Thursday, 8/20/20 – Discipleship – Freedom from the Mire.

Freedom from the Mire

person s face covered with mud

We have such a petty, primitive, puny — human — view of freedom. We think freedom has to do with being released (and it does, but also much more), of being enabled to do whatever one wills, (and to a degree, yes… it can, but much more). We think freedom is a return to a former state of being… a “back to how it should be.” But that is exactly where we go sideways.

person with clay mask on her face

God wants to pull us out of the mire all around us, but not simply to set us down again on the earth! No, He wants to pull us out, and up… Up to the heavens… up with Him. “Look up,” He says. “See Me. – Do you see Me?

Jesus said to Nicodemus,

No one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again… no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.” (John 3:3,5).

sunset beach people sunrise

Of course apart from faith in Christ no one can enter heaven, but in another deeper, daily sense it is true also that no one can perceive the Christ Who is standing there beside them, waiting for that one to “feel after Him” (Acts 17:27). Apart from the Holy Spirit no one can “enter in” to the spiritual realities around them.

Elsewhere Paul writes,

The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.” (1 Cor. 2:14).

Jesus further told Nicodemus “We speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen…”

On this, Oswald Chambers comments,

“My spiritual history must have as its underlying foundation a personal knowledge of Jesus Christ. To be born again means that I see Jesus…. The new birth gives me a new power of vision by which I begin to discern God’s control.” (Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, Aug. 15 entry)

Freedom… true Christian freedom… is in seeing the kingdom of God. One raises his arms to be pulled out higher away from the mire. There is no thought of bringing some little bit of it with Him.

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.

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.

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.

Thursday, 7/30/20 – Discipleship – God’s Will

God’s Will

20200729_195834Homo-sapiens do not like rules. Ironic when You consider what the Latin derived name of our species means: homo = human being, + sapien = wise! Wise men? Yet, give a homo sapien a rule and right away he wants to break it.

Consider how we’ve responded the protective protocols of the current Covid-19 pandemic. Three simple rules: 1. Maintain physical distance. 2. Wear a face mask in public. 3. Wash hands often. Yet we’ve all seen the mass gatherings at beaches, rallies, protests – and some protests are protesting the three rules! Indeed, we are bent on insisting upon our own free will in all things. We do not like to follow the will of another.

apple apple tree apples branch

Long ago God gave homo sapiens our first rule. “Don’t eat that one!” What did we do? Well, you know what we did and what resulted was a very hard lesson indeed! We are reminded of it every time a woman gives birth or a man weeds his garden!

Some centuries later God gave us a few more rules — rules made necessary by our breaking the first rule. He kept the list short as possible: ten. But we did not do well with those either!

beige sand with heart engrave

So God sent His Son and His Son kept all the rules. He paid the penalty for all the broken rules and said instead “Follow Me!” Those who do, come to love Him. “If you love me, keep my commands,” Jesus said. “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching.” (John 14:15, 23). Jesus made possible a whole new way to do God’s Will. Paul called it “the most excellent way” (1 Cor. 12:31).

And God’s Will is not difficult to discern. We simply start from obedience to what we know and then He teaches us more… The more we obey Him the more He proves Himself to us. “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.” said Jesus.

What we will not do by rules from above we can and will do by the rule of love… Agapé Love… “God’s love… poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” (Rom. 5:5).

Love God… Do His Will…

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.

Thursday, 7/23/20 – Discipleship – No Evangelism in Heaven!

No Evangelism in Heaven!

20200722_084608This past Sunday I spoke regarding how in this life only is it possible for us to demonstrate courage and virtue… patience and hope… see the trials we face as opportunities which will only be possible in a world where opposition, evil and hatred may exist. I also stated that this brief lifetime (when contrasted with eternity) is the only window of opportunity we will have in all eternity to evangelize! In eternity there are no second chances at salvation.

20200722_085333Recently my wife and I took a day trip to St. Martin’s, NB. We did not learn till it was much too late that the route we had chosen involved a short section of closed highway. The detour we took was for awhile confusing and the road we eventually followed was rougher than the highway we might have chosen. But we did get to St. Martin’s and we did enjoy our time there. But once we were in St. Martin’s there was nothing we could do about the journey there that had robbed us of about an hour of our day. We could not then re-choose our poorly chosen route. That time had passed.

20200722_085307So too, in Heaven. We cannot then undo our failures to share Christ during our lifetime. We cannot re-choose. We cannot make up for it and evangelize anew in Heaven, for there are no lost souls in Heaven. What we may have failed to do during our lifetime will forever remain failed to have been done by us.

I know it’s scary. The first disciples – the first evangels – were scared initially too. Jesus knew they would be, so He gave them first, before the great commission to evangelize (Matt.28:18-20), these instructions:

Stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” (Luke 24:49).

And when the Holy Spirit filled these men everyone was astounded at their boldness!

When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.” (Acts 4:13 – See also vss.29, 31)

So pray… pray now… press in to God and invite His boldness… then go… speak… evangelize those the Lord has brought into your sphere… your world… and by all means…

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.

Thursday, 7/16/20 – Fellowship: Team players…

Team players…

child holding bat during daytime

I remember the first time I played baseball. It was in public school, I’m guessing grade four… grade four during the annual ‘Field Day’ at Prince Charles Public School in London Ontario. I must have just learned the rules and now for the first time in my life I found myself ‘at the bat.’ Yessir, inexperienced, nonathletic, young ‘Johnny-at-the-bat.’

baseball player in gray and black uniform running

The pitcher wound up, gave it all he got, and hurled that hard little orb straight at me. I swung and ‘CRACK!’ Much, much to my amazement – and I’m sure to the amazement of most of my classmates – I hit that little missile faaar out into the outfield. Dumbfounded, and shoulder still reverberating, I stood, never having anticipated getting this far! “RUN!” my class screamed in unison. I snapped back to action and I ran. I ran will all my mini-might! From base to base I ran. No one could stop me, and indeed no one did until I had just about made it round to home plate. Everyone had been shouting and I figured I must be the star of the game! That is, until I focussed more on what they had been shouting. Their urgent plea had been this: “You’re going the wrong way!”

ground orange balloon deflated

Deflating moments… we’ve all had them. Some more serious and ego damaging than others. And oh how the devil likes to rub our noses in them. Sometimes however we deserve them. When our noses get held too high we can’t see the roadway. Strutting about like this we can quickly become snobs! A fall may be needed to make us alert again to follow the roadway.

But a humble man can be crushed by an abundance of deflating experiences. It is the weakest of the flock that the predator stalks. We who are strong have a duty go those that are weak. And all of us are strong at some things or in some seasons and weak at other things or at other seasons. None of us can ever boast!

Paul writes,

“Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” (Gal. 6:1-2).

four person standing at top of grassy mountain

We see in this scripture the obligation to be a team player in this Kingdom of God family, yet at the same time to keep forefront in our thinking the truth that we do not do this from a position of personal strength. We must ever “watch ourselves” lest we also “be tempted.” The implication is that none of us is any better than our struggling brother or sister in Christ. Any one if us could be the next fallen comrade in need of a lift from a fellow believer.

We all need the team to cheer us on or shout at us if ever we take of running the wrong way. Be a good team player. Don’t be a snob. Give attention to where you are going. Encourage the weak. Run the right way.

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.

Thursday, 7/9/20 – Discipleship – Prayer

Prayer: When God says “No.”

adult birthday birthday gift box

In Prayer – Does It Make Any Difference? Philip Yancey writes, “I have sometimes found that I get an answer to my persistent request after I have learned to do without it. The answer then comes as a surprise, an unexpected gift of grace. I seek the gift, find instead the Giver, and eventually come away with the gift I no longer seek.”

Often the real point of our praying is just this sort of self transformation. Augustine pointed out that a person should approach prayer not so much that God becomes instructed, but that the one praying be constructed.

man standing in the middle of road

We must take caution that when we, like Jacob, decide to “wrestle with God” we remember that very often God wins. And when He does, we ought be just as joyous as when in His grace He grants our desire. We must be prepared to receive God’s “No” and move on — as Paul did regarding some uncertain personal impediment:

…a thorn in the flesh was given to me,” he writes. “I asked the Lord three times about this, that it would depart from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is enough for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’” (2 Cor. 12:8-9).

Paul prayed, and the Lord said “No.” What was Paul’s response? He accepted the Lord’s reply and said, “So then, I will boast most gladly about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may reside in me.” Paul adjusted his thinking to see this ‘thorn’ as God saw it: a means whereby to keep Paul from arrogance (v. 7).

silhouette image of person praying

As always, Jesus is our example. When faced with His greatest, most urgent and desperate personal desire He prayed, “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.” (Luke 22:42).

In praying thus, Christ both recognized the sovereignty and ability of the Father. He prayed in essence, “Father, here’s what I desire, but my greater desire is to do what You desire. If what You desire cannot accommodate my request, then have Your way.”

When we approach God with out requests we must never forget they are requests, not instructions! God is God. We are not. When we do come before Him in this manner—call it bold humility – we may find as did Yancey that God has answers better that our asking, and that very often that answer is simply Himself.

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.

Thursday, 7/2/20 – Discipleship – The Bible

The Bible

20200701_091945This past Thursday, June 24 Christian actor Denzel Washington was interviewed on Instagram Live by Brooklyn Pastor A.R Bernard of Christian Cultural Center.

“After all is said and done,” Denzel concluded, “I want to be in that number! I just want to be in that number when the saints go marching in. I want more than anything else in my life to be in that number.”

coronavirus

As the two chatted, each from their separate locations, they mentioned the impact the Covid-19 pandemic has had on all the citizens of the planet. How physical distancing and self-isolation have forced humanity — all of humanity — to consider their need for God. Though some just became all the more frantic, many paused to, as scripture has long enjoined, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Ps. 46:10).

bank bars business cash

In the interview Denzel testified to the meaninglessness of temporal accomplishments, worldly wealth and fleeting fame. What really matters is our relationship with God and the legacy of faith which we leave. Nothing temporal will go with us into eternity.

The Word of God is also eternal. By this I obviously do not mean our physical Bibles, but the eternal Word of God which is “forever… settled in heaven” (Psalm 119:89).

Isaiah pronounced “The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever.” (Isaiah 40:8). David sang “Every one of Your righteous ordinances is everlasting.” (Psalm 119:160). In all three of the synoptic gospels Jesus taught “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.” (Matt. 24:35, Mark 13:31, Luke 21:33). Peter echoed “But the word of the Lord endures forever.” (1 Peter 1:25).

earth space universe globe

The spoken Word of God was implemental in creation: “And God said…” (Gen. 1:3, 6, 9, 14, 20, 24), and It was the stated Word of God that Satan challenged: “Did God really say…” (Gen. 3:1). It is the Word of God that was made flesh in Christ and walked among us:

The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14).

It is the Word of God that will keep us from sin:

I have hidden your Word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” (Ps. 119:11). (See also Matt. 4:1-11)

And it is the Word of God to which you can cling is these days of turbulence.

For the Word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to Whom we must give account.” (Heb. 4:12-13).

bible book business christian

In the back of one of our discipleship resource books there are lists of various scriptures to help the believer stay focussed amid a variety of trials. Similar resources exist online and in scripture tracts and in many Study Bibles. The Word of God is foundational. Get to know it, and Him, well, as Paul urged young Timothy,

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth.” (2 Tim. 2:15).

Submit to the Word’s incisive blade, rest on its promises, be nourished by its life-giving bread and grow strong as you move from its milk to its meat.

Press on…

View the 33 min. interview with Denzel Washington here.

Are you interested in being discipled one-on-one in the fundamentals of new life in Christ? Use the Contact page and we’ll get you started.

Thursday, 6/25/20 – Discipleship – Priorities

Word of God vs Personal Behaviour

bible blur book christian

I was listening to a message by Pastor Michael Brown the other day and was intrigued by his statement that we tend to interpret the Word of God through our behaviour rather than the other way around. If, for example, we are engaged in some activity contrary to the clear teaching of scripture (i.e. sin) we use rather clever mental gymnastics to interpret the Word of God in a way to justify our sinful behaviour.

offended young indian couple sitting on sofa

Let’s say a believer holds a sinful resentment in his heart against another believer who has in some way wronged him. Rather than take to heart the command to not let a root of bitterness grow within us, the command to not give the devil a foothold, the commands to foster unity, to be a peacemaker, to pray for those who mistreat us, and many other clear commands, the erring believer will accept his or her resentment as valid and seek to justify it by misusing scriptures, perhaps pointing to passages on shunning the unrepentant brother, or framing the resentment as righteous indignation.

notes on board

But the mature a believer will understand that the clear truth of the Word of God has first priority. Instead of interpreting scripture through one’s behaviour the maturing believer will interpret his or her behaviour through the Word of God. He will listen to and happily accept the convicting voice of the Holy Spirit and adjust his behaviour accordingly.

A believer with proper priorities will live by the Lord’s injunction “Seek first His kingdom and his righteousness” (Matt. 6:33). Not only because he knows it to be the right thing to do, but also because it is his heart’s greatest desire.

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 comforting your path to Christ? — Use the Contact page and we’ll get you started.

Thursday, 6/18/20 – Discipleship – Freedom

Freedom Indeed!

sad isolated young woman looking away through fence with hope

There is no worse bondage than guilt, no greater freedom than forgiveness.

In saying He came to set men free Christ did not merely announce “He whom the Son sets free, will be free.” He said, “He whom the Son sets free, will be free indeed.” (John 8:36).

20200617_174326Imagine it, if it is not already yours: PeacePeace with God! Such a gripping thought! So much so that Billy Graham’s 1953 Bestseller by that title sold 2 million copies and is still selling today.

People are troubled. They do not have Peace with God and either seek it desperately or try to bury the angst with anything at hand: alcohol, sex, drugs, materialism,

depth of field photo of two pilsner glasses

fame, wealth or wild living. Some try to be their own saviour, perhaps by self punishment in hope of gaining a sort of divine atonement by asceticism, self-mutilation, starvation, cutting, or self-flagellation. Or perhaps by an abundance of good-deeds or contributions of money to the church.

None of these bring Peace with God.

adult alone black and white blur

Tormented, some choose what they believe to be the final exit, suicide, thinking it will bring nonexistence which they deem preferable to their pain. But neither will death bring the sought for relief for the pain is not resident in this world, but in the soul of the individual which shall live forever. Guilt can be taken with you; it’s only remedy is Christ.

Because guilt is such a constraining bondage we assume our deliverance must exact a very costly price. And we are correct. It us a price none of us can pay. It requires a holy sacrifice. The pure for the impure. The Innocent for the guilty. None Such is to be found on this earth. But all praise to Christ such a One exists in heaven. It is, always has been, and ever will be Christ.

backlit cemetery christianity clouds

Christ alone brings to us the possibility of freedom. Not only freedom from guilt, but freedom to choose rightly by the new nature He places within us. Freedom to be transformed into His likeness. Freedom to choose the right and shun evil.

He whom the Son sets free, will be free and more.
He whom the Son sets free, will be free indeed.

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, 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.