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.)