Read The Word: Public Reading of Scripture

In II Kings 23, King Josiah led a revival in Judah when God’s word was rediscovered in the Temple. The book of the Law was read aloud to him by Shaphan the scribe (22:10) and it had a profound effect on the king. Josiah wept and tore his clothes (:19), which were signs of mourning, and he sought God’s leadership through His prophet. Then Josiah turned around and did for Israel what had so impacted him: Continue reading

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He Didn’t Get Away With It

II Kings 21 doesn’t seem to end right. With all the evil described of King Manasseh & Judah in verses 2-16 (that they were worse than the pagan nations which had preceded them) and the punishment promised by the prophets (:10-15), verse 18 says that Manasseh died and “slept with his fathers and was buried in the garden of his own house.” That was his end? No judgment? No humiliation? No foreign invasion at the hands of God? It “seems” that Manasseh got away with idolatry, and infanticide, and murder, and more.
Only he didn’t.

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God’s House?

II Kings 21:5 records how the wicked King Manasseh “built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of YHWH.” Manasseh brought idolatrous worship right into God’s temple. In both the inner & outer courts, the scripture says, altars for false gods (in this case the hosts of heaven: sun, moon & stars) were set up. Looking from God’s perspective, if false gods were being worshipped in His house, in what sense was it HIS house any longer? Why bless it? Why protect it? It was no different than any of the idolatrous temples found anywhere in the world.

Perhaps we would do well to ask the same questions in our churches today?

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“The Little Condo on the Prairie” (Aug. 19, 2014)

Join this pastor’s family for Saturday morning coffee & doughnuts and more in this week’s “Little Condo on the Prairie”:

One Saturday morning I went out early (relatively speaking, for a Saturday, you understand!) to get some doughnuts to bring home for breakfast for everyone. After I arrived, Cheryl was chopping up a bunch of vegetables for a stew she was putting in the crock pot, and I put on some coffee to go with breakfast.
I stood before the array of doughnuts and mused out loud: “Now the big problem: do I want a chocolate cake doughnut, or a blueberry cake? They both sound so good!”
Cheryl quipped: “Get both; that’s how I solve that!”
Paul: “That’s what I did!” Continue reading

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A Very Selfish Outlook

King Hezekiah’s response to Isaiah’s prophecy in II Kings 20 must surely go down as one of the most selfish attitudes in all of scripture. Hezekiah had shown the messengers from the Babylonian king all of his treasures, and Isaiah prophesied that those treasures — as well as some of Hezekiah’s sons — would be carried off to captivity after his death. Ominous news indeed; but Hezekiah took it well. In fact, he took it TOO well!

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“The Disciplines of Disciples” I Timothy 4:7-10 Sermon

(Preached at First Baptist, Pauls Valley 8-17-14)

I had the opportunity a few days ago to go up to the high school during their summer band practice, and I must say that I was impressed with the quality of what was going on there. I was able to meet with the Band Director, Drew, and his dad, and Mr. Winkle, and they seem to be very good leaders. I really enjoyed watching them work with the band on their numbers: not only on just “getting the notes right”, but on the details: having the music build to a crescendo so that it would have a dramatic effect, and so many other things. After he had done his part, Mr. Winkle came and sat by me in the auditorium where I was watching, and we visited for a while. He told me about the practices they were putting in during the summer, and the ones they would continue during the school year as well. I told him, “You know, I don’t think people realize all the work that goes in to putting together a band performance of this quality.” It doesn’t just “happen”; it takes a lot of discipline, practice, and work.

What we need to realize is that the same thing is true in the Christian life. That band doesn’t just “show up” and play these great numbers during halftime, and do so well at contests. It takes discipline. And the same thing is true with the Christian life. You can’t just “show up” for an hour a week on Sunday mornings, and think that you are going to have a great and victorious Christian life. Showing up on Sundays is part of it, but not nearly all. Just like with the high school band — really just like in any other endeavor in life — it takes some basic disciplines to succeed. Continue reading

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“The Apple of Your Eye”: A Monday Prayer For Loved Ones

It is good to pray scriptures as we intercede for loved ones, as it takes us out of what can become almost “rote” repetition of requests, and substitutes something fresh and pertinent from God’s word instead. Psalm 17:8 makes such a good intercessory prayer. David actually prays it for himself: “Keep me as the apple of Your eye; hide me in the shadow of Your wings.” It is a beautiful prayer even on the surface, but it becomes even more poignant when you dig deeper:

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