January 8, 2020 Genesis 8

But God remembered Noah . . .

Genesis 8:1a

In this clause is the Gospel. Tough times are at hand, but deliverance is coming. Healing is coming. Joy is coming.

In the Old Testament “remember” is used with God as the subject seventy-three times. Eighteen times it is followed by the preposition “to,” demonstrating that God’s remembrance is interpreted more as “an action directed toward someone, rather than as a psychological experience of the subject.” ( Hamilton, V. P. (1990). The Book of Genesis, Chapters 1–17 (p. 299). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.)

What does that mean? It means that when God remembers He acts!

“God remembered Abraham” and Lot and his family were rescued from the consuming fire. (Gen. 19:29)

“God remembered Rachel” and she was able to have a baby. (Gen. 30:22)

“God remembered Noah” and He sent a wind to dry out the land and end the flood.

Stay with God, He remembers and His remembering will lead to Him acting on your behalf.

January 7, 2020 Genesis 7 (I got nothing)

I do not know if it is appropriate to say, “I read the Bible and got nothing” but I am saying it today–but before you get bothered please allow me to explain.

I am currently in Louisville, KY. I am here for a doctoral seminar at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, where I am pursuing my Doctor in Ministry degree. This is my third time here in the last 13 months and I will be here likely every six months until December of 2021, which is my projected graduation date.

So this morning, I read Genesis 7, and in the moment of reading it “I got nothing” now when I say, “I got nothing” I mean that nothing struck me–there was no “aha” moment or grand revelation. I didn’t see anything in there in a new way or something old that impacted me in such a way that I thought, “I want to write on that.” But I decided to sit on the text for a ‘bit and see if I would feel different about the text after I sat in class for the day. Well, I didn’t and now after dinner and a run, I still don’t.

Why am I sharing this?

First, because I want to encourage folk that sometimes read the Bible and come up blank. It’s okay, it happens to all of us–well maybe not everyone–but if you’re reading this you can know it happens to me also. You’re not alone.

Second, I am sharing this because while I say, “I got nothing” out the text, I don’t know if that is actually true. At some point tomorrow, next week, next month, next year, I may be conversing with someone and suddenly I need something from Genesis 7 to add to the conversation or to answer one of their questions. By reading the text even when I don’t “get anything out of it” is building familiarity with the scriptures. Familiarity God can and I believe will use for my edification or the edification of another in the future.

Third, because even when “I get nothing” of this scripture or any other, I am developing the discipline for returning to the Word of God day after day. The spiritual discipline of daily Bible Study is a challenge in our hectic world, a world with so many of the devil’s distractions. I have to develop the muscle of study. I sometimes go out for a run, and I feel like it was the worst run ever, but I know that even though the run felt like a waste, I still added discipline to my life that will help me go out there and run the next day.

Fourth, I know that while I may feel like “I got nothing” from my reading time. I have been building a relationship. The Bible is God’s holy word; it, along with Holy Spirit guided prayer, are the two primary ways God communicates to us and builds relationship with us. Relationships don’t go deep through every day “wow” moments. Relationships deepen through consistency. I called my wife and kids tonight. What did we talk about? With the kids: homework. Basketball practice. Going to their friend’s house (and that is literally all they said, no details about the friend’s house). With Christina: her work. My class. Paying for the piano lessons. My run. When am I graduating again? No “wow” moments. And honestly, nothing new. But my relationship is stronger with my family because I check in every day, even when “I get nothing.”

I’ll talk to you tomorrow–Genesis 8

Oh, P.S. Happy Birthday Dad and Uncle Donnie!

January 6, 2020 Genesis 6

Genesis 6 begins with a much debated passage:

Now it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves of all whom they chose.

Genesis 6:1-2

Some believe this passage is speaking of human women sleeping with evil angels or evil spirits. Some believe this passage is speaking of women becoming wives and sleeping with men of renown, kings and princes, etc. Others believe this is speaking of men from the line of Seth taking for themselves wives from the line of Cain.

I go with the latter. The latter is the least supported position amongst modern commentators and even ancient Jewish writers such as Philo and Josephus (they supported the angel and humans intercourse theory).

Why do I choose the idea of Sethites mingling with Cainites, because to me it fits in with the rest of the narrative of the Old Testament. As one will discover in later books God consistently warns God’s people not to take wives from those that are not followers of the one true God. And in multiple places in scripture when this does happen, wickedness flourishes.

I believe Genesis 6 is the first time God has chosen to teach the “unequally yoked” concept of 2nd Corinthians 6.

Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? 15 And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever?

2 Corinthians 6:14, 15

Marriage to someone that does not hold the same faith as you, (this does not mean they belong to the same denomination–a committed Adventist marrying a uncommitted Adventist or a committed Baptist marrying an uncommitted Baptist, is still being unequally yoked) is a path that often leads to deterioration in ones home, ones morals, and even as we see here in Genesis 6 society.

Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lordwas sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.

Genesis 6:5,6

There are many reasons evil spreads in the world, but in the context of Genesis 6 it is firmly rooted in the relationships ungodly marriage relationships being developed in society.

January 5, 2020 Genesis 5

Genesis 4 places in between the story of the death of Abel and the birth of Seth the genealogy of the Cainites. Then Genesis 5 provides the genealogy of the line of Seth. The two genealogies share two names: Enoch and Lamech. And both genealogies give descriptors of these four individuals.

Genesis 4–

  • Enoch–had a city named after him.

Genesis 5–

  • Enoch–walked with God and was no more because God took him to heaven.

Genesis 4–

  • Lamech–Bragged to his wives about taking the life of others.

Genesis 5–

  • Lamech–The father of Noah, whom he named such because he believed God would use Noah to bring relief to humanity.

The genealogies serve a prophetic picture of God’s people in contrast to the people of the world.

God’s people have rewards eternal. The people of the world only have rewards here on this earth. God’s people promote life. The people of the world destroy life.

January 4, 2020 Genesis 4

A text for all the world to ponder!

Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He (Cain) said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?”

Genesis 4:9 ESV

The answer: Yes! Yes, you are!

Most of us will never kill anyone, but many of us value the lives of other humans no more than Cain valued the life of his brother. This is what happens when we do not see ourselves as our brothers keeper.

January 3, 2020 Genesis 3

What happens when we decide that we know better than God’s Word? Genesis 3 is a testimony of the results . . . SIN . . . regret . . . SIN . . . Consequences.

How humanity deals with our sin problem . . .

  1. Cover-up (Gen. 3:7b)
  2. Fear (Gen. 3:8, 10)
  3. Blame God (Gen. 3:12a, 13)
  4. Blame others (Gen. 3:12b, 13)
  5. Try to justify (Gen. 3:12c, 13)

How God deals with our sin problem . . .

  1. Consequences (Gen. 3:16-19, 23, 24)
  2. GRACE (3:14-15, 21)

Consequences can hurt–but I still prefer God’s way!

January 2, 2020 Genesis 2

I wish Genesis chapter 1 ended after Genesis 2:3. But since chapter and verse breaks are not inspired (they were standardized in the 13th and 16th cent. respectively) I will not spend too much time worrying about it.

When I read Genesis chapter 1, I read about an overview of all creation.

When I read Genesis chapter 2, I read about the relationship of the creation to story to man and man’s relationship to that creation.

Genesis chapter 1 is a wide angle lens and Genesis chapter 2 the lens zooms in on that which is most relevant to the reader…our relationship to creation…

Wait a second, maybe that is why Genesis 2 begins with:

Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.

Genesis 2:1-3, English Standard Version

Genesis chapter 2 is about mans relationship to creation and thus to the creator…

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is the Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

Exodus 20:8-11, ESV

January 1, 2020 ​Genesis 1

What would God say is the primary point He wants us to take away from Genesis chapter 1?

The name of “God” appears 32 times in 31 verses in Genesis chapter 1. Of those 31 verses, 20 of them speak directly of God creating the things on this earth.

I would ask again what would God say is the primary point He wants us to take away from Genesis chapter 1?

God as the creator is a theme that is carried throughout the entirety of scripture. In 35 books and over 300 verses from Genesis to Revelation God is recognized as the creator of all things.

If I’m an enemy of God and I want people to stop worshiping God…

What do I attack?

“Worship Him who made heaven and earth…” (Revelation 14:7)

2020 Personal Goals

A goal written down is more likely to be accomplished than a goal left in your head.

  1. Blog daily
  2. Take Christina on a monthly date
  3. Take each son on a monthly date
  4. Run a minimum of four times a week
  5. Run the NYC half-marathon in less than 2 hours
  6. Run the Flying Pig Marathon in May
  7. Run the NYC Marathon in November in under 4 hours
  8. Lose 18 lbs by April 20, 2020
  9. Go to sleep by 10:30 every night
  10. Every Sunday write down a detailed daily calendar for the week
  11. Every night write down the following days “to-do” list
  12. Finish chapter 3 of my DMin Project
  13. Read/listen to 24 books (2 per month)
  14. Make an Evernote folder for every sermon in 2020
  15. Write “Thank you” notes weekly!

What about you?

Why I am Leaving Instagram

I like Instagram. Of all the social media platforms, I feel that it is the only one of the big three (Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram) that has not been weaponized and has positive elements for connecting with friends and family; but I am still leaving. Why? Well first let me share with you a brief history of my social media journey up to this point.

I began my journey with social media in 2005 with a little platform called, MySpace. My best friend Scott and our wives were both at our adoptive family the Reeves for the holidays, and he showed me his MySpace page, I began to dig around his page and found that a friend of mine from Junior High back in California was living in Collegedale, TN. I thought, “how cool is this; I would have never found her without MySpace.” Immediately I created my own MySpace page and thus began more than 13 years of steady addiction. MySpace of course eventually phased out, and the new cool kid on the block was Facebook, I loved Facebook in those infant stages–before it became toxic. I then took notice of Twitter when Ashton Kutcher was battling CNN to become the first Twitter user to reach one million followers in 2009. By the way, Ashton Kutcher is not even in the top 100 of accounts followed in 2019 and his one million followers which seemed huge in 2009 is now a paltry sum to Katy Perry’s 107,000,000 followers. I signed-up then for Twitter but didn’t start utilizing Twitter ’till church politics began to get a little intense around 2010 or 2011. What I loved about Twitter even though I was following the rhetoric of church politics was the easy access to articles, blog posts, and real-time news stories shared on Twitter, but then it also became toxic. And finally just three or four years ago I became a part of the Instagram world. I didn’t get it at first, but then I began to love it. I have a lot fewer followers on Instagram than I did on Twitter and Facebook–so I feel like there are people there I want to connect with. Which is also nice because that means almost every picture I look at is of someone I care about, except for Candace Cameron Bure, Kristen Bell, and Kelly Slater whom I also follow. At one point I was on all three platforms, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Then…

Almost two years ago I left Facebook, I actually tried to leave in 2011 but quickly got pulled back in. It took a couple of weeks for me to adjust, but the two years without it, I’ve been better off. Then six months ago I left Twitter. I did so because I had just experienced two intense weeks in church politics and our world politics, filtering both through the lens of Twitter and all the anger out there was becoming my anger. I took one week off in the midst of some important church meetings, I still kept up with what was happening at those meetings, but did so without Twitter and you know what, something was clearer to me than the previous weeks–Jesus is still in control, and I didn’t feel that way because the meetings were awesome or went the way I wanted, it was just because I wasn’t letting the Twittersphere dictate my thoughts.

So now that brings me to Instagram. Why leave Instagram if I like it? Why leave it if it hasn’t become toxic as Facebook and Twitter did? Because all those case studies that set out the optimal client for the social media industry, addicted, click-happy–yeah, that’s me!? And three events opened my eyes to this:

  1. I was sitting in a one-on-one meeting at the office. I informed the individual I was speaking with that Christina (my wife) would be texting me some info about the kids, so forgive me for checking my phone. Well at one point she did text, I received the text, told the person it was my wife, they said no problem and kept on talking. I responded to Christina’s text and then without even thinking I immediately clicked over to Instagram and began scrolling. The person I was meeting with had no idea. They kept on talking. But I knew. As I said to Christina later, here I am the Senior Pastor in a meeting with a member and rather than giving that person the full attention I’m mindlessly scrolling through Instagram.
  2. Christina announced, “Sunday we are going to do a purge of our closets.” I had seen, through another friend’s Instagram, about this type of tidying up referred to as “Kondo.” So I googled “Kondo” and discovered that it is a reference to a Netflix show about an organizer named Marie Kondo. I browsed some of her videos on YouTube, got motivated and Sunday I purged, and also Kondo’d my drawers and closet (I can’t wait to do this with my books and office at work). But during the project, I had the intense urge to take a picture of what I had done and Instagram it out to everyone. And at that moment it dawned on me, every time I do something “good” I Instagram it out and then people “like” my post and I feel affirmed. Two things about this: First, as someone that struggles with ego already I don’t need to have it inflated and second, posting what I post puts a false picture of me out there. This was confirmed when I told my friend I was leaving Instagram and she said, “oh I’m going to miss seeing what a great dad you are.” Now, this friend has known me since I was eight years old and been a close friend since I was 13. She was a bit hyperbolic–she is well aware “great” is not the appropriate adjective for me; still, when she said it, it confirmed what I was afraid of, the real “me” is not being put out there on social media, and I’d rather have no “me” out there than a false “me.” I never post the pictures of my kids after I’ve yelled at them unnecessarily, or the side of my bed when I have five dishes that need to be picked up or of me after I’ve chosen not to go for a run.
  3. And now for event number three and the event that should have driven me away from Instagram weeks ago but I am dull and slow sometimes to hear God’s promptings. My middle son, Landon, is by far my biggest cuddler. He loves to cuddle his dad–I’ll never feel unloved with Lando around. One night a few weeks, maybe even a month ago I was “cuddling” Landon and scrolling through Instagram, he was asking me questions about the pictures, “who’s that?” “Do you have any animal pictures?” “Can we watch the people crash on the skateboards?” etc. After a ‘bit, I said, “Okay bud you go to sleep. I love you.” And Landon said, “Dad you haven’t cuddled me yet.” I said “Landon stop trying to stall. I’ve been cuddling you the last ten minutes.” His response, “You weren’t cuddling me. You were on Instagram.” It stung but not nearly as much as it should have. Now jump forward a few weeks, Landon as he was heading to bed asked, “Dad will you come to snuggle me.” “Yes, I’ll be up in a minute.” And then he called back, “Snuggles though Dad, no Instagram.” He remembered my focus on Instagram over loving on him, and it was seared into his brain.

Three events. Three reasons to quit Instagram. My mental health. My spiritual health. My relational health with my family (when I told Christina I was leaving Instagram she was happy, that says something to me also!)

So this was a long post to communicate such a simple act. But I do so for two reasons: First, it may help someone who is considering similar action to take that step (I do believe life would be better off if we all left social media completely). And my second reason is that when I went off Facebook, some were irritated that they could no longer talk with me through that avenue. Then when I deleted Twitter, some people were hurt with me thinking I had blocked them from my account, which was not the case, I just wasn’t there anymore. Now with Instagram I hope everyone out there will understand, I appreciate y’all, I will miss y’all. But I think for me, 13 years of social media is enough, and I am ready to break my addiction and just be what I think will be a better and more present version of me for my family and the church I serve.

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