Monday, 10/21/19 – Pressing on…

Election Day!

Today is at last the big day here in Canada! Today is our Federal Election Day!

20191019_174337By the end of this day one fortunate candidate will indeed be Canada’s “chosen one.” They will have been “elected,” set apart from the others, to take the reins of this country. Despite what other political leaders might think no one can become a “chosen one” by his or her own declaration. To be ”chosen” requires the decision of entities (or an Entity) outside oneself.

pexels-photo.jpg

I sometimes get an email or a text or even the occasional “snail mail” – you know, that low-tech stuff we used to just call “mail” – telling me I’m in line to win a million bucks, or 10 million, it doesn’t really matter. Thing is, I’ve been “specially selected.” I have been “chosen!” Sometimes I’ve even “won” in a contest which I did not enter. I’ve “won” several sweepstakes I never entered, plus any number of flights, cruises, luxury homes or automobiles simply because my cell number was “selected at random.”

Well, I may indeed be “in line” for such a prize, but the line-up is longer than the sum of those in all Disneylands and the prize is as fictional as the Mouse that started them. I may indeed “qualify,” but the requirements were merely to have a pulse.

All of this understandably creates a cynicism of sorts. Tell me I’ve been “specially chosen,” or “elected a winner,” and my knee-jerk reflex is to scoff.

The devil loves this dynamic. The devil loves to lure us to forget that we who place our trust in Christ are indeed the “elect” of God. Peter writes, “…you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” (1 Pet. 2:9).

crucifix on top of bible

We live in this world as sojourners… travellers… as Peter elsewhere puts it “strangers and foreigners.” We look forward to an eternal reign… not a monarchy, not a dictatorship, not a democracy, not an autocracy, not an anarchy. We look forward to a Theocracy, a Rule of God, a Kingdom of Peace where there is no war… where there are no tears.

In this world we are ambassadors, citizens of Heaven, “elected” to rule with Him yet here now in this place to sow His Love.

This Election Day let us remember as those returns flood in: While we may or may not in this world get the leader we desire, the rule of Heaven is sure. Jesus is Lord and we are His people, His servants, called to be kings and priests to our God! Don’t let the campaigns of our spiritual foe dissuade you from this Truth. The matter is settled in Heaven.

More tomorrow…

Wednesday, 10/16/19 – Pressing on…

Where God lives

In his message to us this past Sunday Pastor Andrew referenced Isaiah 57:15, pointing out two quite different localities in which the Lord God Almighty is pleased to dwell:

“For this is what the high and exalted One says— He who lives forever, whose name is holy: ‘I live in a high and holy place, but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.’” (Isa. 57:15).

air atmosphere blue blue sky

Did you catch that? God, the Eternal One and Creator of all, Who is comfortable in “the high and holy place” is just as comfortable “with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit.

And what does He like to do there, in the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit? He wants to “revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.”

black and white book business close up

According to Merriam Webster “revive” means “to return to consciousness or life,” to make something “become active or flourishing again.” It involves a restoration from a state of depression, inaction or disuse, a renewal of mind or memory. God is comfortable to live within broken people and loves to renovate them into glorious abodes, “high and holy” ones like His other dwelling place. And He’s just the One Who can do it!

adult alone black and white blur

But His labour isn’t free — It’ll cost you your pride.

Ripping out your pride may make a mess inside you, but all long-lasting renovations go through that. God gets out the mouldy bits behind the drywall, tears out the wood rot, and firms up the foundation.

Where is He?

He’s right outside your door… right now… Listen… hear that knocking? Hear Him call?

“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock.
If anyone hears my voice and opens the door,
I will come in… “ (Rev. 3:20a)

You know what you must do.

Press on…

To hear Pastor Andrew’s complete message, go to the Lincoln Baptist Church website and look under ‘Sermons Online’ for the Sept. 13 message.

Tuesday, 10/15/19 – Pressing on…

Coming in for a Close-Up…

action adult aperture blur

Gemini Man is currently among the most talked about new movies to arrive in theatres. The film stars Will Smith as Henry Brogan, a 51-year-old assassin who is being hunted by a younger clone of himself. Brogan must uncover why and who is behind this creation. The film uses the latest computer based de-aging technology and was years in the making just waiting for such creative possibilities. It was filmed originally at 120 frames per second rather than a more typical 48 frames in order to create more precise images.

Screenshot_20191013-150935The reason for all this is that director Ang Lee desired numerous close-ups of his digital co-star. He wanted every detail, every pore, to appear as a believable flesh and blood character. For that, the technology had to mature.

Pastor Andrew’s message this past Sunday challenged us to follow Jesus as His disciples did – up close, and under our Lord’s near scrutiny. (see Mark 6:1). They were with him when Jesus preached in his hometown and they heard the people respond saying, “Where did this man get these things?” …“What’s this wisdom that has been given him? What are these remarkable miracles he is performing?” (Mark 6:2).

arts and crafts carpentry wood wood shavings

You see, they knew him as the carpenter boy, the young lad who grew through his teens and into his twenties among them. He was an ordinary fellow, a nice guy. But now where did all this come from? They had grown up being near to him but now they backed off. Scripture tells us “they took offense at him.” (v. 3). They didn’t like the idea of the neighbourhood kid pointing out their blemishes.

As Pastor Andrew pointed out, a nearer scrutiny reveals more flaws. Nevertheless, we need to allow God’s magnifying glass and bright lights to search us up close deep in our souls, like a diamond appraiser. This is the only way our flaws can be righted. It is the only way our cancer can be excised. In order for our proud hearts to allow this, it is we ourselves who must mature.

When we do that, we find that Jesus himself remakes us. He makes us the sort of people who can stand the scrutiny of others, because we have allowed the scrutiny of God.

Just a few years later Christ ended his earthly ministry and ascended to heaven. Then those who had followed him “up close” by the power of the Holy Spirit began to build His Church.

Scripture records how members of the Jewish council of rulers, elders and teachers of the law “were amazed when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, for they could see that they were ordinary men with no special training in the Scriptures. They also recognized them as men who had been with Jesus.” (Acts 4:13).

Follow Jesus up close. Allow him to search and scour and clean and change you. You’ll be amazed at the result!

More tomorrow…

To hear Pastor Andrew’s complete message, go to the Lincoln Baptist Church  website and look under ‘Sermons Online’ for the Sept. 13 message.

Monday, 10/14/19 – Pressing on…

No one ever thanks a genie.

arts and crafts cardboard close up design

Well at least I can’t recall a single story where anyone ever thanked a genie. Usually the story line goes that after the “poof” and the thing wished for appears the action shifts to what happens next with the thing to or with or by the protagonist. But I don’t ever recall a scene where the lamp owner thanks the genie.

Genies, it seems, are just meant to be used like a tool — a fantastic miracle-making tool indeed, but nonetheless just a tool. Genies are kind of like robots, or toasters, or lawnmowers in that sense. No one ever thanks these things. Genies are often viewed as possessions or at least the magic lamp or whatever is. You see the genie responds to whomever “possesses” the magic device. So like any device the genie inside it is also seen like something of a possession. You don’t have a

white and black two sliced bred toaster

relationship with, or thank, a possession. Then, when three wishes are used up, the lamp really isn’t much good to the possessor at all. In fact most people come by such a lamp or magic device because they stumbled upon it in the trash after it was of no use to the previous owner.

It seems even magic things and genies are becoming a part of a throwaway mentality. Get it, use it, dump it. Unfortunately it seems that many people look at Jesus that same way…

photo of man wearing eyeglasses

A crisis hits! There is nothing that can be done! “Oh God!” we cry out … We sometimes make all sorts of promises. Perhaps God in His great, great Mercy responds to even this shallowness. But like nine out of every ten lepers once things are made right, we toss Him aside. Or perhaps he does not respond. So we, angered, still toss him aside. Stupid lamp it doesn’t work… it doesn’t deliver!

But God is NOT a genie! We are NOT deserving of any favours, any mercies! If we think we are we are wrong, dead wrong!

We are the ones deserving to be tossed aside. God made us for Himself. He made us so He could demonstrate His Love, his Goodness. He made us for relationship… fellowship… intimacy. But we spat in His face, tore ourselves from His arms, and hid in His woods.

Yet still He loves us. Still He gives to us. He cannot stop. Our God IS Love. He is not a genie. He is our Father, our Maker, and Christ is our Redeemer, our Brother, and the Holy Spirit is our Comforter, our Teacher, and deposit of wondrous things to come.

Today in Canada is “Thanksgiving Day!” Are you thankful?

More tomorrow…

Wednesday, 10/9/19 – Pressing on…

Framing God!

20191007_175356Cinerama — a blending of the words cinema and panorama — first hit theatre screens in 1952. The process employed three interlocked cameras set at 48 degrees to each other in an arc with each camera photographing one third of the image. The resulting images were then projected by three similarly arranged projectors onto a 148 degree arced screen. The debut film was “This is Cinerama.” Here’s a link to its trailer.

20191007_175124As you can imagine, when movies filmed for Cinerama were cropped or compressed to be shown on smaller screens or television, much of the viewing experience and information was lost or distorted. Not many people have a viewing room with three projectors and a 148 degree arced screen!

20191007_175216When we set our selves to view God within the boundaries of our own self-determined frame, we fail miserably to really see Him.

The shocking truth is that God is in fact a very real, self-determining Entity! He needs no help from us to define or defend Him. He laughs when we try to put a frame around Him. “Do not I fill heaven and earth?” God asks through Jeremiah (Jer. 23:24). In his prayer at the dedication of the temple Solomon acknowledged “But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built!” (1 Kings 8:27).

20191007_194512“If you really want to meet Jesus,” Elder Don entreated us, “Throw away the box you made for him!”

God is infinitely bigger than a 148 degree arced screen! He is not limited to time, space, or human comprehension.

God cannot be framed!

Press on…

To hear Elder Don’s complete message, go to the Lincoln Baptist Church website and look under ‘Sermons Online’ for the Oct. 6 message.

Tuesday, 10/8/19 – Pressing on…

Genie or Jesus?

photo of a pathway in a forest

The story is told of two of Canada’s First Nation peoples walking along a woodland trail next to a highway. Suddenly the calm and chirp and rustle of the woods is drowned by the roar of a passing sports car driven by a young European. Says one to the other, “White man know how to get to town, but he not know the way.”

God’s purpose in our lives is not so much that we attain destinations as it is that we be transformed by the travel. We need to experience the way… develop callous, taste raw honey, be quenched by the brook water and savour wild mint. We need to feel the calm, release our stress, take comfort in the chirp, and rustle, and slowly but surely see our Maker more clearly.

This past Sunday Elder Don Longworth outlined five essential truths one must visit “if,” as his message topic stated, “you really want to meet Jesus.”

If you really want to meet Jesus…

• Check your motives at the door: petition or person? (Genie or Jesus?)
• Have no entitled attitude: approach God in humility and reverence
• Find a genuine follower to teach you: actual or biographies.
• Press in: seek with desperation; the forceful take hold of the Kingdom of God.
• Throw away the box you made for him!

person placing hands on bible

Are you journeying to Jesus because you want something from Him? Or do you seek simply to be with Him, to be engulfed and soaked through by Him? To give something to Him… to give Him yourself?

Yes we are encouraged to “come boldly” to His throne (Heb. 4:16), called to be “kings and priests” in His Kingdom (Rev. 1:6; 5:10), but we must steer far from arrogance. Though “we boast in the hope of the glory of God” we must ever remember it is His “grace in which we now stand” (Rom. 5:1). We approach Jesus in humility and reverence.

silhouette photography of people

Paul urged Timothy “the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.” (2 Tim. 2:2). We have a twofold duty: (i) to received guidance and encouragement and challenge from others whose faith we admire, and (ii) to be such a model ourselves to those newer to the path and cross of Christ.

Jesus said, “I am the Way…” (John 14:6).

Do you know the Way? – or are you just roaring around like a sports car?

More tomorrow…

To hear Elder Don’s complete message, go to the Lincoln Baptist Church website and look under ‘Sermons Online’ for the Oct. 6 message.

Monday, 10/7/19 – Pressing on…

Slow down and see…

I love to walk. Actually that’s not exactly true. I love to run, and I like to walk. But these days my body says I only get to walk. Running is out. Walking is now king, so I may as well say I love it!

unknown person pointing at magazine

Well, I arrived a few minutes early for church this Sunday. The worship team was still preparing for the service and the sanctuary was otherwise empty. So I lingered in the lobby and began leafing through the magazine rack.

When my eyes spotted an older issue of Faith Today* magazine with the cover article “The Joy of WALKING in a Life of Faith,” well, as you can imagine, it caught my attention.

silhouette of man at daytime

In it the author Mark Buchanan notes that Christianity has no physical discipline associated with it. He writes, “Hinduism has yoga. Taoism has Tai Chi. Shintoism as karate. Christianity has… nothing.” He wonders if perhaps Christianity did have a physical discipline which accompanied it and possibly lost it. But whether it did or it didn’t he speculates that if it were to have one the one most appropriate would be walking.

Jesus walked everywhere. When Jesus called “Come, follow me,” Buchanan points out that Jesus was walking, not driving!

Walking slows us down. “I needed to slow down to catch up,” he says.

This past Sunday Elder Don Longworth encouraged us to slow down and see Jesus. “It is amazing how much you will get out of a church service when all you want is Jesus,” He told us. To slow down and see Jesus enriches you no matter what the circumstances.

group of people raising hands silhouette photography

Sometimes even despite our mis-seeking, God breaks through. Were we seeking entertainment… spectacle… a concert? Sometimes even despite these we will see Jesus. How much more of Him might we see if we came seeking only Him?

Today is Monday. Another week lay ahead of you. Will you seek Jesus in it? Will you seek Him today…. Now? Paul and Silas saw Jesus as they sang worship songs to him from prison. (Acts 16:25-26). In fact, an earthquake ensued and their captor was set free. He too saw Jesus… he and his household. (v. 29-34).

Writes Buchanan, referencing Japanese theologian Kosuke Koyama, “I follow a three-mile-an-hour God.” A walking pace God.

Slow down. See Jesus. Walk with Him.

His eyes are on you.

More tomorrow…

*Faith Today, May/June 2019, p. 30