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.

Tuesday, 5/5/20 – Pressing on…

Proclaiming Christ’s Death

“For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” (1 Cor. 11:26).

20200504_091523Following our service this past Sunday Pastor Andrew led us in commemoration of the Lord’s Supper. He was eager to share with us a deeper insight into the above verse.

Why do Christians do this thing anyway? To “commemorate” as Merriam Webster defines is “to call to remembrance, to mark by ceremony or observation, or serve as a memorial.” All of these definitions describe a looking back at something… a bringing back to remembrance.

But to the believer this “remembrance” ought also to spark a looking forward. The whole act is symbolic of something much deeper…. something most personal.

couple with a shopping cart buying groceries

Just as our physical bodies need food and drink for sustenance, Jesus here reminds us that our spiritual selves require fundamental nourishment. Spiritual survival depends upon our drawing from Christ as our most fundamental fuel. Just as physical food and drink becomes us as it repairs and builds our physical tissues and empowers us as calories burn and are transformed into energy, so also the Christian soul is healed and transformed to further Christlikeness — empowered by Holy Spirit unction, insight, compassion or giftedness. As nourishment by food and drink = physical life, so nourishment by Christ = spiritual life.

This spiritual transformation, healing and growth becomes a testimony to the world of the power of the resurrected Christ. Like Pharaoh’s baffled magicians the world cannot reproduce it.

happy man sitting with laptop and juice in park

Just as the person who eats healthily, shuns sweets, stays hydrated and exercises appropriately proclaims by his or her good health and countenance the efficacy of healthy eating, so the believer who makes Christ his or her spiritual sustenance proclaims by their character, grace, agapé love and endurance, etc the efficacy of Christ. S/he “proclaims the Lord’s death until He comes.”

Christians ought to remind themselves of this each time they take communion. Indeed it would be wise if believers were mindful of this dependency each time they took food or drink in any context. Paul cited, “In Him we live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:28). Indeed, Christ Himself replied to His inquiring disciples, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.” (John 4:32).

More tomorrow…

To view Elder Jim’s Sunday message, go to the Facebook page of Lincoln Baptist Church, or link to the page from the church website.

Monday, 4/13/20 – Pressing on…

Life Apart

20200412_133536Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote his acclaimed Life Together in 1939. This classic work on the family of God opens citing David’s Psalm of ascent, Psalm 133, “Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity.” (Ps. 133:1). Psalms 120-134 are called “psalms of ascent” because they are believed to have been sung in lower to higher tones and by the Jews as they “ascended” the Temple steps during their thrice annual festivals.

grayscale photo of people raising their hands

Bonhoeffer states that when Christians come together in fellowship they do not do so directly. “[Christ] stands between me and others,” he writes. What He means is that as “Christ’s love compels us” (2 Cor. 5:14) we reach out to our brother or sister – through Christ – and they receive – through Christ. Christ is the bond, the conduit, the channel or frequency through which transmission and reception travel. All Christian unity is through Christ.

hallway with window

Paul writes, “…through Him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit” (Eph. 2:18) and John summarizes, “We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.” (1 John 1:3). Christ is the bond that causes us “to dwell together in unity.”

This being the case we find unity and fellowship is possible when experiencing “Life Apart” as well as “Life Together.” The Spirit of Christ, like the Word of God, knows no bounds.

Screenshot_20200412-135433I was delighted and surprised to experience this in a unique new way this past Sunday as our church family shared together online in the Lord’s Supper. It got me thinking how across space we are united in Christ, and likewise how across time we are also united. We share in “the communion of the saints ” taking and sharing together as equally with those 1st century brothers gathered around an upper room meal in Palestine … Jesus Christ Himself the officiate!

art carving close up crown

We celebrate together and we suffer together. “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.” (1 Cor. 12:26). Only Christ now knows the total sum of our celebration… our suffering. Paul caught a glimpse of this truth. He saw the great privilege he had in suffering his portion of it. “Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church.” (Col. 1:24). He saw too the reward there would be “there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day…” and for you also among “….all who have longed for his appearing.” (2 Tim. 4:8).

It is a different world today, and will be for long after the pandemic has ended, but Jesus Christ remains True, holding all things together… take heart… press on…

More tomorrow…

20190116_145626To view Don Longworth’s Easter Sunday message, go to the Facebook page of Lincoln Baptist Church, or link to the page from the church website.