Encouragement From The Word

Jesus got angry!

One of the key tenets of the Christian faith is that we believe that Jesus was both divine and human:  fully God, fully man.  Sometimes, though, I know I am guilty of focusing on Jesus’ divinity and neglecting his humanity.

We don’t always reflect on just how human Jesus was:  that he felt every emotion known to the human race, yet did not sin.

Sure, we know Jesus was happy and sad, but Jesus also experienced anger.

Often, when we do think of Jesus getting angry, we think of how he turned over the tables of the money-changers in the temple (John 2).  But Jesus also got profoundly angry at the Pharisees and teachers of religious law, the “establishment” in the Jewish world of his day.  Much of Matthew 23 is dedicated to Jesus’ verbal tirade against these highly-respected religious leaders.

Many people are taught that it’s wrong to get angry – maybe even unchristian.  Yet Jesus got angry…for the right reasons, for righteous reasons.  So did the prophets.  So did the Psalmists.  So does the Father!

It’s not unbiblical to be angry before God.  Everything we do is before God anyway!  And because Jesus expressed anger, we can, too.

Our challenge is to be able to do so without sinning.  That’s the hard part, isn’t it?

When we are angry for righteous reasons, perhaps we are less inclined to sin in our anger, directing that energy instead toward upholding the glory of God.

So don’t hold back your emotions before the Lord.  Be honest, be real – but don’t let your emotions get the best of you.  He knows how you feel anyway.  Because Jesus experienced every human emotion, you can be sure God really knows how you feel.

’[D]on’t sin by letting anger control you.’ Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 for anger gives a foothold to the devil” (Ephesians 4.26-27, NLT).

Biblical Messages

The Door Is Open

What do escape rooms and “Let’s Make A Deal” have in common with Romans 10.5-15? In this worship celebration, which includes the Lord’s Supper, we learn about it! There is a lovely prelude that goes until 7:14. The message begins at 12:54, but is also available as a stand-alone video below the first one. Thanks for tuning in!

Biblical Messages

Slaves No More

In this message, based on Jeremiah 17.5-10 and Romans 6.15-23, we learn how God does not want us to be slaves to sin, but slaves to righteousness. How can we do that? Root ourselves deeply. How does that happen? Through engaging in spiritual disciplines. We learn three of them in this message. You can watch the whole (edited) broadcast below, or catch just the message just below that.



Biblical Messages

Not Ashamed

This online worship gathering focused on Romans 1.8-17, in which the apostle Paul states that he is not ashamed of God’s good news – and neither should we be!  The message is quite near the beginning, starting at 6:15, so you can run from the start if you wish, or if you just want to watch the message, you can click here.

I’m a little ashamed of the technology, though!  My Mevo camera quit part-way through the message, but thankfully, I was also broadcasting it on a phone, so I have it as a backup – so I have spliced in Valerie’s excellent Scripture reading, Paul’s great piano postlude, and the part of the message that was unceremoniously cut off by the better camera.  So I apologize for the variations in audio and video quality.  Everything is there, however!

I still have a lot of learning to do in the tech department.


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.

Biblical Messages

ADVICE FROM A MENTOR: 6. Pursue Righteousness

In this final instalment in our series on 1 Timothy, “Advice From a Mentor”, we look at 6.2b-21, wherein Paul encourages Timothy, the early church, and us to pursue righteousness.  What can that look like?  Listen in below and find out.

Alternatively, you can watch the video by checking out our church Facebook page.

Encouragement From The Word, Uncategorized

Every. Little. Thing.

Not long ago, I received word that my family physician is going to be retiring at the end of September.  I’m particularly sad about this, because he’s one of those “old school” doctors who takes the Hippocratic Oath very seriously, who still makes house calls when necessary, and who almost always has enough room in his daily schedule to fit in those last-minute needed appointments.  I will miss having him play a role in my life.

He has engaged a firm that will digitize his patients’ files so that all the records of my years of being seen by him will fit onto a CD that I can carry to my next doctor, whoever that may be.  Everything that he has seen me for in the past eight years will be available for the new physician to review.  Every.  Little.  Thing.  Yes, the important things, like my drug allergy (yikes) and my body mass index (ouch), but also the less affirming things, like the time I had to be treated for a boil on my bottom (let’s not go there).  Every.  Little.  Thing.

Of course, this is all for my good, right?  The new doctor will need to know my background fully in order to be able to treat me properly when I come for assistance.  The new doctor needs to see the big picture.

I like how God can see the big picture – the whole picture – but chooses not to.  The apostle John says of the Lord, “he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness” (1 John 1.9, NLT).  And when does that happen?  The earlier part of the verse says it happens “if we confess our sins to him”. And when God receives our confession of sin and forgives us and cleanses us, he keeps no record of our sins.  They are gone like dust in the wind.

Let’s not kid ourselves:  God could remember every little thing if he wanted to.  But he chooses not to.  As the old saying goes, he throws the sins we confess to him into the lake of forgetfulness, and posts a ‘no fishing’ sign there.  While our medical records may have the good, the bad and the ugly in them, our divine records do not – when we live in relationship with God, believing that Jesus died to take away our sins and rose again to draw us to eternal life.  When we are in Christ, God looks upon us as if we have the righteousness of Christ.

Our challenge is to seek to live that way.  Growing in holiness, in righteousness – that’s the best response to realizing that God chooses not to remember every little thing.  I’m praying that God will give you the grace and strength to grow in holiness and righteousness!