Today’s Blog

Tuesday, 6/11/19 – Pressing on…

selective focus photography of three disney princesses figurines on brown surfaceA dad watched as his five year old son struggled to twist open a new jar of play-doh. “Use all your strength,” encouraged the father. “I’m trying,” said the child. The dad watched and waited a while longer. Clearly the child was too weak to meet the task. “You’re not using ALL your strength,” said the father. “But I am!” the child protested. “I’m trying with all my strength!”

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The dad leaned in low, looked the child in the eyes and lovingly said, “No… You’re not using ALL your strength, because you haven’t asked me to help you.” The dad took the jar and in one effortless twist opened it.

How often, and how seemingly easy, it is for us to forget that God is our Strength, our ever-present Help in time of need. We love Him. We know He is right there with us, and we want to please Him. We want to serve Him. But we find our Strength to do so is limited. In frustration, we double down, grit our teeth and try harder. But we forget to turn to Him and surrender the task into His Hands, for He too – and above all — is our Strength and our Shield.

20190609_222155This past Sunday Shant Manuel reminded us of the boy who surrendered his lunch to Jesus. In Jesus’ hands that small offering fed thousands – with leftovers to spare…. leftovers greater than the initial surrendered supply.

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” – Psalm 46:1

“The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.” – Psalm 28:7

“When they had all had enough to eat… they… filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.” – John 6:12, 13

Do you remember what God asked Moses?

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“Then the Lord said to him, ‘What is that in your hand?’” – Exod. 4:2

What is in your hand today? Give it to the Father and watch Him do wonders!

More tomorrow…

To hear Shant Manuel’s complete message, go to the Lincoln Baptist Church website and look under ‘Media’ for the June 9 message.
To learn more about Shant Manuel and Far Corners Ministry, click here.

Monday, 6/10/19 – Pressing on…

20190609_154625Shant Manuel of Far Corners Ministry was our guest speaker this past Sunday. He shared with us about the significant work being done in Nepal, India. (To learn more about or to support this ministry, click on the “Far Corners” link above.)

Shant then brought us an excellent message from John 6, Jesus miracle of feeding over five thousand people with only five loaves and two small fish. We learn here several lessons which should challenge our faith and obedience.

It was just before Passover and Jerusalem was no doubt teeming with visitors in town for the celebrations. They had heard about this man Jesus too… this man said to do miracles… the one many called ‘Teacher.’ And so multitudes clamoured behind Jesus and His disciples as they crossed the Sea of Galilee… as they climbed up on a mountainside.

Scripture tells us that when Jesus looked up and saw them He turned to Phillip and asked “Where should we buy bread for these people to eat?” (John 6:5). It was a test. Scripture tells us it was a test. Jesus already knew how He was going to meet this need (v.6). But He asked Philip anyway. He wanted Philip to think. As if to ask, “Look Around You Phillip… What resources are available to you? Where would you go to solve this problem?”

people enjoying the concert

Phillips did look around. Perhaps he thought of a few merchants yet so far away – but before he even thought of the merchants he realize the impossible cost. He replied, “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite.” (v.7). An astute observation of fact. Phillip turned to his own resources and thinking and found them lacking. But another disciple, unnamed in John’s gospel, saw some meager resources. “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish,” he reported, then added “but how far will they go among so many?” (v.9)

20190609_160246There was some small strength among their human selves but woefully not enough. Still this disciple willingly brought it to Jesus. He knew Jesus was also a resource among them.

If you have been listening to the Spirit speaking these past several Sundays, and not just listening to His messengers, you will recall the emphases on prayer… you will recall also this morning’s Bible class video — one man’s testimony of God answering bigly. You will note too Don Longworth’s captivation for weeks now with the promise “You may ask Me for anything in My Name, and I will do it.” (John 14:13,14).

It seems our God is calling us to BIG belief.

What BIG belief is He asking of you today? To what resources will you turn?

More tomorrow…

Friday, 6/7/19 – Tough Question

Answers to nearly two million questions!

1. Eat less, exercise more.
2. 8.
3. The 2nd Sunday in May.
4. 16.

There! That should satisfy upwards of nearly two million questioners for a full year!

You see, according to Google the top four general questions asked in 2018 were

7. How to lose weight? – 550,000
8. How many ounces in a cup? – 450,000
9. When is Mothers Day? – 450,000
10. How many ounces in a pound? – 450,000

coffee composition computer desk

The first six questions were questions specific to the one asking. Among them were questions like, “What is my ip?” (3,350,000), “What time is it?” (1,830,000), and “What song is this?” (550,000). Answers to these questions were obviously different in each case.

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But none of the top four general questions are essential questions. None would be an individual’s dying plea. Can you imagine that? A soul lay suffering, struggling for just one breath more. He motions you to bend low to hear what his whisper begs as he faces eternity. You tilt your head positioning ear to mouth and he gasps, “How many ounces in a cup?”

No, I don’t think so. Ultimately, for each of us, the ultimate question has not changed…

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Some 2,000 years ago the Holy Spirit fell. He sent out emboldened men to shout the gospel, and conviction made once blind souls desperate. As scripture records, “…they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37).

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A few years later an earthquake shook a Philippian dungeon and a once brazen guard shuddered at imminent death, if not by debris then by decree; he thought to slay himself but heard a voice shout “Don’t…!” Urgently, he “called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. He then brought them out and asked, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?‘” (Acts 16:29).

This is the essential question! This is the urgent one when it is only you – and Almighty, Just and Holy God! What will you grasp at then? Some tuft of grass here, a reed there as you plummet over that precipice?

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The best prayer is that made long ago by Peter; “Lord, save me!” he shouted as he sank into stormy sea (Matt. 14:30). Yes, this same Peter turned fiery preacher above, for all must come to Christ the one same way.

“Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.” answered Peter. (Acts 2:38). “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved,” replied Paul and Silas (Acts 16:31).

“The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.” Peter announced (Acts 2:39)… “—you and your household,” echoed the two (Acts 16:31).

This is the essential question. The answer is freely available to all. It is childlike in simplicity, overflowing with Christ’s Love. You need only be humble enough to ask it, willing enough to surrender, remorseful enough to repent.

“If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’
and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead,
you will be saved.” (Romans 10: 9).

Press on…

Need help seeking salvation? Got a question? Use the Contact page.

Thursday, 6/6/19 – Discipleship: Freedom

20190605_161446Perhaps you heard about the poor squirrel who was found under a vehicle in St Andrew’s last month by a couple of teens. The poor animal must have run through some still wet foam insulation which dried quickly on its body making it near impossible for it to move at all! It had got into so much of the stuff that it was hardly even recognizable anymore as a squirrel!

20190605_161523Thankfully Jaydon Pettipas and Aiden Hart came along, spotted the squirrel and took action. They contacted the closest veterinarian clinic in St George some 33 km away and brought the poor creature in immediately. Dr. Melanie Egan had never seen anything like this before in fact it was the first squirrel ever to be treated in the clinic. Using rubbing alcohol and gentle combing she was finally able to free the animal from its rock-hard, certain death prison. The squirrel was eventually released near the clinic.

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Jesus said this: “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:34-36). He taught that sin had gripped a hold of us, it had hardened around us and there was nothing we could do to break free. The law had taught us how holy we had to be but we were helpless to obey it perfectly. Jesus came with the authority to make a new way… to die in our place… to appease the Justice of the Father, clean us up and set us free. One day He will indeed make us actually holy!

Paul reminds the new believers in Galatia not to return to attempting to obey the law… attempting to behave themselves holy. He’s telling them forget it; it won’t work. You’ve tried that already and you know it doesn’t work. Don’t go back. Trust Christ’s substitution before God as the way he has made for you. Stay away from attempts at self-righteousness.

achievement activity adolescent arms

The King James translation puts it like this: “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free” (KJV). The New International has it: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” (NIV). I rather like the direct simplicity of the New Life Version: “Christ made us free. Stay that way.” (NLV).

20190605_161556I hope that poor squirrel learned to stay away from construction sites — and especially to stay away from foam insulation! Likewise we as redeemed people of God must avoid sin and must avoid all the attempts to please God through our own righteousness. Christ has done it all!

Christian, Christ has made you free! Stay that way!

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, 6/5/19 – Pressing on…

black and white book business close upAccording to the Cambridge Dictionary the idiom “a broken man” refers to a person who has suffered emotional pain to the point that it has changed the way the person lives. A “broken” person has come to the end of their coping abilities. Broken persons cannot “fix” themselves; they cannot even imagine that things could get better. Outside assistance is necessary.

brown horse beside gray metal bar

“Breaking” a horse is the process of training the horse to be ridden. The animal must be taught to accept a saddle and bridle and become accustomed to carrying the weight of a rider. A new pair of shoes will rub against your toes and cause blisters until they are “broken in.” Warming the shoe or applying various oils are techniques used to accomplish this until, as one source put it, “shoe and foot find a way to conform to each other in harmony.”

The gospels of Matthew and Luke both record Jesus’ parable of the vineyard tenants. Time and time again the owner of the vineyard sends servants to collect his fruit but each is killed by the cruel tenants. Finally the owner sends his own son. “Surely they will respect him,” thinks the owner. But they do not. Even the son is slain.

20190604_083056Jesus then summarises the parable by quoting from the Psalms. “The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone” (Ps.118:22). He is saying the Gospel, having been rejected by the Jews, will now go to the Gentiles, the non-Jewish races around them. He then adds this curious statement,

“Anyone who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces;
anyone on whom it falls will be crushed.” (Matt. 21:44).

Commentators vary on their understanding of the first half of this statement. Is Jesus here twice speaking of the judgement that will fall upon those who refuse Him, or does the first part of His statement refer to the breaking of one’s own will in their submission to Christ? I tend to believe He means the latter.

Jesus has also just told a parable about two sons. One says “No” to his father’s wishes, but then obeys; the other says “Yes,” but in fact disobeys. Jesus asks, “Which one did the will of the father?” (see Matt. 21:28-32). It is the first son who has truly obeyed; he has obeyed by “breaking” his stiff will to bow to the will of the father.

The Psalmist also wrote,

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18

silhouette of person riding horse on body of water under yellow sunset

To fall upon Christ, allowing our stiff wills to surrender to His does not bring captivity, but freedom! We come to the end of our-selves, but find new Life in Christ. He leads us out of our troubles. He sees just how better things will be… things we cannot now imagine.

Fall on Him. He will take you where without Him you could never go.

Press on…

Tuesday, 6/4/19 – Pressing on…

black and silver cassette playerI was listening to the CBC Radio program “Ideas” early yesterday morning. Philosopher Mark Kingwell, political theorist Emma Planinc and actor Jonathan Goad discussed to topic “Public Morality in the Ages of Caesar and Trump.” I found it an interesting discussion juxtaposed against the backdrop of Pastor Andrew’s Sunday message the day previous.

In the Shakespearean play Julius Caesar Brutus is faced with a dire moral conflict: his love for his friend Caesar and his love for his country Rome. In the end, he slays Caesar for what he believes to be the betterment of Rome. As he states, “Not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more.” (Act 3, Scene 2).

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The question with which these minds wrestled asked “In an age of diverse opinion how can we define the idea of a common public morality, and public good. Indeed, how much common ground can we actually find?” As Philosopher Mark Kingswell stated the issue:

“We have large, diverse populations where we have different conceptions of what’s good. And that, on the whole, is a healthy condition to be in. But it means that the political struggle and whatever local morality might possibly mean among citizens or leaders is always a question mark.” – Mark Kingwell

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But his statement reveals his own moral bias. “Different conceptions of what’s good” is most definitely NOT “a healthy condition to be in.” The “question mark” exists because we have abandoned God!

Listen here to this one-minute clip as Emma Planinc, historian of political thought at the University of Notre Dame weighs in. Essentially she is saying each individual must decide if they think there is such a thing as an ultimate standard of Right…

“It depends on whether or not you think there is something that is capital R ‘Right,’ that morality is set in stone. …then you have to figure whether or not you think that is compatible with democratic politics…” – Emma Planinc

The Christian knows there most certainly IS an Ultimate Standard of Right–and His Name is Jesus! “No one is good—except God alone,” said Jesus (Mark 10:18; Luke 18:19). “I and the Father are One” (John 10:30), and “I am… the Truth.” (John 14:6). But the onus is not on God to adapt to human democracy, but on mankind to fall before its Creator and acknowledge His Supremacy.

slatted wood pathway between trees

Yet we know not many will…

Enter through the narrow gate,” urged Jesus. “For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” (Matt. 7:13,14).

I am reminded also of the narrative toward the end of the book of Joshua: “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.” (Joshua 21:25). When a society has “different conceptions of what’s good” that society is lost.

This is exactly what happened to Israel and Judah… they had strayed from Jehovah, set up their substitutes and lost their way. This is exactly what happens to you too when you try to run from the Gospel. As Emma Planinc even concedes, “There are many political theorists throughout history who will assert that a maximal political ideal would be one in which the government was structured around what is ‘good.’”

Without God we no longer know what is Good. God is Good. He is our King. His is that Good Government.

Have you strayed in any way? He calls us to return. He can yet make all things new. “A cry is heard on the barren heights, the weeping and pleading of the people of Israel, because they have perverted their ways and have forgotten the Lord their God. Return, faithless people; I will cure you of backsliding.” (Jer. 3:21, 22)

Hallowed (Holy) be His Name… His Kingdom come… Amen!

More tomorrow…

Note: To hear Pastor Andrew’s full message go to the Lincoln Baptist Church website; look under ‘Media’ for the June 2 message.

Monday, 6/3/19 – Pressing on…

group of people raise their hands on stadium‘Mercy’ and ‘Grace’ are great sounding church words. Hymns and songs and poems and prose are always thanking God for His Nature and Gifts of Mercy and Grace. But I’m afraid many Christians sing along not fully understanding what on earth these things are– they’re church things, and that is all… like pews and altars and pulpits and prayers.

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Some Christians understand about Grace. Grace is good stuff, like being ‘chosen’ people of God…. Part of the ‘elect’ … free ticket to Heaven and all. Grace is about blessings, prosperity, answered prayers just the way we like. These people tend to lump ‘Mercy and Grace’ together as if they were all one thing, and when they think of that ‘one thing,’ they think only of the good stuff.

Israel kind of fell into that thinking – in an Old Testament sort of way. They had known themselves to be ‘Jehovah’s chosen people.’ They had gotten smug about it… began to grant concessions to the commands He had given them. They soon thought themselves entitled… they began worshipping other gods, allowing more sinister sins…

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“Have you seen what faithless Israel has done?” God asks Jeremiah (Jer. 3:6). Then Judah joined in, but granting a tad more smugness, a few further concessions, almost as if in competition with Israel. “Return, faithless people… for I am your husband,” pleads Jehovah (v.14).

You see we should all be condemned – Israel… Judah… you… me… We are not holy people. We are guilty people. We’ve earned the death penalty. You know, “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). Your death… my death. Separation forever from a God Who is and will remain Holy. He cannot compromise Himself. Therefore He cannot contaminate Himself.

Be holy, because I am holy.” reiterated Christ (1 Peter 1:16; Lev. 11:44,45; 19:2). “Without holiness no one will see the Lord.” (Heb. 12:14).

We can make no plea to innocence. We are guilty. We are stained. We must be condemned.

Herein is our desperate need for Mercy!

But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’” (Luke 18:13).

Grace happens when God sees that sincerity of heart, that loathing of sin, that longing for Him… and God replies.

Mercy is not getting what we deserve!
Grace is getting what we do not deserve!

The wisest man ever has said “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” (Prov. 9:10). This fear will drive us to plead for Mercy… to surrender all… for by it we see the reality of the flames, the brevity of a lifetime, and the never-endingness of eternity.

O Christian, fear sin. Run from it. Keep short accounts with your Creator! Do not grow lax in these latter days.

Thank God evermore for His ‘Mercy’ and ‘Grace.’

More tomorrow…