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.

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.

Wednesday, 7/29/20 – Pressing on… “Gouge and Cut”

Gouge and Cut…

adult animal care clinic

Gouge and Cut. These are violent words. You do neither tenderly. Gouging and cutting intend damage, aye destruction, to their objects.

This past Sunday Elder Don stated that in dealing with known sin in our hearts we must “do violence” to it.

Jesus put it like this:

“If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.” (Matt. 5:29-30).

action axe blur chop

One of the “keeper” books in my personal library is Born Crucified by L. E. Maxwell. In it, he warns “Unless we die to self, we shall die of self.” He explains…

“…denial of self is no mere severing of this or that indulgence, but putting the axe of the Cross to the very root of the tree of self….To trim it back only means that the very life of self is thrown back into other more rugged roots to develop the Pharisee into a more vigorous tree.”

When the gospel moved hearts to repentance in Acts 19, the Ephesians were “seized with fear.” The Name of Christ became highly honored and, as Luke records, their response was decisive…

“Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed what they had done. A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly. When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to fifty thousand drachmas. In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power.” (Acts 19:18-20).

black cross on top of mountain

Pruning a tree – a sin – does not diminish it in any way. Though it may appear beaten back somewhat you have only made it fight back more vigorously. To get rid of the thing you must destroy it at its root. As Maxwell reminds us by quoting C.M. Slow,

“The symbol of the Christian Church is not a burning bush, nor a dove, nor an open book, nor a halo round a submissive head, nor a crown of splendid honour. It is a cross.” – C.M. Clow

The cross speaks of death… of willing self-crucifixion. Only then is resurrection possible.

Press on…

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

Tuesday, 7/28/20 – Pressing on… “House Guest”

20200727_123252“House Guest”

On Nov. 8, 1962 an episode of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour TV series aired entitled “House Guest.”

As the story opens, a young boy swims too far from shore and begins to drown. Fortunately, he is rescued by a nearby unemployed drifter, Ray Roscoe. Grateful, his parents invite Ray into their home to stay a few days. Days become weeks as Ray begins to reveal his true colors. After flirting with their maid, wrecking the family car, and assaulting the boy’s mother, Ray unashamedly demands twenty thousand dollars before he will leave.

20200727_103542At first, the family yields to Ray’s demands out of sense of obligation for him having saved of their child’s life. But in the end it becomes blatant blackmail. After all, wasn’t their son worth twenty thousand dollars? Ray reasons. Or would they prefer to keep their money while Ray re-drowned their boy? The plot thickens and ends with a twist that only Hitchcock could have imagined.

The hour-long episode forces the viewer to ask just what is a saved life’s worth anyway? What is a “reasonable exchange” in gratitude?

jesus christ crucifixion

Ray was a wicked and deceptive taskmaster… a devil in his own right. But the Christian knows another “House Guest,” a kinder, most loving Saviour who saves not only the body but also the soul. He gives not only earthly life, but eternal life… life unending. What is one’s “reasonable exchange” in gratitude for that!?

Paul writes, “…I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.” (Rom. 12:1). Or, as the King James has it, “…present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.”

Paul is saying the only reasonable response to so great a gift is to turn from sin, surrender to this Saviour, and give over one’s life to His purposes and plans. Not by blackmail, not by unwilling constraint, but by grateful consent… by a renewing of how we think about sin, this world, the unmerited favour bestowed upon us, and the heavenly kingdom which awaits.

One’s response is a true and proper worship, and one’s offering is oneself.

More tomorrow…

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

Monday, 7/27/20 – Pressing on: Catching Foxes

Catching Foxes…

grapes vineyard vine purple grapes

The Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries and Water, located in Hobart, Tasmania reported in Sept. 2008 that since the red fox was introduced into Australia for recreational hunting in the 1870’s their rapid spread had resulted in an environmental and agricultural damage of over $200 million dollars annually!

Vineyards and orchards experienced fruit loss by foxes by the fruit either being eaten directly or being damaged to the point of being unsaleable. The foxes also chewed on irrigation devices further upping the cost by thousands.

fox on brown wooden plank

Little foxes are nocturnal. “The foxes have holes,” said Jesus (Matt. 8:20). These burrows are often located under the vine root systems, weakening the vines, and malnourishing the grapes. Little foxes must be eradicated if one’s vineyard is to be saved.

This past Sunday Elder Don reminded us of the passage in Song of Solomon 2:15, “Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards.” Foxes are always nasty critters in the Bible. Jesus once called Herod a “fox” (Luke 13:32).

women s brown and green floral dress

Foxes, “spiritual foxes,” sin, hypocrisy, idolatry, get into our “vineyards,” our lives, easy enough. They get in, just as they did in Tasmania, by personal invitation — and often for “recreational” purposes. They dig into us too… they chew at the roots, in the dark, out of sight. But their presence can be known by the condition of our fruit.

As Elder Don asked, Are you growing in Christ-like graces or diminishing in them? You know where your foxes are, the Holy Spirit has been pointing them out to you, perhaps for a very long time. He will help you do what must be done but it is you who must do the deed of eliminating them.

muscular athletic man exercising with dumbbell in sports center

There was one very good fox catcher in the Bible and he too had the Spirit of God empowering him. Yet, like you, it was up to him to do the deed of catching them. His name was Samson, and he once caught 300 of them (Read about it in Judges 15:4).

Once you rid your vineyard of foxes you must take steps to see they do not return. Jeremiah lamented, “Because of the mountain of Zion, which is desolate, the foxes walk upon it.” (Lam. 5:18). Don’t let your vineyard — your life, your spiritual life — grow desolate. Catch and remove those foxes today! Fill your vineyard with Christ!

More tomorrow…

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

Wednesday, 7/22/20 – Pressing on…

Day and Night

battle black blur board game
Unlikely Queen

Surprising and unplanned circumstances had placed Esther, a cousin and ward of Mordecai, himself a Jew taken captive under Nebuchadnezzar, into the Queenship with King Xerxes. (See Esther, chaps 1 & 2). When Mordecai got wind of a plot to destroy the Jews he urged Esther to utilize her privileged position and intervene. He said to her,

“For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14)

battle board game castle challenge
God’s Placement

Mordecai saw the hand of the Lord in bringing Esther to this precise time and place. The great trial that had fallen upon the Jews mixed with Esther’s time and placement from God. The challenge which now faced Esther became her opportunity to demonstrate before God her commitment to His purposes for her life and the lives of His (and her) people. It was all for “such a time as this.” She acted, and she shone.

A good friend of mine recently brought to my attention this comment by missionary Nancy Cockrell:

“It was God’s plan all along to bring you here to serve Him, by using your gifts to minister to others – for such a time as this. He has given you the grace to reflect the love and character of Christ, to be a light in a darkened world – for such a time as this. You have a unique place of service in God’s Kingdom, touching lives as only you can do – for such a time as this.”

Because you are right where you are supposed to be your trials too are opportunities — opportunities to remain faithful, endure, respond courageously, speak for Christ, serve the Church, Christ’s Body.

1. Your gifts are needed by those in your area of contacts and influence.
2. Your needs can be met by the people and resources you can access.
3. You play an integral role in the building of your local church, and the Universal Church of God.
4. You have an essential influence on the lost around you. Visible / invisible.
5. The Lord does not want you to seek an alternative.
6. There are things for you to learn right where you are!

architecture bar buildings city
Open Door

You have been created to inhabit this moment. Whatever you may at times think or question you are strategic to this time and place. Now is your hour of opportunity, the doors are open to you. Soon the clocks stop, time is ended, the doors are shut, eternity is your only reality.

“I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work.” (Jesus, in John 9:4).

What must you do or be before it is no longer possible?

Press on…

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