Prophecy in the Time of Facebook

When we hear the word "prophecy," most of us immediately think of one of two things: the Book of Revelation or psychics. On that score, one is from God and one is not, but both seek to tell us about future events, more or less. That's the most common take on the definition of prophecy: speech about future happenings. Biblical prophecy, though, features another definition in addition to the first: a sharp critique of a society serving as a call to return to God to avoid future judgment. Think about the prophetic oracles of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Amos, Malachi, and the others. They all spoke words straight from God as rebukes and warnings. To that end, as Paul writes, the gift of prophecy and the r

Get Help

At some point in life, all of us have had the rather humbling experience of having to ask for help. It could've been with something relatively minor like your third grade math homework, or it could have been for something pretty major like asking to move back in with your parents for a time because you couldn't make it on your own. Sometimes asking for help with things is effortless, and sometimes it requires us to swallow our pride, admit we've failed, and reach out to someone else. It can make us feel vulnerable, powerless, or frightened. Regardless, we all need a little help sometimes. Today I want to encourage everyone who needs help in any way to simply ask for it. Specifically, I want

Rue the Day

According to one report, the favorite, most-requested song in karaoke joints across Japan is Frank Sinatra's "My Way." One line of Japan's favorite sing-along-song is "Regrets, I've had a few, / but then again, too few to mention." That may be true for the crooner in question, but not, I daresay, for the average person. I think most of us can look back on life and, even if we agree things went as they ultimately should have, compile a list of regrets. Bad decisions, missed opportunities, things we wish we could do over. No matter how good we have it, regret lurks in the back of our minds and whispers dark things in our ears. Why did I do that? Wish I would've taken that other job. I should'v

As Simple as That

Maybe it's just me, but I think all human beings have an innate tendency to want to complicate things. We have this strange need to have as many complexities, as many moving parts, as possible. It's to the point we're suspicious of anything truly simple; if you don't believe me, how many times have you ever said to yourself, "It can't be that easy"? We even try to complicate things as simple as God's will for us. 2 Kings 5 tells the story of Naaman, the commander of the army of Aram -- and a leper. When a slave girl tells him "the prophet who is in Samaria" -- Elisha -- could heal his leprosy, he immediately gets permission from the king and goes to him. Elisha prescribes a simple cure: "Go,

Transition of Power

Today is Inauguration Day, and President Obama will be replaced by President Trump as the chief executive of our country. No matter your feelings on Pres. Trump, today I would ask you to do two things. First, pray for the incoming administration. Pres. Trump and Vice Pres. Pence both stand in need of your prayers, as do every other member of their new government. And don't pray for their failure, either. Pray for their good, as their success is the success of our nation. Pray they would seek to know and to do God's will for the United States, that God's hand would be upon them, and that they would exercise godly leadership. Pray for their health and safety. Pray they can begin to remove the

Shepherd Psalm

If there's one psalm we've all memorized (and in the King James Version, no less), it's the Shepherd Psalm, Psalm 23. We know it and we love it -- yet every preacher seems to think he has to say something new about it. Well, I don't. Its comfort comes in part from its familiarity, and I honestly don't believe every passage needs to become something new and novel. So in keeping with the old ways, here's my take on the Twenty-third Psalm. The LORD is our shepherd. Shepherds guide and protect, and so does this one. His rod and his staff provide rest for our souls and provision for our daily needs. God leads us into the green pastures, the ways we should go. Sometimes those ways take us into the

Proverbially Speaking

Proverbs is one of those books which never ceases to surprise me. Just when I think I have it figured out, that I know the pattern of what Solomon was going for, he pulls the rug out from under me. To be fair, the whole Bible is pretty good at that, but Proverbs has a real knack for it. Consider this one: "A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest -- and poverty will come on you like a thief and scarcity like an armed man" (6:10-11; 24:33-34). Whoa. It begins with some rather pretty poetry, almost a lullaby, and then ends with a harsh wake-up call. Then there's 11:16: "A kindhearted woman gains honor, but ruthless men gain only wealth." For most people, that's p

Downtime

On Wednesday at Bible study, I shared with the class how I've never had cable or satellite service. I admit I had an antenna in Kansas, but it stayed tuned to the 24/7 local weather station (because those exist in Tornado Alley, and they're very much appreciated). I just don't watch much TV. If I do, it's the DVDs of a show or Doctor Who on Amazon Prime. With that said, I might watch two hours of shows a week on average. If I'm really bored. Since I don't watch TV, I need to do something else with my downtime. Usually I read; I've already finished four books in 2017, and I'm part-way through two others. That's as close to a hobby as I have at the moment -- and everyone needs a hobby. We all

Suit Up

Whenever you prepare for something, you suit up -- you put on the appropriate gear. It could be football pads, chain mail, a hard hat, a flight suit, an Easter bonnet, or an evening gown, but you dress for the occasion. As Christians, we need to do the same thing, and so Paul tells us to "Put on the whole armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes" (Eph. 6:11). The armor, modeled after that of a Roman centurion, has many parts, and each part is significant. Ephesians 6 gives us the breakdown. Belt of Truth (v.14) The belt holds everything in place and was used to attach the scabbard of the sword to the rest of the armor. Truth functions in the same way: it bind

Unscripted

By now, you know we're beginning 2017 with a new sermon "un-series" I'm calling "Unscripted." This isn't a typical sermon series. I'm not doing any long-range planning, and there's no central unifying theme connecting the sermons from week to week. Instead, each week will be whatever God gives me to preach that week -- no more and no less. I do fully believe God honors the preparation of preachers the world over, no matter how they arrive at their sermon, as long as it comes from God and His word. After all, as the Bible itself says, God's word never returns empty, but accomplishes His purposes (Isaiah 55:11). I have the deepest respect for those who plan twelve-week series, those who use th

Epiphany

I fully admit that when forced to make cuts to our Christmas Day service, I yanked the Wise Men, saying, "They didn't really show up until Epiphany anyway." Well, today is Epiphany, and I want to give them their due. Every year on January 6th, following the twelve days of Christmas, the Church celebrates Epiphany. If you know it as Old Christmas, it's the same thing: not the day of Jesus' birth, but the day he was given gifts. Matthew 2 is our only record of the visit of the Magi, and the details are pretty slim. The Bible never calls them kings, actually; that seems to have gotten tacked on later by tradition. They were magi, wise men, learned astronomers and astrologers (most likely). We d

Plans

The world of fiction has given us numerous quotes about the art of planning, but one such exchange stands out as my favorite. "Best laid plans of mice." "And men." "What?" "Best laid plans of mice and men." "Oh. No, I don't think men had much to do with it." -- Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy If nothing else, a universe wherein mice are the most intelligent beings should remind us that in our own (real) world, we're still not the top of the intelligence hierarchy. Omniscient God is. No matter how thoroughly we plan, we can't account for everything -- and we'd go crazy trying. Now don't get me wrong: I strongly advocate planning everything that can and should be planned. I

A Year for Hope

We all think of a new year as a blank slate. Nothing has happened yet, so anything is possible. It seems like a time for anyone to do the impossible, a time for all good things to come to those who have waited a year (or longer) for them. In short, a new year gives us new hope. We believe things will get better. We think we will get better (it's why we make resolutions, after all). People can change in a year. Situations can change in a year. Finances, public opinion, problems at work, problems at home, anything and everything can change in a year. The world can change in a year. And so we hold out hope that it will, that 2017 will finally be our year. 1 Corinthians 13 is often read at weddi

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