Author Archives: Dr. Grover B. Proctor, Jr.

Billy Graham (1918-2018)

The elder Billy GrahamToday we learned of the death of Billy Graham, lauded by many as the greatest Christian preacher of the 20th century. He died at his home in Montreat, located in the beautiful mountains of North Carolina.

During the many decades of his evangelizing around the globe, broadcasting in all media, authoring books, and being the unofficial “Pastor to the Presidents,” his effect on the spiritual life of the entire world was incalculable. Never afraid to hold up a mirror to sin, Graham unabashedly and fiercely called everyone to repentance.

From the church pulpit or the podium inside a 50,000-seat coliseum or in city streets and parks, he had a powerful and polished speaking style, to say the least. He was able to bring emotions up to peaks of joy and expectation of God’s love, and take them down to the burning conviction of our own sins. Tears were common at his revivals, even from seemingly tough, steel-hardened men of the earth and the factories. When Mr. Graham believed that the audience had been fully convicted of their need for repentance and salvation, he would invariably issue an altar call, which usually brought huge numbers of penitents and converts.

But any outsiders looking into one of these arenas (or viewing a television broadcast, appropriately titled The Hour of Decision) would be totally in error to conclude that Mr. Graham’s ministry comprised only emotion and fervor. Anyone reading printed transcriptions of his sermons would immediately conclude they were theologically as well as logically sound, based on doctrines straight from Christian orthodoxy. His emphasis was always on examining oneself, the act of repenting, accepting the saving grace of God, and living a life in which one’s relationship with God is the most important thing in the universe.

Mr. Graham was a keen observer of the issues of the day, but his interest in them was solely limited to a Christian perspective. Trying to classify him as Left, Right, Conservative, Liberal, Democrat, or Republican (or any other similar label) was as nonsensical as trying to assign a gender classification to the Sun. Case in point — We would all do well to deeply consider this prayer of Graham’s which summarizes his view of this nation and the world:

Billy GrahamHeavenly Father,
We come before you today to ask your forgiveness and to seek your direction and guidance.
We know Your Word says, ‘Woe to those who call evil good,’ but that is exactly what we have done:
We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and reversed our values.
We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery.
We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare.
We have killed our unborn and called it choice.
We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable.
We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building self-esteem.
We have abused power and called it politics.
We have coveted our neighbor’s possessions and called it ambition.
We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression.
We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment.
Search us, Oh God, and know our hearts today; cleanse us from every sin and set us free.

Mr. Graham lived the Christ-centered doctrines of love, repentance, and forgiveness that he preached. He told it like it was, even before that became a thing. And he was uncompromising in his Christian views on even the most controversial topics. A prime example was his early stand on issues related to the country’s racial problem.

    Billy Graham & Martin Luther King, Jr.

  • At a 1953 Tennessee rally (think about that date!), he himself physically tore down the ropes that the organizers had put in place to keep the audience racially segregated. When confronted about his actions, Mr. Graham informed the organizers that they were to leave the barriers down “or you can go on and have the revival without me.”
  • He once warned an all-white audience “We have been proud and thought we were better than any other race, any other people. Ladies and gentlemen, we are going to stumble into hell because of our pride.”
  • As documented by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, “Billy Graham and Martin Luther King, Jr. experienced a unique friendship that dates back nearly 60 years. In the summer-long 1957 New York Crusade, the two friends took the stage together in Madison Square Garden and boldly took a stand to help end segregation in the United States. ‘I think both Dr. Graham and my father were trying to make the world a better place,’ said Bernice King, daughter of Martin Luther King, Jr.”

This morning, Mr. Graham joined all of “those who sleep in death” awaiting the Resurrection to eternal life as Paul described it throughout his writings.* Though parted from this life, this great modern evangelist has left a legacy of preaching total submission to God, abject repentance for sins, undeniable certainty of God’s grace and our need for forgiveness, constant service to our brothers and sisters, and the daily calling to mirror God’s love to the world.

We need that today perhaps more than ever.

A Tribute to Billy Graham (5:51)
The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association

“When we reach the end of our earthly journey, we will have just begun.”





1 Comment

Posted by on February 21, 2018 in Today's World, Worship


Tags: , ,

Jewish Insights, or Why We Shouldn’t Mess with Abraham

It is a great spiritual pleasure for me to introduce you to an author (a Jewish believer in Jesus as “the Jewish Christ”) who says the goal of his work is to “comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable in all areas of life.” You may or may not agree, but I think the first century Christians would most certainly have approved of that approach.
Eli Lizorkin-Eisenberg books
He is Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg, and the adjacent photo shows the covers of his two latest books, Jewish Insights Into Scripture (2018) and The Jewish Gospel of John: Discovering Jesus, King of All Israel (2015).

The books were written for both lay-Christians and scholars alike, and they arose out of the author’s observation that, all too often, Christians’ understanding of both the Hebrew scriptures and the New Testament has been clouded by “centuries of Western tradition and interpretation.” Writing in a precise yet understandable style, “Dr. Eli” (as he is known) pulls back the curtain and helps contemporary Christ-followers understand how the scriptures were understood by their original audience – up to and including the first century Christians.

Released just this month, Jewish Insights Into Scripture is a compact volume comprising 50 short (usually one page) essays designed to deepen our appreciation for familiar Bible passages and enhance our understanding of verses many of us have found difficult to interpret.

Over the last year, Dr. Eli has been emailing versions of these knowledge-rich nuggets to his mailing list, about once a week, and I confess that I search my inbox daily to see if his latest has arrived. I have yet to find one of them that either disappointed me or that did not make me want to research further and know more.

Dr. Eli is President of, and a professor at, the Israel Bible Center in Israel, which offers a steadily growing number of online, self-study courses in the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament, leading to a Certificate in Jewish Studies. Typical responses from students have praised the program’s “passion for the word of God,” calling it “not only engaging but also contagious” – and stating that it “reignited my passion for study of scripture!”

As part of its marketing for the study program, the Bible Center is making available a free unabridged eBook (.pdf) copy of Jewish Insights Into Scripture on their website. If you are interested in purchasing a bound copy, you can find how to do that here. (You may also download an abridged eBook (.pdf) copy of The Jewish Gospel of John – 86 out of the book’s 276 total pages – from them, as well.)

I have reproduced below the first of Jewish Insight‘s essays, to give you the flavor and feel for its content, style, and approach. I think you’ll find it fascinating, and certainly a thoughtful addition to your knowledge and understanding of Scripture. Below that, I have placed a video interview of Dr. Eli, in which he discusses the mission and goals of the Israel Bible Institute in greater detail. Enjoy!

Don’t Mess with Abraham!

Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

Genesis 12:3 is a very well-known verse: “And I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse.” That sounds clear, but a very important nuance is lost in translation.

The Hebrew verb meaning “to bless” is  לְבַרֵךְ  (levarekh), from the root  ב-ר-ך  (B-R-Kh). This root is connected to the concept of a “knee,” and thus implies rendering service to someone (i.e., bending the knee). Hence, one possible meaning of the divine statement could be, “I will serve those who serve you!” To “serve” implies doing good for someone, bringing benefit to a recipient – thus “blessing.”

In the second part of the verse God promised Abraham that “the one who curses you”  מְקַלֶּלְך  (mekalelkha) will in turn “be cursed”  אָאֹר  (aor). Notice that this promise (or threat!) uses two different words that are both translated as “to curse.” The first of these,  מְקַלֶּלְך  (mekalelkha) comes from a root connected to the idea of “lightness” (as opposed to “heaviness”). The second word,  אָאֹר  (aor), derives from a completely different root that means something like “to utterly destroy.”

Taking these Hebrew insights into consideration, an alternative possible translation of this famous verse might be as follows: “I will do good to those who do good to you, and the one who makes light of you I will utterly destroy.”








Tags: , , , , ,

Live this Year ‘Wholeheartedly’


“He said: Yehovah God of Israel, there is no God like You in heaven or on earth,
keeping His gracious covenant with Your servants who walk before You wholeheartedly.”

—2 Chronicles 6:14 (HCSB)

Wholeheartedly by Allison T. Cain 
The calendar has flipped over to the New Year, the time we all think about beginnings, resolutions, and annual plans. If God and our relationship with Him are not at the top of all our 2018 lists, no doubt you’ll agree that some major re-think is in order.

I suggest in the strongest possible terms that a great way to keep God first — 365 days of the year — is to live the year Wholeheartedly.

Christian author, motivational speaker, Bible teacher, devotionalist, and passionate-yet-humble Ambassador of Christ Allison T. Cain has now given us her seventh book, Wholeheartedly: A Chronological Journey through the Bible in One Year. You may not know it yet, but you will be wanting a copy. Here’s why.

Most of us have, at some time, toyed with the idea of using one of the many “Bible in a Year” volumes to read the Scriptures in 12 months — and no doubt some have successfully done it. But as Allison has discovered, reading it in a way that allows you to follow the exact order of the history of God and humans gives both captivating revelation and motivating theology. As you can see below, she believes this to her very core:


Allison T. Cain

Allison T. Cain

“Reading the Bible chronologically has made me want to dance like David in pure abandon, without a care of who is watching and throwing every bit of energy, love and might I have into worshiping our Creator. Not only has it opened my eyes to another incredible and easy way to study scripture, it has given me a deeper understanding of the thread God has woven through history since He created Earth and man. It’s given me an appreciation and eye for Him in my daily life and world events. It’s not that I ever doubted God’s existence, power or attention to detail – it’s just that sometimes I put Him in my “human” box when He is so much more – so much greater. I sometimes simplify the greatness and forget to look at Him with the awe, gratitude, praise and adoration that I should.”


Allison does two major things in Wholeheartedly which, in my view, set this book apart from any other similar volume:

First — Making the Case for Reading the Bible Chronologically
Before turning things over to Allison for her enthusiastic take on this concept, let me set the stage for how this reading Plan differs from others you may have seen. Most “Bible in a Year” Plans give you readings that comprise some chapters in the Old Testament, more from the New Testament, an average of 3 Psalms or so a week, maybe a Proverb or two, and that’s how you proceed. Reading various and scattered parts of Scripture is wonderful, because we know all of the text is inspired by God (2 Timothy 3:16). But the myriad and varied subject matters you are asked to absorb each day in this sort of Plan can be disjointed and hard on the concentration. There is often no logical flow to the daily selections or thematic glue that binds them together.

A Chronological “Bible in a Year” Plan, on the other hand, does just what the name suggests — it selects and arranges the readings in the order they happened — from Genesis (“Let there be light”) to Revelation (“Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!”). And suddenly, the one entire, linear, and complete Story of the Bible becomes a true page-turner! The warnings God sends through the Prophets emerge logically from their historical context. Seeing how it grew out of the Babylonian captivity and events thereafter, the Judean social and religious backdrop with which Christ had to contend is much more easily understood, when one immediately follows the other.

If this sounds like you are being encouraged to “read the Bible out of order,” then I have not done well explaining the concept. But fortunately, Wholeheartedly‘s author does a great job. Take it away, Allison!

       “It’s a story. I know we already know that, but there is something about reading the story in order that makes it so much better! Imagine reading one of your favorite books out-of-order. Things just don’t make as much sense and are more difficult to grasp and understand (i.e. history timeline, descendants, story lines). I’ve been so excited about ‘the story’ at times, I’ve completed a week’s worth of reading in one sitting because I couldn’t put it down.”
       “Imagine reading in 1 Chronicles about David, all his struggles, sins, etc. when what comes next is the Psalm he wrote during that time. The Psalms are even more beautiful and full of meaning when they are put into the context of David’s life and trials.
       “When you read the Bible in order you have a fresh glimpse into how God’s hand REALLY is in every detail. It’s not just a saying anymore. It’s real. You see His hand at work as each leader or King gains or loses his power. You see how God raises up the shepherd’s son and understand how it all ties together.”


Full disclosure: my wife and I read the Bible chronologically at the time that Allison did, and the three of us eagerly compared notes throughout the year. I can truthfully say that her ebullient description of the experience is right on target.

Second — How to Read the Bible Chronologically
The first help Allison gives you is the invitation to make two choices — (a) which Bible translation you prefer to use and (b) which reading format works best for you. The great thing about the way it is approached here is that, while Allison provides her own suggestions for each of these two choices, Wholeheartedly walks with you, hand-in-hand, regardless of what decisions you make.

When Allison first read the Bible chronologically, she read it in a translation she’d never before read — the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB). She found the HCSB to be a superb, highly readable, painstakingly accurate translation into modern 21st-century English. Her suggestion is that you use the HCSB for your Bible reading, and I agree. I use it exclusively, except when I am comparing translations. (More on the HCSB in “Additional Notes” below.) But the versatile strength of Wholeheartedly is that it marries seamlessly with whatever your preferred translation is.

The second choice you have is how you will make your way through 365 days of historical reading of Scripture.

  1. Do you want one single book which contains the entire Bible, published in the order of your daily readings?
  2. Or would you prefer a slimmer volume that lists which chapters are assigned to each day of the year, allowing you then to go to your favorite Bible and read them from there?

Option 1: If you choose the first option, there is a book titled Reading God’s Story: A Chronological Daily Bible by George H. Guthrie. This one volume contains the complete text of the HCSB Bible, rearranged into the chronological order you are seeking. There’s no skipping around needed; you just read page after page straight through until the year is over. Allison supports this book’s approach: “I pray you will consider purchasing a chronological (HCSB) Bible as you begin this study.” (More on this book in “Additional Notes” below.)

Option 2: This option, which I urge you to strongly consider, is exactly what the book Wholeheartedly is all about. It provides a rich treasure of Allison’s personal commentary and reflections, ample set-aside space for your own note-taking and journaling, as well as the entire chronological listing of your daily readings (divided into each week’s seven daily readings). In this slim 120-page, easily portable volume, you find the readings for that day, go to your own Bible (whichever translation you wish to use), and read.

Regardless of which reading Options you choose, Allison gives you structured and thoughtful places for you to write your own musings, questions, discoveries, journalings, and notes, to be kept for your own future consideration.

And perhaps the most important part of the book — second, of course, to Scripture itself — are Allison’s myriad short, enthusiastic, and devotional Bible studies, pulled and expanded from the thoughts she recorded during her own chronological year. Here’s how I see the value of these writings in particular, and the book in general: If Scripture can be thought of as our Teacher and Coach, enabling us to learn truth and to climb higher and closer to God, then surely Allison’s heartfelt, God-centered reflections are like having our BFF-in-Christ sitting next to us, praising God with us, sharing insights and delights, urging us on, and cheering our progress.

Here’s an example of what you’ll find throughout the book in her personal, joyous, God-centered writings. It’s an excerpt from her thoughts about Genesis 2:1-3:

       “So, as you begin this adventure through the story of God, please consider that the creator of the Universe, the one who knew you before you were born, the one who knows every hair on your head, loves you and walks with you daily wants to sit down with you. How quickly would you drop everything on your calendar and pull out your credit card to buy a plane ticket if your favorite band, movie star, president or author called to have you over to their home for dinner and conversation?
       “Well, your Heavenly Father created this whole Universe, He’s the top dog, the CEO of Life, the Alpha and the Omega. He is the one who holds your life breath in His hand. He loves you so much that He sent His very own son, His only son, to die so that you could live forever with Him in paradise. AND … He wants to know you better. He wants to sit down with you and hear your heart’s desires. He wants to show you His promises of comfort, peace, love, forgiveness, and grace. He desires for you to seek Him when you need wisdom and direction. He wants to be your Living Well. Your stream in the desert. Your lifeline and your listening ear. He will not judge you, but He will love you. He will not disgrace you, but He will give you comfort. He will not condemn you, but He will forgive you.


Wholeheartedly clock
By now, you know how much value I find in this book. So, how can you most quickly purchase a copy of the 120-page Wholeheartedly? Allison’s website links to, and you can buy it directly online there. You can find information on her first six books online as well.


Wholehearted(ly) :
fully; truly; sincerely; deeply; energetically; devoted; completely; earnestly; having or showing no doubt or uncertainty about doing something or supporting someone.

       “I encourage you to jump into this adventure Wholeheartedly — with an unconditional commitment, unstinting devotion, and wild enthusiasm.
       “You will never be more excited about the Bible story, and when you turn that page to find Jesus in the New Testament, you will discover and unravel mysteries you never noticed. You will find treasures on every page and learn more than you ever imagined about your Heavenly Father.
       “Make this yours, but seek God through His word. Pray He multiplies your time and understanding in ways you never imagined to complete this journey.
       “The word of God never grows old or stale. It is always fresh and relevant. I pray you will remain in Him wholeheartedly during the course of this study and revel in His truths and promises He will reveal to your obedient heart.”




Chronological HCSB
       I mentioned above that Allison gave praise to the Chronological Bible she first read, and which was the inspiration for her current book. It is called Reading God’s Story: A Chronological Daily Bible, which uses the HCSB. It is available from various booksellers, mostly online. For now, at least, it is still available at and
       Allison also strongly recommended the use of the Holman Christian Standard Bible, along with her own book, to do the 365-day journey. The HCSB and Wholeheartedly are a great fit, as you will find that most of the scriptural quotes she pulls in the book are taken from that translation.
       Bad news, however. Holman Bible Publishers has effectively discontinued the HCSB, and issued its “replacement,” the Christian Standard Bible. For reasons too numerous to list here, I find my preference is still strongly for the HSCB. Perhaps I will write another essay here detailing exactly why I feel this way.
       So, we have to qualify any reference to the availability of HCSB or Reading God’s Story because of this publishing decision.
       At the very least, if you do not already own a copy of the HSCB, I would go to or to order one — now!




Leave a comment

Posted by on January 11, 2018 in Bible Study


Tags: , , , , , ,

‘A Father in the House’

For Fathers Day 2017, Christian Educational Ministries has re-released Ronald L. Dart’s 28-minute program “A Father in the House,” which you may listen to by clicking below. This is the 4th program in the 8-part series Marriage and Family, from his nationally syndicated daily radio program Born to Win.

After an introductory discussion of the importance of having a father’s actual and active presence in his family, Dart uses a retelling of the charming and spiritual Biblical story of Ruth and Boaz to finalize his teaching on a man’s broader responsibilities inside his family. In addition, he explains many of the legal imperatives and cultural traditions of the time — without this knowledge, many elements of the story sound strange to modern ears. At the end of the program, a reminder of the identity of Boaz and Ruth’s great-grandson provides a strong context and finale.

Click this box to listen to Mr. Dart’s program:
A Father in the House

(If you would like to listen to all 8 programs in the Marriage and Family series,
you may do so at the Christian Educational Ministries site.)


Not surprisingly, the story of Ruth and Boaz has inspired artists throughout the ages to produce great works of art to memorialize them. Here are three I found while preparing this post. If you click on each, you will see a larger reproduction of the work. They are presented here in chronological order of their creation:

BOAZ MUST SEND RUTH AWAY from The Crusader Bible (ca.1244-1254)

The Crusader Bible


Ruth Thanks Boaz

RUTH IN BOAZ’S FIELD by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld (1828)

Ruth and Boaz

But Ruth replied:
“Do not persuade me to leave you
or go back and not follow you.
For wherever you go, I will go,
and wherever you live, I will live;
your people will be my people,
and your God will be my God.
Where you die, I will die,
and there I will be buried.
May Yahweh punish me,
and do so severely,
if anything but death separates you and me.”
(Ruth 1:16–17 HCSB)



Tags: , , ,

‘Behold the Lamb of God’

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said,
“Here is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29)

He was oppressed and afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth.
Like a lamb led to the slaughter and like a sheep silent before her shearers,
He did not open His mouth. (Isaiah 53:7)

For you know that you were redeemed from your empty way of life inherited from the fathers … with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without defect or blemish. He was chosen, before the foundation of the world. (1 Peter 1:18-20)

Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us. Therefore, let us keep the feast.
(1 Corinthians 5:7-8 KJV)


Today, until sundown, is the 14th day of Abib (or Nisan, as the month is known today), the first month in the Hebrew calendar. Why is this day different from all other days? And why is it significant for Christians? Yehovah told Moses, “On the fourteenth day of the first month, Yehovah’s Passover is to be held” (Numbers 28:16; also Leviticus 23:5). It was in the early hours of this day (what we would refer to as last night, after sundown) that Jesus observed the last Passover of His earthly ministry with His disciples:

Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and prepare the Passover meal for us, so we can eat it.
“Where do You want us to prepare it? ” they asked Him.
Listen,” He said to them, “when you’ve entered the city, a man carrying a water jug will meet you. Follow him into the house he enters. Tell the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher asks you, “Where is the guest room where I can eat the Passover with My disciples?”’ Then he will show you a large, furnished room upstairs. Make the preparations there.
So they went and found it just as He had told them, and they prepared the Passover.
When the hour came, He reclined at the table, and the apostles with Him. Then He said to them, “I have fervently desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.
(Luke 22:8-16)

Passover is the first of seven of what God refers to as Yehovah’s festivals [“appointed times”; Hebrew: moed ](singular); ]moedim ](plural)], although they are sometimes dismissively referred to as merely and exclusively the “Jewish holy days.” And yes they are, on one level, replete with symbols of Israelite history and culture, and of that ancient nation’s special relationship with God.

But like so many things Biblical, there is a deeper, spiritual, universal level of meaning to the Feasts of God. Those of us Christians who observe them find each of them overflowing with the message of Christ, salvation, grace, and the coming Kingdom of God. God never changes, and His Plan has been unfolding since the words “Let there be light” were spoken. Scripture tells us, “Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world” (Acts 15:18 KJV) and that the Lamb was “slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8 KJV). And perhaps most important, Christ died on the 14th of Abib. It should hardly be surprising, then, that God would use His 14th of Abib appointed time (and all of His other Festivals) as yet one more way to reveal and teach us His plan.

Every year, from Passover to the Last Great Day, the Gospel is acted out through these festivals, using their inherent drama to reinforce deep underlying messages. Once Israel began to observe them, the symbols of each festival (appointed time) became ingrained into their lives, minds, and spirits — so that when God’s true Passover Lamb appeared on earth and was sacrificed, the message and its significance were clear from centuries of repetition. (If you watch a movie enough times, you’ll eventually be able to recite the entire dialogue from memory. For proof, ask my brother- and sister-in-law’s offspring about The Princess Bride!)

Therefore, when John the Baptist pointed to Christ and called Him “the Lamb of God,” the reference must have been unmistakable to his listeners. Probably only Jesus and John knew, at that time, what this fully and truly meant. But the association of “Lamb of God” with the Passover must have been crystal clear to every lifelong resident of Judea who was present. Later, as the “Lamb of God” hung on a stake and died, undoubtedly the tumblers began to fall, and the full meaning was unlocked for His followers.

The “Lamb of God” symbols of Passover did not stop there. Each year, four days before the actual Passover, households were to select a lamb for sacrifice, which was required to be “without blemish,” thus foretelling the perfect nature of the earthly life and ministry of Jesus. That this Lamb had come to “take away the sins of the world,” as John said, had been foretold by the sin offerings made throughout the year at the Temple. And, of course, the ultimate fate of the Lamb of God was a sacrificial death, also vividly portrayed in the annual Passover sacrifice.

That all of these Holy Days point directly to Christ is one of many reasons so many Christians — yes, including my wife and me — keep Yehovah’s Feasts. They provide appointed times set aside for us to learn and grow in our knowledge of Christ and the grace and salvation He brought. But even this is not the main reason to keep the Feasts. It took a Rabbi friend of mine to cement in my mind the fact that there was a different, wholly transcendent reason.

He was a professor of mine, an Orthodox Jewish Rabbi — and you may be surprised to learn that he was the greatest statistics teacher I have ever had or known. Not only did he revolutionize my thinking about how to teach stats (Thank you, Shlomo!), he became a dear friend and great mentor. He was both mystified and bemused when he learned that I kept the “Jewish” Holy Days, and he asked me why I did so. As I remember the conversation, I turned the question back to him and asked, “Well, why do you keep them?” Without a second’s hesitation, he said, “Because I am commanded to.”

And he was absolutely correct. God’s commandments are both necessary and sufficient in all cases.

Some Christian friends (whom I love for being concerned about me and for caring for me) have asserted that keeping the Holy Days is archaic, anachronistic, legalistic, Judaizing, anti-Christian, superseded by Easter — or some combination of these. But I ask them (and you) to at least concede this: these are not “Jewish” holy days. Yehovah Himself repeatedly called them “Yehovah’s appointed festivals” (Leviticus 23:2,4-6,34,37; Numbers 28:16; Ezra 3:5; Hosea 9:5, etc.). Some have wryly gone further and asked me, “So do you kill a sheep every year?” No, dear friends, the perfect Lamb has already been sacrificed for us. Therefore, we keep the Feast with the New Testament symbols of unleavened bread and wine, as commanded by Christ:

On the night when He was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took bread, gave thanks, broke it, and said, “This is My body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.
In the same way, after supper He also took the cup and said, “This cup is the new covenant established by My blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.
For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.
(1 Corinthians 11:23-26)

Christ told us to remember Him every time we did “this.” Paul said we are proclaiming the Lord’s death when we eat “this” bread and drink “this” cup. What was the “this” Christ was doing? Which bread and cup were “this” one Paul referred to? Completely beyond question, Christ was celebrating Passover, eating the Passover bread and drinking from the Passover cup.

If there were any Biblical evidence that these festivals were for the nation of Israel only, or if Christ in the New Testament had abrogated them or provided substitutionary feasts, we would of course faithfully and gladly follow. But in our human, imperfect way, we attempt every year to believe and obey Christ literally, by taking the bread and wine at Passover in imitation and remembrance of Him.

These festivals were instituted to proclaim and teach the sacrifice of the true Passover Lamb, and the plan of salvation He made possible. They are therefore no less efficacious for me (and all Christians) today than they were in ancient Israel. Christ Himself kept the Feasts. So did His apostles and all the early church — even the Gentile ones. And prophecies show that in the Kingdom of God, all the nations will keep the Feasts (Zechariah 14:16-19).

We know that God does not change (Malachi 3:6; James 1:17), that His word stands forever (Isaiah 40:8), and that Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). So are not His commands and teachings equally immutable and everlasting?

And truly, that is the “prime directive” reason for those of us who keep Passover and the other Holy Days, using bread and wine, and with Christ-centered learning and worship. To paraphrase my Rabbi professor and friend, it is “because we are commanded to.”

I invite all my Christ-loving brothers and sisters to join us in the discovery of these ancient, God-designed moeds (appointed times). A great place to start is to memorialize the sacrifice of Christ, using the Passover bread and wine. Here are some suggested readings we often use in our Passover observance:
                        ●   Isaiah 53:1-9   the most beautiful and powerful of Messianic prophecies
                        ●   Luke 22:7-20   Christ’s last Passover until His Kingdom is established
                        ●   John 6:47-58   the new covenant of eternal life, symbolized by the bread and wine
                        ●   John 13:1-17   Christ’s lesson about and example of servant leadership
                        ●   1 Corinthians 11:17-32   the symbol of His body and blood in the bread and wine
                        ●   1 Peter 1:18-21   the Lamb without blemish, chosen before the foundation of the world
                        ●   1 Peter 2:19-25   the Perfect Messiah bore our sins, and we are healed

The Feasts of God are treasures and gifts of God beyond price.

“Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast.”


If the idea of the “appointed times of God” has caught your attention, and you would like to learn more, let me point you in the direction of my pastor, the late Ronald L. Dart (1934-2016). He studied and wrote about this extensively, and it was from him that I learned so much. Here are three sources from him.

The Thread by Ronald L. DartFirst, and most complete, is his book The Thread: God’s Appointments with History (see photo, left). In it, he teaches the following…
“The holy days of the Bible are about Christ.
“Few have understood the thread that runs from the beginning of the Bible to the end of the New Testament. When God acted in history, events commonly took place at appointed times. Once you pick up the thread, all manner of fascinating new connections present themselves. All of these appointed times of God took on names and customs which were related to the important events in history.
“Traditional beliefs say that the festivals came in with the old covenant and went out with the cross. But as you follow The Thread, there is good reason to doubt that. The feasts we find in the Bible are transcendent, and from the very beginning were pointed, not so much at Israel’s history, but at the much-overlooked work and ministry of Jesus Christ in history.”
This is a book you will read again and again and give to others. You will gain understanding of how each Holy Day points to Christ and impacts your life.

Second, as part of his nationally syndicated daily radio program, he did a series of 24 half-hour programs on Christian Holidays. Here is a link to the introductory program, a compact, thorough, easily accessible examination of the appointed times.

Finally, at the bottom of this essay is an hour-long sermon he delivered on Why the Holy Days? It is an intelligent and thoughtful summary of the topic, delivered in his inimitably conversational style. I commend it highly.

I send my love in, of, and by Christ to all of you, and I hope that you will let me know your thoughts on these matters.

Why the Holy Days? — a sermon by Ronald L. Dart   (November 9, 1996) 53:08

Christian Educational Ministries has a large and wide assortment of
Ronald Dart’s writings, sermons, and radio programs available on its website.



Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Man from Apex: “We are More Than Conquerors”


Born in the small town of Apex, North Carolina, in 1895, Kyle Monroe Yates became one of this country’s preeminent Biblical scholars, an Old Testament specialist, a member of the elite group of scholars who translated the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, author of the most widely respected textbooks on the Hebrew language plus numerous volumes on preaching from the Bible for ministers, a leader in the Southern Baptist Convention, a preacher of highest reputation, Biblical consultant to Cecil B. DeMille during the making of the classic film The Ten Commandments, and a Distinguished Professor of Bible at Baylor University.

Given here is an abridgment of my Biographical Monograph of Dr. Kyle Yates.
(Click here to see the full 35-page monograph, including 8 Appendices, Sources, and Endnotes, in .pdf format.)


Kyle Yates, 1916

Kyle Monroe Yates
Th.D., Ph.D., D.D., LL.D., Litt.D.

Pastor, Theologian, Scholar

“True instruction was in his mouth,
and no wrong was found on his lips.
He walked with me in peace and uprightness,
and he turned many from iniquity.”

(Malachi 2:6, Revised Standard Version)


A biographical monograph (abridged)
by Dr. Grover B. Proctor, Jr.
© 2012, 2015, 2017


Kyle Yates

As noted in the title of this monograph, Dr. Kyle Yates was best known to the world as a pastor, a theologian, and a scholar. And there is no question that he was nationally renowned for his extremely high levels of contribution and service to each. He did all of this, in an 80-year lifespan, while maintaining a gentleness, benevolence, empathy, humility, and deep Christian love for all those with whom he came in contact.
One former student of his at Baylor University, in a book called People Sharing Jesus, said Dr. Yates was “one of the kindest, most gracious men I have ever known.” Another former student unequivocally called him “Statesman, scholar, and stimulator!” – describing Dr. Yates walking into class the first day as a man “with such poise and dignity that I wanted to stand and welcome him. His tall stature, flowing gray hair, and radiant smile captured me immediately. If I were to paint a picture of a president or world statesman, it would be this man.” This same former student suggested that the verse from Malachi (which forms a part of the title section above) truly describes Dr. Yates.
Kyle Yates was born February 7, 1895, in Apex, North Carolina, the first of eleven children of William Charles Manly Yates and Della (Jones) Yates. His education began with a diploma from Campbell College in Buies Creek, NC, in 1911, after which he graduated from Wake Forest College with an A.B. degree in 1916 and an A.M. degree in 1917, working as a farm hand to pay his way through school. At Wake Forest, he was a star on the school’s basketball team that that still boasts the “most successful season in the history of the college.” Yates’ Senior portrait, from that 89% winning-percentage season, is shown above in the title section.
His education continued at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, in Louisville, Kentucky, where he received both a Master’s (Th.M.) degree in 1920 and a Doctorate (Th.D.) in 1922. His doctoral Thesis at the Seminary was titled The Prophetic Movement in Israel, and he would go on to become one of the world’s most widely acknowledged and leading experts in the Old Testament in general, and specifically in the Prophets. After completion of his doctorate, he joined the faculty of Southern Baptist Seminary as a Professor of Old Testament.
While he was on faculty there, he took a sabbatical year and went to the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, where he earned a Ph.D. degree in 1932, writing a Dissertation on the Aramaic and Greek languages. In addition to further study he undertook at Princeton University, during his distinguished career he was awarded honorary doctorates from Baylor, Wake Forest, Union, and Mercer Universities. He was expert and fluent in Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic and Latin.
Early on during his time on faculty at Southern Baptist Seminary, Yates courted and married a former student of his, Miss Margaret Webb Sharp from Clinton, Mississippi. They were married until Dr. Yates’ death 53 years later, during which time Margaret Yates was acknowledged as a woman of “understanding and discernment … of great charm, reared in the tradition of the Old South” and one of “the great ladies.”
Yates showed his total love and affection for his wife by the references he repeatedly made to her (in class and elsewhere) as his “little bride,” his “princess,” his “little one,” and “a sweet little thing that keeps in me in line.” The two seemed inseparable throughout their lives together. She routinely joined him on the golf course and on his transcontinental auto tours.
Dr. Yates summed up his devotion to and love for his wife when he dedicated his 1948 book Preaching from the Psalms to her:
a devoted lover
a treasured helper
a constant inspiration
a consecrated Christian
Margaret Yates died on August 8, 1987, at the age of 91.
It was during his twenty years on faculty at Southern Baptist Seminary that Yates began his second career as an author. “In response to the need for an introductory Hebrew grammar,” the Seminary wrote in its remembrance of Yates, “he prepared and published The Essentials of Biblical Hebrew which soon won for itself wide recognition. In 1938 it was revised and enlarged, particularly in its treatment of Hebrew syntax.” It came to be among the most widely used and well respected books in this field, in use for multiple decades at both Christian Seminaries and in Jewish rabbinical schools.
In addition to the above, he was sole or co-author of many books, some of which became classics in the field. Among these were:
                   ●   Beginner’s Grammar of the Hebrew Old Testament, 1927
                   ●   From Solomon to Malachi, 1934
                   ●   The Essentials of Biblical Hebrew, 1938
                   ●   Preaching from the Prophets, 1942
                   ●   Old Testament Biographies, 1942 (co-author)
                   ●   Preaching from the Psalms, 1948
                   ●   Studies in Psalms, 1953
                   ●   Preaching from Great Bible Chapters, 1957
                   ●   Preaching from John’s Gospel, 1964
                   ●   Psalms of Joy and Faith, 1973; reprint, 1984
So profound was the impact of Dr. Yates’ two books on the Hebrew language, Beginner’s Grammar and The Essentials, that it became known throughout the world of scholarship as the standard for teaching Old Testament Hebrew. A strong but highly unusual recognition of Yates’ book’s approbation appeared in the mid-1950s in a learned monograph on the Hebrew language. A contemporaneous press account of this stated, “I know of no other Baptist preacher’s name that has appeared in this sophisticated journal of the intelligentsia with the exception of Billy Graham’s.”
By the time of his retirement, his book Preaching from the Prophets had gone through 27 editions. His Preaching from the Psalms, later reissued with the title Psalms of Joy and Faith, was dictated onto tapes while he was on a brief vacation in Palacios, Texas, and within 31 days of its publication it had sold 250,000 copies.

Biblical Books by Dr. Kyle Yates

Psalm 23

The aim of The Bible from 26 Translations is to combine in one volume the complete KJV and the most significant variations from 25 later translations. Here is Psalm 23:1-2.

While being known for being “slow to list his many accomplishments over the years,” Yates always acknowledged that his proudest achievement was being selected as one of the nine original scholars commissioned to translate and prepare what would become known as the Revised Standard Version of the Bible (RSV), a project that ran from 1938 to 1952. The RSV Bible was a modernization of the American Standard Version (ASV, 1901), which was an updating of the Authorized (King James) Version (AV or KJV, 1611). The RSV has itself been modernized by both the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV, 1989) and the English Standard Version (ESV, 2001).
Yates’ leadership role in this endeavor puts him inside the highest levels of the English language Bible tradition, and he participated in several other scholarly Biblical publishing projects. He was one of the 40 theologians who collaborated on the Wycliffe Bible Commentary, published in 1962, for which he wrote the entire commentary on the book of Genesis. Dr. Yates also served as a “Contributing Editor for the Old Testament” for the mammoth 2,592-page The Bible from 26 Translations, which began to be published in sections in 1967, and then all together in one volume in 1988. It is still in print today from Mathis Publishing, under the title The WORD: The Bible From 26 Translations.
During all of his time at Southern Seminary, he always had a strong ministerial focus. When he decided to leave there in 1942 to enter into the full-time pastoral work at Louisville’s Walnut Street Baptist Church, the Seminary recommended him highly: “His friendly approach will reach to all members of his great congregation and beyond in his pastoral ministry. His understanding of people and his ability as a public speaker will give to his preaching a powerful popular appeal. His long study in the field of Biblical interpretation will give to his message a solid content and educational value. And the evangelistic note in all his preaching will carry on the fine tradition of the great evangelistic church.” Yates’ tenure at Walnut Street, described as “Kentucky’s largest congregation,” lasted four years.
In 1945, when Yates was 50 years old, he received a telephone call one Sunday afternoon from Federal Judge T. M. Kennerly, chairman of the Pulpit Committee of Second Baptist Church in Houston, delivering the church’s call to become their new pastor. More than 2000 parishioners attended the morning service that day, and the vote to call Dr. Yates was described as spontaneous and with one accord. The Pulpit Committee had considered more than 50 people for the position, but they ultimately selected Yates, whom they described as “God’s man.”
Judge Kennerly spent 30 minutes of expensive long distance time, in an effort to convince Yates to accept the congregation’s call to become their pastor. “I remember telling him I saw no reason to give up my pastorate in Louisville,” Dr. Yates recalled. “But his response was, ‘The only reason, my boy, is that you should follow the will of the Lord.’” He was on a plane to Houston for meetings on Thursday and Friday of that week, and was reportedly back in Louisville the following Sunday, announcing his resignation.
Yates spent the next ten years at Second Baptist. When Dr. Yates announced his intention to resign in order to move to Baylor University in Waco to resume his academic career, it was “in the face of a standing ovation of 1,000 church members to a resolution asking him to stay in the Houston church.”
A press account at the time of Dr. Yates’ resignation from Second Baptist Church noted his “urban graces” and reminisced that “his church will miss his preaching, a masterly amalgam of profound scholarship and simplicity, that edified adults and fascinated children. They will miss his warm greeting and handshake at the end of the services. He had invested this usually routine procedure with an intimacy that made one forget the pressing crowds from behind.”
While he was the pastor at Second Baptist in Houston, Yates served as the 2nd Vice President of the Southern Baptist Convention in 1956, and later as Vice President for one year.

The Ten Commandments poster

It was not an opportunity that he sought for himself, but Dr. Kyle Yates did make one important and indelible impact on Hollywood. It concerned the making of the classic film The Ten Commandments in 1956. Perhaps the best way to summarize how it all came about is to quote a contemporary press clipping, noting that Yates was
“…consulted by Cecil B. DeMille on the authenticity of certain portions of the motion picture, The Ten Commandments. Dr. Yates happened to be in California last summer when the $9.5 million DeMille picture was nearing completion. When DeMille, who spared no effort or expense to authenticate every detail of this project, learned of Dr. Yates’ presence on the West Coast and of his eminence as a Bible scholar, he immediately contacted the Baylor professor and invited him to lunch…. Dr. Yates reports that it was a most interesting and stimulating experience….
“Dr. Yates’ personal opinion of The Ten Commandments is that ‘It is probably the greatest motion picture that has ever been made.’ He says it is ‘remarkably true to Scriptural and secular history and amazingly free from the flagrant liberties so often taken with such material.’ Commenting on the criticism which many church people have had for the licentiousness of the scene of the reveling people, following Moses’ descent from Mt. Sinai with the tablets of the Law, Dr. Yates says that the DeMille script was not exaggerated. He points out that the Bible is pretty plain in its description of the revelries which took place and that Moses himself was sickened with disgust at what he saw. ‘I consider the whole work a powerful depiction of truth,’ Yates says, adding that he believes that everyone who reads and believes the Old Testament should see the filmed story.”
Dr. Yates would later say that some people thought the movie exaggerated “the high jinks among the Israelites while Moses is on Mount Sinai,” as he put it. He answered them by repeating that the film is no exaggeration — “It’s all in the Bible!” He called the filmmakers’ approach “scholarly” based on “a vast knowledge of fact and detail.”
Dr. Kyle YatesIn 1956, Yates left the active, full-time ministry in Houston to travel up to Waco, Texas to join the faculty of Baylor University, where he held the rarely accorded rank of “Distinguished Professor.” In moving to Baylor, Dr. Yates said it was not only to enable him to resume his teaching career but also to spend more time on his writing. At that time, he had published six books, including two he had completed in his “Preaching From…” series, to which he hoped to add another four volumes.
In addition to his scholarly research and writing while at Baylor, Yates continued to find avenues of preaching outreach. Among the many honors and awards he received during this time was an Award of Merit presented by the Radio Television Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, recognizing him “for teaching the International Sunday School lesson on the Baptist Radio Hour every week for two years” to a documented audience of 2 to 5 million people weekly.
For all the scholarly and ministerial opportunities which he tackled with fervor, without doubt it was the Baylor students on whom Yates left his most indelible mark. His courses were consistently among the most popular offered by the Baylor Department of Religion. Students were effusive in their praise, some agreeing that they found it hard to write down all the facts Yates presented in class, because “they weren’t really like facts, but sort of like parts of a simple conversation.” One student called Dr. Yates “the greatest man and the greatest professor I’ve ever met. He knows so much it really scares me because I sometimes think he was there when it all happened.”
One former student recently blogged: “From that first lecture and interchange, I was fascinated with the Bible and the study of it. I could not believe that the Bible could be so alive…. Dr. Yates was one of the most learned men I have ever known. Yet, he was able to reduce all the facts into such a flowing narrative that students felt they were walking in biblical times.” The Independence Baptist Association, when honoring Dr. Yates some years later, noted, “To young and old, rich and poor, he is considerate and courteous to all. He speaks to professor and student alike on the campus. Cafeteria lines halt momentarily for many visits when he goes to lunch.”
As befitting not only Baylor’s Christian commitment but also his own deep-seated faith, Yates always ended his classes with a prayer. He was known to warn the class on certain days, “We may have to cut short so we can spend a bit more time with our prayer. There’s plenty to pray for these days.” While it was not unusual for Baylor religion professors to open or close their classes with a prayer in those years, students soon realized that Yates’ prayers “seemed more like real conversations with God.”
Yates retired from Baylor in 1969 at the venerable age of 74, with the title bestowed on him of Distinguished Professor Emeritus.
On June 11, 1972, Dr. Yates was honored as the Texas Baptist Elder Statesman of the Year, an award presented annually to persons who have rendered long-time distinguished service “to God and Texas Baptists.” At the ceremonies, it was noted that “Biblical scholars have acclaimed Dr. Yates as ‘the world’s authority on the prophets’.”
Just eight days after his eightieth birthday, on Saturday, February 15, 1975, Dr. Yates passed away in a Waco nursing home, as a result of congestive heart failure. He is buried in Oakwood Cemetery in Waco. On Dr. Yates’ tombstone is the Greek word hypernikomen (spelled out in perfect original Greek).


Meaning “to be more than a conqueror,” the word is used only once in the Bible, but it comes from what was Dr. Yates’ most quoted passage, Romans 8:37. As shown in The Bible from 26 Translations, the Greek word hypernikomen has been rendered in various translations as “we more than conquer,” “we keep on gloriously conquering,” and “we win an overwhelming victory.” It is no wonder, then, that this word appears as the lasting memorial of the life and service of Dr. Kyle Yates.
As such, it is fitting to end this tribute to him with the passage as translated in the Revised Standard Version:
Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies; who is to condemn?
Is it Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised from the dead, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us?
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
As it is written,
“For thy sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” [Psalm 44:22]
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 8:33-39, RSV)



Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

An Abominable, unGodly Leap

What I’ve written below concerns an article which begins this way:


Thanks to Screening and Abortion,
No Babies With Down Syndrome Are Born In Iceland

by Jenny Rapson, For Every Mom

       “Yesterday I read this ‘crazy’ quote on a pro-life website, alleging that no babies with Down syndrome had been born in Iceland in the last five years, because 100% of expectant moms undergo pre-natal screening for DS and 100% who get a positive result abort. I was absolutely SHOCKED by this, and set out to research whether or not it is true.
       “And now I sit here at my computer screen, tears streaming down my face…”

(A link to the entire article is at the bottom. But first, let me vent…)

Wait a minute… Iceland has purposefully worked toward this result (as reported by the BBC), and as a nation they are PROUD it of?   HAPPY about it??   This is a national VALUE???

All Christians should tremble and weep at this news.

From Catholic and Orthodox to Episcopal and Anglican, from Coptic to Sabbatarian, Protestant to Reformed, Pentecostal to Evangelical, even monastics to cultists — we all share the same 66 books in the Word of God. Can we not read? Are our hearts and minds not moved?

I fear we’ve taken the following abominable, unGodly leap:

God knowing us before we were born:
   • God chose you before He formed you in the womb; He set you apart before you were born. (Jeremiah 1:5)
   • God knit me together in my mother’s womb. (Psalm 139:13)
   • Yehovah called me before I was born. He named me while I was in my mother’s womb. (Isaiah 49:1)
   • God filled the child with the Holy Spirit while still in his mother’s womb. (Luke 1:15)

“We jabbed you with needles while you were in your mother’s womb, and what we discovered made us decide to kill you. We made that decision because we saw you as imperfect, and therefore unworthy and incapable of a meaningful life. Oh yes, and you would be a severe burden on your parents, not to mention a huge financial hardship to all of society.”

Pray fervently and without ceasing that God will blanket the entire world with a powerful spirit of humility and repentance that will Stop the Abortion Holocaust!

Click Here to read the rest of the article I referenced above, from
Click Here for the original BBC article, well worth reading.

God help us all.

         “The word of Yehovah came to me:
‘I chose you before I formed you in the womb;
     I set you apart before you were born.
     I appointed you a prophet to the nations.’ ”
       — Jeremiah 1:4-5
“Considering how often throughout history
even intelligent people have been proved to be wrong,
it is amazing that there are still people who are convinced
that the only reason anyone could possibly
say something different from what they believe
is stupidity or dishonesty.”
       — Dr. Thomas Sowell



Posted by on February 19, 2017 in Today's World


Tags: , , , , , , , ,

The Whisper of God

I want to introduce you to a Ministry which might be new to you, but one from which my wife Adrianne and I continually draw insight, inspiration, and instruction.

At that moment, the LORD passed by.
  … And there was a voice, a soft whisper.
When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle
and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.

1 KINGS 19:11-13 HCSB

Christian author and speaker Allison Cain writes a weekly Bible study/devotional which she makes available on her blog site and by email for those who sign up for the free subscription. Throughout these short, easily read studies, Allison practices what she encourages all of us to do — she looks around at the everyday occurrences in her own life, and then turns to Scripture to search out the “whats” and “hows” and “whys” located only there.

These drawn-from-life vignettes provide an immediate connection to her, and through her, to God’s word. Her style is informal, personal, humble, while at the same time determined, driven, and sometimes (when it’s needed) blunt. While absorbed in her writings, readers very soon are apt to smile and say, “Yep. I’ve been there. Felt that exact way.” From there, the teachings she brings from Scripture lift us to another whole level of perception about our everyday lives, which we might have easily missed, and been the poorer for.

Allison has adopted the following as the Mission for her ministry and (Adrianne and I know for a fact) for her own life: “Living at the foot of the cross, encouraging all women to see God in the ordinary.” I have only one quibble with this characterization, in that I know for certain we men can and should be blessed by her insights and teaching as well.

These intersections of scripture and one woman’s finding God in her daily life has caused her to listen acutely for God’s “whisper to my heart His desires and lessons for me” — and so she named her site The Whisper of God (1 KINGS 19:12). I truly think you will find comfort, strength, and uplifting by reading her offerings.

Most recently, she has completed a six-part series exploring aspects of the book of Jeremiah, and I have been particularly drawn to them. In them, she returns to the ancient prophet, to find that his words have elicited a combination of awe, expectation, inspiration, and revelation concerning her and our daily lives.

Here are all six of the Jeremiah studies. You can access any complete article by clicking on its title:

The Whisper of God
29 DECEMBER 2015
WORD WATCHING :   Here is what God lit up in lights for me to see – … for I watch over My word to accomplish it. This is the kind of revelation and reminder that keeps me coming back day after day to God’s word. We often envision God looking down on us and watching over us, but have you ever considered that He watches over His word so that it is accomplished?!
5 JANUARY 2016
DIRTY UNDERWEAR :   Then the word of the Lord came to me a second time: “Take the underwear that you bought and are wearing, and go at once to the Euphrates and hide it in a rocky crevice.” So I went and hid it by the Euphrates, as the Lord commanded me. The Lord has placed a lot of things on my heart over the years, but He has never urged me to purchase underwear, wear it for a while and then hide in under a rock by the creek in our backyard!
13 JANUARY 2016
REPURPOSED :   I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was, working away at the wheel. But the jar that he was making from the clay became flawed in the potter’s hand, so he made it into another jar, as it seemed right for him to do. God used this illustration to show Jeremiah how He could change His mind and relent from punishing the House of Israel IF they would turn from their evil ways. For me, it was a wonderful reminder that when I start down the wrong path I can always turn back to God so that He is able to make something new out of me.
18 JANUARY 2016
UNDER THE HOOD :   The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah a second time: “The Lord who made the earth, the Lord who forms it to establish it, Yahweh is His name, says this: Call to Me and I will answer you and tell you great and incomprehensible things you do not know.” It’s a wonderful reminder for us that all we need to do is ask God for help, wisdom, grace, forgiveness, patience … the list goes on and on.
25 JANUARY 2016
AN IRRIGATED GARDEN :   Their life will be like an irrigated garden, and they will no longer grow weak from hunger. What a beautiful image of what our life can look like with God in it…. I don’t know about you, but I want my life to be like an irrigated garden that never grows weak or weary, that produces fruit pleasing to our Father and sustains me through the splendor and the desert.
PRESS PAUSE :   Now at the end of 10 days, the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah … [This] reminded me of the times I asked God for direction, got tired of waiting and acted on my own accord (never ending up very well). I know my life and all of our lives would look very different if we could seek the Lord for any and all direction we need, pause until we hear from Him and live out this example to our children and others. It’s a tall order in this world of instant communication, instant grits, popcorn, gratification. You name it, and we can access it any minute of the day.
******************** BOOK TABLE ********************

In the devotionals that have followed the Jeremiah series, she has visited Lamentations and Ezekiel. I like where this seems to be going!

Allison is also an author and has also published six books, which I highly recommend. You can see them all in the table below.

Books by Allison T. Cain

The Whisper of God
The Whisper of God: A 52-week Devotional to Take You Through the Year and Encourage You to See God in the Ordinary

2010, 120 pages
God in the Middle
God In the Middle: Keys to Keeping God in the Middle of All You Think, Do and Say

2011, 118 pages
Putting Down Roots
Putting Down Roots: Devotions That Empower You Through God’s Word

2012, 114 pages
Revision of a Heart
Revision of a Heart: Lessons Learned in an Old House and a New Lifestyle

2012, 80 pages
30 Days in Zechariah
Thirty Days in Zechariah:
An Ordinary Girl Takes on an Extraordinary Book


2013, 84 pages
The Whisper of God for Kids
The Whisper of God for Kids: 52 Week Devotional Encouraging You to see God in the Ordinary and Seek God Through Scripture

2013, 172 pages

It was my distinct honor to have been associated with Allison from the very beginning of her career as an international Christian speaker, for which purpose she is an absolute natural. You might consider having her come to your church to share her unique and Christ-centered vision. You will neither regret it nor forget her message.

“Let us be silent, so that we may hear the whisper of God.”
— Ralph Waldo Emerson

1 Comment

Posted by on February 17, 2016 in Bible Study


Tags: , ,

Ronald L. Dart (1934-2016)

Ronald L. Dart

Ronald L. Dart

Ronald L. Dart — Christian apologist, educator, author, minister, broadcaster, college Dean, and founder of Christian Educational Ministries — has died at age 82. His wife Allie Dart told us in a message that he “died peacefully in his sleep early this Sabbath morning, January 23rd, from a prolonged battle with cutaneous T-cell lymphoma.”

He was truly “a gifted teacher of the Word of God. People around the world have come to appreciate Ron’s easy style, his non-combative approach to explaining the Bible, and the personal, almost one-on-one method of explaining what’s going on in the world in the light of the Bible. People say they get hooked on Ron’s depth of insight into the Bible and appreciate the unique gift for clarity and simplicity that enable him to hold an audience.”
Primarily and most personally, he was for Adrianne and me our friend, pastor, and teacher — as he was for so many others across the nation and throughout the world.

In the essay My Giants associated with this website, I listed Ron among those who have been “my personal giants, on whose shoulders I gratefully (if sometimes shakily) stand.” It remains as true today as when I wrote it that “I have learned more about the Bible from Ron Dart than any of my other pastors and professors — and quite possibly than all of them combined.”

My first reaction on hearing the news this morning was tearful grief at the loss of someone so special in our lives. And that emptiness remains as I write this. But we know, thanks in large part to Ron’s teaching, that he has fallen asleep and awaits Christ’s return and the Resurrection. We draw great solace and hope in that. And we give overwhelming praise and thanks to God our Father for Ron’s release from his physical infirmities and the trials of this world, as well as for the certainty of his eternal life to come.

In 1995, Ron retired from a career as a minister, administrator, and educator, to found Christian Educational Ministries. CEM is a service ministry with two major goals: first, to share the Gospel with the world, to evangelize, to make disciples for Jesus Christ; and second, to teach those who are disciples of Jesus all that He commanded His disciples to do. This Mission became the springboard for his daily 30-minute nationally syndicated radio program, titled Born to Win. Hundreds of his Born to Win programs and his sermons (in .MP3 format) are available for download on the CEM Born to Win website.

I have included here a video of one of Ron’s sermons, titled A Doctrine of Grace, which typifies what has been called his “remarkable gift of clarity and love and understanding of the Bible.” Below that are links to information about his three books, and finally a brief bio. Years ago, with his permission, I reproduced Ron’s Confession of Faith on my website, and I commend it to you.

In all of this, we cannot forget to express our deep admiration and love for Allie, Ron’s extraordinary wife and partner-in-ministry. Our hearts and spirits are with you, Allie.

We will all miss having Ron Dart with us, but we thank God for the gift of his teaching, his intellect, his humor, his leadership, his generosity, him as role model in our quest to become children of God, and — his grace.

******************** SERMON VIDEO ********************

A Doctrine of Grace — a sermon by Ronald L. Dart (October 19, 1997)


******************** BOOK TABLE ********************

Books by Ronald L. Dart

The Lonely God
The Lonely God

2005, 212 pages

Law & Covenant
Law & Covenant

2007, 240 pages
Christian Educational Ministries has a large and wide assortment of
Ron Dart’s writings, sermons, and radio programs available on its website.
******************** RON DART BIO ********************


A BRIEF BIOGRAPHY :   Ronald L. Dart was born to young parents on a farm just south of Harrison, Arkansas. His father worked for the railroad and also sang bass with the Melody Four Quartet. He started school in a one room schoolhouse in Gaither, Arkansas and finished high school in Houston, Texas where he met his wife to be, Allie Driver. He joined the Navy in September of 1952 and earned the rating of petty officer first class in four years. After the Navy, Ron attended Hardin Simmons University in Abilene, Texas for two years, and Ambassador College for two years, earning a bachelor’s degree. Ron served as a pastor of a church, returned to college to get his Master’s Degree, and then went to the University of Texas in Austin and did work towards his doctorate in Communications. It is through his continued studies in theology and communications that Ron’s gift for teaching the Word of God became evident. He has taught Old Testament Survey, Epistles of Paul, and public speaking. He has CDs of sermons he has given on virtually every book in the Bible. After retiring from teaching and church administration in 1995 he started Christian Educational Ministries and the Born to Win radio program.


1 Comment

Posted by on January 23, 2016 in Ronald L. Dart


Tags: , , , , , , ,

What Sweeter Music?

The Timeless Music about Christ’s Birth

In this post, I am giving you a gift of Nativity music from my heart, which I hope you will enjoy and be inspired by. While music about the birth of Jesus is played and sung almost exclusively in December the world over, I’d like to make what some will see as a radical suggestion — that Christians use it in worship all year round, 365 days a year.

After all (as everyone from the Catholic and Jewish Encyclopedias to countless Protestant Commentaries all agree) we have no certain and unimpeachable knowledge as to when He was born — although it seems extremely unlikely that it was December 25.

The date of the birth of Jesus was never revealed to us, which in and of itself raises the question of whether we were intended to observe it at all. But that hasn’t stopped speculation throughout the last 2000 years. It seems to have been in Egypt after 200 A.D. when the very first feast of the Nativity was held, and Bishop Clement of Alexandria noted that the church there “curiously” selected the date of May 20, “apparently out of thin air.”

In modern times, because so much of the earthly ministry of Christ (our Passover) was linked to God’s Holy Days, some theologians have suggested He may have been born on the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles, and therefore circumcised on the 8th and Last Great Day of the Feast. It’s symbollically appealing, but (again) there is no evidence or proof.

Jonathan Cahn

Jonathan Cahn

More recently, a new and compelling theory of the birth date of Christ has come from Jonathan Cahn, the Messianic Jewish author of the best-selling books The Harbinger, The Harbinger 2, and The Mystery of the Shemitah. Drawing research from such widely diverse sources as the Talmud, the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Greco-Roman astronomer and astrologer Ptolemy, the Vatican document archives, and numerous Scriptural references from both Testaments, Cahn believes that the most doctrinally, historically, and prophetically sound choice is Nisan 1 — the first day of the first month of the Hebrew sacred calendar — which falls each year somewhere from late-March to early-April in the Western calendar. (If you have an interest in hearing Cahn’s 30-minute explanation of his remarkable reasoning and findings, click here to watch his video.)

We Simply Don’t Know

Even with such interesting theories to choose from, the fact is that we simply do not know for certain when Christ was born.

Celebrating the FACT of His birth — taken in tandem with what His birth means for our personal salvation and eternal lives — seems far more important than celebrating solely on a day that seems highly unlikely to be the anniversary of it. So might we agree to use the Nativity story for worship at any time of the year, employing all of the glorious music written about it — regardless of our own theory as to the true day of His birth? This is literally, I hope, a “timeless” suggestion.

With that in mind, here are four works that are (in my opinion) up there among the greatest Nativity carols/arias/performances/recordings that I have ever encountered. While this article offers only four of them, I may well add more as time goes by.

As always, it will be true for each of these video/audio files that good quality headphones are almost mandatory, in order to appreciate the subtleties and nuances of the performances.
(I’ve given the complete lyrics for each selection at the bottom of this post, in case you want to follow along.)

ONE   “Mary Did You Know” (Pentatonix)

This first selection was originally a gospel song that many have come to love. Of the 15+ recordings of it I have heard, this performance is by far and away the most pure, inspirational, tender, and beautiful. It is performed with precision laced with abundant feeling by the a cappella specialists Pentatonix. The amazing musical climax they provide — beginning (at 2:20) with Jesus being “the Lord of all Creation” and ending with (most emphatically, at 2:48) the revelation He Himself made that He was “the Great I AM” — reflects and summarizes the most astonishing of all the aspects of the earthly-yet-eternal life of the Christ.

“Mary Did You Know” by Pentatonix

TWO   “What Sweeter Music” (John Rutter)

This gem is a modern setting of the 17th-century poem “A Christmas Carol” by Robert Herrick. And you may find, as Adrianne and I do, this to be one of the sweetest and most beautiful carols ever. Composer John Rutter is renowned for his short pieces about the birth of Christ, and he may have reached his pinnacle with this one. He is conducting his own Cambridge Singers here, in what is almost certainly the most moving, jewel-like performance of it on record.

“What Sweeter Music” by John Rutter and the Cambridge Singers

THREE   “Sweet Is the Song the Virgin Sang” (Ralph Vaughan Williams)

This sweet lullaby comes from a larger work, a cantata telling the entire story of the Nativity called Hodie (This Day), written by English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams. I strongly commend the entire hour-long masterpiece to you, but here I’m giving you one short section only — the endearingly sweet lullaby of Mary as she “ponders in her heart” the mystery of her being the mother of the Savior of the world. Sir David Willcocks conducts the Choristers of Westminster Abbey and the London Symphony Orchestra in this classic 1965 recording. The soloist is the incomparable Dame Janet Baker.

“Sweet Was the Song the Virgin Sang” by Ralph Vaughan Williams
Dame Janet Baker, Choristers of Westminster Abbey

FOUR   “All My Heart This Night Rejoices” (Alfred Deller)

Alfred Deller

Alfred Deller

2016 marked the 350th anniversary of the writing of this traditional chorale by German composer Johann Ebeling. I freely admit to having a sentimental attachment to this recording, performed by countertenor Alfred Deller. As far back in ancient history as my college days, I fell in love with Deller’s beautiful singing, his lyrical phrasings, the gentle counterpoint of the accompaniment as played by lutenist/guitarist Desmond Dupré, as well as the carol’s endearing message and the music’s graceful lilt. Some may be taken aback by hearing a man sing with such a high-pitched voice, but the countertenor (sometimes called male alto) voice has a long and distinguished history in Western music. (Mark Deller, Alfred’s son, is also one of England’s foremost countertenors.) If you think about it, our popular music also includes men with equally high ranges — but none, I would suggest, are as simply beautiful as Deller’s.

“All My Heart This Night Rejoices” by Alfred Deller


ONE   Mary Did You Know” (Pentatonix)

Mary did you know that your baby boy would one day walk on water?
Mary did you know that your baby boy would save our sons and daughters?
Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new?
This child that you delivered will soon deliver you.

Mary did you know that your baby boy will give sight to a blind man?
Mary did you know that your baby boy will calm the storm with his hand?
Did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod?
When you kiss your little baby, you kiss the face of God.

Mary, did you know?

The blind will see, the deaf will hear, the dead will live again.
The lame will leap, the dumb will speak the praises of the Lamb.

Mary did you know that your baby boy is Lord of all creation?
Mary did you know that your baby boy would one day rule the nations?
Did you know that your baby boy is heaven’s perfect Lamb?
That sleeping child you’re holding is the great I AM !

(lyrics by Mark Lowry)

TWO   “What Sweeter Music” (John Rutter)

What sweeter music can we bring
Than a carol, for to sing
The birth of this our heavenly King?
Awake the voice! Awake the string!

Dark and dull night, fly hence away,
And give the honor to this day,
That sees December turned to May.

Why does the chilling winter’s morn
Smile, like a field beset with corn?
Or smell like a meadow newly-shorn,
Thus, on the sudden? Come and see
The cause, why things thus fragrant be:
‘Tis He is born, whose quickening birth
Gives life and luster, public mirth,
To heaven and the under-earth.

We see him come, and know him ours,
Who, with his sunshine and his showers,
Turns all the patient ground to flowers.
The darling of the world is come,
And fit it is, we find a room
To welcome him. The nobler part
Of all the house here, is the heart.

Which we will give him; and bequeath
This holly and this ivy wreath,
To do him honour, who’s our King,
And Lord of all this revelling.

What sweeter music can we bring,
Than a carol for to sing
The birth of this our heavenly King?

(“A Christmas Carol” by Robert Herrick)

THREE   “Sweet Was the Song the Virgin Sang” (Vaughan Williams)

But Mary kept all these things,
and pondered them in her heart.

Sweet was the song the Virgin sang,
When she to Bethlem Juda came
And was delivered of a Son,
That blessed Jesus hath to name:
“Lulla, lulla, lulla-bye,
Sweet Babe,” sang she,
And rocked him sweetly
on her knee.

“Sweet Babe,” sang she, “my son,
And eke a Saviour born,
Who hath vouchsafèd from on high
To visit us that were forlorn:
“Lalula, lalula, lalula-bye,
Sweet Babe,” sang she,
And rocked him sweetly
on her knee.

(anonymous Medieval lyrics)

FOUR   “All My Heart This Night Rejoices” (Alfred Deller)

All my heart this night rejoices,
As I hear,
Far and near,
Sweetest angel voices.
“Christ is born,” their choirs are singing,
Till the air
Now with joy is ringing.

Hark! a voice from yonder manger,
Soft and sweet,
Doth entreat,
“Flee from woe and danger.
Brethren come, from all doth grieve you
You are freed,
All you need
I will surely give you.”

Come then, let us hasten yonder;
Here let all,
Great and small,
Kneel in awe and wonder.
Love Him who with love is yearning;
Hail the Star
That from far
Bright with hope is burning!

Thee, dear Lord, with heed I’ll cherish,
Live to Thee,
And with Thee
Dying, shall not perish;
But shall dwell with Thee for ever,
Far on high
In the joy
That can alter never.

(original German lyrics by Paul Gerhardt, 1607-1676)

Leave a comment

Posted by on December 18, 2015 in Worship


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,