Don’t be a Demas!

By Adam Brown –

Recently, my wife and I started to joke with one another, saying, “Don’t be a Demas.” It’s a way for us to caution one another against being too worldly (I’ll explain it more fully further down in this article). What started as a half-hearted joke, however, has begun to concern us deeply. For my part, I am concerned for myself and my family, and I am also concerned for my local church and the broader church in Canada.

Worldliness and materialism are twin lethal threats to the health and productivity of the church in Canada and the West. Like the proverbial frog in a boiling pot of water, most of us have little or no awareness of the overwhelming pervasiveness of worldliness and materialism in our churches – even in our own lives – and the eternal danger of their destructive consequences.

This is not a new problem. Worldliness and materialism have always seduced the visible church.

Continue reading “Don’t be a Demas!”

Leave the Dead to Bury their own Dead?

By Adam Brown –

After preaching to a great multitude in the Galilean mountains, Jesus returned home to Capernaum amidst a frenzied throng of enthused witnesses.

On route, He cleansed a leper (Matthew 8:1-4). Upon entering his hometown, a Centurion immediately confronted Him with a request to heal a paralyzed servant (Matthew 8:5-13). Having finally arrived to His guest room, He healed Peter’s mother-in-law of a fever (Matthew 8:14-15). That evening many of the townsfolk brought their sick and demon-possessed, and Jesus healed them all (Matthew 8:16).

It had been an epic day. Jesus’ popularity was swelling. Crowds were mounting. His movement was gaining unbridled momentum. People wanted “in,” to be counted among the masses who saw something special in this “might-be” Messiah.

So, what did Jesus do? Did He ride the wave? Bask in the glory? Expand the tent? Launch a newcomers ministry?

No. He escaped:

Now when Jesus saw a crowd around Him, He gave orders to go over to the other side.

Matthew 8:18

As Jesus was extraditing Himself from His popular and growing Capernaum ministry, two men saw Him as He was making a run for the boat.

The first man, a scribe, seems to have been a very promising prospect. He is quoted as having said, “Teacher, I will follow you where ever you go” (Matthew 8:19). We would be inclined to sign him up, make him feel welcome, cater to his every felt-need and desire. Not Jesus. Jesus quickly rebuked the scribe, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head” (Matthew 8:20). Translation: “Beat it!”

The second man, a grieving son, sought a conditional acceptance into Jesus’ band of disciples, saying, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father” (Matthew 8:21). Of all the reasons to absent oneself from a discipleship opportunity, this has got to be near the top. Not only would we permit such a thing, but we might even attend the funeral ourselves in order to show our support and pastoral care. Not Jesus. He immediately dashed the discipleship dreams of this heart-stricken lad, “Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead” (Matthew 8:22). We never find out if this man followed Jesus or attended his father’s funeral. But, having disappeared from the pages of Scripture, it seems he chose the burial instead of the boat.

I am struck by how far we are, in the church in Canada, from Jesus’ example.

When we find ourselves overseeing a burgeoning ministry, we seek to grow it more. We don’t flee to the other side of the lake. We don’t raise the bar when the masses rally; we lower it, hoping for still more.

When a prospective disciple comes to us to stroke our ego with smooth words of flattery, promising to join and to follow, we roll out the red carpet. We don’t spell out the cost, the sacrifice, or the expectation of discipleship; we market the profit, the benefit, and the relative ease of being counted among our number.

When a well meaning-member sends a text or an email to explain why he or she will not be participating in any given church event or discipleship opportunity, we are quick to ease their conscience. We don’t rebuke or challenge the member for a half-hearted commitment; we placate the thorn-choked Christian for fear of losing another soul in the seat or tithe in the plate.

If the scribe needed a little extra encouragement or the son needed a little pastoral comfort, neither of them got it from Jesus. His mission was too urgent and His ministry too important for men such as these. They were welcome to ebb and flow with the crowds, but they could not have a seat at the table.

They could not go on mission with Christ. The scribe loved his house too much. The son loved his unsaved family too much. Jesus required more from them.

Jesus’ expectations, His requirements and demands for disciples, have not changed in the last 2,000 years.

And yet, I cannot help but fear that most of us don’t even come close to the level of commitment that the scribe and the son were willing to offer Jesus. How many of us would even get this close to the boat? No, we count ourselves out for much less.

What stops us from giving Jesus the commitment He demands from us?

The weather. Vacation homes. Rec-league athletics. Netflix. An extra pair of shoes or pants or earrings. The NHL or MLB or NBA or PGA or NFL or CFL. The ladder of corporate success. Sleep. Dance or gymnastics or horseback riding or swimming or skiing. Getting a bigger house or bigger television or faster car or more sea-dos or more ski-dos. Redoing our kitchen or our basement or our loft or our bunkie.

Need I go on?

Leave the dead to bury their own dead?

Maybe we are. The dead burying our own dead.

Christmas in Proper Perspective: Meditations from Mary’s Magnificat

By Angie Brown –

Christmas… is it really the most wonderful time of the year?

Is anyone actually experiencing true joy from “the kids jingle belling and everyone telling you be of good cheer”?

I do love the twinkling lights, the beautiful carols, and the special events. It is such a peaceful season. Or at least that’s what I want it to be.

My hopes of a silent night are usually crushed when my brain is transformed into a relentless news ticker that is constantly scrolling with the latest hopes and dreams I have for this Christmas season: hosting… baking… shopping… wrapping… making memories!

Somehow, in all the busyness, I can lose sight of the amazing wonder of the Advent season and miss countless opportunities to reflect on the Incarnation.

In the gospel of Luke, Mary received the wonderous news that she would become the mother of the Messiah. In Luke 1:46-55, Mary joyfully responded in a song of praise. Here are four aspects of her response that can help us to slow down and consider Christ above all this Advent season. 

Mary Rejoiced in her Spirit

“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices” (Luke 1:46).

Mary was so elated about the good news that Jesus Christ was coming that she worshipped from her inner most being. She could not help her soul from exalting her Creator, and her spirit from overflowing in praise.

We too, can reflect on our magnificent Lord this season, and invite the Holy Spirit to help us give glory to God with worship from our innermost being.

Mary Realized her Salvation

“My spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant” (Luke 1:47b-48a).

The first thing Mary gave praise to God for was her salvation. She realized the arrival of Jesus meant that God was providing a Savior for his people, despite her humble position by worldly standards.

We too, can reflect on our salvation this season, as we realize that the coming of Christ means redemption for those who put their faith in Him.

Mary Recognized God’s Sovereignty

“For he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name” (Luke 1:49).

Mary acknowledged that the plan of salvation was entirely orchestrated and implemented by the mighty and perfect One. Following this statement, she recognized several ways that God had demonstrated His great power and holiness for generations.

We too, can reflect on God’s sovereignty this season, as we recognize that He continues to unfold His brilliant plan of salvation through the Incarnation and future return of Jesus.

Mary Remembered the Scriptures

“He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, Abraham and to his offspring forever” (Luke 1:55).

Mary was familiar with the Old Testament prophecies given to her forefathers that a Messiah would come. She recalled the promise that God would bless all the families of the earth through Abraham. The arrival of Jesus Christ fulfilled the Word of God that had been given generations ago.

We too, can reflect on God’s Word this season, as we remember all the promises that are fulfilled in Jesus.

It is possible that Christmas could be the most wonderful time of the year?

I encourage us to make an intentional effort to dedicate this season to remember the enduring joy available to us through the birth, death, resurrection, and future return of Jesus Christ. More than that, might we also share this message with others as the actual reason we can be of good cheer?

As we hurry around this Christmas getting through all our lists, may we pause to reflect on the main event of the arrival of the Messiah. Let us invite the Holy Spirit to help us rejoice in our spirit, realize our salvation, recognize God’s sovereignty, and remember the Scriptures.

Angie Brown is a pastor’s wife and mother at Southshore Bible Church in Barrie, Ontario. She has a passion for women’s discipleship and loves to study God’s Word with women. Angie is currently studying her DEdMin at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and holds an MTS from McMaster Divinity College. She writes regularly at www.discerningdaughters.org.

Is the Devil Real?

By Adam Brown –

There seems to be a tendency among Christians to obsess excessively or ignore entirely the reality of spiritual warfare.

For some, every headache or traffic jam is the work of the devil. The prince of darkness, it seems, busies himself with the minor annoyances of life. Moreover, Satan has an obsession with “Me,” as if there aren’t billions of other people on Planet Earth to worry about.

For others, the devil is so far removed, that he ceased to be active sometime in the Middle Ages. Post-enlightenment humanity need not fear Satan or his demonic entourage. We have “evolved” past such rudimentary science. The devil and bloodletting are things of the past, spooky disease and medicine of yesteryear.

Both extremes are dangerous. The first reveals a prideful and self-focussed worldview while the second neglects the biblical witness to demonic realities. Both give the devil and this minions far too much power.

The Devil is Real

He tempted Jesus in the wilderness:

  • Matthew 4:1-11
  • Mark 1:12-13
  • Luke 4:1-13

Jesus refers to him in His teaching:

  • Matthew 12:26, 13:39, 16:23, 25:41
  • Mark 3:23, 3:26, 4:15, 8:33
  • Luke 8:12, 10:18, 13:16, 22:31
  • John 8:44
  • Revelation 2:9-10, 2:13, 2:24, 3:9

The Gospel writers declare that Judas was possessed by him when he betrayed Jesus unto death:

  • Luke 22:3
  • John 13:27

The apostles and New Testament writers refer to him:

  • Acts 5:3, 10:38, 13:10, 26:18
  • Romans 16:20
  • 1 Corinthians 5:5, 7:5
  • 2 Corinthians 2:11, 11:14, 12:7
  • Ephesians 4:27, 6:11
  • 1 Thessalonians 2:18
  • 2 Thessalonians 2:9
  • 1 Timothy 1:20, 3:6-7, 5:15
  • 2 Timothy 2:26; Hebrews 2:14
  • 1 Peter 5:8
  • 1 John 3:8, 3:10
  • Jude 9
  • Revelation 12:9, 12:12, 20:2, 30:7, 20:10).

This list does not even take into consideration other references to demonic powers, such as:

  • John 12:31
  • 1 Corinthians 15:24
  • Ephesians 3:10
  • Colossians 2:10, 2:15

Thus, the New Testament witness to the existence of Satan is conclusive. Satan is a real demonic angel, the enemy of God and God’s kingdom.

Spiritual Warfare is Real

Equally obvious to a careful reader of the Bible is the reality that, just as the devil is real, so also spiritual warfare is real. There are so many places we could go in the Bible to prove this point.

The many instances of demonic exorcism by Jesus and the apostles is one possible way to go:

  • Matthew 4:24, 8:16, 8:28-33, 9:32-34, 10:8, 12:22, 15:22-28, 17:18
  • Mark 1:32-34, 1:39, 3:15, 5:15-18, 6:13, 7:26-30, 9:38, 16:9
  • Luke 4:33-41, 8:2, 8:27-38, 9:1, 9:42, 9:49, 10:17, 11:14-20, 13:32

Indeed, by each of these exorcisms, Jesus is declaring that He has power over the demonic world. Moreover, Jesus gives this same authority to His followers.

There are many other places in the New Testament that identify the reality of spiritual warfare. Let’s take a look at one of the most stunning.

The Gates of Hell Shall Not Prevail

15He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it (Matthew 16:15-18).

On one level, Jesus’ response to Peter is abundantly encouraging. He affirms Peter’s confession, attributes Peter’s insight to God’s favour to reveal it to him, promises to build His church on Peter, and assures Peter that no opposition will be able to thwart God’s plans. Not even the gates of hell shall prevail against it.

And there it is. Did you see it? Wrapped in this promise of victory is also a promise of war. The gates of hell shall try to prevail against Christ and His church. There will be a spiritual war, and the devil will bring the full strength of his power to attack the church.

So, on the one hand, victory is assured for Christ and His church. But on the other hand, there will be a cosmic battle between the kingdoms of the prince of darkness and of the King of Glory.

This war will last until the very end of history. Satan will not let up until he is thrown into the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:10). This means, of course, whether we like it or not, we are at war. And, we are not at war with mere mortals. Rather, we battle against the devil and his demonic horde (Ephesians 6:10-20).

The goal of this article is not to ready the battle plan, but rather to point out what should be obvious to Bible believing Christians. That is, the devil is real and we are at war with him. This war is of the most serious kind with the greatest of stakes. Heaven and hell hang in the balance.

Do we know that we are at war against a real enemy, the devil? How are we fighting? Or are we even fighting at all?

Open Letter to My 6-year Old Daughter

By Adam Brown –

Dear Selah,

I can hardly believe that in just a little more than a month, you will be turning seven years old. It seems just like yesterday that Mom and I were bringing your 4-pound-little-self home from the hospital. Adopting you into our family, and being your Dad, is truly one of the great joys of my life.

Over the course of your first seven years, I have introduced you to the world of Disney Movie Classics. From Snow White to Moana, we have watched a virtual pantheon of animated daughters navigating their relationship with their fathers.

I still remember (before we had to shelve it due to the evils of a sea witch and her demon-eels), the joy I felt at your befuddled confusion that Ariel would choose Prince Eric over King Triton. Why, you wondered, would she leave her dad? And, for him! Exactly.

Herein lies the heart of the matter.

Among many other theological problems, these movies seem to have increasingly embraced the role of a strong and rebellious heroine who resists the loving care and authority of her father. Most troubling of all, she often eventually succeeds, leaving her father with no option but to recant.

Let’s take a quick look at some of the worst offenders.

The Little Mermaid

Triton is very clear that Ariel is Not to Go to The Surface. So, what does she do? She goes to the surface, trades her voice for a pair of legs, and tries to get the prince to kiss her within three days. It’s a father’s worst nightmare! Ariel actually fails in her quest, which ignites a chain reaction that concludes with the transformation of the King into a polyp with a lifetime membership in the garden of lost souls.

I would do for you exactly what Triton did for his daughter. But, how about we avoid all that by just not going to the surface in the first place?

Aladdin

Although daughterly defiance is not a major theme in this movie, Jasmine’s father is portrayed as a bumbling fool with no actual ability to shepherd his daughter’s heart. Neither is he equipped in any capacity to protect her from the wiles of Jafar, the Sultan’s own approved and appointed Royal Vizier.

This is not an image of fatherhood I want for you; neither of me, your earthly father, or of God, your heavenly Father. God is a perfect shelter for you and I, though flawed in many ways, will always seek to protect you from the ills and evils of this world.

Pocahontas

What’s so wrong with Kokoum? Pocahontas admitted he would be “a handsome sturdy husband who builds handsome sturdy walls.” What’s more, her dad, the Chief, who knows and loves his daughter, selected him for her. No matter. Pocahontas doesn’t want handsome and sturdy. She wants to see “what’s around the river bend, just around the river bend.” John Smith is just around the river bend, that’s what. And, Selah, do you remember what happened in Pocahontas 2? John chose adventure on the high seas over a life with Pocahontas. The Chief, it seems, was right after all.

Since I desire what is best for you in every way, I want to play a key role in helping you to find your future husband. Aside from choosing Christ, choosing a husband is the biggest decision you will ever make because it comes with lifelong consequences. I will not abandon you in this decision.

Mulan

Conscripted by the Emperor to protect China from the Huns, Fa Zhou may have been aging and in poor health, but it is a father’s joy to lay down his life for his family if need be. Especially in Chinese culture, but equally so in Canada, it is not right for a daughter to rob her father of his honour in this sacred duty.

You are not to risk yourself for me. I lay down my life for you.

Zootopia

Maybe bunnies shouldn’t be cops. That’s not a crazy conclusion, is it? And yet, Judy never even stopped for a second to seek or to listen to any of Stu Hopps’ counsel. She just bounced into Police Academy as if her father’s opinion didn’t matter.

Selah, my opinion does matter. God has entrusted me to keep watch over your soul until the day you are married, at which time your husband becomes accountable before God. Please seek and listen to my counsel.

Moana

Similar to King Triton, Chief Tui is very clear: No One Goes Beyond the Reef! So, what does Moana do? She goes beyond the reef. Twice. Even though she successfully returns the heart to Te Fiti, her defiance could have ended very badly. The Chief had his reasons for trying to protect his daughter and his tribe.

I know that my rules will not always make sense to you. There will be times when you feel prevented from doing something daring. Please know in these moments that my rules are never meant to hold you back. They are always in place to keep you safe and to help you to flourish.

A Disney Princess to Emulate

I know that I am the one who introduced you to these movies. Just know that, in spite of all the fun we’ve had watching them together, the characters and worldviews of these movies are not always worth imitating or embracing.

There is, however, one Disney Princess, that I encourage you to emulate. Her name is Belle. She loves to read and she loves her father. Indeed, her loyalty to her dad is a wonder to behold. And, though I never want you to trade places with me if I am ever captured by a Beast, real or metaphorical (remember what I said about Mulan), you are permitted to admire the strength of her character and the beauty of her devotion.

The thing about Belle is this. Although she, like you, was beautiful on the outside, her true beauty was on the inside (1 Timothy 2:9–10). That’s what I want for you.

I love you, my little girl. Don’t grow up too fast.

Love, Daddy

Jon Bloom: “10 Reasons to Memorize Big Chunks of the Bible”

By Adam Brown –

One of the most frustrating realities for me in my own life, and in my role as a pastor over like-plagued men and women, is the shrinking attention-span of our society. We are inundated with micro-information as screen after screen buries us in a virtual avalanche of data. Although we are processing more information than any previous generation, we are losing our ability to ponder, to think, and to deeply engage significant content.

For this reason, I was captivated by an article that recently landed in my inbox from desiringGod. In this article, Jon Bloom gives “10 reasons to memorize big chunks of the Bible.” His primary goal was not to combat the above identified problem of shrinking attention-spans. Yet, I can’t help but wonder if this ancient spiritual discipline of large-scale memorization might be exactly the balm that our shrinking attention-spans need.

I am convinced that the devil gleefully celebrates our shrinking capacity to read, ponder, and memorize Scripture. It plays favourably into his hand that we balk at sustained theological reflection. It is a Big Win for him when we are challenged to make it to the end of a 50 minute sermon.

I am equally convinced that local churches that are filled with people memorizing entire sections or books of the Bible will begin to enjoy a supernatural immunity from this cultural mind-plague. Our attention spans will begin to grow again, and we just might find that we want MORE food for thought, instead of less.

Let’s get busy memorizing big chunks of the Bible. Our spiritual health depends on it.

Check out Bloom’s article here.

Ready for Christmas?

By Adam Brown –

[The following is an open letter I sent to my church today]

December 20, 2017

Dear Southshore Family,

We are five days until Christmas Day. Four days until our Sunday worship on Christmas Eve. A mere three days until our Christmas Eve “Eve” service on Saturday night. For me, one day until I depart for my family Christmas in Coldstream, the rural hamlet where I grew up.

Are we ready? What does it even mean to be ready?

  • Pre-Christmas December traditions properly achieved. . . check.
  • Shopping finished. . . check.
  • Classic turtles in a Christmas tin ready to eat (and partially eaten). . . check.
  • Plans confirmed. . . check.
  • Workplace tasks accomplished. . . check.
  • Sleep hours banked. . . check.
  • Vitamins and Cold FX supporting weary immune system. . . check.
  • Awkward in-law encounters anticipated. . . check.
  • Fridge stocked. . . check.
  • Turkey in freezer. . . check.
  • Vehicles ready for distance driving. . . check.
  • Presents wrapped. . . check.
  • Clementines in a bowl on the counter. . . check.
  • Bing Crosby queued. . . check.
  • House tidied and cleaned. . . check.

—-

  • Heart in awe of Christ. . . ?
  • Recent sins confessed. . . ?
  • Worship times with the church deeply anticipated. . . ?
  • Wounded relationships restored. . . ?
  • Memories of departed loved ones treasured and cried over. . . ?
  • Recurring sin problem crucified. . . ?
  • Prayer life revamped. . . ?
  • Sacrificial giving cherished. . . ?
  • Marriage rejuvenated. . . ?
  • Fatherhood of God revisited. . . ?
  • Return of Christ desired above all else. . . ?
  • Opportunities for evangelism expected. . . ?
  • Bible poured over. . . ?
  • Humble neediness remembered. . . ?
  • True joy – not secular happiness of the season – authentically experienced. . . ?

When I look at these two lists, I have to admit that I am much more accomplished in the first than in the second. And, this is not without effort either! This year, more than most, I have really tried to make an effort toward the second list. And yet, with all honesty, I would have to admit that, based on the second list, I am not yet ready for Christmas.

How about you?

The good news of Christmas is that God does not wait for us to be ready. He comes even when we are not ready. And this too is something to praise God for.

God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).

Jesus was born and He died while we were still sinners. We weren’t ready for Him and, in many ways, we are still not ready for Him. But, He is ready for us, and in God’s mercy, this is more than enough. O praise Him!

I am praying for you this Christmas and always. May we all shift our focus more and more from the first list to the second. The more items on the second list we receive and achieve, the closer we will come to experiencing the last goal on that list, namely true Christmas joy.

In Christ,

Adam

The Clarity that Comes with Tragedy

By Adam Brown –

Last night and this morning I received two pieces of tragic news. The first was that a 38-year-old man close to my family lost his arm in an accident at work. The second was that an athletic 35-year-old friend of mine, who was particularly close to my sister and her husband, died of an unexpected heart attack. Both incidents occurred yesterday.

This news has hit me hard. I am especially grieved for those who were closer to each of these men than me.

I tell you these things for three pastoral reasons.

 

1.  The circumstances of life are uncertain, but we can be certain in the Lord.

I don’t know what tomorrow brings, but I know that God is still God tomorrow and that the Lord Jesus Christ has secured eternal life for all who believe.

And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son(Revelation 21:6–7).

The sad news of today has strengthened my resolve to thirst for the living water that comes exclusively from the Lord.

 

2.  Life is best lived with an intentional focus on the eternal.

It is so easy to be distracted by the here and now. The trivial and the mundane so easily eclipse the eternal. And yet, everything will pass away, except that which is held by the Lord our God.

The grass withers, the flower fades when the breath of the Lord blows on it; surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever (Isaiah 40:7–8).

 The tragedies of these two men sharpen my gaze on the eternal horizon where Christ resides and where, by God’s grace and mercy, men of grass can become saints of glory.

 

3.  There ought to be an urgency manifested in the way we live our lives.

Every mortal life is numbered in days. However, the life that is hid in Christ will endure forever. When we keep our minds focussed on matters of eternal life and eternal death, then the petty annoyances of this life fade away. Moreover, when our lesser thoughts give way to the Greater Reality, then we will live with an urgency for all that truly matters.

And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels” (Mark 8:34–38).

Today’s heartache rekindles in me a desire to boldly share the Gospel to a lost and dying generation.

These two tragedies touched me personally today. However, countless experiences like these are happening every minute of every day, all over the world. Let us, therefore, busy ourselves in the cause of Christ. For, in the end, it is the cause of Christ that matters most.

It shall endure forever.

A Big Gospel

By Adam Brown –

This weekend we remember the most significant event ever. The death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ was more momentous and consequential than even the Creation of the world. Without the Cross, the sin of humanity would have compelled God to destroy everything He had made. Our sin is not just a problem for us. Since we are the apex of God’s creative work – made in the image of the Creator Himself – our sin condemns the whole universe, everything that God has made (Romans 8:18–22).

Without the Cross, our sin would have brought the end to all things. Each of us would have been condemned to hell forever and ever. God’s ruined Creation would have been burnt up as if it had never been spoken into existence. And God would have been beaten by His creatures. A band of rebellious angels and a race of sinful humanity would have undone the work of Almighty God.

This weekend, however, we recognize that our sin did not necessitate the end of all things. The Sovereign God of the universe is greater than our sin. By death and resurrection, Jesus redeemed – bought back – what had been stolen from Him. It is by the death and resurrection of Jesus that we are born again to eternal life. It is by the death and resurrection of Jesus that all things are made new.

This weekend, therefore, we remember that anyone who calls on the Name of the Lord is saved by grace through faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ according to the Scriptures to the glory of God. More than that, we celebrate that by death and resurrection, God saved the cosmos. At the end of the age, God will burn-up and then resurrect the Creation that we corrupted by our sin (2 Peter 3:10–13; Revelation 21—22). We call this resurrected universe the new heavens and the new earth.

The Gospel is big. It is bigger than you. It is bigger than me. The Gospel declares God’s plan and God’s work to redeem the whole universe (Jesus is crowned with thorns, the ancient symbol for God’s curse against the Creation on account of Adam’s sin). We killed it. Jesus died to restore it. In light of this, it is shocking and humbling to affirm that God places us on the summit of His redemptive plan. We who are saved shall judge angels (1 Corinthians 6:3)! Indeed, we who are saved shall reign with Christ forever and ever, in every age to come (2 Timothy 2:12; Ephesians 2:4–7)!

Thus, let us gather on Friday (10:00am) and Sunday (10:00am) to sing our praises to the God who does such wonders for us, in spite of us.

I love the Lord Jesus Christ. He is my all in all, the heartbeat of my life.

I pray that we, at SouthShore, would have a big view of the Gospel. And, may the fire of this Gospel cause any and all pettiness among us to burn away like dross. Surely the crucifixion and resurrection of the Lord of Glory shall put all things into their proper perspective.

How much do you think about the Return of Jesus Christ to the earth?

By Adam Brown

How much time have you given yourself to mull over the promise that Jesus will return to the earth in body and in glory? Is it even on your radar? For many Christians, this central doctrine of the Gospel is non-existent. For others, it rings familiar but they have no idea what it means. For yet others, there is a vague awareness of it, but deep down they hope Jesus is delayed by celestial traffic.

In reality, the return of Jesus Christ to the earth ought to be the heart-cry of every born-again believer. Near the end of his life, Paul was comforted by the thought of that Day:

Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved His appearing (2 Timothy 6:8).

Reflecting on the love of God and the goal of the Gospel, the apostle John appeals to that Day:

Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when He appears we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him as He is (1 John 3:2)!

In the last week before His crucifixion, Jesus taught about His return to the earth. In our preaching text this Sunday (Luke 21:5–38) at Southshore, we will be looking at this teaching. We will explore the way in which two interrelated prophecies, the destruction of the Temple in AD 70 (Luke 21:8–9, 12–24) and the return of Jesus (Luke 21:10–11, 24–33) are related.

Regarding that Day, Jesus encourages those who love Him:

Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near (Luke 21:28).

This Easter, I pray we all might look back to the Cross and the Empty Tomb in order to look forward to the Son of Man coming on the clouds with hope and anticipation.

How should Canadian Christians respond to President Trump?

Today the United States of America will make Donald J. Trump their 45th President. In light of this impossible to miss historical reality, How should Canadian Christians respond to the Trump presidency? I ask this question because, in spite of the fact that the USA is a foreign nation, we Canadians naturally take an interest in, and are impacted by, what happens south of the 49th parallel. Moreover, all Canadians have an opinion about Trump, which means it is almost impossible to avoid conversation about him. Naturally, therefore, how we respond to President Trump necessarily impacts our public witness to Jesus Christ.

Thus, I offer these 6 ways that we, as Canadian Christians, ought to respond to the Trump presidency.

  1. With Prayer. Paul instructs Timothy to encourage the church in Ephesus to make supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgiving to God for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life. (1 Timothy 2:1-2). He goes on to suggest that the prayers of God’s people might even have a saving effect on the people we pray for. At the time that Paul wrote this letter, Nero was Emperor in Rome. Nero persecuted Christians with almost unrivaled severity. Thankfully, Trump is no Nero.
  2. With Respect. Even though we are not Americans, and thus do not officially fall under Trump’s civic authority, he, nevertheless, requires our respect. In Romans 13:1-2, Paul writes, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.” Later in the chapter (Romans 13:7) Paul also writes, “Pay to all what is owed them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honour to whom honour is owed.” As President of the United states, we owe Trump our respect (NOTE: this same truth holds for outgoing President Obama and current Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, among other world leaders).
  3. With Concern. Even while we ought to give our sincere respect to President Trump, we must also consider the way in which Trump presents himself to America and the world. Does he exhibit the kind of character that Jesus exhorts Christians to grow in? As a leader among leaders, does he demonstrate the character requirements for leadership in the local church (1 Timothy 3:1-7, 2 Timothy 2:22-26, Titus 16-9)? Even though Trump is not required to exhibit these character qualities to be President of the United States, we should be careful to recognize that Trump is not an appropriate model of leadership for the Church.
  4. With Hope. For Christians, it is true that Trump is on the right side of many issues that are dear to our hearts. Perhaps the most important among these is his public commitment to the unborn. Moreover, many in Trump’s administration stand for things that we agree with. Just as God raised up the pagan Cyrus to be a messiah of the LORD (Isaiah 45:1), so too we can hope that God will use President Trump to do some good in the United States and around the world. Let us pray to this end.
  5. With Balance. It is natural and easy for Christians to balk at the Democratic agenda, to tire of the “liberal media,” and to have feared a Hillary presidency. Now that the Republicans control the White House and both Chambers of Congress, it is tempting to celebrate. However, in our rejection of the Left, we have to be careful not to be too excited about the Right. In reality, we have One King, the Lord Jesus, and He is not a registered Republican. Both the Left and the Right are run by sinful men and women. And, even if the current Right is better than the current Left, it is no substitute for Christ. In our zeal to oppose Clinton and the Democrats let us not be blind to the sins of Trump and the Republicans.
  6. With Quietness. Our mission is not to promote Donald Trump, or any other politician, but to promote Jesus Christ. In our conversations with unbelieving Canadians it would be an absolute disaster if our vocal support of President Trump closed ears to the Gospel. Rather than trumpeting the agenda of a sinful president, we need to be sharing the Gospel of our saving King. Thus, it is better to say nothing about Trump so that we have an opportunity to say something about Jesus. For, how will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news” (Romans 10:14-15). Will we choose to be heralds of Trump or of Christ? Most Canadians will not permit us to be both.

Donald J. Trump will be the President of the United States for a time. At most, his administration will last for 8 years. The Lord Jesus Christ is the King of kings and the Lord of lords forever and ever. His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom that is full of justice and righteousness. Let us Canadian Christians, therefore, not lose focus or perspective in the age that we live.