In Defense of Paul

I was accused a few years ago of being in a cult of Paul. The assertion was that myself and others made too much of the Apostle Paul, his writings and his particular brand of New Testament theology. We needed to be less Paul-focused and more Christ-focused. I argued that Paul was Christ focused and studying Paul should bring Christ into focus. Paul pushed back on some of those same accusations during his ministry stating the Christ is not divided and there are not Paul Christians, Apollos Christians, etc. Here is a link to my first Defense of the Apostle Paul from eight years ago. The comment thread was very involved, and might be longer than the actual post.

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Let’s Talk About Eternity

The Heritage Singers once said “Forever is a long, long time.” That’s the way many of us probably think about eternity; a very, very long time. A verse of Amazing Grace starts out “When we’ve been there 10,000 years…” The truth is that eternity takes place outside of time. It’s not made up all time but is rather the exact opposite of time.

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Application for Jeremiah 29:11

The Bible is God’s Word. 2 Timothy 3:16 says that All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness... but the proper application of scripture to our lives requires discernment. Some verses speak directly to us while others require historical or cultural context. The United States is not Israel. The people of Israel in the Old Testament is often an allegory for the Christian Church but promises made to the nation of Israel do not apply verbatim to Americans. 2 Chronicles 7:14 is often taken out of context wrongly applied. If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land was a promise made to the nation of Israel. There’s a lot of truth in that verse that does apply to people everywhere. We should humble ourselves. We should pray, seek God’s face and turn from wicked ways. But the United States of America is not going to be healed as a whole as a Christian nation. The Kingdom of God is being built from people of every nation.

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Created to be Creative

Here’s a question I encountered online this week. God created. Is he still creating?

The creation week narrative in Genesis 1 and 2 describes everything that God made in six days and on the seventh day he rested. He said that his work was finished when he saw that everything was good. The final act of creation was to make man in his image. “Male and female created he them.” I believe that God created the world and everything in it and that humanity, made in his image, was made to be creative. He told the man and woman to be fruitful and multiply, a command later repeated to the family of Noah after the flood. Consider this passage from Genesis 5:

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The Revelation

I have preached a couple of sermons lately from Revelation. One of things I stressed is that some people wrongly avoid the book entirely. They were given bad advice to avoid reading and studying it, and some believers go through life afraid of it. That’s ridiculous.

Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.

-Revelation 3:1
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Christmas is Not Stuck on a Container Ship

I saw a headline just two days ago that said supply chain problems could mean bah humbug. At ports on both coasts are dozens and dozens of container ships with goods waiting to be unloaded. The backlog could mean that by the time the regular Christmas shopping season starts, traditionally the day after Thanksgiving, there will be no toys, clothing and electronics left on store shelves. By the American way of thinking no stuff means no Christmas.

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Jonah for Kids Part 4

Jonah Complains

Jonah did not want to go to Nineveh when God told him to in chapter 1. In Jonah 4 we find out why. It’s because he knew that God was patient and kind. He knew that God would offer mercy and what he wanted to see was the wicked and violent people of Nineveh get what they deserved. That is never what God wants.

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Jonah for Kids Part 3

Jonah Preaches

If you have read about Jonah in a Children’s Bible or heard about him in a Sunday School lesson or Vacation Bible School, it was probably chapter 1 and maybe chapter 2 that you learned about. In Jonah for Kids Part 1, based on Jonah chapter 1 in the Bible, there is a storm at sea and Jonah is thrown off a ship. He is swallowed by a great fish – perhaps you’ve heard whale, it’s not worth arguing about because that is not the point – and all of that happens in just the first chapter. In Part 2/chapter 2 we learn that after three days in the fish’s belly Jonah decided it was time to pray. Children, adults, Old Testament prophets; stubbornness is common among many different people. You may have never read or heard about what happened next. Jonah’s story is not done and if you are willing to keep reading we can continue this journey together.

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Jonah For Kids Part 2

Jonah Prays

Begin by reading Jonah chapter 2, either in your own Bible or one online.

Have you ever put something off that you didn’t want to do? It might have been homework, washing the dishes, cleaning your room, mowing the grass or any number of things. You planned to do it later, just not right then. Later the job has gotten bigger so you really don’t want to do it. If you keep putting it off then the assignment will come due, you will run completely out of dishes or the grass will be so tall it is almost impossible to cut. Sometimes we know what the right thing to do is but putting it off until later keeps making things worse.

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Jonah for Kids: Part 1

Maybe think of this as a creative writing project. I’m not entirely sure what my motivation for this endeavor is, perhaps divine inspiration. I have an 11-year-old at home and this is sort of a children’s sermon version of the Jonah Runs sermon I preached on Sunday. I printed it out for her and turned in her illustrated children’s Bible to Jonah 1. If you or anyone you know could be served by this series then please share and God bless.


Jonah for Kids
Part 1: Jonah Runs

Jonah is the story of a prophet that did not listen to God. In Jonah 1, he does exactly the opposite of what God tells him to do. When God spoke and told him to go to Nineveh and preach, he tried to flee (run away) from the presence of the Lord. It can’t be done and our hero will learn that lesson the hard way. Notice everything in chapter 1 goes down. He went down to Joppa, down in the lowest part of the ship where he then laid down and went to sleep. Later he is thrown into the sea. The Bible does not use the word down again but we can reason that he goes down into the sea and into the belly of the whale. When the chapter ends he is somewhere under the Meditterarranean Sea.

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