Encouragement From The Word


This Sunday at St. Paul’s Church, Nobleton, I’m going to talk about hate.  It’s a pertinent subject, since there’s a lot of it going around these days – but not all of it gets publicized in the same way.

Jesus tells his disciples the blatant truth in John 15.18-19 (NLT):  “If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first. The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world.  I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you.

That seems like pretty bad news.  How do we survive, let alone thrive, in a society where we are surrounded by hate? (You’ll have to stay tuned for the answer to that.  You can join us at 10:00 a.m. for worship on Sunday, or tune in to our live-stream on Facebook, or later on YouTube or on the church website.)  Hatred toward followers of Jesus is not widely talked about, perhaps because the church has been a dominant force in society for so long…but it isn’t anymore.

But the good news is that there is help.  We aren’t consigned to live the Christian life alone.  We have the Holy Spirit, and each other.  Each is important!

The Holy Spirit is the third Person of the Trinity, given to us by the Father and the Son to live in and through us when we come to him in faith.  Living the Christian life without the Holy Spirit is like trying to breathe without oxygen: it can’t be done.  The Holy Spirit is our Helper, our Advocate in the midst of the hate the world offers.

There are a lot of “one another” phrases in the New Testament, and these underscore how important Christian community is.  We need each other if we are going to make a difference in a world of adversity. We need each other in both a macro and a micro sense, sharing corporate worship as well as a deeper intimacy with the Lord and each other through small groups.

The world will hate us for following Jesus, because it hates Jesus.  But the good news is that the church of Jesus has been historically proven to thrive under persecution.  Think of the Christians in China, forced underground to continue their devotion to the Lord.  Imagine how much community means to them!  Imagine how much they rely on the Holy Spirit!

We don’t know much about persecution here in the west…yet.  But we can be ready for it by relying on the Holy Spirit and each other.

See you on Sunday.

Biblical Messages

Spirit and Truth

Jesus tells the Samaritan woman at the well that the time would come when people would worship the Father in spirit and in truth.  What does that mean?  That’s what we explore in this message based on John 4.21-30 (with a nod to Exodus 3.1-14).  Watch, or listen below:



Encouragement From The Word

A muscle you use

Someone wise once said, “Faith is not a pill you swallow, but a muscle you use.”

It’s possible that we might go to church once in a while, perhaps to get a ‘dose of Jesus’ to keep us going for a little while, in much the same way we might take a couple of Tylenol® to keep us going and mitigate the throbbing pain of a headache.  But, of course, the medicine wears off, eventually, since it’s designed to deal with symptoms, but not root problems.  After all, if your headache is caused by having had a whittling knife stuck in your temple, Tylenol® isn’t going to solve that problem – it’s only going to take the pain away for a while.

Faith is not something designed to take the pain away for a while.  Faith is a gift given to us through God’s grace that enables us to deal with the root of the pain – and so much more.   If we just show up to worship once in a while, there might be a temporary ‘high’ we receive that encourages us for a short time, but that’s not what the Christian lifestyle is about.

Faith is, as the wise person once said, a muscle you use.

One of the things I’ve noticed as I’ve gotten older is that my muscle mass is declining.  I see it especially in my arms, which are not called upon to do a lot of heavy lifting.  Periodically, I look at the dumbbells that I have and think, “I ought to start using those.”  Even just a few minutes every day could make a significant difference.

The same is true with faith:  even just a few minutes every day could make a significant difference.  When we read the Bible and pray at home and in small groups, and when we gather regularly with the community for worship and fellowship, we’re using our faith muscle in ways that will strengthen it – something a periodic ‘dose of Jesus’ just can’t do.

Let me encourage you today to make your faith a lifestyle choice.  Engage daily with the basic disciplines of prayer, Bible study and worship.  Engage weekly with the basic disciplines of corporate worship and community.  Use that faith muscle.  As you exercise it, it grows.

Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth!
Worship the Lord with gladness.
    Come before him, singing with joy.
Acknowledge that the Lord is God!
    He made us, and we are his.[a]
    We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving;
    go into his courts with praise.
    Give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good.
    His unfailing love continues forever,
    and his faithfulness continues to each generation. – Psalm 100, NLT


Encouragement From The Word

Merry Christmas!

At this notoriously busy time of year, let me encourage you simply to stop for a few minutes, amid all that’s going on around you, and spend some time chewing on this passage of Scripture.

For a child is born to us,
a son is given to us.
The government will rest on his shoulders.
And he will be called:
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
 His government and its peace
will never end.
He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David
for all eternity.
The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies
will make this happen!
  (Isaiah 9.6-7, NLT)

Let each name for Jesus in this prophecy wash over you, comfort you, and encourage you as we celebrate the most miraculous birth of all time.

Merry Christmas!  I invite you to worship at St. Paul’s Church, Nobleton on this special weekend.  Service times are printed below.  God’s best!


Biblical Messages

Christmas Eve 2016

Our two services, as always, were completely different, and the messages for them are posted below, along with links to the Facebook video feeds.

“You can have my room”, from our 6:30 family service:

Facebook video:  https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fjeff.loach%2Fvideos%2F10210985150361881%2F&show_text=0&width=560” target=”_blank”>here.

“His Shoulders”, based on Isaiah 9.2-7 and John 14.1-11, from our 8:00 service:

Facebook video:  https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fjeff.loach%2Fvideos%2F10210985810538385%2F&show_text=0&width=560” target=”_blank”>here.


Biblical Messages, Uncategorized

Songs in the Key of Life: 8. Rest

One might think ‘rest’ would be a good topic for a holiday weekend, but this isn’t about

See?  Compared with a Douglas Fir, I’m not that big after all.  (Cathedral Grove, Vancouver Island, May 2015)

Sabbath rest – more like the eternal Sabbath rest!  Psalm 95 harkens back to the time when the Israelites wandered in the wilderness during the Exodus.  Conveniently, the writer to the Hebrews gives us a helpful exposition of that part of Psalm 95.  Have a listen!




Encouragement From The Word

Customer or Sales Person?

On social media last week, there was quite a bit of rancor over a video clip of megachurch pastor’s wife Victoria Osteen talking about how when people come to church, it’s about them, not about God, because God wants us to be happy. (You can watch the clip here to hear her own words.) It’s been suggested, on sober reflection, that this might have caught our hackles, in part, because that’s what we really believe – based on how we act, anyway. Let me explain.

When we come to church – irrespective of the tradition with which we connect – there is often part of us that seeks our personal preferences. In our consumer society, we shop at particular stores because they give us what we want. We drive particular cars because we prefer that kind. We drink a particular brand of beverage because it fits our taste. But the Christian community with which we affiliate – is that supposed to be about consumer choice? Will we be giving “consumer’s choice” awards to churches based on how they meet our needs?

Maybe we prefer organ; maybe drums and guitar. Maybe we prefer expository preaching; maybe topical thoughts. Maybe we prefer small groups; maybe we prefer big Bible studies. Some of that is, of course, quite natural. We are attracted to what we like. It (often!) works in marriage, after all; why not in worship?

To an extent, that is probably true. We are divinely wired to have preferences. It’s part of the beauty of the diversity of the human race. The challenge comes when we universalize our own preferences, and then put ourselves (and our preferences) ahead of others (and their preferences).

I once heard a sermon in which the congregation was challenged to consider – from a consumer point of view – who is the customer, and who is the sales person. As the church, we are not called to self-satisfaction; we are called to “go into the world and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28.19). Those in the church are in sales, seeking to reach ‘customers’ who are not yet part of the body of Christ. For followers of Jesus, this sometimes means stepping outside our own comfort zones – our own preferences – and willingly being part of a community of faith that caters its worship, and its proclamation of truth, to draw those who are outside the family.

We can never cheapen the act of worship into something that just makes us happy; after all, worship is intended to please God first and foremost! As worshippers, of course, we want to be able to offer our praise to the Lord in a way that is in keeping with who we are. But we also want to offer our praise to the Lord in a way that enables people who are far from God to draw near to him.

It’s a complicated issue, and perhaps this little dust-up within the Christian world has given some of us pause to think about how and why we worship the Lord of the Universe.

However your church “does church”, consider who, among your friends and family, you can invite to experience the praise of God. You could change someone’s eternity!