A Soap Opera of the Soul

A Soap Opera of the Soul

Genesis 37:1-2

Dr. Jim Denison

“A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham: Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar, Perez the father of Hezron, Hezron the father of Ram, Ram the father of Amminadab, Amminadab the father of Nahshon, Nahshon the father of Salmon, Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab, Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth, Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of King David.

“David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife, Solomon the father of Rehoboam, Rehoboam the father of Abijah, Abijah the father of Asa, Asa the father of Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat the father of Jehoram, Jehoram the father of Uzziah, Uzziah the father of Jotham, Jotham the father of Ahaz, Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, Manasseh the father of Amon, Amon the father of Josiah, and Josiah the father of Jeconiah and his brothers at the time of the exile to Babylon.


Crown the Right King

Crown the Right King

Genesis 11:1-9

Dr. Jim Denison

We’re replacing our church’s outdated phone system these days, an event which reminds me of a story. The major was promoted to colonel and received a fancy new office. As he entered it for the first time, sitting in the nice new chair, a knock came at the door. He said, “Come in,” then quickly picked up the telephone as a corporal walked in.

“Just a minute,” the colonel said to the corporal. “I have to finish this telephone call.” Then the colonel began speaking into the mouthpiece: “Sorry about the interruption, General. Yes, sir, I will take care of that. Yes, I’ll call the President after I finish talking with you, General.”

The colonel ceremoniously put the telephone down, turned to the corporal, and said, “What can I do for you?” The corporal replied, “Well, colonel, I just came in to connect your telephone.”

Pride is the genesis of all our sins. “You will be as God” is the first temptation in human history (Genesis 3:5), and the heart of all the others. We build our Towers of Babel that we might “make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth” (Genesis 11:4).


God Has Dream for You

God Has a Dream for You

Genesis 37:3-11

Dr. Jim Denison

William Ernest Henley was born in Gloucester, England, in 1849, and was crippled since childhood. His most famous poem captures the spirit which drove him past his challenges:

Out of the night that covers me,

Black as the Pit from pole to pole,

I thank whatever gods may be

For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance

I have not winced nor cried aloud.

Under the bludgeonings of chance

My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears

Looms but the Horror of the shade,

And yet the menace of the years

Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,

How charged with punishments the scroll,

I am the master of my fate;

I am the captain of my soul.

Henley captures the spirit of our age. We can do anything if we try harder, get up earlier, stay up later, work longer hours, pay the price. God helps those who help themselves; fortune smiles on hard work; luck is the residue of design; and so on.

Has that been your experience? Have you found no obstacle insurmountable, no problem impossible? Or are you like the rest of us—discouraged by struggles which won’t go away, weighted down with burdens you can’t unload, followed into worship today by worries which tug at your soul all morning long?


Listening To Your Father’s Voice

Listening to your Father’s voice:

How to meditate on the word and world of God

Dr. Jim Denison

Psalm 19

A recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine reports that talking on the phone while driving is nearly as dangerous as driving drunk. The study found that using a cell phone increases the risk of an accident fourfold, the same as driving while intoxicated. It doesn’t seem to matter if the phone is hands-free or hand-held. I guess this gives the AT&T slogan, “Reach out and touch someone,” new meaning.

The study did report one safety benefit. Nearly 40% of those surveyed used their phones to call 911 after they crashed.

Wouldn’t it be great to call an even higher power? To call God, whenever you crash, with whatever you need? To ask him anything, and hear his response? To be able to listen to God?

The fact is, there’s nothing our souls need more. The best way to feed our spiritual lives is to listen to God. But that’s something Baptists are just not very good at. The fact is, in most of our churches, it’s not in the catalog. We don’t know much about caring for our souls.


Taking Refuge in Him

Taking refuge in him:

How to surrender each day to God’s authority

Dr. Jim Denison

Psalm 2

A man was running down an airport terminal, late for his flight because he’d forgotten his wristwatch. Desperate to know the time, he stopped a traveler walking up the terminal hall while carrying two large suitcases. He asked the man if he had the time. The traveler set down his suitcases, looked at his wrist, and said, “Let’s see. It’s exactly 2:38 P.M. The barometric pressure is falling, and we’re expecting rain tonight. But it’s sunny in London, while the clouds over Singapore are increasing at this hour.”

The first man was astonished: “Your watch tells you all of that?” “Yes,” the traveler said, “I invented it myself, and there’s nothing else like it.” The first man said, “I must have that watch. I’ll pay you $500 for it, cash.” The traveler refused, and started to pick up his luggage. “No, wait–a thousand dollars.” The man shook his head. “Five thousand dollars.” The traveler still refused. “Ten thousand dollars, cash, on the spot.” The man put down his suitcases, thought it over, and agreed.


Waiting in Expectation

Waiting in expectation:

How to pray with power

Dr. Jim Denison

Psalm 5

Prayer and Psalm 5

Why pray?

If God knows what we are going to ask, why ask? If he already knows what he is going to do, why pray? If my prayer causes God to do some good thing he was not going to do until I prayed, what does this say about the character of God? Why does he sometimes heal when we pray and sometimes not? Why pray?

The first answer to the question is the one children don’t like to hear: because our Father says so. Because Scripture tells us to pray.

In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus was explicit: “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7). Ask, seek, knock–each is an imperative, not a suggestion. Each is God’s demand of us.

A second reason to pray: time with God changes us. When we are in the presence of God, his Spirit transforms us. Prayer is the way the Carpenter shapes and molds the wood of our lives. He must touch us to change us. In prayer we do not talk about him, but to him. We do not study him, we are with him. And then our time in prayer makes us more like his Son, which is his purpose for our lives (Romans 8:29).