Friday, 12/3/21 – Understanding Nothing…

Understanding Nothing…

Restless, I was awake at 3:30 AM this morning; by 4:00 AM I had given up sleep and begun my morning exercises. On the CBC Radio One program “Ideas” the viewpoints of poet-philosopher Martin Heidegger were contrasted with those of empiricist Rudolf Carnap. Their 1929 debate probed the meaning of “nothing” and led to as yet unresolved tensions regarding the very nature of philosophy. The question: is philosophy closer to art, or science?

The discussion was amusing yet brought to mind several warnings of scripture: “Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking,” Paul cautioned the Colossians (Col. 2:8). “Avoid foolish controversies” he urged Titus. (Titus 3:9-10). To Timothy Paul emphasized “Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you. Avoid the pointless discussions and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge.” (1 Tim. 6:20). And James reminds us all, “Such ‘wisdom’ does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic.” (James 3:15).

Now I thank the Lord for the great apologists of the faith, the defenders of truth, those skilled intellectual debaters who can clearly refute such “opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge” (1 Tim. 6:20, NIV). Paul himself engaged with the philosophers of Athens (see Acts 17:16-32). But Truth comes only from God. Philosophy plays with the mind but, as the story of Job so clearly illustrates, the answers of infinity are not intellectual.

The wise believer will combat philosophy with the Truth of God, by “the word of their testimony” (Rev. 12:11). “For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.” (1 Cor. 1:21). “We do not use words that come from human wisdom,” explains Paul. “Instead, we speak words given to us by the Spirit, using the Spirit’s words to explain spiritual truths.” (1 Cor. 2:13). “For the wisdom of this age is foolishness with God” (1 Cor. 3:19).

A man with an argument is always at the mercy of the man with an experience. “Whether He is a sinner or not, I don’t know,” said the former blind man. “One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!” (John 9:23).

What is “Nothing”? “By faith we understand…” (Heb. 11:3).

I think now I will try to catch a nap!

Press on…

Got a question? Use the Contact page and send It to me. We’ll search the Word for God’s answer.

Friday, 11/26/21 – “Hear ye, Hear ye…”

“Hear ye, Hear ye…”

So began the cry of the medieval ‘Town Crier’ as he walked the streets of England ringing his hand bell. His actual shout “Oyez, oyez, oyez!” (pron. ‘oh yay”) derived from “ouïr,” French for ‘to listen,’ meaning “Listen to what I have to say to you,” or, “Hear ye”.

Folk would gather and the Crier would read out the latest news, proclamation, warning or other urgent or newsworthy information. After completing his rounds the Crier would, for the benefit of the literate, post his news at the entry of the local pub.

Jesus came into this world as a sort of ‘Town Crier’ — indeed much more than that. He was and is both Messenger and Message, “The Word became flesh,” writes John (John 1:14). He was and is the Active Agent of Creation. “In Him all things were created,” affirms Paul, “… all things have been created through Him and for Him… and in Him all things hold together.” (Col. 1:16-17). And of this Creation David results, “The heavens declare the glory of God… their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.” (Psalm 19:1,4).

To you and to I He also rings out, “Hear ye, Hear ye…” Repeatedly He pleas, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear…” (Mat 11:15; 13:9, 43; Mark 4:9, 23; 7:16; Luke 8:8; 14:35). His message is urgent, and now we must hear. As you go about your business, enjoy your pleasures, stop… full stop, and listen!

You see, there was another job of the Town Crier… one which Christ also will one day perform. The Town Crier was the one called upon during public hangings. His job was to read out the charges against the one to be hung. Afterwards he would also assist in cutting the corpse down.

Are there charges against you in your heavenly account? Are you yet sentenced to destruction? Or have these charges been erased… erased already by virtue of the One who stepped in and was executed on your behalf?

Here is this Crier’s message to you,

“I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.” (2 Cor. 6:2) and “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Rom. 10:13; Joel 2:32).

Believers and unbelievers alike – we must ALL develop the habit of listening to God. Whether our prayers be for salvation, for guidance, for comfort or for praise, God has important messages for us. We must stop asking long enough to hear Him speak. Pamela Grey notes, “For every soul that says ‘Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth,’ there are 10 that say ‘Hear, Lord! For thy servant speaketh.’” (Pamela Grey, as qu by Philip Yancey, Prayer  Does it make Any Difference?)

Do you have “ears to hear“?

Press on…

Got a question? Use the Contact page and send It to me. We’ll search the Word for God’s answer.

Friday, 11/19/21 – What to do when you’re ‘Under the Weather’?

What to do when you’re ‘Under the Weather‘?

I’ve been having a terribly difficult time today writing this blog! Normally it’s one of the first things I do weekday mornings after a few morning exercises, a devotional time, and my first coffee. Normally it’s something I enjoy doing very much. But today is not a “normal” day, and now it is mid-afternoon!

This morning… afternoon… I am sluggish! My bowels are sluggish, my energy level is sluggish, and my spiritual acuity is also sluggish! — I’m grumpy too!

But that’s not all — My wife too is feeling sluggish, and for the second day now. Two days ago she had a wisdom tooth extracted and the process did not go smoothly. Side effects from Codeine-laced Tylenol 3 and the sheer physical exhaustion from all the pulling, tugging, yanking, twisting and protracted period of jaw agape left her extremely exhausted and nauseous.

But even that’s not all! Our cat, quite put out by our mutual sluggishness, is also grumpy! Twice now she missed her usual morning scratch, not to mention several servings of the chicken & catnip-flavoured treats she was used to conniving! That will never do! She’s probably thinking, “It’s hard to find good help these days!”

On days like these one must guard against falling into the trap alluded to by Solomon. In assessing life’s meaning he repeatedly concluded its vanity with the phrase, “there is nothing new under the sun” (Eccl. 1:3, 9, 14, 2:11, 17-22… ) In all, he uses the phrase some 27 times!

Solomon saw life only as it presented itself now. But God’s purposes extend far above what is seen now “under the sun.” Moses reminded the Hebrews, “To the Lord your God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth and everything in it.” (Deut. 10:14). We too must remember the hope we have in God on even miserable everyday days… days of great grief… days of uncertainty.

Our lives as His children are now “hidden with Christ in God” (Col. 3:3). And our Christ, our God, remains the same “yesterday and today and for ever” (Heb. 13:8). Our God, and His plans and purposes for His people “belong to the heavens” — though for now we are “under the sun” and whether or not we are “under the weather.

Press on…

Got a question? Use the Contact page and send It to me. We’ll search the Word for God’s answer.

Thursday, 11/18/21 – Right, Wrong, and the Word in His Many Forms

Right, Wrong, and the Word in His Many Forms

Why should I not come to your home, force my way into it, ransack and loot, maim or even slay any who oppose my actions? — “Well! Because it’s wrong!” you may gasp.

“What makes you think this behaviour is ‘wrong’?” I would counter. Conscienceless murderers have no sense of ‘wrongness.’ Nor do wolves, lions, stalkers and thieves. Nor do infants, the simple-minded, the brain-damaged or many senile. From whence comes human conscience anyway? What of the over-scrupulous? What defines their excess or lack? What and where is the fulcrum for balanced thinking?… sanity?… morality? Will a poorly informed mind spawn a misinformed conscience? – and what information might ‘rightly’ inform it?

Many centuries past the psalmist posed “If the foundations are destroyed, What can the righteous do?” (Psalm 11:3, NASB). What foundations? Are there truly foundations?

If there are no foundations then my opening behaviour cannot be called ‘wrong.’ But “No,” you say, for in your soul you know it to be wrong, “Then wrong is what most people agree,” you say. But yet there are great flaws. On looting and murder one might find good consensus, but what of smaller matters? Fine lines… over- vs under- conscientiousness?

Jesus declared with authority the need of solid foundation (Matt. 7:24-29). Paul underscored that Foundation’s Identity: “For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.” (1 Cor. 3:11).

Jesus Christ: the Word Who became flesh (John 1:14)… the Word that created all things (Col. 1:16)… the Word imprinted on papyrus (2 Pet. 1:21) and imbedded on hearts (Jer. 31:33).

This Word, now in all everyday practicality, every believer must digest daily… in reading… meditating… praying… and obeying.

There is Foundation, and that Foundation is Christ. Conscience — informed by its body of Truth, it’s assimilation into mind, its activation of heart, and its practice by behaviour – is conscience informed by the Spirit of God and is Truth. He teaches us Right, Wrong, and the Way to Eternal Life.

Press on…

Are you interested in being discipled one-on-one in the fundamentals of life in Christ? Or, would you like to begin this journey by turning from your current path and committing your path to Christ? — Use the Contact page and we’ll get you started.

Friday, 11/12/21 – Question: How can I beat temptation?

How can I beat temptation?

We’ve all seen it… the story line of many movies, novels, sagas and serials. Against impossible odds the hero faces battle with the foe… fierce conflict ensues and the hero is almost defeated, but then, with gasping breath he realizes he has carried with him all the while a power to defeat the foe completely! Renewed excitement and sure hope flush through his veins as he wields the talisman, musters the untapped power within, or calls upon a magical or divine source from without. Instantly (or eventually) the foe is utterly (or temporarily) destroyed (or vanquished), and the hero rises triumphant and transformed.

The world, the flesh, and the devil are the foes of every faithful follower of Christ. The first two have fallen to the power of the third and are thus instructed by his tactics. Primary of these tactics is his seductive lying, and primary of these lies are these: “This temptation will last forever.” “You have no power to defeat it.” Or “You may defeat it by longer or harder self-effort, by trying another plan or strategy, or by succumbing to it by a measured and self-controlled degree.”

But these are all lies, part lies, or truth twisted to become lies. He is trying to distract you from that inner power which can truly defeat him: the indwelling Holy Spirit, the Word of God hid in your heart, and the help available from the family of God.

You cannot in your flesh defeat the devil because your flesh nature wants to sin. But within every believer resides another nature, the Holy Spirit of God, and “the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4). The promise of God’s Word is this: “Resist the devil… and He will flee…from you” – he will run away in terror of you! As the Word says, “the demons believe… and they tremble in terror.” (James 2:19, NLT).

Hide deep in your heart these truths:

Do not love the world or anything in the world.” (1 John 2:15).
So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” (Gal. 5:16).
Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Rom. 7:25).
Put on the full armor of God…” (Eph. 6:11).
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and He will flee from you…” (James 4:7).
Carry each other’s burdens..” (Gal. 6:2).

Mind & heart focussed upon God, strengthened by the indwelling Holy Spirit, claiming the promises of the Word of God, clothed in the assuring, defending and engaging Armor of God, and supported by the prayers and encouragement of the family of God. These are your spiritual weapons, with you at all times, and striking true terror against your lying foe.

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? …in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Rom. 7:31, 37).

Press on…

Got a question? Use the Contact page and send It to me. We’ll search the Word for God’s answer.

Friday, 11/5/21 – What does it mean to “bind” or to “loose?”

What does it mean to “bind” or to “loose?”

Twice in Matthew’s gospel we read of Jesus granting His disciples authority to “bind” or to “loose.” What does this mean?

Understandings vary regarding this, but here are my thoughts…

In Matthew 16:13-20 the context is Jesus’ words following Peter’s great insight and profession that Christ indeed was God incarnate: “You are the Christ [the Messiah, the Anointed One], the Son of the Living God.” (v. 16). Jesus responds explaining this understanding came by revelation of God and that upon this Rock, [professed faith in Christ], He would build His Church (v.18). “I will build my church,” He says, “and the gates of Hades [Hell, the abode of the dead] will not overcome it.” – i.e. Nothing will be able to prevent its onward march, and no defence of the devil will protect him from his ultimate doom!

Then, speaking to all of His disciples, Jesus says, “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Matt. 16:19).

It is important to understand how the terms “binding” and “loosing” were commonly used by the rabbis in Jesus’ day. It meant to exclude or include, to forbid or permit. Jesus calls this “the keys of the kingdom,” i.e. one’s faith in or denial of Christ as Saviour and Lord – the Gospel – will “bind” or “loose” (forbid or permit) one’s entry into His Church and Kingdom.

In Matthew 18:16-20 the context is dealing with sin in the Church:

“If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.” (v. 15-17).

Then Jesus reiterates, Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. (v. 18). I see here a connection with Jesus’ words back in Matthew 6:15 “if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” God in Eternity and we here in time are vitally connected through the Person of Christ. Thus, Christ emphasizes, “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” (v. 19-20).

It is also interesting to note that in both Matthew 16:19 and 18:18 the word rendered “be” can, in the Greek, also carry the meaning “will already have been.” What is “past” and what is “future” is relevant only to creatures like us who inhabit time. Our God is Eternal. He made time (Gen. 1:5). What “shall be” and what “will already have been” are one and the same to Him.

How urgent it is that while we have time we bring the gospel message to all that we can. It alone can bring forgiveness of sin and grant entry into the Eternal Kingdom of God!

Press on…

Got a question? Use the Contact page and send It to me. We’ll search the Word for God’s answer.

Friday, 10/29/21 – How does God “build His Church”?

How does God “build His Church”?

Perhaps a good place to begin is Jesus’ words following Peter’s great insight that Christ indeed was God incarnate. Jesus had asked the disciples what others were saying about Him. They answered, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” (Matt. 16:14). Then He asked, “But what about you? Who do you say I am?” (An important question each of us must answer.) Peter’s response was immediate: “You are the Christ [Messiah, Anointed], the Son of the Living God.” (v.16). Jesus replied explaining this understanding came by revelation of God and that upon this Rock, (Christ Himself), He would build His Church (v.18).

That Christ is the foundational Rock is further demonstrated in the parable of the two foundations (Matt. 7:24-27). Paul is even more specific in writing to the Corinthians. Linking the wilderness wanderings he writes, “they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that Rock was Christ” (1 Cor. 10:4). He also assures the Ephesians of their inclusion in the household of God stating,

“[You are] …built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In Him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in Him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” (Eph. 2:20-22).

And Peter chimes, “As you come to Him, the Living Stone… you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house” (1 Pet. 2:4,5). Certainly Peter understood that it was not himself, but the Living Christ Who was this Rock, the Cornerstone.

In the above Ephesians passage we see the first layer of construction upon this Rock is “the foundation of the apostles and prophets.” And Christ continues to call and to provide “to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.” (Eph. 4:11-12).

In Revelation 21:9-27 John describes his vision of the heavenly Jerusalem, the City of God, the final construction of God’s kingdom. Here John describes the city’s magnificence, it’s gates and twelve precious foundations. “I did not see a temple in the city,” he says, “because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.” (v.22). Temples, synagogues, churches – these all serve as “embassies” while we, His “ambassadors,” dwell here, but none are necessary in our true homeland.

I mention this because I see a parallel in how Christ builds His Church… specifically in its multi-layered foundation. Christ the Rock, the only Foundation upon which anything lasting can be constructed, the foundation of the apostles and prophets, the offices of pastors, deacons, elders, teachers, the gifts of the Holy Spirit, the “living stones” of each believer, the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the written Word of God, the remembrance of the communion table, and the profession of faith in baptism.

All of these He provides for His Church, His Bride, you and I, ”…God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.” (1 Tim 3:14-15).

Press on…

Got a question? Use the Contact page and send It to me. We’ll search the Word for God’s answer.

Friday, 10/22/21 – Why do Christians speak of “hope” – Aren’t they sure?

Why do Christians speak of “hope” – Aren’t they sure?

We most often think of “hope” as a verb: We desire something to happen or to be true, e.g. “I hope it doesn’t rain.” But “hope” is also a noun. One definition of “hope” in its noun usage is “A person or thing upon which one’s hopes are centered,” as in the statement “He is our only hope for victory!”

This is the sort of “hope” in which Christians trust. It is the noun sort of “hope” and in it they are confident. Though we long for that day when that hope will be realized, we do not “hope” for it in the sense of a toss of the dice or a spin of the wheel. The Christian’s hope is not a gamble, but a certainty based upon faith,“…the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1, KJV).

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” (Heb. 11:1, NIV).

The Christian’s hope is based upon the confident assurance that, as the Father revealed to Peter, “You [Jesus] are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” (Matt. 16:16-18). Through Him, our personal relationship and trust in Him, and the indwelling Spirit of Christ, the Christian knows that this life is not all there is — that ‘in Christ’ he has “a hope and a future” (Jer. 29:11). He knows that sin will ultimately be destroyed… that eternal life and righteousness are his… and that his soul is forever secure.

In this light, consider the following scriptures:

Act 23:6 “But when Paul… cried out in the council, …of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question.” / Act 26:6 “…and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers” / Act 28:20 “…for the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain.” • Rom 4:18 “Who against hope believed in hope,” / Rom 5:2 “[we]…rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” / Rom 8:24,25 “For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.” • Gal 5:5 “For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.” / Eph 4:4 “…ye are called in one hope of your calling” • Col 1:5 “…the hope which is laid up for you in heaven…” / Col 1:23 “…be not moved away from the hope of the gospel…” / Col 1:27 “…this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” • 1 Th 4:13 “…sorrow not, even as others which have no hope/1 Th 5:8 “…putting on… for an helmet, the hope of salvation.” / 1 Ti 1:1 “…and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope” • Tit 2:13 “Looking for that blessed hope…”  /  Heb 6:19 “Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul…” • 1 Pe 1:3 “…our Lord Jesus Christ… hath begotten us again unto a lively hope” / 1Pe 3:15 “…be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you…”

And finally, 1 Jn 3:3 “…every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.

Press on…

Got a question? Use the Contact page and send It to me. We’ll search the Word for God’s answer.

Want to know how to find this “hope” in Christ? – Use the same page.

Friday, 10/15/21 – Why can’t I stand the one I love most?

Why can’t I stand the one I love most?

It’s a strange dilemma the way God has constructed us human animals. We sense our incompleteness and are drawn to someone who compliments our deficiencies. Together we find balance. But the trick is that balance is found at the fulcrum of our differences… in the middle of our opposites.

Imagine two children of equal weight trying to balance horizontally on a teeter-totter. To accomplish this each must move equal distance toward the centre and in relationships the same principle holds. Each must depart to some extent from their extreme and move closer toward the centre point. It involves both sacrifice and closeness. And it remains always a balancing act.

I found this rather interesting chart somewhere online. It shows very clearly how extremes can be the enemies of each other, yet, how when met in the middle there is wholeness and health.

I believe that this balancing act, this need to “work it out,” is exactly what our Lord had in mind all along.

Scripture tells us that in eternity “people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.” (Matt. 22:30). Paul taught the Galatians that in Christ “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female.” (Gal. 3:28). And John wrote “now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known.” (1 John 3:2). All of these passages point to the fact that we are a work in progress. The end result, as John summarizes, is “we shall be like Him.” We shall be like Christ.

Brothers and sisters let us not make our time on this earth a ‘tug-of-war’ or a competition, but let us make it a cooperation… a teamwork… a unity… the body and bride of Christ. Let us pull together, toward the center, becoming that one new creation made in the Image of Christ.

Press on…

Got a question? Use the Contact page and send It to me. We’ll search the Word for God’s answer.

Friday, 10/8/21 – Today’s Question: Imagination or Faith?

Imagination or Faith?

Fifty years ago on this date (Oct. 8, 1971) John Lennon released his hit single “Imagine.” In it, Lennon alluringly invites listeners to “imagine” with him a world of bliss and harmony… a world made possible if only everyone would “join us,” the “imaginers”, the “dreamers.” Then, suggests Lennon, “the world will be as one.” In short, this future is made possible simply by sustained and unified human will.

Lennon’s imagined paradise includes a world where there is “No heaven… no hell… and no religion too.” He dodges the realities of mortality, purpose, and eternity: “Imagine all the people / Living for today.

Source: “Cover Me Songs”

Mind you, I do love the tune. I love its simplicity and, like most of humanity, I share in the longing desire of the artist for a world devoid of turmoil, hatred, and war. But I disagree profoundly with Lennon’s notion that such a world might be man-made and godless. I am conflicted when I listen to it, like strolling through a beautifully sunlit and fragrant meadow — peppered with landmines!

But Lennon’s longing is not new. Humanity has always sought to set up its own righteousness and shun the nagging notion of a God to Whom one must one day give an account. From Him we seek to run, and in running we hope to find freedom. We are like a kite, wanting to cut its string in order to reach the moon, unaware that doing so brings not its freedom but its doom.

“I want to break free,” shouts Queen in another song, “…I’ve got to break free / God knows, God knows I want to break free.” Yes, God does know, and for that reason He seeks to win us back by His Love. “What love?” you may ask as you look about at this evil and unjust world. John 3:16 Love. Agapé Love. The Love of God that gave His only Son to save your soul.

“We must not confuse God with life,” warns Yancey. Jesus makes no promises of goodness in this life. Indeed He promises the opposite: “In this world you will have trouble.” He warns, then adds: “But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

We do not have to “imagine” a fantasy world, we need only to face we have failed, return to our Redeemer, and die to self daily. To those who do He promises, “I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” (John 14:3).

Press on…

Link here to John Lennon, “Imagine

Imagine there’s no heaven / It’s easy if you try // No hell below us / Above us only sky // Imagine all the people / Living for today // Imagine there’s no countries / It isn’t hard to do // Nothing to kill or die for / And no religion too // Imagine all the people / Living life in peace // You may say I’m a dreamer / But I’m not the only one // I hope someday you’ll join us / And the world will be as one // Imagine no possessions / I wonder if you can // No need for greed or hunger / A brotherhood of man // Imagine all the people / Sharing all the world // You may say I’m a dreamer / But I’m not the only one // I hope someday you’ll join us / And the world will live as one  – Source: Musixmatch

Got a question? Use the Contact page and send It to me. We’ll search the Word for God’s answer.