Marathons

With several people in our congregation who like to run for exercise, let me tell you about Ed Whitlock. This runner is now 85 years old and lives in Milton, ON. He was born in England and began to run while in school. He broke many records competing in university, but gave it up when he moved to Canada. At 41 years old he started again. At 48, he ran a marathon in 2½ hours, then at age 72 he became the oldest person in the world to run it in less than 3 hours – a record he still holds. He didn’t stop there. At 81, he broke the world’s record for the half-marathon for a man his age. What possesses a man to run like that when most people in their 80’s just like to get out and take a nice walk? It has to do with the desire to excel.

Now, I don’t recommend that the seniors among start running races. But let’s think about the need to excel in our run towards heaven. “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us…” (Heb.12:1). Jesus wants us to live our lives in a way that radiates excellence and endurance. It doesn’t matter if you are 25 or 85, all of us can excel at living for Jesus.

If a man like Ed Whitlock can break records at an advanced age, surely we can excel in godliness, kindness, love and patience in life too. Run with endurance.

– Tim Johnson

People in the Way

A large crowd pushed its way through Jericho one day with Jesus in the middle. Leaders out front felt important as they shooed people out of the way, and hangers-on protected their positions close to the Lord. It would have been easy for Jesus to go with the noisy flow and get to his destination in good time. But He made the crowd stop.

A beggar on the side of the road was calling out for him. This was Bartimaeus, a poverty-stricken blind man. Despite efforts by the crowd to silence him, he cried out all the more – “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” (Lk.18:38) He was not a nuisance to Jesus. He spoke with him and, moved with compassion, touched his eyes and restored his sight. Only then would He allow the crowd to move on.

We’re living in a world that likes to act like that single-minded, pushy crowd. It’s as if we have our lives set on speed-control and we’re reluctant to back off. When others get in the way we don’t like it. Horns blare and people must scurry out of the way. It’s a selfish, arrogant way to handle things.

Jesus shows us a better way. I’m sure he was in a hurry at times, but he didn’t mind stopping for those who needed a hand. Don’t we want to be treated like that? Nothing is more important than a person. Jesus thought so. He was courteous to friends and foes alike. People felt his kindness and appreciated the fact he was interested in their lives. All we have to do is look around us at the many needs and hardships of people. You can’t solve everything, but you can care. “Put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience…” (Col.3:12). Bartimaeus isn’t far away.

– Tim Johnson

The Low Oil, Low Dollar Disorder

Every day we hear news that the price of oil is lower and the Canadian dollar is weaker. It affects those who travel outside of the country, those who send money abroad, and the price of imports.

Overall the low dollar/oil tends to drain the life and strength out of our fragile economy. We’ll hurt for a while, but history tells us that the situation will eventually be corrected. It’s going to take strategy, hard work and patience.

Our spiritual lives can similarly be affected. Some things build us up, and others drain us of life and vitality. The latter could be called “the low oil and dollar disorder.” The Bible urges us to take steps to make sure nothing is missing spiritually. To simplify, there are four parts: prayer, study, fellowship, and service. Prayer keeps us dependent on God (James 5:16). Study grants us knowledge to stay on track (2 Tim.2:15). Fellowship keeps us loving our brethren (Heb.10:24). And service integrates our talents with that of others and creates a strong body (1 Pet.4:10-11). These can enliven and reinforce us, or the lack of them can drain us of strength – just like a weak dollar and low oil does to the economy.

Are you attending every assembly possible, or conjuring up excuses not to? Are you cheerfully serving the church in some way, or naively assuming others will do it all? Are you carving out some time to pray and study, or let it be swallowed up in a busy lifestyle?

We may feel powerless to help our struggling economy, but all of us can take steps to stay strong spiritually: strategy, hard work and patience. Don’t let the low oil/low dollar disorder prevail.

– Tim Johnson

We Are Your Friends

We welcome our guests today.  We’re so pleased to have David Knutson as our speaker.  He is a friend to our congregation, and we hope you also feel at home.

Friendship is a precious thing.  It’s rare in life to have close friends for any great length of time.  But in Christ it is different.

At the end of John’s third letter he said, “The friends greet you.  Greet the friends by name.” (3 John 14).  Why did John put it this way?  Why didn’t he call these Christians brethren, or saints, as others did?  He was trying to make an important point: we need to look after each other, especially if your are a brother or sister in Christ.  Life is worthwhile when we have caring friends.  The apostle is also saying that Jesus considered his chosen men to be his friends, not just followers.  “I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.” (John 15:15). He felt close to them and was willing to share eternal secrets with them.  He treated them special. Continue reading