The Day Peace Was Signed

It was 5:00 am in the cold November woods of northeast France where officials gathered in a rail car to sign the papers that ended WW1. Word immediately went out by telegram that all fighting would stop at 11:00 am. A final shot was fired from the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris at that exact moment, and peace finally reigned in Europe. The following year, after much negotiating, the more famous Treaty of Versailles was signed. The spot where the Nov.11th papers were signed has been preserved. The rail car was taken to Germany in WW2, but it was destroyed as the war came to a close. Pieces of it were kept, and a replacement placed back on that spot in the forest.

The war has often been called the bloodiest in history. About 23 million soldiers were killed and another 18 million were wounded. Canada lost 61,000 soldiers, and 172,000 came home wounded. These are mind-boggling figures. It’s no wonder that Armistice Day was proclaimed across the British Empire in 1919, originally observed on the first Monday of the Nov.11th week, combined with Thanksgiving in Canada. In 1928, the Canadian government declared Nov.11th at 11:00 am to be Remembrance Day, observed yearly. We remember all those who lost their lives, and what it took to bring peace.

God brought us peace at another cold, lonely spot in 33 ad. The sacrifice was so powerful, it never has to be offered again. “He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God” (Hebrews 10:12). It was the day peace was arranged between God and man. It has the potential to save every human being alive, if they would only turn to Him in obedient faith. Pens and treaties can be powerful, but the sacrifice of Jesus Christ is decisive. No one knows the actual spot where the cross stood. Some claim pieces of it exist, but there is no proof. Unlike the monuments that help us remember war’s casualties, we have only the Word of God to tell us what He did to save us. In a way, it is more fitting and powerful.

And today, as every Sunday, we remember.

– Tim Johnson

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

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

A Father’s Sacrifice

One morning in September 2008 Thomas Vander Woude, a retired airline pilot who now kept a farm in Northern Virginia, was working his 26 acres with his 20 year old handicapped son Joseph by his side. When they had separated to do other chores, Joseph walked on a damaged septic tank cover and broke through, falling into the almost full 8 foot deep tank. Seeing the accident from a distance, Vander Woude rushed over to assist his youngest son. Unable to pull him from the tank, he lowered himself into the sewage and treaded beside him to help keep Josephs’ head above the waste, but he was still sinking. Vander Woude then made the decision to dive under the sewage and raise his Down syndrome afflicted son up on his shoulders to free him from drowning. When rescuers finally arrived they pulled Joseph out, injured but alive. His father Thomas though was dead, suffocated under the waste. Continue reading

The Church That Celebrates Jesus Every Sunday

Easter. Many people feel today is the highlight of the year. Churches swell on Easter Sunday, just as they do at Christmas time. While we enjoy having extra people this day, let’s think a little more about Easter.

The entire Bible revolves around the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. There is no doubt that these events are the heart of the faith. But isn’t it strange that the New Testament does not mention the celebration of Easter – as a specific yearly day above all others? Historically there was a debate over the date when the crucifixion took place; nobody really knew for sure. It grew into an early church squabble, so a date was chosen at the first church-wide council (Nicea) in 325 a.d. Even then the controversy continued. Two hundred years later the church had become more institutionalized and preferred to baptize people only on Easter Sunday. While Jesus Christ didn’t reveal in the New Testament a special yearly day to celebrate his death and resurrection, men chose one anyway. Continue reading