Passionately His

Pursuing the Christian life in all its fullness

Looking for a sign

Posted by Jeff on December 2, 2016

Signs:  they’re everywhere.  Whether it’s the little red octagonal stop sign at the intersection in front of you, or the big yellow stylized M on the main drag advertising the local Slurp ‘n’ Burp™, signs are everywhere.

Sometimes, they’re so ubiquitous that we become overwhelmed and fail to see even the signs we need to see.

Advent is a season of waiting, a season of looking, searching for the perfect gift.  We look for signs, whether it’s to yield to traffic or to find the store we want to shop in.

Ironically – or maybe not – the greatest sign is already among us.  So is the most perfect gift.

All right, then, the Lord himself will give you the sign.  Look!  The virgin will conceive a child!  She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’)” (Isaiah 7.14, NLT).

That prophecy has come to pass.  Jesus was born in Bethlehem, he lived and undertook his ministry, he died to atone for our sins, and rose again to bring us eternal life.  He ascended into heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father to pray for us.  And he gave us his Holy Spirit, so that he would continue to live in us and through us.

The sign is before us.  The gift is within us.  Look no further!

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CAROLS BEHIND THE CURTAIN: Come, Thou long-expected Jesus

Posted by Jeff on November 27, 2016

In this Advent series, we’re looking at some popular Christmas carols that we love to sing, and what they mean.  Often, we sing along with something mindlessly, without giving attention to what the words mean.  We are enjoined to sing with understanding, so in this series, we’re taking a look at carols behind the curtain.

Today, we looked at Charles Wesley’s hymn, “Come, Thou long-expected Jesus.”  Readings in this service included Psalm 33 and Matthew 1.18-25.

You can listen below, or watch the video on https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fjeff.loach%2Fvideos%2F10210685348427020%2F&show_text=0&width=560” target=”_blank”>Facebook.

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Black Friday

Posted by Jeff on November 25, 2016

It’s one of the most enigmatic days of the year.

Yesterday, our neighbours to the south spent the day giving thanks for what they had.  Today, vast numbers of them are out trampling over one another to get bargains on things they perceive they need (but probably don’t).

The difference between American Thanksgiving Day and so-called “Black Friday” (named because that’s the day many retailers finally make a profit for the year) is poignant.

It reminds me of the contrast between Palm Sunday and Good Friday, when people rejoiced at the presence of Jesus in their community on one day, and less than a week later, had him crucified, convicted on trumped-up charges.

As the popular meme says, “Only one Black Friday brings eternal savings.”

You may think it odd that, with this Sunday marking the beginning of Advent, I would allude to the crucifixion.  But that was his purpose:  Jesus was born to die.

We can’t think of the nativity without also thinking of the passion.

What makes Christmas so exciting for me is that Jesus’ birth is what brings the promise of new and everlasting life through his death and resurrection.

Behind the manger stands the cross.

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” (John 3.16, NLT).

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Encouraging Presbyopia

Posted by Jeff on November 13, 2016

Jesus is in the business of the impossible!  Today’s message focused on Christian stewardship (hopefully without a guilt trip!), trusting God as we look to the future.  It’s based on 1 Corinthians 1.18-31 and Matthew 6.19-34.  Have a listen!

Here’s the https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fjeff.loach%2Fvideos%2F10210555287855587%2F&show_text=0&width=400” target=”_blank”>link to watch the video of this message on Facebook.

Here’s the link to the video that was shown near the end of the message.

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Peace and unity

Posted by Jeff on November 11, 2016

On Remembrance Day, we pause to remember and give thanks for those who have fought for our freedom – a freedom demonstrated earlier this week as our neighbours to the south voted in a presidential election.

One of the things I have noticed in recent years, which was writ large throughout the seemingly-endless US election campaign, is that in western society, we are polarized like never before.  And it seems to pervade all spheres, not least the political and ecclesiastical spheres.

In church and state, people seem pitted on either side of one issue or a multiplicity of issues, and the mud-slinging comes from both sides.  What the world needs is what the church can demonstrate if it will:  peace and unity.

To that end, I will let God’s Word speak for itself.  Receive these words from the Lord.  Read them slowly, perhaps a few times.  Allow the Lord to speak to you through them.  And respond practically.

How very good and pleasant it is

    when kindred live together in unity!

It is like the precious oil on the head,

    running down upon the beard,

on the beard of Aaron,

    running down over the collar of his robes.

It is like the dew of Hermon,

    which falls on the mountains of Zion.

For there the Lord ordained his blessing,

    life forevermore.  (Psalm 133, NRSV)

Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God.  So anyone who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and they will be punished.  For the authorities do not strike fear in people who are doing right, but in those who are doing wrong. Would you like to live without fear of the authorities? Do what is right, and they will honor you.  The authorities are God’s servants, sent for your good. But if you are doing wrong, of course you should be afraid, for they have the power to punish you. They are God’s servants, sent for the very purpose of punishing those who do what is wrong.  So you must submit to them, not only to avoid punishment, but also to keep a clear conscience.  (Romans 13.1-5, NLT)

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A Blameless Life

Posted by Jeff on November 6, 2016

In today’s message, we talked about the importance of what to look for when electing new ruling elders, which we will be doing in St. Paul’s this month.  Titus 1.5-9 gives some helpful pointers in what elders should be like, among them, living a blameless life.  None of us is there yet, if we are honest with ourselves, but when we know what the goal is, we can get on the road to achieving it by God’s grace.  Have a listen below, or watch the stream on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fjeff.loach%2Fvideos%2F10210487499040909%2F&show_text=0&width=400” target=”_blank”>here.

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God’s got this

Posted by Jeff on November 4, 2016

Fashion comes and goes, but for the devoted follower of Jesus, there is one outfit that is always in style.  Read what the apostle Paul says in Ephesians 6.10-17 (NLT):

A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.  Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.  For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.

Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.  Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness.  For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared.  In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil.  Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

There are many times when we become frustrated in life’s battles, but some of them – perhaps many of them – are not of the sort that can be fought with words or pills or therapy; they must be fought with prayer.

Paul invites us to wear the full armour of God so that we will be completely ready for the battles of life that don’t involve weapons or minds.  There are many battles in life that involve the spirit.

Consider a struggle you face today, and re-read those words from Ephesians 6.  Put on all of God’s armour.  Realize that you’re not battling flesh and blood.  Put on the belt of truth, the shoes of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, the sword of the Spirit.  God’s got this.

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ADVICE FROM A MENTOR: 6. Pursue Righteousness

Posted by Jeff on October 30, 2016

In this final instalment in our series on 1 Timothy, “Advice From a Mentor”, we look at 6.2b-21, wherein Paul encourages Timothy, the early church, and us to pursue righteousness.  What can that look like?  Listen in below and find out.

Alternatively, you can watch the video by checking out our church Facebook page.

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It will rub off

Posted by Jeff on October 28, 2016

A show on television that I enjoy watching is “Canada’s Worst Driver”.  Frankly, in my books, anything Andrew Younghusband touches turns to gold, because he has such a great sense of humour, but also a way of being poignant when the need arises.

If you’ve not watched the show, the producers accept nominees from across the country of individuals who are deemed to be especially dangerous to the motoring public.  The producers narrow the field to eight candidates, who check themselves in to the “Driver Rehabilitation Centre”, at the old airport in Dunnville, Ontario.  From there, they are assessed and taught a variety of both driving and coping skills, in the hope that they will be rehabilitated.  Along with driving instructors, a therapist is also part of the rehab team.

The therapist is going to earn her keep this season.  One young woman from Edmonton who was nominated was deemed to be the most dangerous driver they’ve ever had on the show.  When the crew went to film her biographical sketch, they said they wouldn’t get in a car with her again.  That’s a pretty serious claim, if you consider the bad drivers who have been on this show before!

Her skills are astounding:  running through stop signs and red lights without even looking; texting and driving; passing on a double line; aggressive driving…and the list goes on.

What’s most troubling about this young woman is that she doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with what she does.  As host Younghusband said to her, “That is the driving of a horrible person.”  He wasn’t suggesting she was a horrible person; he was saying that her driving was that of a horrible person.  It’s like she was a different person behind the wheel.  She was someone who owned the world, who acted like society had to bow to her every wish.  She’s going to require some pretty heavy-duty psychological aid through this season, and I hope she (and all the other candidates) get the rehabilitation they need so they can carry on normally in the future.

When I told this story to a friend, who operates a railway locomotive, he recounted a story of a trucker that hit his train, claiming he believed he didn’t need to stop for trains.

Doesn’t it just make you want to shake your head?  I hope so!

While some will deem this a generational thing, in my experience, it’s not limited to a generation.  This sense of entitlement may be an epidemic.  Whether it’s by how we raise our kids, or how we treat store clerks, or how we treat other drivers, our responsibility as followers of Jesus in the midst of this challenge is to live like our Leader.  Ponder these words from the apostle Paul, who early in the life of the Christian church penned this truth about the Lord Jesus:

You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.

Though he was God,

    he did not think of equality with God

    as something to cling to.

Instead, he gave up his divine privileges;

    he took the humble position of a slave

    and was born as a human being.

When he appeared in human form,

    he humbled himself in obedience to God

    and died a criminal’s death on a cross.

Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor

    and gave him the name above all other names,

that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,

    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord,

    to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2.5-11, NLT).

Let this be true for us.  It will rub off.

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ADVICE FROM A MENTOR: 5. Care Intentionally

Posted by Jeff on October 23, 2016

Paul’s directives to Timothy in 1 Timothy 5.1-6.2a focus on widows, elders and slaves, but mostly on widows.  What can this first-century letter teach us about caring for the needy?  The big idea is that to do God’s work – to care intentionally – we need each other.  You can watch it on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fjeff.loach%2Fvideos%2F10210347413618861%2F&show_text=0&width=400“>here, or listen below:

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