Saturday, April 22, 2006


Have you noticed a growing absence of songs about the Blood and the Second Coming in our churches today?

What a loss.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006


High in the green mountains of Vietnam, the Hmong tribe gathers for the ritual. They will ask the spirits to purify and protect the people.

The witch doctor gathers the villagers into a tight body-to-body circle. Gongs and drums and chants fill the air and fill the senses. Almost hypnotic.

The villagers begin to feel that they are blended together into just one chanting, dancing, undulating body.

The witch doctor takes up a long cord. He encircles the entire group and ties the rope into one large, confining circle.

A few steps away from the circle is the sacrifice. It’s a chicken.

One swift hack with the machete and the chicken’s blood gushes.

Quickly, the blood is sprinkled over the people in the circle. Parents make sure the blood touches their children.

The chanting and undulating tempo increase to a fevered pitch.

To complete the ceremony, the witch doctor makes a circle of the blood around the roped-in tribal circle.

A great shout and the ritual is over.

The blood had been spilled.

The blood had been applied.

They were now pure.

They would be protected from evil.

This ancient ritual began along ago. Even before the land was called Annam or later called Indo-china—before any missionary ever made it into these highland with the message of the cross.

Yet again we see undeniable truth that embedded in the hearts of men—deeper than consciousness—is the awareness that it is the blood that saves.

They’ve got it almost right.

But it is the wrong blood.

Hebrews 4:10 makes it clear: “For it is impossible that the blood of bulls and of goats (or chickens) should take away our sins.”

Hebrews 9:12 gives the answer: “Neither by the blood of goats and calves (or chickens), but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.”

They are so close.

Who’s going to tell them and help them make it all the way to Truth?

Sunday, April 16, 2006


I'm not afraid of tomorrow--God's already there!

Monday, April 10, 2006


Since the slaying of Eden's animal to provide the covering for the garden-leavers' sins, blood has always been the currency of redemption.

Through all millennia, rivers of blood have streamed from the veins of sacrificed animals onto temple altars. The pattern, indeed, the need for the blood, the awareness to the power of the blood is embedded in the human heart deeper than conscious understanding.

Knowing the blood comes from a much deeper place than the mind.

From Adam to Noah, children and children's children saw the blood's atoning role.

The devil hates the blood.
In hellish burlesque he mocks the blood. Not content with just the blood of animals, he demands the crimson price from men's own veins--a just price for sinner men to pay had it not already been paid by Calvary's blood of God's own Son.
On Calvary's cross the most horrific, yet holiest of all deeds climaxed God's plan for redemption sinners' souls.

Truly, the devil knew that Calvary defeated him. And just as truly he shakes his fist at God and says, "Yes, you win, but I'll make you pay every drop of the blood-price."

And, again throughout the millennia, a river of blood--human blood--has soaked the earth.
I have stood at the places of the blood.
At Rome's coliseum I heard history's echoes of the crowd's roar of delight as gladiators and beasts sundered believer's bodies.
I've walked the Waterloo sod where more than 70,000 died in one battle. Europe's cobblestoned and forested battle sites still bear the scars bloody World Wars.
I've dodged the traffic on London's streets and alleys where Hitler's bombs once killed thousands.
It seemed I could still hear the screams and smell the smoke at Breendonk and Dachau--part of Hitler's "final solution" slaughtering 6 million Jews.
I can still smell the rancid, sour-sweet smell of Corregedor's Malinta Tunnel in the Philippines. I can feel the cold marble of the grave marker crosses in the American War cemetery in Manila. And the same stone crosses that remember slain American comrades in Luxembourg.
I remember the grasp of tiny hands, the sobbing pleas of the children on Cambodia's killing fields where haters spilled the blood of 2 million people.
And then there are my days in Vietnam--both before and after the war's bloody end. The blood of 3 million Vietnamese and 58 thousand Americans soaked that tiny land. They tell me that here at home three times as many American war veterans have poured out their own blood in suicide.
Then I walked through the children's ward of the Viet Duc hospital in Hanoi, Vietnam where medical professionals didn't even have aspirin to ease a fever.
My emotions still swirl as I recall standing at the killing tree in the Congo jungle where believers, black and white, were butchered. Or standing on the banks of the river where they threw to the crocodiles the body of a boyhood hero of mine--martyred missionary Tucker.
Most of the time my mind lives in Zimbabwe and Swaziland and Mozambique where about half of the 3000 AIDS orphans we take care of are HIV themselves. Once you hug them you'll never forget their fevers--or their eyes.
At the Incas' altars of human sacrifice at Machu Picchu high in the Peruvian Andes I dealt with my own attempts as a young man to defend my atheism. I claimed that the Christian Eucharist was but a grizzly rite borrowed from the ancients. Peace came to my soul when I realized that it was the other way around--the pagan's blood rites and cannibalism are in fact the devil's device to warp and twist that "blood-consciousness" that was passed down from Adam and Noah.
In a tiny village on a Haitian mountainside, I saw the starkest display of the devil's hatred of the blood.
It was a cross about a foot high.
On it was a crucified rat.
The rat's blood-soaked the wood.
The devil's voodoo priest had mocked God's Son's blood in worship of the devil.

Christianity has become uncomfortable with the blood and espouses a bloodless redemption, a feel-good religion. The sanctuary used to mean the place where the blood is. Without the blood it is but a haven for whitewashed minds and unrepented hearts.

For a world awash with violent blood of pain and evil there remains that healing flow of Calvary's crimson stream--a stream of the forgiving, redeeming, healing blood of Jesus.
It's an unending flow "drawn from Immanuel's veins and sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains."
Appreciate again with me the old songs of the church that so often tell about the blood. Bathe your mind and soul in their sweet refrains.
Old and wonderful words are even now sweeping over my soul.
"Oh, precious is the flow,
That makes me white as snow.
No other fount I know,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus!"

It's all about the blood.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

The Man With The Whip

I did it.
I'm the one.
I'm the man with the whip that lashed the back of the Son of God.
Even now, after all this time, when I close my eyes I see the blood, the torn, bleeding flesh of God Incarnate's back.
And I weep.
As a Roman soldier it was not the first lashing I'd ever given, but this one was different.
Come back to the moment and relive it with me.

Pilate just ordered the scourging of the Nazarene. I'm uneasy about this and I fear that my commanding officer will order me to do it.
The officer is nodding toward me. I salute him my obedience.
I must do it.
Normally being the lichter doesn't bother me. I know I am executing the just penalties of law breaking.
But this one is different.
I know this Man's reputation. They say He has done only good things--that He has done miracles. They even say He's the Son of God.
Can it be true?
Am I about to punish God's own Son?
My mind reels. It feels like my soul is fleeing my body and leaving a dank, foul cavern inside me.
But if I disobey the order, I will be the one to receive the lashes…
The whip in my sweaty hand is heavier than it's ever been as I walk toward the Man. He is looking at me and it's taking my breath away.
It's never been like this. Normally they are trembling and their eyes glare with fear and hate toward me.
I want to look away but that would show weakness.
"Stop looking at me!" my mind silently screams at Him.
No fear in His eyes. It's rather like He is feeling sorry for me.
"I can't do this!" "You must!" my mind battles.
"I'll just go easy on Him," I think as I bring the cat-o'-nine-tails down the first time.
"Soldier!" my commanding officer shouts. "Harder! He must be taught the power and justice of Rome."
The Man is looking at me again. His eyes seem to give me permission to continue--like this was something that has to happen.
Fellow soldiers are counting out the number and cadence of the strokes. It's all just a blur of lashes and blood and torn flesh--and His eyes.
He never cries out during the whole beating.
The scourging is over and one last time I look at Him.
The eyes again. He isn't saying anything. But, I'm sure His eyes are saying, "I forgive you."
All I can think of now is to get away. That foul cavern inside me wants to erupt and spew out the bile of this wretched deed.
"Run. Find a place to gain control of yourself."
I throw down the whip and run.

They are taking Him away now. I hear the crowd chanting, "Crucify Him! Crucify Him!"
I see where we are going--out to the garbage dump at Golgatha.
And again it's all a blur of hammer "thunks" and nails and blood and screams--not His but from those two criminals beside Him.
I can't turn away. He's telling one of the men beside Him, "Today thou shalt be with me in Paradise."
I begin to know Jesus must really be the Son of God--our Savior.
How can I bear the weight of what I have just done?
He's saying something again. He's calling upon His Father.
"Father, forgive them for they know not what they do."
It stuns the crowd.
He's lowering His head and opening His eyes.
And our eyes lock again.
This time I know they are saying, "I forgive you, son."
I know I'll never forget what I have done, but neither will I ever forget the warm balm of His forgiveness.
It's over now. He has surrendered His spirit into the Father's hands.
A sun-darkening storm has come suddenly with torrential rain and violent lightening.
Over by the Temple is a great commotion. Somebody shouts, "The veil is rent! The Holy Place has opened up!"
I'm trying to ask my commanding officer for permission to leave. He doesn't even acknowledge my presence. And then I discover he is experiencing the same awesome moment of forgiveness I did.
"Truly this man was the Son of God." he says

Right now there is a holy hush of awe in my office. In a few moments I'll be going to one of the Sunday AM services at Healing Place Church where thousands of friends will celebrate that same forgiveness that the soldier and the Centurion and I have known.

I've just reread these words. When I got to the place where the soldier threw down the whip, a crushing thought came.
Too many times I have picked it up--I've been the man with the whip.
Every time I have sinned my sweaty hands have reached for the whip and punished God.
Authors often assume the identity of their subject to sense more fully the emotions of an event. They call it writing in the “first person.”
I wasn't prepared for the stunning awareness that I was, indeed, that first person.
Too heavy for me, this weight of guilt.
Too heavy, that is, until once again I hear Him say, "Father, Forgive."
Thank you, Awesome God!


I just heard those words in a new way. I’ve been watching The Visual Bible’s video dramatization of the crucifixion events. Pilate just asked the mob what they wanted done to Jesus.

“Crucify Him!”
“Let His blood be on us and our children.”

My next thought startled me. That’s the same prayer I pray. “Cover me, cover my family with your blood.”

So different in intent, their words and mine, yet so alike in ultimate meaning.

They did not know that their words carried such prophetic importance. The words have now, to me, become one of the most poignant descriptions of the plan of salvation.

What they snarled out as a curse, in fact, became the only thing that could redeem them and their children from sin’s curse. The very blood their hatred spilled and cursed would atone for their grizzly deeds that caused it to flow.

All they and we have to do is ask.


Did some of them avail of that forgiving blood? I can’t know but I think so. I do know about the thousands that were added to the church at Pentecost and daily thereafter.

I do know that countless martyrs mingled their blood with His in Rome’s Coliseum and Circus.

I do know that more martyrs have mingled their blood with His in my lifetime than the combined totals of all 2000 years since Christ’s death until my birth.

Brutal slayers still curse their victims’ blood and the Blood they preached. Yet, Calvary’s Blood will still cover their sins—if they but ask.

Not with snarling, cursing hate, but with a thankful heart I say, “Let His Blood be on me and on my children!”

Saturday, April 08, 2006


What a night this is.

I read your Book, Jesus, and I know what happens in a few hours. You do too.
This night is the last checkpoint before the awesome plan of salvation crafted in Heaven unfolds.

It is the Eve of Redemption.

You chose a garden, familiar place, a quiet place you had been to many times. Two thousand years later I visited this place and saw olive trees so ancient they had known your presence. Of all the historical holy sites, Gethsemane remains the most emotional to me.

I know you told your disciples what was coming. What did you feel as you walked into this garden with them for this last time?

You could tell they didn’t really sense the urgency and finality of the moment. Did you wonder if you could really trust them with your mission? Would they rise to the occasion and carry your message into all the world?

I know you knew the end from the beginning, but you are also God and have the power to alter events however you wish.

When you slipped away deeper into the garden you asked them to pray with you. You knew their weak flesh would drowse them into sleep.

Maybe I understand this. You knew what they would do based on your foreknowledge, but you still gave them the option—even though they’d disappoint you.

How many times have you done that very same thing for all of us? You always let it be our choice even though you knew what choice we’d make. And because you didn’t intervene and over-ride our choice, it can be said you ordained it to happen the way it did.

How alone you must feel just now as you walk on to your praying place.

This is it.

The plan of all ages past and for all ages to come has come to this very moment. It’s decision time.

Is your mind reeling with the myriad of alternatives that you as God could ordain?

I remember that when the religious leaders brought before you the harlot they had caught in the act. You were teaching in the temple. They interrupted your teaching and presented you with what they thought was a brilliant trap. Jewish law required one thing, Roman law another and they asked you what should be done to her.

You are bigger than any logical box man could put you in. You surprised them with a third option. Faced with their own sin-guilt they just walked away and abandoned their charges.

Surely right now you can think of another way to redeem my soul.

You know Judas’ kiss is coming tonight. His name and action will evermore be the symbol of betrayal.

But you could stop it.

Vain little men with puffed up egos are going to stand in mocking judgment over you. One word and legions—ten thousands of angels--would come to your defense.
You could rise up in your God-ness and thunder out, “I am God!” and destroy every human imagination against you. But if you do, man will know you as God, but we won’t know you as our Redeemer who is touched by the feelings of our infirmities.

The body you are in is just as human as mine. You know the beatings by whips and sticks, the nails, the thirst are coming. Don’t you already feel the pain?
Beads of sweat on your face tell me of the inner battle you now fight.

The crown. What a cruel device. You know the acute sting of a thorn stab.

This night marks the border between time and eternity for your begotten body.

Did those great drops of blood on your brow escape into the present from the thorn wounds that will come later on tonight across this blurring edge of time?
Right now you are totally aware of the unmeasurable weight and pain of evil and sin. It’s no wonder you groan. In a few hours you’ll be carrying it to the cross. No wonder you will stumble under its load.

“O my Father!” Your cry shatters the garden silence and pierces my soul. I’ve never seen such pain.

“If it be possible, let this cup pass from me.” You say “if.” If there is another way…

But surely, even as you say it, you know there will be no other way. Every offered sacrifice—all the way back to the first atoning sacrifice in another garden called Eden—depends on your decision tonight for its meaning and efficacy. Your death, your blood, will be the atoning empowerment of your peoples’ sacrifice and prayers. Every sinner’s appeal to your blood from now on depends on this night.
You know you must.

“Nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.”


It’s done!

Even as you said it, I could sense the immediate calm in you—and in me. That cleansed feeling of every new believer was born with the one word, “Nevertheless.”

This night’s drama will unfold rapidly. Within hours it will be over. Confessed sins will forever be forgiven. Broken bodies will be healed.

And Lie’s head will be crushed.

You will say, “It is finished!”

Friday, April 07, 2006


It was a minor skin abrasion. Just a scratch.
My knee must have hit the dash of the car when we had the wreck a few days ago. (If you haven’t heard, Jean and I were in a highway collision that totaled both cars and should have killed us. Jean and I and the couple in the other car are fine.)
A week later that minor abrasion turned into a fiery red infection running from my knee down my shin—scary for diabetics. Diabetes can keep wounds from healing which can lead to amputation.
We all prayed. Some of you knew about it and prayed.
Children’s Cup Swaziland Medical Director Teresa Rehmeyer gave me some topical and oral antibiotics.
Today is the third day that the infection has abated and is going away—marvelously quick for one with diabetes!
I have never viewed prayer and medicine as adversaries and I surely know God is the author of healing by whatever means.
This wonderful healing started at Calvary—His bleeding wounds healed mine.
What a merciful, awesome God we serve!

Monday, April 03, 2006


It’s all been different since the accident a few days ago that nearly took our lives.
Jean and I face each day and event knowing that we would have missed these days and events if God had not saved our lives.
The green mountains have never been more beautiful.
Jean’s arms have never been more thrilling to me.
The Sunday morning service in an African church was glorious.
Sunday dinner with good friends, Ben and Susan and our grandkids was so perfect, and the setting in a rustic mountain inn was idyllic.
Computer messaging with our staff back in America is so immediate and helpful.
Real-time pictures of son Dan’s children on computer chats almost cancel the distance between us.
We have never been more vividly aware of God’s goodness to us.
It could have all been taken away in just a blink of the eye as our car and another smashed together at a highway intersection.
But God!
Jean and I are looking back over nearly four decades of serving Jesus overseas as missionaries. What awesome things God has let us see and do and be part of. We often ask each other, “Who do we know that has such a blessed life as we?”
What grandparents do we know that get to spend half their time in beautiful, challenging Africa hugging their grandkids and watching them grow up in Swaziland?
And then we get to be in America the rest of the time, hugging our grandkids in Louisiana and Iowa—and fellowshipping with the awesome, generous donors who share their financial strength with us enabling Children’s Cup to honestly change thousands of little lives.
Our children are all serving Jesus—and they are raising our grandkids to know Him and serve Him, too.
When I was 10 or 11 years old I had a part in our church’s Christmas play written by our pastor’s wife, Juanita Meyer. My lines included Mathew 6:33. “But seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you.”
It’s been part of my life ever since.
Right now I’m very aware of how often I did not “seek first” yet for every time I did He has filled these days of my life with joy beyond belief.
Who would not want this kind of life? Only the ones who had never been told about it and that it could be theirs, too.
“Lord, Jesus, Jean and I pledge you a new intensity and unfailing effort to tell all we can how great it is to live for You!

Sunday, April 02, 2006


If you want to go fast—go alone.
If you want to go far—go together.