Read Proverbs 30:24-28 to start.
Who here has had a splinter? Not looking for a show of hands or anything, but I’m willing to bet that most of you have at one time or another. If you haven’t, then you must have thicker skin than I do, or you never come into contact with wood. The other week I had a splinter on the side of my finger, and I managed to get it out with tweezers. I recall one time earlier this year, I had a splinter for a couple of days that I could not get rid of, and when I was in the hospital visiting my father, I convinced one of the ICU nurses, well, I just asked her nicely, to remove it, and it took her a bit of effort to get rid of the thing. Splinters are unpleasant. But they are a normal thing that we experience from time to time.
Splinters are also very, very, small. If you’ve ever removed one and taken a look at it afterwards, it was likely only a few millimetres long, and not even one millimetre wide. A tiny and insignificant thing by any measure, other than the amount of discomfort it can cause.
Continue reading Four Small Things
Read Genesis 2: 15-17
There are many words in the English language, something like 250,000 thousand, depending on how technical you want to get. Of those words, most adults know in the range of 25,000 to 30,000 on average, and children as young as four know roughly 5000 words. That’s a lot of words. This morning, though, there is one key word that I want to look at. It’s a common word, we use it every day. It’s only three letters long. The word is but. Continue reading But . . .
Read Genesis 49:29-33, 50:22-26.
Is everyone familiar with The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe? Even if you’ve never actually read it, or if it’s been many years since you have, it is of course a very well known book. It is the best known book from The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, which is a series of seven books about people from this world who travel into a different dimension, into a land called Narnia. Perhaps you’ve read only the first book, or just a couple of them. Perhaps you’ve read them all. They come highly recommended.
I would give you a cautionary note, though, about the last book, entitled The Last Battle. It’s, how can I say it, it’s odd. I remember reading it when I was much younger, and finding it dark, somewhat disconnected with the other stories, and frankly, dissatisfying. While the Narnia books are allegorical fiction, and certainly not a text for Biblical instruction, The Last Battle also implies some rather questionable theology. It is not a strong end to an otherwise superb series. Continue reading Finishing Well
This morning I’d like to talk about binary states. No, we are not going to have a lesson in technology, although you would be entirely within reason to think that. Computers use binary code in order to store information. That’s how computer storage works, it’s all ones and zeroes. Every piece of data on your computer, on your phone, on the entire internet, in fact, it is all stored as ones and zeroes. A bit is a one or a zero, and from that single piece of information, from millions and billions of ones and zeros, we store information.
But that’s not what I want to talk about. A binary state is something that is an either/or condition. Ones are zeroes are hardly the only examples. Look at the lights above you. Those are all LED bulbs, they are either on or off. These bulbs don’t dim, but even if they did, they are still on or off, because on-but-dim is still one. The windows on either wall, those are either open or closed. They’re closed right now, but if it was summer the windows would probably be open. A window might be open a little or a lot, but it’s still either open or closed.
Continue reading Binary States
Psalm 23. 1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. 3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. 4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. 5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.
The passage we just read is of course one of the best loved and best known of all the Psalms, indeed in all of scripture. It is a passage that I would expect most of us here know by heart. I know Laura had her Sunday school class learn it last year, and I believe they all got to the point so they could recite it from memory. You’ve probably heard it preached on in the past, probably more than once. So I’m not actually going to preach on the 23rd Psalm today. Yes, I know that we read it a moment ago, and that does seem like a bait and switch to read something and then not speak on it. Well, I didn’t just read because I like it, I am going to speak on one verse, actually one phrase from one verse, at least in a way of introduction. That phrase is from verse 5: my cup runneth over.
Continue reading Cups and Choices
Read portions of Genesis 2:7-3:24 to start.
In 1969, there was a large music festival held near the town of Bethel, New York. This was of course the Woodstock festival, which was the biggest music festival that had ever happened up to that point, and remains easily the most famous gathering of that type in history. Dozens of musicians and hundreds of thousands of people attended, and it is considered a watershed moment of an entire generation.
Continue reading Back to the Garden
Read Matthew 7:1-20 to start.
When I was younger, there was a topic that many of my friends and I were frequently concerned with. It kept coming up, and was never adequately resolved, because some people took a firm stance on one side, and some on the other side. Some people did not care either way, and some said that it was too difficult to really tell the difference. I recall once actually testing some friends to see if their imagined preferences actually lined up with reality, and could they tell the difference.
This is not some great and important spiritual or philosophical matter. This is not about right versus wrong. This is about Coke versus Pepsi.
Continue reading Evaluation and Condemnation
Proverbs 22:3 & 27: 12 A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself; but the simple pass on, and are punished.
Sometimes when you read scripture you might encounter a verse and think that it sounds familiar. This can apply to well known verses as well as less familiar ones. For example, if you read John 3:15, that would sound very familiar indeed, because John 3:15 says 15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. That no doubt sounds like something you’ve heard many times before, something that comes one exactly one verse later. The verses we read from Proverbs are of course not so well known. Some time ago when reading Proverbs I read chapter 27 and thought that verse 12 sounded like something I had read a few chapters earlier, which of course it did. It didn’t just sound similar, it was in fact the same. The two verses are a word-for-word match. To be sure of this checked and confirmed that the same Hebrew words are used in both verses.
This is not a sermon about repeated verses, although that could be an interesting topic for another day. This is a sermon about the verses we read, and what it means to be prudent, and what it means to be not so prudent. Continue reading A Prudent Man
Read Joel 3: 11-14 to start. 11 Assemble yourselves, and come, all ye heathen, and gather yourselves together round about: thither cause thy mighty ones to come down, O LORD. 12 Let the heathen be wakened, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat: for there will I sit to judge all the heathen round about.13 Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe: come, get you down; for the press is full, the fats overflow; for their wickedness is great. 14 Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision.
Let’s talk for a moment about geography. Not about nations and borders, but about land, and topography, the actual surface of the earth. Ever look at a topographical map? It’s a map that shows the land features rather than the political lines, showing the height of hills and mountains, that sort of thing. When you think about valleys, that’s the sort of geography we’re talking about.
Continue reading The Valley of Decision