Monday, January 15, 2018

Dead in 20 Minutes!

"EMERGENCY ALERT! Ballistic missile threat inbound to Hawaii. 

Seek immediate shelter. This is not a drill!"

You may recognize that message as one sent out to mobile phones and television stations in Hawaii on the morning of Saturday, 14 January. For months, our 50th state has been preparing for a missile attack from the crazy man in North Korea. Part of that preparation includes drills, of course. Apparently, there have been other drills, but this time someone pressed the wrong button, and the message exploded. It was at the time of a shift change. Someone may have gotten distracted. A few minutes later, a tweet went out cancelling the alert. At the time of this writing, we've yet to hear of the far-reaching consequences of this OOPS! moment.
A missile's trip from North Korea to Hawaii would take about 20 minutes. That set me to thinking, If I had 20 minutes to live, 20 minutes before I and everyone within miles of me would be vaporized, 20 minutes before my faith in Jesus Christ would become sight, as I suddenly saw Him Face to face, what would I do?
I would hope I wouldn't panic. Testimony from other Christians who have received a death sentence or a close call, say, from a cancer diagnosis, help to inform me about that. God often imparts an almost supernatural peace. (Search this blog to find the entries of a series I wrote a few years ago entitled The Gospel According Joe. "Joe," a friend of mine, is now with the Lord.)
So what would I do? Call people I love and express to them the depth of my love? They already know it. I have no problem telling folks that I love them. It comes naturally because God first loved me and tells or shows me so all of the time.
The first thing I'd do is call one person. He says he's an atheist. He wants nothing to do with God. He's convinced that those who follow Christ are mentally unstable. If someone tries to discuss spiritual issues, he mutters and walks away. He's cold to the Gospel.
I'd prayerfully try to contact him, praying that he'd answer his cell phone and actually listen to me--praying that, before the missile hit, my friend would repent and accept Christ. If any time remained, I'd go looking for others to tell. It would be a crisis witness, with no time to be gentle, no time to establish a relationship.
That's what I believe I would do. I wouldn't worry a whole lot about offending people in those moments. I would simply speak Truth quickly.
What would you do with that 20 minutes?

Thursday, January 11, 2018

What's to Fear?

As I consider all of my fellow believers, business owners, who are targeted by the secular religionists bent on suppressing the freedom of Christians to live out their faith, I wonder what it is about Christ followers that presents such a dangerous threat to the secular religionists? Is it our love for humanity? Our honesty? Our desire to be responsible stewards of God's creation? Our humanitarian works here in this country and around the world? Our strong work ethic? Our charitable giving? Our respect for the rule of law, the U.S.Constitution, and those entrusted with the protection of our citizens? What is it?
Sure, we're people of the Book. We live our lives according to its teachings because every word in the original languages is God-breathed, inspired. But we don't force our beliefs on anyone else. God tells us to share the Gospel, the Good News, but we do that only with those willing to listen. Even then, their response is up to them. So why do the secular religionists feel so threatened that they go on the offensive to squelch our Constitutional freedoms? Are they afraid that if we're allowed to share our beliefs with others, those who listen might begin to think for themselves; they might inexplicably start to reason on their own? Then that could possibly lead to accepting the Bible as Truth and becoming Christ followers themselves? Is that the core fear?
The question is rhetorical, of course. We know the answer.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Church Discipline: A Loving Act?

As I write this, I'm listening to John MacArthur give the most beautiful, most comprehensive explanation of church discipline I've ever heard. He's framing it as a great act of love. We know the Good Shepherd goes after that one lost (straying, also?) lamb, but through church discipline, administered according to the Scriptures with compassion, humility (for none of us are without sin), love, and truth, Father allows us to be a part of that act of drawing the wayward lamb to repentance and restoration. He does not simply let His sinning child wander farther from the Savior. That would be cruel.
Why does He let us have a part in the reclaiming and restoring of that person from our faith community? I think it gives each member of the body opportunity to closely examine his own spiritual condition. We're not to exercise church discipline to make ourselves feel self-righteous, for we have no grounds for such arrogance. We're all wretched sinners, even on our best days.
Of course, the one being disciplined may refuse to accept it. The Bible also instructs us on how to respond to that circumstance. Whatever the outcome, we cannot cease to pray.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Note: Type "The Gospel According to Joe" in the blog search window to read previous epistles.

The Gospel According to Joe: HOME AT LAST!


I'm looking upon His Face, the One Who saved me by His GRACE!

("Joe" entered the presence of our Saviour and Lord at 3:16 a.m. this morning.)

Monday, March 21, 2016

A View Toward Calvary

At the Cross
© 2007, 2014, and 2016 by Sharon Kirk Clifton

I huddle at the foot of the Cross.
My arms stretched to grasp it,
my head bowed,
eyes pinched so tightly they hurt.
Silent sobs wrack my being.

The men are gone.
The Brotherhood, save one, has forsaken the Master.

Other women stand,
lie prostrate nearby,
each alone,
I hear their weeping off in the distance,
at the perimeter of my own sorrow.

Roman soldiers stand silent,

trying to understand,
yet bound merely to duty.

cluster together and mutter into their self-righteous beards,
rehearsing their excuses.
Their mumbling blends, segues 

into the rumbling of a gathering storm.

Messiah, on the Cross, lifts His head to Heaven.
With one last lingering remnant of strength,
He pushes against the spike that impales His feet,
pulls up on the nails that pierce His wrists,
draws in a gurgling breath,
licks His lips to moisten them, to make speech possible,
And cries out to the Father Whose Face is turned away.

"It is finished!"

A pronouncement that will echo throughout Eternity.

I look up as His weary, abused head
sinks to His bosom,
where so many children had rested their heads
and received His blessing.

A drop of His vermillion Blood
rolls down one of the thorns
that comprises a crude crown.
In one interminable moment,
I watch it
I tip my face downward in shame,
knowing my own unworthiness,
yet yearning for His anointing.
That Sacred Drop
Splashes on my head and covers me o'er.

A mourning veil shrouds the sky.

Night invades midday

The Earth shakes.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Crisis in Nepal

I just tweeted:
India has Nepal under siege. Pls pray! Pls contact gov't reps to pressure India: "Lift blockade!" Ppl are dying w/o food, fuel, and medical!
Nepal recently held an election and adopted a new constitution. Because the people chose not to return their country to being declared a Hindu nation, the prime minister of India, an ardent Hindu, is enraged. Nepal is its own sovereign country, but the PM of India is bullying India's northern neighbor in an effort to force the people to renounce the constitution. He has set up a blockade to keep all supplies out of Nepal. That includes fuel, food, safe drinking water, medical supplies and trade items. Further, he is inciting border thugs to riot along the border. People are dying in the skirmishes, and millions more will die of starvation, exposure, and lack of medical care, if the blockade continues. Also, Nepal depends heavily on the tourism of trekkers and mountain climbers. They're not likely to go to Nepal if they have no guarantee of being able to get around in the country or secure supplies. Nepal is a country in crisis.

Will you please PRAY, tweet, and post on your social media platforms about this situation? Will you contact your representatives on Nepal's behalf? It's worse than the chain of earthquakes Nepal suffered earlier this year because the blockade affects EVERYONE! It's winter here; it's winter there. They have no fuel to heat their humble homes, very little food and medical supplies. I feel this very personally because my family soon will return there and soon will resume serving "the least of these," children, people they love very much, the poorest of the poor--people who are just like you in the ways that really matter.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

The Gospel According to Joe: Celebrate Me [Nearly] Home!

Today's update is brought to you by God, author of the Number One Best Seller, the Holy Bible

First a note from Joe's Pastor

My heart is overwhelmed with both joy and sadness. It is right to grieve, but I will not grieve as Joe's wife or children will—and perhaps others. I grieve as pastor, a brother in the Lord, a friend and as one of those who have been greatly impacted by Joe's influence. No one else has had a more significant impact on my adult life than Joe - particularly on my role as a husband and a father. His unity in the gospel has been a unique privilege. There's just so many times he has been used by the Lord as I have served Christ as a pastor to minister to me I don't know where to begin. For now, I simply send this to you all - the church family he has so loved. I will travel this Monday with my friend Andy McCracken to visit Joe and his family. We all would do well to read this final note - repent of our idols and seek to live in light of eternity. His idols are mine as well. I'm broken.

With a heavy heart and much hope in Christ,

Kevin R. 

I have had a great life: 57 years. A wonderful childhood, a loving family—Mom and Dad, sisters and brother, an aunt and uncle who loved me more than I can know, great childhood friends—Jim, Roger, Brett, Steve, Tim, and many more whom I can’t remember right now.
I’ve enjoyed freedom to explore, freedom to make mistakes, freedom to take risks. I have traveled to all 50 states and several other countries. I’ve taken trips to some of the most wonderful places on Earth, spent two summers running a fishing camp in Canada, made four trips to Hawaii, including one for five weeks.
I earned a master’s degree from the #1 business school in the country and exercised that knowledge through great careers spanning 35 years, leading and helping others reach their potential.
God has blessed me with a wonderful church family and pastor, great friends, amazing in-laws, a wonderful Godly wife, seven great children, two wonderful daughters-in-law, and a son-in-law who is a wonderful mate for my daughter.
For 56 years I was in great health. During that time, we built my dream house, a 6,000-square-ft. log home on a secluded and beautiful property that we named Utopia (thanks Linda for loaning us the name). I acquired tractors, motorcycles, ATVs, a powered parachute, guns, snowmobiles, and basically anything my heart desired. If it sounds boastful or prideful, I apologize. I am merely stating facts to make a point.

So what is that point? All the above were idols for me. ALL. Of my 57 years this last year with this lousy cancer has been my best! None come close to being as good. It has been the hardest and longest year of my life but I would not trade one day of it for the any of the 56 years prior.
How can this be, you might ask. Because God, through His Son Jesus Christ and with the work of the Holy Spirit, has redeemed me. He has saved my soul. He has striped me of every idol mentioned above. He has shown me that He alone is worthy of my love and praise. He has proven over and over that He is completely trustworthy. He has opened my eyes. This is my best year!

Today Hospice takes over my care. I have stopped all treatment. The side effects of the drugs aren’t worth it to me. After four different chemo regimens that didn’t work, it’s time to throw in the towel. I am so happy that the end is near for me. I won’t miss anyone or anything here because I will be in the presence of Jesus Christ, worshipping Him forever!
Obviously, I don’t know my time. Only God does, and I trust His timing. Would you pray a specific prayer with me that God will take me soon and peacefully? My prayer is tonight, but again, it is His will, not mine. But I do know He answers the prayers of the righteous. Please stop praying for my healing. I want to go Home. My wife and family are in agreement, as well.
So I leave you with this: Trust Jesus, Trust Jesus, Trust Jesus. He alone is worthy. He alone saves—not any of your good works or good intentions will get you to Heaven, but they will send you to Hell. If He can save a wretch like me with all my idols, He can save you. Trust Jesus, Trust Jesus, Trust Jesus.
If you know me and can do so, I hope you will make it a priority to come to my funeral in Columbus Indiana. It will be a great time of celebrating!
Good bye and I will see some of you in Glory.

And as always if you ever want to start at the beginning of these updates then please check out the link posted by my dear sister in Christ Sharon at

Saturday, June 6, 2015

The Gospel According to Joe: The Good News Makes a Great Day

Joe's Eighth Epistle

Today's update is brought to you by the following sponsors: College Park Church, Indianapolis; Jesus Christ, and the Holy Bible.

Yesterday, April 26, 2015, was a hard day and a great day for me. Friday I had back surgery on three vertebrae. They attempted to rebuild them. Time will tell the success of the surgery. On one of them, the surgeon had to hammer through the outer layer to get to the inside, where he said it was mush.
I am so ready to be going home, but, for now, God has me enduring. Today I go in for a blood draw to check my numbers to determine what the next phase of treatment will be. I’ll meet with the doctor the following Monday to review the numbers and discuss options. This Wednesday is my last scheduled chemo treatment; however, they tell me that I will be on chemo the rest of my life, so it simply means they will change the regimen. They want to do two bone marrow transplants, if the numbers are favorable. I am not excited about the idea but remain open to God's leading. Such a hard journey, but God is good! I will be praising God and laughing about this in eternity.
I say yesterday was a great day, because I got to hear the Good News that Jesus died for my sins to make a way for me to have a restored relationship with a Holy God—that Christ has forgiven me of my sins and has provided mercy and grace through the sacrifice of God's only son, Jesus. While I was not able to attend our church that we love and fellowship in, I was able to attend on-line our son and daughter-in-law's church at  (8 am, 9:45 am or 11:30 am). When I can't make it to our home church, this is where I go and am always blessed by the worship and preaching of the Word of God. Don't get me wrong. There is no substitute for the local church, and, if you have a church that is faithful in rightly dividing the Bible, then you should always prioritize fellowshipping, worshiping and serving there. God has so much to say on that subject. Please support your church! If you don't, won't or can't get to a church that preaches truth then I highly recommend the link above. I have others to recommend as well. (Thank you to those who have linked me to their churches).
The message yesterday was from Romans 9:30-10:13. It was directed at unbelievers and “religious” people who lack real saving faith. It doesn't get any clearer than this. Take time to listen. It could very well be the most important thing you will do in this life. My soul was so satisfied and blessed, as it always is when God's Word is taught boldly and correctly. If the Gospel is not preached boldly and honestly where you attend, find a church where it is. I can help. I am so thankful that I have a pastor who does.
Again, I thank you for joining me in this journey.
Oh God, help us to want You!

Friday, March 6, 2015

The Gospel According to Joe: Preparing for the Court Date

Joe's Seventh Epistle

Paoli Peaks, southern Indiana

Today’s update is brought to you by the following sponsors; 3/4, Anna, Bowles, Suffering, Card, and Mom.

Yesterday, February 19, 2015, was Chemo # 14. The last two weeks have been rough. I learned that Chemo treatments need to continue as my main cancer marker number has stalled out at 2.5 for the past month. It needs to fall below 1. I also learned that I most likely am not a good candidate for a bone marrow transplant because of a genetic marker I carry. I have another appointment on March 4 with the doctor to get an update and discuss future treatment options. 
Next week I have an MRI to determine if additional back surgery options are in my future. This past week was four hard days, two not-as-hard days, and one okay day. The chemo effects are building up in my body and the dynamics of how I feel continue to change week to week. I am so ready for relief one way or another. Although I am ready for this cancer to leave, I thank God every day for this lousy cancer and how He is using this to refine my faith in Him.

Anna, my daughter Lily’s best friend, celebrated her 14th birthday with a party at Paoli Peaks, a ski slope in southern Indiana, this past Tuesday, which was my one good day of the week. Anna has been such a joy to Lily and our entire family for a decade. She is a lovely young woman full of grace, kindness, joy, and smiling. We love her dearly. In fact, we love her whole family dearly. They minister to us through our local church as faithful members serving the entire body and encourage us weekly in so many ways.
Anna invited our whole family to go skiing. Even though I grew up on skis living in Iowa (I know; who grows up on skis living in Iowa?), I failed to teach our younger four children how to ski—another regret from a life sacrificed to the idol of work. So off to the slopes they go to learn from someone else.
What a perfect day for skiing! First snow of the year here and 23 degrees! No broken bones, and I was able to watch them for a couple of hours. Plus two bonuses: first, Tyler, our second oldest and now a doctor, was able to go with them. He headed home early with us to rescue his wife from finals as she finishes up her teaching degree soon from IU. So we were able to enjoy a couple hours with just Tyler, which was great. The second bonus was my getting to film Stephen, our youngest son (16), falling. He claimed it was the only time that day. To quote Stephen, “Un-stinking Unbelievable!” Somehow it was my fault, which further made my day. Happy birthday, Anna!


I am learning that every one of us will suffer. Up until this cancer, our family has had some suffering, but never to the extent we are experiencing now. Anyone who has lived long enough will testify to this truth: you will suffer. How we suffer, how we endure, and in what hope we put our trust matters, being of eternal consequence. For the unbeliever and for the fringe “Christian” (one who perhaps attends church now and then and even knows the vocabulary, but does not have an authentic relationship with Christ), suffering will result in despair and unbelief. There will be no eternal reward for them. It is so hard for me to watch and listen to those suffering without Christ. They are fighting a losing battle and are having “their best life now.” Oh, how my heart breaks for them!
I honestly cannot believe all the people that have had, are having, and will have cancer. Nearly every family has someone or will have someone fighting this battle to varying degrees. If we don't stare cancer in the eye at some point, we certainly will face some form of suffering. So how should we prepare for the events that will shake the foundations of our faith? With a sound Biblical belief system that can only come from the One Who created us, the One Who modeled the ultimate suffering by sacrificing His only, perfect, sinless Son for a sin debt He didn’t owe, the One Who proved His infinite love for us by dying on a cross to pay off our debt so that we could make peace with God the Father once and for all! God gave us Jesus. He has given us everything we need in this life and the next through His son Jesus.
What we believe matters!
In fact, it matters most. We need to prepare ourselves now. It will be too late when suffering hits. Moral fortitude, rugged individualism, positive thinking, perseverance and endurance on our own leads to death and leaves us empty and without hope. (This is no weak, watered-down hope, as we often use the word today. I hope it doesn't rain tomorrow. I hope I get a raise soon. This hope is an assurance that rests on the promises of God as presented in the Bible.) For the believer who has mourned greatly over his sin, asked forgiveness, placed his faith in the living Christ, and truly made Him Lord of his life, there is such glorious hope in the promises of God and the peace that Jesus gives—peace that will see the Christ-follower through every circumstance. That person can face suffering, assured that Jesus Christ will go with him every step of the way.
And if that suffering should bring the believer face to face with the Righteous Judge, he can know the living Christ has wiped the sin account clean with His redeeming blood, shed on the cross. Brothers and sisters in Christ, we stand firm in our faith. Christ will restore! He has promised to save to the end for a future reward with Him. Hold fast to the promises of the Bible. Be ever aware of the enemy, for Satan seeks to destroy our faith. As my good friend reminds me, “Cling to Jesus, cling to Jesus, cling to Jesus!”
For those who haven't had their sins forgiven, read the Bible (begin with the four Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), listen to Biblical teaching at a Gospel-preaching church, pray to God that He open your eyes to your sin and your need to repent before a holy, loving, just God, and run to Jesus. Friend, you will be spending an eternity in either Heaven or Hell. No sane person willingly chooses Hell, but here is the crazy thing: no one can choose God. Only God can open the eyes of a sinner. We all deserve the wrath of God. The critical starting point is to understand Who God is. Pray. Read the Bible. Pray. Read. Pray and read!


Last time I reported that I was able to sleep in my own bed. Well that was short lived as I soon found out that our bed, after 15 years, was worn out and had a huge sag in it that caused my back to ache every night. So we went bed shopping. Six mattress stores later, we bought a Bowles mattress which is made in Indiana. At last, I can get a good night’s sleep.


Recently I told you about my brothers in Gatesville Penitentiary, Texas. They continue to encourage my soul. I have received at least a hundred Cards of encouragement from friends and family since this lousy cancer. My friend Jim, who ministers to these men regularly, forwarded me a card handmade by Danny, one of the brothers, and signed by many. The card is the most beautiful card I have ever received and the notes from my brothers brought me to tears. Please pray with me for these men: DAnnal, Sebastian, Luis, Gerardo, Robert, Alex, José, Wes, Matt, Alberto, William, Ruben, Stanley, Vance, C.J., Rashid, Rick, Laredo, Cervantes, Loren, Stevie, Faluth, Leo, Clint, Keith, Goodson, Aulie , D.C., Philip, Ron, Charles, Adrien, Danny, Sammy, Jonathon, Jamie, Eugene, Ruben H., Jeremy, LeRoy, Patrick, Clayton, Oay, J.J, and Steve. I am so humbled, honored and thankful for these men who continue to encourage me in the midst of their suffering. I love these brothers and can’t wait to see them either in this life or the next!


Speaking of love, I love my Mom. She is an exceptional godly woman. She is fun, funny, smart, wise, loving, caring and has more common sense and business savvy than most people I know. I wanted to share some wisdom and encouragement she recently gave me.
OVERCOME; to obtain the mastery over or the control of.
Of course, it is not of your own doing to overcome. Is it not the Lord God who is in control of your life to cure or not to cure? You and I both know that everything happens because of His grace, goodness and mercy. Surviving the cancer is up to Him. I hope I'm not detecting doubt. Yes you do have the worst kind of cancer and the highest stage. You have come a long way since Oct. Just because your doctor said maybe you would not be a good candidate for a transplant, doesn't mean that’s final. I’m sure you must have an inkling of what Hell would be like, with all the agony, pain, nausea, tingling, sleeplessness, muddled mind, stress, anxiety, loss of strength, weakness, concern for Beth and family, tired of pills and shots and just plain weary. You have to be motivated not through the body but through the Holy Spirit. You're thinking, Sure Mom, you don’t have the cancer. Remember we are more than conquerors through HIM who loves us. Praise God you have been saved and chosen to be a child of God even before you were born. Will all the suffering you’re going through help you to realize how Christ suffered on the cross? After blessings comes the battle.
Mom    Psalm 46:10. 

 Friends, brothers, and sisters, I am praying for you as I trust in Christ alone,