Friday, September 16, 2016

Remembering and Celebrating Farmer Girl

September 18th marks the 2nd anniversary of her graduation to heaven, and in recognition of the day, several promotional opportunities are presented so that her words can be widely read. These offers are good through 11:59 PM September 18th.

Promotion 1 - Buy one copy of Farmer Girl in hardback or paperback ( and get one free. No limit. Email Amazon receipts with PROMO1 in subject to along with address where free copy(ies) should be sent.

Promotion 2 - Free digital copy of any William E. Johnson book ( with purchase of Farmer Girl ( Email Amazon receipt with PROMO2 in subject to along with desired digital book, and specify either PDF or Kindle eBook format.

Promotion 3 - Free paperback copy of MY Grief Observed ( with each purchase of Farmer Girl ( Email Amazon receipt with PROMO3 in subject to along with address where free copy(ies) should be sent.

Promotion 4 - Free paperback copy of ANY William E. Johnson book ( with purchase of 3 paperback or hardback copies of Farmer Girl ( Email Amazon receipt with PROMO4 in subject to Specify desired book(s) in email.

Promotion 5 - Free digital copies of the entire "Digging Into" series by William E. Johnson ( with purchase of 5 copies of Farmer Girl ( There are currently 5 books in the series - "Digging Into the Acts of the Apostles" (2 volumes), "Digging Into James", "Digging Into Jesus' Parables", and "Digging Into the Life of David". Email Amazon receipt with PROMO5 in subject to

Promotion 6 - Free paperback copies of the entire "Digging Into" series by William E. Johnson ( with purchase of 20 copies of Farmer Girl ( There are currently 5 books in the series - "Digging Into the Acts of the Apostles" (2 volumes), "Digging Into James", "Digging Into Jesus' Parables", and "Digging Into the Life of David". Email Amazon receipt with PROMO6 in subject to

BONUS - With any of these promotions, receive either a digital copy of ANY of the above books, OR a paperback copy of MY Grief Observed, by including a link to an Amazon review you left of any of the above books. Just include the link to the review in the email and indicate which of the bonus gifts you prefer.

Both Farmer Girl and MY Grief Observed make nice gifts - Farmer Girl as a gift for women and girls, and MY Grief Observed for those dealing with grief or loss.

Friday, September 09, 2016

What Advantage?

(Following is an excerpt from "Digging Into Romans" by William E. Johnson, coming soon to and in bookstores everywhere. )

I remind you that in the first three chapters of Romans, Paul is dealing with one primary topic - the universal need of mankind for the Savior.  He has described those who have never even heard the gospel, and concluded that they are in need of a Savior. He has discussed those who have a knowledge of God, and concluded that they, too, are in need of a Savior. And has talked about the most privileged of all - the Jews - a people specially called and chosen by God. His conclusion: They, too, are in need of the Savior.

In chapter 3, he anticipates some of the responses from his Jewish readers to that last assertion.  Notice the question that opens the section.  What advantage then has the Jew, or what is the profit of circumcision? (Romans 3:1 NKJV)  In other words, he anticipates his readers asking, "If the Jews need a Savior just like everybody else, what is the advantage of being  a Jew in the first place?" It's a valid question, isn't it?  What good is it to be a Jew if they are no different than anybody else?  What is the point?  

Paul will deal with this elsewhere in the letter as well, especially when we get to chapters 9-11. And his answer both here and in that later section is that there was great advantage to being a Jew, and the thing that tops the list (and the only one he actually mentions here) is that they had the Bible! This people indeed were (and are) blessed by God in so many ways, but few things compare with the glorious gift God gave them in the Scriptures.  Paul had already touched on this truth in the previous chapter - Indeed you are called a Jew, and REST ON THE LAW, and make your boast in God, and KNOW HIS WILL, and approve the things that are excellent, BEING INSTRUCTED OUT OF THE LAW (Romans 2:17-18 NKJV). And he will mention it again and expand on it in chapter 9 - I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh, who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, THE GIVING OF THE LAW, the service of God, and the promises; of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen. (Romans 9:1, 3-5 NKJV)

So he reminds them in vs. 2 that the thing that sets them apart from others is this - they had the Bible! Moses had said the same thing - For what great nation is there that has God so near to it, as the LORD our God is to us, for whatever reason we may call upon Him? And WHAT GREAT NATION IS THERE THAT HAS SUCH STATUTES AND RIGHTEOUS JUDGMENTS AS ARE IN ALL THIS LAW which I set before you this day? (Deuteronomy 4:7-8 NKJV). The Psalmist said it, too - He has not dealt thus with any nation; And as for His judgments, they have not known them. Praise the LORD! (Psalms 147:20 NKJV). Think of the wonder of it - God had given them His Word.  No other people had been so blessed, and no other nation had been so gifted.  The very Word of God was entrusted to them and to no one else. They were not like those in far off lands who were limited in their understanding of God. They did not need to rely only on the limited light of conscience or natural revelation. They had the Law! They had the words of God! They had the BIBLE!

What an application to you and me! We, too, have the Bible. What a blessed people we are to have it. We need not wonder at God's will, for it is available to us in the Bible.. We need not ask "What must I do to be saved?" as the Philippian jailor asked Paul, because that truth is shown to us in the Bible. We can know where we came from... why we're on this earth... where we're going when we die, all because it is available to us in the Bible! God has given us the Bible, and with it He has given us everything we need for this life and the next.

Click here for more books and eBooks by William E. Johnson, including the recently released "Digging Into the Acts of the Apostles" (in two volumes)

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

All You Need Is Love

The following is a raw, and largely unedited excerpt from the upcoming book "Digging Into Romans," which will be available soon on  Watch for it here.

Read - Romans 13:8-14

Key Verse - Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. (‭‭Romans‬ ‭13:8‬ ‭NKJV‬‬)

Key Thought - We should pay off financial debts,but we should never stop paying on our debt to love others.


Every year on the 14th of February the world celebrates Valentine's Day. Did you ever wonder where that all got started?
The history of Valentine’s Day–and the story of its patron saint–is shrouded in mystery. We do know that February has long been celebrated as a month of romance, and that St. Valentine’s Day, as we know it today, contains vestiges of both Christian and ancient Roman tradition. But who was Saint Valentine, and how did he become associated with this ancient rite? The Catholic Church recognizes at least three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all of whom were martyred. One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death. Other stories suggest that Valentine may have been killed for attempting to help Christians escape harsh Roman prisons, where they were often beaten and tortured. According to one legend, an imprisoned Valentine actually sent the first “valentine” greeting himself after he fell in love with a young girl–possibly his jailor’s daughter–who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter signed “From your Valentine,” an expression that is still in use today. Although the truth behind the Valentine legends is murky, the stories all emphasize his appeal as a sympathetic, heroic and–most importantly–romantic figure. By the Middle Ages, perhaps thanks to this reputation, Valentine would become one of the most popular saints in England and France.[“History of Valentine's Day”,]
There are other theories about the origin of the holiday, many rooted in pagan and Roman culture. But however the day came to be, Valentine's Day is a day to remember and celebrate love - one of the greatest gifts any of us ever receive.

So it is appropriate that our text is Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. (‭‭Romans‬ ‭13:8‬ ‭NKJV‬‬)

The Beatles sang the song, “All You Need Is Love.” Now if you go and read the lyrics to that song you'll come away wondering what they were talking about. But the chorus is what we all remember:

All you need is love
All you need is love
All you need is love, love
Love is all you need

Regardless of whatever else they were trying to say in the rest of that song, they hit on a nugget of truth in the chorus. Paul says something similar in our text, doesn't he? Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. (‭‭Romans‬ ‭13:8‬ ‭NKJV‬‬)

Now there are two clear thoughts in that verse, and so we can divide our study up into an outline just by using those two thoughts. On the one hand, we are to OWE NONE. On the other hand, we OWE ALL.

Owe None

OWE NO ONE ANYTHING except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. (‭‭Romans‬ ‭13:8‬ ‭NKJV‬‬)

Now the main thought in this section is love, but before we get to that main thought, we need to deal with this one. Paul has been talking about indebtedness - Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor. (‭‭Romans‬ ‭13:7‬ ‭NKJV‬‬) Whatever is owed, to whomever it is owed, pay it. So his thoughts continue into vs. 8 and naturally, as one would expect when dealing with the topic of indebtedness, turn to the financial.
At first glance we might be tempted to use this verse to teach that a Christian should never borrow money… that debt is always to be avoided. Many good Bible believers, including my favorite preacher of all time, Charles Spurgeon, believed that is exactly what this verse teaches. But to teach so would make this verse disagree with other scriptures.

For example we are told to lend to those who need it. In His Sermon on the Mount Jesus said, Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away. (Matthew‬ ‭5:42‬ ‭NKJV‬‬) So we can't take this one verse and adamantly proclaim that borrowing money is always wrong, because the Bible does not teach in other places that debt is always wrong. Rather it teaches that we should pay our debts (and that's how at least one other translation interprets this verse - let no debt remain outstanding), and not defraud (You shall not steal). We should not charge others exorbitant interest. We should work to pay for our needs (For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat. (‭‭II Thessalonians‬ ‭3:10‬ ‭NKJV‬‬). To not pay a debt is to steal from the lender. Clearly that is wrong, violating the 8th commandment. And to constantly use debt to obtain unnecessary items that we can't afford to pay for falls into the realm of coveting, and is therefore also clearly wrong, violating the 10th commandment.

So we cannot use this one verse to say NEVER borrow money. But comparing it to the rest of the Bible we can make the case that it is USUALLY dangerous and OFTEN wrong to borrow money. A major component in making the decision is knowing yourself. If you can't handle a credit card… If you can't pay it off each month, then you should not have it. If you have to struggle at the end of each month to pay off your credit card bills because you don't make enough money to cover your living expenses and your purchases for the month, then get rid of them. If you find yourself saying, “I'll start tithing and giving to God someday, but I can't afford to give now” because your bills are too high, then you need to get rid of the credit cards. We're clearly taught to worship God with our finances. (On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come. (‭‭I Corinthians‬ ‭16:2‬ ‭NKJV‬‬) We're also clearly taught to save money for the future. Read Proverbs and you'll find that taught throughout. So if you're in a situation where you can't save a penny because you are buried paying off credit card bills and your outgo exceeds your income, then you need to get rid of the credit cards and the debt.

Most people today, at least here in America, would benefit from taking Paul's words to heart and OWE NONE. Debt is almost always destructive and many carry a seemingly insurmountable burden of debt.
Older Americans are burdened with unprecedented debt loads as more and more baby boomers enter what are meant to be their retirement years owing far more on their houses, cars and even college loans than previous generations. The average 65-year-old borrower has 47% more mortgage debt and 29% more auto debt than 65-year-olds had in 2003, after adjusting for inflation, according to data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York…[Josh, Zumbrun, “People Over 50 Carrying More Debt Than in the Past”, Wall Street Journal Feb 12, 2016]
Debt is a terrible burden that impoverishes so many. We tend to think that we are richer because we are surrounded by things, but since we don't actually own those things, but rather are indebted to somehow pay for them, they are actually an obligation and make us poorer! Just yesterday I saw a quote that said, “If you have no debts and $10 in your pocket you have more wealth than 25% of Americans.“

So Christian, Paul is clear here. In nearly every circumstance you should OWE NONE.

Before I get off this topic, let me remind you that at our church we have some tools in place to help you with these issues. "You mean the church will pay off my debts for me Pastor?” No. Of course not. One of the things we must all remember is that if we incur the debt, we must pay for it. Nobody else will do it for us. You want the thing. You also get the payments. So the church won't help you that way. But we can help by teaching you wise money management concepts from Scripture. Dave Ramsey's “Financial Peace University” is an excellent class that has helped multiplied thousands to defeat their debt problem. We have a certified instructor here and will be teaching another class soon, and who also offers one on one financial counseling. These are non-judgmental offerings that will HELP YOU.

I've been there - buried under debt. I've lived through the times where I hated to answer the phone because I knew the voice of a collector was probably what I would hear. Most in this room have been there. Some of us have learned to apply the Bible's teaching in this area and don't ever want to look back. I GUARANTEE that you will be better off if you handle your money God's way. That doesn't mean you will be rich, but it does mean that you will be happier, and healthier, and more whole.

So, the first principal from our text this morning is, OWE NONE. The second might sound a bit like a contradiction:

Owe All

There is one area where we are indebted and can never pay off the debt. There is one payment that we will make and must make forever. We are indebted to LOVE ONE ANOTHER.

Its interesting that Paul described it as a debt, as something we owe. Owe no one anything EXCEPT TO LOVE ONE ANOTHER, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. (‭‭Romans‬ ‭13:8‬ ‭NKJV‬‬)
So, just as we are to render to Caesar what is Caesars, and to God what is God's… Just as we are to Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor. (Romans‬ ‭13:7‬ ‭NKJV‬‬), so we are to render to others what we owe them - love. This is the greatest obligation that any of us have. Jesus said the greatest Commandments were to love God and love each other. Jesus said to him, You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets. (‭‭Matthew‬ ‭22:37, 39-40‬ ‭NKJV‬‬)

Over and over we're taught this truth:

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. "By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35 NKJV)

Let all that you do be done with love. (1 Corinthians 16:14 NKJV)

And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma. (Ephesians 5:2 NKJV)

But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. (Colossians 3:14 NKJV)

We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death. … And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment. (1 John 3:14, 23 NKJV)

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. … Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. … And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also. (1 John 4:7, 11, 21 NKJV)

So in the matter of finances, we strive to OWE NONE, but in the matter of loving one another, we OWE ALL. Where we may (and should) work diligently to get OUT of debt in other areas, and where we may consider a debt to be a temporary burden, LOVE is a forever debt. We are never delivered from this obligation… And we never make the last payment.

Now Paul makes an interesting distinction in this verse that might not be immediately obvious. When he said “another” here he used the Greek word HETEROS which is one of a couple of Greek words that equate to the English word “another”. HETEROS literally means “another of a different kind.” This contrasts with another Greek word - ALLOS, which means another of the same kind.

Vine's explanation of the difference between HETEROS and ALLOS is very helpful:
Allos (ἄλλος, 243) and heteros (ἄλλος, 2087) have a difference in meaning, which despite a tendency to be lost, is to be observed in numerous passages. Allos expresses a numerical difference and denotes “another of the same sort”; heteros expresses a qualitative difference and denotes “another of a different sort.” Christ promised to send “another Comforter” (allos, “another like Himself,” not heteros), John 14:16. Paul says “I see a different (kjv, “another”) law,” heteros, a law different from that of the spirit of life (not allos, “a law of the same sort”), Rom. 7:23. After Joseph’s death “another king arose,” heteros, one of quite a different character, Acts 7:18. Paul speaks of “a different gospel (heteros), which is not another” (allos, another like the one he preached), Gal. 1:6-7. [Vine, W.E., “Vine's Complete Expository Dictionary Of Old And New Testament Words”]
The point is simply this - Paul's words here go beyond the family of God. We know and accept that we should love one another as brothers and sisters in the the church. We've seen that truth put forth before in Romans“Be kindly affectionate to one another (ALLOS) with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another (Romans‬ ‭12:10‬ ‭NKJV‬‬) There he spoke of our loving other Christians - those who are like us. Here, he speaks of how we treat others in general - both saved and unsaved - those who are different from us. And our debt is the same to either. We are to love them.

Do you not grow weary with how our culture puts value on certain people and less value on others? There is a tendency with some to put more value on the life of a child than the life of an adult. There is the even more prevalent tendency in our culture today to value the life of an adult more than the life of a child - especially if the child is not yet born. There is the tendency to value the life of a woman more than the life of her unborn child. There are groups like ISIS which are easily dismissed as unlovable. And in the politically charged environment in which we live, it's awfully easily to think those who espouse similar viewpoints to our own are loveable while the opposite is true of those who think differently. Today we have to listen to constant refrains like “black lives matter” and in it's wake every other group has come up with a “FILL IN THE BLANK lives matter.”

The fact is, ALL LIVES MATTER. The clear teaching of Scripture is that every child, every woman, every man, every teenager, every homeless person, every black, every white, every brown, every lost, every saved, EVERYBODY is unbelievably loved by God. And we are to love EVERYBODY in that same way. None are MORE important. And none are LESS important.

That's a key component to the gospel. “The Christian gospel is that I am so flawed that Jesus had to die for me, yet I am so loved and valued that Jesus was glad to die for me.” (Keller)

Thom Ranier told of how one church loving the unchurched made a difference:
Gloria S. was ready to take her life. Years of drug abuse, failed relationships, and multiple rejections had taken their toll. Prepared with countless prescription drugs she saved for the purpose, Gloria turned on the television to keep her neighbors from hearing. The channel was tuned in to a Billy Graham crusade. At the bottom of the screen was a telephone number for anyone needing help. Gloria called the number before she took the pills. The counselor recognized the seriousness of Gloria's situation. She directed Gloria to a nearby Wesleyan church where someone would be able to help her. Gloria decided to put off her suicide and attend the church the next day, Sunday. Just before the worship service began, Gloria met the pastor. “Billy Graham sent me,” she told him. Sometime later, Gloria was able to give this testimony. Billy Graham saved me from killing myself, but my church showed me how to be saved from my sins. The love of the people was incredible. I never knew someone as dirty as me could ever receive love again. The people accepted me just as I was. I have seen Jesus. He is in the faces of all these people who love me.[Thom S. Rainer, Surprising Insights From the Unchurched, (Zondervan, 2001) p. 166]
In his book, Sources of Strength, President Jimmy Carter shared this lesson.
After a personal witnessing experience with Eloy Cruz, an admirable Cuban pastor who had surprising rapport with very poor immigrants from Puerto Rico, I asked him for the secret of his success. He was modest and embarrassed, but he finally said, “Senor Jimmy, we only need to have two loves in our lives. For God, and for the person who happens to be in front of us at any time.” That simple yet profound theology has been a great help to me in understanding the Scriptures. In essence, the whole Bible is an explanation of those two loves.[Jimmy Carter, Sources of Strength, Meditations on Scripture for a Living Faith, Times Books, 1997, p. xvii]
Augustine said, “Disturbers are to be rebuked, the low-spirited to be encouraged, the infirm to be supported, objectors confuted, the treacherous guarded against, the unskilled taught, the lazy aroused, the contentious restrained, the haughty repressed, litigants pacified, the poor relieved, the oppressed liberated, the good approved, the evil borne with, and ALL ARE TO BE LOVED.”[Aurelius Augustine, Leadership, Vol. 10, no. 4]

So with regard to financial obligations, we should OWE NONE. But with regard to our obligation to love others, we have a never ending, impossible to pay, debt - we are to OWE ALL.

One last thought jumps out at me from this passage.

Paul says Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore LOVE IS THE FULFILLMENT OF THE LAW. (Romans‬ ‭13:10‬ ‭NKJV‬‬) I know that many teach that as Christians you need not fulfill the 10 commandments. But I don't think that is Biblical. The CORRECT teaching of Scripture, and that taught by Paul here, is that “as Christians your guiding principal is to love one another, and if you truly do that, you WILL fulfill the 10 commandments.”

Notice what he is saying here - If you love somebody you cannot hate them or murder them. If you love somebody you will not steal from them. If you love somebody you will not lie or cheat them. If you love somebody you will do nothing harmful to them. You will fulfill the law! But you will do so because you are motivated by love and not by compulsion.

We love Christ, therefore we obey Him… therefore we follow Him.

We love others, therefore we do good and right to them… therefore we do no harm to them. We can spend our time trying to live up to God's moral law, or we can just concentrate on loving God and loving others. The former will frustrate. The latter will succeed.


Well, maybe you're struggling with this a bit. Maybe this kind of loving others seems impossible to you. If so, consider one final verse - But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. (Galatians‬ ‭5:22-23‬ ‭NKJV‬‬). Notice that this love Paul talks about doesn't come naturally. It is the fruit of the Holy Spirit working in our lives. As such, it's pretty easy to see that a prerequisite for this kind of love is having the Holy Spirit's working in our lives, and that only comes to those who are saved. So if you are struggling with loving as Paul teaches here, perhaps your struggle is deeper. Perhaps you're not born again. Perhaps you've never been saved. Perhaps you are still lost in your sins and have never trusted Christ.

I see a few challenges from this text:
  1. Some need to consider the instruction to OWE NONE and have a little talk with Jesus about their mismanagement of finances. Is that you?
  2. Some need to consider the instruction to OWE ALL. There is no loop hole here whereby you can excuse your lack of love for others. You owe a debt - you're to love others. How are you doing with that? Is the Holy Spirit bringing a face into your mind right now… perhaps someone you've struggled to love? Maybe it's not a face, but rather a group or class of people you have trouble with. Where some of us may need to pray for help with financial debt, ALL of us need to pray for help with the love debt, because ALL of us owe it.
  3. Some might need to consider that they struggle with this because they don't have the resources to live it. Only the saved can love others rightly. Are you saved? Are you born again? If you are uncertain, then you must call upon the name of the Lord… you must receive Christ as your Savior… you must believe and saved… you must be born again. Do it now. Then and only then can you love as you are loved.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Everything starts with the Book!

... they told Ezra the scribe to bring the book... (Nehemiah 8:1)

Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful; But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night. (Psalm 1:1-2 NKJV)

Without the Book, nobody comes to Christ!

So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Romans 10:17 NKJV)

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. (Romans 1:16 NKJV)

I read once of two men who were riding together on a stagecoach and struck up a conversation. One man was a Christian, and the other an atheist. Upon learning this, the Christian quoted a verse of scripture to the atheist. "Do you believe you will convince me of your God by quoting from a book I don't accept?" asked the atheist. The Christian simply quoted another verse. This pattern played out throughout their journey, with the Christian taking every opportunity to quote the Word to the lost man. Their journey ended and they parted ways. Years later the Christian was walking down the street when he was approached by a man with a familiar look. It was the atheist, now saved, who had sought out the believer to let him know the words he had quoted so incessantly had never left his mind, and he had eventually turned to Christ as a result.

It is the Book that brings revival!

Here is a challenge for you, reader. Study the revivals that have happened throughout history. When
you do, you will discover that they all coincided with a renewed emphasis on the Word of God. Great preaching of the Word brought great revival. Consider Luther, Wesley, Whitefield, Edwards, Moody! All saw multitudes won to Christ and multitudes revived in their love for Christ through an emphasis on preaching the Word.

I pray for revival often. Do you? How we long to see our church, our homes, our community, our nation and our world turn back to God. There is only one way! "Bring the Book!"

The state of your home is dependent on the role of the Book therein!

Parents... moms... dads... if you allow your children to live a life that centers on the world, do not be surprised when that is the life they choose in adulthood. If the Bible is not a central figure in your home (more so than the television and Facebook and any other worldly influence), then don't be surprised when your children show no interest.

It is so common to hear parents of adult children regretting the fact their children moved away from home and now they show no interest in church or the things of God. Small wonder, Dad, since every Sunday you taught them by your actions that church was ok, as long as nothing more interesting happened to be going on! Small wonder, mom, since every evening they saw you watching "Desperate Housewives" and can't remember a time they ever saw you pick up your Bible except to carry it like a decoration to church.

Godly homes start when we "BRING THE BOOK!"

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:4–9 NKJV)

Your personal walk with God depends on your personal dependence on the Book

True success does not come from education... or upbringing... or even from hard work. All of those are valuable and encouraged. But ultimately, true success comes when we "bring the Book" into our daily lives.

This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. (Joshua 1:8 NKJV)

If these people were to become what they could be for God, they needed to be a people of the Book. And so, they said to Ezra, "BRING THE BOOK".

(The above is an excerpt from "Digging Into Nehemiah" by William E. Johnson, available now for your Kindle on

Any Value In Last Words?

(Following is an excerpt from "Dying Words, Living Words" by William E. Johnson, available on and in bookstores everywhere.)

Last words. They are the "period" at the end of the sentence that was a life.

We are often fascinated by a person's last words. "Thomas Jefferson still survives," said John Adams, the second President of the United States right before he died on July 4, 1826. He didn't know it at the time, but Jefferson had actually died earlier that same day. Jefferson's last words were, "Is it the Fourth?"

Sometimes last words reveal surprise at a life taken before it's time. "Et tu, Brute?" was the last question from the bloody and astonished lips of Gaius Julius Caesar, who was assassinated in 44 BC. "My God. What's happened?" said Diana (Spencer), Princess of Wales, moments before she died in a tragic automobile accident on August 31, 1997.

Last words can be sad... poignant. "I have tried so hard to do the right," said Grover Cleveland just before dying in 1908. "All my possessions for a moment of time," whispered the dying Queen Elizabeth I in 1603. And "Lord help my poor soul," were the sad last words from the poet and writer Edgar Allan Poe on October 7, 1849.

Romance even comes out in last words. "Josephine..." breathed Napoleon Bonaparte with his final breath in 1821. "I love you Sarah. For all eternity, I love you," said James K. Polk to his wife just before closing his eyes on earth for the last time.

And of course, last words can even be humorous to a point. "They couldn't hit an elephant at this dist...." said General John Sedgwick, Union Commander, just before being killed in battle during the US Civil War.

But of all the last words ever spoken, none compare to the last words of the dying Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ. Many books have been written, and sermons preached, on the seven sayings of Christ from the cross. This book is another attempt to mine the treasures found in those seven sayings.
But Jesus' last words were not spoken from the cross. Jesus rose from the dead, and appeared to His disciples during the ensuing 40 day period. He then spoke with Mary Magdalene and several other women. He spoke with Peter, James, and with the eleven. He spoke with two disciples on the road to Emmaus. He spoke with over 500 disciples at once on one occasion, and He spoke with Saul of Tarsus on the Damascus Road. And those sayings are just as instructive and worthy of our study as the seven sayings from the cross.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Crocodile Tears

(Following is an excerpt from Beth Johnson's book entitled "Farmer Girl: A Harvest of Faith", available on and in bookstores everywhere.)

One day in the month of February many years ago, when my daughter was 11 and my son was 9, we found out that we were going to have a baby. This was very exciting news for our little family. We had prayed for a long time to have another child. As the days rolled from one to another, anticipation of a baby lightened our hearts. The kids and I would talk about names and the fun we would have with a new baby. It was a very exciting time.

One morning, I made everyone a nice breakfast. I happily packed lunch boxes, brushed my daughter’s long blonde hair into a pony tail, zipped up my son’s winter jacket and watched them get on the yellow school bus. I cleaned up the kitchen, made all the beds, did some laundry, planned my menu for the next grocery trip, and enjoyed the beauty of the winter morning outside my kitchen window.

But just a couple hours later, Pastor Bill and I were on the way to the doctor’s office.

Something was wrong. I was having some unfamiliar pain. These were not normal symptoms of an early pregnancy. It took what seemed like forever for my doctor to direct me to the hospital. Yes, I was having an ectopic pregnancy. My trusted doctor’s words were, “This baby will not come to full term.” There could not have been any harsher, more devastating, and colder words said to me at this time in my life. We checked into the hospital. The blood work and ultrasound confirmed my doctor’s prognosis. I would have to have emergency major surgery.  

I had lost the baby. I would be in the hospital for 5 days. There would be a lengthy recovery at home. I would remain at home with empty arms and a broken heart.

The caring nurse moved me into a private room at the hospital. It was early afternoon. My doctor would perform this emergency surgery when he had completed his office hours. The nurse kindly pulled up a reclining chair for Pastor Bill to sit beside me. They drew the curtains and turned on some soft music. There in a painful semi-dark hospital room, we waited for surgery. There were no words, only holding of hands, and exchanged looks of deep sorrow. Finally the tears began to appear. I cried and cried. I wept for the loss of my baby. I wept for the pain and sorrow that my daughter and son would soon experience. I cried for the fear of surgery and the long recovery. I cried for the emptiness in my heart I knew I would remember every year in the month of February.

Everyone has a "drowning in tears" story in their life. A story that you can’t even share because your throat tightens up and your words won’t verbalize. The uncontrolled big full tears flow down your warm cheeks and roll onto your collar. These are the stories that we don’t share. These are the stories that we revisit infrequently. They are too painful.

As I was reflecting on this story in my life, I'll never forget how God carried me through. He gave the strength I needed to make it through every day... one day at a time. He saw every tear that dropped onto the crisp white hospital pillow. He saw every tear I shed in the privacy of our home. He knew my heart was broken. He felt my sadness. Those tears and feelings were real. I wasn’t crying crocodile tears. They were the real deal… the genuine heartfelt kind. He gave me the words to comfort Pastor Bill, my daughter and my son. He had His hand on me that February and He holds me this February. God wants us to be real with Him. He wants to bear our pain and sorrow. He loves us more than anyone else ever will or could. He wants to know how we feel. He wants us to share our genuine heart with Him.

You number my wanderings;
Put my tears into Your bottle;
Are they not in Your book? (Psalm 56:8)

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Learning To Weep

Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. (Romans 12:15 NKJV) 

One of the greatest lessons I learned from losing  my wife is to talk less and empathize more. Sometimes experience is the only way we can learn what Paul means in the second half of this verse.

I'm reminded of a scene from the movie Forest Gump, in which Forest is taking a walk through the  old neighborhood with his lifelong girlfriend, Jenny. Suddenly they find themselves looking at an abandoned shack, which Jenny recognizes as a place from her childhood - a place filled with painful and abusive memories. She looks at it for a few minutes silently, and then she drops to her knees, grabs a handful of rocks, and hurls them at the house. She repeats flinging rocks at the shack until she falls to the ground exhausted and weeping. Forest looks at her quietly and then says, "Sometimes there just aren't enough rocks."

And sometimes there aren't any words. You can hurl word upon word at a situation and it will help little if any. Sometimes what a person needs is not words. Those are the times Paul refers to here - times when we ought to weep with those who weep, and keep the words to a minimum.

Job went through some things, if you recall. And after he had lost his health and his wealth and his family and his reputation, some of his friends came to comfort him. They started out so great:

Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this adversity that had come upon him, each one came from his own place—Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. For they had made an appointment together to come and mourn with him, and to comfort him. And when they raised their eyes from afar, and did not recognize him, they lifted their voices and wept; and each one tore his robe and sprinkled dust on his head toward heaven. So they sat down with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his grief was very great. (Job 2:11-13 NKJV) 

What a great start! But then they opened their mouths and it all went downhill.

When a brother or sister hurts, our words are not as important as our tears. Be there. Weep along with them. Weep with those who weep. They will get far more from your tears than your words at times like that.

(For more on the topics of grieving and ministering to the grieving, please see William E. Johnson's book "MY Grief Observed", available on and at bookstores everywhere.)

Saturday, May 03, 2014

44 and Just Getting Started

This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. (I Timothy 1:15 NKJV)

I've published this same blog posting for the last few years. Each year it gets more precious. Praise the Lord.

It was May 3, 1970. In just 24 hours one of this area's most well-known historical events would occur - the shootings at Kent State University. But on May 3, something happened that didn't make the news, and is unknown to all but a select few now. On that day, a twelve year old boy experienced the most important event in his personal history. That boy was me, and on May 3, 1970, I trusted Christ as my Savior. I am, spiritually, 44 years old today. And so it is a special day as I look back over the journey Christ has led me on so far - a journey that has included both ups and downs, successes and failures, victories and defeats. But one thing is certain. I am more sure today of His love for me than I have ever been. He promised, "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." (Hebrews 13:5) I can testify after 44 years of walking with Him, that He never has, and He never will.

“Although my memory's fading, I remember two things very clearly: I am a great sinner and Christ is a great Savior.” (John Newton)

Saturday, November 06, 2004

England Trip Notes - 10/23/2004

I slept about 2 hours last night, due to the extreme discomfort with my tooth. Five a.m. finally rolled around and I awoke Beth. We did our final packing, straightened up the room, and headed for Gatwick.

The drive was uneventful, and the traffic was manageable, until we got close to Gatwick. We hoped for meaningful traffic signs to guide us to the rental car return, but there were none until we were within sight of the rental car building, anyway. We had trouble figuring out exactly where to take the car, but finally sorted it out, and proceeded to the counter. I fully expected a long and painful ordeal, as I knew I would have to pay for the flat tire, and I fully expected them to charge me for the small dent resulting from our Chipping Camden experience. However, they did not charge me for either! I was quite thrilled, and our experience with Enterprise Rental turned out to be a pleasant surprise.

The rest of the day was just long boring travel. Waiting in lines at Gatwick, traversing security, customs, and immigration both in England, and in Philadelphia, and of course sitting for endless hours in the coach section of two different airplanes, makes for uninteresting reading, so I will not say anything more.

We arrived to find Dad waiting for us at the baggage claim, and he drove us home. There's no place like home. We loved England, and both agree that it may have been our best vacation ever, but we are glad to be home.

England Trip Notes - 10/22/2004

Our last day here began with one central goal - find a dentist. After a sleepless night where I consumed Tylenol every two hours, and bathed my tooth in Chloroseptic even more often, I realized that I needed to do something before trying to drive to Gatwick tomorrow for the return flight. About 3:00 AM, I scanned the yellow pages for dentists (dental surgeons, as they are called here), and found several in Oakham. When morning finally rolled around, I called the front desk and asked for a recommended dentist, which they provided -Dentith and Dentith on South Street in Oakham. Alas, they would not help me, however, telling me that I needed to go to Leicester to the NHS service. I tried two other dentists in Oakham with the same result, but the fourth and last one I called, West Road Dental Practice, proved a success. At least they were willing to see me, giving me a 12:15 appointment.

The dental office appeared just as they do in the states, so my first emotion was relief. However, I received no satisfaction from the visit. An xray was taken, but it was taken incorrectly, so that the crucial part of the tooth did not show. If I had an abcessed tooth, there was no way to know it for that portion of the tooth was not on the image! However, the dentist decided that there was nothing he could do for me except to recommend Tylenol and Ibuprofen every four hours (alternating, so that I was actually taking one of them every two hours). He would not prescribe antibiotics because he could not see an abcess on the xray (which was easily explained by the fact that he had screwed up the xray!), so I paid him and left. He did manage to terrify me, though, by telling me that abcesses don't like airplanes (I thought he didn't see an abcess?), and that the pain level could get quite intense at high altitude. I'm not looking forward to the plane ride home.

We left the dentist and drove to the chemist (pharmacy) to get some more advil and tylenol. We then went home to pack and get ready for our trip home.

England Trip Notes - 10/21/2004

I was rudely knocked out of bed at 4:00 this morning by my miserable tooth. I bathed it in Chloroseptic and popped two more Tylenol, and managed a couple more hours of sleep. As we prepared for our drive south, I listened to the weather report, and was pleasantly surprised to hear that we could expect rain, gale force winds, and maybe as much as two or three minutes of sunshine today. Sigh... We did want to see the real England, so I guess we should accept the real England's weather as well. However, that turned out to be a false alarm, for the weather today was beautiful and sunny all day. There was quite a wind, and at one point during out visit to Stonehenge, it pelted us with sleet, but barring that exception, it was a beautiful day.

We headed south on the A1 toward London, and swung around on the M25 to visit Windsor Castle. Beth did not want to spend the money to go inside, so we walked around it a bit, and took some pictures. We also shopped for a few souveniers in the town of Windsor. From there we drove approximately an hour further to Stonehenge. We had debated whether or not to make the long drive to this site, but upon seeing it were convinced it was worth it. Because it was sleeting while we were there, and the sun was shining brilliantly as well, a stunning rainbow appeared, and many of my pictures of the site were framed in that rainbow. I am anxious to see how they turn out.

Leaving Stonehenge, we drove back north toward Althorp, the site where Dianna is buried. This site is not open this time of year, but Beth hoped to be able to catch a glimpse from the road. However, after driving quite a while, we discovered that we were going the wrong way, and did not want to spend the time needed to backtrack. So, we did not see Althorp.

In a little village called Newbury, we stopped for lunch at the Yew Tree Inn. The food was good, and we were pleased to learn that the bartender was an American who happened to be studying abroad in England for a while. We had a pleasant conversation with him.

After lunch, we headed on home. The only other thing of significance to report about this day is that I was in intense pain from my tooth all day. When we got back into Oakham we stopped at the Tesco (supermarket) to try and find something that would give relief. We settled on baby teething gel, but that did nothing for me, and Tesco had nothing else. Tomorrow, I need to either go to the Chemist (pharmacist), or even better, a dentist.

England Trip Notes - 10/20/2004

Cambridge, Sandringham, and miserable rain. That pretty much sums up the day.

We left early, and headed south on the A1 with our destination Cambridge. The drive was quite pleasant, even though we got into heavy traffic during the morning rush hour. We stopped for breakfast at a Little Chef restaurant along the highway, and the food was surprisingly good. These Little Chefs appear all along the highways, somewhat like the ubiquitous Howard Johnson restaurants in the United States. My expectations were low, so I was pleasantly surprised.

Unfortunately, it rained all day long, and was so dark and cloudy that it seemed like the sun was down all day. In Cambridge, we visited 1 Trinity, the site of the oldest bookstore in England - Cambridge University Press Bookstore. I found a very nice leather bound Cambridge Bible, and bought it as my main souvenier of the trip. It cost 85 pounds, or roughly $150.00. We also visited the King's College Chapel, which is a stunning example of architecture, containing the most exquisite vaulted ceiling I've ever seen.

Leaving Cambridge, we drove east toward Sandringham, which is the queen's summer estate. Sitting on 20000 acres, this is a truly beautiful home. It does not look like a castle, but more like a monstrous house, but it is beautiful. Unfortunately, the ever present rain and wind made it too unpleasant to walk through the gardens, which sounded wonderful.

A toothacre is threatening to ruin my trip, and it became quite severe during the drive today. Leaving Sandringham, we drove back to Oakham for dinner at the Admiral Hornblowers Restaurant, and I simply could not enjoy the meal for the pain. At one point, the pain became so severe that I broke out in a torrential sweat and began eyeing the dessert spoons as possible suicide solutions.

After supper, we returned to the lodge where I consumed unhealthy amounts of pain killers, and doused the evil tooth in Chloroseptic. Finally, the pain subsided to a dull throb. Just in time, too, as I think I was burning a softball sized hole in my stomach lining with all the medication, not to mention the impending liver failure from so much Tylenol!

Tomorrow, assuming I live through the night, we plan on a long drive day, taking in Stonehenge and Windsor Castle.

England Trip Notes - 10/19/2004

I woke up about 11:00 today, so marking the start of a very lazy day. We laid around the resort all morning, and finally decided to shower and get moving around 12:30.

We went to Oakham and played with the library computers, then drove to Stamford where we spent the remainder of the afternoon. Stamford is a truly beautiful little town, with a large downtown area blocked to traffic. Since it is all pedestrian traffic, it is a wonderful place to walk and shop. We returned to the little Bible bookstore we had visited last week. I asked the proprietor if he knew whether Cambridge leather bibles could be purchased at Cambridge, and he called Cambridge and came back with a nice printed map showing exactly how to find Cambridge University Press. I hope to find a nice Bible as my souvenir from this trip. We are considering Cambridge for tomorrow's destination. The man in the Bible bookstore is illustrative of what we've seen in these people everywhere we go. They are extremely friendly and down to earth people. They don't seem keen to start a conversation, but will warm right up to you if you start one with them.

We tried to have supper at a really neat looking restaurant in Eppingham (which is a little town between Stamford and Barnsdale), but they do not start serving supper until 7:00. Since it was only 5:30 when we were there, we moved on. We eventually had dinner at the Brassiere Restaurant at the lodge. Beth had a good looking chicken pie, and I had some sort of pasta.

The day ended in front of the TV, again desperately searching for something to watch.

England Trip Notes - 10/18/2004

London. One cannot visit England and leave out London, can they? Since the answer to that question is an emphatic "no," we spent this day in that greatest of all the English cities.

The day started early, with our drive to the Oakham train station. We arrived quite early, thinking that we might struggle for parking. However, parking was abundant, leaving us with time to freeze our keisters off while waiting for the train. The train took us from Oakham to Peterborough, where we changed onto the fast train to London's Kings Cross train station. Once there, we took the Underground (known in America as the subway) to Baker Street. Where we emerged from the underground, we were greeted with a large statue of Sherlock Holmes, commemorating his fictitious address of 221 Baker Street. We found the box office for the Original London Tour bus company, and booked passage on the tour bus. It took us all over town, with a knowledgable guide providing commentary concerning the various sites. We saw many things, and I probably cannot remember them all. I recall seeing St. Paul's Cathedral (quite breathtaking, even if it was under construction and hidden behind scaffolding), the Tower of London, Madame Toussaud's wax museum, the Tower Bridge, the memorial to the great fire of London, the London Eye, and many other things. The tour was set up such that we could exit at any stop and view the area, and then simply hop onto the next tour bus to continue the tour. The buses run every 10 minutes or so. However, we were content to just ride the tour, and we never did
get off at any exit. We considered getting off and touring the Tower of London, but time didn't permit.

After the tour, we found a Starbucks and had coffee and sandwiches. American style food was a welcome change.

Leaving Starbucks, we jumped back on the tube (underground), and headed to the South Kensington exit, which we thought would put us near Harrod's Department Store. Alas, we were left with a long walk. The day was beautiful, though, with ample sunshine and shirtsleeve temperatures, so we didn't mind. Harrod's is everything we had heard. It is monstrous in size, and carries anything you can think of. We did not have enough time to see it all. I think you could easily spend a day there, if you wanted to. Beth bought some souvenirs and some ornaments for the Christmas tree.

The return trip was uneventful. Leaving Harrod's, we took the tube back to Kings Cross train station, hopped on our train back to Peterborough, and at Peterborough, changed to the Oakham train, and home.

We both enjoyed the trip to London, but Beth was quite stressed by it. We picked a day when there were major sections of the city blocked off for a parade in honor of the British champions from the recent winter Olympics. Tour busses could not go into the areas where the parade was, so that added to traffic problems and caused us to miss some things. This, plus the bustle and congestion of such a large city seemed to have unduly stressed Beth. She developed a severe headache, and was quite glad to be out of London. I did not mind it as much as her, but have seen enough of the city to last me. Not being much for cities, I would rate it as one of the least enjoyable days we've spent so far. Two things made it nice for me, though. First, I did not have to drive. I could actually look out the windows of the trains and see the scenery. Second, the weather was beautiful. So far, this has been the nicest day in that respect.

Coming back from Oakham, we stopped at a little take away (take out) restaurant, and picked up some fish and chips for dinner. Their packaging was interesting, as they gave us two large fillets of fish, each individually wrapped in a piece of paper, as well as a large pile of potatoes, also wrapped up in paper.

All told, it was a nice day, but I think we've seen the last of London. We had originally planned on at least two days there, but Beth does not want to go back.

England Trip Notes - 10/17/2004

Well, it is the Lord's Day, and we spent it just like we would at home - worshipping in church, and resting at home.

Beth was so taken with the Oakham Baptist Church last Sunday evening, that we attended there again this morning. The service was wonderful. Once again, we were both impressed with the excited atmosphere and vibrant worship. Everybody seemed to truly want to be in church. The singing was loud and rich, with both old and young entering into it. The preaching was right down the line from Luke 13 - the straight and narrow way. We left the service fully intending to return for the evening service tonight.

With both of us feeling tired, we laid around all afternoon napping and watching TV. We took advantage of the time to get the laundry done.

Evening came, and we drove back to the Oakham Baptist Church where we once again enjoyed the fellowship and the service.

England Trip Notes - 10/16/2004

For two reasons - because we had driven a rather long distance yesterday, and because we had to check out of our A-frame cottage this morning and check back into our new room in the Stable Mews this afternoon, we chose to stay close to home today.

After checking out, we drove into Oakham and parked the car in the Long Stay car park. From there we visited the library and sent a few emails. Since it was Farmer's Market day in Oakham, there were stalls set up everywhere with a variety of wares. Most were produce and various foods, but there were a few other items as well. We wandered through and bought a few small things. We also visited the train station and booked our trip to London for Monday morning. We will take a train from Oakham to Petersborough, and from there take the fast train to London.

We enjoyed lunch at the Admiral Hornblower, where Beth had Steak and Ale pie, and I had a traditional sausage mash. Both were delicious. We wandered and shopped some more, and then eventually worked our way back to the Acorn Coffee House for tea and scones. By the time we finished that, it was time to check in.

Our new room is positively tiny in comparison to the A-frame we had last week, but it is cozy and well appointed. The kitchen is too small, with only enough space for one person to stand in, and there is no dishwasher. Other than that, we like the accomodations. It is much cozier than the other room, and Beth seems a little more at ease here.

Once settled into the new room, we made a run to the CO-OP for groceries, and then enjoyed an evening of dry English television and pizza.

Tomorrow, we plan to attend church at Oakham Baptist, and then play it by ear from there.

England Trip Notes - 10/15/2004

We learned today that the drive north to York is much less intimidating than the drive south. This was our first foray into the north of England.

We left at 7:30 AM and took the A1 north to Thirsk. Thirsk is the site of Alf Wight's (aka James Herriot) veterinary practice, and one of the places that was high on my list. Alf died in 1995, as did Donald Sinclair (aka Siegfried Farnon). After their deaths, the town council decided to make the house a museum, and so the old house, known as Skeldale house in the books, looks just as it would have during the period that the books describe. I, being a fan of James Herriot books, enjoyed this visit more than Beth, but she seemed to like it too. We toured the house, viewed the museum and other displays they have set up, and I even sat in the old Austin 7 that Alf used for his rounds.

Leaving Thirsk, we drove to the outskirts of York and used the Park and Ride system to enter the city. We had several things we wanted to do in York, but we had spent too much time inThirsk, so we headed for the most important on our list, the York Minster Cathedral. Again, the tour of this facility took much longer than planned, cutting even further into our itinerary, but it was worth it. The cathedral traces its history all the way back to the 5th century, although not in its present form. It is spectacular from an architectural perspective and awe-inspiring from a historical perspective. Due to time constraints, we had to forgo climbing the tower and descending into the crypt underneath.

From the Minster, we meandered into town. It is an old medeaval city which reminded me of our visit to Jerusalem. Walking in one direction, and then turning around and heading back where you think you came from, does not always lead you to your starting point. Roads curve and wind and go under and around, so that before you know it, you are lost.

We found our way, though, only having to ask directions a couple of times. We visited the Shambles, which is the outdoor market area, and we enjoyed a cream tea at Betty's Tea Rooms. Both of us agreed that the scones at Hathaway Team Rooms in Stratford were much better than these, but it was good, nonetheless.

We took our leave of York by hopping back on our park and ride bus, returned to the car park, and headed south on the A1 toward home. The return trip took longer because it was rush hour, and it was raining miserably, so traffic stopped and started, and when moving, moved slowly. But, we arrived back at our humble cottage safely, and for that we are thankful.

Tomorrow, we plan to check out of the A-frame cottage, visit the market in Oakham until 4:00 PM when we will check in to our second room here at Barnesdale, in the Stable Mews.

England Trip Notes - 10/14/2004

We awoke to the sound of rain pelting the roof of our A-framed condo. That, coupled with the fact we slept until 10:00, made for a lazy morning hanging around the condo.

Today was planned to be a slow day, anyway, making up for all the driving yesterday. We did not do much. After a lazy breakfast, we drove into Oakham. While there, we used the computers in the Rutland Library to send an email to the kids. We walked down to the tourist information center and talked with them about options for touring London.

Leaving Oakham, we drove to Stamford and toured Burghley House, which was an exquisitely beautiful and awe-inspiring home. The past and current home of the Marquis of Exeter and his family, it is currently occupied by the youngest daughter of the 8th Marquis. Her name is Lady Victoria Leatham, and her husband is Mr. Simon Leatham. We met Simon walking through the home. The family lives on the first floor, which we could not enter. The rest of the house is simply magnificent and one of the most majestic homes I've ever seen. We both agreed that this was the most beautiful building we've seen so far on the trip.

We drove into Stamford so Beth could enjoy cream tea, but we were too late. Everything seems to close at 5:00 here, so we couldn't find anyplace that was open. We did visit a Christian bookstore where Beth bought a hymn book, and a music store.

We returned to the condo relaxed from an easy day, and remarked how nice it was to spend an entire day without smashing the car in any way! Beth started to prepare dinner. She had purchased some chicken a few days ago at the supermarket, but her nose determined that it was spoiled so she refused to cook it. We made reservations at the Brasserie Restaurant here at the resort, and had a wonderful meal. Beth chose the salmon, which looked wonderful, and I chose the chicken meat pie, which was excellent.

Tomorrow we drive north to visit the Yorkshire Dales. The weather reports are calling for rain, so we are praying that changes.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

England Trip Notes - 10/13/2004

With some nervousness, we ventured back out in the car today, once again pointing it southwest toward Stratford-upon-Avon. However, our fears were groundless, for we had a long day of driving with very few incidents. One of those incidents will probably cost me when I turn the car in to the rental company, but why worry about that now? It would only sour my vacation. So I won't think about it.

We were on the road at 7:00 AM, giving us a good start ahead of the rush hour. Beth's navigational skills, while always good, were superb today, and she directed me to Stratford without a hitch, where we arrived at 9:40. We bought the ticket to see all five Shakespeare houses, but after we had seen three, we were Shakespeared out, and decided against the other two. We toured Anne Hathaway's house (Shakespeare's wife), the Mary Arden house and farm (Shakespeare's mother), and Shakespeare's birthplace. All were fascinating examples of 17th century architecture. Standing in those homes, viewing the timbers and furnishings that were 400 years old, was a reminder of just how much history is in this place. While America has a history, too, it is small compared to these European nations which measure time in thousands of years, rather than the few hundred we claim in the states.

While in Stratford, we enjoyed high tea at the Hathaway Tea Rooms. Beth enjoyed this more than me, I suppose, but it was interesting. The sandwiches were good, and the scones were delicious. I found the need to use the loo while there, and was amused to learn that the "Gents" room was through the back door, down an alley, and in a little building out back of the main facility.

Leaving Stratford-upon-Avon, we drove to the Cotswolds, visiting Broadway, Chipping Camden, and Stow on Wold in that order. These little towns were beautiful and different than anything we might find in the states. Supposedly, they are ideal places to go and walk and shop. We found them quaint, but because it was raining for most of our visit, did not enjoy much walking or shopping. The shops we did enter, however, were outrageously expensive, and specialized in items that did not
interest either of us. So, we mostly drove through and looked at things on the way through.

The aforementioned incident with the car occurred in Chipping Camden, where the roads are so narrow that one car will barely pass through without hitting on either side, and there is two way traffic on these streets! It involved lots of diving for little holes between cars to let oncoming drivers by. During one such dive, I clipped a parked car with the back corner of my poor, abused rental car. No mark was made on the parked car, but a tiny mark exists on the rental. It is no doubt large enough for them to notice, however, and charge me an exorbitant repair bill for. Sigh. That was a new car when I picked it up about 800 miles ago.

Leaving Stow-on-Wold, we headed back to Oakham, and once again turned a 2 1/2 hour drive into 3 1/2 hours when I took the wrong leg off a roundabout, putting us onto the motorway, and about 1 hour out of our way. Other than that, the drive back was calm.

The scenery we've been seeing as we drive is sometimes breathtaking. In the Cotswolds, we stopped several times just to photograph the view. Beautiful rolling hills, filled with hedges,and farm fields laid out as if by an artist were everywhere. While much of the day was gray and rainy, the sun would come out for periods, and light up the hills until they glowed.

And, there are other things we notice. There are pheasants everywhere. As we pass fields, we see literally hundreds of ringnecks just standing around looking bored. They fly across the road in front of the car.

We made it back to our little cottage about 8:00 PM, and ended our long day with a homemade dinner of spaghetti and canned corn, prepared by the most renowned chef in all of England - Beth Johnson.

England Trip Notes - 10/12/2004

Our crippled rental car prohibited us from travelling far today, so we spent the day at the resort, awaiting the repair from the rental company. It was a very dreary, gray, and rainy day anyway. We took advantage of the time to do the laundry, rest, and plan an itinerary for the next few days.

The Kwik Fit Mobile truck arrived at 4:00 PM and replaced the tire on the car, after which we took one brief trek into Oakham to visit the Lands End Factory Outlet store. This was a little disappointing because it was quite small. We were under the impression that it was a factory and some sort of headquarters for the company, but in reality, it is only a distribution center, primarily for womens' clothing. We met a very friendly English woman there who explained that only a subset of Lands End goods is sold in Europe.

We ate in today. Beth made a breakfast of eggs, cheese, and sausage, all purchased from the local CO-OP, and then we had a dinner of cheeseburgers on malted baps (buns), baked beans, and ice cream for desert. All this food tasted basically the same as in the states, with maybe a little less spice. Food, while delicious, does seem to be slightly on the bland side here.

Plans tomorrow call for Stratford-upon-Avon again, and the Cotswolds. We are leaving at 7:00 AM to try and get a jump on the traffic and the day.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

England Trip Notes - 10/11/2004

Day 3. Plans today call for Warwick Castle (pronounced WA-WICK), and the Cotswolds. These are a ways from our resort, so driving may be a challenge. I think I will have to buy gas today, so that should be a whole new experience.

Update - Well, the first paragraph was written at the start of the day, and now I write after the fact. Day 3 was, indeed, an interesting one. Let's hope that no such days occur again!

The drive to Warwick took about 2 1/2 hours, and was only mildly difficult. A recurring problem here is making a wrong turn off a roundabout and then having to back track. We seem to do this every so often, and lose time when it happens. Beth is a great navigator, however, and managed to direct me to the car park at Warwick Castle.

The castle was impressive, exactly what I imagined a great medieval castle would be. Containing Madame Toussaud's wax figures recreating period scenes, the entire setting took us back to the middle ages. We lunched at the Underground Restaurant in the lower level of the castle. Beth had cottage pie, which was quite good, and I had Warwickshire sausage in a Yorkshire pudding, which was smothered in gravy and served with roast potatoes and vegetables. Delicious. Once again, I am
surprised by how good the food is here.

We departed the castle about 4:00, and drove a short ways to Statford-upon-Avon. Everything was closing, however, so we did not get to see much. We saw Anne Hathaway's cottage from the outside, but they were closing so we could not enter. We took a few pictures and headed home, deciding to forgo the Cotswolds until another day.

Now the fun began, as we tried a different route for the return trip. Thinking the major roads would be quicker turned out to be our undoing. The chosen route took us through Leicester. The parts of the city we saw were drab and uninteresting, and seemed to go on forever. The fact that we traversed this area during what appeared to be rush hour only increased the tension. Roundabouts in this town were large, multilane affairs containing several traffic lights as you went around. Failure to
position ourselves in the correct lane when approaching usually meant we were forced off the roundabout into a multilane road going somewhere mysterious. After a few dozen of these mishaps my language had become something it should not be, and we were both reaching the end of our patience. Unfortunately, during this endless period in Leicester, it got dark, and that multiplied the problems as well as the stress level. Somehow, probably due to Beth's great navigational skill and not my
driving, we eventually came out of the nightmare and found ourselves driving away from Leicester and toward Oakham. Lessons learned from this unpleasant turn in an otherwise wonderful day - don't drive in the cities, don't drive during rush hour, and don't drive at night.

One last bit of joy occurred as we drove through what we thought was familiar territory - Oakham. Having had no problems with my driving technique throughout the entire day, here at the end of the day, I drifted too far left, smashed viciously into the curb, and blew the tire. The driving portion of our day ended with the car on the jack, and me installing the spare in the dark. Lesson learned from this
experience - keep the car rental agreement in the car at all times (we did not have any means to call the rental agency even if we wanted to), and NEVER DRIVE IN THE DARK!!!! Fortunately, there was no damage to the car, only the tire.

Piloting our wounded steed into its parking place at the lodge, we both slumped in our seats and breathed a prayer of thanks. Thanks for a beautiful day at Warwick, and thanks for safety on the roads in spite or our many mistakes and learning curve.

England Trip Notes - 10/10/2004

Day 2. I awoke about 8:00. As I write this, it is 10:30, and Beth is still sleeping.

She did eventually get up, and we had a beautiful and stress-free day in Oakham. The light Sunday traffic and the simple layout of the city made driving easy, so we drove into town, parked, and spent a couple of hours just walking the streets of Oakham. We enjoyed a "Sunday lunch" at the Rutland Coffee Shop, one of the few establishments that was open on Sunday. Interestingly, not much happens in England, apparently, on Sunday. Our Sunday lunch consisted of roast beef and gravy, roast
potatoes which were so hot I seared my palette on them, cabbage, cauliflower, carrots, and Yorkshire pudding. Quite delicious.

After lunch we toured the Oakham castle, which was built in 1180, and then toured the Oakham CO-OP supermarket, which was somewhat newer. We bought groceries and headed back to the resort. After a quiet couple of hours resting at home, we returned to Oakham for the evening services of the Oakham Baptist Church. There were only about 17 in attendance, but it was a very moving and spiritual service. The speaker did not show up, but the group carried on with testimonies and singing, and Beth and I both agreed it was a wonderful service and a great experience.

Of course, the day was not all rosy. I did go the wrong way on a roundabout in Oakham, nearly killing Beth, myself, and several Brits. But other than this minor mishap, it was an idealic day.

England Trip Notes - 10/9/2004

Travel day. We spent the day sitting on planes and in airports, flying out of Cleveland at 4:30 PM on October 8, through Philadelphia, and on to London's Gatwick airport, arriving at 8:30 AM Saturday, October 9. The flight was as comfortable and uneventful as any flight ever is, and, per my norm, I found myself unable to sleep much during the flight. We arrived therefore with a mix of excitement and weariness.

Our first business (after immigration and customs, which was a formality and very quick) was to "hire" a car. I had been anticipating my first few hours of British driving with trepidation, but it was not as bad as I feared. My first experience was on the M23 motorway, which was just like driving the freeway at home, except everything is reversed. You enter from the left, and the slow lane is on the left, and you "overtake," or pass, only on the right. I was just getting comfortable
with the car and the environment when Beth decided we would drive south to Canterbury. Yikes.

Once off the motorway, things got interesting quite quickly. The first time I experienced a two way road where heavy traffic was flying toward me on the right, I actually experienced a wave of nausea. It took some getting used to seeing them coming from the wrong side. And, I had difficulty with curbing my left wheels, as I tended to drive too far to the left. Hopefully this trait will wain with practice. Otherwise, I may wear the car out before I turn it in.

Canterbury was a nightmare. Extremely tight streets, seemingly millions of roundabouts, coupled with an annual Canterbury Festival that was occurring and my sleep deprivation, made for a tense time. Once in the city, all we could think of was getting out alive, so we did not see much. We may return later in the week, when we are more prepared, rested, and able to cope.

From Canterbury we drove north and stopped for lunch of fish and chips and peas at the First and Last Freehouse in Herne. From there, it was on to our resort in Barnesville, where we arrived about 5:30 PM. The resort is beautiful, and we could not be more pleased. For our first week, we are settled into a lovely A-framed cottage containing four bedrooms, full living room, dining room, kitchen, and two full baths, each with a jacuzzi tub. We unpacked, enjoyed the jacuzzi for a few
minutes, and then went to bed early. So ends day 1.