Jeremiah 15:10 and 11

Some more pretty intense verses from Jeremiah. Note the reversal.

Alas, my mother, that you gave me birth,
    a man with whom the whole land strives and contends!
I have neither lent nor borrowed,
    yet everyone curses me.

11 The Lord said,

“Surely I will deliver you for a good purpose;
    surely I will make your enemies plead with you
    in times of disaster and times of distress.

Jonathan Edwards and Fatherhood, Part 2

Here is the second part of John Fanella’s material on Jonathan Edwards and fathers.

A Tribute to a Godly Father – Jonathan Edwards – Part 2

On this Father’s day, we continue our tribute to Jonathan Edwards. Let me begin by sharing a couple of humorous stories about this godly father.

His family life was a little bit scandalous. Six of his eleven children were born on a Sunday. In Colonial America, they believed that children were born on the same day of the week on which they were conceived. So the congregation believed the Pastor was up to a lot more than preaching on Sundays.

Another humorous story involves his daughter Sarah. She had a horrible temper. When a young man asked Pastor Edwards for his daughter’s hand in marriage, he said no. The young man was crushed. “But I love her, and she loves me,” he pleaded. “That makes no difference,” Edwards replied; “she isn’t worthy of you.” “But she is a Christian, isn’t she?” the young man argued. “Yes,” said Edwards, “but the grace of God can live with some people with whom no one else could ever live.”

On a more serious note, Edwards also knew suffering. His daughter Jerusha died of a high fever at just 17 years old. She was the most pious of the girls. She was considered “the flower of the family.”

He preached her funeral sermon from Job 14:2, “He cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down: he fleeth also as a shadow, and continueth not.” (KJV). He found comfort in knowing Jerusha was with the Lord, and used the sermon to warn others to be prepared for their own death.

Another painful event happened in 1750 when Jonathan Edwards was voted out of his congregation. One of the reasons was because he wanted to serve communion only to people who had openly professed their faith in Christ.

His grandfather served communion to anyone who was baptized, whether they ever openly professed their faith or not. This, among other issues, turned the congregation against him, and they voted him out. He ended up moving to Stockbridge, MA and became a Missionary Pastor to Native Americans.

But it would be from this remote mission to Native Americans that Edwards would write some of the most important books in the history of our nation – including “Religious Affections” and “The Freedom of the Will.”

One of the lessons Jonathan tried to teach his children was to trust in the sovereign hand of God in all things. Today we may say, “God has a reason for everything.”

God seems to have used all these experiences to forge in the hearts of the Edwards’ children a faith and resolve for good that would last generations and literally sway our entire nation.

In 1757, Edwards received an invitation to become the President of the College of New Jersey (which later became Princeton University). He accepted.

But on March 22, 1758, Edwards died of complications from a smallpox inoculation.

The last words he wrote were to his daughter Lucy:

“Dear Lucy, it seems to me to be the will of God that I must shortly leave you…As my children, you are now to be left fatherless, which I hope will be an inducement to you all to seek a Father who will never fail you.”

When his wife Sarah got the news, she wrote a letter to their daughter Esther that sums up his life and influence.

“O what a legacy my husband, and your father, has left to us.”

Edwards’ life and legacy are a testimony to the words of Proverbs 20:7- “The just man walketh in his integrity: his children are blessed after him.”

Jonathan Edwards and Fathers, Part One

The following is the first of a two part series on Jonathan Edwards by my friend Pastor John Fanella. Edwards was used by God to lead the Great Awakening. He was also not so arguably the greatest Christian mind ever produced in America. This material is used with John’s permission.

A Tribute to a Godly Father – Jonathan Edwards – Part 1

In honor of Father’s Day this weekend, I am offering a two-part tribute to a godly father and pastor – Jonathan Edwards. I pray his life will be an inspiration to fathers today.

A study was done of the 1400 descendents of a Colonial American Congregational pastor and Father by the name of Jonathan Edwards. The study found that his descendents include:

· thirteen college presidents

· sixty-five professors

· 100 lawyers and a dean of a law school

· thirty judges

· sixty-six physicians and a dean of a medical school

· eighty holders of public office, including:

· three U.S. senators

· mayors of three large cities

· governors of three states

· a vice president of the U.S.

· a controller of the U.S. Treasury

More importantly, his descendants entered the Christian ministry in platoons. At least a hundred went to the mission field overseas, and many have stocked mission boards with lay trustees.

Jonathan Edwards was perhaps the most influential Father in American history. So who was he and what can we learn from him today?

In short, Jonathan Edwards was an 18th-century (born 1703) pastor, theologian, and author. He is credited with being the greatest mind America has ever produced. His preaching is credited with beginning the First Great Awakening, the greatest spiritual revival in American history. He preached the most famous sermon in American history – Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God–which is stillrequired reading today in most college English classes.

But he was also a very godly man. He was a man who deeply believed in the Bible, loved and adored God, savored Jesus Christ, and delighted in knowing him. His sermons and his books reflect this deeply affectionate love for God and submission to His sovereign will in all things.

But our purpose here is to focus more on his family life. He was married to Sarah Pierpont–a very godly and influential woman herself.

Together they had eleven children. Sarah, Jerusha, Esther, Mary, Lucy, Timothy, Susannah, Eunice, Jonathan, Elizabeth, and Pierpont.

He was an extremely busy man. He spent 13 hours a day engaged in his pastoral work, writing, and studying. Therefore most of the care of the family was the work of his wife Sarah.

But Jonathan was an intentional husband and father. He helped with many of the daily chores in the home. With the children, he took the time every morning to hold daily devotional meetings. Music played an important role. He taught them to sing praises to God.

He sought his children’s salvation and prayed for them. He ensured that they learned the Bible and knew the things of God.` He was a spiritually-minded father.

He also spent one hour every day with the children where they could talk about whatever they wanted, or play with him. He ended that time praying a blessing over his children. God seems to have used this intentional, though minimal, influence with his children to great effect.

That’s a lesson we can learn from Edwards. Be intentional with your children. Have a plan for how you influence them. Be proactive not just reactive. Have a pattern and a method of influencing your children.

A Great Reversal in a Man’s Life

He was raised a faithful and loyal Jew. He went to the best schools. He had training in both Greek and Roman teachings and the teachings of the Hebrew Bible, what is now called the Old Testament.

He had very good ancestral lines as a Jew. Hew was the best Pharisee there ever was. He had a zeal for God’s law to be observed.

He did not like this new upstart group after Jesus had died. He arrested “Christ Ones,” Christians. He had some killed. He stood by and approved of the stoning of Stephen who saw Jesus in heaven just before Stephen died.

That might have gotten Saul thinking. The Holy Spirit was at work in his life. Indeed God had called him from the womb (Isaiah 49:5 for the mission he was about to begin.

As he was breathing “murderous threats” on his way to persecute Christians in Damascus, he was knocked off his high horse and blinded by a heavenly light. He asked, “Who are you Lord?” The response was, “I am Jesus, Whom you are persecuting.”

We know the rest. Saul took the Roman name Paul and became God’s primary first century messenger of the good news of Jesus and His love to the Gentiles, to those who were not Jews.

Talk about a great reversal… first in his life and then in his outlook!

Song of Praise: Psalm 150

From the Message Bible–


Praise God in his holy house of worship,

praise him under the open skies;

Praise him for his acts of power,

praise him for his magnificent greatness;

Praise with a blast on the trumpet,

praise by strumming soft strings;

Praise him with castanets and dance,

praise him with banjo and flute;

Praise him with cymbals and a big bass drum,

praise him with fiddles and mandolin.

Let every living, breathing creature praise God!


Psalm 8: “How Great Thou Art!”

From the King James Bible upon which the Psalm 8-inspired hymn “How Great Thou Art” is drawn, to the late 20th century dynamic equivalent translation by the Message Bible, Psalm 8 declares the glories of God the Creator. From the Message Bible:

8:1 God, brilliant Lord,
    yours is a household name.

Nursing infants gurgle choruses about you;
    toddlers shout the songs
That drown out enemy talk,
    and silence atheist babble.

3-4 I look up at your macro-skies, dark and enormous,
    your handmade sky-jewelry,
Moon and stars mounted in their settings.
    Then I look at my micro-self and wonder,
Why do you bother with us?
    Why take a second look our way?

5-8 Yet we’ve so narrowly missed being gods,
    bright with Eden’s dawn light.
You put us in charge of your handcrafted world,
    repeated to us your Genesis-charge,
Made us stewards of sheep and cattle,
    even animals out in the wild,
Birds flying and fish swimming,
    whales singing in the ocean deeps.

God, brilliant Lord,
    your name echoes around the world.

Father’s Day Message

The following is my Father’s Day outline for this Sunday, June 19th. Happy Father’s Day!

Father’s Day Message:



                Chicago, many mass shooters

                Pregnancy Centers


                Raise up a child… [not a guarantee]

                How not to raise a child

                   Eli—would not intervene when sons going down wrong path

                   Samuel—away from home too much?

                An outstanding father—Zechariah, father of John the


                An outstanding stepfather—Joseph, husband of Mary

                           Listened to God and His messengers… and obeyed

                                                After Mary is pregnant

                                                While in Bethlehem

                                                Return to Nazareth

                                                Mentoring boy Jesus

                Children crave limits and love from their parents

                What Paul writes to Fathers:  Ephesians 6:4

                                Don’t:  exasperate your children

                                Do: Bring them up in the nurture and

admonition of the Lord.

                The need for mentors/male role models/father figures


                Pastor Phil’s story

                                Hebrews 13:5

                God rarely called “Father” in the Old Testament—Isaiah 63:13

                Jesus’ relationship with His Father helps us

                                Mostly in prayer

                                                Pattern—Matthew 6:19 (first and holy)

                                                Prayer—John [John 11:41-42, John 17:1, Luke 23:46]

                Paul’s “Father” prayer—Ephesians 3:14-16


                All Christian men can be role models

                All Christian women can help raise sons and grandsons and/or be role models to men who will become good Christian fathers.

Another Great Reversal: “But God!”

What the great Welsh preacher D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones called “The Great Adversative,” the apostle Paul writes in Ephesians 2:4, “But… God.” Paul writes about God’s offer to reverse the curse, to reverse our eternal destination, because of His great love for us. Jesus on the cross has provided a “way of reconciliation,” which is the title of Lloyd-Jones’ book of sermons on Ephesians 2. (Yes, a book per Ephesians’ chapter!) Amazing

From page 59. “We now come to look at two wonderful words– ‘But God’. These words obviously suggest a connection with something that has gone before. The word ‘but’ is a conjunction, and yet it suggests always a contrast; and here we have the conjunction and the contrast.” Read Ephesians 2:1-3 for the contrast.

Lloyd-Jones continues. “With these two words we come to the introduction to the Christian message, the peculiar, specific message which the Christian faith has to offer to us. These two words, in and of themselves, in a sense contain the whole of the gospel. The gospel tells of what God has done, God’s intervention; it is something that comes entirely from outside us and displays to us that wondrous and amazing and astonishing work of God which the apostle goes on to describe and to define in the following verses.”

The Ultimate Great Reversal: Jesus on the Cross

“He saved others. Why can’t he save himself?” That’s how some religious leaders mocked Jesus as He suffered and was dying on the cross.

“Alas, and did my Savior bleed. And did my Savior die?” This was the worst thing in all of human history. The God-Man, who had never sinned, was dying. Falsely accused. Wrongly put on the cross.

And yet. And yet. The greatest of all reversals took place. The devil was defeated. The God-Man did die in the place of sinners. And that death was approved of by God the Father when Jesus was bodily was raised from the dead.

Talk about a great reversal!

Esther’s Great Reversal

God uses ordinary people in extraordinary ways. One such person is a young Jewish woman named Hadassah. She was raised by her uncle Mordecai. When there became an opening for King Xerxes’ queen, Hadassah was selected as a candidate.

She was given another name–Esther. In the meantime an evil man tricked Xerxes into signing a decree that all Jews throughout the kingdom would be killed on a certain date. When Queen Esther learned of this, she talked with Mordecai about it. She was hesitant to talk about it with the king, because she could receive the death penalty for approaching the king without his having first given permission.

Mordcai says to Esther, “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another pace, but you and your father’s family will perish.”

The often quoted verse is 4:14b, “And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this.” Esther asks the Jews of Susa for fast (and pray) for her for three days.

She approaches the king. He tips his scepter toward her, inviting her to approach and speak. She invites him to a meal along with Haman. Esther invites the king back a second time. In between, Xerxes has trouble sleeping. He has someone read to him from the history of his life. He is reminded that Mordecai once saved his life.

The next day, the king asks Haman what should be done for someone who has served the king. Haman, thinking it is about him, tells the king what should be done. You can imagine Haman’s humiliation when he is told to walk in front of Mordecai on a horse and proclaim, “This is what is done for the man the king delights to honor.”

Before the second meal, Haman goes to Esther to appeal to her. He stumbles and falls over her. At that point, the king shows up and in his rage at what he thinks is Haman taking advantage of his queen. Haman is hanged on the platform he had prepared for Mordecai and others.

And what of the decree to kill all the Jews? The decree that could not be broken? Xerxes promulgates a second decree giving the Jews permission to defend themselves. On the day decreed, no one could stand against the Jews. The Jews were now held in high regard.

Talk about a great reversal! And, you can read about it in the Bible’s short Book of Esther.