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.

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.


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

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

  • The Dear Little Girl

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

  • The Little Irish Colleen with Her Old Plaid Shawl

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

  • Impudent Barney O’Hay


Precious in the sight of the Lord

John E. Ashbrook is with the Lord. Long-time pastor of Bible Community Church in Mentor, OH, he slipped beyond earth and into heaven early this morning.

I was acquainted with him through his son-in-law (one of my best and closest friends) and daughter. His son-in-law planted the church my brother now pastors just a few hours north of us. Through this connection I got to know Dr. Ashbrook a little bit. I got to know him better through his writings. What a blessing to have known him. What glory for him to now be in the presence of our Saviour!

The obituary is here.

An article by another young man he influenced is here.

His publication ministry is here. I am not sure what will happen to this ministry, but perhaps you can still obtain some of his books through them.


one year


We miss him. Mom talks about him all the time. I think about him every day.

For him, though, things are better than they ever were among us.

One day we, too, will know what he now knows.


just a dog

Today we lost our dog after a long life for his breed… normal life expectancy about 9, he made it to 14. The last few months he turned very frail, eating sporadically, the last day or so not at all. Last night and today he was so weak he could barely stand – and he struggled to stand because he had to cough, fighting against fluid building up in his longs. It was obvious to us all that things would not get better so today we made a visit to the vet – the little guy’s final visit.


We know that a dog is just a dog, but we can’t help but think this end is not the way God intended things to be.

NAU  Romans 8:20-22 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.

[Read more…]

update: funeral sermon

For those interested, I have posted the audio for my dad’s funeral sermon at our church site. My brother, Paul Johnson, pastor of the Grace Baptist Church of the Comox Valley preached an excellent gospel message from Ps 34.6:

This Poor Man Cried

We have also posted my eulogy, a spoken version of my earlier post about my dad:

Poor Boy off the Farm

May these files be used to edify saints and perhaps even bring a soul to Christ.


poor boy off the farm

My Tribute to My Dad

(An earlier article on my dad – here, here, here, and here.)

A few years ago, my dad began writing his memoirs. His title was “Poor Boy off the Farm”. It reflects the reality of his life story and something of his insecurities as he battled honorably through life. He was far from ‘poor’ in my mind, though he began life in humble circumstances.

[Read more…]


Our family had a little milestone on Saturday. My daughter bought her first car! We’re all pleased and she is quite excited. Here it is:


I took the picture just after she bought the car. A 1999 Honda Accord, one owner, low miles, mint condition.

We live in such an automobile oriented society, the day you get  your first car is a real milestone for almost everyone, I think. My first car still lingers in my memory, truly loved, though it was a real lemon. I bought a 1972 Dodge Charger in 1977. It only had about 57000 miles on it, as I recall, about the same as my daughter’s Honda. Except… my previous owner was in a different demographic! Those 57,000 miles were hard miles. Several serious issues emerged as I began to get to know the car. We traded it for a 1977 Plymouth Fury after only six months or so.

But it could fly! Memories…

So far we have helped two of our young people with these milestone purchases. Neither of them have ended up with such an impulsive buy as my first, but this one was much more deliberative. My wife went with my daughter on the shopping expeditions. They narrowed it down to a few, then had one of our men go with them to whittle it down to one. The next day, I went along, but I sent my wife in to do the negotiation. I figure that I don’t get blamed for anything this way! They ended up with the price I predicted before the horse trading started.

Now our family can have something else to remember Sept 11 by.


woik, woik, woik…

We’ve been a little busy lately. Our church building is badly in need of paint and new gutters. So…

We have decided to attempt the work ourselves. It will save cash. The wear and tear on our inexpert bodies is free!

Here’s a look from the front of our building:


And me running my saw:


Our men installing the gutter brackets:







The beginnings of a new colour scheme:

Church2 We’ve been putting in many hours each day. Not my normal sort of activity so I am pretty weary. No energy for arguing on blogs!

That’s probably a good thing!