Pastors' Blog

Saturday
Jan172015

Men: Focus Here in your Marriage

Sometimes we men just need to be told what to do. Keep it simple and point us in the right direction. So it is in marriage. 

Tim Keller says that relationships are messy because people are messy; therefore expect messiness. He’s right. When you think of marriage, so many factors are flying all over: gender differences, individual history, personality differences (whoa!), family of origin, personal goals, ad infinitum. 

 

Men, as we follow Christ every responsibility we have in marriage can be summed up in two words:

Love her.   

Love her consistently, selflessly, deeply, and tenderly. Scripture puts it this way: 

“Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her.” 

God’s wisdom is so perfect, so direct. There are a million books written on different facets of marriage, most of which are very helpful. But here’s the foundation upon which you build, maintain, and develop your relationship: LOVE. 

Here’s the catch. It’s easy to love someone when they love you back. When they respond well. When you’re on the same page.  When life is going well. But that’s why most wedding vows read for better or for worse, in sickness and in health. Love is tested and shines when it doesn’t come easily or when you struggle to express it. 

Plenty of authors have touched on how to communicate well, keep the spark, and to be happily married. I’ll leave that to them, and keep this more focused on a deeper and underlying issue. 

If we men keep in mind the how and why in loving our wives, everyone in our families benefit from this leadership in the home. 

How many Disney movies end with, and they lived happily ever after.  In real life the “ever after” bit isn’t always happy and it always takes commitment, patience, and teamwork to build a healthy marriage. And Hollywood highlights feeling good.  Feelings come and feelings go. As far as loving our wives is concerned, love is not a feeling; it’s an action (decision). Seasons of ambivalence are not reasons to stop loving – it’s when you need it the most. 

Thank God Christ did not love me conditionally, I’d have no hope. “OK, you’ve done it now. I’m through with you.” What if He really did call down legions of angels while pinned to the cross? That’s the point and it’s why no-fault divorce is so outrageous. Christ never walked away from me; in the same way, marriage is acommitment. Love is not just feeling, it’s an action. We don’t love only if we receive something in return, we love because of Christ’s example and it’s the right thing to do. When the Apostle Paul tell us to love our wives as Christ loved the church, this is what he had in mind. Love her unconditionally, in the big and small things. 

Why love our wives? Here are three simple reasons. 

You’ll become a better person. Marriage highlights our self-centeredness and helps us become others focused. Everyone likes being with the latter, trust me. 

She’ll respond. Show me a woman who feels loved, and I’ll show you a wife who responds by giving it everything she’s got. Selfless love breathes life and hope to people who are hurting, even people who are mad at you. And guess who benefits from a wife who is motivated to love you back…? 

Your testimony. Paul said my love for Christine is a mirror of Christ’s love for me. That’s deep. When people come into our home, they ought to encounter God’s love. Our Christian witness is tainted if others see I do not love our wives well. Love is a primary trait of a true Christian, and it shines brightest within marriage. 

One last thought. Don’t be intimidated by figuring it all out at once. Paul asked you to love her right after he told everyone to love each other. You have plenty of time to figure her out (good luck with that, BTW). For now, put your best foot forward and practice being considerate, selfless, helpful, attentive, and thoughtful. You can’t lose with these. Christine and I will celebrate 20 years this year; I have learned a LOT during this time and have plenty more to learn. But it helps to know my primary game plan in my marriage and where I need to grow.

- Pastor Colin

Thursday
Dec252014

Why are we celebrating Jesus' birth, anyway?

So what’s the big deal about Christmas? Who cares if a baby was supposedly born some 2,000 years ago?

The big deal about Jesus is who he is and what he did. Consider this:

In Israel’s darkest hour, hope was extended. Joy would come, though not as they expected. God was preparing to judge His people through the tyranny of the Assyrians and later the Babylonians. Yet as Isaiah foretold the waves of destruction, he held out HOPE. Hope that transcended distress of every kind.

The theme of hope was realized in a baby. As darkness descended, look for a helpless little baby.

Regarding this baby, a sign would be given so no one would miss his arrival. He’d be born of a virgin. That hasn’t happened in all of history, nor will it be repeated. But what hope lies in a BABY?

The mystery of “God with us” would be revealed in his name, one of which was Mighty God. Now, I’ve greeted plenty of babies and not one was been named God. Imagine a Jewish family having the audacity to call their son GOD.

Ah, but this special one would fulfill so many previously given prophecies of the Messiah, or anointed one.  The Jews looked for their deliverer from the line of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and later, David. Genealogy mattered, and God’s execution would be meticulous.

So, when the forest of the Israelite’s pride was mowed down with only stumps remaining in the landscape of their cultural identity, look for a baby, one from David’s line. He would be the “ROOT and the STEM” of Jesse (David’s dad). He would be both the predecessor (from eternity) and the descendant of David. Riddle me that.

So you have a virgin born son, God engaging His own creation. He would take on the limitations and sorrows of a regular Joe. His mission was announced in advance and the eternal Son would enter the very time and space He created.

What would he do? But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities. He was born to die, to set us free from more than temporal aggressors. And though he’d be born to the Jews, he was for everyone.

The apostle John later put it this way:

The Son of God appeared to destroy the works of the devil. “Appeared” means he showed up in Bethlehem but that was not his origin. And “destroyed” is a violent term.

As well, For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life.

The big deal about Christmas is that God entered our world of sorrows, tasted death, and suffered in our stead. Forgiveness and eternal life are gained through simple faith in who he is and what he has done for us.

Merry Christmas. May the love and light of Jesus Christ be yours in full this Holiday Season.

- Pastor Colin

P.S. Verses I referenced, in order, are Isaiah 7:14, 9:6, 11:1, 53:5, I John 3:8 and John 3:16.

 

Monday
Mar102014

Do Good People Need Jesus?

The history of the early Christian church is found in the book of Acts, which comes right after the for Gospel accounts in the New Testament. It speaks to God’s faithfulness and power, for lives touched by the Gospel are never the same.

There are two conversion accounts that involve people on the opposite side of the spectrum. Saul of Tarsus (later, the Apostle Paul) was the zealous religious leader who tried to stamp out Christianity by throwing them in prison or killing them. He needs Jesus – we get that. Then you have the first non-Jew to be saved, Cornelius. He is a deeply religious, thoughtful, generous and well regarded by everyone. Does he need Jesus? He is practicing his religion, helping others, and not hurting anyone. I'm sure you know people like him. Isn’t it narrow minded to assume he needs Jesus? Can’t we leave him alone and focus on other people without pushing our exclusive claims on people like him? 

Luke’s account in Acts makes it clear that Cornelius – and people like him – do need Jesus. It is GOD who disrupts Cornelius’ life with an angelic visitor, directing him to fetch Peter and listen carefully to what he has to say. Peter then receives his own vision and is led kicking and screaming to visit this Gentile’s home. The end is glorious, as Cornelius’ house is not only saved but also wonderfully visited by the Spirit.

Why does it feel so unnecessary for good people to be bothered with Jesus? We often have a flawed view of our own sinfulness and God’s holiness. We naturally think that if we’re better than our neighbor or not as bad as Bin Laden, we’ll make it in somehow. Or that God will just have mercy on us, because He’s good like that. Or that we’ll spend a few hundred years in purgatory paying for our misdeeds before being let in. The problem with all that is this: that’s our rules, not His.

God is holy and terrifyingly so. Beyond our comprehension. Moral perfection on every level.

We are not. Not even close. I hope I don’t have to convince you of this one.

If God were to simply excuse our wrongdoings, that would be merciful but His justice would suffer loss. And who could possibly ever earn a good standing before Him?

Here’s the great news. Jesus came to save sinners, to suffer in our stead. Through His death on the cross, sins are fully accounted for and grace extended to regular people like you and me. Jesus is for the Sauls of the world who are full of hatred and harm others, but He’s ALSO for those who have a lot going on for them and look good on the outside. We all fall short, we all miss the mark. 

Is this offensive? Of course it is. We’re all called on the carpet and not one of us can solve this ourselves. It brings to light the depth of our sin while leveling the playing field. This is not man’s idea, it’s God’s own verdict.

But once we get past our own pride and self-sufficiency, sweeter words could not be heard:

For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

- Pastor Colin

 

 

 

Sunday
Dec012013

Ananias & Sappira and Advent

So why preach this on the first day of Advent? First of all, we’re in a series and I wanted to keep going. Ha! But, consider these Advent applications: 

1) What a potent reminder that God is still HOLY.  Enough people were struck dead in the Old Testament to get the point.  These days we talk about grace and love and mercy and the cross and baby Jesus and peace…here we’re reminded early in church history to include HOLY.  From the Old Testament to the New, He hasn’t changed.  

2) Speaking of HOLY, why did Jesus come in the first place?  He didn’t come to teach, heal, love or help.  He came to die. He came to die as the only remedy for our sin problem before our thrice holy God. 

3) As Jesus came to give His life, He not only saved us from eternal loss but also redeemed us from lawlessness now.  He enables us to get it right even when others around us indulge their passions.  Ananias and Sapphira remind us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling.  Yes you’re saved by grace, but that grace wasn’t cheap.  You’re called to holy living.  

Two Christians who made bad choices have a message for us today during this Advent Season.  God used their lives by shortening them dramatically; an enduring testimony to the church that secret sins are no secret to Him.  In light of such, give it all you’ve got as you serve Christ, both now and throughout the year:  He is worthy of no less.  As Peter said elsewhere:  

But as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one's deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. 

- Pastor Colin

Wednesday
Oct162013

The Bible: Why Eyewitnesses Matter

Christianity is just a bunch of ancient myths and the Bible was put together around a campfire. 

Ever hear that?  It’s a common assertion leveled against those who actually believe the Bible.  Trouble is, it’s entirely untenable.  

At Derwood Bible Church we’ve just started a series on the book of Acts, which chronicles the history of the early Christian church.  It is striking how Luke, the author, is determined to establish the historicity of his accounts.  In his own words, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.  A highly trained medical doctor, Luke leaves no stone unturned to ensure his readers know that his historical presentation is established upon eyewitness accounts. 

He begins his account referencing Christ’s resurrection:  [Jesus] presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days. The Apostle Paul elsewhere mentions Him appearing to a crowd of 500.  When Peter preaches, he simply assumes everyone knows about Jesus' life and ministry:  Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know.  

Luke often cites those who were eyewitnesses. Consider these phrases, found in the first two chapters alone: as they were looking on…out of their sight…and while they were gazing…this Jesus will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven…you crucified…of that we all are witnesses…this Jesus whom you crucified.

To say the Biblical accounts were old myths strewn together overlooks the obvious, not to mention the painstaking measures taken by the authors and scribes to ensure accuracy of content and transmission.  The Biblical text itself – and the authors – simply do not allow for such a glaring caricature.  It is understood that the miraculous nature of some Biblical accounts can be challenging to accept, and of course the authors wrote within the framework of ANE historians.   But a blanket statement that the Bible is a collection of fairy tales loosely preserved and over exaggerated is to ignore plain facts and the intent of the authors.  The Christian message is taken by faith, of course, but it is built upon well documented and assimilated historical events.  It is for this reason the Apostle Paul told the Corinthian church:  I passed on to you that which was of first importance:  that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he rose again, according to the Scriptures.  He boldly declared all of Christianity to be wrapped up in one historical event:  the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. 

And that makes no sense if it didn’t actually happen.  Not to mention overwhelmingly attested to. 

- Pastor Colin