Tuesday, 5/26/20 – Pressing on…

Diversity

person holding white jigsaw puzzle piece

Does Unity worry you? Do you fear losing yourself? Does becoming one with Christ sound like (for Star Trek fans) assimilation by the Borg? Like becoming one big blob of spiritual mystery?

That doesn’t sound like the loving God I see in His Creation. Yet, how do we reconcile this portrayal in scripture of a place where the redeemed “will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.” (Matt. 22:30). This place which will be absent many loved ones we knew but who did not come to trust in Christ? That place of unending praise – unending praise! Yes, some things about heaven can seem unsettling at present.

Paul wrote,

“When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” (1 Cor. 13:11-12).

photo of blue glass bottle laying on book

I remember being a child. I remember the great joy I took in a new comic book superhero adventure. I remember dreaming and imagining wondrous worlds in play with my homespun space dolls. I remember the care and attention I put into assembling model kits and painting them with great detail.

I have none of these treasures today. In fact now they mean little to me. Most were disposed of during my teens as other more maturing interests took my attention.

“…when completeness comes, what is in part disappears.” (v.10)

unrecognizable african american scientist studying anatomy with tablet

Jesus likens His Church to a Body: Christ the Head, the Church the body, and each of us as believers as “members in particular”. What a perfect illustration: diversity, yet unity. Fingers, veins, kneecaps, ribs and countless other bits large and small all coming together in a functioning body with each part wholly involved in doing its bit, being fully fulfilled in doing it and all the while benefiting the whole body as well. But what’s more… soon this body will be United with its Head! Oh wonderful day! Now the whole of it will function so very well indeed! That is the Unity Christ desires… the Unity the Wise Head desires… and if we fully understood it it would certainly be the Unity, with diversity, For which the body also longs.

female monarch butterfly perching on red petal flower

Does a transformation like that sound ominous? I should think not. As Alice’s caterpillar friend replied yesterday when Alice asked him if he didn’t think becoming a butterfly one day might not be unsettling, ‘Not a bit,’ said the caterpillar. Some transformations complete us. They are just as they are meant to be.

More tomorrow…

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

Monday, 5/25/20 – Pressing on…

Unity

20200524_202612Who are you?‘ said the Caterpillar….
Alice replied, rather shyly, ‘I — I hardly know, sir, just at present — at least I know who I WAS when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then.’
… I can’t understand it myself to begin with; and being so many different sizes in a day is very confusing.’
‘It isn’t,’ said the Caterpillar.
‘Well, perhaps you haven’t found it so yet,’ said Alice; ‘but when you have to turn into a chrysalis — you will some day, you know — and then after that into a butterfly, I should think you’ll feel it a little queer, won’t you?’
‘Not a bit,’ said the Caterpillar.*

photograph of a burning fire

When Moses encountered God in the burning bush and the Lord commanded him to go to Pharaoh to begin the deliverance of the Hebrews, Moses replied, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” (Exod. 3:11). God answered Moses saying He would be with Him and when Moses enquired Whom he should tell the Hebrews had sent him God responded, I AM Who I AM.” This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” He said, “This is my name forever, the name you shall call me from generation to generation.” (v.14,15b).

Interesting, isn’t it, that man identifies himself with his lostness, “Who am I” while God identifies Himself with His Self-Existence, “I AM Who I AM.” The Hebrew statement “I AM” derives from the verb “to be or to exist.” By declaring Himself in this way God is saying He is ever-present, eternal, self-sufficient, self-determining, and unchanging. God is One. God is Unity and Diversity. God is Trinity, a word we use to describe this unique three-in-one Unity.

baby in white onesie holding wooden blocks

He has made us like Himself, three-in-one, as body, mind, spirit… as offspring, spouse, parent… yet as one. He has given us earth, sea, atmosphere… and told us to multiply… to make many… many for Him… for eternity, as Jesus prayed for as many as will believe, “to be with me where I am, and to see my glory” (John 17:25). And He intends to make believers so intimately connected with Him that we too are “one.” No more, “Who am I?” for we will have reached that completeness spoken of by Paul, that

“…unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ…. no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.” (Eph. 4:13-15).

sunset

We don’t yet fully know who or even what we are. But big change is certainly coming. John said, “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” (1 John 3:2). Jesus prayed, “that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you… that they may be one as we are one—I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity.” (John 17:21, 23).

Now that’s something to work towards! — Something to work towards today.

More tomorrow…

* Lewis Carol, Alice in Wonderland

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

Friday, 5/22/20 – Friday Tough Question

Does God know who will be saved? Do we really “choose” hell?

silhouette of man standing on rock under starry night

If we are going to ask the question “Does God know who will ultimately become saved?” we must realize there are two possible answers:

“Yes, God does know who will be saved,” or
“No, God does not know who will be saved.”

Let’s begin by reminding ourselves of the attributes of God.

God we understand to be Infinite, in other words He is in every place. He is also understood to be Eternal. This means He exists from our finite human perspective in every “time.” In other words God exists in yesterday, today, and tomorrow — not that He existed yesterday exists today and will exist tomorrow, but that He exists concurrently in all of these. This is why it can be said that Jesus Christ was “the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world” (Rev. 13:8) – that’s before mankind was created… before any possibility of human sin.

sky space dark galaxy

God is also understood to be Omniscient, which means all-knowing. This attribute alone seems to necessitate that God knows who will be saved. Adding the fact of his eternality we understand He exists in our future just as truly as He is exists now in our present. He is thus as equally aware of those coming to Christ now as He is of those who (from our perspective) will come to Christ in what (from our perspective) we call the future.

Given the fact of these divine attributes and the fact there are two possible answers to the question, the matter may simply be boiled down to this: Which answer seems most reasonable? That is, which is the most consistent with the attributes of God?

man standing near snow field

We are drawn to only one possible conclusion: God does indeed know who will be saved. But be clear about this: the fact of His knowing is in no way causative – i.e. He is not making them become saved, He just knows. We have free will and we can choose to or choose not to turn to Christ, to trust His pure sacrifice efficacious to atone, to take Him as Lord as well as Saviour. The fact that God knows already what we will decide does not diminish the fact of our free will.

We can understand this concept better by looking backwards. If I saw my wife having a fried egg yesterday for breakfast I can know that fact today. This is possible because I consciously existed yesterday as much as I do today as well. God is not so limited. He consciously exists tomorrow as much as He does in any temporal period. Remember, He created time as well as space (Gen. 1).

sad mature businessman thinking about problems in living room

But this understanding does not necessitate God causing known things in our future to occur. Just as my past knowing what my wife chose to have for breakfast is in no way causative of her decision. She freely decided to have an egg. She could have chosen to have something else, something unhealthy that would make her sick. But she chose an egg, nutritious, wholesome.

Consequences follow our choices and though God knows our decisions past and future He does not make them happen. He does however make every effort to draw us to the choice that is good for us, and that choice is Christ.

Press on…

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

Thursday, 5/21/20 – Discipleship – Evangelism (& COVID-19)

Evangelism (& COVID-19)

man handing a beer from the cooler

There is a difference between what it means to “pass it on” (see yesterday’s blog) and “pay it forward” ( a phrase popularized since the 2000 romantic drama film by the same name.) To “pass it on” is to have been given something from someone else and then to give that thing to another. The item was never yours, you received it freely, and it cost you nothing to give it to someone else.

photo of person handing card

To “pay it forward” means to have received some benefit, assimilated it fully, and then when an opportunity arises you give from your own consolidated resources a benefit of some kind to someone else. In short, someone does a gracious act to you and so you in turn do a gracious act to another. When you “pay it forward” you receive a thing or a service and make it your own, then later from your own resources sacrifice a thing or a service to someone else.

two boys sitting on bench wearing hats and long sleeved shirts

Passing it on” honors the original giver; “paying it forward” honors yourself. “Passing it on” is sharing; “paying it forward” is transaction.

It is really only possible to give grace out of your own experience of having received grace. The “beggar” who finds bread and shares it with another can accept no praise for having created the bread. No… He knows that in his own self he is still merely a beggar. It is like this with all God’s graces.

“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life…” (1 John 1:1…)

“…I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you…” (1 Cor. 11:23)

“…I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures…” (1 Cor. 15:3-4…)

Praise… the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God…” (2 Cor. 1:3-4).

photo of mountain under cloudy sky

Have you fretted during Covid-19 and found solace in Christ? Have you rested calmly through this crisis because your confidence is in Christ? Have you been thrust into financial need and found hope, strength, resources through Christ, His people, His Church? Have you lost loved ones or suffered personally because of the virus yet found comfort and encouragement in the Lord? “Pass it On.” When it comes to grace, we can only truly give what God has given to us.

Pass it On

and…

Press on…

20190522_065320Are 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, 5/20/20 – Pressing on…

Spark – How to build a fire

photo of bonfire

Although I grew up in a Christian home and was taught the truths of God’s Word from a very early age my public profession of faith in Christ was not until I was 18 — October 18, 1969 to be exact. Though slowly at first I can honestly say It was from that point on that my life truly began to change.

71 June - The BrotherhoodEventually I became heavily involved in activities with Youth for Christ. I was a camp counselor with “pre-delinquent” youth, that is young boys from broken homes in low-rental housing units. We ran summer camps and a weekly “Lifeline” clubhouse. From there I went on to coffeehouse ministry to a downtown crowd of peer-aged teens and young adults. I played bass in a coffeehouse gospel group for a short while and later transferred the coffeehouse/clubhouse ideas to an outreach among the Ojibwa of northwestern Ontario.

84 - Apr 24 - Walking the aisleFrom there the Lord led me to Bible College, to Saskatchewan and a ministry to the deaf in Saskatoon. Currently, and for the past third my lifetime now, we (I was married in 1984) have made our home in New Brunswick, Canada.

But I remember well those early days of faith. There was an unusual excitement in the air brought about by a special move of the Holy Spirit. It was the era of “The Jesus Movement” which made headlines among secular as well as religious press. Sadly though, the Truth of Jesus soon became a fad. Many souls truly came to Christ during that period but many others were only temporarily drawn along, good seed fallen on rocky places. They

“sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root” (Matt. 13:5-6).

20200518_151839Believers were afire for evangelism in those days, young, energetic, captivated and strong. We sang songs by the late Kurt Kaiser who died in January 2009 at age 83. Songs like Pass it On“It only takes a spark to get a fire going… Once you’ve experienced it… You want to pass it on.”

blur bright celebrate celebration

Evangelism was simple then. And it should still be simple now. As D.T. Niles coined, “One beggar telling another beggar where to find bread.” That “spark” motivated us. We gave ourselves willingly and eagerly to catch that blaze, to “pass it on” to do our bit to set the World Aflame as Billy Graham entitled one of his books.

That true “spark” is still available today, but many have chosen flash paper sparks of human making. Isaiah warns:

“But now, all you who light fires and provide yourselves with flaming torches, go, walk in the light of your fires and of the torches you have set ablaze. This is what you shall receive from my hand: You will lie down in torment.” (Isa. 50:11).

Now our society is ripe for a new change again. In fact, it has been forced upon us… lovingly forced upon us. God is giving society a shake and He is giving His people a nudge: go out there again. It still “only takes a spark,” His Holy Spirit spark. Receive that “spark” afresh again… Ignite…. Burn…. Set others ablaze too.

Press on…

To listen to “Pass it On” click here.

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

Tuesday, 5/19/20 – Pressing on…

Mirror Christianity

20200322_073341As we’ve been utilizing online services and teaching these days I recall how my first venture into a video upload brought a surprise. I looked SO OLD!

Of course there’s a perfectly good reason for this: I’m old. — Old happens, doesn’t it?

Then I noticed all the other little unconscious bits that a soul misses as it tries to express itself from the inside through a body which is all that is seen by others from the outside. My hair was untidy, I could have shaved better, I had a home-made bandaid on an index finger, I should have smiled more — and, despite being well aware of all the exhortations not to, I continually and unconsciously kept touching my face!

20200322_054608Yes, it can be disappointing to see oneself as one truly is. I remember my mother often citing with mock Scottish accent* this line from a peom by Robert Burns

O wad some Power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!
It wad frae mony a blunder free us

Roughly translated he says, What a wonderful power and gift it would be if God enabled us to see ourselves as others see us! It would prevent us from making many social blunders.

sky earth space working

We’re all seeing ourselves in new ways these days as we live in social distancing and self-isolation. Like astronauts in training we are forced to live with ourselves… in some cases with ourselves only.

There’s an old Seinfeld episode where Jerry thinks he’s met the girl of his dreams; they have so many things in common! When it gets to the point of the similarities being so minute as to be ridiculous Jerry realizes the relationship just can’t work. “I’m in love with myself,” he sputters. “I can’t live with myself! I’d go crazy!”

James writes about a man who looks at himself in a mirror. He says,

Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.” (James 1:23-24).

woman in black shirt facing mirror

It does no good looking at yourself periodically, straightening up this or that bit. Sooner or later you will end your looking and go right back to living from the habits you’ve built into yourself.

But real change is possible as we “put on Christ,” as we surrender to Him and obey Him as we ought. Then, the Holy Spirit of God transforms us from the inside out.

James continues…

But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.” (v. 25)

He goes on to tell us what that sort of living looks like. He states two points (v.27):

  1. Look after orphans and widows in their distress.
  2. Keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

What is it that God is calling you to do today? It is in just such very practical aspects of daily living that “The Fire of God” seeks entry into your being! What is God calling you to do today? As also one of our SermonIndex conference speakers challenged us: go now and do it. It may even make living with yourself a lot easier!

More tomorrow…

* Though my mother truly was of Scottish ancestry she did not naturally speak with Scottish brogue.

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

 

 

Monday, 5/18/20 – Pressing on…

Blowtorches and Birthday Candles

fire orange emergency burning

The term “Fire of God” strikes a chord of fearful apprehension in the minds of some Christians. On one level this is a very good thing indeed. The “Fire of God” actually is a dreadful and awesome thing. But on another level the wrong kind of apprehension can be a very bad thing indeed.

For some, perhaps several, the term conjures up in their thinking those turn of the century revivalist preachers coercing and sputtering late into the night in massive tents or open fields. Yet, this too is not a bad thing. All of this was most certainly a true move of God’s Spirit. It becomes a bad thing when a believer does not see himself as a part of that picture.

background burn burnt close up

When a believer hears of “The Fire of God” and thinks it an emotional thing… thinks it only as a public display thing, a bombastic, miracle-working thing best-suited for extroverts or exhibitionists — when a believer thinks that and does not see himself or herself as fitting that image, that believer may back away from the power of the Holy Spirit.

This is a most tragic thing.

Such believers must realize that the Holy Spirit is a gentleman… “ a dove,” remember? Like the bush observed by Moses the Fire of God does not consume you; It does not destroy you, but it empowers you to bring light with power and energy in a much greater way… the way for which you were designed.

Consider for example the Tabernacle architects. In Exodus 31 the Lord says to Moses,

“See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills— to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of crafts. Moreover, I have appointed Oholiab son of Ahisamak, of the tribe of Dan, to help him. Also I have given ability to all the skilled workers to make everything I have commanded you” (Exod. 31:2-6).

The “Fire of God” came upon these men, they were “filled with the Spirit of God,” and how did that Fire manifest? They built great stuff! The “Fire of God” took them as they were and enhanced their output. “The Fire of God” wants to burn in and through you too, and when it does… let me tell you, you’ll be loving it!

red lighted candle

But then perhaps you are that fiery revivalist sort. Well then go for that Fire all the same. This world needs Billy Grahams and Mother Theresas alike. It needs prayer warriors anointed and called with fervor in their faith. Didn’t Moses even say, “I wish that all the Lord’s people were prophets and that the Lord would put his Spirit on them!” (Num. 11:29). This world needs Blowtorches as much as it needs birthday candles, and neither does its job best until lit.

The question is, do you have a passion for it? Do you want God to ignite you in your own special way, or do you want to stay in your own shadows? Remember, you are not a piece of kindling, you are a candle. Being set ablaze is exactly the purpose for which you were created. Only when a believer is set ablaze will he or she best bring warmth and light to a cold and dark world.

More tomorrow…

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