Friday, 8/14/20 – Question: “What is Real?”

What is Real?

After suffering a mild heart attack a few years ago my doctor suggested I get a real-time heart rate monitoring device to guide me in my recovery. So, I bought a fitbit and have been using it ever since.

20200813_064032One of the features of this device is sleep monitoring. It tracks not only the hours spent sleeping but also breaks down the quality of that sleep showing time spent in deep sleep, light sleep, REM (dream stage) sleep, and times of wakefulness.

This morning I recalled a rather odd and somewhat disconcerting experience I had had in the night. I dreamed I was in some other house with a floor plan different than our own. I roused from this dream to use the washroom but must still have been in a quasi-dream state for I had difficulty finding it! Evidently I was imagining I was still moving about according to the floor plan of my, er, “dream” house. After finally finding and using the washroom I weaved my way back to bed and, as my fitbit feedback showed me this morning, continued dreaming.

20200813_064108Philosophers have debated over the centuries about the nature of reality. Sci-fi movies such as the “Matrix,” the growing pleasures of “virtual” realities over “actual” reality, escapism drug use, Star Trek’s “holodeck,” Quantum theory and the proposition of multiverses, spiritualism and the quest for transcendence – all these and more have challenged the simplicity of the Biblical account of a Loving Creator of a tangible world of matter and life, now corrupted by human sin.

Humankind has never wanted to face the reality of personal guilt and so we try to imagine alternate worlds, other realities where we can play innocent.

architect architecture blueprint build

But human guilt cannot be hid. We cannot overlay any “dream” world and make it fit what is actual reality. (Our actual floorplan would not cooperate with my dreamworld terms.) We must accept and live by our Creator’s terms. We must “wake-up!”

He has made the only provision for our predicament: His Son Jesus Christ. We must acknowledge our guilt is real, turn from sin, bow to Christ, follow Him as Lord and live rightly in this real world until He brings us to the next.

What is Real? Christ came into this world to show us.

“For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” (John 18:37, NASB).

“I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” (John 14:6, NASB).

Press on…

Got a question? Use the Contact page and send It to me. We’ll search the Word for God’s answer.

Thursday, 8/13/20 – Discipleship – Assurance

Does this make sense?

thoughtful ethnic man in casual wear with book in hand on blurred background of classic building

A buddy was sharing with me the other day about an idea he had that was a little quirky, but valid. He spoke at length from his heart and then asked, “Does that make sense?” I assured him it did. Though I was not sure I agreed with his conclusion I could certainly follow his reasoning and see how and why he had come to the position he now described.

A few days passed and I found myself in conversation with another friend. He was describing how he planned to make adjustments to his tool shed partly by enlarging it and partly by repurposing some of its existing elements. When he was done he looked at me and asked, “Does that make sense?”

photograph of men having conversation seating on chair

I began to notice the phrase popping up again and again. Perhaps in these uncertain times we have begun doubting other things as well… even our own selves and ideas. We seek assurances and ask “Does that make sense?”

Assurances, guarantees, affirmations… some sign or indication that what one believes to be true is truly true indeed, truly worthy of the faith one has placed in it.

Jesus’ disciples sought assurances too. Thomas once asked, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life…” Then Philip added, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”

fashion footwear grass outdoors

But Jesus said, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father…. Believe me… or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves.” (See John 14:6-11).

This is what living by faith is. We choose what it is we will trust: our own selves, or the Creator and sustainer of all things. As we trust Him He shows Himself trustworthy. He said “Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own.” (John 7:17). His Creation also shouts that He is True:

“…since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” (Rom. 1:20)

“By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command…” (Heb. 11:3).

Ultimately the choice is simple, as Peter summarized “Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.” (John 6:68-69).

Only Christ offers hope beyond this life, and choosing Him makes a great deal of sense!

Press on…

Are you interested in being discipled one-on-one in the fundamentals of new life in Christ? Or, perhaps you would you like to begin this journey by turning from your current path and committing your path to Christ? — Use the Contact page and we’ll get you started.

Wednesday, 8/12/20 – Pressing on… “Devouring & Defending”

Devouring & Defending

photo of analog sapphire wrist watch

I don’t know what it is about Tuesday mornings but so often it seems I do not sleep well the night before. Last Monday night was no exception.

I began to toss around 2 a.m. I may have dozed off a minute or three but for the most part I just tossed. By 3 a.m. I decided it was better to just get up and attempt to nap again later in the day.

tan wolf on flower field during daytime

So there I was at 3 a.m. doing exercises on the living room floor and listening to some radio documentary about predators and prey. After that was a food program about nourishing your children with meals they will eat.

When I was done exercising it was my turn to eat and I fixed myself a breakfast worthy of a guy approaching 70 —  well, 69, but one needs a year to get psyched for that new numerical prefix — and it was then that I realized all three of these events had a common theme: something was devouring something.

This past Sunday brother Joseph Irwin urged us to “stand firm” against our enemy the devil, against the lies of this world, and against the dying sinful nature within us. 

belief bible book business

We must take heed not to become the devil’s prey, not to fall behind and become a straggling, weakened target. We must feed on Truth, the Word of God, and starve that “old dog” within us. We must give ourselves to exercise, to “working out” that new Life of Christ in and through us to get closer daily to actual holiness. 

Predator and prey… devouring… it all comes back full circle! Who would have guessed? But that sort of thing is just like God! That sort of “coincidence” happens often in the hearts of heeding Christians.

Well now it’s 5 p.m., time for that much-needed nap. Catch you tomorrow.

Press on…

To hear Joseph Irwin’s Sunday message, go to the Facebook page of Lincoln Baptist Church, or link to the livestream from the church website.

Tuesday, 8/11/20 – Pressing on… against what?

Firm against what?

group of penguins on ice

Yesterday we discussed how, like Emperor penguins, the believer must “stand firm.” Emperor penguins must stand firm against the frigid sub-zero temperatures of the Antarctic, the bitter cold winter winds, and the predators which seek to destroy them.

We too, as those whose hope in in the Lord Jesus Christ, must “stand firm.” We must stand firm in unity, in strength, in determination, and in Christ. But against what do we stand firm? This past Sunday brother Joseph Irwin outlined to us several things against which Christians must resolutely stand firm.

We must stand firm against deception.
Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many.” (Matt. 24:4).

We must stand firm against complacency.
“…continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling,” (Phil. 2:12).

We must stand firm against impurity.
let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.” (2 Cor. 7:1).

We must stand firm against worldly standards, immorality.

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God…” (2 Tim. 3:2-4).

We must stand firm against irresponsibility. (Ezek. chapters 3 & 33).

“…I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me.” (Ezek. 33:7).

We must stand firm against scoffers and mockery.

Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, ‘Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.’” (2 Pet. 3:3-4).

We must stand firm against fearfulness.
“…the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” (2 Tim. 1:7).

We must stand firm against indifference.

Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen.” (Ezek. 16:49-50).

photo of a penguin

Stand firm then, like an Emperor penguin. It’s every believer’s mandate — as clear as black and white!

“…the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” (Matt. 24:13).

More tomorrow…

To hear Joseph Irwin’s Sunday message, go to the Facebook page of Lincoln Baptist Church, or link to the livestream from the church website.

Monday, 8/10/20 – Pressing on…like a penguin!

Penguin Perseverance

cold nature cute ice

The behavioural adaptations of Emperor Penguins has long amazed me. Of particular interest has been the way these beautiful Antarctic creatures birth, care for, and bring up their young in -40°C (-40°F) to -60°C (-74°F) temperatures.

Breeding occurs during the winter so the young are grown enough by summer to be independent. They make no nest. Instead the eggs are kept warm by resting off the ice on the males feet covered by a fold of skin while the female departs to seek food. These excursions last 115 to 120 days during which time the male must fast. He conserves energy by sleeping 20 to 24 hrs daily. (About the only appealing part of this to most males!)

cold nature bird animal

When the chick is born this procedure continues with parents taking turns carrying the young one thus freeing the other to hunt for food.

To keep warm during the bitter cold Emperor penguins form a heat-conserving huddle, a large circle of penguins which encircles the more grown young. The penguins take turns on the outermost ring of this circle where they must bear the fullest blast of the Antarctic wind and blowing snow. It’s a remarkable system really, and succeeds only because each penguin is faithful to simply stand firm.

group of penguins on ice

Standing firm was the much appreciated topic of our brother Joseph Irwin’s message this past Sunday.

In these days of difficulty we must all “stand firm” as faithful disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Word of God exhorts us…

“Be steadfast, immovable… Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.” (1 Cor. 15:58; 16:13).

“Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil…. so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” (Eph. 6:11…13..).

“Conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that…  I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the Gospel… stand firm in the Lord, my beloved.” (Phil. 1:27; 4:1).

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” (1 Pet. 5:8-9).

More tomorrow…

To hear Joseph Irwin’s Sunday message, go to the Facebook page of Lincoln Baptist Church, or link to the livestream from the church website.

Friday, 8/7/20 – What does it mean to “Repent?”

What does it mean to “Repent?”

man wearing black officer uniform

The word “Repent” is seldom uses these days in contexts outside of Christian evangelism. Consequently folk may come to think of it as a religious word only… something mystical perhaps… outside of everyday human intercourse in this world. But the term is nothing of that sort at all.

Let us remember, God created mankind in His own image. (See Gen. 1:27). In other words, God used Himself as a sort of template in making us — mind you, at a much smaller scale indeed!

As He is creative so we are creative. As He is eternal Spirit so we are eternal souls. As He has emotion so we have emotion. As He may be offended by us so we may experience offense from one another. Let’s follow along that last likeness a bit further…

the denver post office and federal court house

I recently watched a recorded live video of a coutroom sentencing of a man convicted of homicide. The murdered boy’s father was present, a man of uncommon grace and forgiveness as we were about to see.

Near the end of the proceedings the convicted man was allowed to speak. He turned directly to the boy’s father and through tearful sputters acknowledged his horrendous crime, his enormous guilt, and the complete justice of the life sentence he was about to deservedly serve. Since his crime he had been haunted daily by what he had done and prayed incessantly for his victim’s grieving family.

He was a broken human being, deeply aware of his sin and his inability to undo the heinous deed he had done.

close up photo of man crying

The father, meanwhile, had been reaching forward toward this man. He had lost his son by this man’s hand but recognized that this man too had grieving parents, they too in a way had lost their son.

Astonishingly the slain boy’s father reached across the physical and emotional divide and embraced the genuinely penitent convict. “I forgive you,” he said.

Well, the entire courtroom was in tears… judge, attorneys, bailiffs and officers of the court. The honesty and pain of this moment had been so clearly authentic to all that none of them had desired to intervene.

Friends, this is repentance. God has made us like Himself and despite our guilt He seeks to restore fellowship with us. We have offended Him in like manner. Ultimately each one of us has murdered His Son, Jesus Christ. Yet the Father holds out His arms to us.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

black microphone with stand near white smoke

Now you stand before the mike; it is your time to speak, and the Father looks down upon you… Turn toward Him… What do you wish to say?

Press on…

Got a question? Use the Contact page and send It to me. We’ll search the Word for God’s answer.

Thursday, 8/6/20 – Discipleship – Soon Return of Christ

Soon Return of Christ

20200804_180857The number “666” or the identity of the “Antichrist” have over recent years been associated with Catholics, the papacy, Freemasons, leaders of Israel, leaders of Islam as well as with the United Nations. Individuals such as Nero, Napoleon, Hitler, Henry Kissinger, Mikhail Gorbachev, plus U.S. presidents including Roosevelt, Kennedy, Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama and now, unsurprisingly, Donald Trump have all had the moniker pointed their way.

shopping business money pay

Other objects of the title have been the Washington Monument, the European Union, energy drinks, our modern barcode system, the “www” Internet prefix, RFID seals, smart cards, and now the anticipated Coronavirus vaccine!

Fear of the number 666 now has a clinical name: “hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia.” The phobia has in recent times moved individuals to re-number their street address, change highway Route and Legislative bill numbers, and worry over giving birth on the date 6/6/06.

person taking pill

Certainly, at some point, growing nearer every day, something will truly emerge as the fateful “Mark of the Beast” and … and someone as the prophesied “Antichrist.” We do well to be alert and ever-ready as believers for the return of our glorious Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. But we also do well not to grow fearful.

Satan, Peter writes, “prowls around like a roaring lion” (1 Pet. 5:8). But when Christ, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah ROARS… well, as scripture says,

The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars; the Lord breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon… The voice of the Lord twists the oaks and strips the forests bare. And in his temple all cry, ‘Glory!’” (Ps. 29:5,9).

So let us not fear. Let us not suffer with those who have no hope, but let us bravely lead them to Him Who can alleviate these fears. Instead, let us remember as Jesus directed us, “When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” (Luke 21:28).

Press on…

photo of child reading holy bible

Are you interested in being discipled one-on-one in the fundamentals of new life in Christ? Or, would you like to begin this journey by committing your path to Christ? — Use the Contact page and we’ll get you started.

Wednesday, 8/5/20 – Pressing on… “Busyness vs Busyness”

Busyness vs Busyness

Corrie Ten Boom once noted, “If the devil can’t make you sin, he’ll make you busy.” In yesterday’s blog I referenced Mary among those with singleness of mind and purity of ambition. Her story is found below…

cups of cappuccino and matcha tea served on cafe terrace

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:38-42)

Martha was busy, busy in doing what she understood to be good hostess things to do… Her busyness was directed at “serving” Christ.

Mary was busy too, busy being attentive to Christ… busy being served by Him, hearing and learning His Will. (See Luke 10:38-42).

silhouette image of person praying

Jesus was also busy, busy being about God the Father’s Will. He said, “By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.” (John 5:30).

I am convinced there is no work I can come up with and do to help along the work of the kingdom of God. No amount of my new ideas and busying myself about my “inventions” that will in the end have worthwhile effect. Instead, I must simply stop my self-generated busyness and spend time listening and learning the Will of God. Once I know it, as He directs me, I must do it.

20200804_070659Martin Luther was a very busy man. He was a man devoted to prayer. He once commented, “I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.”

Jehoiada was busy, busy in doing the Will of God, as directed by God. (Read 2 Chron. 22-23 and link to Pastor Andrew’s recent Sunday message – see below).

The Christian must always keep prayer and activity in balance. We must hear God’s Will before we presume to busy ourselves to do it. When God’s Will is made clear to us, then we must stir ourselves in the doing of it. It may require planning, additional helpers, strategies, tact and timing, but when we are directed by God such busyness is blessed.

Press on…

To hear Pastor Andrew’s Sunday message, go to the Facebook page of Lincoln Baptist Church, or link to the livestream from the church website.

Tuesday, 8/4/20 – Pressing on…

Brainwashed Believers?

person holding string lights photo

Some Christians are brainwashed. Most are not, and therein lies the problem! Too many confessing believers walk among us with brains that could use a good cleansing.

Paul called these folk “yet carnal” or “still worldly” (1 Cor. 3:3). James called them “double minded,” “unstable” (James 1:8). He identified the fix for this too. He said “…purify your hearts, you double-minded.” (James 4:8)

black board bright bullseye

Paul had this singleness of mind, this purity of ambition. “…this one thing I do…” he wrote (Phil. 4:13). David too desired and sought after only “one thing” (Ps. 27:4), and Mary chose that good “one thing” that was most important of all (Luke 10:42).

In all these instances that “one thing” was Christ.

The heart… the mind… they sully each other. Solomon cautioned, “Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life.” (Prov. 4:23), Jesus said,

“…the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what defile a person” (Matt. 15:18-20).

So how do we wash our minds, our brains, our thinking, our hearts? Scripture gives us clear direction…

By the mercy of God and the indwelling Holy Spirit…
“…according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit” (Tit. 3:5 ).

By our demonstrated obedience and agapé love…
Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart” (1 Pet. 1:22).

By feeding upon the Word of God…
Sanctify [set apart, make holy, cleanse] them in the truth; your word is truth.” (John 17:17).
That he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word” (Eph. 5:26)

By memorizing God’s Word…
“I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” (Psalm 119:11).

By the discipline of clean thinking…
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Phil. 4:8).

By confessing our sins…
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

By living rightly…
“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7)

By seeing this world as Christ sees it…
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Rom. 12:2)

red rose flower on body of water

Un-brainwashed Christian’s need a good brainwashing to become the sort of Christians whose lives honor Christ… Whose Name they bear… and Whose sons and daughters they claim to be.

If we are going to have the sort of confidence in God as had Jehoiada* then we are going to need a singularity of mind, and an undividedness of heart.

Are you a brainwashed believer? I hope so!

More tomorrow…

* See 2 Chron. 22 & 23 and link to Pastor Andrew’s message below…

To hear Pastor Andrew’s Sunday message, go to the Facebook page of Lincoln Baptist Church, or link to the livestream from the church website.

Monday, 8/3/20 – Pressing on…

NB Day!

20200802_164053Today across our country individuals in many Canadian provinces are enjoying a day off. The holiday goes by various names from province to province, but the reason for the holiday is the same: a celebration of all the beauty and blessings which living in one’s home province or community provides.

In British Columbia it is BC Day, in Saskatchewan it is “Saskatchewan Day,” in Nova Scotia it is called “Natal Day,” in Manitoba it is “Terry Fox Day.” Depending on where you live this day may be statutory holiday, a civic holiday, or no holiday at all! Here in New Brunswick we call it “NB Day.”

20200802_164738In this context “NB” most obviously means “New Brunswick,” but the abbreviation has many possible meanings. For example, depending upon context the acronym could mean “not bad,” “non-binary ,” “nose breather,” “not bothered,” or “nervous breakdown.” Most often when we see the term it is as an abbreviation of the Latin phrase “nota bene” which means “note well.” When used in this manner the intent is to emphasize the importance of some particular point.

This past Sunday Pastor Andrew referenced an important aspect of Elder Don’s message the week previous: i.e. that we must take responsibility and initiate actions to rid ourselves of the “little foxes” which destroy our vineyards… the “cute,” alluring, so-called “little” sins which destroy not merely our lives, but our souls.

woman in blue blazer while standing

Pastor Andrew expanded further on this truth by the example of the priest Jehoiada who gathered helpers, devised and implemented a plan and by these efforts he ousted the evil and established the will of God. (See 2 Chron. 22 & 23)

The Christian‘s commitment requires such initiative. It requires our necessary strategies, actions and energies to eradicate personal sin. Oswald Chambers writes,

“God will not make me think like Jesus— I have to do it myself. I have to bring ‘every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ’ (2 Cor. 10:5).” – Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, June 14 entry.

When I was a child Sunday dinner was regularly accompanied by Billy Graham’s weekly radio broadcast “The Hour of Decision.” Each week Billy would call listeners to decision… to repentance and a turning to Christ.

Decisions are decisive – that’s why they call them decisions. They mark important life milestones. They are “Ebenezer” stones that we set up… with sweat and effort — our sweat and effort… for the glory of God.

What decision is God asking you to make… now… today?

Could this be your NB Day? – A day to “note well” what the Lord is saying to you…. a day most important?

More tomorrow…

To hear Pastor Andrew’s Sunday message, go to the Facebook page of Lincoln Baptist Church, or link to the livestream from the church website.