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.

Wednesday, 11/17/21 – Pressing on… Big Head, Small Body…

Big Head, Small Body…

This past Sunday our brother James Harrison spoke on “How to be the Perfect Church Member.” He shared with us Four characteristics of maturing church members:

  1. Put up with one another. (Eph. 4:13)
  2. Put leadership in its place. (Eph. 4:11,12)
  3. Put your personal grace to work. (Eph. 4:7,12,14)
  4. Put on Truth – up close and personal. (Eph. 4:15,16)

I loved the analogy given of how a newborn’s head seems disproportionate to its body. Their head is quite large in comparison to their body, but with time and nourishment the body grows to become balanced with it. “Humans grow into their heads,” said our speaker.

What a wonderful God Who builds into our physical experiences such spiritual lessons to guide us. In Ephesians 4 Paul expresses his great desire that the believers “may grow up into Him in all things, which is the Head, even Christ”.

It is interesting to note the run-up to this statement. To what is Paul directing his readers that ends in this climactic statement of God’s desire that we all “may grow up into Him”?

Paul is talking about the structure of Christ’s church. Back in vs 11 he states that Christ gave… He gifted… or called… or provided… persons to serve a variety of functions: “the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers.” What were they to do? They were “to equip His people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up” (v.12). They were to help believers to grown in their faith, to use their giftedness and serve others too. And these offices, or functions, or callings were to manage His Church until His return… “until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ..” (v. 13). They were to help the Body of Christ to grow up into its Head… “to become in every respect the mature body of Him who is the Head, that is, Christ” (v. 15).

“Humans grow into their heads,” James told us. Who is your Head? Is it Christ, or has your ego swollen your own head? Are you growing up into Christ? Are you being built up to become more in proportion to Him?

Press on…

To hear this past Sunday’s message, go to the Facebook page of Lincoln Baptist Church, or link to the livestream from the church website.

Tuesday, 11/16/21 – Pressing on… Unity of Spirit – Abiding in Christ

Unity of Spirit – Abiding in Christ

So much disunity in this sad and broken world. It’s enough to cause one to throw up one’s hands and simply surrender – and that is exactly what our Maker has longed we would do all these many maimed years of human history!

Unity is like ministry. It kinda flows along. One can’t say, “Today I’m going to go and do some unity” just as one can’t really say “Today I’m going to go and do some ministry.” Unity and ministry are both by-products. They are by products just as the fruits of the Spirit are by-products. By-products of what? They are by-products of doing that one simple thing Christ asked of us: they are by-products of abiding in Him.

For the past few days now I have been contemplating much these insights of Oswald Chambers:

“If we are in fellowship and oneness with God and recognize that He is taking us into His purposes, then we will no longer strive to find out what His purposes are. As we grow in the Christian life, it becomes simpler to us, because we are less inclined to say, “I wonder why God allowed this or that?” And we begin to see that the compelling purpose of God lies behind everything in life, and that God is divinely shaping us into oneness with that purpose.”

God is divinely shaping us into oneness,” Chambers writes. You see, the purposes of God have much more to do with changing us into the image of Christ – “until Christ is formed in you” (Gal. 4:19) — than they do with the surface purposes we imagine. That abrasive brother who sits beside you every Sunday may be there in the purposes of God not as your evangelism target, but to teach you longsuffering. Your loss of your job may not be so that God will lead you to a better job, but that you may grow in your faith in God’s provision. Those in your circle of friends who believe differently on some disputable matter may in God’s purposes not be there for you to persuade to your views but for you to develop respect of another’s conviction.

This kind of “resting in God,” of “abiding in Him,” requires the abandonment of trying to scrutinize His purposes — lest we find ourselves maneuvering to manipulate His purposes for Him. It requires complete trust in Him… a simple, daily walk of faith. How long? “until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” (Eph. 4:13).

Chambers concludes…

“A Christian is someone who trusts in the knowledge and the wisdom of God, not in his own abilities. If we have a purpose of our own, it destroys the simplicity and the calm, relaxed pace which should be characteristic of the children of God.”

More tomorrow…

To hear this past Sunday’s message, go to the Facebook page of Lincoln Baptist Church, or link to the livestream from the church website.

Monday, 11/15/21 – Pressing on… Bridge-buildin’ and Walls-tearin’

Bridge-buildin’ and Walls-tearin’

We’ve got a lot of bridge-buildin’ and walls-tearin’ down to do if we’re ever gonna get to that unity Christ desires. The high rise latte lovers garbed in Gucci gotta sit in the gutter with the soiled and the sullen, and the waifs and wanderers without fixed shelter must shoulder up to those they call snobs. The red, and yellow, black and white gotta clasp hands and hold tight and really believe they are all and equally precious in His sight. The French and English, Arabs and Jews, Irish and English…  redeemed one’s of all races, nationalities, languages, cultures and tribes must all realize they are equal souls only temporarily inhabiting their times and places. The beautiful and proportioned must embrace the plain and disproportionate. The scholar must learn from the simple-minded. The lame and the athlete must walk together. The blind, the deaf, the limbless and the frail must be valued alongside the hardy and the keen.

Jesus knows His children in all these sorts. He sees beyond any and all our carnal distinctions. He looks upon the hearts, speaks to the souls, and woos us all to come near Him… to be in Him, and He in us. This is the only enduring reality. Everything else is but a “test.” Jesus is wondering what will we do? Will we, like He, see past these things too?

He prayed then for them and prays now for us, and “… also for those who will believe…”

that all of them may be one, Father, just as You are in me and I am in You. May they also be in Us so that the world may believe that You have sent Me. I have given them the glory that You gave Me, that they may be one as We are one— I in them and You in Me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that You sent Me and have loved them even as You have loved Me.” (John 17:20-23).

Paul takes up the plea in Ephesians… the heart of God… that we be drawn together in Him.

I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received…. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” (Eph. 4:1-6).

Believer, let me ask you this: 1,000 years from now… 10,000 years from now… long situated in your eternal home… what actions taken now will prove really to have mattered?

that the world may believe that You have sent Me.” (John 4:21).

More tomorrow…

Link to Francis Chan video: Until Unity.

To hear this past Sunday’s message, go to the Facebook page of Lincoln Baptist Church, or link to the livestream from the church website.

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.

Thursday, 11/11/21 – Priorities: of Socrates and of Saviour

Priorities: of Socrates and of Saviour

The ancient Greek philosopher Socrates (470 BC–399 BC) is credited with the comment, “I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing.” Enduring wisdom to which many present day scholars and philosophers agree. Even actor Dwayne Johnson, double negatives aside, notes, “The one thing that I keep learning over and over again is that I don’t know nothing. I mean, that’s my life lesson.”

To both Socrates and Johnson the “one thing” that was primary was this intellectual humility. Others hold other “one things” in top spot as the following quotations demonstrate.

“The one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision…” – Neil Gaiman
“…the one thing people can’t take away from you is your education.” – Michelle Obama
“To me, if life boils down to one thing, it’s movement. To live is to keep moving.” – Jerry Seinfeld
“I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve.” – Albert Schweitzer
“Outstanding people have one thing in common: An absolute sense of mission.” – Zig Ziglar
One thing is clear to me: We, as human beings, must be willing to accept people who are different from ourselves.” – Barbara Jordan
Truth-telling, I have found, is the key to responsible citizenship. The thousands of criminals I have seen in 40 years of law enforcement have had one thing in common: Every single one was a liar.” – J. Edgar Hoover
“I only hope that we don’t lose sight of one thing – that it was all started by a mouse.” – Walt Disney
I’ll tell you one thing, it’s a cruel, cruel world.” – Danny DeVito
“I think one thing I’ve learned over the years is just that you’re not going to ever please everyone, and the most important person to please is yourself.” – Jeremy Scott
“Sometimes I think that the one thing I love most about being an adult is the right to buy candy whenever and wherever I want.” – Ryan Gosling

Well OK, some of these may have been spoken with tongue in cheek, but they do reveal something about the individual. Jesus also recommended “one thing” as primary above all others. He demonstrated it in His lifestyle, habits, and ministry, and it reveals very much about His character and the kind of people He longs for each of us to become.

He shared this priority with Martha: “There is only one thing worth being concerned about.” He told her, adding “Mary has discovered it” (Luke 10:42, NLT). What was it? It was what Mary was doing… what she had set as her Number One focus: “Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught” (v. 39).

Elsewhere in scripture Jesus urged “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.” (Matt. 22:37-38). Even prior to this He commanded “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness” (Matt. 6:33).

Socrates was condemned to death for his method of questioning. Jesus became “the Lamb who was slaughtered before the world was made.” (Rev. 13:8) so that we could once again know Him as we ought. The Apostle Paul made “to know Him” his one great quest (see Phil. 3:13), and so may you.

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.

Wednesday, 11/10/21 – Pressing on… Enemies!

Enemies!

Enemies are why people go to war. Enemies seek to plunder their targets, to take them or take from them all for spite, sport, or personal gain. Enemies come to steal and to kill and to destroy. You do not want to sleep when you see an enemy coming.

Every Christian has at least one enemy. He is the primary enemy, and he comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy. He speaks lies… only lies. He is an infiltrator and a master of disguise. He has studied human nature for centuries and he knows you very well. He has been watching you, knows your triggers, your weaknesses, what buttons to push, and when.

Jesus gave us full forewarning…

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy…” (John 10:10). “…there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44). ”Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.” (2 Cor. 11:14). “…false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.” (Matt. 7:15).

Peter knew what is was to fall… to allow rashness  and passion to predominate. Minutes after his great profession of faith, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God,” (Matt. 16:16) Peter’s rashness earned him Christ’s rebuke, “…he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” (v. 23).

He fell again, far worse… he denied knowing his Lord three times. He wept bitterly (Luke 2:62). But, upheld by the prayers of Christ Himself (Luke 22:32), filled and emboldened by the Spirit of God (Act 2), now he spoke, he testified, he wrote…

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith …” (1 Pet. 5:8-9). / “…I will always remind you of these things,” he wrote… I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body… And I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things.” (2 Pet. 1:12-13, 15).

Every Christian must remember that he is in a war, and must realize who is the true enemy, “[We wrestle]… against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Eph. 6:12). Each must accept one’s share of suffering, must exercise discipline to duty, and seek to please the Lord. “Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus,” wrote Paul. “No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer.” (2 Tim. 2:3-4).

He has taught us how to fight: “…He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4). “…the demons believe—and shudder!” (James 2:19). “…give no opportunity [foothold] to the devil.” (Eph. 4:27). “…Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7). And ultimate victory is assured: “And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years” (Rev. 20:2).

Know you have an enemy; know who he is; know how in Christ to do battle against him, and…

Press on…

To hear this past Sunday’s message, go to the Facebook page of Lincoln Baptist Church, or link to the livestream from the church website.

Tuesday, 11/9/21 – Pressing on… Former things and Ancient paths…

Former things and Ancient paths…

“I’m going to get the mail,” I said to my wife as I zipped up my jacket. But in far too few minutes I was back. “Forgot the mail key,” I confessed with a hint of self annoyance. “Ding!” rang the microwave. “Your tea’s ready,” I called out to her again later that afternoon, no matter that it was I who only seconds earlier had pressed the “reheat” button to warm my cooled coffee. Returning to my work I picked up my tablet then paused. “Just what was it on which moments ago I had been working?”

Forgetting! — If it’s not hounding you now, just wait. Along with arthritis, indigestion and low energy you’ll eventually discover it too has uninvitedly moved into your temporal temple. Aging aside, you’re probably already encountering it — you just don’t remember! Fast-paced attention grabbing and self-thinking technologies urge human heads to be continually pushing forward… seldom looking back. The “new and improved” shouts louder than the “tried and true.” A forward reaching reflex replaces any contemplative reflection.

Forgetting our frailness… our dependency upon God, we soon begin to believe we can do or become anything – we may even begin to believe we are our own god! Yet still the prophet warns,

“Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.’” (Isa. 46:9-10).

We must habituate healthy remembering if we will avoid the pitfalls of forgetting. “Remember your Creator in the days of your youth,” a rueful king concluded (Eccl. 12:1).

Jeremiah cried out to the forward-only looking people of his day,

Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Jer. 6:16).

Tragically, the verse ends “But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.’” Though he runs the wrong route, the runner hates to break stride.

What we forget, we no longer remember. Thus, self-assessment is impossible. Someone… something…. from outside ourselves must call us to remember: a note, a friend, a scripture, the Holy Spirit — a poppy?… a communion cup? As we remember our military this Thursday, and as we remember our Lord in His Supper, let us remember also our first love for Him… childlike faith… and the simplicities of surrender.

To these I call you this day.

More tomorrow…

To hear this past Sunday’s message, go to the Facebook page of Lincoln Baptist Church, or link to the livestream from the church website.

Monday, 11/8/21 – Pressing on… Simple things…

Simple things…

The Poppy…

Poppy seeds require little attention to grow and spread. Thinly toss a few seeds upon the surface of warm, frequently sunlit soil, provide them with about six hours sunlight daily and in a few months time you will have a returning supply of beautiful blooms – some varieties as much as five feet tall!

Bread and Wine…

It was Passover and, according to the Law of Moses, the bread was most certainly unleavened bread. The wine they drank was a diluted, weak wine most certainly non-alcoholic. It was a staple, for the water of the region was not good. Essentially this was bread and water, the simplest, most basic, elements of human sustenance.

The poppy and the elements of bread and wine: each simple things, each objects of remembrance, each prompting reflections upon sacrificial death.

I like simple things. They’re the sorts of things Christ used to teach great things: lilies, fields, sheep, and sparrows: lessons in vanity, evangelism, submission, and trust. Few things are really necessary things. To Martha Jesus said, “Only one thing is needful“ (Luke 10:42). On a much loftier scale perhaps Paul sought after thst same “one thing” (Phil. 3:13-14). Regarding the practicalities of life he concluded, “if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that” (1 Tim. 6:8). Why? Because we have found that first “one thing,” Christ.

We each get only one life and to decide what we will do with it: it is ours to live, or ours to give. Those we shall honor this Remembrance Day gave theirs for cause and country. Christ gave His for “bringing many sons and daughters to glory” (Heb. 2:10). He gave it to bring believers to a new country… the ‘far’ country… the eternal kingdom of God.

To seek that kingdom is the primary thing. It surpasses quests for all other things. Jesus clearly said that if we “seek first His kingdom and His righteousness… all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matt. 6:33).

We remembered these two sacrifices this past Sunday. We remember our fallen and are changed as we quietly covenant to take up their torch. We remember our Saviour, and by Him we are changed. We are changed as we give our lives to Him. We are changed as we allow His life to live through us. We are changed as we do simple things… little things… “cup of cold water” and “second mile” things… little things in His Name.

“We can not do great things – only small things with great love.” – Mother Teresa.

More tomorrow…

To hear this past Sunday’s message, go to the Facebook page of Lincoln Baptist Church, or link to the livestream from the church website.