I hope you have heard a good sermon lately. If not, you might want to watch Alistair Begg’s message from Sunday.
Parkside Church is in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, and their service is aired weekly on the YouTube channel above.
There are many other good options for those who, for whatever reason, would like to hear a sermon of a different man of God.
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones was the minister of Westminster Chapel in London for almost 30 years during the late 20th century. People of all ages came to hear his sermons. Thankfully, his studies of God’s Word were recorded in numerous sermons that can be found HERE.
Occasionally, I find myself hungering for one of Mr. Spurgeon’s sermons. Charles Haddon Spurgeon was pastor of the congregation of the New Park Street Chapel (later the Metropolitan Tabernacle) in London for 38 years in the later half of the 19th century. We do not have any recordings of his voice but almost every sermon he spoke was written down. His mining of God’s Word for gold can be found HERE.
Besides reading your Bible, it is always a blessing to hear a man of God give a good sermon. This video definitely fits that description.
“Scientists Solve an Origin of Life Mystery“
A Google morning headline struck me today: “Scientists Solve an Origin of Life Mystery.” Maybe this article would help me understand what began the process of my creation. Unfortunately, the subtitle made it obvious that the main headline was misleading. It read:
“Seawater might have supplied the phosphorus required for emerging life.”
Hmm…the main headline seemed definite, whereas the subtitle used the word “might.”
And then there was the first sentence of the article:
“Researchers from the Universities of Cambridge and Cape Town may have found a solution to the mystery of how phosphorus came to be an essential component of life on Earth by recreating prehistoric seawater containing the element in a laboratory.”
Hmm…”may” have found a solution? So, the main headline should probably read:
“Scientists May have Solved an Origin of Life Mystery“
A title like that would not have gotten my attention so much. I hope this article stays up for a long time so that this post doesn’t become obsolete. You may want to check it now to see that I am not pulling your leg. Actually, it doesn’t matter that much since articles like this happen all the time.
CLICK HERE TO SEE THE ARTICLE.
As I’ve been looking for a good reason to share a recent lecture with my readers, I now have a good place to put it. Anyone who is familiar with Dr. James Tour knows how great a scientist he is. This lecture was given at Rice University.
Dr. Tour works in relative obscurity compared to so many headlines like the one above. A guy calling himself “Professor Dave” has 10 times the hits on a YouTube video on this same subject. Professor Dave has nowhere near the knowledge of Dr. Tour and they disagree greatly.
The book of John begins with words that I believe:
1 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him not even one thing came into being that has come into being. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the Light of mankind. 5 And the Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not grasp it.”
I will continue to watch for headlines like this and once a year comment on at least one of them.
In the continual effort to find materials that make complicated issues easier to understand, here is another discovery. This short video gives dates and information specific enough to help people understand quite a few things. As far as I know, it is all accurate. Please comment if you think otherwise.
After having “spoken” to a newly made Italian internet friend, it is now more obvious to me that the country where Rome resides is in great trouble spiritually. Statistics show that almost 80% of Italians consider themselves Catholic. My new friend informed me that no one he knows in the age group of 18 to 25 has a Bible. His grandparents and his parents were all atheists until recent medical problems that his father had led his father to have thoughts about God.
My new young friend seems very intelligent. When I asked him who Moses was he had to reach back, as he put it, to childhood memories. I know it is only one person but I’m guessing he is probably indicative of the average Italian and perhaps most Catholics; if they do believe in God it is not because they have studied the Bible on their own but they are believing what the pope or the bishop or the local priest is teaching.
I pray for my new friend and for my Catholic friends that they will trust in Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone.
I rarely see Mormons (Later Day Saints/LDS) here in Arkansas but was surprised to learn that there are over 32,000 of them. There are many in California where I once lived and there was a Mormon stake directly across from my High School. A stake is a group of local Church congregations usually meeting in the same place. I still think of the Mormon friends I met growing up. They are generally very nice people but they believe things that are, sadly, not scriptural. I still own each of the four books they consider the “Word of God” including a copy of the original “Pearl of Great Price.”
I think this video not only communicates truth but a concern for Mormons who sincerely believe what they are taught.
If you know little about what Mormons believe, this is a good introduction if you are interested.
If you are like me, you are subscribed to several You Tube channels that interest you. This audio file popped up there yesterday. I have heard Dr. James Tour teach on the Bible before but it has been awhile. He is not known as a theologian but as a world class scientist.
This Bible study struck a cord with me and I appreciated his challenge to “pour over the Word of God.”
Enjoy and be challenged!
“So, I want to recognize that your line of questioning is transphobic and it opens up trans people to violence by not recognizing them.”
Unlike Star Wars, there doesn’t appear to be an Obi-Wan Kenobi out there to settle these opposing forces at least for a time.
The quote above is stated in the first minute of the video above. The small portion, which included the quote, went viral on many media sources the other day and I can see why.
I won’t get into the logic of the statements made by the professor and it is worth noting that she never did answer the question put to her. It was something else that was more amazing.
How a few simple questions made the Senator “open up trans people to violence” is beyond my comprehension. If someone out there can explain it to me, please leave a comment below.
Our violent world is a thought on the minds of many these days. I think that statements like this from any source only make things worse. They certainly don’t help matters.
What do you think?
It has been a rough week. The insanity of this week has been met with a quiet, green, calm morning in the woods of Arkansas. The birds are chirping and someone is mowing their lawn. This is a difficult post to write on many levels but I’m going to give it my best shot, something I encouraged Christians to do in my last post.
Definition of Wayward:
“Difficult to control or predict because of unusual or perverse behavior”
Definition of Bride (as used in this post):
The Church Is the Bride of Christ (click HERE for more detail)
Notice the quotes around the word “Bride” in the title above. The reason for the quotes is that every week brings more news of serious trouble in places where people who call themselves Christians congregate. The “Church” is in eternal trouble. The Church is not. Thankfully, there is a remnant of people who act and believe like people who have been touched by the Holy Spirit.
If the problem weren’t so huge, it wouldn’t be so sad. But the problem is huge. To try and cover the topic comprehensively would take many volumes, so I will explain small events that happened to me this week, events that symbolize much more serious issues.
I was censored by “brothers” twice this week. Silenced. Attempting to help two online acquaintances to understand concerns I had, one minor and one major, my posts were completely removed as if they had never existed. No effort was given to even explain why my attempts could be mistaken. In the scheme of things, I know what I experienced is nothing. I’m sure you’ve heard of the “straw that broke the camel’s back.” Being censored along with other things I’m planning to mention here, kind of had that effect.
I will start with the minor censoring. A blogger that I have followed for some time called all members of all Christian denominations “dung.” Although I have come to the place where I question any church or pastor’s basic theology before I even invest time in trying to learn something from them, I believe that there are true believers in many denominations. I took exception to this blogger calling the Bride “dung.” Our four-comment-back-and-forth was erased and a following post appeared on his blog with the heading: “Persecuted for living godly in Christ scripture-comfort.” Three scriptures about suffering persecution for Christ followed.
Being silenced by someone who considers himself righteous startled me a bit. That he may have considered my little critique persecution is only possible mud on the cake.
The more serious censor happened on Facebook. A friend from college who became a pastor posted this on his Facebook page:
“Joy is that kind of happiness that doesn’t depend on what happens.”
Sounds wise and innocent enough. And then I looked at who said this. The quote is from David-Steindl-Rast. I had never heard of the guy so I looked him up. David-Steindl Rast is a 95-year-old American Catholic Benedictine Monk. It didn’t take long to see that this monk was just another version of Thomas Merton whom my friend had also quoted in the past along with other mystics. I felt that this former Lutheran pastor’s friends should know a bit about this mystic so I shared one of his many faulty (a much too kind word) quotes and suggested that my friend might quote Martin Luther occasionally. I was silenced, the comment removed as if it had never been there. Remaining was this from an allowed commenter:
“It’s a gift of God and a fruit of the Spirit within!”
Deterred but wanting to give it one more try, I looked at post a few below the one from the mystic. All it said was:
“SPIRITUAL RECOVERY RECONDITIONING
Repeat to yourself throughout the day:
Psychotic with God’s Spirit
I am psyched for Him and others“
After looking up the word “psychotic,” I found it was a word “relating to, denoting, or affected with a psychosis”
“a severe mental disorder in which thought and emotions are so impaired that contact is lost with eternal reality”
I thought it only right to share this definition with my friend and those he is influencing. I suppose I should have known that I would be erased again.
Looking at more of the “SPIRITUAL RECOVERY RECONDITIONING” statements, some of them seemed tame enough.
But, the sad question went through my mind, “Is my friend lost?”
And there was this video this week:
In our world today, there is a chance that this is a fake video. As far as my research can go at this time, it is real. If it is not real, the reality of exact things like this that continue to come to light in churches is appalling.
I read Ezekiel 23 this week. It describes the sins of Samaria and Jerusalem, the people who were supposed to be closest to God. And it describes what will happen to them because they have consistently and continually done abominable things.
And then there are the words of Jesus when referring to others who were supposed to be closest to God:
“You offspring of vipers, how can you, being evil, express any good things? For the mouth speaks from that which fills the heart.”
The heartbreaking theological and sexual waywardness of the “bride” very recently had another largely reported sex scandal hit the news. You can read about it HERE.
A short rabbit trail to make a point:
I enjoy growing tomatoes in the heat and humidity of the summers in Arkansas. While checking a few of the plants the other day, I found 5 eggs on one of the tomato leaves. Whatever had laid the eggs hadn’t even bothered to hide them. They were on top of the leaf and easy to see. Their golden color made them glisten in the sun. They were some of the most eye-catching eggs I had ever seen. At the same time, they had to be destroyed because what hatched from them would begin to feast on and destroy parts of the plant and even the entire plant if let go long enough. They were easy to crush.
I went to the next plant and found the same thing except this time the critter that laid the same type of eggs tried to hide them on the underside of a leaf, which is where one usually finds them. They had been harder to find but just as easy to crush. I moved to the next plant. On the underside of one of its leaves were a completely different type of egg. They were very small and white, more numerous, and very hard and difficult to crush. This little experience made me think of how things have gone so wrong in so many churches.
It starts with things that should be easily noticed, an obviously false doctrine, an ignored blatant sexual sin, a feel good “gospel” that avoids any type of real repentance. These things begin to morph into things that are more hidden but they are still things that could be addressed and dealt with in the proper manner. If not addressed the problems increase and become almost impossible to deal with. Finally, a church finds itself content with its issues but lost, like the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America to name one. I don’t understand how anyone who remotely understands the Bible can be a leader in that denomination.
So…where do we go from here? I don’t know but some of my friends are hoping for a revival. It is a good hope that I think has a very slim chance of happening because of how far things have fallen. I do know one thing. I will continue to look in the mirror and reflect on the holiness of God and how far the guy I’m seeing in the mirror is from that. And I will remember to thank God for each day and for friends who will correct me when I go astray.
Related video I saw after publishing this post:
“Two things I don’t talk about are politics and religion.” I don’t know how many times I’ve heard this and I don’t know how many times I’ve wondered if anyone could get through a week without talking about something in either area. If they can, they are much more creative than I. This post was born from recent reading in Jeremiah, Wikipedia sources on Christians who hold certain conspiracy theories, and thoughts about the current war in the Ukraine.
My thoughts concerning the title of this article continue to change as life rolls along but I want to share with you where I am right now. Just how does a Christian view the contrasting effects of politics and their beliefs about God in their daily lives? It is a question that could fill an entire book but I’ll attempt to make it short and sweet here using only a few realities in our world.
The first reality is the war in Ukraine. If a Christian wants to hold a position or opinion about a war, they should do what anyone else would do, and that’s to attempt to find out the facts. One would think that, with all of the communication we have these days, this would be an easy task. It is not always the case. Propaganda abounds as each side tries to make its case. In Ukraine’s case, a country has invaded another country and has killed innocent civilians who had no interest in politics except that they wanted to live a free and undisturbed life. Their country has been torn apart by bombs sent by a leader with odd ambitions and have been dropped by those who are willing to follow his orders.
As a Christian, I look at the words of a godly prophet who preceded Jeremiah who said:
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.
Anyone can make the situation in Ukraine as complicated as they wish but, in light of this Bible passage, a Christian’s support for justice for the innocent is warranted.
A definition of “politics” can easily be found online:
“the activities associated with the governance of a country or other area, especially the debate or conflict among individuals or parties having or hoping to achieve power.”
It is obvious to me that justice must play a role in a definition like the one above. Thus, Christians need to be involved in certain aspects of politics.
Jesus was very clear about the civic duty of paying one’s taxes. He was not saying that all having government powers are righteous or just. He knew the book of Jeremiah well, having inspired it, where we find these words against Babylon, no question a political entity, written at the height of its power:
“cut it off, so that there will be nothing dwelling in it, whether man or beast, but it will be a perpetual desolation.”
Jesus knew that the picture of Babylon above would eventually be a reality and, from reading Jeremiah 51, it is obvious that the ruins of Babylon are a result of rebellion against God and His people, a second reality.
God’s people rebelled against Him so he allowed a political solution to help them learn a lesson; Nebuchadnezzar would grow strong and take Israel into captivity. Eventually, the evil in the Babylonian empire would cause them to be destroyed to the degree seen in the photo here at the top. It is a picture of God’s justice. The sovereignty of God is at play here but that is a deep subject for another day.
There are always two sides to a coin. Jesus was very clear on paying taxes but he was silent when asked to defend himself, a third reality. From a human standpoint, it seems that Jesus had every right to defend himself against false accusations of any political nature (which are hard to separate from accusations of a personal nature if one reads the definition of politics above). But, he didn’t. I would submit that we should generally defend ourselves from false accusations because they do neither us nor our accusers any good. In Jesus’ case, his silence was the best thing for all involved including all of humanity. It displays how God’s position as King of King and Lord of Lords is cemented forever. The reason for his silence is explained in Hebrews 2:
“But we do see Him who was made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone.“
Thus, God’s pronouncement that:
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts”
The Christian must accept that his/her understanding is limited so his/her wisdom regarding politics and religion and how they should interrelate is limited as well. At the same time, the Christian makes an effort to understand and make the best decisions he/she can in light of God’s Word.
Christians, or anyone else for that matter, will never figure out complete justice in politics or religion. In the end, complete justice will be decided by God. It is something we should ponder seriously but we should never put ourselves in the eventual role of God.
Just go out there and do the best you can, asking for the help of God, of course.
It is Easter 2022. So much of the world finds itself in chains on this day. There is the dark country of North Korea where there is “no freedom of speech, no freedom of religion, and widespread malnutrition.”1 There is Myanmar where one Christian states: “Every day I hear gunshots and grenades. The sound comes only one bus stop away from my house.”2 There is China which “is setting up a vast surveillance system that tracks every single one of its 1.4 billion citizens.”3 And, of course, on this Easter, many are thinking of the Ukraine where 4.1 million of its citizens have fled to save themselves and their children from the onslaught of Russian bombs.4
There are many other examples of places in our world where freedom is not allowed this Easter.5,6
Very soon after man began walking this Earth the oppression and outright murder of others has been the news of the day. Soon after this evil behavior started God stepped in and had a plan for the freedom of mankind. The plan goes back millennia and can be found in Genesis 3:15. It is the first forecast that a Savior would be sent into the world to save mankind from its bondage.
One doesn’t have to look far to find the bondage in our world. In my country, the United States, people are in bondage to sex, drugs, material wealth, power, wanting things that others have, and the list goes on and on. The plan of God to release people from bondage to these things is the reason for Easter. Most of the world knows the story of Jesus’ death on the cross and His resurrection days later. Unfortunately, many do not believe the story and do not understand the promise of freedom given for those who come to faith in the only One who can save the world from bondage.
For those who do believe and understand the story, true freedom is a process in the soul of becoming more like the Jesus. The only way anyone can know who Jesus is and was is found in the Bible.
The Bible simply states that all men are in bondage to sin and that the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus. Easter is God’s answer to man’s bondage. Jesus Christ took the punishment that we deserved for our sins (bondage) when he died on the cross. His resurrection made the promise of freedom a reality for all who believe in Jesus as their Lord.
In 2022, when so much of the world is in chains, there is a great promise. It is a promise of freedom and peace. It is not a freedom or peace that the world can give. It is a peace in the heart and soul. Before Jesus was crucified, he told His disciples:
“Peace I leave you, My peace I give you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled, nor fearful.”7
Even Jesus’ disciples didn’t understand His words at the time. As time went by they came to understand and experience the words that Jesus spoke. His disciples were sinful, just like every man. Eventually they understood just what Jesus had done for them. There was nothing they could give to repay God for his sacrifice. No amount of wealth or attempts at perfection or great works could save them. This is what makes Jesus different from all of the other “saviors” the world has to offer. The followers of Jesus trusted His promises and lived by faith. They were still sinful men but as they lived they grew to be more like their Savior. They prayed a lot. We can do the same thing today and ask God to help us with our struggles.
The lack of worldly freedoms that people face in North Korea, Myanmar, China, and the Ukraine can be offset by a freedom that much of the world does not understand. Christians in those countries bleed and feel pain just like everyone else but they have the promises in God’s Word. God’s promises bring comfort in times of great trial.
A Christian life is full of ups and downs. We fail and find ourselves back in bondage until we remember, once again, the freedom that God has to offer us. We ask God for forgiveness and His mercy is constant. As life goes by, we find ourselves becoming a little bit more like Jesus. It is a humbling experience. Then, the next moment we can be like Peter who denied that he knew Jesus. We regret our actions and return to God, once again, remembering the words of Psalm 103:
“Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And all that is within me, bless His holy name.
2 Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget none of His benefits;
3 Who pardons all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases;
4 Who redeems your life from the pit,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion;
5 Who satisfies your years with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle.
6 The Lord performs righteous deeds
And judgments for all who are oppressed.
7 He made known His ways to Moses,
His acts to the sons of Israel.
8 The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
Slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness.
9 He will not always strive with us,
Nor will He keep His anger forever.
10 He has not dealt with us according to our sins,
Nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
So great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him.
12 As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
13 Just as a father has compassion on his children,
So the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him.
14 For He Himself knows our frame;
He is mindful that we are but dust.”
May God grant you a freedom that only He can give on this Easter day.
7 John 14:27
Anne Hillyard was a kind and generous woman. She lived during the Victorian era in England and loved many needy children of the time. She was the widow of an Anglican clergyman and when her husband died she was already self-sufficient and looking for some good way to invest funds that she possessed. It seems that “Mrs. Hillyard had asked a friend to recommend some totally reliable public figure to whom she could entrust her considerable fortune to be used for orphans. The man, though not a particular admirer of the prominent Baptist preacher, nonetheless immediately replied, “Spurgeon.”1 He was, of course, referring to Charles Haddon Spurgeon whose “remarkable ministry in London would last 38 years.”2
Anne Hillyard was “An ‘ordinary’ woman (with) an extraordinary legacy.” One article calls her “a woman the world knows little about, but who became a catalyst of change for thousands of lives.”3 “Born as Anne Field, in Warwickshire, she waited until she was 38 to marry. Her husband, Reverend John William Hillyard, was the Curate of an Anglican Church at Ingestre in Staffordshire. He died just one year after their 1841 marriage.”4
“In 1855, (a decade before Anne met Spurgeon) Charles travelled to meet George Müller, the founder of a famous orphanage in Bristol. At the conclusion of a worship service, Müller invited Spurgeon to say a few words, but he declined because he had ‘been crying all the while.’
“I never heard such a sermon in my life as I saw there.” —Spurgeon (after visiting Mueller’s orphanage)5,6
More than a decade later, this experience would help bring Anne and Charles together to provide a place where young orphans could learn and grow.
It was a “widely held misconception” that Anne received a large sum of money from her husband’s estate. In fact, she had an inheritance from an uncle before she got married.7 In 1866, Charles Spurgeon challenged his large congregation stating that we “should be doing more the Lord in this Great city.”8 Soon afterward, Anne sent a letter to Spurgeon expressing her desire to use her money to “establish… an orphanage for the training and educating of orphan boys.”9
When Spurgeon and one of his deacons, William Higgs, “called at her modest home they feared that there had been some mistake.”10 The home she lived in did not appear like the residence of someone who had large amounts of money to give to others. After the meeting, “Anne joined Spurgeon and a group of friends to establish the Stockwell Orphanage. Before its construction, she sold some of her household belongings, even the family silverware, to provide sanctuary to the first four orphan boys.”11
A month later two and a half acres of land was purchased not far from Spurgeon’s church. On September 9, 1867 the first stones of some of the buildings were laid by Charles, Anne, and two others.12 Four thousand were in attendance that day.13 “At the opening ceremony of the Orphanage, Spurgeon said of Anne: “When Mrs. Hillyard’s munificent contribution was first announced in the newspapers, people said it had been given by a duchess, but I say no, it is given by a princess—one of the blood imperial—a daughter of the King of kings. She has given it in the most unostentatious manner, desiring that her name should not be known, and I and my friends have dragged her into the light today contract to her wishes.”14
“Eventually a row of several individual homes, all connected as one continuous building, were erected. Each two-story home housed fourteen orphans and was sponsored by various donors. A dining hall, infirmary, large gymnasium and even a swimming pool were constructed as part of the expansive complex. Eventually a corresponding row of homes were built for orphan girls. The area between the two sets of orphan houses was a grass-covered playing field, edged with flowers and shrubs. 250 boys and 250 girls at a time were housed and received a well-rounded education at the orphan complex.”15,16
“Mrs. Hillyard lived for some years to rejoice in the good work which she had so successfully initiated, and her last words as she died on January 13, 1880, were, “My boys! My boys!”17,18
Charles Spurgeon died in 1892.
Long after Anne and Charles went to be with the Lord the work they started continued:
“When the Second World War had been announced in 1939 the children living at Stockwell orphanage had to be evacuated. The majority of the children were moved to St. David’s in Reigate, Surrey, where the children occupied themselves by looking after the animals there.
“In 1951 the home in Birchington, Kent, was opened and became the new children’s home for Spurgeons. By 1953 all of the children were relocated here. It remained open until 1979, when children were sent to smaller homes or foster families.”19
The ministry still exists and is now called Spurgeons Children’s Charity.20
Anne’s deep devotion to God and His kingdom helped many orphans to receive a good education and to learn about the truths of God and the love of Jesus.
Picture of Stockwell Orphanage
Picture of the entrance to the Stockwell Orphanage (Scroll down)
STOCKWELL ORPHANAGE: QUADRANGLE AND BUILDINGS
Pictures of Stockwell including the swimming pool
This post was inspired by Pastor Jim Lee (also known as SlimJim) of The Domain for Truth blog. Pastor Jim put up a post about a devotional that states how “Children need to learn the doctrine of the Cross.” Based on a sermon, it is written by Charles Spurgeon in a style that I enjoy. I have yet to find a preacher who can use the English language as well. You can see Pastor Jim’s post HERE and you can get a free copy of the Spurgeon booklet HERE.
I made a comment on his blog and he suggested that my comment was a draft for a post. So, I elaborated a bit on the comment and here is a post relating to my comment.