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BEING THE CHURCH: No Turning Back

The last part of Paul’s final letter, 2 Timothy, might be of the sort where you might say, with Brother Maynard in this Monty Python clip, “Skip a little, brother.”  But as we find out in this message, it’s worth paying attention to for the life of the church!

Have a listen to this message based on 2 Timothy 4.9-22.

Unfortunately, the Facebook Live feed chose not to work today.  😦

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Encouragement From The Word

Give him the reins

Ever have one of those weeks where there’s so much to do you hardly know where to start, and you feel almost paralyzed by it all?

Yeah.  That kind of week.

It becomes a reminder that at times we need to be selective in what we choose to do, and we have to learn to use an oft-under-used term in the English language:  no.

Many of us naturally want to please others, and so when we are asked to take on a task, we jump at the opportunity – perhaps without realizing what else we’ve committed ourselves to.

It’s good to take a step back, review the calendar in ‘big picture’ mode, and learn to say ‘no’ to something good, in favour of saying ‘yes’ to something better.  And that involves not just looking at the calendar, but for followers of Jesus, it also involves holding the matter before the Lord, seeking discernment for the decision.

In the day-to-day excitement of life, it is a real discipline to be able to step back and look at the big picture, and to offer even our seemingly small decisions to God.  I don’t mean that we need to pray about which sock to put on first, but I do mean that we need to seek the Lord for decisions like whether or not to accept a particular invitation, or job offer, or time commitment.

Of course, depending on what you do for a living, you may not be given much choice as to certain decisions, since they are made for you – but even prioritizing them can be a matter for prayerful discernment.  Sometimes, employers ‘reward’ their best people with more work, and at times, you may have the freedom to say ‘no’.

Remember, your life in Christ, your time with family, and your health all supersede pretty well any other call on your time.

Give him the reins.  Let the Lord lead.

Lead me in the right path, O Lord, or my enemies will conquer me.  Make your way plain for me to follow” (Psalm 5.8, NLT).

Encouragement From the Word is taking a week off while I’m on study leave, and will be back on March 10.

Biblical Messages

BEING THE CHURCH: Scratch the itch properly

Being the church means sticking with the Word of God when so many other things may seem more appealing.  How?  Why?  Based on 2 Timothy 3.10-4.8, listen here and find out:

Or catch the video feed from https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fjeff.loach%2Fvideos%2F10211521198522750%2F&show_text=0&width=560” target=”_blank”>Facebook.

Encouragement From The Word

Subliminal messages

Do you ever think about the subliminal messages you give to your loved ones?  Sometimes it’s not about the words we say, but the seemingly mundane actions in which we participate.

None of us would say it was a good idea for a parent to trumpet to the world that she or he was going to a strip club; there’s a stigma attached to that – to say nothing of the fact that there are significant moral implications involved.  But what about more subtle activities?

This has been brought to mind lately because of the advent of the movie Fifty Shades Darker, a sequel to Fifty Shades of Grey, which came out a few years ago.  It’s astounding to learn of the number of people (mostly women) who have attended these movies who also are followers of Jesus.

There’s nothing wrong with going to the movies (apologies to my most conservative readers, but it’s true!).  But we ought to choose carefully what movies (or other activities) we attend, because the world, and our kids, are watching.  We should always ask ourselves if the activity in which we are about to participate is something we could easily explain to our children.

I’m not sure that anything in the Fifty Shades franchise is morally defensible, from what I’ve read of it.  Is what’s depicted in these movies reflective of how we want our sons to treat women?  Or how we want our daughters to be treated?

No matter what it is, let me encourage you to be careful in your selection of activities.  Our children see what we do, and soak it up like sponges.

I’m reminded of a good saying from the late A.W. Tozer, a pastor and theologian:  “What goes into a mind comes out in a life.”

Or, as one children’s song put it, “Oh, be careful, little eyes, what you see….”

Decide instead to live in such a way that you will not cause another believer to stumble and fall” (Romans 14.13b, NLT).

Biblical Messages

BEING THE CHURCH: Today, Two Thousand Years Ago

There are some prophetic words in the Bible, and there are words that seem prophetic but simply reflect the reality of the time they were written.  What we see in 2 Timothy 3.1-9 reflects a little of both.  The apostle Paul was writing about his own time, in the first century, but his words sure seem like the reflect our own day!

You can listen to this message based on Revelation 3.14-22 and 2 Timothy 3.1-9 here:

 

Or catch the replay of Facebook Live video https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fjeff.loach%2Fvideos%2F10211451717465767%2F&show_text=0&width=560” target=”_blank”>here.

Encouragement From The Word

A parking lot encounter

A friend gave me permission to tell you this story that happened to her recently.

She and her family were getting parked at a big-box store; they’d pulled into a space, and someone was about to pull out of the space in front of them, so they prepared to advance in order to be able to drive out of the space instead of backing out – makes good sense, and keeps the insurance people happy!

Trouble is, not seeing her vehicle, someone decided to pull into the space they were advancing into. My friend and her family backed up, graciously, and got out of the car to go into the store.  Her son stared intently at the other driver, who became confrontational.  The other driver shouted at the young man to stop staring at her.

His parents said, “It’s okay, really.”  The other driver became quite belligerent about it, until, finally, young man’s father said, “He’s autistic.”

Mic drop.

The driver gave a quick shock apology.  Everybody moved on.

In the store, however, the driver encountered my friend, hugged her, and apologized profusely.  “We live in fear.  We don’t know how people will act toward us.”  She had felt threatened by the stares from the young man.

This driver was a woman of Islamic faith.

Mic drop number two.

She told my friend, “I couldn’t sleep tonight if I did not apologize.  I wouldn’t want to treat others the way I feel I am treated.”

Then, as she walked back to her cart, she saw my friend’s husband and son, and she apologized to them, too, and they spoke at length.  “Lately,” she said, “everyone is living in fear and judging us.”

This isn’t just one of those parking lot rage stories that had a happy ending.  There is a lesson for us all here, a multi-faceted lesson.  There is more to it than this, but at the very least we are called not to judge a book by its cover.  That was a lesson for both the autistic young man and the Islamic woman.  Beyond that, though, it is a lesson for us all, at the very least, to be kind to one another – even, and perhaps especially, people who seem different, or dress differently, or hold views that are different from our own.

Jesus may have told us not to judge, but he didn’t mean that we should check our brains at the door.  We are to judge to discern; we are not to judge to condemn.  We can judge for discernment in a manner that honours another person as a human being made in God’s image, even if that person’s views or lifestyle or what-have-you varies greatly from our own, without condemnation.

Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets” (Matthew 7.12, NLT).

If you want to see a great example of how we can look at others differently, watch this video.

Biblical Messages

BEING THE CHURCH: A special utensil

“Take a Sabbath from your opinions.”  If I’d heard that before I preached, I’d have included that quotation from a friend of our Youth Pastor.  It’s good counsel when we’re dealing with social media!

While there was no social media in Bible times, there are words in 2 Timothy 2.15-26 that can instruct us on how to engage Christianly in social media discussions.

Have a listen below, or check the https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fjeff.loach%2Fvideos%2F10211388998137823%2F&show_text=0&width=560” target=”_blank”>public link to the Facebook Live recording.