# Dave Trenholm - From the Ground Up Skip to content

DaveTrenholm.com Posts

The Curious Case of Balaam – Part 2

Two weeks ago we began the story of Balaam but we didn’t get a chance to finish it because we ran out of time. Then last week I had every intention of finishing the story, but God had some other plans in mind and our Sunday service went in a good, but different direction.  So now today my plan is to finally wrap up our story of Balaam.

Now since it’s been a couple of weeks, I should probably give you a brief recap of the story so far. The story of Balaam is found in Numbers chapter 22. At this point in the over-all story of the Bible, the children of Israel are just about ready to enter the Promised Land, conquer Jericho and drive out the Canaanites. But before they do, on their way to the Jordan River, they park just outside the land of Moab for a while.

Now the King of Moab – Balak is his name –  is very concerned about this massive group of Israelites parked outside his territory. He’s afraid they might just attack him, and if they did, he’s pretty sure he would be in big trouble. After all, the Israelites did just completely annihilate King Og of Bashan and King Shihon of the Amorites. King Og and King Shihon had attacked the Israelites, but of course, God was with them, and the Israelites defeated King Og and King Shihon, took over their land, and left no survivors.

So King Balak of Moab is understandably concerned. In fact, terrified might be a better word. He’s convinced that this massive hoard of Israelites is coming to wipe him out too, so he does the only thing that he believes might just give him a fighting change. He decides to hire this fellow Balaam to curse the Israelites.

Now that might not seem like a very sound military strategy – I don’t think many generals today would put much faith in the power of a curse – but Balak certainly did. So much so that he was willing to pay a handsome sum to Balaam if he would come and curse the Israelites for him.

Now as we saw last week, this Balaam character is a peculiar fellow. One one hand, he seems to be nothing more than a professional witchdoctor – calling down curses or blessings for the highest bidder. But on the other hand, he appears to know and follow the instructions of the God of Israel! So we’re not entirely sure where he stands with God – but we do know that other parts of the Bible view him as being ‘eager to earn money by doing wrong’. In the New Testament, Peter describes some false teachers by saying….

They have wandered off the right road and followed the footsteps of Balaam son of Beor, who loved to earn money by doing wrong. 2 Peter 2:15

So maybe Balaam started off as a true prophet of God, but then got greedy? Or maybe He never really knew the God of Israel in a personal way…Maybe it was just business to him!… We’re not sure… But either way, whether Balaam truly knew God or not, he certainly wasn’t acting in obedience to Him in this case. 

Because when we left off last week, Balak had offered to pay Balaam pretty much whatever price he named – if he would just go and curse the Israelites. So despite God’s clear command not to curse the Israelites, Balaam loaded up his donkey and headed out with the Moabite delegates. It says in Numbers 22:21….

Leave a Comment

The Curious Case of Balaam – Part 1

I don’t know about you, but I love a good story. When we were pastoring in Mirror, we had a group of old retired rail roaders in our church who were all in their 80s by this time.  And they were the masters of telling a good story. 

During our time at Mirror, the church began constructing a new church building – and for about a year, every day these guys would come to the work site and bring us coffee and snacks – and as we took our coffee breaks, they would regale us all kinds of captivating railroad stories. They’d tell us of train wrecks or unimaginable snow storms or being part of some old western movies. It was always fascinating to hear bits and pieces of their life stories.

Unfortunately, I’m not quite a master story teller like they were, but I’d sure like to give it a try. Today, and probably for the next several weeks, I want to tell you some stories.

You see, the Bible is an amazing storybook. It has got some of the most fascinating and unbelievable tales imaginable. And what makes it all the more fascinating, is that it’s all true! Although some of the stories are certainly hard to believe – the Bible is not a fantastic work of fiction. It is the true story of the Almighty, everlasting God interacting with the people that He created. It’s quite an incredible book!

And in the Bible we find a huge variety of different kinds of stories. There is a genre for everyone. 

  • If you like adventure, read the story of Joseph or King David or Esther – I always thought the book of Esther would make a fantastic movie!
  • If you’re into history – read through the books of Kings and Chronicles.
  • You want war – read through Joshua & the Judges – there’s some crazy stuff in there!
  • If you like romance – read through the Song of Solomon (that’s got all kinds of that mushy stuff)
  • If you like Poetry? Read the Psalms or even Job!

There is so much variety in the Bible. It’s like that opening scene from the Princess Bride where the Grandfather is about to read a book to his sick grandson. The Grandson, not convinced that books are very exciting, asks his grandfather, “Has it got any sports in it?”

And the Grandfather says, “Are you kidding? Fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles!”

And actually, that’s a pretty accurate description of the Bible! You can find all of those things in the stories of the Bible too! And of course, that’s just the tip of the iceberg! But the big difference between the Princess Bride and the Bible, as I’ve mentioned, is that the Bible is all true.

So I want to spend some time just reading through some of the amazing, true stories of the Bible – not just because they are great stories, but because there’s much that we can learn from them.

Remember, the Bible is really the story of God. It’s almost like his autobiography – it tells us how God has interacted with individuals and mankind as a whole throughout history. It shows us what God is like and how we are to interact with Him.

And so hopefully as we go through a few of these stories, we’ll get to know God in some new ways – we’ll have a better understand of who He is and how He works in the world – and perhaps most importantly, we’ll see how God still wants to have an personal relationship with each one of us even today.

The story that I want to share with you today is recorded in the book of Numbers – chapter 22 to be specific. And before we get started, let me give you a little bit of the background so you know what’s going on.

At this point in history, the nation of Israel has been wandering around in the wilderness for nearly 40 years. You’ll recall that shortly after the exodus from Egypt, after crossing the Red Sea and receiving the ten commandments, the Israelites were supposed to go in and conquer the Promised Land. However, because they refused to trust in God, God told them that they would wander in the wilderness for 40 years – until every adult male had died. Because of their disbelief, they would never enter God’s promised land, but it would be their children who would go in and conquer & settle in the Promised Land!

So at this point, those 40 years of wandering were almost over! But it hadn’t been easy! They had face a lot of opposition along the way. In fact, they had just been attacked by King Shihon of the Amorites and King Og of Bashan. They were just trying to pass through the territories of these kings – in fact, they had even sent messages asking for permission to pass through peacefully, but these kings decided to attack them instead! However, God was with them and the Israelites completely wipe out the armies of King Shihon and King Og. In fact, Numbers chapter 21 concludes with these verses:

Leave a Comment

Mat-Man and His Friends

This week I had a zoom meeting with about a dozen other pastors. I think I’ve mentioned to you before that every few months I get together the other AGC pastors in central Alberta and we share a little bit about what’s going on in our churches, we pray for each other, and we discuss a whole variety of different issues that come up.

And at our meeting this week, the question was asked: What do you think God is saying to the churches through this COVID-19 pandemic? Is God using this time to reshape how we think about church? Is He using this time to re-adjust our priorities and our focus? God doesn’t waste opportunities, so what do you think God wants us to learn through this challenging time?

There were several thoughts that came up, but the one that stuck out to me was this: Could it be that God is reminding us of the value of relationships?

In this time where everyone is separated and isolated from one another – could God be using this time to show us just how critical it is be be connected with one another? 

The fact is, we are built for relationships! And I know I say that often – but it’s true! We are created and designed to live in healthy relationships with each other and with God.

Without those relationships – we wither and die inside. And perhaps some of us are feeling a little bit of that now. Being apart from our families, not having that personal interaction with our friends – being absent from our church family – it’s hard. It doesn’t feel right! There’s almost an emptiness we feel when we go so long being apart from one another.

And that’s because we were created for community – community with each other and community together with God. Separation and isolation were never part of God’s perfect plan for mankind.

I was reminded this week that Hell is defined by separation and isolation from God. It’s the worst possible scenario! 

But in contrast to that, Heaven is being together with God. It’s being in his presence – seeing him face-to-face. That’s what we long for and hope for more than anything else in this world!

And I think that just speaks to this truth that we are created for community – we are created for relationships with each other and with God!

And perhaps God is using this pandemic to remind us of that and to give us a fresh, new understanding of that reality!

So with that in mind this morning, I want to look at the story of “Matman” and his friends! Not “Batman and his friends” but Matman and his friends.

And if you’re not familiar with that story, you can find it in Luke chapter 5 or it’s also recorded in Mark chapter 2. I’m going to read from Mark chapter 2 this morning. It goes like this:

 1 When Jesus returned to Capernaum several days later, the news spread quickly that he was back home. 2 Soon the house where he was staying was so packed with visitors that there was no more room, even outside the door. Mark 2:1-2a

And I’ll pause her for a minute just to give you a little bit of the background here. This is fairly early on in Jesus earthly ministry. He’s been going around to different towns throughout the region of Galilee preaching and teaching, doing miracles, healing people, and over-all, just attracting a lot of attention. Everyone’s hearing about this amazing Jesus fellow. And that’s why, when he comes back to his hometown of Capernaum, everybody wants to come see Jesus. He’s kinda like a celebrity at this point. They want to hear what he has to say and perhaps see him to a miracle or two! 

And because of that, the house where he was staying was packed with visitors – so full in fact, that people were backed up – right out the door! On sermon I read described the house as being “packed tighter than a hippo in skinny jeans!” (Try to visualize that, if you can.) But you can just imagine everyone being squished together – shoulder to shoulder – all trying to get inside the house to get a glimpse of Jesus!

And that’s what’s going on when Matman and his friends arrive. It says in verse 2…

Leave a Comment

The Source of Our Joy

It has now been over a month since we last met together in person as a church family. I don’t know about you, but I’m really beginning to miss those times together. Its one thing to miss church for a Sunday or two – but it’s another to away from your church family for weeks on end. 

God designed us for relationships. In fact, he describes the church as being a body and we are all parts of it. A hand was never designed to function apart from the arm. A foot cannot fulfil it’s purpose without being connected to the leg.

It’s the same in the body of Christ. God has designed us for relationships with each other! The Christian life was never intended to be lived out in isolation!

In light of this pandemic, it’s certainly been good to gather virtually like what we’ve been doing, but it’s sure no replacement for meeting face-to-face. 

There is something about seeing people’s faces when we communicate. I think it was Shakespeare who said “the eyes are the window to the soul.”

Well, I miss seeing into your souls! I miss seeing whether you’re joyful or whether you’re discouraged. I miss that personal connection with you and I’m certainly looking forward to when we can again meet face-to-face.

However, until then, we’ll just have to keep doing the best we can with the technology we have!

So this morning, I’d like to ask you a question. You can think about this and email me your answer sometime later this week if you like. I can’t see the answer in your eyes, but here’s my question: How much joy do you have these days?

If joy was like a gas tank – how full would your tank be? Is your joy-tank full and overflowing – or when it comes to joy, are you running on empty these days?

And I suppose this question might be best answered by the others in your household. Your joy (or lack thereof) is not something you can hide very well when you’re stuck at home with the same people for weeks on end! The people you live with can easily see just how joyful you are.

So maybe here’s what we’ll do. Let’s pause here for a minute and I want you to ask the others in your household that are watching this along with you – maybe your wife or husband, maybe your kids, or your roommate or whoever’s there with you right now. Ask them this question: “On a scale of 1-10, how joyful have I been in the last week?” – with 1 being about as joyful as a wet blanket and 10 being an absolute delight to be around. 

So how joyful were you? Were you an absolute delight to be around this week – or were you more in the wet blanket category?

Well, if you find yourself in the ‘wet blanket category’, don’t be too hard on yourself. In fact, I would guess that most of us have probably had quite a few highs and lows when it comes to joy in the past few weeks.

Leave a Comment

The Love of Our King

Today Christians around the world celebrate Palm Sunday. If you come from a traditional church background, you probably know what that is all about – but for those who maybe didn’t have that traditional church upbringing, Palm Sunday might be a little more unfamiliar to you. It typically doesn’t get as much publicity as Easter or Christmas – but it’s a significant event on the church calendar none-the-less.

So this morning, I’d like to take some time just to explain what Palm Sunday is all about. What happened on that first palm Sunday – and why were those events so significant – and why is it important that we remember and celebrate that today?

As we all sit at home, slowing the spread of the coronavirus, what can we take away from Palm Sunday that gives us hope, that stirs our love for each other, and that builds our faith in God?

That’s what I hope to share with you this morning! You’ll remember last week we looked at 1 Corinthians 13:13 which says…

“Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13

We were encouraged to know that the coronavirus will not last forever. Social distancing will not last forever. But faith, hope and love will. These three things will last forever. 

In particular, we talked about faith last week. We looked at the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego – and how their absolute confidence in God (that is to say, their faith in God) was a tremendous example for all of us. No matter what our situation (whether its a fiery furnance, an angry king, or COVID-19), we can trust the Word (and the character) of God!

And our faith in God will last forever. God will never break our trust. Even throughout eternity – we will be able to have absolute confidence in the faithfulness of our God. Hebrews 13:8 says…

8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Hebrews 13:8

And Isaiah 40:8 tells us…

The grass withers and the flowers fade,

    but the word of our God stands forever.”

Isaiah 40:8

Everything else and everyone else in the world, at some point, will fall short, will disappoint, will fail. But the Word and the character of God – will last forever – and we can fully put our faith in Him.

Now today, as we examine the story of Palm Sunday, we’re going to look at the second of these three words, but we’re not going to go in order. The verse lists faith, hope, and love as the three things that will last forever – and certainly we could talk extensively about hope as we look at Palm Sunday, but we’re going to save that one Resurrection Sunday next week. Christ’s resurrection from the dead is really the foundation of our hope! So today, we’re going to talk about love – which is certainly a very key element in Palm Sunday!

Now Palm Sunday is actually one of the few events that is recorded in all four Gospels – we find it in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John – which I think speaks to how significant this event is. I mean, Jesus birth is only recorded in two of the Gospels, and so if all four of the Gospel writers include the details of this event – It’s got to be significant.

Leave a Comment

Faith in the Face of the Furnace

The English language is always changing! Every year, new words and phrases are added to our vocabulary and old ones are dropped out. For example, in 2019, the Webster’s Dictionary added over 600 new words & phrases. Some of these were words like:

Screen time: We’re certainly getting a lot of that these days

Go-cup: That’s just a disposable cup that would hold your coffee or other drink as you take it ‘to go’ from a resturant

Detectorist: one who uses a portable metal detector as a hobby to find lost coins and artifacts and such…

Double-dipping: You’d think that one would have been the in the dictionary already, but that was new for 2019

Chai Latte: We apparently talk about those enough to warrant an entry in the dictionary.

And I would guess that most, if not all, of those terms are familiar to you – that’s why they’ve been added to the dictionary. Everybody uses those terms and phrases.

Of course, in the 2020 edition of the Webster’s Dictionary, there will be a whole new set of words to be added.

Words like:  Coronavirus, Covid-19, Social Distancing, Self-isolation, Flattening the curve,

These are all terms that we’ve all come to know very well in just a very short period of time. And hopefully, these are words that will drop out of use just as quickly! I think we’re all looking forward to the time when no one needs to use the terms ‘self-isolation’ or ‘social distancing’ anymore.

But this morning, and actually for the next few weeks, I want to talk about three other words. These three words have been around pretty much forever – and according to the Bible – they will continue to be around pretty much forever.

You see, I was reading 1 Corinthians chapter 13 this week – which is often referred to as the ‘love’ chapter of the Bible. It talks about all the things that love is – love is kind, love is patient, love is not proud, love is not jealous – all those things….

But at the end of that chapter – there is short little verse that just seemed to catch my attention this week. It goes like this in 1 Corinthians chapter 13 verse 13:

Leave a Comment