“Going to meet a man who was dead three days and then walked out of His grave alive. He is now emperor of the world and He wants to see me.” R.C. Sproul Jr. (Twitter)
‘Cause when You speak, when You move
When You do what only You can do
It changes us
It changes what we see and what we seek
When You come in the room
When You do what only You can do
It changes us
It changes what we see and what we seek
You’re changing everything
chorus of a song “Spirit of the Living God” by Jacob Sooter and Mia Fieldes of Elevation Worship CCLI Song # 7035191
“Courage is fear that has said its prayers and decided to go forward anyway.” Joyce Meyer
What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us. Among the sins to which the human heart is prone, hardly any other is more hateful to God than idolatry, for idolatry is at bottom a libel on His character. The idolatrous heart assumes that God is other than He is – in itself a monstrous sin – and substitutes for the true God one made after its own likeness. Worship is pure or base as the worshiper entertains high or low thoughts of God. For this reason, the gravest question before the Church is always God Himself, and the most portentous fact about any man is not what he at a given time may say or do, but what he in his deep heart conceives God to be like. “The Knowledge of the Holy” by A. W. Tozer
June 9, 2016
Posted by: Nancy Stretch
April 4, 2015
Posted by: Nancy Stretch
Matthew 6: 25-34 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.”
My fears these days lie in the area of Motherhood. I’m a mother to a newborn (who by the way is the cutest baby on the planet). The insecurities and questions about my ability to really sustain his life rattle me to my inner core. This reality, and the fear that resides in my heart surprise me, and I’ve been trying to calm my anxious heart for weeks now. This uneasiness I know is not from the Lord, and it has been on my mind to meditate on it and continue to ask the Lord to remove it. Journey together with me as I meditate on fear.
Fear after all is evidence that the created has taken the place of the creator. When did fear enter the garden? What was Adam and Eve afraid of? Genesis 3:10 says that Adam replied to God that he was afraid. Fear enters the heart of man for the very first time. Sin had occurred, Adam had broken the promise he made to the Lord, and fear rushed in. When created things set themselves up as Creator in their lives fear rushes in. We were not designed to bear the weight of the Divine, and when we try, we are crushed under its weight, fear reigns and our hearts are miserable.
In Contrast Matthew mentions the lilies of the field. The created blissfully trust their Maker for the provision of just the right combination of sun & rain. The birds of the air, they never worry about storing up provisions and making sure their 401 K’s are fully funded. There is no fear when we realize we are created, that we have a Maker who is moving heaven and earth and can control what comes in (and what goes out) of our lives.
What fears lurk in the back of your mind? Do you fear where the resources will come to provide for your family? Do you fear not obtaining that promotion, that degree, that accolade? Do you fear the past, or the future? Where does your desire to be the Creator reside? Is it in controlling those who you work with, your children’s scholastic path, your own destiny?
In my mothering can I trust the Lord to be faithful to provide for Jeremiah? He is after all is the Lord’s. Can I trust the Lord to ensure his nutrition, to sustain his health all the days of his life? I can when I stop being the Creator in Jeremiah’s life. When I stop owning the responsibility of his every breath. When I can lay down my fear, when I can focus on the good God of Heaven who has given his own Son for my ransom, when I know that His Hand ultimately has shaped the universe and given the lilies of the field life, then… and only then will my fear subside.
Pray for me friends, as I pray for you that the fears of this life will be silenced and overwhelmed by joy as we worship our God as the created, and lay down our obsession to be Creator in our lives and the lives of those the Lord has placed around us.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
As anyone from the East Coast knows, heading to central or western Canada via the Trans-Canada always involves “getting through Montreal.” Highway 40’s weird off-ramps, hairpin twists, and an oddly high percentage of vehicles without signal lights make this an hour of white-knuckle driving in each direction. We’ve made the Ontario-PEI trip at least once yearly for the past 25 years, and although we’ve never had any accidents or mishaps, this is always the part of the trip we just wish was over — or even better, that we could avoid entirely.
When we arrived in PEI this past summer someone said, “Why don’t you try the new bypass?”
“NEW BYPASS?” we asked, wide-eyed. Yes, the newly-completed Highway 30 now goes completely around Montreal to the south, connecting 20 on the west side to 20 on the east, allowing east-west drivers to completely avoid the dreaded Highway 40.
On our return journey, we eagerly awaited the exit to Highway 30. “Follow that car!” I said when we reached Exit 98 … and suddenly our whole travel experience changed. Highway 30 was quiet, taking a long, actually fairly boring loop around the south end of the city. Did I say boring? Bring it on! It was great: an hour of relaxed, calm travel compared to an hour of white-knuckle lane changes. And the toll: one dollar and fifty cents. We’d probably have paid twenty dollars without hesitation. It looks like our trips to and from PEI will be quite different from now on without the dreaded Montreal Factor.
This got me thinking about the journey of life. I wondered what would happen if someone told me, “All those stressful, painful parts of life? Guess what? You don’t have to go through those! You can just take The Bypass; it’s quiet, inexpensive, and stress-free.”
Sometimes it looks, from the outside, as if some people actually do get that kind of offer — and take it! Some people’s lives look more like smooth, relaxing Highway 30’s while others are more like tense, white-knuckle 40’s. I don’t know why that is — and I expect that if I saw more deeply below the surface, I’d realize that the easy-seeming lives are not what they appear — but I know that Jesus made it very clear that being His follower was not a “free pass” to a trouble-free life. “In this world you WILL have trouble,” He said. It’s a given. We all suffer, we all grieve, we all struggle. But that’s not the whole story: He assured His disciples, and He assures us, that peace and joy are possible because He has “overcome the world.” By dying and rising again He conquered the power of death, and now no suffering that we experience here on earth can have the last word. Jesus has that.
I wasn’t given any choice in the most challenging aspects of my life: such as having a daughter with Asperger Syndrome and a son with developmental disabilities, seizures, and Autism Spectrum Disorder. No one offered me the bypass, and even if they had I’m not sure I’d have had the wisdom to decide whether to take it or not. So I’m glad that it’s not all up to me — and that Jesus promises His presence and strength no matter what road I’m facing.
Are you anxious about the next stage of your own journey? Let Jesus’ words encourage you: “In me you may have peace.”
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.
I hardly know where to begin. So much of that which claims to be spiritual or worship worthy or from God is just words on a paper, a list of rules, or a prophecy, through which the speaker claims the right to be obeyed.
Even the old testament though full of angelic appearances and spiritual moments has little to compare with singular theme of the new. Once God prefigured his crowning glory in the old testament when he said to Moses “I have heard the cries of my people, and I have come down to rescue them.” Beautiful, amazing , but temporary. Before this, to the father of the faithful he had appeared before his terrifying destruction of Sodom. Impressive but temporary.
In these last days he set up his tent and came and, think about it, became one of us. And everything ever since has been about this. Jesus came and became flesh and he becomes flesh every time he enters the borrowed tent of another. Christianity is about incarnation, continued, repeated, enlarged, unstoppable.
Jesus came and is still among us, Immanuel, he reaches out of the lives of his people everyday. He speaks in our words but in great joy and with an overwhelming desire he acts, he is, he touches, he hugs, he heals, he feeds, he rescues, he rebuilds. He digs in the dirt, he pulls jiggers out of people’s feet, he carry’s a child out of a ruined building, he loves.
E. Stanley Jones points out that in the visit of Jesus to the world there was and is identification. He stepped into human flesh and he stepped down.
“The steps down were seven: First, He inwardly renounced the security of being equal with God. Second, He emptied Himself of everything, except love. Third, He would love not as a superior from above, but as a servant from below. Fourth, He was willing though God, to be a man, __ not a man at the top, but man at the bottom. Fifth, He humbled Himself as a man ——- become the lowest man —–sinful man. Sixth, He took man’s heritage, death, as His own. Seventh, He took man’s sin as His own and died as a malefactor on cross…
That identification was gradual, beginning at inner renunciation of being equal with God, coming in a Virgin’s womb, and going deeper at every step until he hit rock bottom on a cross. “My God, why hast thou forsaken me?”
And in every continuation of his incarnation in the lives of those who say “yes” to him; through His Spirit, there is a steady identification with the most broken, and a downward mobility that takes those of us who are carrying the Son of God within us down with it. Down to the depths of pain and loss of innocence, down to the spiralling chaos of addiction, down to the shivering insult of homelessness, down to the abandoned, down to the destitute whether rich or poor, down to the dying, down to the most unimportant. Down to live where Jesus still walks in the flesh to bring good news to the poor, freedom for the prisoners, recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor; to identify, even in our shared brokenness, with the people Love still wants to touch with our bare hands.
And in the contradiction of humility and mercy Joy dances in the ruins of human life and in the habitation of the broken, and the Kingdom of He who is Heaven grows like a garden in the rubble and wreckage. The Word became flesh and lives among us. Halleluyah.
“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory,the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14
Hebrews 10:19 Therefore, brothers,[c] since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus,20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh,21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
“Shall we just skip this morning? “
It’s a question we ask most Sunday mornings currently as we struggle with the reality of a newborn and Church on Sunday mornings. After only a few hours of sleep on Saturday evening we struggle with making it to church on Sunday mornings. I know I’m not the only one in this situation – whether it be those who have a hectic work week and consider Sunday a “day off” from the rigors of their career, the early morning after a night out on the town, or a hard week of child rearing and caring for others, Sunday morning comes like a cold drink of water on the face. It’s tempting to sleep in, catch up on social media, or just veg in front of the TV instead of heading out to Church.
Brent & I have been resisting the temptation and this Sunday morning as I stood with the rest of the congregation, blurried eyed and exhausted from the every hour feeding schedule of the night prior – I was encouraged, warmed in my heart as I heard the voices of the saints praising God and encouraging each other with the truth of our Faithful God. As a dear friend read scripture in his beautiful English accent I was awash with emotions of gratitude and thankfulness that he served on that day and read the word so faithfully. I was encouraged downstairs in the fellowship hall by a mother walking in the trenches with me, encouraging me to not give up “doing good” for my son. For it is in those moments when we are singing God’s truth to each other, giving those knowing looks to each other over the pews, sharing encouraging words with each other over fellowship hour – those are the moments when we live out Hebrews 10. We after all have a hope, a hope in Christ that is secure, regardless of our level of exhaustion, the fears that abound in our hearts, & the uncertainty of the way forward. He is our hope for the future, and the balm for our souls for today and we can place our faith firmly on His completed work for all that has happened. Our times together in small groups, in congregational settings stand as monuments and reminders for each other that we have a hope that will stand through the ages. As we stir each other on by our words, by our voices, by the reading of his word, we affirm and encourage each other to remember Him who is coming again. Note the lack of mention of emotions in this passage – there is no mention of “as you feel like it” or “when you feel up to it”.. No the command to be together, to cling to each other, to stir each other onwards is a command for each day -regardless of how we feel or what type of week we’ve had. Be encouraged saints that as you serve, sing, share, and attend on Sundays that your presence is fulfilling Gods’ plan for your life in His community and that just by showing up you encourage the weak, those who are faint of heart and those who need to hold on for one more day.