Encouragement From The Word

Medical Tests, Vaccines and Jesus

Today, we have a guest post from my wife, Diana, who had an experience last week worth sharing.

Desiring to follow the health directives of my doctor, I attended a medical lab for a couple of tests.  This was not prompted by any concern, but was part of my “tune up”, as my physician referred to his requisitions.

As a part of the pre-test screening, the technician asked me a number of questions, including when my first COVID-19 vaccine had been administered.  When I told her, we both commented on the shortened waiting period between shots, and what that would mean for travel plans.

As she continued the preparations for the imaging, I told her that we have talked about taking a road trip to Arizona when time allows, and the border is re-opened.  She wistfully told me that she longs to go to Sedona, wanting to experience the spiritual healing people report there.  I said that I didn’t know about those things, but that one of my favourite sights is the first glimpse of the mountains as one heads out of Calgary toward the Rockies along the Trans-Canada highway.

My explanation of what that view does for me is “a complete centering of my being.”  Her reply to this (remember, all of this is happening while I was in, well, not the most comfortable of positions) was that she feels exactly that way when she goes into a church.  She was quiet for a moment, and then said, “I was raised Hindu, but that is similar to how I feel when I am in a church.”  I said that when I am able to soak in such a glorious part of God’s creation, it is a reminder of just how great He is, but just how important I am to Him. 

And then, after another moment of quiet, she said, “I’m sorry, you are the only the second person I’ve ever told that to.  The other was my husband.”

That trusting statement, after such a brief encounter, was a sacred one for me.  I responded to her with a smile and said, “Thank you for sharing, but let me tell you that my husband is a pastor, and I am a long-time friend of Jesus.  I think what you experience is Him wanting to spend time with you.”  

She sighed and smiled, and said, “Imagine!”  It was at that point we were finished, and I headed to the next part of my time at the lab.  Telling Jeff, the sacredness of that moment fully hit me.  There I was, in a fairly vulnerable setting, apparently being safe enough for this lab technician to admit something that in some parts of the world would see her severely punished!  To top it off, God opened the door for me to sow the seed of Jesus wanting a personal relationship with her.  The conversation was as natural as one about the weather, but I think maybe, just maybe, God spoke to her – He certainly reminded me of his presence and desire to be in relationship with all of us.

Pray that God will position you for a conversation like that, and watch what happens!

The heavens proclaim the glory of God.  The skies display his craftsmanship” (Psalm 19.1, NLT).

Encouragement From The Word

The Glue and the Head

This Advent, we’ve been looking at Jesus through the eyes of the apostle Paul in his letter to the Colossians.  In Colossians 1.17-18, he writes, “He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together.  Christ is also the head of the church, which is his body.  He is the beginning, supreme over all who rise from the dead.  So he is first in everything” (NLT).

Imagine that:  were it not for Jesus – who, we learned, was present in creation – the world would quite literally fall apart!  He is the Glue that holds creation together.

And this Amazing Baby we celebrate in these days is also the Head of the church.  No matter what your tradition or polity, the very top of the chain of command is reserved for Jesus.  Why?  Because he was born for it, gave his life for it, and rose from the dead for it.

So, this Christmas, let me encourage you to make him, in Paul’s words, “first in everything”.

You won’t be disappointed.

Since the next two Fridays happen to land on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, let me take this opportunity to wish you a very merry Christmas, and happy new year.  Thanks for reading Encouragement From The Word.  It’ll return in January.

Make Jesus first!

Encouragement From The Word

This Amazing Baby

This Amazing Baby whose birth we anticipate is, as I’ve been pointing out in this Advent season, no ordinary Baby.  Not only was he present at creation, but he was active in creation.

How can a baby do that? you might rightly ask.  

Well, Jesus was not always a baby.

Of course, we know that he grew and became a man and ministered until he was crucified.  He rose from the dead and ministered again until he was taken up to heaven, from whence he came.

See, Jesus of Nazareth was the incarnate version of the second Person of the Trinity.  The Trinity is a difficult doctrine, one that is inferred by Scripture and that has been a hallmark of apostolic Christianity for almost 1700 years (so it’s proven the test of time).  As the second Person of the Trinity, our Saviour was active in creating the world, so it’s no wonder that he was willing to give his earthly life for it.

Yet Jesus did not only create the mountains and valleys, the lakes and trees and rocks; he also set forth less immediately tangible realities.

This Amazing Baby in the manger is the Creator of heaven and earth.  Imagine that! 

He’s worth anticipating, worth worshipping, worth being ready for when he comes again.

[F]or through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth.  He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see – such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world.  Everything was created through him and for him.  He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together” (Colossians 1.16-17, NLT).

Encouragement From The Word, Uncategorized

How majestic!

Today, just take a few minutes and let the Word encourage you itself.  Read this a couple of times, slowly, letting the text wash over you.  Ask the Lord to highlight a word or phrase that may be pertinent to you.

O Lord, our Lord, your majestic name fills the earth!

Your glory is higher than the heavens.

You have taught children and infants

to tell of your strength,

silencing your enemies

and all who oppose you.

When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers—

the moon and the stars you set in place—

what are mere mortals that you should think about them,

human beings that you should care for them?

Yet you made them only a little lower than God

and crowned them with glory and honor.

You gave them charge of everything you made,

putting all things under their authority—

the flocks and the herds

and all the wild animals,

the birds in the sky, the fish in the sea,

and everything that swims the ocean currents.

O Lord, our Lord, your majestic name fills the earth!  (Psalm 8, NLT)

So what word or phrase jumped out for you?  How will you bring that to life today?

Biblical Messages

CHRISTIANITY 101: A Costly Decision

The decision made by Adam and Eve to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was a costly decision, and its consequences have been Adam and Evehumanity’s lot ever since.  But there is good news, for God made a costly decision to send his only Son to remedy our sin problem.  Based on Genesis 3, Romans 5.1-11 and Romans 6.1-14, you can listen to this message by clicking here.

Encouragement From The Word

God is more than a particle!

News came out this week that scientists may have discovered the Higgs-Boson particle, known to us lay folk as the “God particle” (but, apparently, many scientists don’t like us calling it that).  This is an elementary particle in physics which some are hailing, in its potential discovery, as a scientific revelation which could explain how the universe came to be.

The human race has a fascination with origins, whether it’s of the human race itself, or the development of the earth, or the universe as we know it.  We often think in this regard of Charles Darwin, because of the controversy stirred up over the theories created by, and spawned by, some of his discoveries.  But consider that many learned people put thousands of hours each year into ongoing research on the origin of humanity, the earth, and the universe even today.

And consider that enough money has been spent on space exploration in the past fifty years to solve all of the world’s hunger and debt problems – probably many times over.  To be sure, our curiosity has captured the imagination, and the finances, of governments in several countries around the world.  Humanity is looking for answers to a lot of questions.

There was a time when theology was called “the Queen of Sciences”.  Many scientists were also theologians!  People who searched for life’s meaning were often followers of Jesus, and they did their scientific research in the light of their faith.  There are still some scientists who are people of faith.  (One example is Francis Collins, who was the lead researcher in the Human Genome Project; he has written about his experience in light of his faith.)

Much ink has been spilled and many trees cut down in Jesus’ name in an attempt to demonstrate either the absolute separation of, or peaceful coexistence between, science and faith.  Many Christ followers hold strong opinions, either that the Bible is a reliable science book in contrast to scientific effort, or that the work of science need not necessarily look exactly like the stories of the Bible in order for each to have value for the person of faith.

The rest of us, well, we don’t really have strong opinions one way or the other.  And frankly, I think that’s okay.  It’s also why I’m quite comfortable with the term “God particle”, because, as I see it, the how that scientists seek, is less important than the who or the why of world origins on which Scripture is quite clear.

Some folks major on the minors – mostly because they think they are majors, not minors.  For followers of Jesus, the major needs to be who, not how.  When we believe that God is the who, that has a significant influence on our study of how.  And for us, the baseline for any conversation is simply this:  “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1.1, NIV).  The rest follows from that.  God, for us, is more than a particle!