Blog posts

Encouragement From The Word

#JesusStrong

Many Canadians – and even some from abroad – have been talking about the terrible tragedy of the accident that killed and injured so many people associated with the junior hockey team from Humboldt, Saskatchewan, that occurred last week.

As is customary in our social media age, people have done many things to mark their solidarity with the people affected by the accident.  They’ve used #HumboldtStrong hashtags; they’ve worn t-shirts or hockey sweaters; they’ve set hockey sticks outside their front doors. Flags have been lowered to half-staff.

Beyond all these symbolic gestures, what has struck me is the way in which the team’s chaplain, Sean Brandow, spoke into the situation at a vigil.  (You can watch or read his entire speech here.)  He did not gild the lily; he was raw and honest in dealing with the pain and anguish of the tragedy.  But he also proclaimed the hope that exists in the midst of sorrow and grief.  He didn’t claim to know all the answers.  He didn’t claim to understand the mysterious ways of the Lord.  But he pointed to the One who has all this figured out.

Brandow said, in part, “I don’t claim to understand how this seems like it’s in God’s control at all, but it is. He’s still on the throne, he’s still God.” That was a statement of faith that everyone present needed to hear.

It’s a statement of faith that you and I need to hear.

Whatever we may go through that we can’t fathom…whatever may occur that seems to suggest that God’s lost control of the situation…God is still on the throne.  It may not appearto be the case, but when we make a statement of faith, we’re not talking about appearances.  We’re talking about objective truth.

It is not up to followers of Jesus to have everything figured out.  It is up to us to proclaim our faith.

So, by all means, be #HumboldtStrong. But as a Christ-follower, above all, be #JesusStrong.

The Lord is my Shepherd…” (Psalm 23.1)

The Lord is my light and my salvation…” (Psalm 27.1)

God is our refuge and strength…” (Psalm 46.1)

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think” (Ephesians 3.20, NLT).

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Biblical Messages

What matters to us

Our elders at St. Paul’s Church, Nobleton have been discerning God’s will regarding our core values in recent months, and today’s message, along with next week’s, expound upon what has been set forth by the elders.  It’s based on Acts 2.42-47, and you can watch or listen here:

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Biblical Messages

The Amazing Race

Jesus is risen!  We celebrated today by looking at the story of the resurrection from the perspective of John, in John 20.1-18.  There’s a footrace, and a big surprise in this version. Watch or listen below, and Happy Easter!

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Biblical Messages

It Is Finished

The crucifixion of Jesus, according to John, demonstrates some important aspects of our Saviour that we do well to understand.  Watch or listen below to this message based on John 19.16b-42.

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Encouragement From The Word

What language shall I borrow?

For this Good Friday, simply allow the words of St. Bernard of Clairvaux to wash over you.  Respond with gratitude, and a rededicated life to the One who gave his life for you.

 

O sacred head, now wounded,
With grief and shame weighed down,
Now scornfully surrounded
With thorns, Thine only crown;
O sacred head, what glory!
What bliss, till now was Thine!
Yet, though despised and gory,
I joy to call Thee mine.

O noblest brow, and dearest!
In other days the world
All feared, when Thou appeared’st,
What shame on Thee is hurled!
How art Thou pale with anguish,
With sore abuse and scorn;
How does that visage anguish,
When once was bright as morn.

The blushes late residing
Upon that holy cheek,
The roses once abiding
Upon those lips so meek,
Alas! they have departed;
Wan Death has rifled all!
For weak and broken hearted,
I see Thy body fall.

What Thou, my Lord, hast suffered,
Was all for sinners’ gain;
Mine, mine was the transgression,
But Thine the deadly pain.
Lo, here I fall, my Savior!
’Tis I deserve Thy place;
Look on me with Thy favor,
Vouchsafe to me Thy grace.

Receive me, my Redeemer,
My Shepherd, make me Thine;
Of every good the fountain,
Thou art the spring of mine.
Thy lips with love distilling,
And milk of truth sincere,
With Heaven’s bliss are filling
The soul that trembles here.

Beside Thee, Lord, I’ve taken
My place—forbid me not!
Hence will I ne’er be shaken,
Though Thou to death be brought,
If pain’s last paleness hold Thee,
In agony oppressed,
Then, then will I enfold Thee
Within this arm and breast!

The joy can ne’er be spoken,
Above all joys beside;
When in Thy body broken
I thus with safety hide.
My Lord of life, desiring
Thy glory now to see,
Beside the cross expiring,
I’d breathe my soul to Thee.

What language shall I borrow,
To thank Thee, dearest friend,
For this, Thy dying sorrow,
Thy pity without end?
Oh! make me Thine forever,
And should I fainting be,
Lord, let me never, never
Outlive my love to Thee.

And when I am departing,
Oh! part not Thou from me;
When mortal pangs are darting,
Come, Lord, and set me free;
And when my heart must languish
Amidst the final throe,
Release me from mine anguish,
By Thine own pain and woe!

Be near me when I am dying,
Oh! show Thy cross to me;
And for my succor flying,
Come, Lord, and set me free!
These eyes new faith receiving,
From Jesus shall not move,
For he who dies believing,
Dies safely through Thy love.

Biblical Messages

Your King Is Coming

In John’s rendering of the Palm Sunday story – the Triumphal Entry – in John 12.12-19, his emphasis is different from that of the other gospel writers.  He focuses on the crowds.  So for this message, that’s what I decided to do, too: since Easter is next weekend, we need to be ready for whatever “crowds” the Lord will bring our way.  I learned the main points of this message from a webinar put on by The Rocket Company a few weeks back.  Have a listen, or a watch, and see if there is a way you can be ready for guests!

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Encouragement From The Word

Heartwarming baloney

“Sometimes miracles are just good people with kind hearts.”  So read a meme I saw on social media last week that piqued my interest – not because it is heartwarming (which it was intended to be), but because it contains so much baloney.  (Sorry for using such a heavy theological term…I couldn’t help myself.)

We want to believe this is true, don’t we?  And we want to believe it for a couple of reasons.  First, we want to believe it because we want to believe in the inherent goodness of people; and second, we want to believe it because we would like some sort of logical explanation for the inexplicable.

In an empirical world, we want to be able to explain everything that happens.  But in all humility, even the smartest physicians and scientists in the world cannot explain every little thing that occurs.  While some are reluctant to use the term ‘miracle’, others will use it, whether defined as something that can’t be explained, or as a supernatural act of the sovereign God.

Without a doubt, each of us has encountered people whom we see to be good, having kind hearts.  They certainly do good toward us, and we are the recipients of their kindness.  There’s nothing wrong with that.

But when we begin to believe that our goodness and kindness is inherent, or that it is efficacious (that is, effective in earning our salvation), we tread on thin ice.

Let’s face it, when we don’t believe in the inherent goodness of humanity, we’re kind of seen as killjoys, aren’t we?  Yet, a cursory glance at the news will tell you that if humanity is inherently good, there’s an awful lot of inhumanity out there.  What’s more, the Bible is pretty clear:  “No one is righteous – not even one…. No one does good, not a single one” (Romans 3.10-12, NLT).  And this wasn’t an invention of the apostle Paul, who wrote Romans; he was quoting the Psalms.  What’s more, the prophet Jeremiah said, “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked.  Who really knows how bad it is?” (Jeremiah 17.9, NLT).

That seems awfully bleak.  The bad news is that it is awfully bleak when we live outside of God’s grace.  But within God’s grace, there is good news, for in Jesus Christ he redeems our deceitful hearts, and imputes his righteousness on us by the cross, making it possible for us to do good, all for his glory.  And some of that good we do will appear as a miracle to another person.  Some will call it a coincidence, but we all know that under the care of a sovereign God, there’s no such thing as a coincidence!

So be encouraged: behind the baloney there is rock-solid theological truth that won’t let you down!  We can’t trust in our own righteousness or rely on our own hearts.  But we can trust in Jesus’ righteousness and rely on his pure heart.  As we enter holy week, keep in mind what he has done for us.