The Room

I wish I could say I wrote this. Such a powerful, powerful story. This is from my Facebook memories from 9 years ago. But in a sense I did write this…

The Room

In the Beginning = God

When I was at school, I was taught various Creation accounts from a number of major religions. In science class however, I was taught only the Big Bang and evolution. As far as I can recall, science lessons made no mention of Creation as a possibility even.

Later in life when I became a Christian, I did not pay too much mind to the Creation vs. Science debate. I understood that what God wanted us to know about Creation was given us in Genesis 1 (and other places). In my mind, I did not address the broad incompatibility between the Bible’s account of Creation and what was commonly accepted science. I do now.

I can accept that perhaps God did instigate the Big Bang, if you subscribe to that theory. When it comes to evolution however, something I never questioned in school, I now have serious reservations.

I have two main objections, one scientific and the other theological.

Firstly, the scientific problem with evolution (for me at least, and those who know more may be able to fully explain it) is the age-old question of how it all began? If you can accept the process of slow change over a long time, then that’s one thing, but what was the initial starting point. Scientists have surmised a number of things but I do not think they have fully answered this question.

The problem is information. It takes a huge amount of information to build and maintain even the smallest or most basic of creatures. Where did that information come from? How did that information increase over time? Many say that mutation leads to new information being brought into the system, but I am (personally) not aware of any favourable mutations adding in useful information. Perhaps I am simply ignorant of the facts?

Adaptation is quite different. Take a bunch of long-haired dogs and short haired dogs and place them in the Artic. After a while, the long-haired dogs will thrive and the short haired dogs will die off. This is “survival of the fittest” in action, as the long-haired dogs are more suited to the colder conditions. That is all fine and quite sensible, but it is quite a stretch to suggest that, even given enough time, the long-haired dogs will grow wings or change their basic nature completely.

My second objection to evolution is theological in nature. For evolution to work, you need time – and lots of it. Evolution is a slow process, if true at all, and says that basic creatures become more complicated over time. Humanity is at the end of a very long line of ancestors who slowly changed into the species we know today.

Why is that an issue theologically? Because it means that we had to have death before we had sin. For evolution to work, ancestors need to die off, and so there is death in the world before humanity even existed. That means that death was not as a result of sin, and that is not what the Bible says.

12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned—

Romans 5:12 (NIV)

There is, of course, much debate about all of these matters. There are Christians who believe in evolution, and there are those who do not. There are those who find their Christianity compatible with the secular scientific view, and those who do not. Creation is a fairly fundamental issue to be honest though, so I do think it is important to get it straight in your own mind.

If we disagree, let us do so amicably and as family should.

What is the bottom line though? I think it is summed up in Genesis 1 and the first words of the Bible.

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

Genesis 1:1 (WEB)

We may disagree exactly how this was done, but we must not dispute that it was done. God created everything, seen and unseen. He made us, and He made the universe we live in. He built the physical, and He constructed the spiritual. We can debate the method, but not the substance.

If we cannot accept this truth, then we cannot accept any truth the Bible offers.

If God created all things, and He did, then what does that mean for you today? Knowing that God made you and the world around you, how should you conduct your life differently?

Rejoice in the fact that you were no accident, but carefully crafted by the hands of God. That should make you feel pretty special, and you are!

Prayer for a Monday

Heavenly Father, we thank you for this new week and for the opportunities it gives us to serve and worship You. Thank you that you go with us into this week, and we take great comfort knowing that that we do not face it alone.

Lord, we may think we know what this week will bring-both good and bad. But what ever surprises this week may have in store for us, may we grasp every opportunity for you, and rise above any storm which may come.

Please protect us from any temptation which we may face. Give us the strength to say no to sin, and yes to you.

We pray for opportunities to share our faith, and to show the people in our lives the love of Christ. Give us the correct words, in the correct way, and at the right time, to bring others one step nearer to Jesus.

As we work, rest, and play this week, may we do it all for you and your glory! Please help us to keep you in your rightful place at the very centre of our lives.

May we be ever rooted and grounded in your love. help us to know the eternal depths of that love from which we can never be separated.

We worship and praise you this day! we give you thanks for every good thing in our lives! We do not forget you’re unending blessing, or your unfailing love!

May that love drive us forward to live fully for you. Help us put to death the sinful nature of our flesh, and to pick up our cross and follow you.

In the mighty and holy name of Jesus Christ, we pray! Amen

A Father’s Day Blessing

I literally could not say it any better than Bruce has in the below post. All fathers, give it a good read and do think about following Bruces blog

We fathers need a huge amount of grace. None of us are perfect, and off an hour mistakes outweigh the things we do right. praise God that our Father in heaven does not hold it against us. In fact, he gave his only son that every mistake we have ever made will be blotted out and forgotten.

My prayer is that we fathers learn to love is our heavenly father loves.

Bruce always ends his posts with the phrase worthy is the lamb! And I join him today. Worthy indeed is the Lamb of God!

A father is someone who is supposed to love you, protect you, provide for you and guide you and most importantly, be an example to their children, of…

A Father’s Day Blessing

A Protective Father – Andy Brown

Last year, I wrote a series of blog posts on the early part of the book of acts. The below post, which is about a protective father seems appropriate for this fathers day!

To all of the fathers out there, I wish you a very happy Father’s Day! It is both a very difficult and very rewarding job to raise children in this difficult world. Be encouraged and God bless you and your children today.

At long last, we move on to Acts 5. This chapter opens with a rather disturbing set of events, and I want to try to shed some light on what is happening here. This particular passage is a difficult one, and I admit to having struggled with it for many years. I will explain why,…
— Read on andy-brown.org/2020/06/16/a-protective-father/

Singing the Lord’s Song

By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept
when we remembered Zion.
2 There on the poplars
we hung our harps,
3 for there our captors asked us for songs,
our tormentors demanded songs of joy;
they said, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”

4 How can we sing the songs of the Lord
while in a foreign land?

Psalm 137:1-4 (NIV)

Do you ever feel like you’re singing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?

This psalm was penned during the time of the Exile. The people of Israel were taken away into captivity, and the song records how they must have felt in a strange land.

We Christians feel much like this in the world these days. Christian values have never been less valued, and we so often feel at complete odds with the world around us. Some say this is a sign of the end times, and while it could be, it could also just highlight that the world’s ways are not God’s ways.

We recently sold our house, and having accepted an offer and metaphorically shaking on it, another higher offer came in. We stuck to our word and rejected the higher offer. But clearly the situation was quite normal, and there was little expectation that our “word” meant anything.

The same is true for other forms of business too. For instance, we were in need of a plumber to do some jobs at our house. I phoned three or four different ones, none of whom returned my calls or answered my messages. I appreciate all are busy, but a simple reply to say so would have been good.

Christians must not live like this. Our “song” is very much foreign in the world we live in. That is no bad thing though. When the people of the world hear our tune, let them sit up and listen. Let them wonder why we speak and act differently, and when they ask, let us point them to Jesus.

Have a great Sunday!

Bible Contradiction? When did the earth dry after the flood?

I highly recommend this series from the Domain for Truth. it examines various supposed Bible contradictions, and gives clear answers to why they are not.

There are many posts in the series, so do go back and read some of the others as well.

I hope you enjoy reading!

For today’s post we will tackle the question the Skeptic Annotated Bible asked: When did the earth dry after the flood? Here are the answers which …

Bible Contradiction? When did the earth dry after the flood?

Resistance Training

Earlier on this week, I felt the Lord speak to me about a certain matter in my life. I do not mean I heard a voice, but just that I had been seeking Him for an answer and found it in the Bible. He clearly drew me to it and pointed it out to me. This is neither frequent nor unusual for me. I expect it would happen more often if I took the time to listen more!

Having understood what I needed to do, I set about doing it yesterday. You might think that when you try to obey God in something He has shown you, that you will somehow step into a new level of blessing overnight. You might assume that when we follow God’s lead that everything will simply fall into place neatly… But this is not my first day, and so I knew that this is rarely so.

Yesterday was a tough day for a variety of reasons. Reflecting back, I realise that as I have tried to follow God in this way, I have encountered spiritual resistance. I’m undergoing “resistance training.”

We do have an enemy who wants to disrupt our relationship with God, and if he gets the chance, destroy us altogether. I am not someone who blames the devil for every little problem in life. When I lose my keys for instance, I do not generally leap to the conclusion that the enemy is attacking me. That said, we do have a real spiritual enemy we should take seriously.

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

James 4:7 (NIV)

It is important to note that we should not and cannot resist the devil without first submitting to God. I hear of Christians rebuking the devil left, right and centre, but who are clearly refusing to submit to God in some areas of their life. We cannot successfully stand against the wiles of the devil if we are not fully submitted to the Lord.

Reading this verse again this morning though, I see it in a potential new light. I have always thought of submission to God and resistance against the devil as two separate things, and of course they are. However, I wonder if James puts them side-by side like this because when we submit, we must then resist. Perhaps submission and resistance must go hand in hand?

How do we resist the enemy?

There is much we can say on this point, but I want to say two (hopefully) important things.

Firstly, do not let the devil set the agenda. Our focus should not be on the enemy but on God. Don’t run around trying to cast demons out of everything that moves, instead put your energy into your relationship with Christ. Remain in Him and draw on His strength. Be alert to the devil’s schemes, but try not to see them around every corner.

Secondly, resisting the devil means not acting like him. The best way to resist the enemy is to act like Christ. The more loving we are, the kinder, the more we serve and bless one another, the less like the enemy we become. The devil attempts to disrupt us by pushing us to live out of our flesh or sinful nature. Instead, we must walk in step with the Spirit.

This is not easy, and nor is it a one time thing. Each and every day you will need to push back against that resistance – call it “resistance training” if you will. Every time you say no to your sinful desires, you build spiritual muscles and it gives you strength to fight the next battle.

Another reason I wrote you was to see if you would stand the test and be obedient in everything. 10 Anyone you forgive, I also forgive. And what I have forgiven—if there was anything to forgive—I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, 11 in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.

2 Corinthians 2:9-11 (NIV)

Paul, although writing about something slightly different, points out that he does not want the church to be outwitted or to be unaware of the enemies schemes against us.

Have you ever stepped out in faith and faced strong resistance? It is not easy, but did it make you stronger?

Praise the Lord today and submit to His goodness and Lordship.

Reuben Returns (Joseph #7)

Reuben returned to the pit, and saw that Joseph wasn’t in the pit; and he tore his clothes. 30 He returned to his brothers, and said, “The child is no more; and I, where will I go?” 31 They took Joseph’s tunic, and killed a male goat, and dipped the tunic in the blood. 32 They took the tunic of many colors, and they brought it to their father, and said, “We have found this. Examine it, now, and see if it is your son’s tunic or not.”

33 He recognized it, and said, “It is my son’s tunic. An evil animal has devoured him. Joseph is without doubt torn in pieces.” 34 Jacob tore his clothes, and put sackcloth on his waist, and mourned for his son many days. 35 All his sons and all his daughters rose up to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted. He said, “For I will go down to Sheol to my son, mourning.” His father wept for him. 36 The Midianites sold him into Egypt to Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh’s, the captain of the guard.

Genesis 37:29-36 (WEB)

Reuben Returns

If you cast your mind back to an earlier part of the story, you will recall that Reuben was the one who convinced his brothers not to murder Joseph in cold blood. Instead, he talked them into leaving him in the pit and letting nature take its course. This somehow seemed more palatable to them.

Secretly however, Reuben had planned to return and rescue Joseph so that he could return him to his father, and claim the credit. This is pretty low…

Our passage today picks up the account and opens with Reuben’s return. His is more than a little dismayed to find Joseph gone!

Reuben tears his clothes as a sign of grief, or perhaps regret. It does not appear to be a sign of repentance, as he was not exactly acting out of the purest of motives. Rather he recognises that he won’t be able to “save the day” and claim the credit now. He is sorry of course, but for quite the wrong reasons.

I acknowledged my sin to you.

    I didn’t hide my iniquity.

I said, I will confess my transgressions to Yahweh,

    and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah.

Psalm 32:5 (WEB)

Psalm 32 is one of the Penitential Psalms or Psalms of Repentance. Here in verse 5, the psalmist asked to be forgiven for the iniquity of their sin – other translations say the “sinfulness of my sin.” See my post of the same name – The Sinfulness of my Sin.

Often when we are caught in wrongdoing, we are sorry for the consequences, not the sin itself. A bank robber is sorry he got caught red-handed, but would feel no guilt had they gotten away with it. Reuben, here, is likewise sorry for the consequences of his sin, not the wrongdoing itself.

The Cover Up

There is a possible gap between verse 30 and 31, as the text moves from Reuben’s cries straight to the brothers’ cover up of events. Presumably one of them told him what had happened in his absence.

Joseph is gone, and the brothers must now deal with the obvious. What will they tell their father? Taking Joseph’s coloured coat, they kill a goat and use its blood to stain the tunic. This will be evidence enough of Joseph’s supposed fate.

Taking it to Jacob, they ask him to identify it. In the absence of a body, this is the next best thing and they do not correct him (of course) when he assumes Joseph has been killed by a wild animal.

Look at the grief they inflict on Jacob! His heart is broken and he descends into deep mourning for many days. His other sons and daughters try to comfort him, but to no avail.

Did they feel any guilt, I wonder, as they looked upon their father during this time? He was so broken that he wished to go to Sheol – the place of the dead – so that he might be with his beloved son. Would a spark of remorse have been felt by any of them? The Bible does not record it.

To what lengths people will go to cover up their sinfulness. I see it in myself at times too. I make a mistake at work and there is clear temptation to sweep it under the carpet, or to give a version of events which look less unfavourable. Surely I am not alone in feeling such temptation in those moments?

Christians must not lie however. We must be honest and truthful, even if it means admitting we’ve done wrong and facing the consequences.

The passage, and this chapter, close by telling us that Joseph (meanwhile) is taken to Egypt and sold to a man named Potiphar, who is a servant of Pharaoh and the captain of the guard. This will later turn out to be another divine appointment for Joseph – but we’ll pick that up another day.

Every blessing to you!

The importance of Research for a Visual Bible Study

I won’t have a huge amount of time to write today, so I thought I’d share this really helpful post. Lots of good tips here on Bible study in general but also good for those who are more visual than I am!

Enjoy!

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels A bible study  tool for a visual learner Just this week some of my colleagues and I had a quick briefing on …

The importance of Research for a Visual Bible Study

Opportunity Knocks (Joseph #6)

They sat down to eat bread, and they lifted up their eyes and looked, and saw a caravan of Ishmaelites was coming from Gilead, with their camels bearing spices and balm and myrrh, going to carry it down to Egypt. 26 Judah said to his brothers, “What profit is it if we kill our brother and conceal his blood? 27 Come, and let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites, and not let our hand be on him; for he is our brother, our flesh.” His brothers listened to him. 28 Midianites who were merchants passed by, and they drew and lifted up Joseph out of the pit, and sold Joseph to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver. The merchants brought Joseph into Egypt.

Genesis 37:25-28 (WEB)

Joseph has found his brothers in the wilderness, and they hatched and executed a plan to capture him. Tearing off his coat of colours, they throw him into a pit. Having talked themselves out of killing him directly, they now plan instead to leave him to the elements.

Verse 25 opens by telling us that they sat down to eat bread. I am not sure if there is any significance to this in particular, but it strikes me that having captured and essentially murdered their brother, food might be the last thing on their minds! It takes a callous heart to condemn someone to death, and then in the next moments enjoy a hearty meal.

Perhaps the significance lies in the timing. The text tells us that while they were eating, they look up and see a caravan of Ishmaelites heading their way. Had they dumped Joseph in the pit and moved on, they may not have run into this group at all, and the rest of our story may have been quite different.

There are no such things as coincidences with God.

Opportunity Knocks

Judah is quick to come up with an alternative ending to Joseph’s life. Rather than murder him outright, he sees an opportunity. Judah sees the chance of making a profit by selling Joseph into slavery. He also adds that why should they shed his blood, after all, Joseph is their brother. His words show perhaps little respect for Joseph himself, but for the family. They all recognise that shedding one’s own brother’s blood is not exactly a righteous thing to do.

So they haul Joseph out of the pit, sell him to the merchants and gain a bag silver in return. We learn that the merchants are heading to Egypt, and surely the brothers expected that to be the last they would ever see of this dreamer. How wrong they would one day prove to be!

God has not been directly mentioned in any of this up to now. Clearly though, He is ever present in the account. God is the source of the dreams that Joseph has had, and surely God is the one who has preserved Joseph’s life at the hand of his brothers. Likewise, God decreed events to take place in such a way that these merchants just happened to be passing at the precise moment necessary.

God has a plan! And this is no less true for you. What happened to Joseph was truly terrible, and yet it was all part of the tapestry of God’s plan. As he lay in the pit, Joseph was likely questioning his dreams and wondering what on earth was to happen to him. Even in our darkest moments, we can cling on to the promises of God and know that they will never fail.

There is a well-known verse from Jeremiah which is often quoted, although I’m not certain if the context applies to all people at all times, but here you go:

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you,” says Yahweh, “thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you hope and a future.

Jeremiah 29:1 (WEB)

When you know Jesus, the future is bright. That does not mean there are no dark days ahead of us, but we can rely on Him to take us through. Whatever God’s plan is for you in this life, there is an eternity in paradise to look forward to.

To finish, let me ask you what opportunities may present themselves to you today? How can you be a blessing to someone, or to share your faith with a person who needs to hear it? Don’t just wait and see if an opportunity presents itself, ask the Lord for divine appointments where you can act as a light in this world.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!

Keep Them Safe (again)

My first attempt to publish this did not seem to work so well! If you already saw it, then great… if not, here it is again! Thanks for your patience!

If you are tuning in, expecting the next in the series on Joseph, then don’t worry! I’ve not forgotten! I will return to the series on Joseph later this week (God willing, and Andy co-operating!) For today, I want to circle back to the subject of prayer.

I was praying for someone a little while ago and asked god to “Keep them safe!” It got me thinking about what I actually meant by the phrase. Clearly, I was thinking about their physical safety, but extends to their emotional and spiritual condition as well.

I am obviously asking God to keep this individual from harm, but what do I actually expect God to do in response to my prayer? Perhaps I am asking Him to restrict them from going outside? Surely, being inside closed doors is far safer than going outside? No… I do not think that is what I am asking at all.

So therefore, I must be asking God to keep them in relative safety while they are out and about, and living their daily lives. Living life is not “safe” though, is it? We take risks every single day, even if they are tiny. We take a chance every time we cross the street. If we do not look both ways, then there is a risk of being hit by a car. Taking it to extremes, staying at home may be little safer – people fall down the stairs, slip in the shower, or injure themselves in other ways.

As above, life is simply not safe. And neither, at times, is God’s will.

When we look at how Christians are often treated in this world, and how many of our fellow brothers and sisters are martyred in Christ, we realise that God’s will is not always safe for us. While it may not be the safest place to be, it is always the best place to be.

Given this, perhaps there are times when praying that God will keep someone safe is to pray against His will. Instead of safety, we ought to pray for that person to have strength and wisdom to fulfil God’s call on their lives, or to face the good and the bad that life has to offer.

I want to examine my prayer life closely. I really want to think about the words that I use. When praying for people, I frequently say “Lord, bless them…” but as above, what do I actually mean by this? So often my view of a blessing may be quite different to God’s view. To some, winning the lottery might be a “blessing” but if it leads the person down a path of selfishness, greed and ultimately destruction, then it is no blessing at all.

We can learn much from the prayer that Jesus taught us.

He said to them, “When you pray, say,

‘Our Father in heaven,

    may your name be kept holy.

May your Kingdom come.

    May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.

3 Give us day by day our daily bread.

4 Forgive us our sins,

    for we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.

Bring us not into temptation,

    but deliver us from the evil one.’”

Luke 11:2-4 (WEB)

No mention of safety here!

This prayer focusses primarily on God the Father. It seeks first His glory, will and kingdom, not our relative safety or blessing. Of course, it does go on to ask for our daily bread and that is not unimportant. Neither is the request to avoid temptation or to be delivered from evil.

We must allow the Bible to shape our prayer lives. It is not wrong to ask God to keep someone safe, but how much greater a prayer is it to ask God to bring about His will and kingdom in their lives? To ask the Father to deliver them out of temptation’s grasp, or to seek forgiveness for and from them. How much richer and more effective our prayers would be!

When we pray, we do not always see immediate results. In fact, there are times when it seems like our prayers are making no difference whatsoever. I do not suppose we will see the full effect of our prayers on this side of heaven, but one day (in eternity) will look back on the times a person we were praying for avoided temptation or stepped deeper in God’s plan for their lives.

How do you pray? What words do you use? Do share below for my benefit and for others. As iron sharpens iron, we can all learn from one another.

And may I close by saying, “Lord, may Your will be done in the lives of everyone reading this today! Deliver them from evil, and keep them far from temptation. In Jesus’ mighty Name! Amen!”