I Did It My Way

Last week Brother James used the prodigal son as his theme. He noted that the young man made some bad choices, and those came with consequences. This came on the heels of me seeing a Tik Tok in which a young woman made the bold claim that God is pro-choice. She said that God supports and applauds us for making decisions as he has designed us to make them. Why else would God have put the tree of good and evil in the garden?

Let’s take a step back here. God indeed has given us the ability to chose. Speaking theologically, God being omnibenevolent (all kind and all loving) would not subject us to slavery, even the slavery of His will. Thus we were made “free moral agents” or beings with the ability to act according to our own will. That does not mean, however, that He likes it when we disobey him. No matter “pro-choice” issue you want to discuss, there is a moral right or wrong to it. And we can (and often do) make the wrong choices.

Let’s examine Adam in the garden. In Genesis 2: 16-17, God clearly said: “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” In Chapter 3, Eve and then Adam do eat from the tree. If all choices are applauded by God, then why once they received the knowledge of good and evil did they feel ashamed? In fact, they having eaten tried to hide themselves from God, and then even lie about it and try to pass the blame on: Adam blaming God and Eve, and Eve blaming the serpent.

A chapter later we see Cain and Abel making offerings to God. Abel’s was acceptable (I won’t deviate to a theological discussion on it here), and Cain’s fell short. Because of this Cain becomes angry. Here again we see a divine intervention and warning. No not divine control, as Cain is a free moral agent. God tells him to be careful, and to not let sin take control of him. The end result is that Cain gives into the sinful urges and kills his brother. This resulted in punishment. Why punish him if his choice to be angry and kill was just as valid as accepting that his brother had done better?

In Numbers 22 we find the prophet Balaam, being called by the king of Moab to come and curse the Children of Israel. Balaam inquires of God about what he should do, and God says, “Do not go with them. You must not put a curse on those people, because they are blessed (verse 12).” Balaam then tells the king’s messengers that he won’t do it. The king then sends even more impressive messengers offering him riches it he will do the king’s bidding. Balaam, rather that accepting that God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow, goes back to God to ask Him again if he can go with them. God responds that Balaam needs to do what God has told him. Balaam then heads to Moab. It is only by the wits of his donkey that he is spared from punishment by an angel. The reason for the potential punishment, Balaam is told is that “your path is a reckless one before me.”

David, the man after God’s own heart was not exempt. In 2 Samuel 11, we find the king falling in lust for another man’s wife, a bad choice. He then acts on the lust and sleeps with her, and she becomes pregnant (bad choice number 2, and a big consequence). Bad choices number one and two lead to a cover up (bad choice three), which involves murder (“free moral choice” four). In the following chapter the prophet Nathan comes to David and lays out a story of rich and powerful man who has wronged and robbed a poor man. On hearing the tale: “David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, “As surely as the Lord lives, the man who did this must die! He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity (2 Sam 12: 5-6).” Why should David be so upset with the free choice made by the rich man? Surely all choices should be celebrated. The real kicker is when Nathan tells the king, “You are the man.”

With apologises to Frank Sinatra – he got it wrong. It isn’t about doing it your way. The biblical accounts we have looked at make that clear. But nevertheless we continue to do it our way and fail. Fortunately, that isn’t where it ends. If it were we would be paying eternal consequences for our actions.

We are all sinners and have fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23f). And the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). Yet, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). The consequences of our bad choices has been paid by another’s choice to be punished in our stead.

When I next speak I hope to follow up on this message with the theme “Doing it Thy way.”


Padre

Sermon for 22 Jan 23

Messenger of Doom

There was a messenger spreading warnings of doom

The king had to do something and it had to be soon

Others followed adding to the scream

But things are not always what they seem

Today’s Chicken Littles need to be aware

That they face Foxy Loxies – a more immediate scare

And some chickens, like Greta, even if the leaders they see

Will find that the king doesn’t see it with same urgency


Padre

H and S Findings

When Dumpty on that wall did climb

(An action contrary the to structure’s design)

He created for H&S an incredible mess

He wasn’t even wearing a reflective vest

Ladder training as well – he had none

He should have had it before he’d begun

So Health and Safety found Humpty at fault

For his misfortune of hitting the asphalt


Padre

Not Your Satellite

I’m certain that it won’t turn-out well

For those who think they’re too swell

For there to consequences for what they do

Just living for themselves – valuing few

They make enemies, and nurture hate

Not caring who they alienate

But beware if you believe that all centers on you

It is a distorted point of view

I am not merely your satellite

I will when needed your flaws indict

For it is the loving thing to do

To call someone to account – even you


Padre

Endangered?

I heard an advert on the radio the other day selling bamboo fibre socks which are good for the environment. The message said that the socks were printed with the images of endangered animals and that you could purchase a pair with your favourite. The options included pandas, polar bears, and rhinos. Oh, and cows. Cows? I really do wonder if this is a way to sell socks by adding an animal that kids can relate to, or is it a political statement. Okay, I guess for vegans and the like cows are endangered since they are going to be eaten (or at least the steers). But, are cows really in the same league with rhinos and pandas in the endangered species stakes?


Padre

Before


It wasn’t really that long ago, that vaguely remembered time that we call “before.” Before the pandemic, before Brexit; before – when we still had a queen. Where has that time gone? How have we arrived to this place we refer to a now, when the Pound is at an all time low, and politicians are rewarding millionaires for the accomplishment with tax cuts that are equivalent to the annual wages of two nurses. Don’t forget this is all in the name of “growth.” If this is growth, I would rather descend back to my “smaller” self, the one I was before.


Padre

A Word From The Broadcast Team

We thank you all – our loyal viewers

Who stand by us despite the reviewers

We might have with the original a few liberties taken

But the author would have approved, if I’m not mistaken

So maybe it doesn’t quite match the lore

But it’s really woke – who could ask for more?

So once again thanks for your subscription

It’s only that – that’s holding back our eviction


Padre

Spiritual Couch Potato

The Americans claim to crown the “world champions” in baseball, basketball, and NFL football. Elsewhere in the world “the beautiful game” captures the hearts of millions. But if we are honest, the biggest spectator sport in the world is judging others. Various “reality” programmes and talent competitions catch our attention, not for the positives, but often for the chance to judge and ridicule those on screen. Gossip columns and TikTok channels abound with “constructive” criticism of the lives, or socio-political views of others. Being “woke” is to be a referee to the views of anyone less awake than one’s self.

This spectator criticism is a spiritual equivalent of being a sporting couch potato. We armchair referees love to show how everyone else is wrong. It is easy to comment on sporting figure’s play when we are in the couch. But do we get up and pick up the ball ourselves. Of course not. Neither do we examine our own spiritual lives and actively fix those.

Jesus said: “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?  How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye (Matthew 7:3-5).”

Let’s go get some spiritual exercise and lift a few planks.


Padre

The Hedgerow

Pixabay

It would be easy enough to come away from that encounter thinking that some sort of agreement had been made. The truth, however, was far from being so tidy.

At issue was the seven-foot-high hedge that served as the boundary between the Miller’s and the Weaver’s properties. Technically the hedge belonged to the Weavers, but they were on the sun-ward side of the “Great Wall of Hinnington Avenue.” The Miller’s, therefore, had to suffer a near perpetual black-out of natural light in their kitchen.

It had been bad enough when the hedge was at eye-level, but now it was becoming a serious issue; especially with rising energy costs. Eve Miller finally worked up the courage to go confront her neighbour with the issue.

“Why didn’t you say something earlier?” Jan Weaver asked in a exaggeratedly friendly tone.

“It wasn’t that bad until this summer,” Eve said feeling a little embarrassed.

“No worries, I will have Roger prune it back on the weekend,” Jan said with a smile.

“Thank you.”

And prune it he did, to exactly six-feet-seven inches.

Jan couldn’t believe that so little effort had been made. She hesitantly made her way next door to say so as well.

“But you said it had been fine until recently,” Jan said matter-of-factly.

“But,” Eve began.

“If you didn’t want it any higher than this, you should have said so long before now.”

And so began the First War of the Hedges.


Padre

Based on actual events. The names have been changed to protect the innocent.