A Reasonable Faith

In Jerusalem at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre there is a ladder on one of the
ledges referred to as the Immovable Ladder.  It was believed to have been left there
by a mason working on the building in the mid 1700’s.  As time went by it remained
and it has gotten to the point where the ladder cannot be moved because in 1964
Pope Paul VI decreed it represented the divide between the Catholic and Orthodox
churches and it should remain there until the two reach a state of agreement on
ecumenism.  Is this the type of faith God wants for His people? Judging by scripture I
sincerely doubt it.   It seems that man has always placed emphasis on things around
him that have great age and mysterious origins; it is often falsely labeled
supernatural.  When in reality the supernatural, what Christians call the things of
Spirit, is really quite straight forward and laid out plainly by God through His
inspired Word.  He revealed His son to man in a plain matter. “And a voice came out
of a cloud saying, ‘This is my Son, my Chosen One, listen to him!’” (Luke 9:35).  He
gave man the way of salvation and the Great Commission directly. “Go therefore and
make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the
Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all I commanded you.” (Matt.
28:19,20).  And in numerous verses given man His overarching will for His creation
“fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” (Ecc.
12:13).  It is easy to get caught up in the superstitions of our culture but let us have
the confidence to remember that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” in the
image of the Almighty God.

-Jon Jackson

Time to Run

This is the time of year for marathons, before the heat of summer invades. Every major city seems to have one; even smaller cities host runs of various lengths. Perhaps the most famous is the Boston marathon; they’ve been doing it every year since 1897. This year’s race took place on April 16th with 26,948 runners; all but 5% of them finished. People come from all over the world to participate, including a good number who do it in wheelchairs.

Many of us are getting older and the thought of running a long race seems preposterous. While it’s certainly appealing to those who are young, some seniors actually run marathons. Eighty-five-year-old Katherine Beiers, a former librarian from California, was one of the last to finish the Boston marathon – but she did it!

The Scriptures compare the life of faith to running a race. In Hebrews 12:1-3 the writer says we must “lay aside every encumbrance” to do it. Runners don’t need baggy clothes or heavy footwear; they slim down and try to be as light as possible. Likewise, Christians disentangle themselves from sin and the distractions that come with it, and “fix their eyes on Jesus.” He crossed the finish line ahead of us, so we focus on Him and what He did. The secret of running a long race is endurance, for no one can do it by speed alone. It’s not a sprint, it’s carefully measured work. Many Christians forge into the life of faith in a hurry, but they don’t last. We live with determination and stamina. How you serve the Master at 70 years old is quite different than how you did it at 25.

The apostle Paul also spoke of running the race. “Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim” (1 Cor.9:26-27). He was always aware that he could easily veer off the track or give up entirely. “I buffet my body and make it my slave, lest possibly, after I have preached to others, I myself should be disqualified.” Let’s be aware of how far we’ve come in life as followers of the Lord and make sure we don’t give up in weariness as we approach the end. Jesus is waiting there for you.

Run with endurance.

– Tim Johnson

A Day For Families

Tomorrow is Family Day here in Ontario. The first time it was celebrated in our province was in 2007, but its origins come from an earlier celebration in Alberta. Eight out of our ten provinces observe it, some using different titles. It’s encouraging to see our country acknowledge the importance of families.

The world over, families are viewed as the foundation of society. The first family was, of course, Adam and Eve (Gen.3:24). The book of Genesis is full of stories of the patriarchs searching for good people to marry, their successes and failures. Soon adultery and polygamy began to spoil things, the first being that of Lamech’s illicit relationships that were accompanied by violence (Gen.4). That has continued throughout time and is present today. But that doesn’t destroy the need for good families. In fact, all nations have passed laws protecting families, usually out of concern for the welfare of children or the orderly allotment of assets should a family dissolve.

There is nothing quite like a good family. Think about the following:

· Commitment adds security

· Love adds joy

· Children add focus

· Grandchildren add fun

· Old age adds appreciation

· Common faith adds purpose

No family is perfect. Sometimes there are disagreements, differences and poor attitudes. But love, commitment and determination will help a family moderate, adjust, prevail, and thrive.

Some people lose much of their families to abandonment, death, or to great physical distances. As Christians we must step in to help look after such people, for we are family in Christ – the household of God (1 Tim.3:15).

Enjoy your family this weekend, but also reach out to those who are alone. You’ll be blessed if you do both.

– Tim Johnson

What to do When Your House Falls Apart

“The inheritance to which we are born is one that nothing can destroy or spoil or wither.” (1 Pet.1:3, NEB)

As a homeowner, I’m always amazed at the endless work it takes to keep things in good shape. One house we had needed painting every few years due to the damp Maritime climate. Tired of scraping and painting, I tore all the clapboard off and installed new wood, painted the whole house, and hoped it would solve my problem. It didn’t. A contractor friend said there was too much humidity inside the house (4 kids and all those showers…), so I installed an air exchanger, and had the whole house covered in vinyl siding. That fixed it.

That same house also had a leaky basement. We had to dig a trench, 5 feet deep, all around the foundation to repair cracks, install drain tiles, and then fill it all in, rebuild front and back porches, repair the lawn, restore the driveway…Oh my!

Sometimes home ownership can be tedious indeed. One works on things inside and out. If you own a house, you know what I’m talking about.

The scripture above tells us we have a home waiting for us in heaven that will never need the kind of upkeep we do in this present world. “Nothing can destroy it,” Peter declares. It will never suffer from fire, floods, or simple aging. It will never “spoil” from damp weather, rotting materials, insects, or our endless wind. And it wont “wither” (fade away) from the hot sun, blasting weather, poor materials, and shifts in the ground. It will always be in perfect shape and carry no worries or expense.

It’s an inheritance God reserves for those who faithfully serve Him as Christians, even when life is hard. He has a spot for you awaiting your arrival in the next life – a reservation in heaven.

The next time you are knee-deep in dust, dirt and paint, remember that you won’t have to do any of that in heaven. “In this you greatly rejoice…” (v6).

– Tim Johnson

Men of Whom the World Was Not Worthy

We’ve all been encouraged with the great characters found in Hebrews 11. The people listed there lived their lives by faith, which is the focus of the chapter. In moving terms the author describes the courageous nature of each of them and the heroic things they did way back in history. While some of them became famous in the Old Testament, many lived out of history’s view. It didn’t matter if anyone was watching them, they lived and died for the Lord anyway.

One statement in verse 38 stands out, although it’s only parenthetical: “…men of whom the world was not worthy.” How could people who were forced to “wander in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground” be considered so great that the world wasn’t worthy of them? Surely such people looked miserable, stressed, poor, and weak. What made them remarkable is that they endured hardships because, in their circumstances, it was necessary in order to be faithful. They chose the hard road because it was the only road to heaven. God considers people like this to be the greatest in the world. Faith makes all the difference.

What a contrast to the people today the world considers great. Attention always goes to the fabulously rich, to the outrageous, rebellious, immoral, and the reckless. The world likes people like this and gives them honour. But God views people of faith as the cream of the crop.

Don’t spend your time worrying about getting rich or trying to look cool and reckless. You might get some attention, but God will only shake His head. He wants you to live for Him in a way that will move you to sacrifice and endure hardships – if that is necessary – and to make the right decisions for yourself and your family, no matter the social repercussions. If you do, in God’s view, the world is not worthy of you.

Read Hebrews 11 again. Could your name fit in there?

– Tim Johnson