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

The Daily Car Wash

I once knew a senior citizen who said he lived to have a clean car. Sure enough, he was up every morning and out the door to wash and wax it until it gleamed. That car would sparkle even on cloudy days. How silly, we say. Yet if there was anything positive about it, we could say it gave a senior motivation to get moving every day. But surely we can think of something greater than the vanity of a nice-looking car. Nothing injects life with more energy than when we have a purpose that is bigger than we are; an overall reason to live; a great goal that defines what we are trying to do in our all-too-short lives.

When we look into the New Testament we see the early church engaged in expansion, pushing the borders of the Kingdom into new places, smashing right through racial barriers, and dreaming to get into new areas. They endured prejudice, persecution, exhaustion, and stress. What drove them to take the gospel into the whole inhabited world in one generation (Col.1:23)?

The answer lies in the empty tomb of Jesus Christ. They realized that God Himself was behind this new enterprise of faith. Jesus gave his earliest followers their marching orders, recorded by Matthew, Mark and Luke: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved, but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned” (Mk.16:15-16). Obeying this purpose produced the greatest strides in evangelism that the world has ever seen.

How about us today? Is our purpose simply to make as much money as possible? Should your ultimate future achievement be ownership of a great big house in a nice neighbourhood? Is your goal just to travel and enjoy warm weather somewhere? If we’re just trying to please ourselves, we’re not much different than that man who had to do the daily car wash. When we live for great things Jesus gave us, life gains a driving force that moves us to take on exciting challenges and satisfying works for others.

Are you serving the Master, or just washing the car?

– Tim Johnson

Fast Food

Sunday morning and Wednesday night meetings can be very rushed affairs if we let them. Work schedules and distance can cause this, but at the best of times we can often hurry through these worship and study periods. Like someone wolfing down fast food in a restaurant rather than investing in healthy food at home, the benefits are meager.

Paul told Timothy to be “constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine which you have been following” (1 Tim.4:6). How can we apply this to our classes and worship?

His statement implies a deliberate attempt to read and study the Scriptures on your own so you will be prepared for what we do as a group. It is convenient for us to do this for our Sunday morning adult class because we all have a copy of the study book and each lesson is dated. Read it during the week, but don’t just be satisfied with that. Open your own Bible and read the chapters before and after the one to be studied on Sunday. This will give you the background and setting.

On Wednesdays we are at the end of our study of the book of Proverbs. Class members have been reading ahead each week. This has been invaluable to the great discussions we’ve been having. A new subject will be announced soon for our fall and winter quarter. All of us can make an investment in these classes by simply reading ahead and thinking about it.

Worship time is a bit more unpredictable because the sermon topic is not announced earlier in the week. But we can have our Bibles open and our minds engaged in where the lesson is heading. You can follow the flow of scriptures that appear on the screen. Keep distractions down by refusing to fiddle with phone messages and texts. Decide that there are more important things to do for the hour and you can get back to people later. I also know what it’s like to have small children sitting with you, the attention and supervision they need, and the difficulties of trying to learn something for yourself. But for most of us with children, that’s not overwhelming. We can still discipline ourselves to learn and snatch parts of the lesson when you can.

Nourish yourself. Don’t just settle for “fast food.”

– Tim Johnson

Promises, Promises

Promises don’t impress us these days. Politicians all over North America seem to be promising all sorts of things. One says they’ll get the deficit under control in a few years, another says they’ll have the economy booming in a few more, and yet another says he will build an impossibly long wall between countries. We’ve witnessed so many failed promises, we are skeptical of new ones.

People getting married promise to love and care for each other for the rest of their lives, yet almost 50% of all marriages fail. What happened to their promises? Sadly, people make them about as often as they break them.

God tells us in Galatians 3:22 that all men are saved through a promise of God. “But the Scripture has shut up all men under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.” In verse 29 he said, “And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.” While salvation is by faith, it is described as a “promise” in this chapter because we must have faith when a promise is given. In this case our faith is well founded, for who is more reliable than God? Abraham trusted God to fulfil his promise, and that is what we must do as well.

What does this teach us about our own promises? If we trust God to fulfil His, shouldn’t we have the character to also do what we say we will? In this same book, faithfulness is listed as one of the fruits of the Spirit (5:22). We are to be faithful to fulfil promises. People should feel they can trust us. “Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbour, for we are members one of another.” (Eph.4:25)

Promises, promises. Are you making good on yours?

– Tim Johnson