Ending the Creation-Evolution Debate

In our midweek Bible study last night, we went through a supplementary study on creation and evolution. There were many things I wished I’d had time to cover in the Sunday messages but simply couldn’t. In preparing, I studied areas of science that fascinate me. I wanted to have some basic knowledge on everything from the fossil record to quantum physics (like I said, fascinating!). I was so blessed by the exchange. People asked questions, gave their thoughts, and generally expressed their faith in Scripture as God’s perfect Word.

At the end of the night, I decided to close discussion on the issue. This Sunday, we’ll be moving on to the more personal nature of Genesis, chapter two. I couldn’t help but to add this one thought, however, after reading Job 38. The creation-evolution debate is much like the theological battle that took place between Job and his friends. They reason with one another about the nature of God and God’s world. Then God finally speaks.

What does He say? To summarize the chapter, it is “Were you there when I created the worlds? Then how do you think you know anything?” He goes on to illustrate His majestic and dynamic creative power. Can you make the sun rise? Have you ever seen the center of the earth? Can you make an intricate snowflake? Can you make rain or suspend clouds of water over the earth? Good questions! We can study, we can observe, and I believe we ought to explore the amazing world God created around us. Science is good, until it goes to our heads.

God ultimately settles the argument. We might say in modern vernacular, the buck stops with Him! God, the Creator and only eyewitness of creation, knows exactly what happened in the origin of all things. So at the end of our quantum theories, evolutionary theories, and Big Bang theories, all of which are questioned and debated regularly by men more skilled than I, God sits above the circle of the earth, stretching out the universe like a curtain and calling out, “Seek me and find me with your whole heart!” The debate ultimately ends with worship!

On Your Feet, Soldier!

This past Sunday, I began preaching in Genesis with chapter one, verse one. The message started a lengthy commitment to preaching all of the word. I don’t think I’ve ever been as satisfied by a message in all of my ministry. I had studied and prepared for about six weeks for just the first chapter of Genesis. So how was it? Exhilarating!

The choir was tuned up and did an awesome job. Singing Shout to the Lord with them was great. They also sang a favorite of mine, There Are No Orphans of God.  Angie (my wife) and Tamara (the Choir Director) sang Nothing But A Miracle Will Do. These special numbers highly exalted the King, but it was the congregational song How Great Thou Art that moved my heart most deeply. I’d been studying about the magnitude of creation, the vastness of the universe, and the miraculous nature of all that God brought into being. So when we sang “I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder, Thy power throughout the universe displayed” I did something rather unorthodox, especially for me. I stood. I stood in reverence and fear of the awesome God we serve. I was overwhelmed emotionally and spiritually. The Spirit of God moved in my heart in that moment, and I stood, raising my hands high toward the God of heaven, not caring what anyone in the auditorium thought! It was unabashed worship, and it ought to be that way all the time!

I can’t wait until Sunday, to move on to the next passage. The Word of God is so inexhaustible, it seems I’ll never preach the unsearchable wisdom of God in this one short lifetime, but I’ll live and die trying!

Last night, the local association officially voted to name Larry Hendren the new Editor of  The Baptist Banner, which will free up that much more time each month for me to spend doing the things that matter. Please keep praying that I’ll have all of my priorities right, spending adequate time in prayer, in study, with people, and with my family. And may God get the glory as we learn to fear Him, love Him, and stand in awe and reverence of Him!

In the Beginning

This week is very monumental for me. I am preparing to begin preaching through the entire Bible this Sunday morning. It has been a ministry-long dream. Since reading the autobiography of Dr. W. A. Criswell, who preached through the Scriptures over an almost eighteen year period at First Baptist Church in Dallas, it has seemed an unreachable and impossible task. I can’t tell you how much I’ve thought and prayed about this assignment.

In my mind, I’ve tried to place myself into the shoes of my church members, some of whom may not survive to hear the end of it all in the Revelation. Won’t we get bored? Won’t we get bogged down in the law, the plans of the tabernacle, the genealogical tables? Will people really be interested? Will the messages be relevant to my life? Nobody has asked any of these questions yet, except for me, but they have lingered in my thinking.

Then I think on the positive side. God’s Word is the source of all the divine wisdom we have at our disposal. He grows people through His Word. My calling to ministry is a call to shepherd God’s people by feeding them the truth of God. No book is more special, no other subject matter is appropriate. Why not preach “all the counsel of God?”

One dominating thought, however, is “what if I mess this up?” What if I don’t cover enough material? Life is too short to rely on “do-over’s” and I will probably get only one or two shots at a series like this in my lifetime. From that thought flows the bottom line issue – I have only this life to spend for God’s glory. This may very well be the last series of sermons I ever preach. Will it be worth it in the end? Absolutely! My life and the lives of the people God assigns to me to shepherd will be forever changed and enriched by hearing the whole counsel of God.

The question I’ve come to grips with is, if preaching through the entire Bible in a single series was the only feat I ever accomplished, it would be worth it – I would have to do nothing in addition to it to have fulfilled my calling as a Pastor.

Already, I’ve become familiar with the greatness of modern science. Many Christians today are at war with the scientific community over evolution, the Big Bang, and other modern ideas. I’m not threatened by these, but rather encouraged, albeit for a strange reason. Both of these theories, hard to swallow as they are, actually substantiate the greatness of the Bible. Let me explain…

The Big Bang proposes that the universe is not infinite, that it had a beginning in time. Until 1913, the world thought the universe was infinite, that it had no beginning and would have no end. But because of the discovery that the universe is expanding rapidly, we can postulate that if you work backwards, everything was once together, before the expansion began. In other words, the universe had a starting point. What baffles modern scientists is, what then? What did things look like before the universe began its explosive expansion? To this the Bible says, in the beginning… God!

And what of evolution? Why in the world would I appreciate this crazy and impossible to believe prognostication? Because evolution is really a fragment of a larger idea that there is a logical progression to the development of life on this planet, and that development concurs with the first chapter of Genesis in its order and structure. The only differences are that what science assigns to billions of years really happened in six literal, twenty-four hour days. First the rocks, then water, then marine and plant life, then the beasts of the earth, and finally man. I was taught in Astronomy 101 that all of this took place over about thirteen billion years. The Bible declares God did it in six days. I choose the Bible, but I stand amazed at science’s validation of the order of creation. I’m no more impressed with the Bible, I’m just more impressed with scientists.

Ultimately, what I’m discovering is that Genesis was never intended to be a science or history textbook. It was not intended to stir up debate over the literal nature of the word “day” or whether there was a gap included for the geological ages. Rather, Genesis’ creation account is a hymn of praise to the Creator! Don’t miss this. The story of creation wasn’t given so that we might use it as a source of scientific data (though I believe its perfect, literal accuracy). It was given that we might know our Creator, be impressed with His creative acts, and choose to serve and glorify Him for eternity!

What an awesome discovery for me! I can’t wait to share it all with the congregation of Bethel Baptist Church. Please pray that I will have the necessary time to invest in the study of God’s Word so that I might not fail to present the whole counsel of God with pastoral wisdom and compassion. Pray that I’ll always see the relevance of each passage to our daily living. Pray that lives will be changed for the glory of God as we “journey through the word” together!

Unique Car Tricks


This past Sunday, I began preaching a revival meeting for Beacon Baptist Church in Gravette, Arkansas. It’s been a real privilege and honor to do so, especially considering that the church’s Pastor has been such a great leader within our association. Bro. Dan Fagala has remained at the same church for over thirty-five years and has served in a multitude of denominational capacities. On Monday, he and I went out on Beaver Lake in his boat to fish for crappies, to no avail. We (I mean he) caught four keepers. I managed to snag one little perch which finned me fairly well before I could throw him back.On Sunday, the most spectacular thing happened. When we arrived home from the revival service Sunday afternoon and opened our garage door, our Chevy Impala had mysteriously turned sideways!

Can you feel the love?… It took me about ten minutes to remove the car from the garage, but I wonder how long it took the prankster to park it to begin with. There are three major lessons I see in this situation…

1. Thank God for fun friends. Quite honestly, this was one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen.

2. Life gets a little sideways sometimes for unexplainable reasons. We find ourselves in situations where we are perplexed. Thankfully because of the assurance we have in Christ, we know everything really will work out in the end “for them that love God and are the called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

3. Never leave your keys with a crazed graphic artist who is about to be ordained as a Deacon… Okay, that’s not much of a lesson, but thank God for security systems anyway!

Just Walk Across the Room

I just finished reading Bill Hybels‘ newest book Just Walk Across the Room. I was so impacted by its content that I changed my sermon for this past Sunday. Instead of preaching on “The Power of Proper Life Stewardship” I preached on “The Power of a Walk Across the Room.”

Continue reading Just Walk Across the Room

The Creative Juices Are Flowing

God is the great Creator of the entire universe and all that is in it. He created time and He creates every life that enters into the world. In short, God is extremely creative, so He loves creativity.

I agree with many modern church leaders that creativity, in and of itself, is glorifying to God, so long as what we create does not represent any form of idolatry or contradiction to the revealed truth and standards of God’s Word. I have two tables in my home made by my late grandfather. He made them to the glory of God, with excellence. That’s a kind of worship. I have three quilts my grandmother made. They too, represent a form of worship. Creativity is good, so long as its God-honoring (no huge astrological towers allowed – e.g. Babel in Genesis 11).

In recent days, I’ve felt my own creative energy stirred by the Holy Spirit, partly due to observing the methodology of such guys as Andy Stanley and Ed Young. Last Sunday, I took a Dremel into the pulpit to illustrate that faith is not a magic formula that does anything, rather it’s a tool that we must put into action. This Wednesday, I’m taking a fish net with me to illustrate how God caught Jonah in the net of chastisement and Jonah caught God in the net of prayer. To some, I’m sure these symbols may seem trite, but to me, they merely present a way of communicating a truth in a meaningful, visible, and memorable way.

I’m afraid that we often have a tendency to squelch creativity in Christianity. We frown on new methods, new technologies, and that which may distract us from a plain-spoken message. I’m all for the plain-spoken message for that is God’s chosen method of communicating the gospel to all the world – preaching. I’m a believer in the primacy of preaching, but I’m also a believer in getting life-changing truth into people’s lives in whatever way we find beneficial.

I’ve been challenged to think beyond the borders of what is “normal” for me, and I hope that you are challenged to do the same. No matter who you are, no matter where you work, no matter what you do, ask yourself, “what can I create for God today?”

Glory Filled My Soul

This past Sunday was perhaps the most awesome day of ministry I’ve ever experienced. Like the old gospel song says, “Heaven came down and glory filled my soul.” It wasn’t great planning, great music, or great preaching that made the day great, it was our great God visiting us in a powerful way in response to a whole lot of concerted, passionate praying.

Last Wednesday, our prayer service, which normally consists of calling out some requests, a short pastoral prayer, and a long Bible study, turned into an extended session of a concert of praise. Multiple people were praying out loud for their lost friends and family and giving praise to God for His working in their lives. At the conclusion of our payer, I almost felt that teaching would be an interruption in what God was really doing, and perhaps it was.

Sunday began with an intense prayer circle, seven men gathered together a half hour before Sunday School. We prayed over our time and it was well worth it. Together we asked great things of God. Sunday School itself was right on target as we learned about “serving God with holiness.”

Then the worship hour came and we sang songs to honor the King with a particular emphasis on the Holy Spirit’s role in our lives. The message was all about the power of the Holy Spirit. I left out two illustrations that I later realized would have been detrimental to the point of the message. I felt an anointing more powerful than ever in my ministry. I had boldness to say things without regard to the approval of people.

The invitation came and God did an awesome work. The altar filled with people praying and weeping for the fullness of the Spirit, praying for lost loved ones and other needs. A young man and a young lady received Christ as Savior. The invitation went through three movements as things kept happening. Joy Ewalt, for whom we have been praying for healing from cancer came and testified that God had completely healed her from brain cancer. Tests show that her head is now clear and she gave all the glory to God and the credit to prayer.

We left later than ever before and people continued to attest to God’s working in their lives in a very powerful way. I left church feeling so small, so undeserving, and so grateful that God would allow me to experience such an event.

Sunday afternoon our Deacons gathered for a time of training and we exchanged testimonies of the godly men who have inspired us in the past. I recalled my grandfather’s strong convictions as a Deacon for over a half century of time and the other stalwart men who influenced me throughout my childhood. In the evening service I preached about “The Sanctity of the Womb” where God has performed some great miracles in the lives of John the Baptist, Jeremiah, Paul, and others.

We had prayer for young girls facing this difficult decision to choose life, for women who have had abortions to find the freeing forgiveness of God, and for America to turn a corner on the abortion issue and repent before God. We also had prayer for some couples currently struggling with infertility and for Loving Choices, a local pregnancy support center. We’re also currently praying for healing in the life of one of our Deacons, Nick Gann.

One thing I am continually remembering is that we cannot dwell on these now past events in the “remember that day…” sense. Instead we must look forward to the awesome things God can do every time we meet. There is no reason why each worship experience cannot grow in intensity so long as our hunger for God, our commitment to holiness, and the passion of our prayer grows as well.

May God continue to visit us in special ways in our individual lives and every time we meet together, and may He continue to raise up Spirit-filled, Bible-drilled, prayer-skilled warriors for Christ’s Kingdom!