I invite you to look at--

My Website where you will find: ordering information and chapter summaries for The Beauty of God for a Broken World; audio sermons; a few poems and hymns; and some other essays.

My Videos where you will find a few two-minute videos on various subjects related to The Beauty of God for a Broken World.


Friday, February 24, 2012


How long has it been since you heard someone say, “My goal in life is to be humble?” We encourage our young people to be athletic, popular, smart, assertive and sexy, but not humble. Not only is humility seldom sought; it has sometimes even been spurned. The German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche, despised humility as a form of weakness.

Yet in Christian teaching, humility is prized as one of the highest virtues because it is opposed to pride, one of the seven deadly sins. Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:3-5).

Why is humility so important for the Christian?

1) Humility fosters community. While there is a proper pride in doing our work well, egotistical self-assertion leads to competitiveness that undermines our relationships. So Scripture says, “Make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others” (Philippians 2:2-4).

2) God is great and we are small. The God who spoke the universe into being is infinite in power and wisdom. It is only common sense to echo the wonder of the psalmist: “When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained; what is man that You take thought of him, and the son of man that You care for him” (Psalm 8:3-4)?

3) God is holy and we are sinful. God’s indictment of ancient Israel applies to each one of us. “Alas, sinful nation, people weighed down with iniquity, offspring of evildoers, sons who act corruptly! They have abandoned the Lord, they have despised the Holy One of Israel, they have turned away from Him” (Isaiah 1:4). It is folly to pretend that we will be able to hold our heads up in pride before Him who “dwells in unapproachable light” (1 Timothy 6:16) and “from whose presence earth and heaven fled away” (Revelation 20:11).

4) Humility is necessary to receive divine forgiveness. God will not forgive people who refuse humbly to acknowledge their sins. As long as we hold on to our supposed goodness and worthiness, our hands are too full to accept the gift of mercy and grace God wants to give us. “All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time (1 Peter 5:5-6).

What kind of humility pleases God? We must—
·         Acknowledge to Him that we have sinned and that we cannot save ourselves (Luke 18:10-14).
·         Trust in Jesus Christ who died for sinners and rose again to lift them up to God (Romans 4:22-5:2).
·         Forgive others “just as God in Christ also has forgiven” us (Ephesians 4:32).
·         Reject envy and be glad for the success or good fortune of others (James 4:1-2, 7-10; Romans 12:15-16; 1 Corinthians 12:26).
·         Serve others rather than demanding that they serve us (Mark 10:42-45).

This is the kind of life that is truly beautiful. May God grant us humble hearts.

Saturday, February 11, 2012


Why, O Lord, did You make us?

Was there an emptiness in You
that You sought to fill by creating what You lacked?
Such a thing could never be,
for how can emptiness fill itself?
Did Your Being need other beings
        to fill up the measure of Your Being?
Is it not folly to imagine that You could increase Yourself
by adding to Yourself creatures
that were nothing apart from You?
Omnipotent Creator of all,
did you possess such an excess of energy
that You were not able to contain it?
Were You forced by Your fullness
to overflow into some other vessel,
a vessel of your own making,
a world fashioned from Your overabundance of being?
Surely, You have power over Your power.
If any being in the universe is capable of self-control,
without a doubt, it must be You.

Why then did You make us,
if You had no emptiness that we might fill,
if You were not bursting with unstoppable energy?
If You were not forced to create, then You simply chose to do so.
What is Your choice, but the action of Your will?
What is Your will, but the expression of Your desire?
What is Your desire, but the direction of Your love?

Therefore, You made us because of love.
Love at its best may give to the needy,
but it does not spring from the need of the Giver.
Creating love is an exercise of Your will,
not an overflow of Your substance.

But who or what was loved
in that time before time began,
and why?

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Does God Change?

This is a response to some friends whose Mormon neighbors say that their new revelations are a result of God's changing His mind.

We need to distinguish from Scripture what changes and what does not change in reference to God.
1)     God’s nature does not change. His knowledge, holiness and power neither increase, nor decrease over time.
God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent; Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good? (Numbers 23:19)
Of old You founded the earth, And the heavens are the work of Your hands. Even they will perish, but You endure; And all of them will wear out like a garment; Like clothing You will change them and they will be changed. But You are the same, And Your years will not come to an end. (Psalm 102:25-27)
For I, the LORD, do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed. (Malachi 3:6)
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)

This is contradictory to the Mormon conception of God. They believe that God was once as we are, but he has progressed or evolved to become a god. We also may progress to become gods (Doctrine & Covenants 132:19-20 [D & C is one of the Mormon authorities alongside The Book of Mormon]). See also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mormon_cosmology#cite_note-14

2)     Because God’s nature is unchanging, His plans and purposes do not change.
Remember the former things long past, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, “My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure.” (Isaiah 46:9-10)
The counsel of the LORD stands forever, The plans of His heart from generation to generation. (Psalm 33:11)
In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath, 18 so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us. (Hebrews 6:17-18; see vv. 13-20 for context)
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. (Ephesians 1:3-6 – God’s purpose in election was formed before the foundation of the world)

3)     When God is said to repent or to grieve, Scripture is describing the emotional reaction of God to human sin; it is not saying that God has changed His eternal plans and purposes: The LORD was sorry [nacham] that He had made man on the earth (Genesis 6:6). The Hebrew word (nacham) can refer to an emotional response or to a change in mind as we see in an interesting set of verses in 1 Samuel 15.
I regret [nacham] that I have made Saul king (v. 11).
Also the Glory of Israel will not lie or change His mind [nacham]; for He is not a man that He should change His mind [nacham]. (1 Samuel 15:29)
Verse 11 is parallel to Genesis 6:6.

4)     Although God does not change, and His eternal plan does not change, He works out His plan for the world in a succession of steps. After the fall, and again after the flood, the human race rapidly deteriorated so that it became like a group of 2-year-olds all throwing temper tantrums at the same time. God began the moral re-education of the race and the spiritual preparation of the world for Christ by making a covenant with Abraham. Later He put a hedge around the nation of Israel and separated it from the surrounding culture by giving the covenant of the Law to Moses. All of this was leading up to Christ (Galatians 3:15-25). God’s final revelation to the world is summed up in Christ (Hebrews 1:1-4—indeed the whole book of Hebrews is about the finality and supremacy of Christ).

The apostles and prophets of the New Testament explained the meaning of Christ’s life, death, resurrection and return. They were instructed by the Holy Spirit to enable them to do this (John 16:12-15; 1 Corinthians 2:6-16). God revealed truth to the apostles; they spoke and wrote it in Spirit guided words; the Christian has the Holy Spirit to help him understand what the apostles wrote. With the passing of that generation of apostles and prophets, new revelation for the whole church ceased. (Of course, God still gives individual guidance, though seldom with any special signs.)

The last Old Testament prophet predicted the arrival of the next prophet, who turned out to be John the Baptist (Malachi 4:5-6; Luke 1:13-17; Matthew 11:7-15). Similarly, the last New Testament prophecy predicted the arrival of the next prophets who will prophesy in the days immediately before Christ’s return (Revelation 11:3-12). So until people see two men who can do the amazing miracles given to these men, they ought not be bamboozled by prophetic claims.

5)     Both Muhammad and Joseph Smith claimed to receive revelations from angelic figures. Their revelations are not consistent with the gospel. This is how Scripture evaluates them.
I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you, and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed. (Galatians 1:6-9)
And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. (2 Corinthians 11:14)

6)     Regarding the Mormon claims that there are many gods:
Scripture sometimes refers to other gods, but these are either empty nothings (Psalm 95:6; 115:4-7) or demons (Deuteronomy 32:17). The gods of the nations are “by nature are no gods” (Galatians 4:8). Scripture is very clear that there is no other god who is worthy of the name.
“You are My witnesses,” declares the LORD, “And My servant whom I have chosen, In order that you may know and believe Me, And understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, And there will be none after Me.” (Isaiah 43:10)
Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel And his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: 'I am the first and I am the last, And there is no God besides Me. (Isaiah 44:6)
Do not tremble and do not be afraid; Have I not long since announced it to you and declared it? And you are My witnesses. Is there any God besides Me, Or is there any other Rock? I know of none. (Isaiah 44:8)
I am the LORD, and there is no other; Besides Me there is no God. I will gird you, though you have not known Me. (Isaiah 45:5)