Monday, 4 June 2018

Coffee and Weeds

I stood there, coffee in hand, nozzle in the other, watering my grass.  The water sprinkled out over the green sprouts.  I relaxed into the moment as the sun sparkled off the mist and the morning breeze pleasantly played with the leaves in the trees.

Then it struck me.

Here I am watering my grass, hoping for it to grow and have the best life possible.  But even as I do it - I am watering the weeds as well.  I don't want the weeds, but as I water my grass - I am giving those weeds exactly what they need to grow and thrive too.

"Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ." (2 Peter 3:18)

The Christian desires to grow in faith - that is, grow in trusting in that grace revealed in Christ, and in knowing more and more about how all-encompassing that grace is.  But there is a problem.  The weeds are growing too.  Sin.  False desires.  False faiths.  And much like my lawn, there is nothing I can do about.

Oh - but wait - there is this guy I can call.  He comes with a truck and sprays my lawn and the weeds go away.  Likewise with my soul - there is this guy I can call.  I pray to Him.  I pour out my concerns to Him, and He comes along with His bloody hose and forgives all my sins.  He feeds my soul His promises.  He enters into my yard with His grace and clears the weeds away - so that I might marvel anew and grow in Him.

Pray to the Lord.  Ask Him to make you grow in His grace.  Ask Him to clear the weeds away with that same grace.  Ask Him to make the lawn of your soul a beautiful green carpet of perfect grass - one ready to host any hurting other person and show them the same grace He has shown you.

We don't deserve a weed-free soul, but Christ gives us one anyway.  We don't deserve to have Him hear our prayers and come running to help us, but He does it anyway.  That's grace.  God's riches at Christ's expense.  All of it - For You.

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Is there anything better than this?

"No better life than the life we living"
"No better you than the you that you are"

These are the platitudes of Alessia Cara's "Scars to your Beautiful" where she insists you have nothing to change about yourself - let the world change for you - because there is nothing better than what you are right now.

I cannot think of a more depressing, demotivating message in all the world.  And it is utter nonsense.

My very problem is that I know I have squandered my potential.  I know I have not lived up to all that life has to offer.  I know that I could have done better.  But I have "halfed it" - I did it - Me - I'm responsible - and I've lied to myself about it.  I don't need Alessia Cara to help me.

Is there anything better than this?

Yes.  There is - and you've been made for it.  This is why you want it.  Why its transcendent beauty attracts you.  You were created for a far better life than this - one of truth - one of peace - and there is One who is working to bring it back to you.

He truly had no better life than the life He was living - up in heaven.  But for you and for your salvation He came down from heaven, entered your life, became human just like you - and faced all your troubles and enemies and failures and wasted opportunities.  He came to collect all the shortcomings and the lies and the guilt and the shame - and put it into death where it belongs...  but it cost Him.  It cost Him His life.

Jesus is the new humanity.  He is your new life of fulfilled potential.  Risen from the dead, He is all that life has to offer.  He is "the better" we all should have done - yet He is not your competitor - He is a gift - your ally - your champion and friend - who did all He did only for you, and not for Himself.  He is the One who has truly lived every human moment for other people, and even in His death gives the whole credit of His life to you - as a gift - for free.  You are forgiven.  Yes, you "halfed it," you are responsible, you lied to yourself - but Jesus forgives you - and gives you His truth - His honesty - His perfect life and promises you are free.

Free.

Free to walk with Him.  Free to pick up the heavy load in your life, and follow Him - knowing it matters - it is not wasteful - but will set the world straight as He guides your feet in truth's path.  I can admit it - I have failed.  But I can trust it - He forgives me, and sets my feet on the path of new life in Him.  In Jesus' name, Amen.





Wednesday, 13 December 2017

How do you love Jesus?

You hear it all the time.  "We're just trying to gather together with people who love the Lord."

But how do you love the Lord?  What does it mean to "Love the Lord"? 

Our first problem is that we think we know what love is.  Do we really know what it means to love - or does God have to teach us by giving us the Ten Commandments?  "Love is the fulfilling of the Law" (Romans 13:10).  The Ten Commandments are God's teaching on love.  Love for God, and love for the neighbour (Matt. 22:37-38).  It is the first table of the Law (Commandments 1-3) that teaches us how to love God.

But we think we know love.  We aren't looking to the Commandments to teach us - we're looking inside ourselves - to our hearts.  Have you ever got the impression from someone who says they "love the Lord" that what they mean is "He makes me feel good"?  I have strong emotions for the Lord.  I love Him.  Yes, so do I - but what about when He disciplines you as your heavenly Father?  What about when He doesn't give you what you pray for because His Will is different?  What about when He doesn't make you feel good - do you love Him then?  Is love for God more than warm feelings?

God teaches what it means to love Him - and it is not what we would first expect.

1. You shall have no other gods.
2. You shall not misuse the Name of the LORD your God.
3. Remember the Sabbath Day by keeping it holy.

***According to God, Loving Him is entirely about how we treat His Holy Word, not about how He makes us feel.  Our love for Him is an action, one He describes in the first table.***

First Commandment:  Is God and His Word first?  The first thing we trust?  The first thing we look to when we want to understand and receive goodness? 

Second Commandment: Does God's Word and Name have such a place in our lives, our heart and minds, that its purity is primary?  Are we chiefly concerned with whether His Word is presented truthfully and faithfully?  Are we praying for this?  Studying diligently to be sure its happening in our midst?  Is His doctrine important?

Third Commandment: Is the hearing of God's Word the ordering principle of our life?  The thing upon which our lives are built?  Do we recognize that without His Word our day is unholy, but by His Word all things, even we, are made holy?

This is love for God - Jesus teaches.  It is about trusting, studying and hearing His Word.  It is about growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18). 

Beautiful Savior is trying to gather together with people who love the Lord - in study of His most faithful and merciful Word and promises.  Come, learn, grow.  To Him be glory both now and to the day of eternity.  Amen.



Monday, 4 December 2017

Are you a Rebel?

*This following post was written by Rev. Ted Giese and used with permission.

Are you a Rebel? There are two kinds of rebels. There are the kind who rebel against the World and its influences on society and culture, and there are the kind of rebels who rebel against God and His Word. Which kind are you?

In the Old Testament we are warned, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20) While the World is currently castigating sexual abuse in Hollywood, the News Media and Government, it is a snake eating its own tail - for it was the World through these very agencies of power that gave licence and encouragement to both young and old to have sex before marriage, to live together before marriage, to live together without marriage, to seek divorce for “irreconcilable” differences, to downplay the effects of pornography and promiscuous behaviour, to fight one by one for the rights of every kind of sexual behaviour imaginable, to soften attitudes on adultery and abortion. For years they have said evil is good - To do what feels right - to be true to your own heart. Yet Jesus says “out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.” (Matthew 15:19)

In the last 60 or so years the Church has often failed to push back hard enough against the sexual revolution. We’ve talked a big game but have folded like a cheap suit for fear of losing you. But we have done you no favours. Forgive us. Permissiveness only helps spread the darkness. It hides the light. In the darkness you have experienced pain and suffering; you have sinned against others and others have sinned against you.

What would truly be rebellious today? What would make you a real Rebel these days? If you’re in a relationship and you’re living together, if you’re engaging in pre-marital sex … then ask yourself is this the person for me? Should I be getting married to them or should I be breaking it off? If the answer is yes then get married, have your common-law relationship blessed by God; the fee to purchase a marriage licence is $60. Come to us and we will help you. If you are having an affair break it off and fess up to it, face the music and seek forgiveness in Jesus. If you have had an abortion or you have coerced someone into having one and you feel the guilt of it and need forgiveness, come to us and we will help you with private confession and absolution. Maybe you want to have a big family but the World is pressuring you to be financially afraid of having children, to be afraid of global warming or whatever the fear of the day is, be encouraged; have your children, make a family for yourself and gather together here at Beautiful Savior.

This Christmas be a rebel, buck the trends and temptations of the World; turn to Jesus and to God’s Word. And remember in a dark World it is Jesus who says, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12) The World without Jesus is darkness. Come, gather around the Light. Come talk to us, we'd like to help.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

As if no one is watching but God

Pressure.

It is all around.  Pushing you.  Pulling you.  Calling on you to prove yourself here, there and everywhere. 

Well - enough is enough - especially for the Christian.

Before God you don't need to prove yourself.  Christ has done that for you.  He is enough for you.  God is pleased with you in Him.  At peace with you in Him.  He has your back.  He has made you His own child, and promised that the only evaluations, judgments and opinion that matters is His!  And His mind is made up, because you are in Christ.  You are free to live your life before Him in righteousness, innocence, and blessedness, knowing that Christ has ended the pressures.

But the world doesn't work that way.  It will never stop pressuring you.  The world wants to rob you of that peace.  It wants to put more and new pressures on you everyday.  What is the world to you?  How do it's judgments and evaluations and opinions matter?  Isn't the world coming to nothing?  Won't every mouth be stopped on the Last Day?

Yes.  It's true.  The only opinion that matters is God's.  You don't have to prove yourself to anyone.  You are free - to live as if no one is watching but God.  You are free - to live your life before God  - and not before the world.

Who cares what they say?  Who cares what their judgments are?  The only One that matters is God.

Stop and think about that for a moment.  Make it real practical.

How would your day be different if you lived as if God were the only One watching?

How would it change how you treat people?
How would it change how you see yourself in Christ?
How simple, how pure, how peaceful would your live be if you lived as if God were the only One watching?

On account of your trust in Christ, you seek His holy Will - as it is laid out in the Ten Commandments.  Christ has filled them up for you - and given you new desires to seek after them.  Walking with you as your strength each day.

So do it - picture yourself watched by One - by God.  And keep Him there before your eyes - as you live before Him alone - and see how He changes your day, your relationships, your walk with Him.

Monday, 5 June 2017

Use your words

If you've ever spent time with young children, you've probably had this phrase come out of your mouth: "Use your words."

It is a reminder young children need that you will not be able to most fully understand them if they choose to use grunts and whines and other sounds effects to communicate - but more than that, you are working to teach them to rise above their natural, selfish human desires and wants, and engage in conversation with other people.  Words are what allow us to do this.  Words are the best.

With young children, words are the antidote to unbridled feelings and wants.  The plain use of words brings control to the wild "Ugh. Ah. Wah and Uh" that naturally comes out of the human being.  This is taught.  We teach our children this - despite their best efforts.  They definitely do not "want" to be constrained to using words - they would much rather just cry and scream and flail and force our attention to give them what they want - even run all over "thinking we know" what they want - as they wriggle and demand from their throne.  They must be taught - at great loss of energy to parents - to control themselves and use their words.

Now imagine God's Word.  How much more will the heart of man need to constantly hear what God has to say?  We grow up and begin to think we've got it all figured out.  Meanwhile, God and His holiness are not something we could ever "figure out" - we need the Word - God's Word.  And we need it all the time.  We were designed this way, to be on the receiving end of that Word which gave us life.  It sustains us.  It teaches us.  It constrains our sinful human nature, and allows us to "engage in conversation with other people", that is, look to the needs of our neighbour instead of ourselves. 

And God is gracious in giving us His Word.  He sent His Word down into our flesh - made Him one of us - in order to take that sinful human nature and defeat its rebellion by His death on the cross.  Then by His resurrection, the Word of God in our humanity - now our new humanity - rose up and told His disciples to spread the Word.  God's Word is a gift - from His death and resurrection, to His preaching of it today - God uses His Word. 

So see yourself this way - a dear (and sometimes rebellious) child of your heavenly Father - one who must be taught - at great loss of energy to God, yes, even death on a cross - but by that action of His, you are being transformed for the age to come in the renewing of your mind in Christ Jesus.  May God's Word shape your mind this way now and always.



Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Trust is the opposite of Judgment

Mankind is a slave to "judging."

It is our thing.  We are such a slave to it, that we don't even realize it controls us.  We are not trying to free ourselves from it - we dance and scream and parade about how we have a "right" to it.

"I get to decide" - I want to determine and decide what something is, how it should go, why it exists - and I'll do it with my senses.  My reason.  My sight.  My feelings.  I will decide.

This was Adam's sin - the first one - original sin - thinking "I get to decide."  Good and evil?  Let me tell you.  I will be the judge of what is good and evil.  And since that day, we have been slaves to "judging" - thinking it is ours to do.  But deciding has never been ours - and it never will be.  Every problem we have in the world is born out of our twisted need to be the judge.  Every conflict you have ever had with another human being has come about because one or both of you have set themselves in the "decision chair."  God alone decides.  Adam knew it - and his departure from it has been our undoing.

This problem has eternal consequences, however, because we try to treat God this way.  We try to judge Him - with our human senses.  The foolishness of this should be apparent to us immediately - but in our "need to be the judge" we miss it.

How can you use your created senses - your reason, your sight, your feelings - to judge the Creator of those senses?
How can you order the One who ordered everything?
How can you hold God accountable when He holds all things in their place?
How have we managed (in our own minds) to put ourselves in a position where we are above God?

Things are not ordered this way.  You can't judge God - all you can do is trust Him.  And this is precisely what Adam lost when He reached for "judging."  He lost trust.

True trust in God is what mankind lost.  It is the thing Christ has come to bring back.  Because we need it to live.  There is no life in "judging."  Only punishment and death.  There is no life unless you are receiving it from the One who gives it and sustains it.  And you only receive something when you trust.  Trusting is receiving.

Let me say what you desperately need to hear:

Open your ears and heart, and hear what He promises.
He is not going away.
He doesn't want to run.
He is standing right in front of you - as near as He can be - and He is offering His whole fullness to you - and calling you to trust Him.

Think of what He says: "I've come for you.  I'm here for you.  I'll never leave you.  All those things you are afraid of - I have faced them.  I faced them for you - and I promise you, that in Me - I will get you through.  Stop judging and trust Me. 

When this Word of mercy and grace penetrates the heart and mind - it does so for freedom - and this freedom is not simply for you: it is freedom for those around you.

Judgment is done.  "It is finished," He declared from the cross.  And that means we are free from the slavery of "judging."  This freedom now comes out of our mouths for the sake of those around us.  No longer do we judge them - we free them, as we have been freed.

The Christian is set free so that they can speak freedom to all those they meet - leaving all the decisions and judgments to God (from whom they never departed).  But this freedom - the freedom God intended for us from the beginning - is restored by faith.  It is back baby! ...when we trust the Lord and take our hands off the fruit old Adam snatched.  When we relinquish "the need to judge" the peace, comfort, and joy of God find their place in our lives - and from our lives into the lives of those around us.

May God give you this faith - and through it release your hands from Adam's fruit, removing you from the judgment seat, and filling your mouths with promises of freedom to all those He surrounds you with.