Narnia and the Election

February 27, 2016 at 10:13 am | Posted in Books and Movies, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Very rarely do I comment on politics in this blog.  The subtitle is “A Teaching Pastor’s Devotional and Theological Thoughts,” and I try to keep it to that.  However, occasionally the two areas overlap, and occasionally I can’t refrain.  As a big fan of The Chronicles of Narnia, this article caught my attention.  I find I totally agree with the author.  Its called Nikabrik’s Candidate.  If you’ve read or seen Prince Caspian, then you will know the story behind the article.


An added note from this morning’s prayer time.  It’s a prayer for many candidates on both sides of the aisle.

There they are, bellowing with their mouths with swords in their lips —
for “Who,” they think, “will hear us?”
But you, O LORD, laugh at them; you hold all the nations in derision.
O my Strength, I will watch for you, for you, O God, are my fortress.
My God in his steadfast love will meet me; God will let me look in triumph on my enemies.
For the sin of their mouths, the words of their lips, let them be trapped in their pride.
For the cursing and lies that they utter, consume them in wrath;
consume them till they are no more,
that they may know that God rules over Jacob to the ends of the earth.
Selected verses from Psalm 59 (ESV)

Valentine’s Day Monologue

February 16, 2016 at 5:11 pm | Posted in God's Love | Leave a comment

Here is the text to my sermon introduction on February 14, 2016.  Valentine’s Day was originally a church holiday to celebrate the love of God.  By the way, I really did have a tooth problem this week, but it didn’t keep me away.

Due to a severe toothache, Pastor Glenn is not able to be with us today.  But we do have a guest speaker that you will be thrilled to know.  His name is Len, and I can’t say much about him, because he will tell us his own story.  But you need to know he is speaking to us from a Roman prison in the year 270AD. Welcome Len.

Good morning.  As the man said, my name is Len.  I would tell you it’s a joy to be with you, but this is a strange day for me.  You see, I am scheduled to be executed later today.  Ironic they would choose the eve of Lupercalia, the pagan Roman holiday for sexual love, since love is one of the reasons I am in prison.  Let me tell you that story.

The Roman Emperor, Claudius the Second, a very cruel emperor that one, has been in numerous military campaigns in recent days, and his people are losing their taste for war.  He was having trouble getting young recruits into the army to serve the empire, so he came up with a crazy idea.  He forbid young men to marry until they had put in their military service.  I guess he figured that if they didn’t have wives and children to come home to, the soldiers would be more dedicated to their military efforts.

Being a priest in a community near Rome, and knowing the importance of love, I decided to continue to marry young couples.  Besides, I’ve preached for years that God is love, that God demonstrated his love for us in Jesus, that we should love one another, and that the best earthly expression of love is the marriage relationship.

Well, as you might guess, word got back to the authorities that I was defying the Emperor’s command.  They came to arrest me, right after a marriage ceremony incidentally, and charge me not only with defiance of the marriage ban, but also of leading an illegal cult.  They tried to get me to deny Jesus as my only lord, and promise not to perform anymore marriage ceremonies.  Those were two things that I couldn’t do.  So here I am in prison waiting for my death sentence to be carried out.

I have a strange calm today.  I have read the stories of earlier martyrs like Polycarp.  You know his story of course, next to the apostles one of the most famous martyr stories there is.  When Polycarp was a young man, he was discipled by an old man named John, yeah the John, John the Apostle of Jesus.  Polycarp was our last connection to the first disciples.  And he seemed so brave to face the Proconsul and say, in a strong voice despite his age, “I’ve served my Lord for 84 years, and he has never denied me; how can I deny him now.”

I have also read the account of Perpetua, her story has been circulating around the Christian churches recently too.  She was a young noble woman in Africa, who refused to deny Jesus, in spite of her wealthy father’s pleas.  She and her friends were fed to the beasts in Carthage just a generation ago.  Her peace and courage were a huge source of encouragement to all around her.  Even the jailer came to know Jesus because of her testimony.

As I’ve read those stories, I always been impressed by the bravery of the martyrs.   Now I’m thinking they weren’t so brave as they were empowered by God’s spirit for the occasion.  I am strangely calm now.  I just pray that, by the Spirit, I can be as calm and brave as those two saints were.

There is one blessing to my being in prison that I have to tell you about.  The jailer’s daughter here was a blind girl who often came to me with encouraging words from my friends.  I prayed for her, and,  God be praised, he gave that young girl her sight!  It was an amazing miracle!  As you might expect, her entire family is asking to know more about Jesus.

She’s a sweet girl, that Theodora.  I have just written her a letter.  She will know it’s from me because I have often sent messages to my friends on parchment cut into heart shapes, but I signed this one anyway.  Of course I signed it not with just my nick name Len, but with my full, better-known name; I signed it “from your Valentine.”  May she and her family grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

There’s not a lot we really know about St. Valentine, except that someone by that name was martyred on February 14, 269 or 270 and was later sainted by the Roman church.  However some of the legends go way back in time, including the story of the jailer’s daughter.  Other parts, like the letter on heart-shaped paper, the girl’s name, and the ban on marriage are probably added embellishments.  Happy Valentine’s Day.  Celebrate the love of God today.

The entire message can be heard here.

Best Books of 2015

February 6, 2016 at 8:28 pm | Posted in Books and Movies | Leave a comment

I usually take time in January to rethink the best books I’d read the year before.  I’m late this year, but I thought some readers might still appreciate it.

My fiction readings included a few more Bess Crawford novels by Charles Todd, always clean and entertaining; three Davis Bunn novels, I’d never read him before but enjoyed all of them; a reread of Ted Dekker’s Blink, my favorite of the Dekker books I’ve read; and the Accidental Empress by Alison Pataki, interesting but not near as good as her first book, The Traitor’s wife, which was on my best of the year list for 2014.

I also read two of Steve Berry’s Cotton Malone books.  I’d read The Columbus Affair before and decided to try some more of Berry’s action tails.  So far they’ve all been enjoyable, but The Lincoln Myth surpassed them all; it was one of best novels of the year.  The book proposes a secret agreement between Abraham Lincoln and Brigham Young.  A fascinating bit of history.  Berry rewrites some history, but unlike a Dan Brown, Berry tell his readers at the end what he discovered in his studies as true and what he invented for fiction sake.

The most fascinating novel, however, may have been Gutenberg’s Apprentice by Alix Christie.  The race to get the Bible printed before anyone found out about the invention and before money and supplies ran out was a fun adventure, especially for this reader who loves the history and stories of the Reformation.  I’ve often taught that the printing press was the greatest invention of history, but the politics and business decisions surrounding it are also very intriguing.  Sometimes Christie is blunt about the depraved thinking of the characters, but nothing was too explicit or unreal.

The best Christian book by far had to be John Stott’s The Cross of Christ, which I reviewed in this blog.  Stott not only explains what the Bible teaches about the cross, he also explains why it has to be that way.  The cross is the only possible answer to God’s perfect justice and his unfailing love.

Happy reading in 2016!

Is Divorce Allowed?

February 3, 2016 at 10:55 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Sunday I spoke on Mark 10:1-12, and the response of the congregation was amazing.  My views on this passage have changed over the years.  As I came to understand the background of those who asked Jesus the question about divorce, I understood that some of what I’d been told was not true.  Though I believe divorce is too easy in our society, very rarely the best path, and always as a result of sin, it is still allowed by God.  Too often divorced people are treated as second-class citizens in the church.  That is inconsistent with God’s grace and our responsibility to extend God’s grace and love to others.

Here’s a link if you are interested in listening.  Go down the list to the title “Is Divorce Lawful?”

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