When God Seems Silent

Psalm 22:1-8; 23:1-6

“My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?” (Psalm 22:1).

Most of us know that the Psalmist wasn’t the only one to utter those despairing words. Most of us know that as He hung upon the cross, Jesus quoted Psalm 22 when he too cried out, “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?” (Psalm 22:1a)

To be sure, Psalm 22 is a Messianic Psalm. We refer to it as such because it vividly pictures the passion of the Christ:

Do not stay so far from me, for trouble is near, and no one else can help me. My enemies surround me like a herd of bulls; fierce bulls of Bashan have hemmed me in! Like lions, they open their jaws against me, roaring and tearing into their prey. My life is poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart is like wax, melting within me. My strength has dried up like sunbaked clay. My tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth. You have laid me in the dust and left me for dead. My enemies surround me like a pack of dogs; an evil gang closes in on me. They have pierced[a] my hands and feet. I can count all my bones. My enemies stare at me and gloat. They divide my garments among themselves and throw dice[b] for my clothing. (vs. 11-18).

Psalm 22 not only reminds us of the terrible price Jesus paid upon the cross, but also that in the midst of the crisis God seemed to be silent. “Why are you so far away when I groan for help?” (Psalm 22:1b).

Sound familiar? All of us have experienced those times when we have cried and cried out to God to answer a certain prayer and it seems like our prayer just bounces off the ceiling. 

And we wonder why do I find it so difficult to hear You? Is there something wrong with me? Am I doing something wrong? Or is that You can’t hear . . . or worse don’t even really care? Sometimes the silence is deafening. + Read More

Guest Speaker: James Brandenburg – Meet You at the Cross

Col 1:13-22

A troubled and burdened man prayed and prayed that God would lift his burden. Day after day he prayed that his life would be easier and he begged for God’s intervention.

One day, Jesus came to the man and asked, “My child, what troubles you?” The man replied that his life was full of turmoil and that it had become too much to bear. He again asked for help stating that he just couldn’t continue to go on.

Jesus, feeling the man’s anguish, decided help was in order. The man was so happy that his prayers were about to be answered, that his burden already felt lighter.

Jesus took the man to a room and stopped in front of the door. When he opened the door, what the man saw was amazing. The room was filled with crosses; little crosses, big crosses, giant crosses. The man, bewildered, looked at Jesus and asked how this would help him. Jesus explained that each cross represented a burden that people carry; small burdens, big burdens, giant burdens — and every burden in between.

At this point, Jesus offered the man the opportunity to choose his burden. The man, so excited that he was finally able to have some control over his life, looked around the room for just the right cross. He saw a tiny little cross way back in the corner. It was the smallest cross in the room. After a bit of thought, he pointed to the cross and said, “That one, Lord. I want that one.” Jesus asked, “Are you sure, my son?” The man quickly replied, “Oh, yes Lord. Most definitely, yes.”

Jesus turned to the man and replied, “My child, you have chosen your own cross. It is the burden you already carry.”

The burden of sin is one we all carry.

God has given each of us talents and life experiences that follow His plan. Each of us has something different and unique to offer the world. Everything we experience in life guides us to the place God has chosen for us. He works through us . . . if we allow Him.

He needs each and every one of us for the work that He needs to be done in the world. There’s so much to do, and we all have our part in it!

Listening to testimony is one of the most powerful experiences that I have witnessed. Each one of us has a story. Where we began, where we are, and where we hope to be. Looking back at my beginning, I can say that the love that I’ve experienced from God and His forgiveness is what puts me here in front of you this morning. + Read More


Luke 22:14-20
Ephesians 1:1-8a

R. R. Donnelley used to be the nations’ largest printer of magazines. Several years ago they mistakenly sent a rancher in Powder Bluff, Colorado 9,734 notices that his subscription to National Geographic had expired. So he sent back the money and wrote, “Send me the magazine, I give up.’ 1

That’s how God brings many persons to salvation. He hits them with the message so many times they finally give up. Perhaps as we hear about grace again, someone today will give up.

“He is so rich in kindness and grace that He purchased our freedom with the blood of His Son and forgave our sins. He has showered His kindness on us” (Ephesians 1:7-8a NLT)

This is one of my favorite verses, but I like it better rendered by the NASB: “In Him, we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our sins, according to the riches of His grace, which He lavished upon us” (Ephesians 1:7-8a).

When was the last time you were lavished? Merriman’s Online Dictionary defines lavish as: ‘bestow something in generous or extravagant quantities upon.’ 2 As in; “That rancher was lavished with expiration notices.” Or, “They lavished their children with many gifts at Christmas.”

That English definition is pretty close to the Greek: The online Expositor’s Greek Testament defines it as “furnishing richly so that there is not only enough but much more.” 3 Kittel’s Theological Dictionary of New Testament Words has “to be present over abundantly or to excess to make over-rich, to provide superabundantly.” 4

Paul says we have been ‘lavished’ with the riches of His grace. What does he mean? + Read More

God’s Great Grace Gospel

Genesis 1:1-Revelation 22:21

A boy watched as the pastor took off his watch and set it on the pulpit in front of him.
“What does that mean?” he asked his mother.
“Absolutely nothing,” she answered.

That little ditty serves as a warning that I intend on preaching through the entire Bible from the first verse of the Bible in Genesis through the last verses in the book Revelation. For the two most important verses in the Bible are the first verse and the last verse. Everything sandwiched between those two verses explain the first verse and the last verse. You get the first verse and the last verse and you’ve got it all!

And who can recite for us the first verse of the Bible? “In the beginning God.” And the last? “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.”

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1); the stars, the planets, this planet, the oceans, the fishes, the animals, women and men and everything that men and women can hear, see, smell, taste, and touch.

But this morning, I’m talking about something else He created that cannot be discerned with the five senses. “In the beginning, God created,” that is, He placed within the man and the woman an instinctive seed of belief in Himself.

Travel to the far reaches of this planet, to any time period that you wish to research and you will discover every society, every culture, every civilization worshipping that which they believe is God.

I’ve heard people say they were atheists, but I don’t believe there’s any such thing. I believe people like to proclaim themselves atheists so they can get away with any kind of behavior without feeling guilty.

In my days at Ohio State, I took a philosophy class with a professor who was at that time the editor of and still writes for American Atheist Magazine. I couldn’t understand why he spends so much time and energy thinking about, talking about, and writing about something he doesn’t believe in. One day he came to class and told us that as he sat down to dinner with his wife and 10-year-old son, his boy asks, “Dad, do you think God knows we don’t believe in Him?” + Read More

Wrath and Grace

Psalm 19:1-4
Romans 1:18-25; 3:9-25a

I am holding in my hand (dad’s wooden paddle) the instrument of my father’s wrath! It is as you can see his fraternity pledge paddle.

During that process, he was probably hit with it more than I ever was (ha!) In fact, my father only took his wrath on me with this paddle two times. On one of those occasions, I don’t recall what I did to deserve it. But the other one is very clear in my mind.

Last Sunday, I mentioned that my two brothers and I were known in our neighborhood as the Katzenjammer Kids; the kids that were always at heart of the trouble. One day, my cousin Mark, Tom and I were in the weed field behind my uncle’s house, which was right across Herbert Street from our house. Tom took out a box of matches and said, “Look what I have.”
I said, “I dare you to light the weeds on fire.”
Tom lit a match, dropped it on the ground and some of the dry weeds immediately caught fire, but Tom quickly stomped the little fire out.
“I bet you can’t do that again,” I said, as I winked at my cousin Mark.
Tom lit a second match, dropped the match into the weeds, the weeds caught fire, but just when my brother raised his foot to stomp out the fire, Mark and I grabbed him and held him back. The fire quickly spread.

+ Read More

Fears Relieved

Mark 4:35-41

Speaking of fears, my two younger brothers and I were exceptionally mischievous.

We were always getting into trouble and our parents knew that if any mischief occurred in our neighborhood the Katzenjammer Kids were always involved. When my mother heard that the new pastor at the Christian Church had a gift of putting boys on the right track she took us to see him. The clergyman took my youngest brother, Steve, into his office, while Tom and I waited with mom. Rev. Pugh, a rather rotund fellow with a deep booming voice that we could hear through the closed door, asked Steve sternly, “Where is God?”

We knew Steve didn’t have a clue about where God was because the Rev. in an even sterner tone, repeated, “I said, where is God!!?” Steve bolted from the room in fear and as he ran past us, said, “We’re in really big trouble this time; God is missing and he thinks we did it!”

Of course, it was our parents’ fault.

One of the decisions they made that probably wasn’t too well thought out was to allow us to watch the 1951 movie, “The Thing from Another World,” on television. That was the movie that gave James Arness, alias Matt Dillion of GunSmoke fame, his big break. “The Thing” was about a group of scientists stationed in the Arctic Circle who discover a 100-foot wide flying saucer buried under the ice. Of course, they dig it up and discover the frozen body of The Thing, who accidentally thaws allowing him to wreak terror on their little compound. At the climax of the movie, they first try to burn him. That doesn’t work, so then they decide to electrocute him as he enters a hallway, and that does The Thing from Another World in.

To add insult to injury, after the movie, we were tiptoeing down the hallway toward our bedroom when dad suddenly jumped out from behind his door making the same alien noises and gestures that had just scared us to death. We were so utterly afraid we begged to sleep with mom and dad that night. + Read More

Avoiding Future Regret; Take II

Psalm 32:1-5
John 13:1-11
I John 1:1-2:2

Two weeks ago, we noted that the definition of regret is “being sad, repentant, remorseful or disappointed about past decisions or missed opportunities.” We acknowledged therefore that ‘regret’ interferes with our being happier than we might otherwise be because we can’t be happy and at the same time sad, repentant, remorseful or disappointed.

We noted that the Apostle Paul had regrets but in Philippians, he wrote: “but I focus on this one thing: forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead” (3:14).

We considered some action steps we could take in order to do just that: If you missed that day or would be interested in reviewing, read it here.

Last week, we considered four things we could do in the present to avoid future regret:

Turn mistakes into stepping stones.
Let go of perfectionistic tendencies.
Don’t bring your work home with you.
Strive to live out the fruit of the Spirit.

Review that message here.

Today, I want to continue last week’s theme by giving you steps 5, 6 and 7 to take today
in order to avoid regret in the future. + Read More

Avoiding Future Regret

Galatians 5:22-23

Speaking about regret. . .

A woman awoke during the night to find that her husband was not in bed. She put on her robe and found him sitting at the kitchen table with a cup of coffee. He appeared to be in deep thought, just staring at the wall. She saw him wipe a tear from his eye and take a sip of his coffee. “What’s the matter dear?” she asked.

“Do you remember twenty years ago when we were dating at the age 16?”

“Yes, honey, I do,” she replied.

“Do you remember when your father caught us kissing in your basement?”

“Yes, I remember that like it was yesterday,” she blushes.

“Do you remember when he shoved that shotgun in my face and said, ‘Either you marry my daughter or spend twenty years in jail?’”

“Yea, I remember that too, what are you getting at?” she said.

He wiped another tear from his cheek and said, “You know, I would have gotten out today.”

Last week, we reminded ourselves that regrets cause us to be unhappy. I talked about some action steps we could take in order to deal with past regrets. I also told you that today I would spend some time talking about what we can do in the present to avoid piling up regret in the future.

If you google this subject, you will see that there are many articles that have been written on this subject from different perspectives offering advice that is beyond the scope of our time today and covering things that are beyond the realm of my expertise. Many of them come from the Self-Help/Psychology ilk and offer such advice as Follow Your Dream, Trust Your Gut, Take Risks, Take Life Less Seriously, Be Yourself in order to avoid future regret. And while all of these have merit, and a Christian connection, I need to stick to the kind of advice that comes from a Biblical perspective. I offer four Biblical prescriptions that will help us avoid regret down the road. + Read More

Let it Go

Philippians 3:1-14
Have you ever found yourself wishing you had done things differently in the past? Ever been tempted to think if only I had done this or that my life would have turned out better?

My guess is all of us can sing right along with Frank Sinatra the first line of the second verse of his classic I Did It My Way: ‘Regrets, I’ve had a few.’ And all of us I am sure are envious of the next line: ‘But then again, too few to mention.’

Because the truth is that most of us have more than a few things we regret.

Bonnie Ware, a palliative care nurse, and author of The Top Five Regrets of the Dying, describes the following regrets as being in common among her patients:

“I wish I had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”
“I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.”
“I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.”
“I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.”
“I wish that I had let myself be happier.”

A regret is defined as when we feel sad, repentant, remorseful or disappointed because of something that we have done, or something we haven’t done or a loss or missed opportunity.

Regret interferes with our happiness because we can’t be happy and sad, repentant, remorseful or disappointed at the same time.

John Greenleaf Whittier expressed the concept of regret poetically:

“Of all sad words of tongue or pen,
the saddest are, ‘It might have been.’” 1

Do you think we are the only people of God who have regrets? + Read More

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