Wednesday, 11/21/18 – Pressing on…

“What is truth?” – Pilate (John 18:38)

The United States Declaration of Independence, written by Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Roger Sherman and Robert R. Livingston, was adopted by the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on July 4, 1776.

20181120_144731It begins with the words “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” It ends referencing “…a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence…”

Truth which is “self-evident” requires no proof or reasoning. It’s assertion is obvious. If I say “The house is bigger than its bathroom,” I really don’t need to take measurements and show you mathematically that this is true. It is obviously true since the bathroom is only a part of the house the whole house must be bigger than the part of it. I don’t need to show my work!

The authors of the Declaration of Independence are stating that since God is the Creator and since God is just and true He would not show favoritism to any of His creatures and therefore His creatures also ought not show favoritism of one over another. All men are created equal — that is self-evident based on the Nature of God our Creator.

Truth by definition must be absolute and universal… consistent with itself across time and space. The belief that truth is relative (i.e. that what is true depends on the individual) cannot stand. As Sunday’s message cited Ravi Zechariah’s logic, the assertion that “all truth is relative” is in direct conflict with itself. If “all truth is relative” then so must be the statement that “all truth is relative,” otherwise that assertion would be claiming to be absolute, which is what it denies. However, if the statement “all truth is relative” is itself relative, then it admits that at times all truth is not relative, but absolute, which is illogical and impossible. Therefore the premise cannot stand. It is self-defeating.

Like it or not, there is an ultimate standard, there is Truth and a moral law. – And it is by these that we all shall be judged. We stand before a very real God with very real standards and requirements. None of us can of ourselves meet His Standard, for His Standard is Holiness (Heb. 12:14). We need His Son Christ Who stands in our place, His Holy Spirit Who leads us into all truth, and the mercy of our Heavenly Father Who embraces us and transforms us into His Likeness.

“I am… Truth…” – Jesus (John 14:6)

Press on…

Tuesday, 11/20/18 – Pressing on…

I referenced in my message Sunday morning how we can be like the bear cub who’d gotten its head stuck in a plastic bucket. The poor animal was frantic and fearful of the men who had come to its rescue. The bear panicked and ran at their attempts to get near. It struggled and fought once caught. Finally, when escape seemed futile it succumbed, pinned by the weight of one heavy-set rescuer and held tight in the grips of others while one man worked at the bucket.

When I searched for the youtube link so I could share this with you I found there were a number of incidents to choose from, all different bears, different buckets… Evidently this happens often. Here’s one of them… (once you get past the ad… apologies.)

I wondered, What would cause a bear cub to stick its head deep in a bucket in the first place?

All I could imagine was there must have been something tempting in the bottom of the bucket. Was it honey? Sticky food scraps? Maple syrup, perhaps from a tapped tree? Whatever it was, the bear overlooked the danger and thought only of the immediate reward.

All temptations work like that, and among the animals we are no different. We are just as easily duped by the allure of the moment over the wisdom of the enduring. It matters not if the bait comes from the world, or the flesh, or the devil… as James outlines,

“…each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” (James 1:14-15, then he adds “Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters” (v.16).

Remember our summary from Sunday*,

“The ability to lie to yourself is a li-ability.”

Temptations, wherever they originate, are always a lie.

  • What buckets have you gotten stuck in in the past?
  • What buckets do you need to avoid?

What’s on your ‘Bucket list’ – not of things you’d like to do or places you’d like to go, but of things and places to avoid!

Kick these buckets far from you before its time for you to ‘kick the bucket!’

More tomorrow…

*if you would like to listen to this full message, go to the Lincoln Baptist Church website. Under Media, download the Sunday Nov. 18 message.

Monday, 11/19/18 – Pressing on…

white coffee mug on brown surface
Photo by Lisa Fotios

So I got home from church yesterday tired and hungry and needing a kick of caffeine to motivate me. Rather than wait through a whole brewing process I opted to heat up some leftover coffee in the microwave. It was already somewhat warm so I figured half the regular re-heat time should be sufficient.

But when I heard the “ding” and I took my first sip it was obvious my calculations were wrong. Lukewarm! I certainly didn’t want to drink of that cup of coffee with my pork and plum jam sandwich. (Hey, don’t knock it until you’ve tried it!)

Lukewarm coffee just doesn’t wash with me—literally, in fact. (The heat helps melt the sticky jam bits off your teeth.) Hot coffee, yes… ice coffee, okay, but lukewarm coffee? No way!

Apparently, the Lord won’t accept lukewarmness either, especially in His Church. Here’s what He said to the church in Laodicea,

“…you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” (Rev. 3:15-16).

This is a pretty serious consequence! The Lord, the God of the universe, would rather spit them out than receive them, because of their lukewarm to His taste!

Well how did the believers in Laodicea get that way? What made them cool half-way down to lukewarmness? And how can you prevent this from happening to you?

The Laodicean believers did just what our Sunday message warned about – they lied to themselves and believed it. They did not see the true state of their hearts. They needed God’s Searchlight to show them…

“You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.” (Rev. 3:17)

A church, or an individual, can get so busy doing godly things that they lose track of being godly people. The kind who have honest relationships with their Maker, who keep ‘short accounts’ with Him, who weed out sins before they can grow, the kind who worship “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:23,24).

sunset hands love woman

The wisdom of Solomon charges the godly, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” (Prov. 4:23) — and the way to guard that heart is by frequent applications of that Searchlight.

Notice the Father’s love in all of this. He is warning the Laodiceans. He says I am about to spit you out. He hasn’t done it yet, and He tells them what to do to fix the problem. Essentially He is saying the same thing as our message on Sunday: Come to Me. Let My ‘Tac-light’ shine on you. We can pinpoint and fix this.

“I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.” (Rev. 3:18)

And why is He offering this? Because He loves them… “Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline….” (v. 19). He wants to restore sweet fellowship with them… “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” (Rev. 3:19-20)

And that’s a love you can warm up to.

More tomorrow…

Wednesday, 11/14/18 – Pressing on…

cross jesus summit cross

The thief, dying beside Jesus on an adjacent cross, believed and cried out to Him “Remember me!” (Luke 23:42). Instantly Jesus assured him, saying “Today you will be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43).

Twice the author of Hebrews states the divine promise to those who repent (turn from sin and follow Christ Jesus) “their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.” (Heb. 8:12; 10:17)

Our Creator’s heart is to remember the sinner and to forget the sin! This is amazing! In fact, special words are necessary to describe it: Agapé: the love that motivated it, Grace: the un-earned kindness extended to us, and Mercy: the undeserved pardon only He could grant.

This willful remembering and forgetting on God’s part has all to do with His overriding desire for fellowship with us — His free-will creatures who can decide or not to love Him in return.

What can be our response to such an initiative?

This past Sunday at Lincoln Baptist Church Pastor Andrew directed our focus to the response of David in Psalm 103…

Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, my souland forget not all his benefits

  • who forgives all your sins
  • and heals all your diseases,
  • who redeems your life from the pit
  • and crowns you with love and compassion,
  • who satisfies your desires with good things
  • so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

(Ps. 103:1-5)

Stuff you learned in kindergarten really, but stuff sin led you to forget: say thank you, remember how blessed you are. Paul encouraged Timothy to remind his charge of these basics as “a good minister of Jesus Christ” (1 Tim. 4:6). “Remember Jesus Christ raised from the dead,” he urges (2 Tim. 2:8). What a pitiful lot we are that we can so easily forget!

David ends his psalm as he began it, instructing his soul “Praise the Lord, my soul.” (v.22)

What things must you remember?
What things must you forget?
Which way is your soul going?

To every man there openeth a way and ways and a way.
The high soul treads the high way and the low soul gropes the low,
And in between on the misty flats the rest drift to and fro.
But to every man there openeth a high way and a low —
And every man decideth the way his soul will go. – John Oxenham

Christian: Remember!
Lost one: Repent!

Press on…

Tuesday, 11/13/18 – Pressing on…

“You don’t have a soul,” wrote one highly respected Christian apologist – and I quite agree with him.

agreement balance blur business
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

We’ve all read books or watched films where some desperate individual makes a deal with a devil and agrees to swap their soul at a future date in exchange for some power or fortune in the present. These folk, overcome by their immediate avarice, mistakenly think the soul a barterable commodity.

But one’s soul really is no currency for trade at all. Not one of us has a soul that we can give. OK, OK, before you make ready to burn me a heretic at some stake I will explain. The full quote I began above is this: “You don’t have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.”- C.S. Lewis.

You see “you” are soul. “You” are that “breath of life” bestowed by God… breathed into the first man Adam (Gen. 2:7). What had been mere clay became life by the entrance of that breath, “and man became s living soul.” “You” dwell here living in that decaying form until It cannot function longer. At that instant it will surrender “you” while itself returns to the dust from which it came (Gen. 3:19). But “you,” however can not die! “You” are an eternal thing … an eternal soul.

Where will you then go next? You cannot roam the earth like the devil and his demons. Ghosts are but his lie, a ruse to cloud your mind from the real alternatives.

Jesus came to tell us plainly our options. He said to His faithful, “I go to prepare a place for you….” (John 14:1-4).

He wants us to forever live with Him. That is why He came… to save souls, “to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10). Not bodies, not religions, not kingdoms, not planets, but souls. His children. His Church.

Where then shall the souls go who turn away from Him? Where those who hear of His love and know of His Way but refuse Him?

There is no other place but the one prepared not for them but “prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matt. 25:41).

Every one of us is an eternal soul. After our bodies die, we will continue on… forever… It is the business of this life to determine just where that will be.

C.S. Lewis again,

“You have never talked to a mere mortal….  it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit—immortal horrors or everlasting splendours.” – C. S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory (italics mine).

Would you like to settle this matter? Call out to this Saviour! Need help? Use the Contact page and we’ll point you to Him.

More tomorrow…

Monday, 11/12/18 – Pressing on…

20181107_124514As it was Remembrance Day this past Sunday I decided to search the scriptures for a quick skim through what they had to say about remembering. There were hundreds of appearances of the word in scripture but even a quick skim revealed a number of recurring contexts.

God it seemed was always remembering his Covenant and remembering His people. His people however were often remembering how good it was back in sin and forgetting the very things God has told them to remember. Often God even had to remind His people to remember Him and all the wonderful things He had done for them!

alone calm faith light

Oh sure enough when this or that person got into a real bind because of this forgetfulness they plead with the Lord to remember them and their need and to intervene on their behalf. They sometimes reminded God of his very attributes and Nature — though it was not He but they that forgot. They begged God to demonstrate His goodness and mercy in their situation even though their own sinfulness or waywardness had caused it.

When we turn to the New Testament we don’t see much better!

Jesus had to remind his disciples that they had just witnessed the feeding of thousands. Peter remembered too late that the Lord had foretold his triple denials. And it seems that after Jesus’ crucifixion and burial everyone had forgotten that He had said he would rise again!

Jesus knew His Church would need some helps moving forward with all this remembering business. The night before he was betrayed He instituted a supper using the most staple of items present at every meal to remind His disciples that He indeed was their nourishment and life. He told his disciples to wait until they receive the Holy Spirit Who would come alongside them and empower them and remind them of everything He had taught.

“But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” (John 14:26)

opened bible on wooden surfaca
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

And He left us Himself in printed text as well, the Word of God to which we can turn when we forget, or better yet which we can hide in our hearts so we do not.

Because we are a forgetful lot we are told to always to remind each other of the truths and expectations of God.

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” – Heb. 10:24,25

This was forgetful Peter’s ambition…

“…I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have. I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body, because I know that I will soon put it aside, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. And I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things.” – 2 Pet. 1:12-15

And it must be ours as well.

More tomorrow…

Wednesday, 11/7/18 – Pressing on…

20181105_072139“God wants to give us something, but cannot, because our hands are full—there’s nowhere for Him to put it.” – Augustine

Yesterday I talked about bone dropping. I mentioned how tightly a dog will grip a bone unless presented with something much better. I presented Christ as the Ultimate Transformer of lives. But to receive Him we must surrender – you know… hands up… palms open… dropping everything… bones and all…!

Many who read this blog have done this, maybe many years ago. But perhaps in that long interim you may have found a bone or two to pick as well. Perhaps by now you’ve accumulated a pantry full of them… you know… just in case.

Well, in case what?

If you are honest, the only possible answer is ‘in case Christ fails me!’ Just in case Christ fails me I will keep these bones to gnaw on… just maybe they will yet provide nourishment.

black and white rainy portrait canon

I know you don’t like to look at this with such raw realism. But there can be no other meaning. It is time for you to stare down your pantry and take brutal inventory of its contents. It is time for you to fill it further with Christ till there is no room for old bones.

Hear again from Thomas Chalmers

“We know of no other way by which to keep the love of the world out of our heart, than to keep in our hearts the love of God—and no other way by which to keep our hearts in the love of God, than building ourselves up on our most holy faith.”

The Apostle Paul is even more direct…

“If I rebuild what I destroyed, then I really would be a lawbreaker… if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing! …Who has bewitched you? …Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh?” (Gal. 2:18, 21; 3:1a,3)

What might some of these ‘bones’ be? Could be a return to an old sin, to alcohol, drugs, pornography, fantasy, virtual reality. Could be acts of benevolence or service, self-sacrifice, church membership, baptism, religious activity, self-harm or purging. Could be a love of money, success, fame or infamy.

person s holds brown gift box

All of these may bloat the belly, but they provide no nourishment to the soul. Throw them out! Far away! Grasp tightly the Gift of God.

Again, Augustine…

“God wants to give us something, but cannot, because our hands are full.”

Let go, grab hold, and

Press on…