Monday, 4/22/19 – Pressing on…

art beverage black and white breakfastWelcome to Monday — Manic Monday…. Mr. Monday, me oh my…. Monday, Monday (couldn’t guarantee)… Rainy Days and Mondays (always get me down).*

The Easter weekend has ended and the world quickly changes gears. Chocolate bunnies are half price, the tulips are trashed and out come the Victoria Day fireworks! Easter isn’t news any more. Not on Monday.

easter-bunny-easter-rabbit-bunny-couple-69816.jpeg

We had our fun! Hid the eggs, had a holiday weekend, a few big feasts and families gathered. Perhaps Friday we reflected on Him… that bloodied man, the nails, a cross. Sunday we rejoiced! Resurrection tickled our ears with some vague ideas about immortality, but then it was over. Monday beckoned… Mundane Monday.

cave near body of water at sunset

Today you have important things to do… papers to sign… bills to pay… the 9-to-5 to fill… and the rush hour home. The pastor’s question, “What does the Resurrection of Christ mean to me?” seemed appropriate on Sunday, but what has it to do with Monday?

Is that your world? I certainly hope not! Paul was first to admit, the man who lives in that world, a world without the hope of resurrection, is indeed “most miserable.” He states,

For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. (1 Cor. 15:16-19)

Why pitied? Because without hope of resurrection we bear our trials for no purpose, we testify of our trust to no end. Christ is no better than some sort of genie to help us through a brief few decades of existence. We are no better than a dog, less significant than a redwood or a few rare turtles that live to be 400.

Paul asks, “What have I gained? If the dead are not raised, ‘Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.’”

sky earth galaxy universe

But Christ has indeed come into this world, lived His few brief decades, died, and also risen. While He walked with us He showed us the Love and plan of the Father. He brought us a salvation, a way out of our lostness and sin, darkness and defeat! Now He sends you and I into this world with this same mission: to reflect the Father, to lead men out of darkness and into the hope of resurrection.

“What does the Resurrection of Christ mean to me?” It means my very life. The resurrection is the real thing. And you and I are placed here to bring this reality into each of our mundane Monday mornings, wherever they be.

Paul ends with a warning, that we not let this world turn tables on us.

“Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character.’ Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some who are ignorant of God—I say this to your shame.” (v.33, 34)

It’s Monday – get in there saint, and shine! YOU have the hope of eternity to bring them.

More tomorrow…

* If you’d really like to pursue this “songs about Monday” theme, here’s a YouTube link to the top ten  — but a better use of your time would be to visit Lincoln Baptist Church. Click on the April 21 message under Media to hear Pastor Steve’s message “The Joy of Easter.”

Friday, 4/19/19 – Tough Question

Why do we call it “Good” Friday?

What other world religion celebrates the killing of its founder and calls that day “Good”?

20190417_044215If any Friday deserved the name “Black Friday,” surely the day mortals murdered the Christ of God should be the day, but instead we reserve the term “Black Friday” for the day after the American Thanksgiving Day, a day when prices are slashed and deals are rampant. People are rampant too on that day.

At a New York Walmart in 2008 a 6’5” 270 lb man was trampled to death as over 2,000 shoppers broke down the doors, and rushed inside to be among the first to purchase consumer goods. Since 2010, Black Friday violence has resulted in 10 deaths and 111 injuries. Because of this carnage, police named that day “Black Friday.”

There have been at least three other “Black” days in history, and all of them are associated with the god of this world, money:

Black Monday: October 19, 1987. Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 22%, the largest one-day drop in history.
Black Thursday: October 24, 1929. the start of the Great Depression.
Black Tuesday: October 29, 1929. Stock market fell 11% causing many to lose all their life savings.

Retailers prefer a more positive spin. Since “Black Friday” is a day when virtually every merchant is assured to end “in the black,” they press for this association rather than it being as a day of mayhem and money as people trample one another to greedily grab for material goods. — Say, perhaps we should consider calling the day after Thanksgiving USA “Goods Friday”?

20190417_044732But no, we call today “Good,” the day we slew the Saviour. Truly this was the darkest of days in every way: even environmentally. Matthew and Luke both report there was three hours of darkness from noon to mid-afternoon
(Matt. 27:45; Luke 23:44). So Why? Why do we call it “Good?”

Some say the term is related to the idea of “Good” as in “Holy,” “Holy Friday.” (The Wednesday before Easter was once known as “Good Wednesday,” but now is in some circles is called “Holy Wednesday.”) Others say the word derives from the word “God,” “God Friday.” In some languages the day is translated “Sacred Friday” or “Passion Friday.”

But for me the day is good because it marks the day that God stepped in to save me from the destruction of my sin. Christ surrendered himself to receive the punishment that was due to me. He took my sin and in exchange gives me his holiness and life forever with Him.

20190417_165417The devil may have laughed for three days presuming victory, but God turned every bit of it around and worked redemption. The devil was foiled and death was swallowed by victory! The Goodness of God prevailed and made Good available to all who trust in Christ.

Praise Him for this Gospel, the “Good News” for all humanity!

Press on…

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

Thursday, 4/18/19 – Discipleship: The Bible

red strawberry and raspberry on white ceramic bowlI love Greek yogurt — plain white Greek yogurt. I even like Greek yogurt better than ice cream! I use it like ice cream too sometimes. I take plain white Greek yogurt add some fruit and nuts, pour on some syrup, or maybe molasses. Mmmm. This stuff is yummy! The best part is, I don’t have that blood sugar crash an hour or so later. In fact I feel nourished. in fact I am nourished! Greek yogurt is good for me!

I use Greek yogurt sometimes like sour cream on a baked potato or sometimes I use it in place of mayonnaise. Greek yogurt hasn’t let me down yet. it’s always sustained me well, been good for my bones, good for my bowels, and stuck to my ribs.

black ceramic bowl filled with cereal

Now, I didn’t always feel this way. There was a time when I never ate Greek yogurt at all — especially plain white Greek yogurt. I preferred the lighter, fruit-flavored, colorful ones. The first time I tried plain white Greek yogurt it was simply a matter of discipline. I was told it would be good for my health, my fragile bones, and irritable digestive system. I got it down okay. It wasn’t repulsive. It just wasn’t what I had got used to. But the more I indulged in it the more I began to really enjoy it, especially because of that ‘feel-good,’ nourished and healthy feeling I’d have afterwards.

Well for some folk, developing a good Bible reading habit is similar. I mean, just look at the size of that thing! It’s probably the thickest most formidable looking book you’ve ever seen on your bookshelf!

person holding opened book

But looking at the Bible like that is like looking at an entire supermarket! Or as an even better analogy, it’s like looking at an entire Library! In fact, that’s exactly what the Bible is! The word “Bible” derives from the Greek word “Biblia” which means “books,” sixty-six books in all. It’s also from where we derive the word “bibliography.”

So don’t be intimidated. Go to the Bible like you would go to the library. Browse around a bit, but pick a book that you can start to read. Perhaps it will seem like a discipline at first but soon you will find, as I did with my plain white yogurt, that the Bible is good for you. It nourishes you deep in your soul. It makes you stronger on the inside, and it sticks with you especially in times of trouble or need. The Bible will never let you down.

Soon you will come to desire it, to seek it out as a newborn looks for its mother’s breast. As Peter writes, “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.” (1 Pet. 2:2,3)

Taste and see.

Press on…

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

Wednesday, 4/17/19 – Pressing on…

man and woman on grayscale photography

There must have been something powerfully persuasive in the way that man died before his eyes: so slow and excruciating a death yet with such unswerving confidence of identity, purpose and integrity. There must have been something in that man that exuded Truth. Most of what he knew of that man he had gleaned by watching him during these final agonizing hours. Yet that was enough… enough to foster complete trust in that man. He did not have long to live himself… at least, not in this world. He turned his head to the man and gasped, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” (Luke 23:42).

My gut is doing Chewbacca impersonations… it explodes, swells, and stabs me from within. I am a fool! I think I am suffering! But I have not even cracked open the door to suffering… it is barely ajar. Yet already my graces are slipping. My sentences have shortened to brief verbal explosions.. I sound demanding… impatient. I want to exercise compassion, to minister Christ to others in suffering. But my own pain leaps upon me, knocking me down again. What a weak, Weak, WEAK creature I truly am!

silhouette photo of person holding door knob

But this is the gift of Easter – that He, that man, who suffered so gloriously, has imputed to us who trust that same spirit and Spirit. He is being formed in each of us, having taken upon Himself that full room of suffering. He grasped the knob, flung it full open, and marched full into it. The agony was unimaginable! It demanded its own special word, “excruciating!” [Latin: ex + cruciāre “out of” + “the cross”]

One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”
But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”
Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last. (Luke 23:39-46)

man old depressed headache

Oh God, I cannot rise to meet you in that same level of suffering! I can only … only accept that gracious gift from Your scarred and bloodied hand. To refuse it would be only further insult, cause You further pain. But what can I surrender to You in praise?

Why… all I have is never enough. But what I have I give without loss.

I give you my life.

This Easter… Let God do His full transformative work in you, open wide your heart to His Spirit, abide deeply in Him allowing the fruit of the Holy Spirit to form from you, making you all that He suffered, died, and rose to make you to become.

Press on…

Tuesday, 4/16/19 – Pressing on…

vehicle on road at nightYesterday I wrote about the battle that goes on around us: the battle between the believer and the world… the battle between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of man. I gave thanks for the indwelling Holy Spirit Who guides us around the minefields that seek to destroy us.

grape fruits

This past Sunday Pastor Steve spoke about this battle that wages within us: the battle between flesh and Spirit. “For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other” (Gal. 5:17). The desire that wins depends largely upon which desire you feed. Pastor Steve challenged us to nurture a desire for one specific “fruit of the Spirit” – to each ask oneself, “What fruit of the Spirit am I hoping to acquire or strengthen in my life?

It’s good to get serious about growing in godliness. ”Add to your faith…godliness…,” says Peter (See 2 Pet. 1:3-8). But be forewarned: God often grants this request by giving us something quite different… things that may quite puzzle us at first. In fact, we may even begin to wonder if He really loves us at all!

A poem written by an unknown Confederate soldier illustrates this well…

The Blessing of Unanswered Prayers

I asked for strength that I might achieve;
I was made weak that I might learn humbly to obey.
I asked for health that I might do greater things;
I was given infirmity that I might do better things.
I asked for riches that I might be happy;
I was given poverty that I might be wise.
I asked for power that I might have the praise of men;
I was given weakness that I might feel the need of God.
I asked for all things that I might enjoy life;
I was given life that I might enjoy all things.
I got nothing that I had asked for,
but everything that I had hoped for.
Almost despite myself my unspoken prayers were answered;
I am, among all men, most richly blessed.

close up of fruits hanging on tree

Remember how good fruit is made great fruit: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. (John 15:1,2)

Stretch wide your branches and surrender to the surgery of the Master Gardener. He has your greatest fruitfulness in mind — even when it looks like He may be destroying you.

More tomorrow…

Listen to Pastor Steve’s complete message on ‘Producing the Fruit of the Spirit’ online at the Lincoln Baptist Church website! Look under ‘Media’ for the April 14 message.

Monday, 4/15/19 – Pressing on…

I don’t know if it was a bad burger or just a bad bug that had snuck in while my resistance was low from the broken ribs, but from Friday evening through most of Saturday the next battle on my agenda turned out to be a wicked diarrhea! By Saturday evening I was left physically depleted and spiritually discouraged. I knew I was going to miss another Sunday away from the House of Worship and the family of God.

apartment bed carpet chair

By late Sunday morning, apart from the previous day’s trips to and from the washroom, I had spent well over 36 hours laying on the living room couch. It was a beautiful day out, so I decided to attempt a brief walk.

It was a sad walk that Palm Sunday morning. I knew that at the same moment my brothers and sisters in Christ were engaged in worship to the King of kings, listening to the redeeming Word of God and opening their hearts to the Holy Spirit as He comforted or convicted their souls.

photo of child on man s back beside smiling woman

Instead I walked. I passed parents and kids playing ball on their lawn, the family dog romping beside them. I saw others out walking with determination in their steps, goal fixed on getting in that daily exercise. Kids played on backyard decks, other dogs barked and cars whizzed by. The neighborhood was active with folk who, like myself that morning, were not in church worshipping before God, Commerce was active too: drug stores, supermarkets, gas stations and fast food franchises.

white and brown cathedral

Sunday—Palm Sunday, yet so many had “better” things to do than give thought to Christ. After all, Life is short, isn’t it? Family is important. You gotta make a living in this world, right? It all sounds quite logical. Why “waste” half a day going to church? I’m a good man… woman. The church just wants money anyway. I’m not fool enough to give away 10% of my hard-earned income. I got bills to pay, right?

Yes, life is short, but eternity is very, very long. Yes, you gotta make a living in this world, but also in the next. True, you don’t want to “waste” your money, but you’d be wiser still to invest in things eternal. Its good to be a good man… woman, but Heaven is for the holy. Only Christ can make that possible.

“Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become ‘fools’ so that you may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight….” (1 Cor. 3:18, 19)

It’s a spiritual battle indeed in this world. Thank the Lord for the gift of His indwelling Spirit to guide us.

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Ps. 111:10)

More tomorrow…

Friday, 4/12/19 – Tough Question

How can I genuinely love ‘disgusting’ people?

Here are three statements about me which are completely true and accurate,

  1. I beat my wife up every morning!
  2. I haven’t spoken to my parents in over 25 years!
  3. My first name really isn’t John.

Indeed, I truly do ‘beat my wife up every morning’ (by about two hours) and it is no lie that I ‘have not spoken to my parents in over 25 years’ (my mother died in 1990, and my father passed away shortly after I turned 16.) Finally, my first name is actually ‘Donald,’ but I go by ‘John,’ my middle name.

Understanding the context of things makes all the difference! Understanding the context can change our perspective immediately. And when it comes to ‘disgusting people’ our loathe can swiftly turn to genuine love when we see them in the context of the cross.

people crowd walking

Fact is, we are all disgusting people. You are disgusting. I am disgusting. From the most famous to the most infamous, the most wealthy to the most poor, the most beautiful to the most ugly, everyone is disgusting before God. Isaiah cried, “all of us have become like one who is unclean… all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment” (Isa. 64:6, NASB).

close up of tree against sky

But we are all also equally loved by God – everyone, including those we may consider repulsive. God is the Creator of us all, He seeks a loving relationship with each one of us, and He has made provision for the reconciliation of all who will return to Him. “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom. 5:8).

I once told a Christian brother who was struggling with pornography, “Look into her eyes and see her lostness. See her as God sees her – a dear child He loves deeply and died to redeem.” See her “under the cross of Jesus,” as Bonhoeffer writes. In reality, all of us are just “poor human beings and sinners in need of grace.” When I see everyone in this way, Bonhoeffer testifies,

Then, everything about other people that repels me falls away. Then I see them in all their need, hardship, and distress. Their need and their sin become so heavy and oppressive to me that I feel as if they were my own… (Bonhoeffer, Life Together)

beautiful blonde face female

When my friend began seeing others from this context he told me he could no longer see these women in any other way. He saw also his own disgusting state before God and found new strength to turn away from this lust.

Remember, in evangelism as in discipleship we are all just “One beggar telling another beggar where to find bread.” We are all equally needy before God. We are all equally loved by Him, and we all have the same potential in eternity to become, as C.S. Lewis says, “immortal horrors or everlasting splendours.”

The next time you face someone you deem “disgusting,” see that soul inside for whom Christ died, and see that you are none better. See that person as the ‘everlasting splendour’ God wants to make them — and you — to become!

Press on…

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