Idaho Falls

Samuel Wishard on Christ-centered homiletics

Charles Barnes notes this:

Samuel Wishard organized the First Presbyterian Church in Idaho Falls in 1891, and several other churches in Southeast Idaho in the 1890’s. Here is his advice on sermon preparation and preaching:

  • Preach the Lord Jesus Christ
  • Preach by the authority of Christ
  • Preach in Christ’s stead
  • Preach with the help of Christ
  • Preach with hope in Christ
  • Preach with the love of Christ
  • Preach to please Christ
  • Preach to glorify Christ
  • Preach in imitation of Christ
  • Preach expecting to give account to Christ.

Featured minister in Idaho Falls – Alipio Amaral

Charles Barnes writes this post for today:

Called to Idaho Falls – Alipio Amaral

From time to time in this email we want to share glimpses of the lives of people God has brought to Idaho Falls, or sent out from Idaho Falls. We do this not to exalt one person or one church over any other, but to rejoice in the ways God has worked in the men and women He sends to our city.

Alipio Amaral came to Idaho Falls last March, and is the discipleship pastor of Watersprings Church. Alipio’s excitement for inductive Bible study is contagious, as is his enthusiasm for ministry in Idaho Falls. You can hear him share much of his testimony in a sermon he preached at Watersprings November 30, 2014, A Life of Impact, available from the webpage

Alipio grew up in Hawaii. One day when he was five years old, he was hit by a truck while riding his bicycle. The truck that struck him was going twice the legal speed limit, and sent him flying twenty-five feet in the air. Landing head first into the base of a stop sign, he cracked his head wide open, and bit off his tongue. He was flown inter-Island to the capital city of Honolulu, where at Queens Medical Center he was put on life support. He had slipped into a coma, and his entire right side was paralyzed. His church flew his mother over to the hospital where she commenced a vigil of prayer. The doctors explained to her that Alipio’s worsening condition would render him immobile, inoperable, and incapacitated for the rest of his life, and recommended that she have them pull the plug on the life support equipment. Believing that God had already healed him, his mother told the doctors “no” and waited and prayed for nine days until the night that Alipio woke up. When he awoke, his mother asked him if he remembered anything, to which he confidently responded with his tongue that had grown back, God told me He wants me to tell people how He healed me. He walked out of the hospital two months after he entered, on a Christmas day.

As Alipio continued to grow up in Hawaii, the hedonistic culture of the Islands began to influence him, and he walked away from the Lord. His family life was focused on God, but by high school Alipio had become a rebellious teen. Yet during those teen years God did not forsake him. Alipio was involved in 15 car accidents, some in which he could easily have been killed, and he walked away from every one. The nearness of death in some of these accidents, plus a friend’s remark about his self-centered behavior, brought him to a point of clarity about the direction his life was going, and one day at home, alone, he rededicated his life to the Lord. From that time on, Alipio has had an insatiable desire to understand God’s word, loves to study it and teach others how to study it.

When he was 18, his family moved to southern Oregon. Alipio attended Southern Oregon University for two and a half years, and then Calvary Chapel Bible College in Murrieta, California for a year and a half.  He has skill painting murals, and used that skill to finance trips to Israel and then Austria. In Austria he was taking some training that included a mission trip into Hungary and Serbia, a few months before NATO started bombing the country. When sharing his testimony in a high school in Serbia, he saw how the Lord can work, as every student in six consecutive classes accepted his invitation to receive Christ. Yet what impressed Alipio just as much was the willingness of two Christian teachers in that school who were risking their jobs to allow the gospel to be preached there.

For the next 13 years, Alipio served the Lord in Europe, sharing the gospel, planting churches and starting a Bible college. Most of those years were spent in southern Portugal, and he will tell you that the soil of people’s hearts there is very hard. The Lord also sent a girl, Ashley Carlyle, to Portugal whom Alipio had first met in Hungary, who happened to be from Idaho Falls, and who would later become his wife.

Less than a week after returning to the States in 2010, Alipio was asked by his church to go to Brazil to take charge of a Bible College and Conference Center.  While willing to go wherever God would send him, Alipio wasn’t eager to go to Brazil immediately, and stayed in Oregon a year while Ashley went to Bible College.  Shortly after getting married, Alipio and Ashley went to Brazil, and were there for two years. However in July 2013 when his mother was diagnosed with brain and lung cancer, they returned to the States to take care of her.  His mother passed away on October 14, 2013.

A few months later, God opened the door for Alipio to join the staff of Watersprings.  God is using his love for studying His Word in various groups he’s leading or teaching here.  Also, Alipio is working on preparations for a discipleship school that will start September of 2015.

Conflict and Gospel Grace Reconciliation (4)

Let’s say that you have a conflict with a family member, a coworker, or another Christian in Idaho Falls that is not being fixed between the two of you.  You have talked to this person but issues have not been resolved.  And if you feel compelled that you are unable to let go of the issue, what would Jesus instruct you to do?

Jesus tells us in Matthew 18:15-19:

“Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone.  If he hears you, you have gained your brother.  But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’  And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church.  But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.   Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.  Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven.  For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.”

Today, we are looking at our fourth message in this series on conflict and gospel grace reconciliation.  With today’s content, I am utilizing thoughts from Ken Sande in Billings, Montana, who leads a ministry focused on Christian peacemaking.  The Scripture references are taken from the New King James Version of the Bible.

Step Four

So what is step four in the process of pursuing reconciliation in the midst of conflict?  You should pray about bringing one or two others to hear the conflict between you and that other person.

“We should try to keep the circle of people involved in conflict as small as possible for as long as possible.” – Sande

“I implore Euodia and I implore Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord.  And I urge you also, true companion, help these women who labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the Book of Life.” (Philippians 4:2-3)

“Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints?  Do you not know that the saints will judge the world?  And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matter?  Do you not know that we shall judge angels?  How much more, things that pertain to this life?  If then you have judgments concerning things pertaining to this life, do you appoint those who are least esteemed by the church to judge?  I say this to your shame.  Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you, not even one, who will be able to judge between his brethren?  But brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers!  Now therefore, it is already an utter failure for you that you go to law against one another.  Why do you not rather accept wrong?  Why do you not rather let yourselves be cheated?  No, you yourselves do wrong and cheat, and you do these things to your brethren!” (I Corinthians 6:1-8)

Ken Sande provides a sample illustration of how to engage in initiating help from someone else in the conflict:  “Bob, I would prefer to resolve this matter just between the two of us.  Since that has not happened and because this involves issues that are too important to walk away from, my only other option is to obey what the Bible commands, which means asking some people from our churches to help us out.  I would prefer that we go together to get that help, but if you will not cooperate, I’ll ask for it by myself.”

It is in this conflict, two men can seek the help of a godly peacemaker, whether that might be another friend, neighbor, church member, or pastor.  Sometimes, this can extend out to continual sessions for counsel and prayer together.  The additional one or two also serve as witnesses to what they observe.  So what if there is no repentance?  What if there is no demonstration made to pursue God’s will and peace?  What if there is no display of humility in the issues of conflict?

Step Five

“And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church.  But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.”

Share the conflict with the spiritual elders in your church.  The elders would desire to meet with those of you in conflict.  The elders might desire to consult as well with the one or two others that have met with you in the conflict.   You should listen to the counsel of the elders.

“Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account.  Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you” (Hebrews 13:17).

The only times that you may disobey the elders is if they are clearly asking you to disobey Scripture.  For instance, Acts 4 states, “So they called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.  But Peter and John answered and said to them, ‘Whether it is right in the sight of God, you judge.  For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard’” (Acts 4:18-20). Peter and the other apostles declare in Acts 5:29, “We ought to obey God rather than men.”

But going back to the elders’ instruction and counsel, if the elders witness unrepentance in regards to sin, this must be lovingly shared to the members of the congregation.  And the whole congregation must move together in church discipline towards an unrepentant member of the congregation.

Only God knows the true hearts of individuals, but a congregation must not allow one to continue as a member of the local fellowship when that individual is teaching contrary or living a contrast to the life and gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

So what would be examples of this in the Bible?

“Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them.  For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple” (Romans 16:17-18).

 “It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles—that a man has his father’s wife!  And you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he who has done this deed, might be taken away from you.  For I indeed, as absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged (as though I were present) him who has so done this deed.  In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.  Your glorying is not good.  Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?  Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened.  For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.  Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.  I wrote to you in my epistle not keep company with sexually immoral people.  Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world.  But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even to eat with such a person.  For what have I do to with judging those also who are outside?  Do you not judge those who are inside?  But those who are outside God judges.  Therefore put away from yourselves the evil person (I Corinthians 5).

“I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ.  But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you, let him be accursed.  As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:6-9).

“But we command you, brethren, in the name of Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us.” (II Thessalonians 3:6)

“Do not receive an accusation against an elder except from two or three witnesses.  Those who are sinning rebuke in the presence of all, that the rest also may fear” (I Timothy 5:19-20).

 “But avoid foolish disputes, genealogies, contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and useless.  Reject a divisive man after the first and second admonition, knowing that such a person is warped and sinning, being self-condemned” (Titus 3:9-11).

In these passages, we have examples of those attacking essential doctrines of Christianity or living in notorious immorality.  When a church member is blatantly teaching that which is contrary to Scripture or living an ongoing, unrepentant life of sin, the local assembly is to move congregationally (a church vote) in removing the sinning person’s membership.

Is this loving?  Deitrich Bonhoeffer writes, “Nothing is so cruel as the tenderness that consigns another to his sin.  Nothing can be more compassionate than the severe rebuke that calls a brother back from the path of sin.”

Three concluding notes of caution:

  • Some in the practice of church discipline will wrongly call people (divisive) heretics and practice church discipline. Wrong application.
  • Some in the practicing of discipline will completely cut themselves off from those they have disciplined. They think only law and never offer gracious gospel to the one they disciplined.  This is a mistake.  Wrong heart motives.  We are to continue a loving, evangelical witness.
  • Some practice second, third, fourth degrees, etc. of separation. Their thinking is “I have separated myself from this person and so must you to the same degree.  If you don’t follow my example, then I will separate from you.” Wrong zeal.

In following these paths, we quickly lose the main purpose of love and gospel grace reconciliation.  We have become the Pharisees, and we place ourselves on a pathway of bitterness.

We must have hearts that pursue love, grace, peace, and forgiveness.

Ken Sande says forgiveness can be expressed with four promises: (1) I will not dwell on this incident. (2) I will not bring up this incident again and use it against you. (3) I will not talk to others about this incident. (4) I will not let this incident stand between us or hinder our personal relationship.

“Here is the ultimate weapon:  deliberate, focused love (cf. Luke 6:27-28; I Cor. 13:4-7).” – Sande

 “Bless those you persecute you; bless and do not curse.  Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.  Be of the same mind toward one another.  Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble.  Do not be wise in your own opinion.  Repay no one evil for evil.  Have regard for good things in the sight of all men.  Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, says the Lord.  Therefore ‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.’  Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:14-21)

Peter says, “Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing” (I Peter 3:8-9).

Conflict and Gospel Grace Reconciliation (2)

Conflict and Gospel Grace Reconciliation (2)

I was born in Idaho Falls in December of 1969.  I grew up in a Christian home.  I have practically spent my whole life in the Christian church in Idaho Falls.  I am no stranger to the conflict that arises among brothers and sisters in this city.  Conflict can occur over a number of reasons: (1) Bible doctrine issues, (2) different goals and philosophy of ministry, (3) miscommunications, (4) personalities, and (5) pride, etc. and etc.  It is in the midst of conflict in Idaho Falls, where God asks us to trust Him, to glorify Him, and to be peacemakers among the body of Christ.  Last week, we looked at how central to our Christianity is the pursuit of peace.  And it is through our Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ, that we are able to have peace with God and with one another.  And our unity in the body of Christ is the best apologetic (defense) for establishing who Jesus is and the spreading of His salvation message.  We have been given the ministry of reconciliation.    So last week, we started at ground zero in looking at what God tells us to do when we are hurt with a brother or sister.  We can separate ourselves entirely from that brother, fight that brother, or pursue gospel grace reconciliation.  God calls us to the latter.  And at the very beginning of our hurt in our relationships with others, we should prayerfully consider how we can overlook what offended or hurt us by that other individual.  Love covers the multitude of sins.  But what if this is something that we can’t overlook and where we are currently not on speaking terms with that brother or sister?  What should we do?

Today, let us continue in considering God’s steps for us as we desire for His glory to be manifested in gospel grace reconciliation.  In this message, I am utilizing the helpful wisdom of Ken Sande, who lives in Billings, Montana.  All Bible verses are taken from the New King James Version (NKJV) of the Bible.

Step Two – Let God search your own heart and point out His path to sanctify you.  Ask yourself this question, “How can I show Jesus’ work in me by taking responsibility for my contribution to this conflict?”  Let God show you how the inward hurt is revealing the emotional surrounding and protecting of an idol in your life.  Jesus, the wonderful counsellor, tells us something very, very, very hard.

“And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?  Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye?” – Matthew 7:3-4

Notice how Jesus perfectly assesses the conflict:  your brother’s speck and your plank.

“Where do wars and fights come from among you?  Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members?” – James 4:1

What we get hurt about is what we treasure most.  And it is the threatening or loss of that treasure (often very good desires) in our hearts that spur on the intensity of our hurt and the fight.

Jesus says, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” – Matthew 6:21

I know that when you are in the midst of conflict or loss, whether it is in your marriage or immediate family, on the job, or with a brother or sister in a church family, it is an easy tendency to bunker down and maintain your own right standing before God and others.  Job did this in the Bible: “But He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold.” – Job 23:10.  “Let me be weighed on honest scales, that God may know my integrity.”  – Job 31:6.  Job’s friends, such miserable counselors as they were, sought to point out sin in his life but to no avail.  Job’s friends were pushing and applying orthodox truth and a remedy to the wrong person and situation. Of course, this wasn’t the problem in Job’s life.  But in the middle of the great loss, Job did have a severe difficulty trusting the ways of God.  At the end of the book of Job, God asks him question after question.  He couldn’t answer one.  And then in conclusion, God inquires of Job, “Shall the one who contends with the Almighty correct Him?  He who rebukes God, let him answer it.  Then Job answered the LORD and said: Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer You?  I lay my hand over my mouth.  Once I have spoken, but I will not answer; yes, twice, but I will proceed no further.” – Job 40:2-5. Job humbles himself before God.  And this, brothers and sisters, is the start of his healing.

Likewise, David defended his integrity before God by saying, “You have tested my heart; You have visited me in the night; You have tried me and have found nothing; I have purposed that my mouth shall not transgress.” – Psalm 17:3.  But then David also prayed in other Psalms, “Examine me, O LORD, and prove me; try my mind and my heart.” – Psalm 26:2.  “Search me, O God, and know my heart:  try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” – Psalm 139:23-24.  And so we should pray like this when we are hurt in the midst of conflict.  “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” – I John 1:8

What is it that you treasure most right now?  Ask yourself these questions:

  1. What do I think about when I first wake up? Or when I go to bed at night?
  2. What is it that makes me the angriest during the week?
  3. Why am I so troubled by that circumstance or that other person?
  4. What do I feel is being threatened?
  5. What am I most passionate about?
  6. Who or what do I shed tears over?
  7. What is it that makes me the most depressed?
  8. What is it that I wish I had that I don’t have?
  9. Who or what am I trusting the most in the conflict?
  10. Who or what do I desire to talk about the most?

These questions that you would ask yourself in the midst of conflict might reveal a number of heart treasures:  (1) position, (2) family relationships, (3) church family friendships, (4) pride in our service for the Lord, (5) personal independence, (6) emphasis of a particular ministry, (7) procedures, (8) personal spiritual gifts, (9) personal doctrinal interpretations, (10) safety, (11) reputation, (12) self-preservation, (13) security, (14) success, and (15) happiness, etc. and etc.  These good treasures can be troublesome idols when they are elevated above Jesus.  Conflict brings to the surface those personal heart treasures that the Holy Spirit is calling us to deal with and allow the Lord Jesus Christ to be sovereign over.  Healing comes when we repent and let go of our personal treasures and let Jesus be King in our hearts and sovereign Lord in this city.

“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my strength and my Redeemer” – Psalm 19:14.

“Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips” – Psalm 141:3.

Let God do His work of sanctification in you in the midst of the trial.

So what if this other person in your life is continuing to make things difficult for you? “If he is an employee, it may be appropriate to fire him, and if he is an employer, you may need to look for another job.  But what if the other person is your spouse, a child, a longtime friend, or a member of your church?  These relationships should be not be easily forsaken, so when one of these people disappoints you, you will need to choose between two courses of action.  On the one hand, you can trust God and seek your fulfillment in him (Ps. 73:25).  You can ask him to help you to continue to grow and mature no matter what the other person does (James 1:2-4).  And you can continue to love the person who is blocking your desire, pray for God’s sanctifying work in his or her life, and wait for the Lord to open the door for progress at a later time (I John 4:19-21; Luke 6:27).  If you choose this course, God promises to bless you and, no matter what the other person does, to use your difficult situation to conform you to the likeness of Christ (Rom. 8:28-29).  But there is another course we often follow.  We keep fighting to achieve our desire, dwelling on our disappointments, and allowing our desire and disappointments to control our lives.” – Sande.

In the conflict, you can follow the wrong path of “I desire, I demand, I judge, and I punish.”

David Powlison writes about the idolatrous judging that takes place in our hearts:  “We judge others—criticize, nit-pick, nag, attack, condemn—because we literally play God.  This is heinous. [The Bible says,] ‘There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and to destroy, but who are you to judge your neighbor?’  Who are you when you judge?  None other than a God wannabe.  In this we become like the Devil himself (no surprise that the Devil is mentioned in James 3:15 and 4:7).  We act exactly like the adversary who seeks to usurp God’s throne and who acts as the accuser of the brethren.  When you and I fight, our minds become filled with accusations: your wrongs and my rights preoccupy me.  We play the self-righteous judge in the mini-kingdoms we establish.”

So going back to that initial question in step 2, “How can I show Jesus’ work in me by taking responsibility for my contribution to this conflict?”  Let me suggest three critical areas.

  1. One of the biggest problems can be the use of your tongue.

“See how great a forest a little fire kindles!  And the tongue is a fire, world of iniquity.” – James 3:5b-6a

“There is one who speaks like the piercings of a sword, but the tongue of the wise promotes health.” – Proverbs 12:18.

Have you been complaining against the Lord’s people?  “Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned.” – James 5:9

Be on guard against exaggeration.  Is your communication only emphasizing your side of the story?  “Do not be a witness against your neighbor without cause, for would you deceive with your lips?  Do not say, ‘I will do to him just as he has done to me; I will render to the man according to his work.” – Proverbs 24:28-29.

Be careful not to gossip.  “Where there is no wood, the fire goes out; and where there is no gossip, strife ceases.” – Proverbs 26:20.

Have your conversations been wholesome?  “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.” – Ephesians 4:29

  1. Another problem could be you are violating one of the most important commandments in the Bible – the golden rule.

“Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” – Matthew 7:12

Here are some questions for you to consider:

  • Would you want someone else to treat you the same way that you have been treating him?
  • How would you feel if you found out people were saying about you what you have said about her?
  • If your positions were reversed, how would you feel if he did what you have done?
  • Ten years from now, would you feel right about you are doing right now with this person?
  1. And yet one more problem among other sins could be your submission to authority.

In America, we don’t like to submit to anybody, especially when we think that the authority is more corrupt than we are.  But God enters the picture and states to you, “Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good.  For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men—as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God.  Honor all people.  Love the brotherhood.  Fear God.  Honor the king.  Servants, be submissive to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh.  For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully.” – I Peter 2:13-19

  • Is my earthly authority causing me to sin personally?
  • How can I be trusting God in the midst of whatever my earthly authority is doing or not doing?
  • Am I becoming my own authority in this conflict, whether it is related to family, church, or American government?

We are out of time this morning, but we will pick things up again with step 3. . . .

Step Three – Going to your brother for gentle restoration.  This is ongoing, loving, continual action for gospel grace reconciliation.  Be going to your brother as many times as the Holy Spirit does in communicating with you over issues in your own life.

“Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.” – Galatians 6:1

“Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone.  If he hears you, you have gained your brother.” – Matthew 18:15

Men and Women of Eagle Rock and Idaho Falls

Charles Barnes writes this post about the impact of seven individuals in the history of Idaho Falls.  Would you know the story of others?  If so, please share.


Hebrews 11 records terse summaries of the lives of men and women who trusted God, in order to encourage people in a different time and different circumstances to walk by faith. Who are the men and women who have stimulated and encouraged your faith? Who are the people in whom you’ve seen Jesus at work here in Idaho Falls?

Rebecca Brown Mitchell was widowed at age 23 and, because of inheritance laws of the time, lost all her possessions except her Bible and hymnbook. In 1865, at age 31, she remarried; her second husband died in 1880. Two years later, after attending a missionary training school in Chicago for a few months she (in her own words) “turned my face toward the Great Unknown West, not knowing the whereabouts of my final destination, but was led by God, and so I found myself in Idaho, in the town of Eagle Rock, now Idaho Falls, coming as a self-supporting missionary…”. Rebecca Mitchel is credited with starting the first church in Eagle Rock, the first school and the first library. She later became the first chaplain of the Idaho Legislature. By faith Rebecca Mitchell obeyed God’s call to the sandy streets of early Eagle Rock, trusting Him not only to provide for herself and her daughters but to work through her to transform lives and the community of Eagle Rock.

Rev. Samuel Wishard organized the First Presbyterian Church in Idaho Falls in 1891. He was 66 at the time. A missionary to Utah, in his later years he organized churches in southeastern Idaho. By age 90 (when he retired and shortly thereafter died) he had started 15 churches from Pocatello to St. Anthony to Salmon. By faith Rev. Wishard obeyed God’s call to bring the gospel to Mormon communities and to organize churches of converts.

Rev. Donald Austin was born in Bonneville County (Payne) in 1913. After marrying Evalyn Kissler in 1934, he and his wife pastored Pentecostal churches in Fruitland and Albion before moving back to Idaho Falls. With the help of his father and brothers, he built the church building on Gladstone Street, and served as pastor for 50 years, from 1941 until 1990. He occasionally filled the pulpit or led special meetings at several other churches in Idaho Falls as well. He died in 2003 and is buried in Rose Hill Cemetery. By faith Rev. Austin returned home to shepherd the flock God gave him, and remained faithful to that work for five decades.

Jim Johnson was born in Rigby in 1917, and grew up in Ririe. When he was 12, his mother was killed in a gas explosion while dry cleaning clothes, and Jim was sent to California to live with one of his older sisters. Jim found salvation in Christ in 1948 at one of Billy Graham’s crusades in Los Angeles. Retiring in 1976, he moved back to Idaho, buying an old farm house in the Iona area. Jim had planted several churches in California, and continued church planting in Idaho. He loved to share the gospel and visited hundreds of homes in Idaho Falls. He would invite those he visited to come to Bible studies, resulting in many people receiving Christ. According to his obituary, at the height of his evangelism ministry approximately two-thirds of the congregation of the Christian Center of Idaho Falls were people he had visited and led to the Lord. By faith Jim Johnson shared the gospel of Christ in homes and businesses of Idaho Falls, discipled those who responded and planted and supported churches wherever he lived.

Jane Jones Arnold was born in Idaho Falls in 1930. She worked as a technician at the Idaho Chemical Processing Plant until marriage and family demanded her full time attention. But as her six daughters and a son grew up, she returned to work, this time for Miles Willard Technologies, first as a part time lab assistant and eventually managing the food lab. Jane was a longtime member of First Christian Church, serving as elder and in other leadership positions. Aware of unused church property and seeing the need for housing for low-income seniors, Jane was instrumental in founding Mountain Falls Corporation, served as president of the Board of Directors of the Corporation, and spearheading two apartment complexes from project conception to completion. Faithful in taking on major responsibilities, Jane was also an example of hospitality, whether in her home where there was always room at her kitchen table for more guests, founding a Senior Luncheon that was held for many years at First Christian Church, cooking the main course for 400 attendees at the East Side Progressive Dinner, or hosting an international exchange student from Korea for a school year. By faith Jane Arnold helped those in need and worked to train others and build structures that would continue to meet those needs.

Norm Pace worked as a mechanical engineer for more than 40 years for INL contractors, starting with Phillips Petroleum Company in 1962. He married and raised two children in Idaho Falls, and he loved hunting and fishing in the area. Norm’s greatest love was his Savior and spreading Jesus’ love to all he met. A long-time member of Trinity United Methodist Church, he was a leader in Trinity’s men’s ministry and he helped organized annual men’s and couple’s retreats. But Norm sought out other ways to honor his Lord by serving others. He served as a hospital chaplain for many years, worked with men at the City of Refuge men’s shelter, was involved in jail ministry, and was deeply committed to prayer throughout the body of Christ in Idaho Falls, starting or participating in several prayer groups with men from other churches. By faith Norm prayed for Idaho Falls and lived a life of service.

Ray Vinson came to Idaho Falls in 1982 and opened a bookstore. He met so many people over the counter who needed help and encouragement that he started the Family Life Enrichment Center where he counseled hundreds of families. Because of his gracious, gentle, unpretentious manner he was also sought out by many pastors and Christian leaders in town. At different times he served as interim pastor of Community Bible Fellowship, Eagle Rock Baptist Church, Alliance Covenant Church, First Christian Church and First Lutheran Church. Ray helped form the Evangelical Ministerial Alliance in 1986 and helped organize many community events and projects. By faith Ray Vincent served the body of Christ in Idaho Falls, encouraging all he met with godly advice, and sought righteousness in our city.

Idaho Governor’s Debate – The City Club of Idaho Falls

Yesterday, upon the invitation of Jeff Thompson, I attended the luncheon and Governor’s Office debate between C.L.”Butch” Otter and AJ Balukoff.  Sponsored by The City Club of Idaho Falls, we met in the spacious Bennion Student Union Multipurpose Room of ISU located not too far from east bank of the Snake River running through the city.  Perfect spot.  Beautiful fall day in Idaho.

When I parked, I walked with Karole Honas of Local News 8 into the banquet room.  She is bright and cheery.  I think we were both eager to hear some of the opinions of the incumbent and challenger on the current issues of the day.  (more…)