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Showing posts from February, 2015

The Good Kind of Radicalization

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‘But what about you?’ he asked, ‘Who do you say I am?’” (Matthew 16:15)

It seems like an easy question to answer, and Simon Peter certainly answered it correctly. His response was: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16).

I can’t say whether or not this was your experience but I remember cramming for exams. I’d study diligently, packing into my brain anything I thought might be a potential question to which I could, hopefully, deliver an adequate response. Sometimes it worked; sometimes it didn’t. It worked enough times to guarantee graduation. The issue always was: How much actually stayed in my long-term memory after I pounded it into my short-term one?

Not much.

Having the right answer when the question is asked is important. But what is even more important is whether or not the right answer has a lasting impact on one’s life.

Many of us can answer correctly the question that Jesus asked His disciples. Many of us can even answer the question correctly ever…

Bill C-36 in Support of Women

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This is a little different from what I usually post on this blog but given that Jesus took steps during His ministry to show the value of women in His society, it seemed a good thing to share. Steve Jones is president of The Fellowship of Evangelical Baptist Churches in Canada, which I serve. This is this week's letter from his office.
Dear pastors, missionaries, chaplains and friends, Steve here… I wrote several months ago about Bill C-36 and the new “Prostitution Law” the government of Canada was proposing. The Bill passed on December 6, 2014, and for the first time in Canadian history, buying sex is illegal in Canada. We celebrate this legal milestone and the continued fight against exploitation — particularly against women in our nation. This law represents a shift in law and policy in Canada. Now we will be penalizing the “pimps” and “johns” and not just the prostitutes, who are almost exclusively involved in the sex trade due to abuse and continued exploitation. Hopefully …

Back to the Grass (Roots, That Is!)

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Part of my morning routine is to read through our local newspaper. This morning my eye caught an article by Anthony Furey. Recently the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that an adult of sound mind, but suffering from overwhelming pain, can be legally helped to commit suicide. The government has a year to come up with some kind of legislation to that effect. The article, Suicide and the So-Cons, (http://www.nugget.ca/2015/02/10/suicide-and-the-so-cons) argues that “social conservatives” need to stop trying to force law-makers to pass legislation to prevent such things as assisted suicide. Instead, they need to work within society to give people better choices and to persuade them to make better decisions.

The term “social conservatives” would include most of us who are followers of Christ. And I have to say that Furey makes a good point. We, as Christians, can’t legislate right behaviour, any more than foreign governments can mandate peace in the Middle East. We can’t make people do, at …

Responding Generously

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A story repeated in all four gospels is the feeding of the five thousand or, more precisely, the feeding of probably twenty thousand if you include the women and children. But it is what leads up to this miracle of the “loaves and fishes,” as it is often called, that captures my attention this morning.

The followers of Jesus had just returned from their mission trips throughout the region. They reported to the Lord what they had said and done in His Name. Mark records this: “…because so many people were coming and going that they did not have a chance to eat, he said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest’” (Mark 6:31).

So the twelve plus Jesus set sail across the lake. Meanwhile those who noticed them going took the land route and got to the place before the disciples landed. Instead of finding the solitude that they needed after such a demanding schedule, they found a huge crowd waiting to hear from Jesus and to see His miracles.

“Office hours are fr…

Not Even the Devil Himself

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Talk about conflicted!

In Matthew 8, Mark 5, and Luke 8, we have the story of the demon-possessed man who had terrorized the neighbourhood to the point that the residents tried to chain him in in the cemetery. One account describes two men being in this condition. Matthew 8:25b tells us: “They were so violent that no one could pass that way.” Jesus chose this spot to land the boat he was traveling in. He had an appointment.

The presence of the demons had driven these men crazy, literally. Even the chains and shackles could not hold them. Mark 5:5, describing one of the men, tells us that “Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones.”

What a miserable life!

Then Jesus arrived on the scene.

The demons obviously held these men in a powerful grip. That makes what happened in the story all the more amazing. When Jesus appeared we find one man in the posture of worship. “When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of …

The Real Hunger Game

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It used to be that one of the signs of old age was loss of hearing. I say, “used to be” because many people have suffered loss of hearing early in life due to the excessive level of noise they have been exposed to, levels that were not the experience of earlier generations.

In any case, the question that arising from today’s reading is “How’s your hearing?” Jesus has just told the parable of the sower to His audience (Matthew 13:10-23; Mark 4:10-25; Luke 8:9-18). On the heels of that teaching He reveals to His circle of disciples what the parable means. The parable itself is all about the Word of God and how well, or how poorly, people hear, understand, and respond to it.

Changing metaphors, Jesus then said that, like a lamp on a table, the light than comes from the Word of God is to shine brightly. Everyone should be exposed to it, but not everyone will understand the meaning of its brilliance, even when they have been exposed to it. He ends with this cryptic phrase: “If anyone has ea…

Swept Clean and Put in Order, But Empty

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Perhaps it’s just because I choose to read them above others, but it seems as though more and more posts and articles are appearing on the subject of revival, and all that is implied by the word. This morning a pastor friend posted a plea for prayer for revival among our leaders, churches and believers. Shortly after I read his post, I turned to my reading of the day and was met by this passage from Matthew 12:38-45.

Jesus is rebuking the Pharisees and religious authorities. They want Him to produce a “sign” to prove His authority. Jesus refuses. But He points them back to their roots, to a piece of history that they know only too well. He directs them to the story of Jonah and his mission to Nineveh.

The men of Nineveh will stand up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and now one greater than Jonah is here” (Matthew 12:41).

Roots. Repentance. Revival.

The root, as Jesus implied, was not in another new sign but in a respons…

Forgiven: No Greater Blessing

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Why would a man invite someone whom he despised to supper? Simon the Pharisee did just that. He invited Jesus to dine with him. But his feelings were clear from the beginning. The accepted custom was for the host to ensure that a servant washed a guest’s feet as he entered: to relieve him of the dust from the road and refresh him for the meal. Simon did not do this (Luke 7:44). Neither did the Pharisee offer a kiss of friendship when Jesus came into his house (7:45). Certainly he never honoured the Lord by recognizing him by anointing him with oil (7:46).

The signs were all there. This was an inquisition not an invitation to dinner.

But one lone woman messed it all up. How “a woman who had lived a sinful life” (7:37) got into Simon’s dining  room is a mystery. Mind you, God does move in mysterious ways so it is quite possible that she walked in because God ensured that she was invisible to doorkeepers and servants. Simon saw her and was incensed. Jesus saw her and was merciful.

When a …