Monday, 10/28/19 – Pressing on…

Miserableness…

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It’s 2:13 AM and I can’t sleep. All my sinus passages are stuffed or swollen, ears ringing, muscles aching, throat raw, and vision blurred. I sneeze, wretch empty, and swallow dry, sharp nothing. This is miserableness!

But it’s merely miserableness. It’s flu season and many are my miserable mates. I am not being tortured for my faith, not mortally wounded nor currently dying. I am merely miserable. I’ve earned no pity, merited no ‘get well’ cards or phone calls. This miserableness is merely a part of mortality. It’s a “suck it up” sort of sickness, not bad enough to be bed-ridden, not threatening enough to merit bravery. It is merely miserable.

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Shall I question the love of God because of this? Hardly! After all, a certain amount of suffering is just part of– what do they call it?… “the human experience?” But where is one to draw a line? I mean, when horrid tragedies occur, when the innocent are slaughtered, families are destroyed, millions starve, are tortured or unjustly treated, some cry “How can there be a loving God?” But shall I doubt Him when I stub my toe? If not, why not? On what basis can one come to a conclusion?

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Scripture teaches that evil is the outcome of human sin. But not all evil originates there. When the serpent tempted Eve that temptation was an evil act, and prior to Eve’s taking of the serpent’s counsel humanity had not yet sinned.

Paul warns us of “spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Eph. 4:12) and urges us to be well-armoured against them. There is a devil and his demons “roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it” (Job 1:7, 2:2) and “seeking to devour” (1 Pet. 5:8). “The whole creation,” Paul explains, “has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time” (Rom. 8:22).

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In this world we experience temptations of flesh, but also of world and of devil (see 1 John 2:16). “In this world you will have trouble,” announced Jesus – from stubbed toes to mass destruction, but God is not their author; God suffers with us in these. He weeps with us (John 11:35) and sees us through them. “Take heart!” He adds, “I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33).

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God has provided a way out of this misery. For those who place full trust in Christ He is preparing a better world (John 14:1-3), a place of no mourning, crying or pain (Rev. 21:4). Till then, Eliphaz spoke rightly, “man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward.” But in our miserable middles of the nights God’s Love and His Goodness have not changed. “Take heart!”Look up!” (Luke 21:28) — Redemption draws near.

More tomorrow…

Wednesday, 10/23/19 – Pressing on…

“You come near me and I’ll kiss you!”

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Yesterday I recounted the story of Teen Challenge founder David Wilkerson’s initial encounter with New York gang leader Nicky Cruz. Nicky, who had threatened Wilkerson’s life, had his heart penetrated by the love of Christ as it flowed through His servant David Wilkerson. Bewildered, overpowered and desperate Nicky surrendered to the unconditional and eternal Agapé Love of God. Something he had never before encountered.

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A lot of people live in fear of God. They see Him as demanding tyrant ready to squish anyone who displeases Him. Nicky only knew a father who beat him, a father who seemingly cared little for the son to whom he had given life. Sadly, Nicky is not alone in this.

But God the Father is not a father such as these. God is the sort of Father that He wishes all fathers would be. He is a Loving Father, a Father like the Father Jesus described in one of His parables (see Luke 15:11-31).

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Jesus is the One Who took upon Himself all wrath the Father may have had against us. Jesus is the One Who makes us clean again.

What do you need to do? You need to give Him your broken pieces, your pain and hate. You need to believe and obey Him, to turn away from things you know displease Him and draw you from Him. Fill your heart and mind with those things which please Him and nourish your soul.

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Jesus took out Nicky’s heart, kissed it, then placed it transformed back into Nicky’s chest. Nicky had become, as the scripture says, “a brand new creation.”

“…if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Cor. 5:17).

Christ will do the same for you!

You are not too far from Him. He is not waiting to pounce on you. You are loved. His Arms are open wide, ready to embrace you, waiting on you to turn toward Him. Run to Him. If you come near Him He will kiss your heart too!

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.” (Luke 15:20b).

Press on…

Tuesday, 10/22/19 – Pressing on…

“You come near me and I’ll kill you!”

This past Sunday our church was blessed by the ministry, testimonies and fellowship of four representatives from Teen Challenge Atlantic.

Terry Branscombe, Development Officer of the Atlantic Men’s Centre shared with us the story of the ministry’s founder David Wilkerson.

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Moved by a Life magazine image of seven New York gang members accused of murdering 16-yr-old, polio stricken Michael Farmer, Wilkerson drove eight hours to the courtroom in an attempt to speak with the boys.

20191021_071904Ousted by the judge, newspaper men lured Wilkerson into a pose they ravenously snapped up and spun to look sensational. But God turned their intentions inside out using their photo to launch the world-wide ministry that is Teen Challenge today.

“You come near me and I’ll kill you!” threatened Nicky Cruz, perhaps the toughest and bloodiest gang leader of his day.

“Yeah, you could do that,” the helpless Wilkerson replied. “You could cut me up into a thousand pieces and lay them in the street, and every piece will still love you.”*

20191021_071815Nicky had never encountered anything as powerful as such relentless love. Eventually he surrendered himself to Christ and experienced a marvelous transformation.

Love is like light. As light defeats darkness, so love triumphs over hate – every time. “Love never fails,” wrote Paul (1 Cor. 13:8). Nicky went on to surrender to Christ and founded Nicky Cruz Outreach.

His ministry website states this of his conversion,

… the love of God prevailed. It was stronger than any adversary Nicky had ever encountered. … Jesus Christ broke through the walls that surrounded Nicky’s heart. Nicky describes it as if he had been admitted to a Holy Ghost hospital. …Jesus walks to his side, opens Nicky’s chest, takes out his heart, and puts it to his lips to kiss it. The Lord then placed the transformed heart back into his chest and raises him up as a brand new creation.**

Never underestimate the Power and Penetration of God’s Love.

More tomorrow…

* David Wilkerson, The Cross and the Switchblade
** https://nickycruz.org

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.

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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).

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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).

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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.”

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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!

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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…

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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).

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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.

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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

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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…

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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…