Abracadabra, You’re a Fish!

Does anyone else remember, as a child, role-playing as wizards or witches and turning each other into a frog or a cat or…? It was all fun and games until someone chose the wrong animal. "I am not a chicken!!!" "Yes you are!"

Remembering those humorous amusements (even when they went awry) brings a smile to my face. The reason this youthful activity came to mind is because I was perusing United Airline's Hemispheres magazine on the way to Nashville this week. It included an article titled "The Lizard King" about George Cera, who is paid by Boca Grande, Florida to rid them of as many spiny-tailed black iguanas as he can at $20 per head. If you are a PETA member, that might sound like an evil job, but those omnivorous lizards are an invasive species that (until Cera's intervention) were reeking havoc on native plants and animals. Continue reading Abracadabra, You’re a Fish!

20 Days

Perhaps one of the worst reports we can hear is that of a baby unexpectedly passing away overnight. As a parent of a three year-old, I don't want to even consider what it would mean to tuck my tike into bed one evening and then find he's no longer breathing in the morning. Can anyone argue with Theoden in "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers" when he says, "No parent should have to bury their child"?

Especially when that child is only 20 days old.

And the death of an infant leads to many questions. Perhaps the most common type can be summed up in a single word.


Continue reading 20 Days

We Are Comfortable in Our Misery

Why? Why? Why?

Abuse in relationships…

We’ve all heard the horror stories of a woman whose husband abuses her physically and emotionally…yet she never leaves. No matter how many times she has to wear glasses to hide a black eye…no matter how many excuses she has to make for a bruise or a break…

She stays with her tormentor.

Even worse, sometimes when the police finally get enough evidence to intervene, the woman actually physically defends the man who has been assaulting her.

As a quick, but important caveat, in no way is this meant to blame the victim

Continue reading We Are Comfortable in Our Misery


Last night, just before turning my iPad off and going to sleep, it really felt like I should set my Facebook status based on the death of Osama bin Laden. This is what I settled on:

‎”Say to them, As I live, declares the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die…?” (Ezekiel 33:11, ESV)

I look forward to a future where _nobody_ dies, but for now I am thankful for those who protect us from those like Osama bin Laden.

Followed by immediately adding this comment:

Although, I much rather everyone, including our worst enemies, be saved…as would our Lord: “…God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:3b-4).

Now, I am not near as Christ-like as those quotes might imply. I am glad that there has been closure on this aspect of that evil day over nine years ago, and I am happy that a person who wanted to kill my family, friends, neighbors, and me is no longer around to try to fulfill his wishes.

But I do stand by those statements and, as unlikely as it is, hope somehow God reached Osama just before before a bullet ended his life and he’ll unexpectedly greet me when I arrive in heaven.

Finally, to those who might quickly suggest I am judging someone’s eternal fate—agreed, I cannot read any individual’s heart and only God decides whether we are sheep or goats…wheat or tares. Let’s just all throw political correctness and faux saintliness aside, be honest about it, and admit that if Christians and/or Jews are right, the most likely resting place for this infamous terrorist is with the wicked (whether it’s Rob Bell’s, John MacArthur’s, or some other version of hell).

And that fact should make us cry, not celebrate.

A Lesson from Smuggling

Old carOne of the first editions of Ruport Murdoch’s new iPad-only newspaper, The Daily, included a story that had all the makings of a great old-fashioned G-Man tale.1 An unmarked truck sneaks out from Pennsylvania before dawn with liquid contraband destined for Manhattan. After arriving, the banned substance is clandestinely slipped into a crowded room of addicts waiting for their once-a-month fix. Images come to mind of Al Capone, Bonnie and Clyde, high speed chases with cars not long past the Model T, Tommy guns, and the FBI kicking over huge vats of illegal liquor.

However, Prohibition ended in 1933, and long ago those famous moonshine runs morphed into NASCAR racing. So, what new liquid has led to such an illicit trade? Perhaps some normal beverage beefed up with a narcotic? A new caffeinated alcohol drink (like Four Loko) that five states outlawed before the FDA finally stepped in to make it illegal for everyone?2 Considering this fluid has caused raids reminiscent of Prohibition it must be pretty addicting and the Devil’s juice.

The Amish smuggler, Samuel, was sneaking in…gasp…. Continue reading A Lesson from Smuggling

How Far Would You Go?

Machine gunThe lead article in the most recent Voice of the Martyrs Newsletter is about the exploits of Rolo, a former member of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia (FARC) who now spends his time leading residents of FARC-controlled areas (and FARC rebels themselves) to Christ. Needless to say, it is a very risky proposition. Not only is the guerrilla organization anti-religion (they are Marxists), but his former membership in the organization makes him, in a sense, an apostate. It isn’t only religions that consider turning your back on your “faith” a major “sin,” and every time he crosses over into FARC territory it is only the protective hand of God that is between him and death.

Continue reading How Far Would You Go?

Do You Have the Time?

Preaching Styles

Who is your favorite preacher? No…I won’t take it personally if it’s not me! 🙂

But, who is your favorite preacher?

Now, why?

What appeals to you about his (or her) approach? Is it because you are big on theology, and they dig deep into the word, even leveraging their immense knowledge of Greek and Hebrew? Or because they are great storytellers—sucking you into their narrative and, as you exit back to reality, you are left with an unforgettable point?

Or maybe it’s their voice? Their execution?

Continue reading Do You Have the Time?


The sermon I do not want to give…

I stand before you prepared to preach a sermon I do not want to give.  Many in society think that Christians have a fixation (and a negative one at that) on homosexuality and sex in general.  This talk will be seen as further proof that we have it out for people who just want to live and let live.

Why am I hatin’ on gay people?

Continue reading Homosexuality

Father’s Day (What Went Wrong?)

Happy Father’s Day to all you fellow fathers out there…

“Father’s Day is the day to honor fathers and celebrate fatherhood. It was during a 1909 sermon about Mother’s Day when Sonora Smart Dodd became inspired to create Father’s Day. She wanted to show how thankful she was to her father for taking care of her and her siblings after the death of her mother. Thus, the first Father’s Day was celebrated on June 19, 1910.” (http://www.history.com/content/fathersday, accessed on 6/20/2009).

Have you noticed…?

[ These are quick sermon notes…not cleaned-up…and missing the "extras" that come out in the audio (which, sadly, is not available). All quotes are from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted. ]

Have you noticed that Mother’s Day sermons are always about how great mothers are, how they are all super-moms, how much we all owe them, etcetera, etcetera?

And that Father’s Day sermons are always about how fathers need to be more responsible, spend more time with their families, etcetera?



Today I want to talk about the “original” Father…

Last week Larry’s sermon was titled, “It’s Not About You.” Who “is it” really about? (God.)

Sin’s beginning…

However, even with sin we make it about us. Where did sin really begin?

Ezekiel 28:11-19

11 Moreover, the word of the Lord came to me: 12 ​“Son of man, ​raise a lamentation over b​the king of Tyre, and say to him, Thus says the Lord God:

“You were the signet of perfection,

full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.

13 You were in ​Eden, the garden of God;

f​every precious stone was your covering,

​sardius, topaz, and diamond,

beryl, onyx, and jasper,

sapphire, emerald, and carbuncle;

and crafted in gold were your settings

and your engravings.

On the day that you were created

they were prepared.

14 You were an anointed guardian cherub.

I placed you;4 you were on ​the holy mountain of God;

in the midst of the stones of fire you walked.

15 You were blameless in your ways

from the day you were created,

till unrighteousness was found in you.

16 In the abundance of your trade

you were filled with violence in your midst, and you sinned;

so I cast you as a profane thing from ​the mountain of God,

and I destroyed you, O guardian cherub,

from the midst of the stones of fire.

17 Your heart was proud because of ​your beauty;

you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor.

I cast you to the ground;

I exposed you before kings,

to feast their eyes on you.

18 By the multitude of your iniquities,

in the unrighteousness of your trade

you profaned your sanctuaries;

so I brought fire out from your midst;

it consumed you,

and I turned you to ashes on the earth

​in the sight of all who saw you.

19 All who know you among the peoples

are appalled at you;

you have come to a dreadful end

and shall be no more forever.”

Revelation 12:7-9

7 Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, 8 but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. 9 And t​the great dragon was thrown down, u​that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, v​the deceiver of the whole world–w​he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.

Revelation 12:3-4

3 And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great ​red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven diadems. 4 His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth.

Where did sin begin?

“You were in Eden…”

“You were an anointed guardian Cherub…”

“You were on the holy mountain of God…”

Revelation 12:9 “And t​the great dragon was thrown down, ​that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, ​the deceiver of the whole world–w​he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.”

Revelation 20:2 “…And he seized ​the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan…”

Sin began in Heaven with Satan

Now, we don’t know exactly what was said, done, etcetera in heaven…but we may be able to get a significant clue looking at when sin first afflicted humanity…


Humanity’s fall

Genesis 3:1-13

Now ​the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.

He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You​ shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” 2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’ ” 4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, ​and he ate. 7 ​Then the eyes of both were opened, a​and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.

8 And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool​ of the day, and the man and his wife ​hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, ​because I was naked, and I hid myself.” 11 He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” 12 The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” 13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, ​“The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

What what Satan implicitly calling God?

A liar.

What was Satan implicitly saying about God’s rules? His government of our original parents?

That they were arbitrary–that God made them up for no reason…and even worse…made rules that were not in Adam and Eve’s best interest.

Do you think that when Satan convinced one third of the angels to rebel that he took a similar approach and made similar accusations?

John 8:44

44 You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. ​He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

As a quick aside…

Was the tree in the Garden a test? God seeing if Adam and Eve were trustworthy? (Discuss the suggestion that the tree was protection instead of a test…Job would be a good example of why…)


What went wrong?

Looking back at verse 8, what were Adam and Eve’s reactions to hearing God after they ate of the tree?

They hid themselves…they were afraid…they no longer trusted our Father.

Did God change? (No.)

Who changed? (We did.)

At the fall humanity learned to trust themselves…trust Satan…trust just about anything except God.

What went wrong? We changed. We stopped trusting our Father…


What is the solution?

What are we saved through?

Ephesians 2:8-10

8 For by grace you have been saved ​through faith. And this is not your own doing; ​it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

We are saved through faith. Throughout all history, Old and New Testament, this has been true.

John 20:30

30 Now Jesus did many other signs ​in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written so that you may ​believe that Jesus is the Christ, ​the Son of God, and that by believing ​you may have life ​in his name.

Acts 16:30-31

30 Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be ​saved?” 31 And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

But this says we are saved by belief? Is that a contradiction?


Faith, belief, trust…all basically the same thing…

G4102 is “through faith” in Ephesians 2:8, G4100 is “believe” and “believing” in John 20:30, and G100 is also “believe” in Acts 16:31.

New American Standard Hebrew-Aramaic and Greek Dictionaries

4100. πιστεύω pisteuō; from 4102; to believe, entrust:– believe(118), believed(73), believers(3), believes(29), believing(10), do(1), entrust(1), entrusted(6), entrusting(1), has faith(1).

4101. πιστικός pistikos; from 4102; trustworthy:– pure(2).

4102. πίστις pistis; from 3982; faith, faithfulness:– faith(238), faithfulness(3), pledge(1), proof(1).

4103. πιστός pistos; from 3982; faithful, reliable:– believe(2), believer(4), believers(5), believing(1), faithful(44), faithful one(1), faithfully(1), sure(1), trustworthy(7), who believe(1).

4104. πιστόω pistoō; from 4103; to make trustworthy, hence to establish:– convinced(1).

Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon

4100 πιστεύω [pisteuo /pist·yoo·o/] v. From 4102; TDNT 6:174; TDNTA 849; GK 4409; 248 occurrences; AV translates as “believe” 239 times, “commit unto” four times, “commit to (one’s) trust” once, “be committed unto” once, “be put in trust with” once, “be commit to one’s trust” once, and “believer” once. 1 to think to be true, to be persuaded of, to credit, place confidence in. 1a of the thing believed. 1a1 to credit, have confidence. 1b in a moral or religious reference. 1b1 used in the NT of the conviction and trust to which a man is impelled by a certain inner and higher prerogative and law of soul. 1b2 to trust in Jesus or God as able to aid either in obtaining or in doing something: saving faith. 1bc mere acknowledgment of some fact or event: intellectual faith. 2 to entrust a thing to one, i.e. his fidelity. 2a to be intrusted with a thing.

4101 πιστικός [pistikos /pis·tik·os/] adj. From 4102; GK 4410; Two occurrences; AV translates as “spikenard + 3487” twice. 1 pertaining to belief. 1a having the power of persuading, skilful in producing belief. 1b trusty, faithful, that can be relied on.

4102 πίστις [pistis /pis·tis/] n f. From 3982; TDNT 6:174; TDNTA 849; GK 4411; 244 occurrences; AV translates as “faith” 239 times, “assurance” once, “believe + 1537” once, “belief” once, “them that believe” once, and “fidelity” once. 1 conviction of the truth of anything, belief; in the NT of a conviction or belief respecting man’s relationship to God and divine things, generally with the included idea of trust and holy fervour born of faith and joined with it. 1a relating to God. 1a1 the conviction that God exists and is the creator and ruler of all things, the provider and bestower of eternal salvation through Christ. 1b relating to Christ. 1b1 a strong and welcome conviction or belief that Jesus is the Messiah, through whom we obtain eternal salvation in the kingdom of God. 1c the religious beliefs of Christians. 1d belief with the predominate idea of trust (or confidence) whether in God or in Christ, springing from faith in the same. 2 fidelity, faithfulness. 2a the character of one who can be relied on.

4103 πιστός [pistos /pis·tos/] adj. From 3982; TDNT 6:174; TDNTA 849; GK 4412; 67 occurrences; AV translates as “faithful” 53 times, “believe” six times, “believing” twice, “true” twice, “faithfully” once, “believer” once, and not translated once. 1 trusty, faithful. 1a of persons who show themselves faithful in the transaction of business, the execution of commands, or the discharge of official duties. 1b one who kept his plighted faith, worthy of trust. 1c that can be relied on. 2 easily persuaded. 2a believing, confiding, trusting. 2b in the NT one who trusts in God’s promises. 2b1 one who is convinced that Jesus has been raised from the dead. 2b2 one who has become convinced that Jesus is the Messiah and author of salvation.

4104 πιστόω [pistoo /pis·to·o/] v. From 4103; TDNT 6:174; TDNTA 849; GK 4413; AV translates as “be assured of” once. 1 to make faithful, render trustworthy. 1a to make firm, establish. 2 to be firmly persuaded of. 2a to be assured of.

What is the solution?

Restoring the trust that once was.


How dow we restore that trust?

There isn’t enough time to go over this portion completely…but a some important scriptures…

Hebrews 1:1-3

1 Long ago, at many times and ​in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but ​in these last days he has spoken to us by ​his Son, whom he appointed ​the heir of all things, ​through whom also he created the world. 3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and ​the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,

Matthew 13:17

17 For truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.

John 14:8-11

8 Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11 Believe me that ​I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else w​believe on account of the works themselves.

John 12:32 (KJV)

32 And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.

The trust is restored by looking at Jesus…Jesus came to show us the Father…so once again we could trust Him…

In case you think that Jesus cares more about you than the Father does…

John 15:26

26 In that day you will ask in my name, and I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; 27 ​for the Father himself loves you…

And lest you think that it’s all come back to being all about us…

John 12:32, in the King James Version has “men” in “And I, if I be lifted up from earth, will draw all men unto me” in italics. Why? (Because the word “men” doesn’t exist in the Greek.)

Jesus draws “all”…not just “all men”…He restores trust in God throughout the universe.

To wrap up…

2 Corinthians 5:18-19 (GNB)

All this is done by God, who through Christ changed us from enemies into his friends and gave us the task of making others his friends also. 19​Our message is that God was making the whole human race his friends through Christ…

Will you willingly take this task and lift up Jesus so He can draw all unto him?

Will you help restore trust in the original Father this Father’s Day?