Friends and Foes,

A transparent moment…

Tonight I am participating in a webinar called Author School. It’s sort of like a writer’s conference from home for the next two months. It’s an attempt to pursue clarity and get help. It is led by a well-known agent with a terrific track record of helping and publishing.

Why? A hundred years ago I said to my mentor and friend that I wanted to write a book and he quickly said, “What would you write about?” The implication was I didn’t have much to say at that time. We’re still friends and he still impacts my life! There are miracles.

I may still not know much. But I’ve experienced the grace and mercy and love of God for a long time now. And, I can’t get this writing idea out of my head. Writing a weekly newspaper column has keep fuel on the fire.

So, this near geezer wants to settle the question and give it a try.

Thanks for your prayers.


P.S. If you’d like to receive an email of the weekly column please FB message your email to me.



Wrestling With Tatoos

Wrestling with Tattoos

The five-hour return drive last week won’t soon be forgotten. No, it wasn’t because of an accident. In fact, it was no accident at all.

I slipped out-of-town for a couple days last week to see my oldest daughter and to surprise the grandkids. (Their husband/dad was out-of-town on business). Miracles do exist—I drove through Atlanta without having to stop and, for a change, I didn’t miss the ever-changing signs to stay on the highway I needed.

The visit was great, including a winning soccer game by my oldest grandson, the excitement of the grandkids when they got off the school bus and saw me, a discussion with the almost fourteen old granddaughter about boys she won’t date someday (smokers and tattooed), breakfast alone with my daughter (rare and delightful), and the school tour by our pre-school four-year old grandson. Smile, he was very excited and animated.

We seldom know when God will visit and I need to be watching and listening more attentively.

On the way home, I scanned the dial for one of the million Georgia radio preachers and was struck by one who asked: “Do you ever wrestle in prayer?” He read from Ephesians 6 about the armor of God and its strength in our real world of spiritual battles in and around us. Listen in:

11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. Ephesians 6:11-18, ESV

I often pray “for” many things. I don’t often wrestle in prayer “against the cosmic powers over this present darkness.” Do you?

Prematurely or intentionally secluded from the world, “the spiritual forces of evil” seem far, far away. But they aren’t, and sometimes they are active in us who struggle to be followers of Christ. I do not suggest bold demon possession of God’s family is normal; I do affirm Satan’s regular, subtle, and slow influence in and around us (2 Corinthians 11:14).

Being devoted to wrestling prayer (Colossians 4:2) has taken on a new urgency for me.

Especially about those possible boyfriends…

​John Fields
Rhea Herald News
April 25, 2018

Sparkles and Glitter

Your eyes will have a feast when you meet my granddaughter Hailie. Nine years old, cute, bright, and sweet to the core, she loves clothes. Clothes with colors! And, colors all mixed together in ways that beg for sunglasses. Did I mention sparkles and glitter?

“Clothes make the man,” we say. They project an image; they tell a story. They give us confidence when we walk into a room. To be without clothes in public is unacceptable—or it used to be so. The Apostle Paul, ever illustrating spiritual truth in vivid word pictures, mixes his metaphors and joins together garments and buildings and tents, “For we know that if the tent (our bodies) that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building (resurrection body) from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked” (2 Corinthians 5:1-3, ESV).

We spend a lot of money and time to hide our groaning.

Consider a tent and the time Doug and I went hiking for two days and one night in the Cascade Mountains of the Pacific Northwest. Spectacular mountain vistas were our delight all day long on the first day. But that one night lasted forever. It was scary. Dark and cold, we couldn’t see or feel our hands in front of us. Bears anyone? It rained all night—all night. And speaking of scary, in the middle of the night King Kong walked right by our tent. There is no doubt in my mind the guy outside was eight feet tall and carried an axe. He never stopped. Our tent, already cold and dark, felt very unprotected and vulnerable.

I am at a season of life where, with Paul, I do a fair amount of groaning (v. 3). But my new body is coming! Frailties cast aside, I long for the promised, everlasting body that will be permanent. Tents are temporary; buildings endure. Our resurrection bodies will be buildings from God that will be like Jesus’ and, joyfully, will never groan.

Please don’t misunderstand: Our earthly bodies are important. We bring glory to God in our bodies. They are not evil. Note to those who struggle with how God made them: You are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14)! And, as the Spirit of God will say later in the context of 2 Corinthians 5, we serve God and others with our bodies, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.”

Clothes, tents, and buildings are accommodations by God to help illustrate our unimaginable, impenetrable resurrection bodies. Our groaning will be turned into praises and our tents with made brand new!

I’m not sure our resurrection bodies will have sparkles and glitter. Hailie hopes so.

Maybe she is on to something…



So your God will rejoice over you. Isaiah 62:5

This Thanksgiving I am most thankful for Cheryl, so last week I posted a picture on Facebook of Cheryl and me, updating the opening page for all to see us together.

Isn’t technology wonderful? It gave me the opportunity to show off my bride, to receive a lot of “likes,” and to bask in flattering but largely untrue comments. Jon, a great friend who lives out west, said, “You are both looking great! Time has done little to either of you!!!!” Four explanation marks? I appreciated his grace but wonder how his eyesight is these days—I am wrinkled around the edges and missing topside insulation. Mark wrote from North Carolina, “same two people I knew in college.” I told him he lied, but I do appreciate the intent of his words. Sherry, a local sister in Christ, caught Cheryl’s beauty and affection (she has her arm around me) and commented, “[I] see why John is always smiling. The beautiful lady beside him.” She is spot on. A trainload of folks “liked” the picture. Thanks everyone.

Pull up your Bible app on your monitor or phone to Isaiah. I so relished Isaiah 61-62 this week. In context, these chapters are a promising portrayal of God’s love and plan for Israel after the pronouncement of judgment upon her and the nations (gentiles) for their unbelief and idolatry. We participate in this feast of promises because the Apostle Paul said, “For as many as are the promises of God, in Him [Jesus Christ] they are yes; therefore also through Him is our Amen…” (2 Corinthians 1:20). Great!

Isaiah wraps the promised future in terms of marriage. It is a familiar metaphor to New Testament readers (Ephesians 5) and so rich in application for marriage and all who follow Christ, including His unmarried followers. God is the bridegroom rejoicing over His bride—us. The Father assures us of everlasting joy, garments of salvation and garland, a crown of beauty and a royal diadem, the security of never being forsaken, and His delight in us. Go ahead and try to resist cross referencing Zephaniah 3:17…

Sometimes I forget how God’s past love through Christ to bring us salvation is active now and will find its ultimate display and consummation in the future He is preparing for us.

This brings me back to Cheryl and marriage. How thrilled is my heart to peek at the glory and love and promises of God in her. How privileged we all are to put the gospel and the glory of God on display before a needy and watching culture through our marriages and individual lives.

I can’t fully explain how rich my life is because of Cheryl—and richer nearly every day. But even greater still is the biblical picture of how the Father feels about us and how He will ravish us with His love when we are in His actual presence forever.

I can’t wait! Can you?


The Rhea Herald News, November 22, 2017


What Does Salvation Look Like?

Because we love the brothers 1 John 3:14

Hate is all around us. How do you feel or act toward: republicans, democrats, other races or nationalities, bosses, someone who has hurt you, the well-to-do, the poor, northerners, the opposite gender, the other football team? From the other side of hate, do you care if you don’t love them? Jesus, the ultimate lover, told us to “[even] love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”

We aren’t perfect and the apostle John knows it. I suggest that you read 1 John three times: one time for the assurances, one time for the tests of/the practices of true saving faith, one time for the joy and perspective of what salvation in Christ brings. John acknowledges we will struggle with sin and gives us relief when we do (1:8-10). He does speak plainly and strongly without apology. Do you justify your sinful behavior or habits? John fires a rifle shot to your heart: “No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God” (3:9). Yikes!

I’ve heard it said there are three kinds of people: professors (in terms of faith in Christ), non-professors, and would-be professors. Throughout the epistle, John links real differences between professors and would-be professors through a series of tests. Listen in to the one in 1 John 3:14, “We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers.” This only sounds easy considering Jesus instructed us to love our enemies, too. Though it is not true universally, it’s sad to hear some churches are known for what or who they hate and for their heated business meetings. I am grateful my church is not that way.

1 John 3:14 begs two questions. One, do I know I have “passed out of death into life”? And two, do I love my fellow believers? Question one (3:14a) brings great joy. John uses the same phrase in John 5:24 to take us behind the scenes of our eternal life already begun. Death is no longer the end but a transition into the life we already have. Isn’t that just remarkable, astonishing, astounding, and marvelous?! Add your favorite word.

Question two (3:14b) shows one of the evidences/assurances we have salvation: We love other believers. Indwelt by the Holy Spirit, we relate to others—especially followers of Christ—in sacrificial not self-serving or loathing ways. Aren’t you glad for the Spirit’s help to become like Christ in this way?

Drink deeply of our motivation in 1 John 4:19, “We love because he first loved us.”

Love isn’t the only test but it’s a big one. How I wish our national—and yes, sometimes “Christian”—fires of hate groups and words would be smothered by the rushing waters of the love of God’s people toward their enemies and each other.

Salvation looks like love.

Thanks Bill

Who then is a faithful and wise steward? Luke 12:42

Procrastination is a fierce enemy of Christlikeness. I struggle with it, too.

This week’s column is dedicated to my friend Bill. I hope you have a Bill in your life. He models Jesus in all-consuming ways. And, he sends me a text every Sunday morning that almost always hits me right between the eyes. He is a messenger, encourager, and teacher from God. Here is what he said last Sunday:

   In the Bible a steward is someone who has been selected to manage wealth. 
   In Luke 12:42 the LORD asks “who then is a faithful and wise steward?” 
   Wealth tends to corrupt in our hands and takes our mind off God. Each one
   of us should realize that we are only stewards of that which God has given us.
   Our prayer then ought to be one that seeks wisdom from God in spending the
   wealth He has given us, to the glory of God! Be blessed!

Bill is a man of modest means, so I am wondering if he has received a huge inheritance and not told me yet…Expand “wealth” to include stuff, health, relationships, responsibilities, opportunities, time, spiritual gifts, Christian life/sanctification/holiness, and godliness. After all, a steward is a manager of the Master’s household—of life.

Dig into the words of Jesus in Luke 12:35-48. Luke has just told his hearers it is the “Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (12:32). The kingdom of God—the rule and reign of Christ—has begun within us (17:21) and is actually coming (12:40). We are a waiting people, and while we wait for Jesus to return He asks us to be watching and tending to the life He has already given us. Such a person is “dressed for action” (12:35) and will be “blessed.”

The character of the life of a wise steward-manager is they are “faithful and wise.” Procrastination is our fierce enemy, tempting us to be unfaithful and unwise. One commentator writes, “The faithful manager pictures the genuine believer, who manages well the spiritual riches God has put in his care for the benefit of others…such spiritual stewardship will result in honor and reward.”

The most attention-grabbing words to me in Luke 12 are what it says about the Owner of the household-kingdom at His return. First, He is preparing a banquet for us (Cf. Revelation 19:6-10). And then these astounding words: “Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will dress himself for service and have them recline at table, and he will come and serve them” (12:37). I can’t wait!

So, I am making changes to better manage and enjoy the life He has given me. Accumulation, chaos, sloth, and busy-ness are out. More dedicated time for Christ and my important, God-given world are definitely in.

The service will be superb. Don’t you wonder what the menu will be for our heavenly banquet?

The Rhea Herald-News, June 28, 2017


A Too Small Thing

A Too Small Thing

He has brought you near him. Numbers 16:10

We can be so like the people of God in the book of Numbers. Do you remember how God provided manna from heaven for food, a cloud to lead them by day, and a pillar of fire by night? With all these miracles and the recent miraculous exodus from Egypt we’d expect the campfire chatter to be excited praise. Nah, they grumbled.

1 Corinthians 10 reminds us God was not pleased with them. His patience ran out and He killed thousands of them in the wilderness. Why? He called their behavior idolatry. Ouch.

Not surprisingly, thankfulness pops up at many and odd times in Scripture as the cure for grumbling, a centerpiece in our worship, a primary component in relationships, and the protective, ordinary way to live in light of God’s many gifts and works.

A helpful question in Numbers 16:9-11 startled me recently: “Is it too small a thing?” Listen in:

And Moses said to Korah, “Hear now…is it too small a thing for you that the God of Israel has separated you from the congregation of Israel, to bring you near to himself, to do service…to minister…that he has brought you near him…?

Though given an extraordinary purpose in tabernacle ministry Korah balked at the call of God. He desired more—to be a priest, and not be a helper in the daily activity of the tabernacle. It was too small a thing. The Message paraphrase called their life in the “inner circle.” Just think, we long to be “in the know”—in the inner circle—and, if not careful, shun the call of God already before us. As God’s child, aren’t we already in His inner circle wherever He has us?

Thinking again about 1 Corinthians 10 and idolatry, could the thing we want but don’t have be a new idol to us?

The implications of Numbers 16 touch many areas of our life. Have we made the ordinary provisions, gifts, and calling of God right now “too small a thing”? Where is the line between “God-given, inspirational dissatisfaction” and untimely, self-driven pursuits for more—a better position, bigger and better things, etc.? Where do idolatry and ungratefulness end and contentment begin?

I am most struck by the purpose of God in His provision and the circumstances surrounding His direct involvement in our life: to bring Korah–us–near to God. Oh, the joy of Father and Son who long for us.

One of my dearest Sisters-in-Christ is going through a time of blessing and challenge. She has a tremendous heart for ministry and was a director of women’s ministries at her church for years. In a conversation last weekend we talked about the end of ministries we both have loved. In an amazing God moment, we both realized and said together: “Now, all we have is Jesus.”

He is enough.

The Rhea Herald-News, June 21, 2017


A Gift For This Season

“God is at work in you to will and to work for his good pleasure.” Philippians 2:13

This column is dedicated to Jerry Bridges and Dave Hobbs. I have never actually met Jerry, but he touched a nerve and it made a difference. Dave arranged a meeting with Jerry I won’t soon forget.

Dave led the Men’s Group at my church last Friday night, where we observed an interview with Jerry Bridges by John Piper. It was on one of those big screens and I felt like we were right there. Eighty-three years old at the interview, his book The Pursuit of Holiness is a classic and he was recently welcomed into the presence of the Lord. It is a gift for this season of my life to hear from Godly men and women toward the end of their lives as they tell what matters most.

The interview centered on the influencing beliefs he had discovered along the way—biblical beliefs that figure heavily in the joy Jesus brings and how he lives for Jesus. What would be your favorites? Here is Bridges’ list: The application of Scripture to daily life; union with Christ; the doctrine of our salvation; our dependent responsibility; our union with Christ; living by the Gospel daily; I am consciously dependent on the Holy Spirit. Chew slowly.

Though many don’t like the term, we are all theologians. We have and are developing a system of guiding, controlling beliefs that influence how we live our daily lives and what encourages us in the losses and crosses of life. May I share a few of mine?

One, God is working in us, around us, and for us all the time (see Philippians 2:13 above). This very column is an example of something God has brought to my life recently in thought or circumstance. Nothing happens by accident; every minute and person matters.

Two, Scripture is God-breathed. What a thrill to have, read, study, and pray God’s living love letter to me.

Three, prayer is hard work and joy. This continuing conversation with God that He started is a holy privilege and delight, but it takes intentionality and persistence.

Four, God’s steadfast love (lovingkindness) has captured my heart. I underline it in red in my Bible(s). Lovingkindness is the composite of God’s mercy, grace, faithfulness, love, and goodness all rolled into one word. Knowing the guy in the mirror every morning, I am especially touched by mercy—God’s unmerited favor to those who deserve just the opposite.

Next, worship. Can you believe our Maker-God let’s us—wants us—urges us—to meet, adore, and know Him both personally? Maybe, this would be first if I prioritized my list. Number six is worship’s companion: The church Christ died for. We were made for it and are incomplete without it.

Last, our future. The New Heavens and Earth fascinate me and motivate me to get ready. No mere escape (usually), I can’t wait to see Christ face to face.

What do you really—really—believe?

Happy Birthday Haley

“We… receive adoption as sons” Galatians 4:5

It’s happened again. We have a new child.

All the family was supposed to be at our house for Christmas. God had a different idea. He sent our oldest daughter, Joy, and her family to Florida to adopt Haley. This is our second adopted grandchild and I’ve about decided adoption is my favorite doctrine from the Bible.

In this adoption God has reminded us He has a sense of humor. Her name is Haley Jane, she is six years old, and she is in first grade. Our youngest daughter, Robin, has a firstborn daughter…named Haley Jane, who is six years old, and who is in first grade. Yes, we are soliciting ideas on how to distinguish the girls apart when their families get together.

I’ve been thrust—again—into Scripture to consider the glorious doctrine of adoption. Though only mentioned in five New Testament passages, it is incredibly rich in implications. The main meal is salvation in Christ. Here are a few scrumptious adoption hors d’oeuvres (appetizers).

Galatians 4 notes several wonderful thoughts in context. Initially, adoption requires the perfect timing of God, “But when the fullness had come, God sent forth his Son…” (v.4). Ephesians 1:4-5 digs deeper to say, “…he chose us in him before the foundation of the world…in love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will.” Long before her earthly sequence of events Haley was on God’s mind for adoption. The innumerable, seemingly chaotic events in time did not surprise the Father. In fact, He orchestrated them toward December 21st when her new family took custody of her. May I urge you to a quiet place and time to pray through these astounding Scriptural realities about Haley and your salvation?

Second, our adoption and Haley’s was costly. Galatians 4:5 describes it as redemption. To redeem someone is to purchase them out of the marketplace of slavery. I have seen horrible pictures of slaves, shackled and naked, being auctioned to the highest bidder. Yes, it took significant amounts of emotional, spiritual, and legal struggle and commitment—and many actual dollars—before the joy of receiving Haley. Imagine what our rebellion and sin cost the Father when He released His only Son to die for us.

Third, the idea of sonship and inheritance in adoption passages intrigues me (ex. Galatians 4:7). Here we see Haley has all the rights and privileges of a biologically born child, including an inheritance equal to everyone in the family. And so it is for all in Christ!

Last, this caught my ear when we visited last weekend: Haley was already addressing her new parents affectionately and respectfully. No longer “Joy” and “Chad,” they were “Mom” and “Dad.” Galatians 4:6 notes we get to address the Father as “Abba, Father.” This term of endearment toward God was unimaginable in Paul’s day and no less so for Haley December 21st. Sweet.

Oh…it’s Haley’s birthday today. Happy Birthday Haley and welcome to your new family. Love, Popi

Scrooge The Distracted Traveler

“His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ ” Matthew 25:23

Living each day with a view to our future’s fullest joy is spiritually healthy and wise. Ebenezer Scrooge tasted it before it was too late and his discovery can be ours, too.

Three “spirits” visited Ebenezer Scrooge in the classic Christmas tale, “A Christmas Carol.” In one version I watched this season with Cheryl (the Queen of classic Christmas movie watchers), the spirit/ghost of his past brought regret as Scrooge looked back to see the decisions that ambushed joy. The spirit/ghost of his present life revealed the emptiness of distracted daily living without simple delights and important relationships. Scrooge, you remember, replaced joy with the unfulfilling tedious pursuit of wealth and security. This is already too convicting, isn’t it?

The grim reaper, spirit/ghost of the future was frightening; showing him what eternity would be like without a change of heart. When Scrooge came to his senses about the future he was moved to heartily confess and commit to reversing course—to “repent” as the movie told—and take on the way of a radical, new, present joy. Scrooge learned the value of a future look—and his view changed everything. Randy Alcorn said, “I keep pondering how heaven will overflow with happiness because God himself overflows with happiness. It is not a fairy tale that we will live happily ever after. Our Creator and Redeemer’s happiness guarantees a happy ending to the story that will never end.”

Revelation 21 has captured my heart lately. Join me there and imagine our future home. It is: wonderfully new (v.1, 5), unimaginably beautiful (v.2, 9-24), overwhelmed by the actual presence of Father and Son (v.3, 6), and personally enriched by our inheritance as God’s heirs (v.7). Randy Alcorn, again, has said, “I have found myself daily frontloading into the present the promises of eternal joy, and letting that color my view of daily events. It’s been a truly Christ-centered and happy-making experience.” There is no grim reaper now or later for those God has prepared a home!

I actually viewed two performances of “A Christmas Carol” in December. The other one was a community theater musical production in Perry, Georgia. It included my son-in-law, two oldest grandchildren, and a cousin. Fabulous! It strikes me that many of the actors and the audience had no idea of the implications of the storyline(s) for eternity or earth-life right now. It is, frankly, more clear and stirring to me now than ever before. Jonathan Edwards observed we can be like a distracted traveler, staying in a hotel on the way to a destination but never moving on to the place we are headed.

Should you have losses and crosses as 2016 begins, I invite you, with me, to look ahead and become a reborn Scrooge—and “enter into the joy of your Master”—now.


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