Today’s Blog

Wednesday, 8/14/19 – Pressing on…

Never ending…

I am about to ruin your day…..

“This is the song that never ends,
yes it goes on and on my friend.
Some people started singing it, not knowing what it was,
and they’ll continue singing it forever just because…
This is the song that never ends,
yes it goes on and on my friend…”

Is it stuck in your head? Catchy at first, but then… !!!

group of people raising hands silhouette photography

Some people think of heaven like that. They say, “Eternally praising God! O that will be glorious!” But not too terribly deep down they may be wondering… Do I really want to worship God eternally?

These thoughts come into our heads because, like the Corinthians, we are “still worldly.” (1 Cor. 3:3). Paul called them “mere infants in Christ” (v.1) because they were not growing spiritually. He wanted to teach them deeper things but they refused. He wrote “I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready” (v.2).

In the book of Hebrews we find a similar scolding,

…though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. (Heb. 5:12-14)

person holding opened book

How is it with you? Are you “grow[ing] in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 3:18a)? Peter was, and at the thought of this he adds, “To Him [Christ] be glory both now and forever!” (v. 18:b). The two just naturally go together: growth and giving God glory.

This past Sunday Elder Jim encouraged us to grow in God. He referenced the many personal spiritual disciplines and resources of God’s Church to aid us in this growth: Church membership, Discipleship, Journaling, Quiet Time (Word, Devotional reading, Prayer, Meditation, Journaling), Personal Spiritual Health & Care: Grief Recovery (personal loss), Celebrate Recovery (personal ‘baggage,’ hurts, habits, hang-ups).

Scripture urges us,

“…move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about cleansing rites, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.” (Heb. 6:1-2).

And God provides,

“Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants” (Eph. 4:11-14a).

light sunset people water

Thinking about eternity for us may now be like telling a young child they will one day become attracted to the opposite sex. The response is typically “Yuck! No way!” We smile knowingly and just let time and hormones do their work.

Right now we just cannot imagine our eternal lives, but that ought not surprise us or cause us distress. As Paul acknowledges:

“Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.” (1 Cor. 13:12 – NLT)

We know we have this wonderful gift, we know it’s going to be something good because we know Who it is from. But so far we have not yet opened it. When we do, that will change everything!

Press on…

Tuesday, 8/13/19 – Pressing on…

Splash!

water splash

It’s amazing how many thoughts and sensations can run through one’s mind in just the few brief seconds of baptism. One ‘splash’ and all goes momentarily silent, the sounds of the room, the music perhaps, the singing maybe, all are gone, or at least drowned to watery muffles. There is a great peace and relaxing. You’ve done the deed. You know you have obeyed the first clear command of Christ to all His followers: Repent, be baptized.

He said, “Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.” (Luke 9:26).

black and white cemetery christ church

Just before that Peter had identified Christ as the Messiah (v.20). In Matthew’s account Jesus concurs saying this insight had been revealed to Peter by revelation of God the Father (Matt. 16:16, 17). Jesus then went on to explain that He would “be killed and on the third day be raised to life.” (v. 22). He said His disciples must “deny themselves and take up their cross daily” (v. 23).

He warned them just what that cost may mean:

“For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self?” (Luke 9:24, 25).

Baptism tells the world to whom you have committed loyalty. In some parts of this globe such commitment surely means death – not only symbolically, but actually. Peter blurted “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you” and all the disciples agreed (Matt. 26:35).

art cathedral chapel christ

But flesh-fired they all fled initially, yet they regrouped and prayed. Once Holy Spirit empowered they became dynamos. Christ had said “Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of…” Now they were no longer fearful, but bold. So bold that the people around them were amazed! (See Acts 4:13)

“I am not ashamed of the gospel,” Paul declared, “because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes” (Rom. 1:16).

Baptism tells the world you feel the same.

Splash! –– one of the milestones Elder Jim shared with us on Sunday. If you’ve not yet taken that plunge I urge you to consider it. Use the Contact link or contact a Bible-believing church near you today. See what God will work in you!

More tomorrow…

To hear Elder Jim’s message, go to the Lincoln Baptist Church website and look under ‘Media’ for the Aug. 11 message.

Monday, 8/12/19 – Pressing on…

Simba and you…

20190811_173715An early scene in the film The Lion King has young Simba venturing off with a reluctant young Nala into the forbidden territory of the Elephant Graveyard. Simba had been enticed into this by the sinister “Scar” who, but for Simba, would be next in line as King.

The two cubs come close to becoming entrees in a savage hyena gorge but are rescued by the appearance of Mufasa, Simba’s father and reigning King of the Jungle.

20190811_175102The danger past, Mufasa now turns his attention to Simba. “I’ve got to teach my son a lesson,” he says.
“I’m very disappointed in you,” He tells Simba. “I told you not to go there. You and Nala could have been killed!” Mufasa admits to fearing for his son’s life and a repentant, yet proud of his father Simba, says “I bet those hyenas were even scareder!” “Nobody messes with your dad!” replies Mufasa.

The two wrestle playfully… the lesson has been learned… the Father-son relationship restored.

Simba pauses and says, “We’re pals, right?”

“Right.” Mufasa affirms.

Reconciliation with the Father. It’s the first step in a journey of amazing discovery, adventure, challenge and change.

food man person eating

This past Sunday Elder Jim Longworth brought us a message which began with an illustration of cookie snitching restoration and led us through the milestones of maturing in Christ. But it all begins with our coming into right relationship with the Father.

Young or old it makes no difference. An eternity spans before us all. You are neither too young nor too old to come to the Father through the invitation of the Son — to agree with His verdict and receive His provision.

20190811_175952Do you feel that discomforting conviction, that disharmony… that fearful aloneness of lostness?

Come to the Father. His only agenda with you is your restoration: He has come to rescue you from the hyenas, not to throw you to them. He will lead you out of forbidden areas… across the savannah, into a great and glorious new dawn!

“All glory to him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by shedding his blood for us. He has made us a Kingdom of priests for God his Father. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen.” (Rev. 1:5b-6 – NLT)

More tomorrow…

To hear Elder Jim’s message, go to the Lincoln Baptist Church website and look under ‘Media’ for the Aug. 11 message.

If you would like counsel or guidance in making this surrender to Jesus Christ, please use the Contact page and we’ll get in touch with you.

Friday, 8/9/19 – Tough Question

Can fallen angels be redeemed?

20190806_055646The story is told of famous comedian of yesteryear W.C. Fields (1880-1946) who though never a religious man was found more than once in his letter years thumbing through his Bible. This being quite uncharacteristic of him a friend once asked Fields what he was doing. Fields witty yet poignant reply, “Looking for loopholes, my friend. Looking for loopholes.”

But of course there are no loopholes. Scripture is clear: “Each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment” (Heb. 9:27 – NLT) Very dire news indeed! But the gospel message is also clear: “For this is how God loved the world: He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3:16-17 – NLT).

planet earth

And as Paul writes, “This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: ‘Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners…’” (1 Tim. 1:15). Christ is mankind’s only Saviour: “There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12). Apart from Christ, “there is no longer any sacrifice…There is only the terrible expectation of God’s judgment and the raging fire that will consume his enemies.” (Hen. 10:26-27 – NLT).

Fallen angels cannot be redeemed simply because they have no Redeemer. “God so loved the world that he sent His Son”…. i.e. God acted to extend grace to mankind, not angelkind. Fallen angels have no Saviour, thus no means of atonement, no conviction of the Holy Spirit, no age of Grace in which to repent and no hope of an eternal kingdom for their rebellion took place within that realm.

20190806_060816In Hebrews we read “If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God” (Heb 10:26-27).

The heavenly host had always full knowledge of the truth, for they had their existence in the presence of it. For them there is no sacrifice for their rebellion. They bear the full guilt of it. Now this “fearful expectation” is theirs and it drives their ever more frantic activity as we near the end of this age.

Against this fact how precious indeed it is that in our case “The Lord … is patient… not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9).

In Revelation 2 we read of God’s message to the church in Thyatira. God noted their several good qualities but also pointed out to them one glaring error: they were allowing a woman among their numbers to lead other members into deep sin. “You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols.” (Rev. 2:20).

accuracy alarm clock analogue business

“I have given her time to repent of her immorality,” the message continues, “but she is unwilling. So I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways. I will strike her children dead…” (v.21-23a)

At present God has given us a time to repent. “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever” (Gen. 6:3). “Now is the day of salvation,” warns scripture (2 Cor. 6:2). “…do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?” (Rom. 2:4). “…We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God,” pleads Paul (2 Cor. 5:20).

Soon that time to repent will be over for mankind, and there are no “loopholes.”

Surrender to Christ today… and then,

Press on…

Want to talk further about this surrender? Use the Contact page.

Thursday, 8/8/19 – Discipleship – Freedom!

woman stands on mountain over field under cloudy sky at sunrise

The Devil would like for the child of God to think that he or she is still in bondage to sin. But sinful desire is no longer the only desire within us. When it was, it was all we knew. We sinned because that was all that we were: sinners!

But now we are being made something new! So certain is the completion of this work of God within us that He sees it as already done. In fact, He inhabits the day it truly will be done just as truly as He walks with us now as we struggle with the unfolding of it.

Some of this great work requires each of us to put his or her muscle to it along with God. Thus, Paul urges the Philippians,

“…continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” (Phil. 2:12, 13).

Some bits are very hard indeed. But nonetheless from where God sits He sees it as a thing already done. That is why Paul can confidently affirm,

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Gal. 2:20).

photo of child reading holy bible

This new Life within us will grow stronger and stronger the more we properly feed and nourish it. We do that by prayer, reading our Bible, obeying and worshipping God, being with other believers, and allowing His Spirit to work within us.

Long ago the apostle Paul wrote a letter to some believers in Galatia and explained about this: “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh… walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh” (Gal. 5:13, 16).

baby inside white bathtub with water

Jesus has set us free. He has pulled out from the mud and slime, stripped, washed and scrubbed us, burned those old clothes and given us clean, fresh, newly-pressed ones, perfumed us up, set our hair and polished our shoes. “Now, run along “ He says… “but stay away from the slime and mud!” How shameful for us and disrespectful to Him if we run again straight through it!

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” (Gal. 5:1)

grayscale photography of man sitting on grass field

Now we are free… free to enter into places that require cleanliness. Let us work hard to stay clean, and when we sometimes get this bit or that bit somewhat soiled—or even fall face forward full in the mud again, let us run straight back to Him, admit our wrong, and he will scrub us new again. (See 1 John 1:9).

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9).

Now we have another new nature; now at our crossroads we can choose…

“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” (1 Cor. 10:13)

Now we are, and are becoming, saints.

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 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, 8/7/19 – Pressing on…

Cold Noodles and Seaweed

20190804_152909As best I can figure the stuff our Sunday speaker referenced (see Monday’s blog) is “Soba Salad,” “Soba Salad & Seaweed” Is made with soba (buckwheat) noodles and wakame seaweed. The recipe I found also adds lightly blanched asparagus and sliced up raw cucumber. The mixture is then tossed in a lemon-soy vinaigrette with sesame oil, sesame seeds, and ginger. The wakeme seaweed brings a touch of sweetness, the asparagus gives the dish a just-right crispness, and the cucumber helps keep everything cool. Unlikely things tossed together and ending up something extraordinary.

abstract ancient antique area

Monday we applied this illustration to how God uses things often considered undesirable to deliver a surprisingly extraordinary thing. “We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us,” wrote Paul (2 Cor. 4:7). And in an earlier letter he noted,

“Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.” (1 Cor. 1:26-29)

But I see another sermon in the salad…

white and red house near road

“Soba Salad and Seaweed” is an unlikely mixture, and perhaps because of that it brings to mind the mixture that composes the Church. It’s good to be in a church with folk who bring crisp new ideas or present old ones in a crisp new way… folk who can add a touch of sweetness when difficult “medicine” needs to be swallowed… and we can always benefit from those who help keep everything cool.

And Paul has words to bring to this application also,

“Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body… Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” (1 Cor. 12:12,13…27)

Like a salad… Like a body… all of these things are lessons to us about our Creator’s great designs and purposes. When you really begin to study it you see the unity and purposefulness of all things in Christ. Rejoice in your part in it! God loves us. He loves you… He needs you to bring your bit to the whole. When you do, you will understand that your ordinary is really something very extraordinary indeed.

Press on…

To hear Don Longworth’s complete message, go to the Lincoln Baptist Church website and look under ‘Media’ for the Aug. 4 message.

Tuesday, 8/6/19 – Pressing on…

Ordinary Day!

 

The older I get the more contented I am with these lifestyle directives…

silhouette of person sitting and facing mountain during sunset

“…love each other… more and more… make it your ambition to lead a quiet life… mind your own business… work with your hands… so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.” (1 Thess. 4:9-12).

These are commands I can manage when I am weak and when I am stro –… or rather, less weak.

It is good to know that serving Christ is not only for the strong or supple. Working with God need not mean building a habitação in Brazil, ascending the Andes with gospel Bible/radios for the Quechua, or growing churches in Benin – all ministries those near to me have done. I need not aspire to doing some “great work for God,” but as Mother Teresa has said, “In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love.”

20190805_105454Doing our best at what we can do, and doing it for the glory of God, these are the very best things that we can do. Scripture warns against doing exact inverse of that as Don pointed out to us in the words of Jeremiah: “Should you then seek great things for yourself? Do not seek them.” (Jer. 45:5).

I like that directive too. It’s not complicated. “Should I…?” No! “Do not…?” A guy at any age appreciates that sort of simplicity… much moreso as the clock ticks on.

clean clear cold drink

Instead, give a glass of cold water… go visit someone who is sick, or someone in prison (There are many kinds of prisons.) Live as a testimony of purity–an example to younger believers, be hospitable to visiting missionaries or guest speakers traveling by, donate clothing to your local Thrift Shop, check in with a widow, a shut-in and help out or find help where you can. Each of these is also a command of scripture:

“…if you give even a cup of cold water to one of the least of my followers, you will surely be rewarded.” (Matt. 10:42 – NLT)

“Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.” (James 1:27 – NLT).

“…I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’…‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’” (Matt. 25:34-35, 40 – NLT).

blue purple red and yellow heart printed poster

All of these are little things, yet all become extra-ordinary things when we do them… live them… for the glory of God… as we go about our so-called ‘ordinary’ days.

Today the Lord’s message to us is this: Don’t do nothing because you can no longer do the extraordinary — get out there and be ordinary!

More tomorrow…