All posts by Lanny Hubbard

The Shadow of Death

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Through the virus outbreak the last couple weeks we have all become aware of something. This awareness is there any time we see numbered statistics about the pandemic. It is there in the background of every photo of health care workers or first responders in their protective gear. It is there as we wait in line to get into a grocery store. It is like a faint specter that drifts across the scenes of our lives. We know it is there, but we often refuse to make eye contact with it. The specter is death. It is always there and it has cast its shadow across every aspect of our lives during this time.

We often try to ignore its existence, but the longer the threat remains, the greater the odds are that we will all come into contact with it somehow. It might come to a friend, a family member or working colleague. We may not personally feel its touch, but most of us will feel its presence as it passes close by. It is an enemy and it is real.

As people of faith how are we to respond to death? We cannot just deny it is there. We are to have faith, and yet how do we balance faith with reality without denying either? Our success in facing our enemy comes by joining two things together. These two are the Word of God and knowledge. The Scriptures give us a lot of information. This information becomes the basis of our faith (Rom 10:17). If we believe the information in the Bible then it can impact us and become the basis for our faith. That does not mean we will like everything the Scriptures say, but it does mean that if we trust God’s Word, then it can become a secure place from which we face this difficult situation. The Bible talks about death and what it says can help us face this specter with confidence. 

What does the Bible say? It says that humans are mortal (James 1:11; 4:14). Our mortality is the result of sin (Gen 2:17; Rom 5:12-14). Death has spread to us all and is an enemy that we have to face (1Cor 15:26). It will one day be overcome (1Cor 15:54), but knowing this does not mean that some people will not still live in fear of its shadow (Heb 2:15). Jesus became human and suffered death. He also came back to life to show that death had no control over the final outcome of His life. Death touched Him but did not control Him. This knowledge can bring us all great comfort. Our lives are limited in their own strength. We are only temporary occupants on this planet for now (1Pet 111-17; Php 3:20). The lifespan of each person here may vary (Ps 90:10). Ultimately how long we each live is in God’s control (Ps 31:15), but there is a future.

A challenge that we face in this season is that we do not know how each of us will be affected by the virus. We lack specific knowledge that helps us anticipate our own future. It is this unknown that can be overwhelming at times, but Jesus came to bring truth to us that can help set us free from the grip of the unknown (John 8:32). This is the knowledge that when joined with our faith can have a positive stabilizing effect on us. Here are some simple words of truth that help bring perspective through this time.

  1. By far the majority of people will make it through this time. The current percentages support that fact, as was also true for previous pandemics.
  2. The health care officials have given us information about how to minimize our chances of contracting the virus. Follow their advice. These are people who are genuinely concerned for our wellbeing.
  3. Don’t take unnecessary risks. True faith does not reside in stupidity. Remember that even Jesus was tempted to recklessly expose His body to dangerous behavior under the deception that God was required to always protect Him. If Jesus could be tempted with this so can we.
  4. Keep your eyes open to what is going on around you (Eph 5:15-16).  This is not a time to go to sleep with our minds and hearts.
  5. We do not know all that lies in the future, but that does not mean we can’t move ahead. The study of Eschatology tells us an important truth. There are things about the future we do not know like the day and hour of Jesus’ return. There are things, however, that we do know like what He wants us to do until that time. Proceed with what we know and leave the rest up to Him.
  6. Don’t let the attraction to this life on earth be the most important thing to you (Matt 10:39; James 4:4).
  7. The lives of God’s people are precious to Him (Zech 2:8; Deut 7:6; 14:2; Ps 135:4). Their deaths are also precious to Him (Ps 116:15). Nothing gets past His eye.
  8. Whether we live or die in this life we can do it for the Lord (Rom14:8).
  9. It is possible that no matter what happens, that we can honor God in both life and death (Php 1:20).
  10. When all our efforts have been expended, and we have done all we can, in the end, we must  commit our lives to the gracious God who will make things work out in eternity (1Pet 4:19). This is our hope even if we don’t see now what will happen. We hope for what is not seen (Rom 8:24-25).

Ps 23:4 says “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”  We are surrounded by glimpses of that shadow daily. It discourages many and it could also be disturbing to us as well, except for a very important truth. Our Lord is with us. He has been through this valley before and He knows the way through it for us as well. This is the Shepherd of our souls. He is the one who guides us in this season.

Image: Understanding our Sexual Identity

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At Portland Bible College, we study the Bible. The eternal, never-changing Word of God. So it would be easy to think that our curriculum hasn’t changed and our classes look the same as they did back when we started in 1967.

While the Bible itself doesn’t change, the culture in which we live sure does! What our students are facing today, the students of 50 years ago would have never been able to imagine. What we teach about the Bible stays the same, but every progressive generation needs to wrestle with how to apply biblical truths in their current context.

About a year ago, professor Lanny Hubbard took a poll in one of his classes. His poll included one question which read,

What do you think is the largest or most significant social problem
faced by young adults at this time?

The answers were varied but there was a commonly recurring theme: sexual identity. You see, the first word of our name is Portland because that is the city where we are located. And Portland has been a leader in the LGBTQ+ movement, tracing their roots all the way back to the native inhabitants and their Two-Spirit Collective. Confusion about sexual identity is not something our students merely read about, it is something that they are confronted with every single day as they make their way through the community that surrounds them.

In discussing it as a class, they found that while many believed it to be the most significant social issue of their generation, a good percentage of the students did not know enough about the topic to allow them to discuss it in an informed manner. Instead of telling them what to think, professor Hubbard set them to a research project to investigate the issue and discover their own opinions on the topic.

As a class, they spent a day brainstorming the issue to determine what areas they felt the least qualified to talk about. They listed out several aspects of the topic that they felt should be investigated. The students then divided into study teams based on which aspects were of most interest to them. Once the different teams were formed, captains were assigned to each team to oversee the students’ research and to help finalize the finished product.

That one simple question started a discussion. The discussion uncovered a blindspot in the students’ lives. So, like the Bereans of Acts 17, they turned to the Scriptures and research to seek out the truth of the matter. They researched the topic and compiled their findings into a booklet that they titled “Image.”

“Image” is solely a product of the student’s work. They designed it, wrote it, and laid it out. Since the topic is one that affects their generation profoundly, it turned into a great learning exercise to discover, for themselves, what they believe about the topic.

Now, we would like to make their booklet available to you. Read it and enjoy it as a gift from the young adults of Portland Bible College about an issue that is tearing their generation apart. You can click on the link below to download the .pdf version of “Image.”


The Good Life

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“Great to Good” – Lanny Hubbard, Aug 31, 2018

Professor Lanny Hubbard shared a message on what it means to Live a Good Life. Below is the accompanying notes to the full message which you can listen to on our podcast here. Enjoy!

Isaiah 1:17 says that God’s people are to learn to do good. This means that their understanding of what “good” is a process. It is not immediately intuitive. People increase in their understanding of good throughout their lives. How does this take place? It occurs by learning to see how the attribute of “good” can be worked into many areas of their life. From the Hebrew and Greek languages, we learn that the interpretation of “good” is very broad. It applies to many aspects of life and in each area the individual must learn how to apply it. The following is a list of various ways that “goodness” is applied to these areas of life. Read More


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I.  Biblical Study:Most of those in Christian ministry know that the Bible is the primary source of material that will be used in preaching, teaching, counseling and personal development. Because they use it so much, the time they give to studying it is very important. Many youth pastors have had some form of formal Bible training which has familiarized them with the skills necessary to do this kind of research. Others have not had any such training and so find studying a fairly challenging task. For either group there is always a need to become more familiar with things that are available to streamline and enrich their time of study. Read More

The Heritage and Legacy of Portland Bible College

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By Lanny Hubbard

Portland Bible College was founded 50 years ago to train the young people of City Bible Church (then Bible Temple). It was the vision of the founders to create a school that would train the young people of this church in God’s Word for generations to come. They believed in the vision that God had given them, so much so that they not only financed it but they entrusted their own children to it. Dick Iverson, Bob Stricker, Kevin Conner, Frank Damazio and Ken Malmin all had children that were trained in this school.

PBC has now trained three generations of students: Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Millennials. The current student body has 13 second generation students, 6 of which are a part of the freshman class.

Heritage: Our Gift From The Past

We talk about having a rich heritage here at Portland Bible College, but what is heritage? It is defined as a tradition, culture, background or roots. It is an inherited or established way of thinking, feeling and doing things. At PBC, we embrace and cherish our heritage that has developed over 50 years of raising up godly leaders.

We believe that things that come from the past are still important. We have qualities, values and objects that we value so highly that we have preserved them in order to pass them on to future generations. This is our heritage, the foundation on which we build. As the psalmist said, “The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; Indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me.” (16:6)

Legacy: Our Gift To The Future

A legacy is a result of the past handed down by our predecessors. It is the footprint of one generation left behind for the next one. In the natural, we want to leave the smallest carbon footprint possible for the benefit of the future. In the Spirit, we want to leave the largest spiritual footprint that we can for the future.

A legacy is what one generation does not consume themselves, but passes on to those coming after them to enjoy. Heaven knows that at Portland Bible College our legacy is not our buildings. It is not some great endowment of money left for others. Our legacy is in our students.

We have PBC alumni all over the world; pastors planting churches, doctors birthing the next generations, Christians planting schools in Muslim countries, lawyers fighting for justice and human rights, business leaders, mothers, Episcopalian priests, engineers, counselors, and missionaries.

As Billy Graham said, the greatest legacy one can pass on to their children is not material things, but rather character and faith. The most important thing in this life is not the honor we take with us, but the legacy we leave behind.

Success without a successor is a failure. Jesus raised up disciples. He commanded his followers to raise up disciples. It is our great job to make sure that his plan does not stop with our generation.

Connecting Our Heritage & Legacy

Our goal is to connect the past (our heritage) with the future (our legacy). The connector is the present. The past is connected to the future through the present. Our past is our heritage. Our future is our legacy, and how we live each day determines if one will connect with the other.

The Future Of Portland Bible College

Does Portland Bible College have a future? Yes! We are raising up a new generation of teachers; men and women of character. They have done things right and have not sacrificed hard work and humility on the altar of instant gratification and entitlement. And they know what it takes to make a college fun.

What will our school look like in the future? Only God knows. Look at where we have come in the last 50 years. Now, our young ladies wear jeans, already torn up even though they are new. Our young men have facial hair, wear skinny jeans, and wear their mother’s jewelry.

All this was considered Satanic in the 1970’s. Yet, they are on the streets talking to people about Jesus. They are staying up all night praying for direction in the school and in their lives. They are leading worship in chapel that melts the hearts of visitors.

What will they look like in the future? They will look like what they are now:

  • They will work hard to spread God’s truth to more people. We started with only live classes and then started offering correspondence courses. Now we have an online program that has expanded from English to Portuguese and Spanish.
  • They will be drilling wells for clean water in Africa.
  • They will be setting up water purification systems in Asia.
  • They will be military chaplains.
  • They will be hospital chaplains.
  • They will be starting Christian schools in Muslim countries.

That is what they will look like. They will do some things the same, and at the same time, they will find new ways to reach a lost world. They will be new seeds planted in old soil.

Keys To A Successful Future

In order for what we have had for 50 years at Portland Bible College to continue successfully into the future, it will require several things:

  • We must build well. As Luke 6:48 says, “it withstood the storms because of how well it was built,” and 1 Corinthians 3:13 says, “every person’s work must pass the test of fire.”
  • We must appreciate what has been given us. It is up to us to live up to the legacy that was left for us. We cannot squander the inheritance that was given us.
  • We must reach back to our ancestors for our fundamental values so that as guardians of that legacy we can reach ahead to our children.

The hope of our legacy is in the strength of our heritage. We need our present and future students to share our heart and catch our vision.

In the end, the words “well done” will not be spoken to the witty, the trendy, the stylish, or the popular. They will be spoken to the “good” and the “faithful.” This is the legacy that we hope to pass on.



Don’t People from All Religions Experience God?

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Here is an excerpt from When God Goes to Starbucks by Paul Copan (pp 74-75). It can be purchased through Baker Books. This is a summary of his chapter entitled, “Don’t People from All Religions Experience God?” People can have genuine spiritual experiences and they can encounter God without being saved through faith in Christ. These encounters can never replace the need for Jesus but are intended to move us toward him.

  • People can experience God, even if not savingly (e.g., having a profound sense of God’s presence, holiness, transcendence). This phenomenon can contribute to a broader case for God’s existence.
  • Many people across religious lines have claimed to have mystical or numinous encounters with God; people have experienced God’s nearness or transcendence. They can feel dread, awe, impurity, fascination. Religious experience can point us beyond – to a transcendent God.
  • The Christian has come to know God through Christ; by God’s Spirit the Christian is made aware of God’s loving presence and fatherly acceptance (Rom. 5:5; 8:15; Gal. 4:6). Such genuinely saving experiences are life transforming and self-authenticating – not officially requiring evidence or argument (1 John 2:20, 27).
  • Thoughtful Christians, though, must recognize the need to offer public reasons for belief to the questioning outsider. An argument from religious experience is only part of the broader explanatory case for our examinable faith.
  • If something seems quite apparent to me, then I should take it seriously rather than dismiss it, unless there are very good reasons for doing so (the principle of credulity).
  • People may misinterpret a religious experience, but this doesn’t necessarily cancel out a legitimate aspect of that experience – or that the Christian’s saving experience isn’t genuine. (Remember the example of color-blindness.)
  • People may and do “overreport” their religious experiences, but again, this need not negate their experience in its totality. The mystic (e.g. Meister Eckhart) may go too far in talking about absolute union with God. (Here God’s nearness may be overemphasized.) Or she may “filter out” an aspect of God, such as God’s infinity or power.
  • Overreporting doesn’t imply or favor a secularist viewpoint – and both immanence and transcendence characterize the God of Scripture.
  • Yes, delusional people may make religious-experience claims that are simply false. However, if the whole earth is full of God’s glory, we shouldn’t be surprised by people’s encounters with God, however veiled.
  • Genuine religious experiences (a) won’t serve as the basis for an immoral lifestyle, (b) will be on the whole beneficial to the person, (c) will encourage love and self-sacrifice toward others, (d) won’t be self-refuting (e.g., the Buddhist non-self doctrine), (e) will, if the Christian faith is true, match up with Scripture.
  • Calvin’s point about the sensus divinitatis (the sense of the divine) suggests that an encounter with God is properly basic. Proper basicality doesn’t imply infallibility. Such a basic belief is warranted if (a) conditions or circumstances are right, (b) my faculties – rational, emotional, spiritual – are properly functioning in the way they‘ve been designed, and (c) these beliefs are successfully directed toward the truth.
  • Religious experience isn’t reducible to brain activity. Rather, heightened brain activity during a religious experience isn’t surprising if we’ve been made for the capacity to connect with a transcendent God. Evidence suggests that we are intuitive theists. Furthermore, apart from such activity, there are independent reasons (through general and special revelation) to believe in a personal God.
  • Atheism, it appears, takes more effort to sustain since the evidence suggests we are naturally wired to connect with the divine.
  • In the midst of various religious claimants, Jesus of Nazareth offers us guidance in this matter (John 6:68: “Lord, to whom shall we go?”).


The Bible and Justice

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Bible Justice
The media today has presented to the watching eyes of the public multitudes of images involving acts of social injustice taking place around the world. These images of starvation, mutilation, and genocide are shocking to many of the Western viewers. These disturbing images have generated an outcry in many people that declare “That is not right.” “People should not be treated that way.” Often in the outcry is the question about how these things could have been allowed to happen. More pointedly, “Who is to blame for them?” Some blame everything on the consumerism of the Western world that has tempted the rest of the world into a wanton lifestyle. Some believe it is the governments of the world that need to stop fighting and step up and fix these situations. Others believe it is the responsibility of the church to fix these injustices. However the question is posed, it is the belief of many that something must be done.

In an attempt to find blame for the existence of these social atrocities, some have accused God and the church for the problems. God has been accused of being indifferent about the plight that many humans face. Others use that the situation to prove that a God does not exist. If He is as good as religious people say He is, and if He has allowed this human situation to get so out of hand, then He is too weak to be of any value, and unworthy of being served. He is so unable to manage the human situation that he does not deserved to be considered a god.

How is a Believer to respond to these accusations about the Lord? The Scriptures has much to say about the issue. Here are some simple biblical statements about God and justice.

  1. It is important to know that God is just (Deut 32:4; Neh 9:33; Jer 30:11).
  2. Human wickedness is the outworking of fallen people’s nature (Gal 5:19-21; Gen 6:1-6; Matt 15:19). God did not make them to live this way. It is the consequence of people rejecting the authority of God’s ways over their lives. Perverted justice is one of the many characteristics of fallen human nature ( Deut 16:20; Amos 5:11, 6:12; Mic 3:9; Hab 1;4).
  3. Every person will be judged according to their evil deeds (Pro 14:32; Eze 36:19; Rom 2:6; Rev 20:12-13). People’s lack of justice will be held against them.
  4. God hears the outcry of those who are oppressed (Ps 71:12).
  5. The Lord will repay the oppressors according to their evil deeds (Pro 19:17; Hos 12:2; Rom 12:19; 2Tim 4:14).
  6. God requires justice in areas of human life (Amos 5:15, 24; Mic 6:8).
  7. The Lord allows no favoritism in social matters (James 2:2-9).
  8. Jesus endorses justice in life (Matt 12:18, 20).
  9. The work of the Holy Spirit supports justice (Mic 3:8).
  10. The Apostle Paul requires justice between members of the church community (Gal 4:1).

Following are some individual aspects of God’s relation to the justice issues.

A.  In the Old Testament, God declared standards and laws describing how people in society were to behave. It is important to note that the Lord says in several places that the laws were not just for the Jewish people. He specifically says that there was one law or standard to be used for native born Jews as well as the strangers and aliens that lived among them. This demonstrates that God desired the same standards of justice for all ethnic groups, not just the nation of Israel. Read Ex 12:49; Lev 24:27; Num 9:14. 15:15-16, 29.

B.  There are references in some laws where specific references are made stating that the jurisdiction of some rules are also for foreigners living among the Jewish people.

  • Celebration of Jewish yearly religious feasts (Lev 16:29; Num 9:14)
  • Eating blood (Lev 17:12)
  • Acts of immorality (Lev 18:26)
  • Harvesting laws (Lev 23:22; Deut 24:19-21)
  • Blaspheming God’s name (Lev 24:16)
  • Offering sacrifices (Num 15:15-30)
  • Personal purification (Num 19:10)
  • Access to the Cities of Refuge (Num 35:15)
  • The judicial process (Deut 1:16; 24:17)
  • Care given to foreigners living among Israel (Deut 14:16; 10:18-19)

C.  The Jewish people were required to not detest the foreigners that lived among them (Deut 23:7-8).

D.  There are specific biblical references dealing with the equitable and fair treatment of women:

  • Redemptively they are equal with men (Gal 3:29).
  • Men are to treat them as sisters in the Body of Christ (1Tim 5:1).
  • Special care was to be given to genuine widows (1Tim 5:3-16).
  • Older women were to be respected (Tit 2:3).
  • They would be equally anointed by the Spirit for ministry (Joel 2:28).

E.  Slavery and human trafficking was something God takes very seriously (Am 1:6, 9; 2:6; 8:6; Joel 3:3).

F.  The rich class of people were not to use their wealth and power as a means to oppress the needy (Deut 24:14; Amos 4:1).

G.  The magistrates in the courts were to provide just decisions for people from all nations (Amos 5:7; Mic 3:9; Luke 11:42).

H.  Of all aspect of daily life, caring for the poor is of great importance to the Lord. There are several things that He tells people to do for the poor and needy.

  1. Lend finances to them to help them (Ex 22:25). Only no interest is to be charged them (Deut 15:2-11; Matt 5:42, 19:21).
  2. Leaves gleanings in the fields for the poor to eat (Ex 23:21; Lev 19:9).
  3. Help to redeem them from their financial troubles (Lev 25:28).
  4. In the Year of Jubilee, all their lost property was to be returned (Lev 25:35).
  5. Part of the yearly tithes collected from the people was to be used to help the poor (Deut 14:28-29).
  6. They were never to be oppressed (Zech 7:10).
  7. All business with the poor was to be honest (James 5:4).
  8. Isaiah 58:7 says that helping out the poor is what real fasting and consecration to the Lord should involve.

When people reach out to help the poor, there is a special divine blessing that accompanies these acts.

  1. God blesses people that watch out for the poor (Ps 37:26; 41:1; 112:2, 9; Isa 58:10; Act 20:35).
  2. Jesus notices acts of kindness shown to the poor (Matt 25:35).
  3. Paul declares a blessing to those who help the poor (Rom 12:13, 20; Gal 2L10; Eph 4:28).
  4. James speaks of the blessing (Jam 1:27).
  5. John refers to it (1John 3:17).

God and the poor:

  • God declares that the needy people in this life will not be forgotten. He sees their plight and will care for them in the age to come (Ps 9:18; 12:5).
  • The Lord personally claims the poor and identifies with them (Pro 22:2).
  • God hears their cries (Ps 34:6; 69:33).
  • He will ensure that they receive justice (Pro 22:22).

All these things show that the Lord is very mindful and involved in matters of justice. It is part of His very nature, and He has intended mankind to live according to His nature. When human actions run contrary to God’s nature, God notices and will hold the violators responsible for what they do. If Christians declare to be servants of God, then it is their responsibility to uphold those values that are important to Him. This is why Christians cannot be indifferent to matters of social injustice. We must uphold the character of our Lord and properly represent Him in our world.

Online Resources

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Here are a few recommended sources related to the new sermon series, Questions.

  • This is a short article introducing a person to the four main classical arguments used to support the existence of God. They represent logic arguments used to support the existence of God taken from history, science, personal experience, and philosophy.

  • This is an more extensive article about the four classical proofs of God. Well known theologian William Lane Craig explains each of the proofs and then uses them against the ideas of well known atheist Richard Dawkins. The article helps to expose some of the weaknesses in Dawkins’ argument.

Classic Arguments for the Existence of God – PDF