All posts filed under: Teaching

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Avoid man’s glory

Years ago, I remember pushing away from my desk, walking down the hallway to a co-worker’s office. Once there, I bluntly asked what he thought of the most recent issue of the publication I worked on. I saw the pained look on his face. It was obvious that I was fishing for a compliment. My coworker knew it, and he awkwardly answered it was great. Later, I hated myself for what I had just done. It also wasn’t the first time I did something like that. Insecure people crave feedback from others to affirm them in their gifting, ministry or job. But these pats on the back are like a drug. Once is never enough and you desire these constant affirmations from others to keep you going. As you begin to minister in spiritual gifts or areas of ministry, this is one area that must be nipped in the bud. Insecure people are constantly tempted to find out if the words they are giving have impacted the people receiving them or if the teaching was …

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Turn Down the Noise

Recently I learned one of the most important lessons in my life. Why can’t we learn all the important lessons at the age of 12 or 14? A few years ago I knew an older couple, and the wife was a severe critic of everyone. You know the type. The problem for me was our failed relationship. When I visited them I always left angry. Her criticism of me was irritating, but maybe I deserved it and maybe there was some good advice in her cruel words. My breaking point was all the judgmental things said about other people. I didn’t want to join in and sometimes I tried to defend my friends. I can remember my anger as I write this. It’s impossible to correct an old critic. These old people were devout church-going Christians, respected by everyone who knew them, and I am a Christian, so this was one of the biggest defeats in my life. My clinical description above doesn’t show my emotions; those people made some of us crazy. And then …

Don't let fear dominate your life. Street art in Dublin, Ireland. Credit: Giuseppe Milo/Flickr/Creative Commons

Achieving your full potential — deal with the fear

There is an interesting parable in the Gospels that I believe Jesus purposefully told to prepare the disciples for Christ’s eventual departure. It would be a harbinger of what was to come. I am referring to the teaching on talents found several times in the Gospels. It appears in different forms and at different times, and it seems Jesus told this parable multiple times, because it was a message His disciples needed to hear. In the account recorded in Mathew 25:14-30, a ruler is going on a long journey and decides to leave his wealth or talents in the hands of his slaves to invest, until he returns. This parallels Jesus departure from earth, the bestowing of the Holy Spirit and His gifts (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:8) and then Jesus second return. What are the talents? I  believe in God’s kingdom, they are the giftings (spiritual and natural) and callings that God has bestowed on every believer. The Lord has tasks for us to fulfill before He returns. Some of them are spiritual and some …

The Sea of Galilee where Peter "briefly" walked on water. Credit: Asf Antman/Flickr/Creative Commons

The incredible, delayed healing, of Delia Knox

It was Christmas Day, 1987, when a drunk driver slammed into the back of a car that Delia was a passenger in. She along with her sister and brother-in-law were driving home from a church service in Toronto, Canada. Their car ended upside down and though her sister and husband only had minor injuries, Delia, then 23, was paralyzed from the waist down. Delia was also a gospel singer and though she continued to sing from a wheel chair, she dreaded ministering in other churches, because invariably they wanted to pray for her healing. At first, she appreciated their efforts but after a while she began despising these services that invariably focused on her healing. She recounts people dragging her out of a wheel chair and then watching her collapse to the floor. In an interview with CBN, Delia said “I’ve been plopped, dropped and flopped, and flipped to the point where I was like, ‘I just can’t go through this anymore.’” Then she met Bishop Knox, a speaker at a conference, she attended. They …

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Shod your feet with VICTORY

In his description of a believer’s spiritual armor, the Apostle Paul oddly refers to shoes. “and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace;” (Ephesians 6:15 NASV) Compared to the breast-plate or shield, shoes are certainly not the most prominent piece of armor, but don’t let their insignificance fool you, they are key to a believer’s victory. The Roman soldier was equipped with sandal-like boots covered with brass that extended up to cover part of the shin. The sandals had nails protruding from the bottom giving the soldier extra grip. Though a wound to the foot or lower leg was not necessarily life threatening it was very incapacitating. My son was practicing soccer in our backyard gearing up for a series of big games. He kicked the soccer ball near a, until then unknown, hornet’s nest. He received a single, barely visible bite on his ankle and was off his feet for days. The smallest wound on the foot can hobble a soldier for extended periods of time making him completely …

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Forgive for your heart’s sake

When Jesus spoke on forgiveness He was very clear on one thing: if we don’t forgive those who offend us, God would not forgive us. 14 For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions. (Matthew 6:14-15 NASV) I sometimes wonder if we struggle to forgive ourselves for things that we have done in the past, that it is a sign of spiritual blockages caused by our unwillingness to forgive. These blockages hinder us from fully experiencing God’s forgiveness. But an article on John Hopkins Medicine, Forgiveness: Your Health depends on It, provides one more reason to forgive. We need to do it for the sake of our physical health. Like many of God’s commandments, such as circumcision that improves a man’s health, the need to forgive is another section in God’s user’s manual on proper operation of the human body. According to the John Hopkins’ article, studies show that people who hold grudges and …

King David moving the Ark of the Covenant from Gibeon to the Tabernacle of David in Jerusalem. Painter unknown

¿Por qué el rey David estableció el Tabernáculo de David?

English version: Why Did King David set up the Tabernacle of David? Quizás uno de los artículos más polémicos que he escrito es “el profundo y oscuro secreto del Rey David”. He tenido más comentarios sobre ese artículo que cualquier otro que he escrito y fácilmente he tenido más gente en desacuerdo conmigo. En el artículo sostengo que el rey David era ilegítimo. Cuando dijo en los Salmos que fue concebido en el pecado – lo quiso decir literalmente. Su madre lo concibió en un acto de pecado. He aquí, he sido criado en iniquidad, Y en pecado mi madre me concibió. (Salmos 51: 5 NASV) Esto explica lo que sucedió cuando Dios le dijo a Samuel que fuera a Belén a ungir a uno de los hijos de Isaí como el siguiente rey de Israel, reemplazando a Saúl (1 Samuel 16: 1-13). La Biblia nos dice que los ancianos estaban temblando cuando el profeta apareció (v 4). Samuel aterrorizó a los ancianos, así que cuando el profeta de Dios pidió a todos los hijos, …

Pero's Bridge, Bristol, England with its two counterweights Credit: Adrian Pingstone/Wikipeida/Creative Commons

A counterweight to worry

Pero’s Bridge is one of the world’s stranger looking bridges. Built in 1999, it is a pedestrian drawbridge that spans St. Augustine’s beach in Bristol, England. The two outside sections are attached to land and the inner section serves as a drawbridge that raises to allow boats to pass beneath. It has two distinctive, horn-like objects on either side of the bridge. At first glance, it seems they are nothing more than abstract art added to decorate the bridge. In fact, it is art, but they also serve as important counterweights that exert force in the opposite direction allowing the inner span to raise quickly. Also called a “bascule” bridge — French for “balanced scale” — people have used this type of design for centuries because counterweights raise bridge spans quickly and with relatively little energy. Like a bascule bridge, we all need something to counter what life throws at us. As you watch the media, a person can quickly be caught up worrying about world events and our rapidly changing society. We worry about …

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The Intersection

A few weeks ago at a weekly prayer meeting I had a prophetic word for a young man. After I shared the picture I had received with him, I knew I needed to remember it and apply it to my own life. I began to pray for direction for his life and immediately God gave me this “movie” for him. I saw him in his vehicle pulling up to a stop sign at an intersection where he had two or three options for his destiny. Which direction was he to take? Next I saw the action God wanted him to take. I saw him park at the side of the road, put on some worship tunes, and begin to worship God. He was to make declarations about who and what God is – He is Lord, He knows all, and is greater than all our circumstances. He knows what we need and how to get there. What happened next was not what I would have expected. As the worship and declarations went up like vapor …

Replica roman shields Credit: Kim Benson/Flickr/Creative Commons

Above all the shield of faith to repel condemnation and fear

When the Apostle Paul outlined the spiritual armor of the believer, one of the most prominent pieces he mentioned was the shield of faith: 16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. (Ephesians 6:16 NKV) The Roman shield was about 2’ by 4’ and made of light wood covered with several layers of hide or sheet metal. The soldier used it to ward off blows and to protect himself from arrows. Paul says that the shield of faith has the specific purpose of protecting Christians from the fiery darts of the enemy. These particularly fierce weapons were fabricated of either hollow canes filled with incendiary material or arrows wrapped with similar ingredients (Psalms 7:13). They were lit and fired at their enemy. To repel this missile, the shields were made of a hardened material so the fiery darts would simply bounce off. If the shields were not properly constructed they were vulnerable. In one particular battle, an early historian recorded …

Breaking off those word curses hanging over you. Credit: Michal Jaskoslki/Flickr/Creative Commons

Breaking off word curses

Several years ago my wife and I received a prophetic word from Keith Hazell. Keith passed away in 2013, but he was one of a handful of people who I consider to be a full-blown prophet. Our church had brought him in for a time of prophetic ministry. He prophesied a number of things including that we would be writing. But then his prophetic word took an odd turn. He said that I had the ability to start a business. Then he added that God wasn’t saying that I should start a business, but only that I was capable of doing it. It is amazing how words people say can haunt you for decades. They hang like a dark cloud over your head. Years before this prophetic word, someone had told me that I was not capable of running a business. It was an off the cuff remark and I am not even sure the person meant it. It is not that I even had a personal interest in starting a business, but those words …

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Will you complete the transformation?

In Romans 12:1,2, the Apostle Paul makes a life-changing statement that believers are “transformed by the renewing of our mind.”  Though we are saved by faith, the transformation for the Christian takes place as we change the way we think. That word transformed is the Greek word ‘metamorphou’ from which we get the English word metamorphosis that describes the transformation that takes place when a caterpillar turns into a butterfly. This transformation is a gradual process for a caterpillar. First it spins a cocoon and then in the safety of this container, the insect dissolves and the mixture of enzymes reform into a new creature – a butterfly. The two insects are so different they can no longer eat the same thing because its digestive system has completely changed — one chews on leaves and the other sucks nectar. Paul says the Christian must undergo a similar transformation. Unfortunately, we can’t spend a few days in a cocoon to complete this change. We are forced to learn on the job. Further, Paul tells us that …

A woman prays near the Tomb of Jesus in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. Credit: Jelle Drok/Flickr/Creative Commons

About Jerusalem

In recent years, I have been blessed to spend several weeks in the eternal city of Jerusalem. This is the only city on the earth which the LORD God of Israel declared, “In Jerusalem, I will put my name forever” (2 Kings 21:4-7). During my time in Israel, Psalm 122:6 was constantly before my eyes;  “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem. May they prosper who love you.” Jerusalem is the most prayed for city in the universe.  At every meal, Jews pray the blessing, “Blessed are you, O LORD, who will build up Jerusalem in mercy.” Every Monday the Jews recite Psalm 48 from their Prayer Book; “Walk about Zion and go all around her” (verse 12). Jerusalem is a spiritual city (not sinless), set apart for a Holy God. Many days I spent just walking around Jerusalem and was constantly reminded of the  blessings connected with Israel that can only come from the true LORD God.  Indeed the peace of Jesus Christ is evident in the streets and there are places where one can …

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Has the church lost its message?

I was on a Christian website reading an article on Disney’s recent release of Beauty and the Beast that portrayed overtly homosexual scenes in a movie intended for children.  One person commented deriding and mocking the church’s failure to boycott the movie that was a box office success. Baited, several Christians responded some with vulgar comments condemning the person. One used the term “bum holer,” a comment that was later removed. To be honest, I felt a similar resentment towards this pro-gay commenter. I have been a Christians for years but a verse from the Gospel of John cited in a devotional I received recently caught my attention. I wondered if someone had just added this verse to the Bible in the last couple of years, because it seems so contrary to current Christian practice. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn (Greek krino) the world, but to save the world through him. (John 3:17 NIV) The Greek word ‘krino’ means to judge as the NASV translated it or to …

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Being centered: A personal struggle to belong

Joseph is one of my favorite Bible characters. After studying his life for the past year, I have developed a love/hate relationship with this Old Testament hero, both for the same reasons. He stood faithful in God, no matter what happened. No matter who lied or betrayed him, no matter how far down in the pit life pushed him, he kept serving and looking to God. He stayed centered on God when most of us would have given up on God and our dreams. But I want to look at one aspect of Joseph’s life that is often not discussed but is both encouraging and challenging. Most people agree that Joseph came from a very dysfunctional home: 9 older jealous brothers, 3 step-moms, and a doting father who was clued-out as to the effect that his favoritism was having on his family. After studying Joseph’s life, what I see is a loner. He was a loner but never alone. He was too Egyptian for his family and too Jewish for the Egyptians. At the end …

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Healing our rejection

Using a MRI scan university researchers discovered that emotional pain associated with rejection is as real as physical pain. In 2011, the group led by University of Michigan associate professor Ethan Kross studied 40 people who had recently gone through a romantic break-up within the previous six months. All the participants chosen mentioned having felt intense feelings of rejection due to the ending of the relationship. The 40 people were then put through two tests one related to the emotional pain they felt over the rejection and the other actual physical pain. In the first test, the study subjects viewed an image of their ex and were asked to think about the break up.  In the second stage, thermal devices were attached to their arms that created heat the equivalent of hot coffee. As the 40 people went through these and other comparative tests, the researchers monitored their brain activity using MRIs. The researchers found that feelings of rejection sparked neural activity in the same area of the brain where people felt physical pain. In …

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Centered Like Clay

One of the best definitions of intercession I have heard goes something like this: “Intercession is not about defeating the devil in a particular battle; it is about getting into the face of God, with the defeat of the devil as the by-product.” Reading the many accounts of Jesus’ ministry to desperate people reveals something wonderful about God’s character. It seems that the more irreverent and noisy, and the more into Jesus’ face and space someone was, the more Jesus liked it. He even went so far as to touch a leper before He had healed him. Yuck! (Mark 1:40-45) What a wonderful Lord we serve, who beckons society’s “lepers” to come to Him, and get into God’s face and be redeemed! My question is, how centered on God can you get? Centered Like Clay The term “centered” means different things to people of different backgrounds. From doctors setting bones to machinists working on a lathe, being centered and focused is critical to the success of any endeavor. I want to look at two Old …

Pray for those who mistreat you. Credit: MissTessmacher/Flickr/Creative Commons

Study: prayer calms the angry heart

A 2011 study conducted by researchers from universities in America and Europe concluded that prayer helps a person calm their anger. The study conducted by Brad Bushman a psychology and communications professor from Ohio State University, Sander Koole of Holland’s VU University of Amsterdam and University of Michigan’s Ryan Bremner found that prayer quelled a person’s anger even if they were not particularly religious. There were various stages to this study. In one session, the researchers asked the participants in the study to to write a paper that was then evaluated by a partner who purposely and aggressively criticized the paper. They were extremely negative about what the participant had wrote. They then had some participants of the study group think about what their partner had said and others spend five minutes praying for them. Once they had gone through this process, the participants then played a game with their partner. If the participant won, they were allowed to blast their partner with loud music. The participant also determined how loud the music was and …

Singapore Credit: William Cho/Flickr/Creative Commons

When did Satan take over the world?

During the temptation in the wilderness, the devil showed Jesus all the “kingdoms of the world” (Luke 4:5) and offered the Lord a deal no man could refuse: “I will give you all this domain and its glory, for it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish.” (Luke 4:6 NASV) As we study this passage, we noticed that Jesus never challenged Satan’s claim the world had been handed over to him and several times the Lord acknowledged Satan was the ruler of this world (John 12:31; 14:30). The apostle Paul pushed the theological barrier to the edge when he described Satan as the god of the world (2 Corinthians 4:4). In no way, did the apostle believe Satan was divine, as Paul clearly states there is only one God, but as far as humanity was concerned, the evil one functioned as a god. The title-deed for planet earth was firmly in Satan’s grip. So when did Satan take over the world? Most instinctively think it took place when …

Painting by Adolf Northern (1828-1876)

Have you been raided?

Greg Gordon has operated sermonindex.net for 14 years. He also has a YouTube channel with over 5,000 sermons that people have viewed over 35 million times. Thousands of these sermons are embedded in websites around the world. He was shocked to find out that YouTube had recently shutdown his channel for violating community standards and specifically cited “deceptive practices.” Gordon had no idea what they were talking about, but obviously someone had complained. Though YouTube eventually restored the service, Gordon believes the shutdown was an attack of the enemy. In an article on Charisma News Gordon said: “I started to consider this a direct attack from the enemy. That same night, I fainted and fell and ended up at the ER. This has never happened to me with a flu or sickness. We have curried the prayer support of thousands of prayer (warriors.)” There is an interesting verse in the Gospels where Jesus talks about violent people raiding the Kingdom of God. The problem started when King Herod was visiting his brother Philip and became …

Ho Chi Minh city (formerly Saigon) Viet Nam. Credit: Colin Key/Flickr/Creative Commons

Original sin

Studies show that the average person lies about 100 times a day. As one writer tactfully noted, this was not talking about you specifically, but the average person. In the study, published in the Journal of Basic and Applied Psychology, University of Massachusetts psychologist Robert Feldman recruited 121 pairs of men and women attending classes at the university to take part in the study. They had no idea what it involved at this point. They were then brought together and asked to have conversations with the other participants. Most of them did not know each other. They were unaware that the conversations were being recorded and researchers received the required permission after, before moving to the next stage. The students were then asked to view the video and to pick out the lies — from the most innocent to the most blatant. They found that over 60% of the participants lied within the first ten minutes of their conversation and told an average of 2.92 lies. They found men and women lied the same amount, …

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Baby Sinners?

A study by Dr. Vasudevi Reddy, of the Psychology Department at the University of Portsmouth, showed babies learn to lie before they learn to speak.  Her conclusions were reported in the April 2007 edition of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. Dr. Reddy stated that lying started as early as six months. She says through trial and error, babies gain a better understanding in what situations lies work best and by seven months many infants are skilled in the art of deceit. Reddy’s conclusion flies in the face of many behavioral psychologists who — convinced of man’s eternal goodness — don’t believe children start lying until they are four years of age or older, when their brains are more developed. (By this age some argue lying is a learned behavior not an innate one.) But others, mostly parents, have had nagging suspicions that their sweet, innocent child had a dark side. In the course of her research, Reddy studied 50 children and did extensive interviews with their parents. Through this process, Reddy identified a …

El gran y oscuro secreto del Rey David

English version: King David’s big, dark secret Había un gran y oscuro secreto en la vida de David que pocas personas son conscientes. No es que David trató de mantenerlo en secreto, pero muchos de nosotros simplemente no podemos conectar los puntos. Cuando estudiamos la vida de David, hay una serie de pasajes bíblicos que al principio le parecen bastante desconcertantes. Uno de estos pasajes es 1 Samuel 16: 1-13. Dios acababa de rechazar a Saúl como rey de Israel y comisionó al profeta Samuel a ungir a uno de los hijos de Jessee de Belén como el siguiente rey (v 1). Samuel se acercó a los ancianos de Belén y organizó la reunión. Una vez que Jessee y sus hijos se habían reunido, Samuel rápidamente se dio cuenta de que ninguno de los muchachos que estaban delante de él era el que Dios había elegido. Perplejo, Samuel preguntó si había otros hijos y se le dijo que el más joven, David, estaba asistiendo al rebaño. Samuel ordenó que trajeran a David delante de él …

Anger, bitterness and unforgiveness are linked

Now in their 80s and 90s, many survivors of the Nazi Holocaust were upset when a photo of Holocaust survivor Eva Kor, 81, surfaced earlier this year. It was a photo of Eva embracing Oskar Groening, 94, in a German courtroom in the city of Lunenburg. Groening had been a SS sergeant and chief accountant at Auschwitz concentration camp, the same camp the Nazis sent Eva and her Hungarian Jewish family to die. The courts found Groening guilty and complicit in the slaughter of 300,000 Jews in the Auschwitz gas chambers. Eva and her identical twin sister Miriam were ten when their family arrived at the concentration camp. As the cattle cars emptied, Eva recalls the Nazis scouring the hundred of Jews standing on the train platform. The guards were looking for identical twins. When a guard saw Eva and Miriam, he yanked them out of their mothers arms and took them away. They were of keen interest to Dr. Josef Mengele, the Nazi surgeon at the camp who used Jews for his brutal experiments. He …

What do you feel about the death penalty? Credit: Carlos Y./Flickr/Creative Commons

Should Christians support the death penalty? — A response

The death penalty is a controversial subject for Christians. Believers fall on both sides of the issue. Some believe the death penalty should be part of the criminal code and others do not. In this article, I want to respond to Katherin Dwyer’s article entitled Should Christians support the death penalty? posted on the Gospel Herald website. In her article, she explains why as a Christian and conservative she opposes the death penalty. Katherine is a Charles Koch Institute Communications Fellow with Conservatives Concerned about the Death Penalty. Her article was in part sparked by the recent US presidential election, where three states also held referendum votes on the death penalty. Katherine takes a reasoned approach on her opposition to the death penalty and I believe she made some valid points. But I don’t agree with all her conclusions and simply want to discuss why I believe the death penalty is still a legitimate form of justice, even today. Eye for an eye The first thing Katherine delves in to is the “eye for eye” …

This is how snowblowers are supposed to work. Credit: Jon/Flickr/Creative Commons

Complain, complain, complain — it affects the brain

Social researchers tell us when having a conversation most people utter one complaint about every minute. I easily fill that quota. If I am not complaining about the weather, I am complaining about something the government did or our city’s losing pro-football team. However, my favorite whipping boy recently has been my snowblower. For the past three weeks it has gone AWOL — refusing to start. I had a friend come over who is very familiar with these type of mechanical devices, but even he couldn’t get it going. So we threw it in the back of a half tone, and took it in for service, and as my luck had it, the warranty ran out a month earlier, so it wouldn’t be covered. They got it going and the serviceman even started it to show it was now working. Of course, as soon as I got it home and we had our first snowfall, the snowblower refused to start again and I had to shovel by hand. I was not a happy camper. I had …

Temple of Bel (Baa)l at Palymira, Syria prior to its destruction by ISIS in 2015 Credit: Egisto Sani/Flickr/Creative Commons

The Spirit of Baal in the end times

A strange thing happened in 2016, a company manufactured full-scale 3-d replicas of the gates of a Temple of Baal that once stood in Palmyra, Syria. ISIS destroyed the 2,000 year old temple in 2015. They installed arches this past spring in Trafalgar Square in London, England and later on September 19, 2016 at Times Square in New York City. The 48′ foot arch from the Baal temple has certainly proved controversial. Some wonder if it provided an opening or portal for the spirit of Baal in these two countries, much in the same way the building of temples for Baal and Asherah would have done in ancient Israel when Queen Jezebel set them up. In his article proposing this on Charisma News, author Michael Snyder suggests the setting up of the arch may have contributed to the rise in violence in America that we are recently seeing. Or maybe it is all just one big coincidence. Or, perhaps it is just a sign of the times — an indication of what is already happening …

People walking the streets of Shanghai, China Credit: Richard Schneider/Flickr/Creative Commons

Respected scientist believes in the existence of the soul

Sir Roger Penrose, 85, is a respected and award-winning mathematical physicist in England. He serves as the Emeritus Rouse Ball Professor of Mathematics at University of Oxford’s Mathematical Institute. His awards include the Wolf Prize won in 1988 that he shared with Stephen Hawkings. His most recent awards include the De Morgan medal (2004) that is handed out every three years by the London Mathematics Society and the Copley Medal (2006) awarded by London’s Royal Society for outstanding research achievements in any branch of science. It is considered the world’s oldest scientific award. Penrose ranks among the greats — Einstein and Hawkings. He has also developed many theories during his lifetime, but perhaps his most intriguing is his belief in a human soul that continues to exist after a person dies. According to an article in The Sun, he describes the soul as a “packet of information stored at a quantum – or sub-atomic level.” When a person dies this information is released intact into the universe but will return to the human body if …

Harvest time is hard work Credit: ed_needs_a_bicycle/Flickr/Creative Commons

How to Kill a Church – Part 3

The U.S.A. just had an election and the whole world is talking about it. I live in Canada, so I don’t want to add to the discussion; Americans know how to manage their own country. Before we forget though, Donald Trump surprised the world by winning, and Hillary Clinton shocked her loyal followers by losing. Before the vote, he labored to convince the doubters to vote for him, and she convinced her friends to love her more. We had the same pattern where I live in 1992; Nancy Betkowski was an educated, sophisticated woman who was going to be our provincial leader. Her rival was Ralph Klein, a journalist who drank too much. At the leadership convention Nancy went to bed knowing she had the majority vote the next day. Ralph stayed up all night working the crowd and trying to convince his enemies to vote for him. Nancy appeared for her coronation the next morning, and we were all stunned when Ralph won the vote. He missed some sleep and worked very hard, and …

Breaking the yoke of insecurity off your neck. Credit: flintlocker/Flickr/Creative Commons

Dealing with Insecurity: The workaholic

If you are insecure, you do things that can break your heart. In 2 Kings 4:8-22, we read the story of an older couple who were prominent in the community (v 8). Undoubtedly, they were wealthy. The man was a farmer and had a number of servants working for him (v 18, 22). They were the rich and famous of Israel. The man’s success defined who he was and he had an image to uphold. They had everything except a child. When the prophet Elijah showed up in the community, the wife cordially invited him to stay at their large home. When Elijah was ready to leave he asked Gehazi — his servant — what type of gift he could give the woman for her generosity. Gehazi said she was without a child. Elijah went to the wife and prophesied she would have a child by this time next year which occurred exactly as Elijah predicted (v 17). Between verses 17 and 18, someone hit the fast forward button. We are not told how much …

Working in God's vineyard. Credit: Shawn Harquail/Flickr/Creative Commons

We are all at different stages in our journey

There is a story in the Gospels that portrays how God views our faith journey. Some of us may feel like we are not keeping up with the spiritual Jones. I see men and women pushing ahead in God, accomplishing great things and wonder if I could have done better. In Matthew 20:1-16, Jesus tells the story of the owner of a vineyard who needed to hire workers for the day. It was a parable describing the principles that govern the Kingdom of God and work in God’s vineyard. It seems there was a spot in the market place where men gathered who were looking for work. The owner showed up early in the morning (probably around 6 am) and found some men who were interested. He offered them a denarius to which they agreed as it represented a typical day’s wage. But the owner still needed more help. He checked again at 9am and hired a few more. Other workers were picked up at noon and 3pm. By the end of the day, some …

You are significant in God's eyes.

The power of Significance

Over a decade ago a woman spoke at our church and prophesied about God’s call on my life to preach the gospel. Up until then, I was fairly mediocre in my pursuit of God and my passion to serve Him. But that night, this woman spoke into areas and dreams of my life that I had never told anyone. I dreamed of preaching the gospel in fields and stadiums to thousands of people. At that time I don’t think I had even preached a sermon. Yet, I would find myself imagining that I was an evangelist like Rinehard Bonnke. I never told a soul about these dreams and I thought they were just foolish imaginations. I didn’t even know if preaching was something I even wanted to do. So when this woman prophesied that I had dreamed of hundreds and thousands and stadiums and that God was going to give this too me, I was stunned and overwhelmed. These ideas were not my crazy imagination, but had originated in the heart of God and were …

Is divorce a violent act? Credit: --christophe--/Flickr/Creative Commons

Does divorce impact a child’s spirituality?

One of God’s clearest denunciations of divorce is found in the book of Malachi. Speaking on behalf of God, the Prophet thunders: “For, I hate divorce.” (Malachi 2:16 NASV) Then God declares divorce an act of violence. “and him who covers his garment with wrong, (literally violence)” When the Lord says that I don’t believe He is describing the acrimony that often occurs between a man and woman when they divorce. The couple divorcing could still be friends, but the act of divorce itself is inherently violent. In the previous verses we discover the reason: 14 You ask, “Why?” It is because the Lord is the witness between you and the wife of your youth. You have been unfaithful to her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant. 15 Has not the one God made you? You belong to him in body and spirit. And what does the one God seek? Godly offspring. So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful to the wife of your youth. (Malachi 2:14-15 NIV) In …

Credit: Jacques Holst/Flickr/Creative Commons

Dealing with Insecurity: The desperate need for bigger and better

Years ago I attended a church that had a family camp. Every summer the congregation would  pack up their bags, and live in a tent, trailer or rent a cabin for a week. It was along the shores of an algae-filled lake. The fellowship was the best part. But the push was on for God to move at the camp. And invariably at the end of every camp, the pastor would declare in the closing meeting that this was the best camp ever. There were some good camps. But there were others that were just alright. In fact, if the truth be told the first camp they held was the absolute best one. The Holy Spirit moved powerfully and people were still talking about those meetings ten years later. It is so easy to fall into the mindset that meetings have to be better, miracles more profound and the moving of the Holy Spirit greater. I do it with this website. I regularly check the readership stats to see how many people are visiting and …

Off to prophetic school Credit: Michael Fawcett/Flickr/Creative Commons

My Prophetic Journey Part 3: School Starts

[This is the third in a series of articles on the ministry of the prophet and gift of prophecy.] Having wrestled with God’s call, and worked through some things involving God’s grace and work in my life as discussed in my last article, I was finally on board with God’s call into the prophetic. I read all the books and study notes that I could, and attended seminars on the prophetic. One day, either in a stroke of rare brilliance, or naivety, I came up with a plan. I bought myself a large hardcover blank notebook and said to God, Why don’t You teach me some prophetic lessons? A by-product of that would be learning to hear from God more, so that sounded great to me. God answered that prayer, and I began to fill the book with some tough lessons – be careful what you ask for! For a period of time God would deal with one thing (usually involving character and attitudes), and then would let that lesson become part of me. After …