Wednesday, 2/13/19 – Pressing on…

time clock sleep count

It had been an exhausting day–physically, emotionally, and mentally. I crashed into bed that night, slept deep, hard and fast. About 3 AM I pulled myself out to make a washroom trip… probably the only thing that could have forced my body into movement. Bumping off a wall or two I tottered my way to the washroom and lifted the lid of the laundry hamper. Thankfully, at the last second, the fog cleared and disaster was averted.

“Be alert and of sober mind,” warns Peter (1 Pet. 5:8). Fuzzy thinking can get us into a heap of troubles!

animal animals barbaric big

“Sober” is an interesting word. We tend to think of it as simply meaning the opposite of drunk, which it does, but it also means to be serious, restrained, not giddy. Peter calls Christians to be “of sober mind.” Peter also calls us to “Be alert,” To ever be wide-eyed, “on the watch” for prowling predators.

“Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

deer standing in forest

Perhaps you’ve seen those nature shows. Some frail and innocent creature is nibbling away at the undergrowth when suddenly its ears perk up… its body stiffens as its gaze darts about looking for what its senses say is surely near. Over there–it spots movement…  a lion! The creature darts madly zigzagging through the landscape. Other creatures taking its cue stampede. The lion, eyes locked on its single, frail quest pursues, galloping at maximum stride. Will it outrun its prey; will the target tire and succumb?

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.

closeup photography of lioness

What can halt a rampaging lion? The “king of the beasts,” we call him. Must we all tremble under his rule?
But wait…. there is a bigger Lion. A Lion with our best interests at heart! A Lion Whose roar shakes the earth! A Lion Whose appearance can halt the predator and send him cowering and whimpering away!

nature animal eyes fur

Christians know this Greater Lion, this King of the king of the beasts and King of the kings of men– Do you?

Don’t stumble about in the night any longer! Sober up! Be alert! It’s a jungle out there. Come to the Great Lion!

Press on…

Tuesday, 2/12/19 – Pressing on…

20190211_0729031 Peter 5:7 was my mother’s favorite scripture verse. “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” For her it was the King James version imbedded in her memory and which gave her comfort, “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” I remember her often reciting it… “Casting… care… careth…” it had an appealing ring.

Mom had good reason to rely on this promise. A play accident when she was very young had damaged her developing spine in an era when medical science could do little to correct it. She endured years of therapy which involved being hung weighted in a door frame, in hope of stretching her warping spine. She wore a heavy metal body brace beneath her clothing and became a target for the taunts of her schoolmates.

She told me the story of how one schoolyard bully threatened repeatedly to plough his fist into her spine and cripple her permanently. One day, fed up with this, she said to him, “OK… go ahead. Give it all you’ve got!” The bully did exactly that!

But mom knew a thing the bully had forgot: the heavy metal jacket she wore under her clothing!

The therapy was of little help. Kyphosis and scoliosis grew her into a truncated hunchback. No doubt she wondered if she would ever find love.

20190211_072825She served with the Red Cross during World War II. Some of her fondest memories were the smiles she brought to the wounded, souls far more disfigured than she. She did find love, and soon after the war ended she and my father were married. Dad took a job in a T.V. repair shop – cutting edge stuff back then. Mom worked in a bookstore, which she loved. I was born in 1951.

But even my birth brought challenges, negotiating my passage through her twisted and compressed organs. Year’s later when I began to have seizures doctors reasoned that this was the cause. When my grandmother died her father-in-law moved in and in time developed Alzheimer’s. When I was very young the same scenario had developed with her own father – till she found him dead one morning in our living room armchair. Three days past my 16th birthday my father died also and my widowed mom took in boarders to help make ends meet. This continued several years as she influenced the lives of many. Eventually worsening Parkinson’s disease forced her to close this chapter of her pilgrimage.

Mom died July 23 1990 from frailness of body, pneumonia, and finally a heart attack.

20190211_072934Throughout her life mom struggled with recurring nervousness. Another scripture to which she often turned was this,

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Matt. 10:29-31)

She told me once of a time she heard the Lord’s voice clearly and softly say to her, “Little girl, you worry too much.” Mom was a frail and faithful saint. Her quiet acceptance of trials and her developing habit of casting her cares upon Him is a legacy I cherish.

This same care is available to all who call upon Christ Jesus as their Lord and Saviour. He cares about you… now… so much that He gave His life to restore you. Cast your all upon Him today.

More tomorrow…

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Monday, 2/11/19 – Pressing on…

 

animal animal photography beak bird

In his message this past Sunday Pastor Andrew shared insights from 1 Peter 5:5-11.

The first of these verses speak to us of humility: “submit yourselves”… “clothe yourselves with humility”… “humble yourselves…” Each statement puts the onus on us, not God, to do something. Essentially, that thing involves a change of mind… a repentance!

Pastor Andrew pointed out to us how a definition of humility as “self-lowering” can itself suggest a certain self-pride.

blue and green peacock

I found this thought intriguing. But I believe I see his point: one must believe oneself to be “above” in the first place if one is to “lower” oneself in the second place. Truly humble people cannot announce their own humility. Truly humble people are unaware of their humility. They are only aware of the grace and glory of God.

“Humility,” explained Pastor Andrew, is really more akin to “honesty.”

Consider the Apostle Paul’s evaluation of himself. His words focus on the grace and the glory of God, yet also reveal his humility,

For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. (1 Cor. 15:9,10)

Paul simply saw himself as a sinner saved by the grace of God, being transformed for the Glory of God, as he confessed to Timothy,

Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. (1 Tim. 1:15b,16)

peacock on concrete surface

Pride and deceit were the devil’s original devices, the opposite of honesty is hypocrisy. Hypocrisy derives from the Greek hypokrisis “acting on a stage… to play a part, pretend.” Do you find yourself “play acting?” Do you need a “change of mind?”

Repentance is just that. It turns you toward the grace and glory of God. It moves you toward an honest underhandedness — a position “under God’s mighty hand.”

More tomorrow…

Listen to Pastor Andrew’s full message here. Look under ‘Media’ for the Feb. 10 message.

Wednesday, 2/6/19 – Pressing on…

photo of bathtub beside window

The past couple of days I’ve been speaking loosely around Pastor Steve’s topic last Sunday “The Holy Spirit is Our Helper,” part of his sermon series ”The Person, The Presence and the Power off The Holy Spirit.” (Listen to them all under ‘Media’ at the Lincoln Baptist Church website.)

In this address Pastor Steve drew largely from chapters 14 through 16 of the Gospel of John. These chapters are among the most endearing and personal passages in the gospels. They reveal the heart and love of Jesus against the backdrop of the eternal plan of the Father. They are also filled with teaching regarding the Holy Spirit.

I always slow down when I read these chapters. To me they are like a hot tub, or perhaps a bubble bath, words for soaking in… a place to leave the aches and strains of your day.

photo of woman sitting on stairs

Just look how they begin, “Do not let your hearts be troubled,” speaks Jesus, “…I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” He continues… “I will ask the Father, and he will give you… the Spirit of truth… I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you… Because I live, you also will live… Peace I leave with you…” In chapter 15 He tells us “… I have loved you… You are my friends… I chose you… appointed you… whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.”

Good words. Encouraging words. Words of hope and a wonderful future—for those who have placed their trust in Christ… those who claim Him their substitution for the just penalty of their sin, and who name Him and obey Him as their Lord and King.

adult alone anxious black and white

But the Holy Spirit does quite a different work in the hearts of those who are at present estranged from Him. John chapter 16 tells us the Holy Spirit “will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because people do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.” (John 16:8-11)

bare feet boy child couch

It is the Holy Spirit that brings conviction to the heart… that fearful discomfort that maybe, just maybe the gospel is true! Maybe, just maybe death is not the end, oblivion does not await, and each soul must meet its Maker. An inner angst that perhaps at that meeting such a soul may be found lacking – then what?

The convicted soul wants to break and run, to do anything to escape this work of the Holy Spirit: become busy, hang with peers who also deny Him, accumulate wealth or possessions in attempts to soothe away the fear, get lost in drink, sex, chemicals. But the Spirit is relentless. “The Hound of Heaven” Francis Thompson called Him.

And why? Why won’t He leave the lost alone?

Because He loves the pursued. He wants to bring them all the above blessings and more. And He wants to use His faithful in this work… partners together with the Holy Spirit of God. To them the Holy Spirit is their Helper. He is their Comforter, Counselor, and Advocate. He enables them to be bearers of such good news, and works with them to bring conviction to the heart needing Christ.

Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” (2 Cor. 3:5-6).

Whichever group you find yourself in, know this: your very best future lay in ongoing surrender to God. Thank the Lord for sending us the Holy Spirit.

Press on…

Tuesday, 2/5/19 – Pressing on…

background conceptual contemporary creativity

I was barely a teenager when the invasion hit the continent. It was not an invasion of enemy forces, not locusts or frogs, or flies. It was not an invasion of aliens from space – though some of our parents thought it was close to that. No, this was dubbed “the British invasion.” It began with Beatles, then Stones, Animals and Monkees. It caused our hair to grow and our eardrums to rattle. Females often fainted from its spell… mass hysteria spread our two nations.

audio e guitars guitars music

Yes, it began with the Beatles…. At first they wanted to hold our hand; then they plead for something deeper… they needed “Help!”

Help!
I need somebody
(Help) not just anybody
(Help) you know I need someone
(Help)

When I was younger, so much younger than today
(I never needed) I never needed anybody’s help in any way
(Now) but now these days are gone (these days are gone) I’m not so self-assured (and now I find)
Now I find I’ve changed my mind, I’ve opened up the doors

Help me if you can, I’m feeling down
And I do appreciate you being ’round
Help me get my feet back on the ground
Won’t you please, please help me?

And now my life has changed in oh so many ways
My independence seems to vanish in the haze
(But) but every now and then (now and then) I feel so insecure (I know that I)
I know that I just need you like I never done before

Help me if you can, I’m feeling down
And I do appreciate you being ’round
Help me get my feet back on the ground
Won’t you please, please help me, help me, help me, ooh?

Help! – The Beatles – Release Date: June 19, 1965 / Recorded at: EMI Studios, London
Revisit the boys here (After the ad, of course):

Interesting, isn’t it, how these cries of over half a century ago echo our need today…

man in white shirt holding rock formation

Do you need somebody… Not just anybody?
Was there not a time when you felt invincible, a time when you were so much younger than today? A time you felt you never needed anybody’s help in any way?
But life has a way of eventually shaking such confidences… you find you are not so self assured.

You need to touch something beyond yourself… something eternal. It’s time to admit it… time to “open up the doors.”

antelope canyon arizona

When you do, you find there has been a Helper there beside you all along–just waiting for you to turn to Him, and ask… to bow to Him and surrender…. There’s still time. Raise your arms and praise Him,

“I do appreciate you being ’round…”

We all need Him… need Him “like we’ve never done before.”

He is here, waiting for your call.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matt. 11:28-30)

More tomorrow…

Monday, 2/4/19 – Pressing on…

cat lying on cloth

I remember how good it felt last winter when I came down with a miserable chest cold, stomach upset, cold chills and fever – oh, sorry… that wasn’t the good part. The good part was the comfortable resting in my big office recliner, drowsy with Tylenol but snug and cozy under a huge plush quilted comforter. The world and it’s problems spun someplace outside me, and I could do nothing to affect it. I was in a zone… a ‘sick’ zone, unable to ‘do’ anything. For me, now, Job #1 was rest and recovery. I had no say in it.

adult care cure doctor

I remember another very good experience too, just after my mother had passed away. (Again, not the good part.) I was driving from Saskatoon to an interpreters’ conference in Vancouver. I was run down from all the recent stress and lost sleep. I stopped in to a medical clinic in Hope, BC to see if I could get some antibiotics. The doctor on duty prescribed me some meds, but noticing my emotional distress he asked if anything was upsetting me. After I shared with him about my mother’s recent death he asked, “What would your mother want you to do?”

This cast a whole new light on my despondency. I realized she would want me to find joy again, to carry on, and not become stalled by her passing. I have been grateful since to this man for his counsel and shared often this insight with others.

close up of human hand

Finally, there was another incident where someone at my side supported me. There had been a mix up at work over some now long-forgotten happening. I was in the clear, but couldn’t evidence it. Thankfully another worker advocated on my behalf and the matter passed.

Three very good experiences indeed: comfort, counsel, and vindication. In the above instances the agents which brought these were a blanket, a doctor, and a co-worker. None of these were threatening; all of them were inviting.

How much more is the Holy Spirit all these things – our Comforter, our Counselor, our Advocate! Draw closer to Him today. He is the Great ‘Paraclete,’ the One called alongside us, our Helper.

More tomorrow…

Wednesday, 1/30/19 – Pressing on…

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So… what is that “place for you” to which I said yesterday the Holy Spirit was the One to lead you? To where are you being led by that “still, small voice” (See 1 Kings 19:11-23)? Ultimately the destination of every believer is home… our true home, heaven… with our exalted Lord. But where is He leading today?

“What does God want me To do?” is a question I hear often from many believers in our Lord Christ.

I find some great insight into this in Paul’s ambition as he explained it to the Philippians. He wrote,

“I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.… “
“I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 3:12, 14)

man climbing on gray concrete peak at daytime

This is one of my favorite passages, as you can probably tell by my “Press on…” sign-offs through the week. The very words suggest moving forward despite opposition… as if running a marathon against a very strong headwind… just keep going, eye on the prize at the finish line. Press on

Well, that’s all a very nice analogy, but what does it look like in reality? Just what is Paul “pressing on” to do… to be?

You know, I don’t think Paul himself precisely knew! What he says in essence is, God has something in mind for me… and while I don’t know what it is exactly at this point, what I do know that if God has a plan for me, then that’s the plan I want to pursue!

How did Paul figure out the day-to-day steps of that plan? I think by following everything we’ve said the past two days: He was sensitive to the Voice of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

“…the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’” (Acts 13: 2,3)
“…kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia.” (Acts 16:6)
“ ….but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to.” (Acts 16:7)
Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” (Gal. 5:25)

How do we know what step to take next? The same way we started out on this journey, by faith!

“…After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh?” (Gal. 3:3)
“…we live by faith, not by sight.” (1 Cor. 5:7)
“…continue to work out your salvation…” (Phil. 2:12)

You’ve raised your sails and caught the wind of the Spirit, so why would you stop and try to sail your ship on dry land?

No getting around it, you’re going to need the Holy Spirit.

Press on…

Note: To listen to Pastor Steve’s most recent message on the Holy Spirit, go to the Lincoln Baptist Church website, click on Media and select from the list.