Friday, 11/15/19 – Friday Tough Question

How did Cain know his offering was not accepted?

Interesting question. Of course we could also ask “How did Abel know his offering was accepted?” Or, “What prompted mankind’s first generation to make offerings to God at all?”

The Bible does not address these questions directly, but if we pause to think through what scripture does tell us certain reasonable assumptions do stand out.

20180811_162826God created man because He desired relationship… someone to love and someone who could love in return. Honest relationship requires free-will. I cannot build intimacy with a machine. As much as I love my morning coffee my coffeemaker will never love me in return. While computers are growing more and more in their ability to mimic human relationship it is still a mimicry. Free-will comes with risk. Free-will does not guarantee reciprocal love, it only makes it possible. Hate or indifference are also possible.

To help man understand this God deliberately made man incomplete. He made Adam whole at first but then removed a part of him:

“So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.” (Gen. 2:21-22)

So man and woman were drawn together in love and by this learned also love toward God… true love born out of free will… free will that also made possible disobedience… sin… and the consequence of sin: death.

close up of fruits hanging on tree

Well, we know what happened. Along came the tempter, the prohibition was challenged, the punishment begun. First there was immediate death of relationship. Adam and Eve now hid from God… ashamed of their differences they covered themselves. But their coverings were insufficient. Sin required death… one’s own, or a substitute. And God taught them this truth by offering the first sacrifice to cover sin… by slaying innocent animals and clothing man and woman with their skins. (Interesting isn’t it that we call animal skins “hides” for that became their atoning function.)

burial cemetery countryside cross

This much we know from scripture; what comes next can come only by reasonable assumption. These coverings for sin could only be temporary. They did not remove the corruption now within mankind. Further sins were now our tendency and physical death remained our earthly reality. Until Christ provided His act of ultimate redemption other sacrifices were needed. So it seems reasonable to assume that God instructed Adam and Eve in these principles, and that they in turn taught their children.

Thus, Cain and Abel would clearly have understood that the only acceptable offering required shed blood. In choosing to offer otherwise Cain chose disobedience and his fellowship with God remained broken.

We read further if this in the New Testament book of Hebrews:

“By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead…. And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” (Heb. 11:4, 6).

Press on…

Got a question? Use the Contact page and send It to me. We’ll search the Word for God’s answer.

Friday, 11/8/19 – Friday Tough Question

Do I currently need “revival?”

greyscale photography of woman wearing long sleeved top

When my life is in obvious turmoil and I am acutely aware something is wrong I desperately desire the thing be made right. During such times I seek God most earnestly… I plead for His transformative intervention! “Please God, fix this!” There is “me,” the needy child of God, and there is “it,” the wrong thing I desire be made right. In these trials I see the matter clearly.

photo of person reading

But there are other times, times when life goes on “as normal”… comfortable and familiar times during which I sense nothing wrong at all. In these times I do not seek God so urgently. Nothing appears broken; nothing needs repair. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” goes the popular saw. In these times I may sense no pressing need… no need for “revival.”

“If you were wrong would you want to know it?” asks renowned TV personality Dr. Phil McGraw.

orange and black frog

God comes into one’s life not to help one go on “as normal,” but to bring one to dwell on a much higher place… far, far above “normal.” What we call “normal” is merely that corner of the frog swamp that has been most recently familiar to us. But God is transforming us, changing us from frogs into princes and princesses… creatures no longer fit for ponds but for palaces.

CS Lewis cites George MacDonald,

Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on: you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently he starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of—throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself. – CS Lewis [citing George MacDonald], Mere Christianity

perspective of a n old building with renaissance architectural design

Is nothing broken? Is nothing in need of repair?… in need of improvement?… or perhaps needing abandonment or replacement?

“If you were wrong would you want to know it?” asks the Great Doctor. Are you in need of “revival?”

Some questions are their own answers.

Press on…

Got a question? Use the Contact page and send It to me. We’ll search the Word for God’s answer.

20191103_152246This week at Lincoln Baptist Church you have a wonderful opportunity to seek the Lord. Join us for the Sermonindex Revival Conference — in person, or online. Go to the Lincoln Baptist Church website for details

Friday, 11/1/19 – Friday Tough Question

Why isn’t God blessing me?

apartment bed carpet chair

I woke up early this morning again, 03:15 I think. I had slept propped up on the living room couch to help drain my sinuses and so not to disturb my wife with my tossing and coughing. It was a comfortable rest, with a roof over my head and warmth and silence. For these I was thankful.

black shower head switched on

I was thankful too that all my limbs were working. I stood to my feet thankful to the Lord that I can. Just a few steps away was a warm and clean shower and I was grateful for that. Others are not so blessed. Others sleep on pavement in cold alley nooks, in trash bins, under bridges, or on floors by ATMs. Others awoke to shift to a wheelchair or a walker by the bed. Some woke to life support machines with oxygen masks and IV lines.

rectangular white island table in kitchen

Just a few steps more to a well-stocked fridge, cupboards not bare and fresh brewed coffee. A good breakfast and I thanked the Lord for them all. For tastebuds and digestive system, fullness and warmth. Fresh clothing, and nourishment from God’s Word, the privilege of prayer and the purpose for living. For these all I was grateful.

Outdoors to walk nature trails, a friend in a coffee shop, and sunsets and deer, and house pets, and laughing children. Above all a wife who loves and gives, a heritage of godly parents, a family of God. For all these I see I am most blessed.

The Blessing of Unanswered Prayers

Unknown Confederate soldier

I asked for strength that I might achieve;
I was made weak that I might learn humbly to obey.
I asked for health that I might do greater things;
I was given infirmity that I might do better things.
I asked for riches that I might be happy;
I was given poverty that I might be wise.
I asked for power that I might have the praise of men;
I was given weakness that I might feel the need of God.
I asked for all things that I might enjoy life;
I was given life that I might enjoy all things.
I got nothing that I had asked for,
but everything that I had hoped for.
Almost despite myself my unspoken prayers were answered;
I am, among all men, most richly blessed.*

Dare I pray for anything more, then use that request as a gauge of God’s goodness? God owes me nothing. All I am and have comes from Him. If I ask “Why isn’t God blessing me?” I am asking amiss. I am asking out of greed, tempting God. I will have forgotten how to be grateful.

Press on…

*https://www.beliefnet.com/prayers/protestant/gratitude/the-blessing-of-unanswered-prayers.aspx#RXYwOYaPw3PdyhOC.99

Got a question? Use the Contact page and send It to me. We’ll search the Word for God’s answer.

Friday, 10/25/19 – Tough Question – “Is it OK to skip church?”

Is it OK to skip church now and then?

portrait of beautiful young woman over white background

Wait a minute… there’s something else going on here! Asking if its OK to skip church is like asking “Is it OK to hang a noose from this tree branch?” Or, “Is it OK to buy a boat with the money I save by not eating anymore?” The fact one is asking the question belies some deeper, more urgent issue is at hand.

God has pre-warned us against allowing this attitude to arise within us. Twice in His letters to Timothy Paul warns, “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.” (1 Tim. 4:1).“…the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.” (2 Tim. 4:3-4).

photo of man taking selfie

The growing selfishness and depersonalization of society, the spread of sin, cults, materialism and unholiness push us toward cynicism, isolation and hardness of heart. This is our world, lost without Christ — a place of darkness into which we have been called to be light.

“…in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires… make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. …be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position.” (2 Pet. 3:3, 14, 17)

“See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” (Heb. 3:12-13).

The nearer we get to the day of Christ’s return the more we must pull together.

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Heb. 10:24-25).

This is what God’s Church is intended to be! A place for rebuilding, encouraging, ministry and worship… a family united by our common bond in Christ.

Recently Crosswalk.com listed ten reasons we must “not give up meeting together”

1. To hear the preaching of the Word of God
2. To participate in corporate worship
3. Because iron sharpens iron
4. To exercise your gifts
5. To encourage your pastor
6. To find godly mentors
7. To teach your kids to love the church
8. To be a light to your community
9. To bear each other’s burdens
10. Because God says so

We are commanded to come together but our hearts should also resonate with desire for the House of God. David wrote,

My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.” (Psalm 84:2).

Does yours?

Press on…

Got a question? Use the Contact page and send It to me. We’ll search the Word for God’s answer.

Friday, 10/18/19 – Milestones!

Milestones! (A Special Day!)

Friday’s are usually “Whydays” at thebrokenrunner.com, days where we search the scriptures together for answers to your questions. But as I alluded to yesterday, today is a special day for me.

20191015_155230I thank the Lord that I was blessed with godly parents in my youth. Numerous health issues took me out of school at around the third week of fifth grade. A home tutor brought me through my elementary grades, and correspondence classes led me through high school subjects. My mother’s severe scoliosis and other health problems kept her pretty much homebound as well. But mom and dad were faithful to “train me up in the ways of the Lord” and I have “not departed from Him.” (see Prov. 22:6).

Though my growth in God was sure, it was not specific. That is, it was gradual. I lacked a dateable day of transformation and commitment which marked so many testimonies.

20191015_160108As my health improved and I began venturing out I soon realized how much I really wanted such a date. I wanted to raise my “Ebenezer” in a public statement of faith in Christ. So it was on October 18th 1969 at age 18 I attended a Leyton Ford Evangelistic Crusade at the London Ontario Gardens Arena with the express purpose of making a public stand that evening for Christ. When the call was given I was one of the first to respond.

Today marks 50 years precisely from that date.

From that time forward my hunger for the Word of God and for prayer intensified. I would pray for hours just to center myself in Christ. I was into the Word constantly, even handwriting all of the New Testament and more than half of the old in efforts to know it and know it well.

20191015_161103Since then the Lord has been with me as the hymn says “through many dangers toils and snares.” He has been faithful even despite my sometimes accusations and rebellion. When my Father died and I the only child, He has been my Father… my mother, my brother, and Guide. When I am fearful He is there. He cannot be unfaithful.

20181002_142518Today also marks my 300th blog. I pray they have been and will continue to be a ministry to you and to others. Though my followers are few (25) I am astonished to see these blogs have been read in the same number of countries.* God has promised that his Word will not return to Him without accomplishing His purposes (Isa. 55:11), and I thank Him for this.

I also want to give kudos to a personal friend whom I first met almost as long ago as the fifty years I mentioned above. Though we’ve not seen each other much in recent years, she has faithfully “shared” my Facebook link to this blog everyday from its beginning. Debbie S in Ontario, you know who you are. Blessings to you and yours as we all “Press on” together!

Press on…

We’ll be back to our question format next week… So…
Got a question? Use the Contact page and send It to me. We’ll search the Word for God’s answer.

*Canada, United States, India, China, United Kingdom, Australia, Singapore, South Africa, Netherlands, Vietnam, Japan, Moldova, Portugal, South Korea, Indonesia, Denmark, Germany, France, Mexico, Ireland, Nigeria, El Salvador, New Zealand, Hungary, Finland 

Friday Question, 10/11/19 – Who, What, When, Where, Why & How?

Who, What, When, Where, Why & How?

ask blackboard chalk board chalkboard

No one submitted a question to me this week, so I went looking online to see what people were most frequently asking elsewhere.

According to Mondovo the top Who, What, Where, Why and How search questions of the past six months are these:

Who won the debate 301,000
Whois ip 201,000
What is my ip 3,350,000
When is Mother’s day 450,000
Where is my refund 450,000
Why is there a leap day 2,240,000
How to register to vote 1,220,000
How to be single 1,220,000

It is an election year just now in several countries. This creates an anomaly. So if we remove questions related to debates and voting we might translate the remaining top questions into these fundamental heart cries:

photo of woman looking upwardsWho and Where am I?
Where did the time go?
I’m alone! Help!
Mommy! — Money must be the answer: I need money!
Who and where are you?

Others might interpret this differently, but when you correlate these search queries with the whole of human experience these fundamentals remain: Who am I? Where did I come from? Why am I here? Where am I going?

Or, as Ravi Zacharias distills them, they are the fundamental questions of Origin, Morality, Meaning and Destiny.

Origin: “How did I come into being?”
Morality: “How can I determine what is right and what is wrong?”
Meaning: “What is the purpose of life itself?”
Destiny: “What happened To a human being when he or she dies?”

To hear his one-minute audio summary, click here.

Jesus understands the angst of human experience and why we all now feel this way. We feel this way because sin has alienated us from Him! Without Him we are totally lost as to our identity, origin, purpose and destiny.

But Jesus not only understands our lostness, He came to restore us. He answers all the missing pieces of our person.

questions answers signage

Origin: “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” (Gen. 1:27).

Morality: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt. 22:37, 38).

Meaning: “I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. / Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.” (John 17:20-24).

Destiny: “…I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. … I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:3, 6).

Call on Him today!

Press on…

Got a question? Use the Contact page and send It to me. We’ll search the Word for God’s answer.

Friday, 10/4/19 – Tough Question – Why Tithe?

Why Should I Tithe?

20191002_154203“Tithing” is the practice of giving to the church ten percent of your income. Sounds like a scam right off the bat to today’s ear, doesn’t it? A common response on first learning about tithing is “What! That’s outrageous! Who can afford to do that in today’s economy?”

But tithing is clearly taught in the scriptures. I can go on to demonstrate this from Abraham, the Patriarchs, the Levitical Priesthood, Judaism, and the early church, but I’m not going to. You see, I don’t think the decision to practice tithing is so much a matter of the intellect as it is of the heart and of the will. It does not have so much to do with understanding as it does with faith and obedience.

man cross legs seating on white wooden chair

Real faith always shows up in one’s actions… in the way one lives. If you believe the chair is built well and will support you, you will sit in it; if you trust Tom you will give him responsibility. In fact, if you believe there will be negative consequences otherwise, you will pay your taxes… for some up to 40% of income. Hmm.

What do you believe about these promises of God:

“I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread.” (Ps. 37:25)

“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” (Phil.4:19).

“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.” (Malachi 3:10)

“…do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear….your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (see all Matt. 25-34)

“So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” (Matt. 22:21).

“On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made.” (1 Cor. 16:2).

Veteran tithers know that you cannot outgive God. Somehow God always honors faith and faithfulness in tithing by stretching the remaining 90% to be more than adequate. “Test me in this,” He says (Mal. 3:10 above).

Are you up for His challenge?

Press on…

Got a question? Use the Contact page and send It to me. We’ll search the Word for God’s answer.