Encouragement From The Word

Knock-knock…

Earlier this week, my wife had a knock on the door of our home.  It’s not that common to have folks stop by on a weekday morning, so she was quite curious about who it was.

When she opened the door, standing there was a real estate agent.  Since our community has a very “hot” real estate market right now, the agent was asking if she could come in and look about, perchance to help us make a pile of money by selling our house.

My wife’s simple but firm answer was, “No.”

The agent didn’t want to take “no” for an answer, so she pushed – verbally, not physically, of course – but the answer was still, “No.”

At that point, my wife did not really want to tell her why.  She found the agent a bit pushy, and didn’t feel the need to offer the satisfaction of a reason.  She simply bade the agent a good day and sent her on her way.

When I got home for lunch, she told me the story.  I asked, “Did you give her ‘the line’?”

She had not.  It’s too bad, because I love to see the look on inquiring agents’ faces when I carefully look around me and say, “I’d love to sell this house.  But I would be put in prison for a long time if I did.”

See, we live in a manse.  The church owns the home we live in; I couldn’t sell it, because I don’t hold the title to the property!

I know that the vast majority of real estate agents are not like the one who showed up on the front step of the manse earlier this week.  And one certainly can’t fault her for making an effort!  But I think this incident is a good illustration of the importance of healthy discernment.

We understand this completely when it comes to people knocking on our doors.  But do we understand it emotionally?  Sometimes, we open the doors of our hearts to people who shouldn’t be let in.

Just as we use good judgment before letting people into our homes, we should use good discernment before letting people into our lives at a deep level.

I think one of the best ways to apply this is in marriage.  It becomes easy to become enamored of someone, for whatever reason, and to find our hearts wrapped up around someone who, spiritually, is not on the same page we are.  That’s one of the reasons the apostle Paul wrote this to the church in Corinth:  “Don’t team up with those who are unbelievers. How can righteousness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness?  What harmony can there be between Christ and the devil? How can a believer be a partner with an unbeliever?  And what union can there be between God’s temple and idols? For we are the temple of the living God” (2 Corinthians 6.14-16a, NLT).

After all, if I am a follower of Jesus, I am part of the church – the temple of the living God.  And that means I don’t hold the title to myself; it belongs to Jesus, just as I belong to Jesus.  And if you’re a follower of Jesus, that holds true for you, too.

When someone’s knocking on the door of your heart, be discerning.

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Biblical Messages

SONGS OF L(AM)ENT: Cleft For Me

What does it mean to be hiding in the cleft of the Rock?  In this message, I draw the parallels between the hymn “Rock of Ages” and the story of Elijah on Mount Sinai in 1 Kings 19.1-18.  Give a listen, or watch it on the church’s Facebook page (for which you don’t need a Facebook account).

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Encouragement From The Word

Bribery

I received a fascinating email this week.  Rather than having me describe it, I’ll let you read it for yourself.  I’ve removed the sender’s name to avoid public embarrassment.

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This was sent to me and several other church leaders in the area I serve.  Had I not seen the email addresses it was going to, I might simply have deleted it as yet another piece of spam.  But because this was sent to several specific churches in the area, I felt compelled to reply.  Here’s what I said:

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I shared this whole incident on social media, and what surprised and saddened me is that, apparently, this is not an uncommon phenomenon.  It seems that some youth of means are buying their way out of the community service hours that are required of them to graduate from high school.  What equally saddens me is that there are organizations that will exchange these bribes for lies!

Some have suggested that schools need to do a better job of explaining the value of community service for the enrichment and development of society.  Others have said parents need to monitor these activities more clearly.  Ultimately, the responsibility of parents, schools and churches is to foster the upholding of truth.

Whether it’s signing off on something that is untrue, or reframing the truth on your taxes, a lie is a lie.  And God seems pretty clear about lies very early in the Bible:  “You must not testify falsely against your neighbour” (Exodus 20.16, NLT).  And Jesus said, by inference, that just about everybody is our neighbour, so that covers it.

We live in an era that sees people calling truth into question all the time, each to suit an agenda.  But the truth of God, like the character of God, is unchanging.  There’s no need to sell your birthright for a bowl of stew.  Stand up for what’s true, and you’ll always be on the right side.

Biblical Messages

SONGS OF L(AM)ENT: My chains fell off

Today’s message focused on Romans 8.1-17 and the Charles Wesley classic hymn, “And can it be”.  Have a listen below, or check out the video on our church Facebook page.

 

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Biblical Messages

SONGS OF L(AM)ENT: The Wondrous Cross

In this new series for Lent, we’re looking at some of the songs that are characteristic of the season.  Today, we looked at Isaac Watts’ famous hymn, “When I survey the wondrous cross”.  The message is based on Matthew 27.32-54, and you can listen here:

Or you can watch the video from Facebook here:  https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fjeff.loach%2Fvideos%2F10211714539876163%2F&show_text=0&width=560

Encouragement From The Word

Don’t play it safe

In this era of polarized politics, it can seem like the best thing to do is to keep your head down and just do your thing – whatever your thing is.  It’s called “playing it safe”.  If we don’t say anything, we won’t offend anybody.  If we don’t do anything, we won’t offend anybody.  And heaven knows it’s easy to offend anybody nowadays.

But I think we who follow Jesus have an obligation, at times, not to play it safe.  There are times when standing up for the truth of God’s Word matters more than playing it safe.

I was reminded of this when I read Mark 5 the other day.  Friends of mine are, right now, in the Holy Land; one posted a picture from the Sea of Galilee.  It reminded me of my own trip to Israel, and seeing the vast difference between the western shore (comparatively flat, where there are settlements) and the eastern shore (where there are steep cliffs).  Atop those cliffs is the area referred to in Mark 5 as the region of the Gerasenes.

In the story, a possessed man has his demons exorcised by Jesus, and in a strange deal, Jesus lets the demons go into a herd of pigs grazing nearby.  At this, the pigs head for the tops of those cliffs, and they plunge to their deaths in the water below.  (I’ve always felt sorry for those pigs.)

The good news is that the demon-possessed man was cured.  The bad news is that those who made their living from herding those pigs were out of a job.  And they were not happy.  Then what happened?  “the crowd began pleading with Jesus to go away and leave them alone” (Mark 5.17, NLT).

These people had just seen the Son of God heal a man thought to be unhealable, and all they were concerned with was the local economy.  Jesus’ presence could change their lives forever, but they sent him packing, because Jesus was bad for business.

The Gerasenes played it safe and turned their backs on the Saviour.

Each of us can think of an occasion (or two, or three) where we played it safe and turned our backs on Jesus.  But let me encourage you to forgo playing it safe so that Jesus can have the maximum impact in your life, and in the lives of others around you.  Let him fully reign in your life, and watch what happens.