“Go… I Am With You Always”

Image Credit:  The Pastor’s Pages

This post is based on a sermon I preached at Murray River Baptist Church on July 10, 2016.

In Deuteronomy 1:6-46, Moses recounts the Israelites’ first attempt at occupying the land God had promised them.  Israel’s rebellion prevented them from occupying the land the first time.  God punished the Israelites by making them wander in the wilderness for 40 years until the entire generation that had rebelled had died (with the exception of Joshua and Caleb).

We, both individually and as the Church, are like Israel in many ways.  We regularly rebel against God and forget what God has done for us.  We sometimes place our faith in people and things rather than in the Creator.  In the New Testament, Paul tells us to learn from Israel’s rebellion so we can avoid the same pitfalls and temptations (1 Corinthians 10:1-13).  The writer of Hebrews tells us the same thing in Hebrews 3:1-4:13.  Jude 1:5 says, “So I want to remind you, though you already know these things, that Jesus first rescued the nation of Israel from Egypt, but later he destroyed those who did not remain faithful“, referencing the very history recounted by Moses in Deuteronomy 1.  With this in mind, we can learn a few things from Israel’s experience. Read More

Head First

Image Credit:  International Biblical Training

Self-help gurus have been touting the benefits of positive self-affirmations for years.  They claim that telling yourself positive messages will re-program your subconscious mind so you will naturally act in a way that makes those messages become reality.  Studies have shown that positive self-affirmations can, in fact, be helpful for some.

There are other situations, however, where self-affirmations can cause more harm than good.  In one study, people with low self-esteem who were asked to repeat phrases such as “I accept myself completely” and “I am a lovable person” felt worse afterward.  Why?  When someone repeats positive statements that come into conflict with their perception of themselves, it seems to reinforce their original belief about themselves rather than reverse it.  These people actually felt better after repeating the negative statements about themselves that they already believed, but that’s not helpful if you’re trying to change your mindset so you can have a healthy self-esteem. Read More

Hope In Spite of Suffering

Image Source:  Time Out 4 God

When I attended Crandall University, I took a course called “Suffering” (a biblical studies course).  I believe it ranked second in the category of Most Depressingly Titled Course after “Death and Grieving” (a psychology course).  Who knows?  Perhaps they now have even more dreary course options for those inclined to look at the darker side of life.  But I digress.

It should come as no surprise to anyone that there is suffering in this world.  We suffer physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  We suffer from natural disasters, illness, warfare, and cruelty over which we have no control.  We suffer justly as a consequence of our own decisions and unjustly as a consequence of the decisions of those we know and of those we will never meet.  We suffer because of decisions made yesterday and hundreds of years ago, we suffer because of decisions made today, and we will suffer because of decisions made tomorrow. Read More

Exploring Jesus’ Feminine Side: Part 1

I was eating dinner in the cafeteria at ABU (now Crandall).  We had just received the schedule for that year’s senior seminar and thesis presentations.

Suddenly there was a lot of activity on the other side of the table.  I heard exclamations of “Heresy!”  There were mumblings about “those psychology majors.”  When I asked what the matter was, I was shown the title of the offending thesis:  “Exploring Jesus’ Feminine Side.”

I said, “Flip the page over to see the details.  Maybe it’s not as bad as you think.”

I then witnessed a look of utter dismay.  “It’s your thesis?!?” Read More