January Article

…being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling…  Ephesians 4:3-4

Ferried up from downstairs, I heard the “whoosh” of rushing air as I broke the pint’s seal.

Peach preserves. Incredibly sweet, an aroma recounting fall days and our activity in “putting up” our canning for the winter. In the quiet mornings of our Christmas days, we enjoyed that pint immensely on toast and English muffins.

To enjoy the peach preserves last week, we had put care and planning into their safekeeping months ago. Peaches quickly ruin if ignored or treated roughly. When viewed as valuable and worthwhile, they receive careful preservation. It doesn’t just happen—you need to be plugged in, and appreciate the gift God gives in the harvest.

For this year in this column, I’ll look at us—the church—to help us grow in appreciation to the Lord for the gift He has given us in being a part of the Body.  Our call is to preserve unity of the Spirit in us, a living body. Look with me into the Word of God, and be challenged as to how each of us is called to fulfill our role in the Body—watching, protecting, guarding and keeping the gift God has allowed us to participate in.  The call is of the Lord, the Spirit is of the Lord; the equipping is His as well.

So preserve what God has given. It takes care, and diligence, and even some hard work on everyone’s behalf. The reward is incredible—for your growth, the growth of the Body, and even that which is yet to come. Welcome to life in the Church!

December Article

Little children, guard yourselves from idols. 1 John 5:21

We arrive again. A season of lights, and celebration of the Light of the World, the Word become flesh who dwelt among us. John’s Gospel and this Epistle point us continually to the Son of God, instructing us to believe in Him alone for eternal life. Yet in an intriguing phrase to close this letter, John seems slightly off-topic as he gives us a caution to keep up our defenses against idols in this world.

We can picture the crude relics once declared “gods.” The shovel of the archaeologist has unearthed these earthly deities in stone, wood, clay, or castable metal.  Armed with our “superior” knowledge, we might then tend to dismiss this caution of John as only for those ancient people with their limited understanding. This would be our costly error.

Like then, today’s idols take many forms as well. The competition for my devotion, love and attention is an ongoing event. Though the idols today may be shinier, interactive, and ultra-portable, nothing has changed in the basic definition: Anything that works to pull my allegiance from the Lord and redirect my worship to it can be rightly named an idol.

I’ve become more aware of my conditional worship and tendency to praise the comforts rather than the Creator. Try a third world trip and see how that messes with your view of self and your avowed allegiance to Christ alone.

So yes, John is indeed spot-on in his closing line. Christ is Lord. There is none other. Worship Him, and let nothing approach in your life to move you from Him. And fittingly, in a season to reflect on His Advent, be sure you don’t get taken in by any artificial light.

Blessings, as You worship Him.

Alone.

October Article

For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith1 John 5:4

Got life?

The assurance that John speaks from is knowledge acquired first-hand. He has walked with the Lord, listened to His teaching, seen the miracles, and experienced the power. He has viewed His transfiguration, death, burial and resurrection. He has seen Him going into heaven, and experienced the coming of the Holy Spirit.

John does not want us settling for less, missing eternal life. So here, he rehearses “the basics” that we cannot ignore or rewrite. This will be our guide, to discern true and false teachers as well.

Jesus, the Son of God, has come in the flesh. He is, was, and always has been God. He has paid for our sin debt through His very real death on the cross. New life is offered to us, as we believe the truth of the Gospel and put our faith/trust in Him alone.

New life here and now is a life of faith. This faith-walk helps us to overcome the obstacles that the enemy challenges us with, in this fallen world. Overcomers have victory by reliance on Christ; not on our own merits, strengths or efforts.

Thankfully, His commands are far from awful, unbearable, harsh or joyless. Instead, a life of faith demonstrated by keeping His commands actually protects us and leads us to the greatest joy—that of knowing Him and being pleasing to Him. This is not “happiness” that comes only when circumstances are “good,” but peace in assurance that regardless of the test, pain, or loss, all is well for those who have forever been saved and set free by the finished work of Christ.

One day, faith will rest, being forever exchanged for sight.