Unappreciated?

A discouraged church secretary once said, “I’ve had enough of this; nobody notices all my hard work!” What one of us can’t sympathize with her? Hard work often goes unappreciated, and people are convinced they should stop doing it.

In one of the apostle Paul’s great passages about the judgment, he said we must be patient in the way we serve God. “To those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life.” (Rom.2:7) While we are saved by the sacrifice of Jesus, no man can enter heaven without a life of service, seeking to please God by his way of life. And that service must be “persistent” (NIV), done with “perseverance” (NASV), also described as “patient continuance in doing good” (NKJV).

We are easily discouraged. Some think their efforts should be praised by all, but are often ignored by all. Others encounter criticism for a job done well, or callous suggestions it could be done better another way. Many simply grow weary, feeling unacknowledged. Most congregations have children’s teachers who do their work every Sunday without notice; elders who grapple patiently with difficult situations with little praise; and maintenance people who selflessly pick up after everyone goes home. Few notice them.

Who are we trying to impress? Are we seeking honour from those around us? Are we being “selfishly ambitious” (v8) in what we do? Is human glory the thing we seek? Must we plaster our good works on Facebook? The apostle tells us God is pleased with people who seek the glory and honour from HIM, when He judges us on the last day. To be motivated by this allows us to work patiently, not expecting attention or praise, for we know that will come later.

When nobody seems to notice your patient good works, God notices. When no one seems to care for your sacrifices, God cares. When you’re worn out by service and everyone else seems to have a good night’s sleep, God sees your persistence. Serve to please Him, and the glory He will give you later.

And thank somebody today for the thankless things they do.

– Tim Johnson

Vimy’s Lessons

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the first world war battle of Vimy Ridge. We’re hearing a lot about it because it was won mostly by young Canadian men. There had been 150,000 French casualties from prior attempts to win control over the infamous ridge, but the Germans resisted. In three days 100,000 Canadians threw themselves into the battle and took the hill. Over 3600 of our men were killed and 7,000 wounded.

Historians have developed many theories to explain how we did it when others couldn’t. In his 2008 book Vimy, Pierre Berton explained that most of our young soldiers were farm boys used to horses and fixing machinery. Both skills were invaluable in WW1. Nervous horses were dealt with in the noise of battle, and there was plenty of help to keep the machines of war going. The result was a very patient army that slowly and firmly overcame the Germans. Patience and skill won the day.

James wrote about the need for patience when we encounter trials. He said, “And let patience have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (1:4) The writer of Hebrews also said, “Let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” (12:1) And, “You have need of patience, that, after you have done the will of God, you might receive the promises.” (10:36)

Patience gives us the energy we need to endure, it helps us deal with obstacles in the way, and it guarantees victory. It won the battle at Vimy. How many battles will it win for you?

– Tim Johnson

Lights in our Community

Jesus said in Matt.5:16, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” With the dawn of 2017 upon us, what should the people in our community – especially those near our church building – see in us? Here’s a few thoughts.

1. A godly people. In our profane, modern society people should see something better in the Lord’s people. Peter said, “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior” (1 Pet.1:14-15).

2. A kind people. There are needs all around us, and our neighbours should view us as people who are concerned for them. We can’t deal with everybody’s problems, but we can be kind. Paul said, “…Put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Col.3:12). Will people view us as cold and indifferent, or warm and helpful?

3. An engaging people. If we want the community to be interested in our message, we must be open to them. People have questions and wonder about who we are. Peter, who wrote about the church’s relationship to the world, said, “…always be ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence” (1 Pet.3:15).

4. An enthusiastic people. Many religious groups practice rituals with lukewarm habit. The community needs to see us as people who are happy and enthused about the faith. Few are interested in religion that is sleepy and dreary. “Therefore, gird your minds for action” (1 Peter 1:13).

5. A people of the truth. Some think the church should accept everything and stand for nothing. More respect is given to those who know the truth and stand on it firmly. John wrote to “all who know the truth, for the sake of the truth which abides in us and will be with us forever” (2 Jn.1-2).

Let’s be determined to let our light shine effectively in 2017.

– Tim Johnson

That’s Not Fair

“This isn’t right!” she shouted, and with a stomp of her foot she shrieked “That’s not fair!” Had she lost out on a large sum of money, or suffered major inconvenience? No, her hamburger was missing something she had ordered in a fast-food restaurant! Never mind that the undeserving employee was totally embarrassed or that people had to listen to her rant. The most important issue was her food.

In Canada, we are raised to think we should not tolerate any mistake that inconveniences us – whether intended or not. Woe is the person who must quickly sort out the problem to our satisfaction.

When will we learn that it’s impossible for life to always be fair? Why should young children be stricken with serious illness? Why must a billion people in the world have to drink contaminated water? Why must innocent civilians lose their lives in war?

How should Christians react to injustice and unfairness? Let’s first recognize that some battles people fight are motivated by revenge. They feel they’ve been treated unfairly, so somebody must pay. Our Lord warned, “never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God” (Romans 12:19). Let’s not take His place in the matter.

Yet there are battles we should fight to make life easier for the disadvantaged and helpless. Religious people, James says, should “visit orphans and widows in their distress” (James 1:27), implying we should try to right some wrongs. Yet, some battles are minor in nature and not worth it. We look silly when we make a big scene over a hamburger.

Let’s also remember that our attitude is important. The young lady above would have received what she needed if she had better manners. “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men” (Romans 12:18). It’s okay stick up for yourself, but do it with respect.

Christians ought to be models of patience and understanding. Quarrelling people in Corinth went so far as to take each other to court! Paul said they were flawed in attitude. “Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be defrauded?” (1 Cor. 6:7). We shouldn’t always expect perfect treatment from others.

Was it fair that Jesus had to come to earth and give Himself on the cross for us? He didn’t die for his own mistakes, but rather for ours. He treated us with grace and mercy. That’s the Lord we serve, and we must serve Him even when life isn’t fair. As the judge of the whole universe He will right all wrongs on the GREAT DAY. Let’s look forward to that day, and not expect total fairness in this world now.

– Tim Johnson

The Importance of Hope in My Life

The following article was written by Roy Graneau, preacher for the South Edmonton Church of Christ (the congregation that I used to work with before moving to Barrie). Roy is highly respected and appreciated. – Tim

THE IMPORTANCE OF HOPE IN MY LIFE

There are times when everything looks very dark to me, so dClouds on seaark that I have to ask, “Is my God still with me in my storms?” Waiting with hope is very difficult, but true patience is expressed when I must even wait for hope. When I see no hint of success yet refuse to despair, when I see nothing but darkness of night through my window, yet keep the shutters open because stars may appear in the sky, and when I have an empty place in my heart yet will not allow it to be filled with anything less than one of God’s best virtue of patience.

It is the story of Job in the midst of trials, Abraham on the road to Mount Moriah, Moses in the burning desert of Median and Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. There is no patience as strong as that which endures because God who is invisible in my storms.

“By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible.” Hebrews 11:27

– By Roy Graneau