Thursday, 5/21/20 – Discipleship – Evangelism (& COVID-19)

Evangelism (& COVID-19)

man handing a beer from the cooler

There is a difference between what it means to “pass it on” (see yesterday’s blog) and “pay it forward” ( a phrase popularized since the 2000 romantic drama film by the same name.) To “pass it on” is to have been given something from someone else and then to give that thing to another. The item was never yours, you received it freely, and it cost you nothing to give it to someone else.

photo of person handing card

To “pay it forward” means to have received some benefit, assimilated it fully, and then when an opportunity arises you give from your own consolidated resources a benefit of some kind to someone else. In short, someone does a gracious act to you and so you in turn do a gracious act to another. When you “pay it forward” you receive a thing or a service and make it your own, then later from your own resources sacrifice a thing or a service to someone else.

two boys sitting on bench wearing hats and long sleeved shirts

Passing it on” honors the original giver; “paying it forward” honors yourself. “Passing it on” is sharing; “paying it forward” is transaction.

It is really only possible to give grace out of your own experience of having received grace. The “beggar” who finds bread and shares it with another can accept no praise for having created the bread. No… He knows that in his own self he is still merely a beggar. It is like this with all God’s graces.

“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life…” (1 John 1:1…)

“…I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you…” (1 Cor. 11:23)

“…I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures…” (1 Cor. 15:3-4…)

Praise… the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God…” (2 Cor. 1:3-4).

photo of mountain under cloudy sky

Have you fretted during Covid-19 and found solace in Christ? Have you rested calmly through this crisis because your confidence is in Christ? Have you been thrust into financial need and found hope, strength, resources through Christ, His people, His Church? Have you lost loved ones or suffered personally because of the virus yet found comfort and encouragement in the Lord? “Pass it On.” When it comes to grace, we can only truly give what God has given to us.

Pass it On

and…

Press on…

20190522_065320Are you interested in being discipled one-on-one in the fundamentals of new life in Christ? Or, perhaps you 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.

Tuesday, 5/19/20 – Pressing on…

Mirror Christianity

20200322_073341As we’ve been utilizing online services and teaching these days I recall how my first venture into a video upload brought a surprise. I looked SO OLD!

Of course there’s a perfectly good reason for this: I’m old. — Old happens, doesn’t it?

Then I noticed all the other little unconscious bits that a soul misses as it tries to express itself from the inside through a body which is all that is seen by others from the outside. My hair was untidy, I could have shaved better, I had a home-made bandaid on an index finger, I should have smiled more — and, despite being well aware of all the exhortations not to, I continually and unconsciously kept touching my face!

20200322_054608Yes, it can be disappointing to see oneself as one truly is. I remember my mother often citing with mock Scottish accent* this line from a peom by Robert Burns

O wad some Power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!
It wad frae mony a blunder free us

Roughly translated he says, What a wonderful power and gift it would be if God enabled us to see ourselves as others see us! It would prevent us from making many social blunders.

sky earth space working

We’re all seeing ourselves in new ways these days as we live in social distancing and self-isolation. Like astronauts in training we are forced to live with ourselves… in some cases with ourselves only.

There’s an old Seinfeld episode where Jerry thinks he’s met the girl of his dreams; they have so many things in common! When it gets to the point of the similarities being so minute as to be ridiculous Jerry realizes the relationship just can’t work. “I’m in love with myself,” he sputters. “I can’t live with myself! I’d go crazy!”

James writes about a man who looks at himself in a mirror. He says,

Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.” (James 1:23-24).

woman in black shirt facing mirror

It does no good looking at yourself periodically, straightening up this or that bit. Sooner or later you will end your looking and go right back to living from the habits you’ve built into yourself.

But real change is possible as we “put on Christ,” as we surrender to Him and obey Him as we ought. Then, the Holy Spirit of God transforms us from the inside out.

James continues…

But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.” (v. 25)

He goes on to tell us what that sort of living looks like. He states two points (v.27):

  1. Look after orphans and widows in their distress.
  2. Keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

What is it that God is calling you to do today? It is in just such very practical aspects of daily living that “The Fire of God” seeks entry into your being! What is God calling you to do today? As also one of our SermonIndex conference speakers challenged us: go now and do it. It may even make living with yourself a lot easier!

More tomorrow…

* Though my mother truly was of Scottish ancestry she did not naturally speak with Scottish brogue.

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

 

 

Friday, 5/8/20 – Friday Tough Question

Are these days of purpose?

white space ship and brown planet
Photo by SpaceX

They say a trip to Mars would require about seven months of space travel. On arrival the crew in full ‘Mars-suits’ would leave their travel quarters and descend to the planet’s surface in a specially designed landing capsule. Other capsules would arrive bringing many items needed by the pioneer colony: life support generators, food, solar panels, parts, etc.. Inflatable habitats and two surface ‘Rovers’ would also be sent.

By now most of us have found several weeks of living in a restricted space quite difficult. Imagine making it a lifestyle! Most of us I’m sure have realized we don’t have “the right stuff” for an expedition to become one of the first settlers on Mars. For the most part we would all make lousy Martians.

sky earth galaxy universe

So, if these days are not intended as training for Mars, for what are these days intended? Surely they are days of purpose, for they have come upon the whole planet, planet Earth. The pretty blue one that stands out in this solar system by its color and inhabitants — inhabitants made after the Image of God, the Maker of the entire universe! Yes, surely these days of isolation and lull are intended for something.

sun peaking over clouds

Allow me to propose these days are indeed intended as a training for us to inhabit a new world, a preparation time for a journey far more spectacular that a seven month trip to Mars. In fact, we have been traveling towards a new world all our lives. None of us will be staying here unendingly. Each will arrive at that world for which he or she has used that lifetime to prepare.

It is my prayer that as many as will shall use these days wisely, “redeeming the time” as urged the apostle (Eph. 5:16). “Making the most of every opportunity,” making the most of isolation and lull. Those who prepare well by repentance, and faith, and submission, and obedience will arrive at the best world… Citizens of “a better country, a heavenly one” (Heb. 11:16). They will be not Martians, but Christians.

Prepare well….

Press on…

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

Thursday, 5/7/20 – Discipleship – Prayer (& COVID-19)

Prayer (& COVID-19)

alone calm faith light

What role does prayer have regarding end time evils prophecied to come upon the earth?

Very much indeed. We ought not think the hand of God cannot be influenced in as yet by us unexperienced events prophesied to occur. God and time are unique realities. God Who knows all time, knows also all prayers. We who know only the moments of time within our individual experience view prayers as past, present or future. But God knows them all, and, from our perspective, was, is, and will be moved by them.

In fact, Christ told us to pray.

standing man in blue dress shirt praying

Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath.” we read in Matthew 24:20, and in v. 22 “…for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened.” Shortened no doubt from something previously intended, and why? Most likely because of the prayers of the faithful.

In Luke we are urged, “Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.” (Luke 21:34-35, 36).

woman in a colorful knitted shirt and gray headwear

Peter also speaks to our obligation of end-times prayer: “The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray.” (1 Peter 4:7 ).

The March 26, 2020 edition of Christianity Today carried an item entitled “20 Prayers to Pray During This Pandemic,” by Jen Pollock Michel. This serves as an excellent guide to our prayers amid the current COVID-19 crisis. I have condensed the items of this list here:

Pray…

1. For the sick and infected.
2. For our vulnerable populations.
3. For the young and the strong to use caution… to help.
4. For our governments’ wise allocation of the necessary resources.
5. For our scientific community seeking an antivirus.
6. For the media to provide up-to-date, accurate information.
7. For consumers of media to find the most helpful information and keep from anxiety and panic.
8. For those who feel isolated, anxious, and helpless.
9. For the homeless, unable to practice the protocols of physical distancing.
10. For travelers stranded in foreign countries.
11. For Christian missionaries throughout the world.
12. For workers facing layoffs and financial hardship.
13. For families with young children at home.
14. For working parents who can’t stay home but now require childcare.
15. For those with therapies or treatments that must now be postponed.
16. For business leaders making difficult decisions.
17. For pastors and church leaders.
18. For college and university students.
19. For Christians to pray, to give, to love, to serve, and to proclaim the gospel.
20. For frontline health care workers’ safety and health, knowledge re treatment and protocols, their clear-mindedness, peace of mind, compassion and supplies.

Lord, help us to be found faithful! In Jesus’s Name.

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 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, 4/29/20 – Pressing on…

What has you?

20200428_124018This past month mankind found its wisdom insufficient to prevent — at current count — the deaths of some 211,766 persons. Each of these people found their own personal physical strength insufficient to combat the invading virus. And every one of us has felt the economic impact of a world brought to a standstill. (The Dow Jones for example plummeted from above 29,000 to below 19,000 points!)

grayscale photography of man in short standiung

Suddenly it doesn’t matter so much what you have…

Do you have Wisdom – it fails.
Do you have Strength – it fails.
Do you have Riches – it fails.

20200428_120636.jpgIn my office I have a beautiful hand crafted cane – a gift from our previous pastor while on a missionary trip. But I cannot use it! I had begun to, but somewhere deep below its beauty and shellac the wood must have had a rotten patch. When I reached for it at last it was in two pieces! I’ve glued together now and it remains a beautiful souvenir, but I don’t dare trust it to support me.

20200428_120654.jpgMoses used a cane, and God told him to cast it down. When he did the staff became a snake… a serpent, possibly representative of what lay beneath all the man-made props we may lean upon. “We know,” writes John, “…that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.” (1 John 5:19).

Of Moses the Lord said, “He is faithful in all my house” (Num. 12:7 / Heb. 3:5). All Moses had when he met the Lord at the bush was his staff, and God told him to throw it down. A wise Wycliffe missionary once said to us, “Whatever you are leaning on, throw it down. When you pick it up again, go with the power of God in your hand.” – Marshall Holdstock, Wycliffe missionary. (Wycliffe ‘Quest,’ Trinity Western University, Langley BC, May 30/92.)

bullion gold gold bars golden

This is exactly what God asks of us in this hour. We will take nothing with us into eternity, nothing but what our souls have become. The things we have amassed, the things we say we have: wisdom, strength, riches… things of world, flesh, devil… will all stay behind. He wants us to throw these things down NOW. Though they look shiny and polished, there is rot within them… splinters to harm us, and a very great fall indeed await.

These things are here to be used… used for God, not instead of Him. Paul writes,

“…the time is short. From now on… those who buy something [should live] as if it were not theirs to keep; those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away.” (1 Cor. 7:29-31).

In the end, it matters not what you have, or what you think you have, rather what matters is Who (or what) has you.

Press on…

To view Elder Don Longworth’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.

Wednesday, 4/8/20 – Pressing on…

A Time For Giving and Forgiving

20200407_092204I’ve always liked Colossians, chapter 3. It’s a chapter full of homework! A chapter which commands certain things of us that may take us some time to “work out” in our habits and behaviours—a checklist of points which we would be wise to return to for ongoing self-assessment.

This morning I felt drawn to focus upon v. 13. In context, it reads like this:

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” (Col. 3:12, 13, 14).

Note the first word, “Therefore.” A good rule of understanding scripture is whenever you see the word “therefore,” stop and determine what it is there for.

soldier-military-uniform-american.jpg

I believe in this case the answer lies back in the first verse: “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above…” As new creations of God it is incumbent upon us to work with the Spirit of Christ within us to adopt, or “put on” godly virtues. God has made us, Jews and Gentiles alike, His “chosen people” (v. 12) so we must give diligence to behave as such… to behave like Christ. Christ has made it possible for us to do so, and now we must make it practicable. We must seize the opportunities He gives us to deny the “old” man and respond instead with the “new” man.

two people being isolated

Here in Canada we are now several weeks into physical distancing, self isolation, and homeboundness. Tolerances may be diminishing; tensions may be rising. But still Christ expects no less – He Who from the cross prayed “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34) also taught us to pray “forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” (Matt. 6:12). Then He added, “… if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (v. 15).

Forgive one another… Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” writes the Apostle.

Jan Kempe in Faithful Hearts tells of the American Red Cross founder Clara Barton who was once asked, “Don’t you remember the mean thing that that woman said to you?” Clara replied, “I not only don’t remember; I distinctly remember forgetting.”

Forgive one another… Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

Press on…

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