Saturday, July 29, 2023

Pastor's Ponderings, July 29, 2023

There are Blessings In God’s Work 

In our weekly Bible study at Sanctuary Gospel Center, we are reading about the great victories that God gave Joshua.  He told him not to fear his enemy and that He had already defeated them (Joshua 10:8). In one battle, Joshua even commanded the Sun and the Moon to stand still as his army mowed down the enemy while God also sent hailstorms to destroy them (Joshua 10:9-11).  


When God has given you something to do and you obey Him, He will watch over His word in your life to bring it to pass (Jeremiah 1:12).  God sends His angels to watch over you (Psalm 91:11) and promises that He will be a lamp unto your feet and a light unto your path.  Despite your friends, family, neighbors, or friends who may wish you ill, He has destined you for an expected end in Him (Jeremiah 29:11).  


Therefore, we must not listen to what the world values as success.  We must consider the source when someone makes judgements about you. What does God say that you were designed to do, to be, and to develop into?  We may not have had the ideal life but despite life’s challenges, He can turn it around for our good (Romans 8:28). We are fearfully and wonderfully designed for a unique function in life (Psalm 139:14).  Obey God and do His will and He promises His blessings upon your life (Deuteronomy 28:1-2).


Joshua 10:8

New International Version

The Lord said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid of them; I have given them into your hand. Not one of them will be able to withstand you.”


Joshua 10:9-11

New International Version

After an all-night march from Gilgal, Joshua took them by surprise. 

10 The Lord threw them into confusion before Israel, so Joshua and the Israelites defeated them completely at Gibeon. Israel pursued them along the road going up to Beth Horon and cut them down all the way to Azekah and Makkedah. 

11 As they fled before Israel on the road down from Beth Horon to Azekah, the Lord hurled large hailstones down on them, and more of them died from the hail than were killed by the swords of the Israelite


Jeremiah 1:12

New International Version

12 The Lord said to me, “You have seen correctly, for I am watching to see that my word is fulfilled.”


Psalm 91:11

New International Version

11 For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways;


Jeremiah 29:11

New International Version

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future


Romans 8:28

New International Version

28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.


Psalm 139:14

New International Version

14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.


Deuteronomy 28:1-2

New International Version

If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. 

All these blessings will come on you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God:


Thursday, July 20, 2023

Pastor's Ponderings, July 20, 2023

This Is A Fresh New Day In Christ


This is a fresh new day in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).  It is a new opportunity to do right, live right, act right and be right.  We cannot let guilt over the past destroy our present, but we must press on to Jesus (Philippians 3:13-14).  We may have done bad things yesterday, last week and last year but let us forgive ourselves, forgive others and as much as possible, make full restitution for our past acts.


We could spend our days trying to make ourselves happy but that is a never-ending task. There is always something new, bright, and shiny that will draw us to them and fuel our desire to be like everyone else and to have those new things.  If we don’t get them, we feel deprived.  But the Bible tells us that if we only try to please ourselves, we will get ruin and destruction (Galatians 6:8).


We should not allow worldly wisdom to determine our time and priorities.  Rather we should ask God what we can do to bring about His will in the earth (Galatians 6:10).  We should do good and when it is appropriate, God will bless us (Galatians 6:9).


There is much in the earth that can sadden us. But let us declare that today we will be blessed since goodness and mercy will follow us all our life (Psalm 23:6). For those who love the Lord, we know that we have a home forever with Christ.  It is a new day in Christ, let us enjoy Him (Psalm 118:24).

2 Corinthians 5:17

New International Version

17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!


Philippians 3:13-14
New International Version

13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 
14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.


Galatians 6:8

Amplified Bible

8 For the one who sows to his flesh [his sinful capacity, his worldliness, his disgraceful impulses] will reap from the flesh ruin and destruction, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life


Galatians 6:9, 10

New International Version

9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 

10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.


Psalm 23:6

New International Version

6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life,

and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever 


Psalm 118:24

New International Version

The LORD has done it this very day; let us rejoice today and be glad in it.


Saturday, July 8, 2023

Pastor's Ponderings, July 8, 2023

For this week’s Pastor’s Ponderings, my brother, Dana Fair, wrote a very thought-provoking blog.  Please click on the Pastor's Ponderings link to our blog and learn about the value of the feminine voice and share your comments, concerns, and counter-arguments.


I miss Mom. And let it be said that a world that devalues her voice and those of women is a greatly diminished and broken one, and one that doesn't truly reflect God.


Valuing the Feminine Voice


I miss Mom. She passed away in 2001. I miss her laughter and sense of humor, her words of wisdom and thoughtful insights, and her incredible scratch cakes (Betty Crocker, eat your heart out). I miss many things about my mom. Most of all, I miss her voice. 


When the voice of a mom or indeed women is taken away, something significant goes away. Dare it be said that when the feminine voice is removed from the conversation or a narrative – leaving only the male perspective – one is left with a distorted view of reality, the world, and even God’s redemption story.  


The devaluation of the feminine voice and perspective is a form of misogyny, which is a direct result of the fall of wo/mankind. Genesis 3:16 states that “[A wife’s] desire will be for [her] husband, and he will rule over [her].” That temporary state was part of the curse. 


When Jesus died on the cross, He broke all fall-related curses (I John 3:8b), including the ones involving women. Yet it’s been at least a 2000-year journey and women in many respects are still going for broke. 


As a man, one of the most annoying things I see men do is take scriptures and twist them in such a way as to mean that women should be subservient to or less than men. The only way that's accomplished is when the feminine voice is extricated from the narrative. 


We observe this dynamic when their rich and authentic stories get filtered through the male gaze and mansplained to the extent that we only hear about them briefly on special occasions, such as Women's Day or a funeral. Stories that include:


·      Deborah, the great military leader, who successfully guided an army of 10,000 Israelites into battle against the Canaanite army, which included 900 iron chariots, the preeminent military tech of her time.  

·      Esther, the courageous Persian Empire queen, who using wisdom and strategy saved essentially all Jews living at the time from annihilation and who’s still celebrated today during the holiday Purim .

·      Priscilla, a church founder and co-pastor along with her husband Aquila, risked her life for Paul, taught Christian leaders, and supported ministry and missionary work. 

·      Phoebe, a church elder and preacher, and Paul’s emissary to the church in Rome. 

·      Lydia, the Coco Chanel of her region and the first convert in Philippi, who leveraged her influence and ministered to many, including Paul and Silas when they were thrown into prison and other female heroines and leaders.


Here’s the thing, Genesis 1:27 says that “God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”


If that scripture is to be taken at face value, it suggests that God has a male and a female side. By extension, God would then have both a masculine and a feminine voice, whether literally or figuratively. Selah, or pause and let that one stew for a bit.


Whenever God spoke audibly to folks in the Bible, I assumed it to be in a deep and masculine voice (I Kings 19:12, Revelations 14:2). I don’t know that scriptures always conveyed that idea, but I am a man and God’s voice is of course going to be male. No need to read further.


The Hebrews however knew YHWH as El Shaddai, which means Almighty God or Many Breasted One. Consider if you will that God’s voice might occasionally be feminine (Ezekiel 43:2).


Imagine for instance, after Adam ate the forbidden fruit, the voice of God calling to him in the garden like a mom. This would make his response even more compelling when he says, “[That] woman whom you put here with me [and who sounds a lot like you right now], she gave me fruit from the tree, and so I ate it." (Genesis 3:12 with liberties taken for effect)


In this scenario, Adam isn’t merely throwing Eve under a bus, he’s also accusing the very essence of God that could be considered female. A particularly tricky game to play. 


Okay, ok, so I’ll dial back the conjecture, as I wouldn’t want to be branded a heretic for my suggestions about God's image. Nor do I want to impose my male perspectives onto curse-free women (Isaiah 10:27), and what that might mean in terms of their position and operation in the church.


I miss Mom. And a world that devalues her voice and those of women is a greatly diminished and broken one, and one that doesn't truly reflect God. Selah.


Genesis 3:16 

English Standard Version (ESV)

16 I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you.


Genesis 1:27 

King James Version (KJV)

27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.


I Kings 19:12 

King James Version (KJV)

12 And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.


Revelations 14:2 

King James Version (KJV) 

And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps


Ezekiel 43:2 

King James Version (KJV)

And, behold, the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the east: and his voice was like a noise of many waters: and the earth shined with his glory.


Genesis 3:12

New Standard Version (NSV)

12 The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.”


Isaiah 10:27 

King James Version (KJV) 

27 And it shall come to pass in that day, that his burden shall be taken away from off thy shoulder, and his yoke from off thy neck, and the yoke shall be destroyed because of the anointing.



Saturday, July 1, 2023

Pastor's Ponderings, July 1, 2023

Let’s Be Kind To One And Another


How many of us have been kind or helpful to another when no one could give us credit?  For example, paying other’s bills, babysitting without compensation, or speaking highly of another so that they could benefit. Even though people may seem to have achieved great life goals, one never really knows what people are going through. 


Therefore, it is crucial that we pray for, are helpful to and are concerned about others (Matthew 7:12).   They may be in the fight of their lives. It is not simply about asking God for more and better stuff for us. We should pray and ask God how we can be supportive, helpful, and comforting to our family, friends, and neighbors.


We are in the second half of 2023.  Our last few years have been rough.  We have lost many dear ones; our hearts have been broken repeatedly.  But we are in this life together and should be helpers to each other.  Let us allow God to remind us that we are our brother’s keeper. Let us not be weary in doing well (Galatians 6:9).  We should not give in to despair, grief, and anxiety; we will be blessed as we bless others (Proverbs 11:25).


Matthew 7:12

Amplified Bible

12 “So then, in everything treat others the same way you want them to treat you, for this is [the essence of] the Law and the [writings of the] Prophets.


Galatians 6:9

Amplified Bible

9 Let us not grow weary or become discouraged in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap, if we do not give in.


Proverbs 11:25

Amplified Bible

25 The generous man [is a source of blessing and] shall be prosperous and enriched, And he who waters will himself be watered [reaping the generosity he has sown].