Today’s Blog

Friday, 6/26/20 – Friday Tough Question

To Whom should we pray?

happy father and son

My son can come to me anytime and ask my help. I like it best when he comes to me and says, “Dad… can you help me with this…?” He could come to me and say, “John… can you help me with this…?” or, “Pastor/Elder McLean… can you help me with this…?” But I like “Dad” the best. I prefer “Dad” because it acknowledges and affirms our relationship. I am his Father. As an offspring he is like me, and he can become more like me as we interact in relationship.

parthenon

Paul cited the words of the Cilician philosopher Aratus, “We are His offspring,” and applied them to Jehovah God and the Greeks to whom he was speaking (Acts 17:28). Believers on the Lord Jesus Christ are “born again” into a special son/daughter-ship in God’s family: “born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” (John 1:13). In Hebrews we read, “Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters” (Heb. 2:11).

I will still hear my son’s request if he addresses me as “John” or “Pastor/Elder,” but if he were to ask my preference I’d tell him “Dad.”

beautiful beauty blur close up

Now the Trinity is not just a matter of three roles like my admittedly weak example above. Scripture teaches that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three Persons – three Persons yet One God. It should not disturb us that wrapping our minds around this is very difficult. In fact it is very likely impossible. But far more disturbing I think it would be if it our puny mortal minds could encompass the very nature and composition of God!

Interestingly there is no instance in scripture of believers praying to the Holy Spirit. As we study the Spirit’s role we see His ministry is largely in drawing men and women to Christ (John 16:8). He leads us into Truth (John 15:26; 16:13). He intercedes for the believer and helps them in their praying (Rom. 8:26-27), but our prayers are addressed to God the Father or Christ Jesus the Living Word made flesh. Christ too, like a lawyer, intercedes for us and as such we may rightly bring our pleas to Him.

Whomever of the GodHead you address the important thing is that you pray. As Paul enjoins,

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:6-7)

Press on…

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

Thursday, 6/25/20 – Discipleship – Priorities

Word of God vs Personal Behaviour

bible blur book christian

I was listening to a message by Pastor Michael Brown the other day and was intrigued by his statement that we tend to interpret the Word of God through our behaviour rather than the other way around. If, for example, we are engaged in some activity contrary to the clear teaching of scripture (i.e. sin) we use rather clever mental gymnastics to interpret the Word of God in a way to justify our sinful behaviour.

offended young indian couple sitting on sofa

Let’s say a believer holds a sinful resentment in his heart against another believer who has in some way wronged him. Rather than take to heart the command to not let a root of bitterness grow within us, the command to not give the devil a foothold, the commands to foster unity, to be a peacemaker, to pray for those who mistreat us, and many other clear commands, the erring believer will accept his or her resentment as valid and seek to justify it by misusing scriptures, perhaps pointing to passages on shunning the unrepentant brother, or framing the resentment as righteous indignation.

notes on board

But the mature a believer will understand that the clear truth of the Word of God has first priority. Instead of interpreting scripture through one’s behaviour the maturing believer will interpret his or her behaviour through the Word of God. He will listen to and happily accept the convicting voice of the Holy Spirit and adjust his behaviour accordingly.

A believer with proper priorities will live by the Lord’s injunction “Seek first His kingdom and his righteousness” (Matt. 6:33). Not only because he knows it to be the right thing to do, but also because it is his heart’s greatest desire.

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 comforting your path to Christ? — Use the Contact page and we’ll get you started.

Wednesday, 6/24/20 – Pressing on…

Pushing out those roots…

gray trunk green leaf tree beside body of water

A tree planted by streams of water does not need to push its roots far before nourishment is reached. But when a tree finds itself far indeed from this life-giving source that tree must push out its roots with all the more determination toward that life-giving flow.

In light of Pastor Andrew’s message this past Sunday I found it intriguing when earlier this week I received a ten point devotional about how a Christian can enhance his or her quiet time in the Presence of the Lord – i.e. how to encourage those “roots” to push on out when the soil gets dry and the pushing gets tough.

It’s always assuring when the Lord confirms His Word by such “coincidences.” We do well to take note of them. So I thought I would share some of these points with you today. (I may pick up on these further in my Facebook lesson this Saturday).

The first two points have to do with one’s spiritual preparation and are in my opinion the most important, the rest are more practical in nature.

Meet God in the Morning

20200623_062001Rev. Bishop Ralph Spaulding Cushman (1879-1960) wrote “The Secret,” a poem often referenced by its opening line “I Met God in the Morning.” It describes well the urgency to begin one’s day by first setting one’s mind and heart on Christ.

I met God in the morning
When my day was at its best,
And His presence came like sunrise,
Like a glory in my breast.

All day long the Presence lingered,
All day long He stayed with me,
And we sailed in perfect calmness
O’er a very troubled sea.

Other ships were blown and battered,
Other ships were sore distressed,
But the winds that seemed to drive them
Brought to us a peace and rest.

Then I thought of other mornings,
With a keen remorse of mind,
When I too had loosed the moorings,
With the Presence left behind.

So I think I know the secret,
Learned from many a troubled way:
You must seek Him in the morning
If you want Him through the day!

This was the practice of Jesus as Mark clearly records: “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” (Mark 1:35). In fact, as Luke tells us, Jesus often took other times to get away to be with the Father and pray, “But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” (Luke 5:16).

Wait for God before you begin to talk to Him!

woman in a colorful knitted shirt and gray headwear

We’d laugh if on his wedding day a groom were to say, “If I’m not there on time just start without me!” Yet, Christians often do this in their prayers. A holy silence ought to preface our praying. We must turn out hearts toward Him before we open our mouths to Him. Begin by perhaps reading scripture, offering praise, asking the Spirit to search your soul.

More than this we need also to stop at times to listen, or to just be silent… silent in the Presence of God. Is the Spirit speaking to your soul? Is a scripture leaping out at you?

Patience and perseverance are needed by root-pushing trees and patience and perseverance are needed by God-seeking saints. So push out those roots and…

Press on…

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

Tuesday, 6/23/20 – Pressing on…

Elijah, the tree…

time lapse photo of river flowing on rocks

If you’ve been a follower of our streamed Sunday services on the Lincoln Baptist Church website or Facebook pages you might recall an opening welcome segment I did a few weeks ago. In it I likened our Covid-19 imposed self-isolation in our homes to Elijah’s Jehovah imposed self-isolation by the Kerith brook.

Elijah appears for the first time in scripture in 1 Kings 17. Our introduction to him is quite abrupt.

“Now Elijah the Tishbite, from Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, ‘As the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word.’” (1 Kings 17:1).

adult aged beard elder

Elijah was to become one of the great prophets and miracle-workers of the Old Testament, but not yet. Here he just pops up and makes a proclamation of judgement to Israel’s godless King Ahab and then God sends him away for an extended period of isolation:

“Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah: ‘Leave here, turn eastward and hide in the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan. You will drink from the brook, and I have directed the ravens to supply you with food there.’

So he did what the Lord had told him. He went to the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan, and stayed there. The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook.” (1 Kings 17:2-6).

Our Lord calls us too at times to such periods of “coming apart” (Mark 6:31). Perhaps you’ve heard the old saw “One must ‘come apart’ before one comes apart.” He calls us at times to extended seasons of separation from the daily hub-bub… from even our ministry… to rest by that river, to be nourished by it and do nothing… nothing but recuperate, and grow. In fact He calls us to this quite regularly… weekly… He has made it a commandment “

Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work… For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” (Exod. 20:8-11).

Psalm 1 is a most concise description of this “coming apart.” The psalm says of the one who regularly steps away from this world, and instead absorbs the truth and person of God:

“That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither— whatever they do prospers.” (Psalm 1:3).

man tattooed praying

Like Elijah we leave our labours, we get alone with God, receive nourishment from Him, and simply, purposefully rest. It is a good thing to do. It is what God Himself modelled following creation, it was the daily practice of Jesus Christ, and it is a command to all who will follow Him.

After this period of apartness God mightily used Elijah. Indeed all he did “prospered” and in the end God took him (2 Kings 2:11). Elijah took the time and obeyed God. He became like a “mighty tree” because of it, and God calls each believer to do the same — including you!

More tomorrow…

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

Monday, 6/22/20 – Pressing on…

How to be a Big, Strong Tree

two girls doing school works

Think back to your childhood. Were you ever in an elementary school play? Were you too shy to raise your hand as they handed out the roles, or perhaps away sick that day? For whatever reason did you ever end up being cast with a brief walk-on part as perhaps ‘the sun’ or ‘the moon?’ Worse yet, was your star role stationary, like scenery? Perhaps you were the household dog, the knight’s steed, or worse yet you were cast as a tree?

Well take heart… Turns out a tree is a much nobler calling than you might imagine!

Psalm 1 has long been one of my most favorites. The psalm calls us to meditate while at the same time providing within itself much excellent fodder for such rumination.

worms eyeview of green trees

God’s creation is just shouting at us all sorts of deeper truths and applications of Himself, His Love and our purposes within His Creation. The psalmist writes that the one who meditates on the word and heart of God is like a tree well nourished by its proximity to streams of water. It is planted there. It is not going anywhere else, come rain, or flood, or wind, or snow. Neither heat of August nor frost of January will move it. From seed to it’s eventual decay it has laid its claim to stand.

“Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…” challenged Joshua, “But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” (Josh. 24:15).

Put on the full armor of God,” urged Paul, “so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” (Eph. 6:13).

background beautiful blossom calm waters

Jesus drew a strong comparison of the gospel as seed: good seed, but falling upon many sorts of soil. Whether our ‘tree’ grows or not is determined by each one of us by the degree to which we allow the convicting Spirit to cultivate our soil. Those who will receive it, and nourish it, will flourish:

But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.” (Matt. 13:23).

Paul picks up the seed idea with the Corinthians…

“I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow.” (1 Cor. 3:6).

… the believers in Ephesus…

“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ” (Eph. 3:17-18).

… and those in Colossae…

“Just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” (Col. 2:6-7).

photo of roses on flower vase

Whenever my wife will be away for a few days I am commissioned, “Don’t forget to water the plants!” A house tour often ensues as she points out to me where each precious plant is located. Not one of them is to be missed.

What care our Lord takes also to provide for our nourishment. His ‘water’ is ever nearby. We must only receive it daily to become healthy and strong in our God. A haven for forest creatures, a nourisher of life, a shade to the weary.

So go ahead… be a tree… soak up that water daily — twice daily! Be the best whoppintree you can be!

More tomorrow…

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

Friday, 6/19/20 – Question: Why does death feel so wrong?

Why does death feel so wrong?

woman working girl sitting

One of the most convincing evidences of the truth of the gospel is the fact that we all feel that death is something that ought not happen. Every other aspect of our natural being makes sense: we hunger, there is natural food and we are nourished by it; we have a drive for sex, there is a mate to fulfil that and it results in multiplication of humankind; we fear a danger, and adrenalin provides energy for battle or escape; we have creative ambition and can create. But then comes death. It makes no sense. We want to go on… but the fact of death thwarts us.

bloom blooming blossom blur

God has created within us all the above mentioned felt needs and more. He has placed within His creation, or has within Himself, all the means necessary to satisfy each one of them. He has also created within us a sense of eternity in our hearts.

Observes Solomon,

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts….” (Eccl. 3:11)

Death feels wrong because it is wrong. Death is not what our Creator intended.

Tozer speaks further on this…

We take it for granted and we are not surprised at all about the eternal nature of God but the greater wonder is that God has seen fit to put His own everlastingness within the hearts of men and women….

I believe that this is the truth about our troubles and our problems: We are disturbed because God has put everlastingness in our hearts. He has put a longing for immortality in our beings. He has put something within men and women that demands God and heaven—and yet we are too blind and sinful to find Him or even to look for Him!…

Men and women need to be told plainly, and again and again, why they are disturbed and why they are upset. They need to be told why they are lost and that if they will not repent they will certainly perish. Doctors and counselors will tell troubled men and women that their problems are psychological, but it is something deeper within the human being that troubles and upsets—it is the longing after eternity Christ the Eternal Son.

This world is filled with so much commotion, distraction, activity, and noise! The madness of the material fills and busies our senses till that longing for eternity is drowned out — and the devil dances!

photo of man wearing eyeglasses

Covid-19 has forced us to come apart from this, forced us to sit in silence and contemplate that nagging, loving, still, small Voice which is His loving call. We are made for Him, and we are eternal. The question is how and where one choses to experience one’s eternality!

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts….” (Eccl. 3:11)

Believe on Christ, allow Him to rule in your heart and you will see: His perfect love casts out all fears, death is a threat no more. Death is swallowed up by Christ’s Victory. Eternal LIFE becomes your destiny!

Press on…

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

Thursday, 6/18/20 – Discipleship – Freedom

Freedom Indeed!

sad isolated young woman looking away through fence with hope

There is no worse bondage than guilt, no greater freedom than forgiveness.

In saying He came to set men free Christ did not merely announce “He whom the Son sets free, will be free.” He said, “He whom the Son sets free, will be free indeed.” (John 8:36).

20200617_174326Imagine it, if it is not already yours: PeacePeace with God! Such a gripping thought! So much so that Billy Graham’s 1953 Bestseller by that title sold 2 million copies and is still selling today.

People are troubled. They do not have Peace with God and either seek it desperately or try to bury the angst with anything at hand: alcohol, sex, drugs, materialism,

depth of field photo of two pilsner glasses

fame, wealth or wild living. Some try to be their own saviour, perhaps by self punishment in hope of gaining a sort of divine atonement by asceticism, self-mutilation, starvation, cutting, or self-flagellation. Or perhaps by an abundance of good-deeds or contributions of money to the church.

None of these bring Peace with God.

adult alone black and white blur

Tormented, some choose what they believe to be the final exit, suicide, thinking it will bring nonexistence which they deem preferable to their pain. But neither will death bring the sought for relief for the pain is not resident in this world, but in the soul of the individual which shall live forever. Guilt can be taken with you; it’s only remedy is Christ.

Because guilt is such a constraining bondage we assume our deliverance must exact a very costly price. And we are correct. It us a price none of us can pay. It requires a holy sacrifice. The pure for the impure. The Innocent for the guilty. None Such is to be found on this earth. But all praise to Christ such a One exists in heaven. It is, always has been, and ever will be Christ.

backlit cemetery christianity clouds

Christ alone brings to us the possibility of freedom. Not only freedom from guilt, but freedom to choose rightly by the new nature He places within us. Freedom to be transformed into His likeness. Freedom to choose the right and shun evil.

He whom the Son sets free, will be free and more.
He whom the Son sets free, will be free indeed.

Press on…

photo of child reading holy bible

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, 6/17/20 – Pressing on…

Forgiving is not Condoning

black and white wooden welcome sign

Did I use a sly debating tactic on you yesterday, saying No we are not doormats but Welcome mats? You see some may say that this is just a clever way of saying that yes we are doormats but we should just feel good about it! After all, even a Welcome mat is still a doormat, right?

If someone came away from my blog yesterday thinking that then they missed something very important. If you look closely at it again you will see that I referred to forgiveness as “our response to the genuinely penitent,” our duty to “offer forgiveness to a truly penitent soul.”

1 John 1:9 does not say God forgives all sin, it says

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins…” (1 John 1:9a).

person holding opened book

If we do not see our wicked actions as sin, admit they were such, rue having done them, and will to turn from ever doing them again (by God’s Grace) then we are not forgiven!

The sacrifice of Christ did not save all humanity, though it is sufficient enough to do so. His death saves only those who admit to and turn from sin and to Him to do so.

● The rescue ship rescues only those who get aboard.
● The meal fills only those who eat it.
● The medicine cures only those who take it.

If a Christian globally condones all sin he is indeed a doormat and sullies the Name of Christ.
But when a Christian offers forgiveness to a truly penitent soul, he magnifies the Name of Christ.

photo of person crying

Christ displayed for us the perfect balance between these in his response to the woman taken in adultery (John 8:2-11). After the accusing crowd had dispersed with none bold enough to condemn her He said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” (v. 11).

In that one statement sin is forgiven, yet not condoned. In such manner we too must forgive, just as Christ has forgiven and will forgive we who come to Him with penitent hearts.

“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. 3:13).

Press on…

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

Tuesday, 6/16/20 – Pressing on…

Welcome mats

Forgive us… as we have forgiven others” (Matt. 6:12).

antique bills business cash

We learn from Matthew 20:2 that a denarius was an average day’s wages in Jesus’s day. The job in Matthew 20:2 was an unskilled labor job, so the day’s wage was likely at minimum wage. A hundred denarius then was equal to 100 day’s wages.

cash coins money pattern

A talent, however was MUCH more than a denarius. In fact, it would take a labourer about 20 years to earn a single talent! A debt of 10,000 talents would require the labourer to toil 20 x 10,000 years to earn. That’s 200,000 years! Truly an impossible debt for one to repay!

The parable in Matthew 18:23-35 contrasts for us to the astounding debt we owed our Creator and which He paid for us in Christ with the insignificant by comparison debt others may owe to us.

woman writing formula on whiteboard

Earlier in Matthew 18 Peter asks Jesus “Lord, how many times shall I forgive… Up to seven times?” “…Not seven times,” Jesus answers, “but seventy times seven times.” Of course Jesus is not really saying one must forgive another up to a measured 490 times and then no more. No. He is saying that forgiveness must become our response to the genuinely penitent at all times…. just as it is the Lord’s:

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins…” (1 John 1:9a).

But, someone might protest, doesn’t that just make one a doormat?

the denver post office and federal court house

The Corinthians must have thought so. Their response to having been wronged by a brother was to take the man to court – heathen court! “Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated?” (1 Cor. 6:7) Paul implored.

When believers behave like unbelievers they demonstrate to the world that Christians are no different… that Christ is no different… that in reality there is no other cheek, no second mile, no cloak to be offered (See Matt. 5:39-41).

But when instead a Christian offers forgiveness to a truly penitent soul he is truly acting godly, Christ-like, with a supernatural love, Agapé love, the love of God. We needn’t be doormats, but we must be Welcome mats — for Christ as His ambassadors, and to this world that desperately needs shelter.

Forgive us… as we have forgiven others.” We must pray it often for our own sake, for our brother’s, and for the sake of His Kingdom.

More tomorrow…

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

Monday, 6/15/20 – Pressing on… “…the church that meets in your home”

Monday, 6/15/20 – Pressing on…

“…the church that meets in your home”

brown and white wooden mail box on brown wooden post

Our church met in “home groups” for the first time this past Sunday morning. I shared with our group what I share with you now…

We are in good company meeting together like this.

Early believers celebrated the Lord’s Supper “from house to house” (Acts 2:46). The apostles taught and preached daily “in the temple courts and from house to house” (Acts 5:42). The Apostle Paul taught “publickly, and from house to house” (Acts 20:20).

Later Paul wrote letters to numerous “home group” churches: “Priscilla and Aquila… also the church that meets at their house.” (Rom. 16:4,5). (See also 1 Cor. 16:19). “Nympha and the church in her house.” (Col. 4:15). “Philemon… and to the church that meets in your home” (Philemon 1:1-2).

Jesus Himself had promised “…where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Matt. 18:20)

black and brown desk globe

Just prior to His ascension Jesus told his disciples, “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised…” (Acts 1:4). The inhabitants of the whole world have in essence these days been told to wait… to stay where they are. Fear of what lay ahead has gripped many. But wise is the believer who has seen this time as a time ordained by God. Blessed are they who see this time of waiting as an intended time

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.” (Acts 2:1-2)

At just that right time God moved… the believers empowered, the Church grew…”They broke bread in their homes and ate together… And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” (See all: Acts 2:42-47). When the lame man begged something of Peter and John, Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” And the lame man walked (Read all: Acts 3:1-10).

Believer, you have that same thing now… within you… wanting to be given to a fear-filled world.

white clouds

These days are no surprise to God, though they are to us. Rather, God is restoring His Church. He is preparing His People, His Body, His Bride.

And that Bride, dear believer, is little ole you and I.

Press on… forgive…  freely give… be surprised what God may next do in you… through you!

Let the sleeper rouse…

Jesus didn’t die So that we would come to church, He died so that we would become the church.”

More tomorrow…

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