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The Practical Atheist

December 4, 2017

Atheists come in several varieties. The average Joe atheist does not believe in God, but is a nice guy and is not on a rampage against the god he does not believe. The scholarly atheist is too educated to believe God is real. He may scoff at the idea of God if it comes up, but he generally considers it beneath him to think about deity. The class of atheist that gets the most press is the angry atheist. He knows God does not exists and is on a crusade to strike down any serious discussion of God. In the opinion of the angry atheist religious people are ignorant dupes or greedy charlatans who should be stopped. The most common form of atheist is the practical atheist. He does not deny the existence of God. He may even be a religious person who attends church on a regular basis. Yet, in his daily life he lives as if God does not exist. Though his mouth may confess the existence of God his life denies it. This the most common form of atheist.

The practical atheist is filled with pride which refuses to seek after God. Romans 3:11 says, “There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.” The pride of the unsaved will not allow him to seek after God. But what about all the religious people in the world? Aren’t they seeking after God? They are seeking after a god of their own devising, not the God of the Bible. When the religious man learns of the God of the Bible his arrogance rejects God. How many millions of people give millions of dollars to churches to buy their salvation? How many millions of people deny themselves, fast, pray multiple times a day and attend a church or temple multiple times a week in an attempt to earn salvation? Yet how many of these same millions reject the promise of a salvation that is freely given to those who will receive it by faith? Can those who reject the salvation of God truly be called seekers after God? The pride filled heart of man refuses to seek after God.

The practical atheist does not see the work of God. The judgment of God is far above out of his sight. He will not see God’s hand. He does not consider it. Job 35 speaks of the oppression of the wicked that makes the multitudes cry out in sorrow. Wicked men wreak great havoc on people and nations. Billions in this world suffer because of the malice of evildoers. Millions of people suffer every year as a result of horrible natural disasters. Earthquakes, volcanoes, hurricanes, droughts and floods decimate populations. The population of the world groans in sorrow! Yet, as Job 35:10 says, “None saith, where is God my maker.” In all the tragedies of the world, few look to God. The practical atheist looks at the world around and refuses to see God’s mighty hand at work.


Thank God He is Forever

November 27, 2017

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shatter’d visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamp’d on these lifeless things,
The hand that mock’d them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains: round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
– Percy Shelley

All the works of men will be destroyed. The greatest that has been accomplished on this earth will be wiped away. All that man values will be destroyed. Only the work of God is eternal. We give thanks because God is eternal. Psalm 9:7 says, “But the Lord will endure forever.” In the previous verse David described the destruction of the wicked. They may rage today and they may destroy others, but, like the fictional Ozymandias, their own destruction is coming. The wicked will come to an end. God will reign forever. Though the world is filled with troubles, though wicked men get worse and worse, they are temporary! Give thanks for the eternal God rules forever. His justice is eternal, His righteousness is unending and His mercy endures forever.

Give thanks. You are not god. He is, and He is glorious in His justice, His judgment and His eternality. By giving thanks men acknowledge God is God and we are but men. Do not men need to be reminded they are but men? Only a few in each generation really believe they are gods. The real problem is that men often forget they are but men. How often does a person remember he is a creature, dependent on others, dependent on forces far outside his control and dependent upon God. Thankfulness to God declares that what man has is given to him by One greater. Thankfulness to God acknowledges that man is not sufficient to supply his own needs. Thankfulness is a reminder that we are just humans.

Thankfulness acknowledges that God is the author of life. Thankfulness remembers that every thing necessary and every blessing unnecessary comes from God. Thankfulness confesses that, “every good gift and every perfect gift cometh from above” (James 1:17) but thankfulness confesses more than that. Thankfulness declares that “by Him all things consist.” (Colossians 1:17) Thankfulness remembers that it is in God, “we live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:28) In God’s hand, “is the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind.” (Job 12:10) In giving thanks man remembers that God is God and we are not. Give thanks to God. Give thanks to God for who He is. Give thanks to God no matter what is happening in the world around us.

Thanksgiving Proclamation

November 22, 2017

In 1789 George Washigntion issued the first proclamation calling upon the entire United States of America to set aside a Thursday in November to give thanks to God for His many blessings. The website “Washington Papers” says, “On 25 September 1789, Elias Boudinot of Burlington, New Jersey, introduced in the United States House of Representatives a resolution ‘That a joint committee of both Houses be directed to wait upon the President of the United States, to request that he would recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging, with grateful hearts, the many signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a Constitution of government for their safety and happiness.'”

On October 3, 1789 George Washington circulated the following proclamation (bullets mine).

“Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me “to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:”

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks

  • for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation;
  • for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war;
  • for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed;
  • for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness,
  • and particularly the national one now lately instituted’ for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed,
  • and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge;
  • and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him
to pardon our national and other transgressions;

  • to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually;
  • to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed;
  • to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have show kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord;
  • to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us;
  • and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.”

Let us in like manner pray and give thanks.


November 13, 2017

The earth is an insignificant speck in the universe. Our home planet fills a tiny 25,000 miles of the universe’s 187 septilliion miles. The earth is so small it takes up less space in the universe than an atom does on earth. The universe is massive beyond comprehension. God is greater than the universe.

Skeptics wonder why men would be mindful of a god. They think religion to be nothing but the superstition of a primitive people that civilized society should outgrow. When considering the magnitude of the universe it is not suprirsing that people would look for a god. What is amazing is that God would look for a people. The incomprehensible universe can be described in terms somewhat understandable to man. The magnitude of the Creator of the universe, the God of the heavens, cannot be fathomed.

That the infinite God would take an interest in insignificant man is marvelous to consider. Though the earth is so tiny when compared to the universe it is large in the plans and purposes of God. The earth is the stage on which the drama of redemption is enacted. Redemption was accomplished by the infinite God being made a little lower than the angels. He who is infinitely higher than the angels humbled himself to become a man.

What is man that God would visit him? What is man that God would become man? This question is not answered by speaking of the uniqueness of man, the value of man or desire of God for relationship. The answer to this question is found in character of the Lord who became man. What is God! The only legitimate response to the compassion of God for His creation is this, “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For of him, and through him, and to him are all things: to whom be glory forever.” (Romans 11:33, 36)

When God came into this world He set aside His majesty and power. He laid down the prerogatives of Deity, but did not surrender His Divinity. He humbled Himself. He became obedient to death, even the death of the cross. And then God exalted God. “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Jesus has been crowned with glory and honor. Jesus the God-ma is now seated above the heavens at the right hand of the Father. He is the Creator of the world. He is the Savior of the world. He is the conqueror of death. He is the head of the church. He is the coming King. He is the righteous Judge. Jesus is exalted. Jesus will be exalted. He will rule over everything in a visible, uncontested, unopposed rule. One day everything in the universe will acknowledge He is Lord.

God Will Judge

November 6, 2017

God is holy. This is good news and this is bad news. In Psalm 7 David finds great comfort in the righteousness of God that judges righteously. In the same Psalm David warns the wicked of the judgment waiting them if they do not turn from their wickedness. Because God is holy His judgment is always righteous. The Holy God judges men according to the standard of His Holy character. He punishes men for their wickedness and the judgment He executes is always in accord with the seriousness of their sin.

The book of Revelation presents the magnitude of the rebellious world’s hatred against God the Son. During the time of the Great Tribulation humanity will be nearly abandoned to its sinfulness. All manner of wickedness will be promoted by the kingdom of the Antichrist. In those final days all Christians will face severe persecution. The kingdom of the Antichrist, called in the Bible Babylon the Great, will be so violent the Bible describes it as making itself drunk with the blood of the saints.

The days of the Antichrist’s reign will be very brief. After a few short years the evil world empire will crumble. When Babylon the Great falls all heaven will erupt with rejoicing. John says in Revelation 19:1, “And after these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God: for true and righteous are His judgments.” The child of God will rejoice the righteous judgment of God.

When God sits in judgment the righteous will praise Him. When God stands up in His wrath and pours out judgment upon the world the redeemed will have cause for great rejoicing. At that day mankind will finally understand the true horror of man’s rebellion against God. Humanity will finally comprehend the true depravity of the human heart. We will know what it means to despise the Son of God. We will know the horror of refusing the God of Heaven. We will know the sin- “sin” is far too small a word for such a massive bulk of bloodlust, selfishness, vice and violence- of nailing God the Son to a cross. We will know the mammoth atrociousness which sought to trample under foot the Creator. When we finally understand the depths of the infamy of iniquity then we will rejoice with great rejoicing because God is just. We will rejoice to see God’s holiness exalted. We will praise Him for the vindication of His righteousness. Because God is the righteous judge the righteous can say, “I will praise the Lord according to His righteousness, and will sing praise to the new of the Lord most high.”

In Misery

October 30, 2017

No man in the Old Testament, except Job, suffered more than King David. In Psalm 6 David’s suffering is once again at the forefront. His bones are vexed and his soul is sore vexed. His bed is saturated with his tears and his eyes are worn out with his weeping. Some have called the sixth Psalm a sermon for afflicted saints and others have a called it a prayer for deserted souls. It illustrates several important principles of the Christian perspective in times of almost unbearable distress.

Be aware of the chastening hand of God. Though Psalm 6 does not gives clues to a specific sin or event in David’s life, David was very aware of the chastening hand of God. When greatly troubled consider if the affliction is God’s loving correction.

Remember and seek the mercy of God. David cried out, “Have mercy upon me!” God is a merciful, gracious, compassionate, tender, loving, kind and good God. Pray for the mercy of God. Though you may be chastened, pray the chastening will be tempered with mercy. Pray for His mercy. Rely on His mercy. Remember no matter how black the night or deep the anguish God’s mercy never fails.

Prioritize the glory of God. David prays for deliverance that he might live to praise God. Praying for healing and deliverance is good and proper. Seek these things that God may be glorified. Pray for deliverance that God’s might, power, goodness, mercy and grace will be made evident to others. Pray for rescue that others will see how God works. As God sustains you through your sorrow, others see His care in action. When God brings relief from trouble, praise Him that others will hear and know the greatness of God’s grace.

Do not be afraid to grieve. If you hurt, cry. If you’ve lost a dear friend, grieve. If you have sorrow, weep. There’s nothing unbiblical about tears. There is nothing spiritual about stoicism. When Jesus’ friend Lazarus died, “Jesus wept”. Psalm 56:8 says, “Put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book?” God has a record of every tear shed by His child. The compassion of God does not forget a single broken heart nor sleeps through a single night of weeping. Pour out your grief to the God of all compassion.

Do not wallow in grief. Grief is a passing thing. Grief should never be the destination. Grief is a necessary part of the journey through life, but it is not the end. Like David, move through grief to joy. In grief look with confidence to your Lord of mercy

Remain confident in God’s working. The example of David should guide every Chritsian in time of great distress. Pour out your misery to God, not in faithless grumbling but in trusting dependence. The child of God who continues to trust his Father will move from despair and discouragement to unshakable confidence in His God.

Psalm 5 Principles of Prayer

October 23, 2017

The book of Psalms is filled with examples of the prayers of men of God. These prayers were penned under the direction of the Holy Spirit. The Psalms are not just the prayers of men. They are prayers arranged according to the will of God so that what David prays in the Psalms is exactly what God would have him pray. The Psalms are examples of perfect prayers that model prayer for all Christians.

The prayers of the Psalms are the inspired Word of God, written by holy men of God as they were moved by the Spirit of God. These prayers teach invaluable truths about prayer. The book of Psalms is a textbook of prayer, but it is not a series of lectures on prayer. The Psalms do not intend to discourse on the various parts of prayer or to unfold the theological basis of prayer. The Psalms are prayers. By seeing prayer in action the believer learns how to pray. By reading the prayers of Godly men in all seasons of life the Christian learns what to pray when he enters similar times. If you would learn how to pray, read the Psalms.

Psalm 5 presents five principles of prayer:

  • Prayer calls out to God.
  • Prayer is possible because God is holy.
  • Prayer is an act of worship that bows down before God and pleads for mercy.
  • Prayer trusts God and rejoices in Him.
  • Prayer must come from a position of righteousness

Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled

October 17, 2017

“I rejoice to see the courage of that young man who has but just joined the army of the Church militant, and is buckling on the glittering armor of faith! As yet there are no dents and bruises on that fair helmet and burnished breastplate. But let the wearer reckon upon blows, and bruises, and bloodstains! No, let him rejoice if he endure hardness as a good soldier, for without the fight where would be the victory? Brethren in our Lord Jesus, without due trial, where would be our experience? And without the experience, where would be the holy increase of our faith, and the joyful triumph of our love through the manifested power of Christ?

We must expect, then, to walk with our Lord to the gates of Gethsemane— both His and ours! We must expect to cross the Brook Kedron in company with our Master, and it will be well if we hear Him say to us as He did to His disciples on that eventful night, “Let not your hearts be troubled: you believe in God, believe also in Me.” My Brothers and Sisters, some of us live at this hour in the midst of trouble. We do not remember any period more dark with portents of evil than the present watch of earth’s long night.

There is no need to say, “Let not your heart be troubled,” when you are not in affliction. When all things go well with you, you will need another caution— “Let not your heart be exalted above measure: if riches increase, set not your heart upon them.” The word, “Let not your heart be troubled,” is timely, and it is wise.

A few minutes thought will lead you to see it. It is the easiest thing in the world, in times of difficulty, to let the heart be troubled. It is very natural for us to give up and drift with the stream, to feel that it is of no use “taking arms against” such “a sea of trouble”—that it is better to lie passive and to say, “If one must be ruined, so let it be.” Despairing idleness is easy enough, especially to evil rebellious spirits who are willing enough to get into further mischief that they may have more with which to blame God, against whose Providence they have quarreled. Our Lord will not have us be so rebellious. He bids us pluck up heart and be of good courage in the worst possible condition—and here is the wisdom of His advice, namely, that a troubled heart will not help us in our difficulties or out of them.

No good comes out of fretful, petulant, unbelieving heart-trouble. This lion yields no honey. If it would help you, you might reasonably sit down and weep till the tears had washed away your woe. If it were really to some practical benefit to be suspicious of God and distrustful of Providence, why, then, you might have a shadow of excuse—but as this is a mine out of which no one ever dug any silver, as this is a fishery out of which the diver never brought up a pearl—we would say, “Renounce that which cannot be of service to you, for as it can do no good, it is certain that it does much mischief.”

A doubting, fretful spirit takes from us the joys we have. You have not all you could wish, but you still have more than you deserve. Your circumstances are not what they might be, but still they are not even now so bad as the circumstances of some others. Your unbelief makes you forget that health still remains for you if poverty oppresses you. And if both health and abundance have departed, you are still a child of God and your name is not blotted out from the roll of the chosen! Why, Brothers and Sisters, there are flowers that bloom in winter, if we have but grace to see them! Never was there a night so dark for the soul but what some lone star of hope might be discerned! And never a spiritual tempest so terrible but what there was a haven into which the soul could dock if it had but enough confidence in God to make a run for it.

A troubled heart makes that which is bad worse. It magnifies, aggravates, caricatures, misrepresents. If but an ordinary foe is in your way, a troubled heart makes him swell into a giant. “We were in their sight but as grasshoppers,” said the ten evil spies. “Yes, and we were but as grasshoppers in our own sight when we saw them.” But it was not so.

Yet this is the habit of Unbelief—to draw our picture in the blackest possible colors—to tell us that the road is unusually rough and utterly impassable. He tells us that the storm is such a tornado as never blew before, and that our name will be down in the wreck register—that it is impossible that we should ever reach the haven.

Moreover, a troubled heart is most dishonorable to God. It makes the Christian think very harshly of his tender heavenly Friend. It leads him to suspect eternal faithfulness and to doubt unchangeable love. Is this a little thing? It breathes into the Christian a proud rebellious spirit. He judges his Judge, and misjudges. He has not learned Job’s philosophy. He cannot say, “Shall we receive good from the hand of the Lord, and shall we not also receive evil? The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away, and blessed be the name of the Lord.”

There is a way of keeping the heart out of trouble, and the Savior prescribes the method. First, He indicates that our resort must be to faith. If in your worst times you would keep your head above water, the life belt must be faith. Now, Christian, do you not know this? In the olden times how were men kept from perishing but by faith? Read that mighty chapter in Hebrews, and see what faith did—how Believers overcame armies, put to flight the army of aliens, quenched the violence of fire—and stopped the mouths of lions! There is nothing which faith has not done or cannot do! Faith is girdled about with the Omnipotence of God for her girdle. She is the great wonder-worker. Why, there were men in the olden times whose troubles were greater than yours, whose discouragement’s and difficulties in serving God were a great deal more severe than any you and I have known, yet they trusted God! They trusted God, and they were not confounded. They rested in Him, and they were not ashamed. Their puny arms worked miracles, and their uplifted voices in prayer brought blessings from on high. What God did of old He will do now—He is the same yesterday, today and forever.”
– Charles Spurgeon

October 13, 2017

Thank you so much for your prayers and support for the trip to Papua New Guinea. Grace and Ruth made it there and back safely and are happily enjoying the renewed comforts of home.

Missionaries Ben and Lauren Childs picked them up in Goroka, and they spent one night at the New Tribes Mission Lapilo Center before continuing the next day to the village of Tirokave. It was a 3 hour drive from Goroka to Tirokave. About half the time was spent on the Highlands Highway and the other half on bush roads up into the mountains. The highway was marked by large potholes, gravel sections and by groups of young men stopping cars to ask for payment for filling in some of the potholes with dirt. Driving on the highway proved to be much faster and easier than the bush road though. The bush road was rife with deep holes, washouts, and large rock beds designed to try and keep erosion at bay during the punishing rainy season.

The people in PNG were wonderful. Everyone was friendly and ready to be kind. They are quick to smile and laugh. The children are like children the world over. They love to play and are curious about things that are different. They were fun to watch and listen to as they wanted to be noticed and remain unseen at the same time. The adults were ready with a mornin or apenun greeting. It was wonderful to be welcomed into their lives and to see what their lives were like there in the village.

The time in PNG flew by. They unexpectedly had to return to Goroka a couple of days early, but the Lord even used that for good. A doctor at the New Tribes clinic welcomed Grace into the clinic for a day and allowed her to shadow him all day. He and the nurses patiently taught her what they were doing and were able to give her valuable insight into how a missions clinic works. They were also able to take some time later and talk with a nurse who works in a clinic for natives in the bush. It was good to hear her perspective on missions and medicine.

I know that God has used this trip in Grace’s life to open her eyes to needs around the world. God has used this trip in Ruth’s life as well. I see again His loving care for His people around the world. In a house here in the UP, in a house in the city in Cairns, in a grass hut in the mountains of PNG, nothing separates the believer from the love of God. His family is large and diverse, and we will truly stand before Him one day and proclaim, “Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation.”

The Lord my Repose

October 9, 2017

Psalm 3 was written during one of the lowest times of David’s life. Trouble had been afflicting the family of David for several years. The details are rather gruesome, but they included rape and murder within his own home. David’s unwillingness to address the problems resulted in his son Absalom fleeing into exile. When Absalom returned to Jerusalem David refused to meet with his son. David finally relented and was reunited with Absalom. Almost immediately Absalom began a plot to take over the throne.

Absalom was very good looking, skillful in speech and a master manipulator. He turned the hearts of many Israelites away from David. When he deemed the time was ripe Absalom declared himself king. Many Israelites, soldiers and even one of David’s chief counselor’s supported Absalom. Though many still supported David he left his palace and fled Jerusalem. 2 Samuel 15:30 says, “And David went up by the ascent of Mount Olives, and wept as he went up, and had his head covered, and he went barefoot (this is the very picture of great grief): and all the people that was with him covered every man his head, and they went up, weeping as they went up.” The very next morning David wrote these words:
LORD, how are they increased that trouble me! many are they that rise up against me. Many there be which say of my soul, There is no help for him in God. Selah.
But thou, O LORD, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head. I cried unto the LORD with my voice, and he heard me out of his holy hill. Selah.
I laid me down and slept; I awaked; for the LORD sustained me. I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people, that have set themselves against me round about.Arise, O LORD; save me, O my God: for thou hast smitten all mine enemies upon the cheek bone; thou hast broken the teeth of the ungodly. Salvation belongeth unto the LORD: thy blessing is upon thy people. Selah.

When trouble torments your soul does your response look anything like that? David was afflicted on all sides. His enemies said God had abandoned him. They thought David would be destroyed. Tens of thousands surrounded him. He was betrayed by those closest to him. David’s heart was broken. He was bent with sorrow. His eyes were red with weeping. His throat was hoarse from his crying. David grieved deeply, but he grieved confidently.

In his sorrow David turned to God. David had rest and comfort in His God. His trust was not placed in the wisdom of his counselors, his skill in arms or the might of his soldiers. David turned to God and said, “You are my shield. You are the one who will exalt me. Though right now my head is bowed down with grief and pain you will life it up again. Though right now I have been cast out of my rightful place, you will restore me.” David had rest and peace in his sorrow because he trusted his God. The enemies of David said there is no help for him in God. David said there is no help for me but God. That is the attitude that secures the soul in the midst of sorrow. Psalm 3 points the Christian to the One who is greater than any trouble.