Encouragement From The Word

In him there is no darkness at all

There is a hymn text, written in 1966, that has come to have meaning for me, especially on the darker and duller days that come and go with life.  It was written by Kathleen Thomerson, an American church musician (who also wrote the tune that goes with it).  The hymn goes like this:

I want to walk as a child of the light; I want to follow Jesus.

God set the stars to give light to the world; the star of my life is Jesus.

In him there is no darkness at all; the night and the day are both alike.

The Lamb is the light of the city of God:

Shine in my heart, Lord Jesus.


I want to see the brightness of God; I want to look at Jesus.

Clear Sun of righteousness, shine on my path, and show me the way to the Father.

In him there is no darkness at all; the night and the day are both alike.

The Lamb is the light of the city of God:

Shine in my heart, Lord Jesus.


I’m looking for the coming of Christ; I want to be with Jesus.

When we have run with patience the race, we shall know the joy of Jesus.

In him there is no darkness at all; the night and the day are both alike.

The Lamb is the light of the city of God:

Shine in my heart, Lord Jesus.

Here’s a link to a rendition of this hymn:


Sometimes, the changing seasons can bring sadness (or, literally, SAD – seasonal affective disorder).  May the light of Jesus, and the promise of his return, bring you fresh joy as it does me!

This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all” (1 John 1.5, NLT).

Encouragement From The Word

Looking at all four legs?

Leadership expert John Maxwell tells the story of why animal trainers go into a cage of lions carrying whips, pistols and stools.  Why stools?

Apparently, the trainer holds the stool by the back, and thrusts the legs toward the face of the wild animal.  It tries to focus on all four legs at once, and in that attempt, a sort of paralysis overwhelms the animal.

It becomes tame, weak and disabled, because its attention has been fragmented.

Does that sound just a wee bit familiar?  It does to me, that’s for sure.

I keep myself busy, without a doubt, as I’m sure you do.  And at times, I consider whether I should stop doing something, but when I do, I realize that if I did stop something, I would likely just pick up something else in its place.

We have accustomed ourselves to doing something all the time.  There can be value in that, but only up to a certain point. Each of us needs margin in our lives.

If you’ve been looking at all four legs on that stool, and you feel paralyzed, it’s time to stop and re-evaluate.  What could you give up to build more margin into your life?  Sometimes, we need to give up something good, something very good, in order to have time for that which will make usbetter, not least of which is time with the Lord.

Be still, and know that I am God!” (Psalm 46.10, NLT).

Biblical Messages

Lessons from St. Patrick

Other than drinking green beer and going to parades, what’s the big deal about St. Patrick’s Day?  Traditionally, it’s a day for the Irish, and the Irish-for-a-day, to have a party.  But what did Patrick stand for?  What can followers of Jesus learn from him about their walk with the Lord?  Watch this video to find out.  Scriptures are Matthew 28.16-20 and Matthew 5.43-48.

In the message, I show a video that you can watch here.

Encouragement From The Word

Love your neighbour

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus encourages his hearers (and us) to take a different look at how we understand the Old Testament.  It was radical teaching, because over the years, the Jewish leaders had added cultural traditions to the Scripture that the text itself may not have implied.

For example, in Matthew 5.43 (NLT), Jesus says, “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbour’ and hate your enemy.” Many faithful Jewish people had assumed that the law told them to love their neighbours and hate their enemies, when in fact, the text does not call God’s people to hate their enemies. (This is why the single quotation marks appear around ‘Love your neighbour’, because that is the Old Testament quotation, from Leviticus 19.18.)  Jesus goes on to say, “But I say, love your enemies!  Pray for those who persecute you!  In this way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5.44-45a, NLT).

This was challenging teaching for Jesus’ first hearers, because they had been in political struggles with enemy nations, and theological struggles with Samaritans and the like, for so long, the notion of hating one’s enemies had become engrained in the culture.

At another point, Jesus would challenge their concept of love of neighbour by telling the

Wadi Qelt.  That’s Jericho, top right.

story of the Good Samaritan, whose aid of a Jewish man on the road to Jericho (pictured: the green areas highlight what was the original road to Jericho; taken from Wadi Qelt, between Jerusalem and Jericho, February 19, 2019) was radically counter-cultural.

How are you doing with love of neighbour?

How are you doing with love of “enemy” – however you might perceive your enemy?

In this age of outrage, especially on social media, followers of Jesus are called to love neighbour and enemy…even if they are the same person.

(I’m going to expand on this in my message, “Lessons From St. Patrick” at St. Paul’s Church, Nobleton, this Sunday.)

Encouragement From The Word

Keep your eyes on Jesus

Have you ever looked up the definition of the term ‘debacle’?  Loosely defined, it’s a great big failure.

It seems we don’t need to look very far these days to find an illustration for that!

On both sides of the border, politics is providing its share of debacles.  Organizations are seeing leadership debacles. Companies are seeing economic debacles.

Where can we turn to find something better?

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  So do not be attracted by strange, new ideas.  Your strength comes from God’s grace” (Hebrews 13.8-9a, NLT).

Too often, as followers of Jesus, we are easily drawn in to all the troubles of the world.  Indeed, we should be active in the world, and pray for the world, but we should keep our eyes on Jesus, on whom we can depend all the time.

Let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.  We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith” (Hebrews 12.1b-2a, NLT).

Don’t be so heavenly minded that you’re no earthly good, but likewise, don’t be so earthly minded that you lose sight of heaven.

Encouragement From The Word

A theology of place

When I was co-leading a pilgrimage in Israel recently, we visited the place along the Jordan River where Jesus was baptized.  It’s in a narrow spot in the river, with perhaps 7 or 8 metres separating the shores of Israel and Jordan.  Both sides have infrastructure set up for pilgrims who visit the site.

Numbers of these pilgrims choose to be baptized (or, in some cases, re-baptized) in the spot where Jesus was baptized.  Being nearly all people of the Reformed faith whose faith is vibrant and whose first baptism ‘took’, none of our group opted for rebaptism.  (It was just as well, since the water was about the colour of chocolate milk!)

I suppose that for some, the place is significant, and they want to celebrate their faith in that place.  Yet while I think there can be great inspiration by being in a place of biblical or historical significance, there is no inherent holiness about it.

Now, to the Jews, it’s another story; when we visited the Western Wall of the second temple in Jerusalem, Jewish pilgrims (even on a quiet day) were flocking to the wall to pray, because, though the temple was destroyed in AD 70, the wall is closest to what would have been the Holy of Holies when the temple still stood. Faithful Jews today believe that the glory of the Lord resides within that wall.

But Christians do not believe that God resides in any one place.  Indeed, we believe God resides in the whole world, and in the human heart, by the power of the Holy Spirit.  So you need not be concerned that you can’t sense God’s presence because you’re not at a particular site or in a particular building; by faith, he is with you wherever you go.

However, the Most High doesn’t live in temples made by human hands. As the prophet says,

‘Heaven is my throne,
    and the earth is my footstool.
Could you build me a temple as good as that?’
    asks the Lord.
‘Could you build me such a resting place?

Didn’t my hands make both heaven and earth?’” (Acts 7.48-50 [NLT], citing Isaiah 66.1-2)