The Phenomenon of Billy Graham

Screenshot 2018-03-01 at 10.36.05 AMI don’t know how many tributes have been written, published, posted or tweeted this week about Billy Graham. I am not writing because I think there needs to be another one; sometimes the writing process is how we work through things. But in the process of thinking about it, maybe I can share with you some things to think about as well. Continue reading

The Difference Between Saul and David

David has a bad day at work.

David has a bad day at work.

Saul was personally chosen by God himself to rule as king over Israel. He later rejected Saul and chose David. But we all know the story of David and Bathsheba; though once described as a man after God’s own heart, David committed adultery, engaged in a government orchestrated cover-up, and eventually resorted to murder. So why was Saul rejected but David restored? I suggest it all has to do with repentance. Continue reading

Not Exactly Right

bear

“That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” That’s actually a quote of Friedrich Nietzsche. I guess the bear thing is funny, but… the statement is unnecessary. The original quote creates two categories, things that kill you and things that don’t. Since bears will kill you there is no exception. There are plenty of things that will kill you but the encouragement for survivors is what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. Continue reading

God is On My Side

jer 29“God is on my side.”  Consider for a moment the arrogance of that statement.  We’ve all said it, and probably didn’t mean to infer anything by it.  But the implication is that we have a position, a plan for victory, and that God chooses to support our position.  The truth is, we don’t even have a side.

Of all the children in a large family, Joseph was the favorite of his father Jacob.  (As in Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, also known as Israel.)  Joseph was also favored by God.  When his brothers plotted to kill him, a band of merchants just happened by and one suggested there was no profit in killing him but he could be sold as a slave.  That would get rid of him and they could make a little something on the side.  Joseph was carried down to Egypt, which was of course all part of God’s plan.  Perhaps that traveling merchant caravan didn’t just “happen by” after all. Continue reading

God’s Will

Psalm 115:3 says “Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.”  I actually read an argument from an unbeliever last week who quoted that verse and 2 Peter 3:9 about “God’s will that no one should perish.”  His argument was that one or the other must be true, or else this is a case of the Bible contradicting itself.

This is a perfect example of what happens when a verse is snagged from its context.  Read all of Psalm 115.  Verse 3 says that God is in heaven and does all that he pleases.  Verse 16 says “The heavens are the LORD’s heavens, but the earth he has given to the children of man.”  God has given us the liberty to do his will or choose our own.  Most reject God.  Look at the example Jesus gave his followers when he taught them to pray: “your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”  He later himself prayed “Nevertheless, not my will but yours be done.”  Jesus prayed for God’s will and taught his followers to do the same.  We seek God’s will, and ask for his will to be done.  But on this world, affected by sin and the curse, his will is most often not done.

Why pray for God’s will to be done on earth it it’s not going to be anyway?  God has given the earth to the children of men for now.  Jesus also prayed “your kingdom come.”  When the Kingdom of God has fully come, and death and hell are cast into the lake of fire, God’s will will be done.

Lessons from Jonah

There is old saying about quality over quantity.  The old testament book of Jonah is only 4 chapters long, but it has much to teach us.

Lesson #1: Listen to God

Many people spend a lifetime “searching” for God.  Even those who know God still spend much time seeking his will.  God plainly speaks to Jonah, telling him exactly what he wants done.  God has ordained the events of history.  Paul says we see through a glass darkly, so it makes sense to listen to the one who sees all things clearly.  Consider Genesis 50 and Acts 2 when pondering free will.  Man does what he wants, God always gets what he wants.  God had plans for Nineveh, and Jonah was to be the instrument God used.  We could save ourselves a lot of pain (and wasted time, energy and effort) if we would just listen to God in the first place, especially when he makes it that clear. Continue reading

Lord of History

When God speaks to Moses from the burning bush, he knows that Pharaoh will not let the Hebrews go “unless compelled by a mighty hand.”  God has a series of signs and wonders in store for Egypt.  There comes a point when Pharaoh would have been willing to let them go and we’re told that God hardened his heart, because he was not done demonstrating his power.  It was all part of God’s plan.

I did not intend to preach a sermon featuring 9/11 on the 10th anniversary.  I decided to use text from Genesis 15, when God met with Abram (not yet Abraham) and renewed his covenant to make of him a great nation.  God explains that it will not happen right away; as a matter of fact it will not happen for another 400 years.

Then the Lord said to Abram, “Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years.  But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions.  Gen. 15:13-14

Continue reading

Equal Time

This post is very personal and way too long; but  I feel it’s a story that must be told.

timeYou don’t hear about it much anymore, but during the 70’s a concept known as equal time or equal opportunity was hotly debated.  Television stations had to provide an equal amount of broadcasting time for both sides of a political issue.  1959 and 1971 are banner years regarding amendments and exemptions to the Congressional Act if you get really interested.  I just wanted everyone to remember there was such a thing. 

For a number of years, it didn’t look like my wife and I would be having any children.  We were married in 1997; in 2002 she tested positive for the first time on a pregnancy test.  We laughed, we cried, then we called everybody we knew.  We started picking out names, and one person wanted to be the first to give the baby a gift.  Then around 12 weeks or so we made a trip to the emergency room, and found out the she had already miscarried.  The event was traumatic; much worse than never becoming pregnant at all. Continue reading

Free will, or not free will?

Today that is the question. We clearly read in scripture where God has ordained certain events to take place. God establishes thrones and kingdoms on the earth, to serve in certain instances, as instruments he uses to bring about his righteous judgment, or at other times to show his mighty hand. He is the Lord of history. But.. what about free will? If humanity has the will to choose for himself, how does God predestine historical events? That my friend is the right question.

Okay, I’m going to cheat. I’m not exactly going to answer these quesitons, but give you some useful information as you work it out. In Genesis chp. 50, Joseph tells his brothers “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” They had evil in their heart when they sold Joseph into slavery, but God used it to bring about his purpose and plan.

Consider this passage from Acts 2:23 “this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.” God’s plan of salvation called for Jesus to die as a sacrifice. The evil men of the first century, whom Peter is preaching to in Acts, carried out God’s plan in order to bring salvation.

Man does what he wants; God gets what he wants.

Let’s try something new. Below is video of this sermon being preached on Sunday, May 18th. Sorry about the sound quality. This is my first attempt at uploading digital video. (The video made me nervous; I’m normally a better public speaker than a writer.)