When I was a kid, my Dad, who was born in 1919, would tell us tales of life going to school in a one-room schoolhouse and walking there 5 miles in a driving snowstorm, uphill both ways, and having to make a fire in the boiler to heat the classroom! Amazing stuff! Dad had great stories!Continue reading “Being Christian in the Age of Social Distancing”
Broken, undeserved, headed in the wrong direction- are all terms that shout out our desperate need for help. They describe our situation to a “T”.
We are born incomplete but full of potential. We have a built-in sense of incompleteness that rears its ugly head in times of failure and conflict. We know something isn’t right deep down in our soul.
Humanistic philosophies of life will tell us that the answer is deep inside of us. But the harder we try, the more frustrated we become. We end up trying to medicate our souls with drugs, alcohol or experimenting with all the pleasure that the world has to offer. But at the end of the day that aching feeling just won’t leave.
This is not new, not in the least bit. The most devoted people who ever walked the planet battled with their own personal set of idiosyncrasies and challenges. The difference between us and them, is that we are reading about them two thousand years later! How would you feel if your life was written about so the whole world could read about your failure?
The night before Jesus Christ was to be sentenced by the Roman Emperor Pilate to be crucified, the group of his closest followers met together in what is known as the Upper Room. Jesus has now revealed to them God’s plan to redeem the lost human race through his death on the cross. He shares with them that all of them will flee and deny that they even knew him. They thought that was beyond the realm possibility, especially Peter. It was unimaginable to them that they could do such a thing. But they did.
Here is a question to think about: What would have happened if this was the end of the story? What if the disciples would have been left with the guilt of betraying the Lord with their words and with their actions? Let me get up close and personal with you, dear reader, what happens when you betray the Lord by your actions and attitudes? It occurs more than we care to admit. I’m convinced this is why we are sometimes paralyzed because we don’t realize the extent to which our actions and attitudes are revealed by the guilt we carry around.
The good news is, I should re-phrase that the unbelievably good news is that this wasn’t the end of the story for the disciples and it isn’t the end of the story for you and me. After the resurrection, the disciples are hiding out just in case the Romans start coming for them. Into a locked room, Jesus appears to them, rebukes them for their unbelief and restores them to fellowship with him. It is only after this that he issues what we know as the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19-20, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel…”
What you and I need to understand is that yes, it is quite possible and probable that we have done something, said something, and even denied Christ himself in search of a better life. BUT (here is the greatest news you will hear today!) Christ stands ready to restore you back as a son or daughter of faith. We have a hard time with that because we don’t think that we now deserve it, but the fact of the matter is we can never deserve it. Our walk with God is marked by his sweet aroma of grace.
Here is my challenge to you today. Knowing that we can’t do enough to earn his grace, it’s time for you and me to accept it for what it is: the free gift of God. Allow Jesus to be the Lord of every defeat you have ever had, every battle with temptation that you may have lost, and every hope that you carry. Pray and ask the Lord to change your heart and desires that they may be centered around him.
God is so good to us! Yes, there are struggles that we deal with sometimes on a daily basis but when we walk consistently with Jesus, he shows us the next step to take!
If I can help you with your walk with God or even prayer for you, please drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, I would love to be an encouragement to you today.
It is God’s will for you to change! Wait! Don’t stop reading! I know that no one likes to change, but what I want to talk to you today about is good, positive change and growth in your life that God has designed. Continue reading “Change”
“He who calls you is faithful, he will surely do it” (1 Thess 5:24).
It is very special to have “found” the Gospel of Jesus Christ when I was without purpose and no hope of every finding it on my own. I grew up in a home where the things of God were given only intellectual assent and never personally applied or taken serious. It was like knowing it was indeed true but pretending to live like it wasn’t. Continue reading “The Gift of Presence”
Growing to be all that God desires you be is the result of many strands, or decisions that you make on a daily basis. To grow spiritually does not happen by chance or as the result of good genes. To grow into maturity is not the end of the process but rather it is part of the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit in you. The goal is to experience a “transformed” life that has so radically changed that the result is a new set of values and purposes. We live to the glory of God through difficult circumstances and heart-wrenching suffering.
Time always reveals the truth! I recently celebrated my 59th here on the planet. The reality of the quick passing and brevity have hit me like a ton of bricks. More than ever I am aware that the majority of my life is behind me. If I was to counsel my younger self what would I say to him? Good question, isn’t it?
By the grace of God, he has given me the awesome privilege to serve some very incredible people in some awesome places on planet earth. But…it could have been much better than it was. I often wish that what I know now I could have learned much earlier. It is not as if there were not people who tried to tell me but I was too stubborn to listen!
First, I would say, “Be patient with people and circumstances.” I often wanted people, and ministries, to change their point of view. Instead of working through situations I decided to move on. They may never have changed into what I wanted them to be but grace teaches me to give room for God to work in you and in them.
Second, I would not have listened to the opinions of others who were negative against administration and people in authority. My older self would now say that God knows what he is doing, there could be a greater purpose for why that policy was brought forward that you know nothing about. Furthermore, they could be right!! The horror of horrors! I could be wrong!
Third, allow God to mature you where he has placed you. I have often thought about people who are “lifers” in those places I left. There is such a maturity when they speak of their ministry. They speak with the wisdom that can only be grasped after years spent investing in a place and people.
Finally, I am thankful that I am still learning. God is still teaching me that there is much yet to be done. I don’t look backward with bitterness or depression but I optimistically use the lessons from the past to move forward. Philippians 1:6 continues to give me hope, ““And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”
I am not 60 yet, I have 360 plus days to go! But I am excited to build on the foundation that God has established in my life. I’m still in process, still learning and still want to learn! How about you?
Pastor Bill Finch
Tis the season for setting goals, resolutions and then, plunk! Nothing! It was a good college try but it will have to wait until the weather is warmer, or until I get over this cold, or maybe even when my schedule clears! Have you ever thought that way? “Tomorrow” is always the best day to start a new project but inevitably something else comes up that gets in the way or has greater importance on our priority scale!Continue reading “Achieving Your Resolutions”
I had no idea, you could say I was clueless! What did it mean to be a disciple of Jesus?
In 1977, I clearly heard and understood the message that God loved me and sent his son, Jesus, to pay the penalty of sin that I owed. I repented of my sins and placed my faith, my future, my total being in God’s care. Without realizing it at the time, I stepped into a process of walking with God everyday. God was slowly transforming my value system from being solely concentrated on me and my desires to him and his desires for me.
There is indeed a process that God places us in to become all that he wants us to become. All who have made that decision to receive Jesus as Lord are learning to understand what God desires. We no longer live for self but for the Lord.
Every person who is a Christian is a follower, a disciple of Jesus. Everyone should have a plan of growing to become more and more like him. How? Here are a few ideas:
Personal Plan for Spiritual Growth
1. Identify with the Community of Faith through baptism and church membership.
2. Find areas to serve God using the spiritual gifts, abilities and interests he has given us.
3. Grow in intimacy in our walk with God through daily, disciplined reading of the Bible and prayer.
4. Seek to encourage others in their walk with God through being a part of a small group. You cannot grow on your own, you need the encouragement and you can encourage others as well.
5. Share your faith. God has/is working in your life not just for you but that others can know him through you. God wants to use your story to change the lives of those who do not know him.
6. Give of your financial resources to support the work of the local church. God calls us to be generous with what he has entrusted us with financially.
These six principles are “basic training”. The entire span of our walk with Jesus is based on these. Following Jesus is not rocket science but is the discipline to faithfully practice them continually growing to become all he wants us to be.
My friend, go for it! Grow in faithfulness, love God passionately, serve Him loyally, and impact others radically. This is what a disciple of Jesus looks like.
Life is precious. However, the way we treat it at times is the exact opposite of that. I am reminded of the game we played as children, we called it “King of the Mountain” in our neighbourhood. The objective was to climb to the top of the dirt pile and defend your spot with all your might! This would involve tossing all competitors off your “regal territory.” What a blast!
Unfortunately, my friends, some adults, some Christian adults, some Christian adults who are leaders in the church are still “playing” that game. But, it isn’t a game. And, it is acted out in the “dirt” of daily crux of relationships and responsibilities.
In the church of Jesus Christ the rules are different, they are the exact opposite in fact. The way up is down, the way to life is death to self, (Phil 3:8; Matthew 10:38). We place God’s agenda above our own and seek to make him the King of all of who we are. Our goal is to advance his ethic of love and forgiveness, (Matthew 28:19-20).
Because life is precious we take serious the biblical commands that are centred around the “one-anothers”, (Romans 12:3-21). In the community of the redeemed there is a mutual recognition that on our own we cannot make it, (1 Corinthians 12). We need each other to “spur each other on to love and good works,” (Hebrews 10:24). I, therefore, cannot claim that I am superior to you! How dare I!
The spiritual leaders of the church still need to recognize their need to practice these good works. Too often, I have seen those same leaders act as if they are above the necessity of daily practicing the spiritual disciplines of prayer, love, and diving into the Bible, realizing that they too need to confess their sins. Some of these people have forgotten that they have reached where they are because did practice them at one time, not because they deserve to be there!
Whoever you are, whatever title you have in front of your name, you would do well to remember who actually is the King! It isn’t you, it is the One who “bought you with a price” to remind you that “you are not your own.” (1 Corinthians 6:20)
Friends, we must live in the light of the truth that Jesus Christ is the true King of the mountain in our lives! How is it going for you?
For His Glory,
Pastor Bill Finch
I really enjoy sports! I mean real sports like hockey, baseball, football, and occasionally basketball. I follow my teams with great interest and passion. Our family has spent much time travelling to cities to see those teams in action. For us in Canada, Saturday night is hockey night, it is almost as important as going to church (notice the word “almost” lest you think I have really lost it!). But, to actually coach a team or develop a strategy for how to run the “power play” or to play “shorthanded”, would be next to impossible for me.