Dr. Stewart Custer – 1931-2017

I’ve been thinking about Dr. Custer a lot these last couple of days. Many accolades coming from other grateful students, and well deserved. I was thinking back over the many hours of instruction I had from him, so took a look in my files to discover which classes he taught me. Methods of Bible Exposition is always mentioned, it was perhaps his signature course, but here is my list:

  • Methods of Bible Exposition (OT Semester)
  • Contemporary Theology
  • New Testament Word Studies
  • History of New Testament Times
  • Eschatology

I think that’s all of them, 15 credit hours of classroom instruction. To say Dr. Custer had a huge impact on my ministry would be an understatement. He contributed much to my understanding, but most of all to my method. The Bible first, last, and always – it is always our authority and trumps every argument raised against it.

The first three courses listed above are memorable to me as I had them all in one semester: A paper due every Monday, every Friday, and every other Wednesday. My wife (at that time my girlfriend) won accolades as well, as she typed almost all of them. Our dates, that semester, were often at her mother’s house where she would start typing one paper while I started writing the next.

The value of most of his courses came from his prodigious reading. He once quipped in class, “You have heard the rumor that I read a book a day. That’s not quite true. It’s more like a book a night.” And he took notes as he read, making those books useful and accessible to us. My notes are full of references to many books, a few of which I have now read myself, but I would need a couple of more lifetimes to read them all. (And I wish I could!)

A few gems from my notes, the first from the History of NT Times:

“Goals of this Course:

  1. A sense of the reality of Scripture (not cunningly devised fables)
  2. Determine to pass this on to others”

He, along with the rest of the professors at BJU, were more interested in equipping servants for the church than getting published to puff their resumes.

From Methods:

On a piece of advice from Sangster, who said “Don’t preach at, under, or over the congregation,” he warned against “being the Holy Spirit” (preaching at), being “too simplistic” (preaching under), and “feed the sheep, not the giraffes” (preaching over).

Also: Spiritual Qualifications for an Interpreter of Scripture

  1. Must be a born again believer (Jn 3.3)
  2. Must be surrendered and obedient (Jn 7.17)
  3. Must be honest (Ac 20.6-7) [willing to change your opinions if the text demands it]
  4. Must be taught by the Spirit
  5. Must be diligent (Jn 5.39)

He probably had a scripture reference for point 4, but I missed it, diligent student that I am.

On this passage:

Deuteronomy 31:12 Gather the people together, men, and women, and children, and thy stranger that is within thy gates, that they may hear, and that they may learn, and fear the LORD your God, and observe to do all the words of this law:

He offered the “Sequence of Study”:

  • “that they may hear” – 1st step – hear what God says
  • “that they may learn” – 2nd step – going farther, making it part of you
  • “fear the Lord” – 3rd step – change your heart toward God
  • “observe to do” – 4th step – obedience, put the word in your life

Well, I could find more, but I will stop there.

As a pastor for thirty-two years, I have to say that I owe Stewart Custer a great deal of gratitude for what he taught me and surely any fruit my ministry has had owes some to his influence as well.

What a blessing to have known him and sat under his feet.

Self-Governing, Self-Supporting, Self-Propagating

I am happy to announce to my few blog readers that our church has taken an immense step forward this year. Perhaps I should fill you in on a little of our history before I tell you what that step is.

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Update on my health

Thanks again for all the kind words after my last post.

The last two months have been an interesting new experience, to say the least. I am doing very well, feeling as normal as I will ever be, and am back to a full schedule. The only restriction on me now is travel out of the country, this is put on me by my travel insurance who will not cover heart issues until my treatment is stable for 90 days. (That even includes a reduction in medications, so I will have to coordinate things with my cardiologist to cover travel dates next year.)

In the meantime, we are busy in the work. Our annual business meeting went well at church, our folks are supportive and we are praying for new believers added to our number this year. Three current attenders have approached me about membership, praise the Lord!

I had a stress test today, the technician doesn’t tell you much, but I did much better than I have ever done before, so that was a plus. Of course, I have lost over 80 pounds since the last one, so that might have had something to do with it. I am near my target weight. Someone said today, “You’re starting to look gaunt!” My new image!

I thought I should post this update though, as some of you are just coming here and noticing the announcement of an attack. I really appreciate your ongoing prayers, but praise the Lord, for now my health is doing very well (well… except for a cold my wife gave me, but that is on its last legs too…)

Praise the Lord for his gracious gifts

Dear Friends,

I am writing to let you know what the Lord did for me yesterday. I am writing from the CCU of one of our local hospitals. That term will give you some clue what I am writing about.

Yesterday afternoon I was walking out of our local Walmart (i’m sure there’s no correlation with this) when I suddenly began to feel very unwell. As I walked I debated whether or not the pain I was feeling was really chest pains or not. (they say the denial is part of the normal experience when you’re having a heart attack)

I sat down to rest, thinking that surely this would pass and I could go into Starbucks to get the coffee I was contemplating. The feeling didn’t pass but I didn’t know what to do. I started walking again and ran across an old friend, someone I hadn’t seen for a couple of years. He greeted me and all I could say was “I don’t feel very well.”

He said, “you don’t look very well, do you want me to call 911?” I agreed that he should and then said I had to sit down. In short order, the ambulance was there and I was on my way to the hospital. As I came into the coronary unit, I was actually greeted by my own heart doctor. In less than two hours from the onset of symptoms, I was equipped with a life-saving stent. And so I am here today to tell you what happened. Apparently there is still work for me to do for our Lord.

I am writing this so that I can have something to refer all my friends to when they have questions about what has happened. I believe that I am here simply by the grace of God. All praise his name!

not quite ready for prime time?

Check this out from Lenovo.com (click on the image for the link)


Lenovo, who makes an excellent computer, by the way (more than one!), announced a new app today. But notice the “More text explaining this here” on the page. I thought this was hilarious in a geeky sort of way.


new blog

An old-timey friend of mine, Monty McCoy, has joined the blogosphere at leadinghorsestowater.net. I love the title, reminds me of a favorite quote from Murphy’s Law and Other Reasons Things Go Wrong, “You can lead a horse to water, but if you can get him to float on his back, you’ve got something!” I can’t remember who said that originally, but I think it is particularly applicable to most leadership situations.

Monty and I used to team teach a Sunday school class in our church’s bus ministry. With him, I used to visit some of the poorer sections of our town where most of our children came from. These homes were so broken, it was hard to see how they could be helped – only the grace of God could make a difference.

We had some professions of faith in our class – it was first grade. I don’t know how serious these little ones were, but I know that little children can make serious spiritual decisions. Regardless, I think the ministry to little ones (and all ages in that community) was a worthwhile effort. It was costly, eventually our church gave up that ministry (after I had moved away). It certainly isn’t the “in thing” among Christians these days, but what could be more important than teaching the Bible and the life changing message of the gospel to anyone who will listen?

Well, Monty and I reconnected last year after spending about thirty years incommunicado (hurrah for the internet!). Monty is a godly servant in a local church somewhere in Iowa (he really lives out in the sticks, a real country gentleman). I appreciate his faithfulness and ministry a great deal and recommend his blog to you. Hope you enjoy it.



This is dictionary.com’s word of the day today. It sounds disturbing, but it means “twilight, dusk”. Hardly as ominous as it sounds. The word comes to us from the Latin, they say, around the year 1400.

It just struck me as odd, and I thought you might be entertained by it. Hard to imagine using it in a sentence, though dictionary.com does give examples. Try it on your friends tonight!


the double cross

A funny little vignette from my reading of A Brief History of Britain 1660-1851: The Making of A Nation.

It seems that in the late 17th and early 18th centuries, the people of Britain were very concerned with crime. Many crimes were considered capital crimes, including theft. In 1693 a reward of 40 pounds was introduced to anyone who apprehended and successfully prosecuted highway robbers. Later this was extended to burglary. It was hoped that this reward would cut down on crime. One thing it did was create an entrepreneurial opportunity.

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a treat for us this Christmas

My sisters found a reel to reel tape in our Drayton Valley, AB home labeled “Grandma Singing”. One of them had the tape transcribed to a CD and I turned the file into mp3s. Here is my dear Irish Grandma singing Irish ballads from memory. I remember helping to record these, it had to be somewhere around 1969/1970 when Grandma was in her late 70s.

I haven’t heard my dear grandma’s voice in nearly 40 years. What a blessing, thanks Maureen for taking the initiative on this.

Alice Doggart

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  • The Dear Little Girl

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  • The Little Irish Colleen with Her Old Plaid Shawl

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  • Impudent Barney O’Hay


coming of age

Over at Religious Affections, Jason Parker recommends reading books to children, especially books like Winnie the Pooh. I couldn’t agree more, and have a lot of affection for the fluff-stuffed bear. (The original Winnie was a bear from Canada, by the way – my Canadian insecurities compel me to get that info into the story.)

When we came to the last story of Pooh, where Christopher Robin is growing up and Pooh is destined for the toyshelf, I couldn’t make it through the story. I still am moved emotionally as I recall the experience. My wife asked what was wrong as I struggled to proceed. “It’s a coming of age story,” I replied. She offered to read it herself. As she read and thought of what I said, she, too, was strongly moved. So that reading became a tag-team affair. We each took turns reading as we were overcome by the emotion of the story and our crowd of little ones gathered around us. They, too, were growing up (and are now fully grown, alas!). They looked on at us in amazement.

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