spiritual formation

Sunday afternoon baptism

At our pot luck on Sunday afternoon, many in the congregation gathered to celebrate Taylor and Jacob’s upcoming nuptials with gifts, and to rejoice with Doug Christie on his baptism.  Here’s a video of the baptism:

 

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Biblical Messages

A Life Turned Around

Saul the Pharisee was a nasty guy, as far as the early Christians were concerned.  But he had an encounter with the risen Lord Jesus on the road to Damascus, and his life was turned around.  How does this apply to us?  Listen to this message based on Acts 9.1-31, or catch the public Facebook feed below.

 

 

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Encouragement From The Word

It is finished!

It is finished!” (John 19.30). Those were Jesus’ last words from the cross before he died. This is what we mark on Good Friday: not simply that Jesus died, that his human life was finished, but that Jesus’ atoning work that brings us salvation was finished right at the point when he breathed his last.

Because of this reality, I remain constantly amazed at how many people feel the need to deny that the work of salvation was finished on the cross. How do they deny it? By subscribing to the notion that they need to do good works to gain their salvation.

If you did a random survey on the street and asked people how they could get to heaven, a lot of people – even churched people – would reply by saying that you have to be good. You have to do nice things for people.

Unfortunately, these folks have put the cart before the horse. It’s important to do good, yes, but not so we can appease God; we do nice things to please God. Do you see the difference?

When we do good works as a way to thank God for his gift of salvation, we honour God with our actions, doing good in gratitude for having been set free from sin. But when we do good works in an attempt to curry God’s favour, it’s like saying that Jesus’ death wasn’t quite good enough to satisfy God.

Sounds crazy, put in those terms, doesn’t it? But it’s true: when we perform good works as a means of paying God back for sin, we’re telling God that his plan to have Jesus die in our place was insufficient.

What could be insufficient about taking the one who had no sin and placing our sin on him as a final sacrifice? How could any good deed I do come close to comparing with that?

On this Good Friday, let the words, “It is finished!” echo through your mind, and spill from your lips. Remember that on this day, our salvation was fully accomplished for us, and there’s nothing we can do to add to it.

But we can live for him, daily.

Encouragement From The Word

Living in Regulation Time

I announce, with sadness, that the Boston Bruins tied its series against my beloved Montreal Canadiens last night – in overtime. Overtime always brings tense moments in hockey, and especially in the post-season. It’s stressful and exciting, but it’s a game – in a sense, not quite real. What takes place in the good ol’ hockey game is very real for those on the ice and the bench, but it really doesn’t parallel life.

There is a sense in which life is a game, but it’s definitely not a game when it comes to the concept of overtime. We simply don’t get overtime in life.

True, some people will argue that after a tragic event in life – even one that may bring us near death – we feel as though we’ve been granted overtime, another of the proverbial nine lives of a cat. But the reality is that we are “playing in regulation” from the time we are born until the time we die.

In other words, we don’t have extra time beyond what we are afforded, by God’s grace, in this life. In playoff hockey, the game can’t end until a tie has been broken, and if that requires overtime, they play until a goal is scored. But in real life, everything has to happen in regulation.

Of course, many people understand this to mean that it’s important to cram in as much fun into life as possible, leading them to a hedonistic lifestyle. I won’t argue that having lots of fun in life is valuable, and even important for a complete and fulfilling life. But what matters more, I think, is that living life in “regulation time” involves investing in eternity – living beyond the here-and-now.

Billy Graham, in his crusades years ago, used to talk about the immediate need to give our lives to Christ, because if we say we’ll wait until we’re on our death bed, we could be hit by a bus when leaving the arena! There was a bit of humour in that, but also a great truth: we never know when we are going to die. It could happen at any time, without warning. It’s of absolute importance that we invest in eternity while we are living, enjoying a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ while we are able.

The great benefit of a relationship with God while we live is that we get to enjoy (and share!) the blessings of life in Christ; it’s not just about getting a ticket to heaven when we die. There won’t be an overtime period; regulation time is all we’ve got. Have you made an eternal investment? Are you walking with Jesus as his disciple?

For God says, “At just the right time, I heard you. On the day of salvation, I helped you.” Indeed, the “righttime” is now. Today is the day of salvation‘ (2 Corinthians 6.2, NLT).