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.

Thursday, 12/2/21 – Discipleship: Fellowships of Fantasy and of the Family of God

Fellowships of Fantasy and of the Family of God

Moviedom of Hollywood and Television has marketed many spins on fellowship since the turn of this century as the following title movie bills reveal:

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), Fellowship of the Dice (2005), Rise of the Fellowship (2013), Artifice: Loose Fellowship and Partners (2015), The Fellowship Of The Shamolyn (2017), and The Fellowship of the Farmers (2017).

I’ve seen none of these flicks nor is it my desire. Christendom knows fellowships far superior and has known them since the very first of centuries.

One of the earliest was the “fellowship of the apostles” enjoyed by them and soon after by the 3,000 souls saved at Pentecost (Act 2:42). Included and binding to this fellowship is the reality that all believers are “called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.” (1 Cor. 1:9). This fellowship is the church of God amongst whom obedient believers enjoy the “fellowship of the ministering to the saints.” (2 Cor. 8:4). We minister to one another with our giftedness, our physical and practical help in times of need, our emotional and prayer support, and at times our prudent financial aid.

James, Cephas, and John, “pillars” in the Jerusalem church, extended to Paul snd Barnabas “the right hands of fellowship in affirmation of their unique calls to ministry (Gal. 2:9). Shared among us is our understanding, if not intellectual certainly existential “the fellowship of the mystery—the living Christ within (Eph. 3:9), a “fellowship in the gospel” (Phil. 1:5) made possible by the “fellowship of the Spirit” (Phil. 1:5).

In time, as we walk with our Lord, we experience surprisingly, then learn reluctantly, then value profoundly “the fellowship of his sufferings” (Phil. 3:10) which bonds us deeper in true “fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ” (1 Jn. 1:3).

Such superior fellowships require our diligence to retain, to keep pure from other so-called “fellowships” in this damaged and dirty world (1 Cor. 10:20, Ps. 94:20, 2 Cor. 6:14, Eph. 5:11, 1 Jn. 1:6-7).

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, 12/1/21 – Pressing on… Omicron!

Omicron!

Just two days ago the World Health Organization announced a new Greek alphabet-based system to name COVID-19 variants. The UK B.1.1.7 will now be known as the Alpha variant. The South African B.1.351 becomes the Beta variant, and the India B.1.617.2 variant will now be referred to as Delta. Numerous other variants of lesser concern have emerged since these but only a few are of ongoing concern.

Alpha, beta, gamma, delta and omicron are considered “variants of concern,” lambda and mu are “variants of interest,” kappa, iota and eta were variants of interest but have now been downgraded to join epsilon, zeta and theta as “variants under monitoring.” Omicron is the 13th variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and the world awaits the details as to its danger.

How are you holding up? In this season of Hope in Christ, of Peace on earth, of Joy to the world, and of the amazing agapé Love of God, does your anchor hold in these storms of life… in the straits of fear… through the morning light?*

Our world is in upheaval: floods, fires, falsehoods, rebellion, perversion, pandemic! God is clearly calling us to look to Him. He warned us of days such as these. He said, “there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes” (Matt. 24:7, KJV), and He said these would appear with ever greater frequency and intensity… like birth pains… “the beginning of birth pains,” He said. From here on in things only get worse!

But then He said this: “When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” (Luke 21:28). The destruction of a womb is no loss when the birth of a new life results. And God is making something new. Since the fall of mankind, and if we could comprehend it, even before that, God has been making a new thing. Isaiah announced: “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?” (Isa. 43:19).

Those who do see it rejoice!

Press on…

* We Have an Anchor, Priscilla J. Owens, 1882

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, 11/30/21 – Pressing on… Knowing and being Known

Knowing and being Known

In Psalm 139 David marvels at the Lord’s intimate knowledge of him. He writes,

“You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely.” (Psalm 139:1-4, NIV).

In awe of the scope of such Divine interest and scrutiny David confesses, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.” (v. 6). I rather like how The Message puts this verse: “This is too much, too wonderful— I can’t take it all in!”

But such intimate knowledge ought not surprise us. We have been fully informed of it in scripture. How minute is God’s knowledge of every individual? “Even the very hairs of your head are all numbered,” records Matthew (Matt. 10:30), a tax collector familiar with numerical precision.

In the depth of great trial a bewildered Job affirms “But He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” (Job 23:10). Despite his troubles Job knew the Almighty knew Him, and in Him he would yet trust.

David knew his Lord was everywhere: “in the heavens… in the depths… on the wings of the dawn… on the far side of the sea… [in] the darkness … and the light.” (Psalm 139: 7-12, NIV)

Job felt the Lord was nowhere: “But if I go to the east, He is not there; if I go to the west, I do not find Him. When He is at work in the north, I do not see Him; when He turns to the south, I catch no glimpse of Him.” (Job. 23:7-9).

But both knew, whether God was hidden or revealed, whether they presently experienced His presence or not, the one most important fact remained: God knew them!

“You know me,” sang David to the Almighty’s Face. “He knows the way that I take,” declared Job to the silent darkness on all sides. Both were men of great faith… men of “that same spirit of faith,” available to you and I today. Whether we shout praise from the mountaintop or reach out through darkness. “…we do not lose heart,” knowing this: “…our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Cor. 4:13, 16-18).

This too is our HOPE, in which we rest —  this present week of Advent, and beyond.

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.

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.

Monday, 11/22/21 – Pressing on… What’s in You?

What’s in You?

The Norwegian Proverb states, “In every woman there is a Queen. Speak to the Queen and the Queen will answer.” It speaks not only to women, but to that inner part of each one of us that longs for actualization of the person they really know themselves to be, or wish to become.

“In every believer there is a King,” our speaker paraphrased. And he was quite accurate. As Scripture declares of those in Christ Jesus… “[He] has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.” “You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.” (Rev. 1:6; 5:10).

Kings… and Priests. But that’s just the beginning!

In every believer there is also a child of God (John 1:12), a disciple and friend of Jesus (John 15:15), a soul declared righteous, justified before God (Rom. 5:1), a ‘bought and paid for’ possession of God (1 Cor. 6:19-20).

In every believer there is a member of Christ’s body (1 Cor. 12:27), a chosen and adopted child of God (Eph. 1:3-8), one with direct access to the throne of grace (Heb. 4:14-16).

In every believer there is a citizen of heaven (Phil. 3:20), one who has been given a spirit of power, love and a sound mind (2 Tim. 1:7), one born of God whom the evil one cannot touch (1 John 5:18). In every believer there is a branch of Christ, the true vine, a channel of His life (John 15:5), appointed to bear fruit (John 15:16), God’s temple (1 Cor. 3:16), a minister of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:17-21), seated in heaven with Christ (Eph. 2:6), God’s workmanship (Eph. 2:10).

The Norwegian proverb reminds us that we must remind each other of these things… of who we truly are, or are becoming. One powerful way to do this is by us treating one another as the Saints and kings we are becoming.

The German poet, playwright, novelist, scientist, and statesman Johann Wolfgang von Goethe observed… “When we treat man as he is we make him worse than he is. When we treat him as if he already was what he potentially could be we make him what he should be.” Adds Charles Noble: “You must have a long-range vision to keep you from being frustrated by short-range failures.”

Our Lord has that “long-range vision” for each of His children. In fact, its a super long-range vision – an eternal one. And He invites you and I to reach for that vision… to reach for it in Him, to reach for it in oneself, and to reach for it in others.

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.

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.

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.