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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.

Uncategorized

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.  😦

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:

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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).