing that trouble or difficulty can’t be part of God’s will, could only lead one to believe that every day we will be out of God’s will, at least to some extent.

How troublesome a concept!

Or we can believe that no matter what befalls us, as long as we are rightly related to Him we are not only realizing God’s will but as Chambers puts it, “We ARE God’s will.”

In Paul’s concluding remarks to the church at Philippi, he writes: “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; and in every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.” (Philippians 4:12)

Then from the confinement of a Roman prison, guarded and restricted, he writes: “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)

To those who may have questioned the journey and circumstances of Paul’s life and ministry, and to those who may question the journey and circumstances of our lives and ministries, may it be clearly stated: It’s God’s Will!

“This is from Me,” the Saviour said,
As bending low He kissed my brow,
“For One who loves you thus has led.
Just rest in Me, be patient now,
Your Father knows you have need of this,
Tho’, why perchance you cannot see-
Grieve not for things you’ve seemed to miss.
The thing I send is best for thee.”

Then, looking through my tears, I plead.
“Dear Lord, forgive, I did not know,
“Twill not be hard since Thou dost tread,
Each path before me here below.
And for my good this thing must be,
His grace sufficient for each test.
So still I’ll sing, “Whatever be
God’s way for me is always best.’”

Author Unknown

In Christ,

Dallas

P.S. Linda continues to improve though it’s a slow, steady process. Please continue to remember us as well as our ministry in your prayers. We love you and appreciate you so much. May God bless you richly!

Finding Peace in the Midst of a Storm

“And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
(Philippians 4:7)

This verse of scripture was sent to us by a couple different friends as Linda and I prepared to fight another round against the cancer that has challenged us for almost thirty years now.

Perhaps you’ve already heard and if not, I will share with you that on February 23rd, following an MRI, we discovered Linda had a tumor on her brain. That same day we met with her oncologist and scheduled an appointment the next day, February 24th, with a brain surgeon.

The surgeon showed us the scan, highlighting the upper right and rear part of her brain where the cloudy mass was located.

Without going into the full discussion on the specifics of the surgery, what they might find and what risks might be considered, let me just say, it was a lot to take in. And then the decision to operate on Monday morning, at 10:00am, in just two days!

It seemed so much was happening so fast and yet we were both struck with a sense of peace in the midst of this sudden storm.

This Was More Than About Us

I think it was Saturday morning as we were preparing to leave the house to go to the hospital for some preliminary lab work, that we both, independent of one another, had this clear sense that this wasn’t just about us.

Yes, we would learn great depths of God’s grace and faithfulness as we always had during these times of testing. But, there was a different and unique sense that this was for and about others as well.

Linda has always said, “When you go through these difficult stretches of the journey, you take everyone you love right along with you.” How true!

We Are Made Strong in Our Weakness

The first verse I ever learned, the night I became a Christian was:

“I beseech you therefore brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.” (Romans 12:1)

Linda and I have often prayed through the years, “Lord, help Yourself to our lives; use us whether in strength or weakness for Your glory.”

I’ll not take the time, space or energy here to address those who proclaim that the Christian should never be sick, never suffer and never be tested. Scripture clearly teaches us that we dwell in corruptible bodies, we will suffer at times and the testing that these seasons of physical, emotional and even spiritual challenges present is the very thing that “fits” us for kingdom service.

These “seasons” teach us how to comfort those we will meet in their affliction, with the same comfort with which we have been comforted.

Scripture says, “Fear not,” fret not thyself, and “be anxious for nothing.”

These admonitions must work in these crucial times of testing or they will work nowhere!

Oswald Chambers says, “All of our fret and worry comes from calculating without God.” I love that, and it’s so true.

Joy in the Time of Sorrow

In all this, Linda and I just want you to know, there really is a peace that passes our understanding and it does guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, even when all evidence to the contrary would seek to influence us otherwise.

I wrote the lines to the chorus of I Have Hope some years ago that say:

I have joy in the time of sorrow
I have peace in the raging storm
I have faith that Jesus holds tomorrow
I have hope, I’m resting in His arms

I will tell you, those lines have a much deeper meaning for us now than when I wrote them. Those words are true for us and by God’s grace they will be true for you!

God Continues to Perform Miracles

Linda did have a tumor removed from her brain at around 10:00am, Monday, February 27th. It was the same breast cancer she’s dealt with for years.

The surgeon got all he could see and said he would recommend some follow up pinpoint radiation.

Linda’s spirit, attitude and cognitive abilities never suffered one bit from the surgery. She spent a couple weeks in rehab getting her left arm and leg to cooperate a little better. They improved daily and I’m confident that by the time you read this letter, she will be home and doing wonderfully.

She’s an amazing woman! And don’t misunderstand, we believe in a miracle working God who could instantaneously remove every cancer cell from her body. We will continue to pray as we have for almost thirty years now that He will.

But He has performed a miracle. Linda is a miracle! She was diagnosed stage 4 nearly twenty-five years ago, and she just keeps on going for the glory of God.

Remember what the Apostle Paul wrote:

“My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness. Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” (II Corinthians 12:9)

Early on in this present ordeal, our daughter Jennifer texted us another verse Paul wrote that encourages us to be:

“…joyful in hope, patient in affliction and faithful in prayer.” (Romans 12:12)

We have been joyful in hope, patient through the process and prayer without ceasing has been our mainstay.

And in these things we have found Peace.