Meanderings of a Minister

Psalm 8: God’s Handprint Shows His Handiwork
August 11, 2016, 10:00 am
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Many people love to watch CSI-type shows on the television.  I don’t know about you, but these types of shows fascinate me.  I am amazed to see how detectives can find bits of hair, rope, saliva, dirt, pollen, etc., and put together the pieces of the puzzle to determine what has happened.  Probably another reason for enjoying these shows is that they almost always catch the bad guys.  There is just something about justice prevailing that appeals to me.

As much as I love these shows, they are not new or original.  In Psalm 8, David engages in a little CSI-type investigation of his own.  He begins by saying, “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your Name in all the earth.”  There is a song that begins that way.  I think it was written by Michael W. Smith and is now accepted in many churches as a valid worship song.  But this is the conclusion of the matter.  How did he get there?  That is found in many of the other 8 verses of the Psalm.

First, David says that God has displayed His splendor above the Heavens.  What did he mean by that?  He meant that, when you look into the sky and contemplate the stars, sun and moon, you realize there must be someone or something else out there.  When you consider the stars and planets you are looking past, it shouts that this other something is other than you.  This is the Bible term “holy”.

Next, David moves to a more detailed description of what you can see.  He says that you can look at the way God grows up babies and strengthens infants and you understand His strength and even His adversaries cannot stand against that knowledge.  Think about it.  You take a human baby, apply love, care and nourishment and God grows that small child into a full-grown human man or woman.  When you consider the process, it reminds us that we have a God and He is in control.

David moves from this picture, back to considering the heavens.  In this, he is talking about the moon, stars, sun and planets.  As immense as the universe is, David is reminded that it is the handiwork of God’s fingers.  Notice David does not say it is the handiwork on His hands, but of His fingers.  If God is so big that the universe is a work of His fingers, that is an amazingly big God.

He also considers man himself.  Not just the physical development of men, but their position in the world.  Our position in the world.  God has made man to rule over creation.  How amazing is that!?  God created us and values us.  God entrusted His creation to us.  David did not live to see it, but today, we could even include that God has ordained men to carry on the work of His Church under the guidance of His Spirit.

Having considered all of the evidence, what conclusion did David come up with…if this was television, it would be time for commercial break…just where he began:  O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth!  As you and I consider this same evidence, we also have to conclude as David did that God is amazingly great and abundantly more than we can imagine.  If you don’t yet know Him personally, now is the time.


No Sweat
October 10, 2013, 9:42 pm
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No Sweat

This morning, as I was reading my Bible, I ran across a passage that I had read many times, but for some reason, it hit me like a ton of bricks.  Before I share that passage with you, allow me to set the stage.

I have been struggling with some things for a while.  One of those things is that I serve a fantastic group of people at my church.  They are passionate for the Lord and do a great job of sharing their excitement for the Lord with others.  As a result, the church has grown tremendously in the last several years.  We have more than tripled in that time.  With any rapid growth there comes growing pains.  We have struggled to keep up with developing leaders and have had many of our leaders move away due to retirement, employment, or other such nonsense. 

For the last couple of years, I have asked myself if I am the person to lead this church because of the leadership development issue.  I am not a “Big Church” kind of pastor.  I don’t wear suits, bleach my teeth, have a personal assistant, or a research staff, and I have not written a bunch of bestselling books.  All I really know how to do is preach the Word, serve the community, and look for opportunities God sends my way. 

That is the background for my time with the Lord yesterday.  As I read, I came across the story of Abraham being called to sacrifice Isaac, his only son.  When Isaac asks Abraham about the sacrifice, he says, “My father!”.  He then asks, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”  Abraham answered and said, “God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.”  What did Abraham mean by this and how did God use that to speak to me in my reading?  Both are great questions!

First, Abraham believed that God would provide because, if he killed the child, God had provided him.  If he is not called to kill the child, which he isn’t, God would provide the lamb, which he did via a ram caught in a thicket.  Either way, God would provide.

Using this same thought pattern, I realized that if I continue to serve my church, which I fully intend to do and want to do, then God will provide what I need to serve.  If God calls me somewhere else, God will provide what I need to serve.  When God calls someone to serve Him, He is the one that provides the tools, resources, and even breath, so that the person can carry out that to which God has called them.  So…don’t sweat it!  God has called me and He will continue to grow me to be the leader, pastor and man He wants of me.  He will do the same for you.  No sweat!

Just Who Did Jesus Think He Was?
April 4, 2012, 2:33 pm
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C. S. Lewis, in his book, Mere Christianity, proposed a statement that Jesus was either, in Lewis’ words, a liar, a lunatic or Lord.  This was the question that drove Lewis to investigate the truth of God’s Word and was the foundation upon which God built to change C. S. Lewis from an atheist to a follower of Christ.  In our day, we would add one more possibility to that list of “L’s”.  Some claim that He is simply a legend.

When considering the quadlemma concerning Jesus’ identity, one must attempt to understand both what is and is not being said by each statement that is being proposed. For instance, the statement that Jesus was a liar, or that He was deceived or deceiving to others. Was Jesus deceived into thinking He was the Son of God? His mother certainly would have told Him so, but does that make it true? John the Baptist, His cousin, certainly thought He was the Son of God, but that does not offer much credibility as he could have been biased. So, how does one determine if Jesus was actually a liar?

One would first consider the words He spoke and ask if He claimed to be the Son of God. Yes, He did, but what else did He say? He said He would go to Jerusalem, be handed over the authorities, suffer and then be crucified on a cross. He claimed He would rise again on the third day and the disciples would see Him again. Every one of his prophecies came true and can be corroborated by more sources than can prove Abraham Lincoln actually lived. He prophesied about His life and the lives of His disciples and every one of the prophecies were fulfilled. That is not the definition of a liar.

If He was not deceiving others, then maybe He Himself was deceived. Could He have been told He was the Messiah and it not have been true? It would seem that raising people from the dead, casting out demons, giving sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, speech to the mute, mobility to the paralyzed and the ability to read people’s minds and stop them dead in their tracks would seem to mitigate towards something supernatural in Him. Walking on water, feeding 5000, showing up alive after being killed and turning water into wine wouldn’t exactly hurt the case, either. So, Jesus was not a liar, but maybe He was a lunatic.

Maybe He believed He was the Son of God like your Uncle John thinks he’s a tugboat. For Jesus to be a lunatic would mean that He would have believed He could do all the things listed above, but would not be able to do so, but only thought He could. The problem was that many eyewitnesses were available to refute the stories of Jesus’ miracles and prophecies, and their fulfillment, and no one objected because people spent time with formerly blind, deaf, mute, demon-possessed and even dead people that were no longer those things. What about the temple veil being torn in two at His death, from top to bottom? Did He imagine that? Hardly. The priests were terrified and wrote it down. The very ones that had Him killed.

So, not a liar and not a lunatic…what about a legend? How do we know these stories are not just all made up? We could look at historians of the day that verify some of the events. Josephus was not a Christian, but recorded some of Jesus’ life and did so for the Roman court. To lie in that history would have cost him his livelihood and maybe his life. Or how about Eusebius? He was another historian without an axe to grind. What about Thallus, the Gentile that wrote confirming the darkness that fell over Palestine at Jesus’ crucifixion? What about Tacitus that confirmed some of the stories about Christians found in the book of Acts? What about the archaeological finds that prove the existence of Jesus in Nazareth, crucified in Palestine, under Pontius Pilate, during the reign of Tiberias Caesar at Passover, His miracles that were dismissed as sorcery? What about the discovery of Yohanan, a crufixion victim that confirms the New Testament account of Jesus’ own? What about the various locations being found? No, there is no doubt that the New Testament stories about Jesus pass the external test, that they do not contradict each other and that they are confirmed historical facts.

There is also no doubt that the New Testament we have today matches the original within a 97% accuracy rating and that this is over triple the percentage of any other historical work that is not questioned as historical.

So, if Jesus told the Truth, was not crazy, and His stories are true, then that only leaves one conclusion possible. He is Who He said He was. God the Son, the propitiation for our sins and the only way to Heaven. Whether or not you believe that is irrelevant for Him, but very relevant for you. He is Lord of the Universe, but does He sit on the throne of your heart? Would you like for Him to?