Today’s Blog

Wednesday, 2/6/19 – Pressing on…

photo of bathtub beside window

The past couple of days I’ve been speaking loosely around Pastor Steve’s topic last Sunday “The Holy Spirit is Our Helper,” part of his sermon series ”The Person, The Presence and the Power off The Holy Spirit.” (Listen to them all under ‘Media’ at the Lincoln Baptist Church website.)

In this address Pastor Steve drew largely from chapters 14 through 16 of the Gospel of John. These chapters are among the most endearing and personal passages in the gospels. They reveal the heart and love of Jesus against the backdrop of the eternal plan of the Father. They are also filled with teaching regarding the Holy Spirit.

I always slow down when I read these chapters. To me they are like a hot tub, or perhaps a bubble bath, words for soaking in… a place to leave the aches and strains of your day.

photo of woman sitting on stairs

Just look how they begin, “Do not let your hearts be troubled,” speaks Jesus, “…I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” He continues… “I will ask the Father, and he will give you… the Spirit of truth… I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you… Because I live, you also will live… Peace I leave with you…” In chapter 15 He tells us “… I have loved you… You are my friends… I chose you… appointed you… whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.”

Good words. Encouraging words. Words of hope and a wonderful future—for those who have placed their trust in Christ… those who claim Him their substitution for the just penalty of their sin, and who name Him and obey Him as their Lord and King.

adult alone anxious black and white

But the Holy Spirit does quite a different work in the hearts of those who are at present estranged from Him. John chapter 16 tells us the Holy Spirit “will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because people do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.” (John 16:8-11)

bare feet boy child couch

It is the Holy Spirit that brings conviction to the heart… that fearful discomfort that maybe, just maybe the gospel is true! Maybe, just maybe death is not the end, oblivion does not await, and each soul must meet its Maker. An inner angst that perhaps at that meeting such a soul may be found lacking – then what?

The convicted soul wants to break and run, to do anything to escape this work of the Holy Spirit: become busy, hang with peers who also deny Him, accumulate wealth or possessions in attempts to soothe away the fear, get lost in drink, sex, chemicals. But the Spirit is relentless. “The Hound of Heaven” Francis Thompson called Him.

And why? Why won’t He leave the lost alone?

Because He loves the pursued. He wants to bring them all the above blessings and more. And He wants to use His faithful in this work… partners together with the Holy Spirit of God. To them the Holy Spirit is their Helper. He is their Comforter, Counselor, and Advocate. He enables them to be bearers of such good news, and works with them to bring conviction to the heart needing Christ.

Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” (2 Cor. 3:5-6).

Whichever group you find yourself in, know this: your very best future lay in ongoing surrender to God. Thank the Lord for sending us the Holy Spirit.

Press on…

Tuesday, 2/5/19 – Pressing on…

background conceptual contemporary creativity

I was barely a teenager when the invasion hit the continent. It was not an invasion of enemy forces, not locusts or frogs, or flies. It was not an invasion of aliens from space – though some of our parents thought it was close to that. No, this was dubbed “the British invasion.” It began with Beatles, then Stones, Animals and Monkees. It caused our hair to grow and our eardrums to rattle. Females often fainted from its spell… mass hysteria spread our two nations.

audio e guitars guitars music

Yes, it began with the Beatles…. At first they wanted to hold our hand; then they plead for something deeper… they needed “Help!”

Help!
I need somebody
(Help) not just anybody
(Help) you know I need someone
(Help)

When I was younger, so much younger than today
(I never needed) I never needed anybody’s help in any way
(Now) but now these days are gone (these days are gone) I’m not so self-assured (and now I find)
Now I find I’ve changed my mind, I’ve opened up the doors

Help me if you can, I’m feeling down
And I do appreciate you being ’round
Help me get my feet back on the ground
Won’t you please, please help me?

And now my life has changed in oh so many ways
My independence seems to vanish in the haze
(But) but every now and then (now and then) I feel so insecure (I know that I)
I know that I just need you like I never done before

Help me if you can, I’m feeling down
And I do appreciate you being ’round
Help me get my feet back on the ground
Won’t you please, please help me, help me, help me, ooh?

Help! – The Beatles – Release Date: June 19, 1965 / Recorded at: EMI Studios, London
Revisit the boys here (After the ad, of course):

Interesting, isn’t it, how these cries of over half a century ago echo our need today…

man in white shirt holding rock formation

Do you need somebody… Not just anybody?
Was there not a time when you felt invincible, a time when you were so much younger than today? A time you felt you never needed anybody’s help in any way?
But life has a way of eventually shaking such confidences… you find you are not so self assured.

You need to touch something beyond yourself… something eternal. It’s time to admit it… time to “open up the doors.”

antelope canyon arizona

When you do, you find there has been a Helper there beside you all along–just waiting for you to turn to Him, and ask… to bow to Him and surrender…. There’s still time. Raise your arms and praise Him,

“I do appreciate you being ’round…”

We all need Him… need Him “like we’ve never done before.”

He is here, waiting for your call.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matt. 11:28-30)

More tomorrow…

Monday, 2/4/19 – Pressing on…

cat lying on cloth

I remember how good it felt last winter when I came down with a miserable chest cold, stomach upset, cold chills and fever – oh, sorry… that wasn’t the good part. The good part was the comfortable resting in my big office recliner, drowsy with Tylenol but snug and cozy under a huge plush quilted comforter. The world and it’s problems spun someplace outside me, and I could do nothing to affect it. I was in a zone… a ‘sick’ zone, unable to ‘do’ anything. For me, now, Job #1 was rest and recovery. I had no say in it.

adult care cure doctor

I remember another very good experience too, just after my mother had passed away. (Again, not the good part.) I was driving from Saskatoon to an interpreters’ conference in Vancouver. I was run down from all the recent stress and lost sleep. I stopped in to a medical clinic in Hope, BC to see if I could get some antibiotics. The doctor on duty prescribed me some meds, but noticing my emotional distress he asked if anything was upsetting me. After I shared with him about my mother’s recent death he asked, “What would your mother want you to do?”

This cast a whole new light on my despondency. I realized she would want me to find joy again, to carry on, and not become stalled by her passing. I have been grateful since to this man for his counsel and shared often this insight with others.

close up of human hand

Finally, there was another incident where someone at my side supported me. There had been a mix up at work over some now long-forgotten happening. I was in the clear, but couldn’t evidence it. Thankfully another worker advocated on my behalf and the matter passed.

Three very good experiences indeed: comfort, counsel, and vindication. In the above instances the agents which brought these were a blanket, a doctor, and a co-worker. None of these were threatening; all of them were inviting.

How much more is the Holy Spirit all these things – our Comforter, our Counselor, our Advocate! Draw closer to Him today. He is the Great ‘Paraclete,’ the One called alongside us, our Helper.

More tomorrow…

Friday, 2/1/19 – Tough Question

“How Can a Loving God send people to a place as horrible as Hell?”

fire orange emergency burning

There are no cell phones in hell.

Say that to anyone under twenty these days and they’ll likely think, “Wow! That really would be hell!” But it gets worse… much worse!

There is no Facebook in hell… no Netflix, no Spotify, no Google, Alexis, Twitter or FaceTime. But is gets even worse still… There is no electricity in hell. There is no light, no day, no stars, no moon. All is darkness in hell. Darkness and fire, worms and regret, weeping and grinding of teeth.

fire wallpaper

Jesus pulled no punches when speaking of hell. He said of hell that it was a place of great separation. He said that between heaven and hell “a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.“ (Luke 16:26). He said it was a place of agony, a “blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matt. 13:42). In parable He described the torment of a rich man who begged “…send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.” (Luke 16:26). He cited Isaiah 66:24 saying hell was a place “where ‘the worms that eat them do not die, and the fire is not quenched.’” (Mark 9:48)

We prefer to imagine there is no hell. In fact, even in writing this blog I’ve had to wrestle the whole way through with my tablet’s spell check. Even it tries to deny hell, choosing instead to type he’ll. But hell is indeed very real place.

On his deathbed renowned atheist Voltaire cried out “I am abandoned by God and man. I will give you half of what I am worth if you will give me six months of life. Then I shall go to hell and you will go with me, oh, Christ, oh, Jesus Christ!” it is a horrible thing to die without Christ, as Jude said, to be among those “for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever.” (Jude 13).

So how could a loving God send anyone there?

black and white cemetery christ church

Jesus did not come into this world to send people to hell. Jesus came into this world “to seek and to save the lost.” (Luke 19:10). He came to die in our place to save us so that “whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16b). We must understand this: “God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.” (John 3:17).

Hell was not intended for people; it was intended for the devil and his demons. Jesus spoke of it as “the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matt. 25:41). Nonetheless hell is populated by many men and women who have turned their backs to Christ… and many more will yet join them.

firefighter holding water hose

You see when one repeatedly refuses the lifeboat there is no place for that soul to go than over the approaching falls. You cannot blame the boatman. If you will not climb into the arms of the fireman there is no place for you than to burn in the flames! You cannot blame the rescuer.

Indeed, there are no cell phones in hell. Nor are there any cell phones in heaven. We won’t need them or desire them there. You do not need one here either in order to reach out and contact Christ. He is right beside you now. Reach out to Him. Make Him your Saviour and your Lord.

I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.” (2 Cor. 6:2).

Press on…

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

Thursday, 1/31/19 – Discipleship: Freedom

20190130_184531Going in circles…

Yesterday I drove the new double lane roundabout in town. I had been on it as a passenger, but this was my first time driving it. Some months back the city of Fredericton created a website to educate folk on how to use it. The right of way rules of the roundabout are these:

• If turning left, you must enter the roundabout from the left lane;
• If turning right, you must enter the roundabout from the right lane;
• If traveling straight, you can enter the roundabout from either lane.

I followed these rules and driving it was not difficult at all. The roundabout works smoothly so long as everyone knows and follows the same right of way rules. Not so smooth though if each driver thinks s/he has a ‘right’ to take any lane they choose.

Many folk are like that when it comes to thinking they have a ‘right’ to do what they want.

man couple people woman

“I’m ‘free’ to do what I want!” “You’re not the boss of me.” “It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to.” “Don’t tell me what to do.” “I’ve got my own truth!” But demanding one has a ‘right’ to gratify one’s lusts does not create a right where there isn’t one.

God has standards and we have fallen short of them. We do not have a right to snub our noses at Him, and disregard His laws and principles. What we call a ‘right’ is really an arrogance. Our free will enables us to do things that we have no right to do at all!

achievement confident free freedom

But in our fallenness we think these demands are declarations of freedom… freedom to do what we want. But the kind of freedom the believer in Christ has is not a freedom to do what one wants, rather it is a freedom to do what one ought.

The Christian knows there is a God and that He has requirements. The most rudimentary of these are the Ten Commandments. Ten things we are obliged to do, but cannot. The desire to do what we want gets in the way of doing what we ought.

But the Christian also knows that in yielding themselves to Christ He works within them, changing their desires, empowering their will, giving them ability to do what they ought.

“…for it is God who works in you to will and to act
in order to fulfill his good purpose.” (Phil. 2:13)

They also find that in that obedience there is a joy far greater than any self-satisfaction — and their life stops going in circles!

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, 1/30/19 – Pressing on…

macro notebook page paper

So… what is that “place for you” to which I said yesterday the Holy Spirit was the One to lead you? To where are you being led by that “still, small voice” (See 1 Kings 19:11-23)? Ultimately the destination of every believer is home… our true home, heaven… with our exalted Lord. But where is He leading today?

“What does God want me To do?” is a question I hear often from many believers in our Lord Christ.

I find some great insight into this in Paul’s ambition as he explained it to the Philippians. He wrote,

“I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.… “
“I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 3:12, 14)

man climbing on gray concrete peak at daytime

This is one of my favorite passages, as you can probably tell by my “Press on…” sign-offs through the week. The very words suggest moving forward despite opposition… as if running a marathon against a very strong headwind… just keep going, eye on the prize at the finish line. Press on

Well, that’s all a very nice analogy, but what does it look like in reality? Just what is Paul “pressing on” to do… to be?

You know, I don’t think Paul himself precisely knew! What he says in essence is, God has something in mind for me… and while I don’t know what it is exactly at this point, what I do know that if God has a plan for me, then that’s the plan I want to pursue!

How did Paul figure out the day-to-day steps of that plan? I think by following everything we’ve said the past two days: He was sensitive to the Voice of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

“…the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’” (Acts 13: 2,3)
“…kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia.” (Acts 16:6)
“ ….but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to.” (Acts 16:7)
Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” (Gal. 5:25)

How do we know what step to take next? The same way we started out on this journey, by faith!

“…After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh?” (Gal. 3:3)
“…we live by faith, not by sight.” (1 Cor. 5:7)
“…continue to work out your salvation…” (Phil. 2:12)

You’ve raised your sails and caught the wind of the Spirit, so why would you stop and try to sail your ship on dry land?

No getting around it, you’re going to need the Holy Spirit.

Press on…

Note: To listen to Pastor Steve’s most recent message on the Holy Spirit, go to the Lincoln Baptist Church website, click on Media and select from the list.

Tuesday, 1/29/19 – Pressing on…

20190128_165631Yesterday’s talk about tug boats got me thinking about a book I used to treasure as a child: Scuffy the Tugboat.

Written by Gertrude Crampton and published in 1946, the story begins,

20190128_165727Scuffy was sad.
Scuffy was cross.
Scuffy sniffed his blue smokestack.
“A toy store is no place for a red-painted tugboat,” said Scuffy, and he sniffed his blue smokestack again.
“I was meant for bigger things.”

Ever feel like that? “This is no place for me!” … “I was meant for bigger things.” Well, you are absolutely correct! And the Holy Spirit is exactly the One to lead you there.

As Scuffy’s story unfolds he ends up being taken to a brook, but then the current catches him. The brook becomes a stream, the stream becomes a river, then an even bigger river. Scuffy is overwhelmed! Then, up ahead Scuffy can see the approaching ocean!

Some people fear that if they yield themselves fully to the Holy Spirit they, like Scuffy, will be swept away to places they do not want to be… out of control and doomed!

white and black sail boat on ocean

But the guidance of the Holy Spirit is nothing like that. In fact, if anything, it is more like the breeze that propels and guides a sailboat. Mind you, the Holy Spirit is still capable of those gale force winds I mentioned yesterday, but they are there for your good not your harm. They can carry you swiftly away from dangers or blow hard against the enemies of Truth. More often the Spirit’s Voice is gentle, and must be entreated….

Consider these examples from scripture…

Gut feeling…
Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. (Acts 16:6-7)

Vision… Inner Voice…
While Peter was still thinking about the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Simon, three men are looking for you. So get up and go downstairs. Do not hesitate to go with them, for I have sent them.”
(Acts 10:19-20)

After worship, fasting and prayer…
While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off. (Acts 13:2,3)

You’ll recognize the Holy Spirit when He speaks to you. It’s the Voice of a Friend.

“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’” (Isa. 30:21)
“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27)
“Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” (Gal. 5:25)

More tomorrow…