Category Archives: Bible


From Pastor Mike Woodruff:
Years ago, while traveling in troubled parts of Africa with Tim Dearborn – then a senior member of World Vision’s leadership team – I wondered why God allowed so much suffering. Dearborn reframed the question, asking why we allow it. He noted that if Christians gave ten percent of their income away, which he argued was a starting point, we could: 1) Wipe out extreme poverty; 2) Provide a 6thgrade education to everyone; 3) Provide clean water to everyone; and 4) Double every church budget and double every mission budget in the world and still have hundreds of billions of dollars left over. He argued back then that the question is not: when is God going to provide, or when are we going to be generous, but when are we going to be faithful and obedient? 
I called Tim last week to see if he wanted to update his thinking. He said the numbers still hold, and then observed that there were four things that got the Jews in trouble during the Old Testament era: 1) a failure to circumcise; 2) a failure to tithe; 3) a failure to keep the Sabbath; and 4) a failure to welcome the stranger. He argues that these were all issues of trust. In every situation they (we) were being asked to give something up something they did not want to give up. With circumcision – well, there is no desire to give up anything on that front. With the tithe, it’s money. With the Sabbath, it’s time, and with our home, it’s control / privacy. On all four fronts, obedience protects us from idolatry and helps us learn to trust God.


The following is not an uncommon occurrence for me while preparing to preach…

Not always, but there are certainly times of struggle either to make sense of the text and/or to make sure I really believe it.  As the Puritans liked to say, make sure to preach to yourself before you preach to others.  Really believing the Word of God is more difficult than determining its proper meaning.

Then God brings light, many times much light, and I can’t write fast enough.

It is one reason I don’t like to preach every week.  The process of preparation is best if I have months to mull and consider a text.  I want to stew on it for a long time.

I take many notes and ask many questions.  Commentaries come at the end to make sure I am in the ballpark of sound exegesis.

All this is one reason why I wish lead pastors preached less frequently.  It would be better for them and for the congregation.



*Have you ever heard a sermon on a developing a theology of work? If you have, did Bezalel and his buddy, Oholiab, figure prominently?

*Have you ever heard an entire sermon on a theology of rest?

*How often do Christians ask what you are learning from God’s Word?

*With respect to the previous question, how often do you ask your Christian friends?

*Has anyone ever told you that a minor prophet was formative in their spiritual development?

*With respect to the major prophets, has anyone ever mentioned Ezekiel?

*Have you ever heard a sermon on the silence of God?

*Have you ever heard a sermon on biblical rewards?

*Have you ever heard a sermon on how to obey the two commandments of Jesus in Mt. 10:16: Being both shrewd as a serpent and innocent as a dove?

*Have you ever heard a sermon on not confusing the flag with the kingdom of God?

*Have you ever heard a sermon on how we ought to treat “foreigners,” especially as applied to refugees?




From Alan Jacobs:

As our cultural elites lose even the most elementary biblical literacy, this is going to happen more and more often: reading the Bible-saturated literature of the past and missing, not secondary and trivial illusions, but the entire point of stories and novels and plays and poems, and for that matter paintings and sculptures and musical compositions. The artistic past of the West will become incomprehensible, but — and this is the scary thing — no one will know that they’re misreading. Gross errors will be passed down from teacher to student, from scholar to reader, and it is difficult to imagine circumstances arising in which they can be corrected.