Hold Fast

Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you--unless you believed in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:1-2, ESV)

Location: Cochrane, Alberta, Canada

Thursday, August 31, 2006

A Great Quote

“Here, then, is the real problem of our negligence. We fail in our duty to study God’s Word not so much because it is difficult to understand, not so much because it is dull and boring, but because it is work. Our problem is not a lack of intelligence or a lack of passion. Our problem is that we are lazy.” (R.C. Sproul)

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

A Devotional - Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for wholeness and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)

This is a well-known verse, often quoted to reassure someone that God has a purpose for their lives. In some translations, such as the NIV, “wholeness” is rendered “prosperity,” and some have used this verse to support the idea that God intends every Christian to have worldly wealth.

The problem with taking this verse as a personal promise from God, as many Christians do, is that it isn’t addressed to them. This is part of a letter from Jeremiah to the Hebrew exiles in Babylon (verse 1), which, among other things, instructs them to build homes, take families, and seek the prosperity of the Babylonian cities they live in (verses 5-7) and, in the verse immediately before, informs them that they will return to Israel after seventy years! (verse 10) Obviously, these are not instructions and promises for modern believers. In context, then, this verse is a promise for displaced and traumatized Jewish refugees, in a strange place far from home, that the Almighty God of their fathers has not forgotten them, and indeed, has a plan and a future for them.

Does this mean we can’t learn anything from this verse, if it’s not addressed to us? Absolutely not. The letter, in our Bibles, identifies God repeatedly as the LORD, an English word meaning Yahweh – God’s special, covenant name that He used with His chosen people. God was reminding his special people, the children of His unbreakable covenant, that He was still there for them. By using this name, he reassured them that His promises to Abraham, to make of him a great nation, were still in force. And that meant that He would protect and preserve His people, even in exile.

We, as Christians, are also in covenant with God: the New Covenant in Christ’s blood. God has one covenant people – those chosen by Him, who trust in Him by way of faith. As God’s covenant children, like the exiles Jeremiah comforted, we can be assured that God indeed does have plans for us, and a bright future. This is not because of a promise in a letter written to a specific group three thousand years ago, but something even deeper and better - God’s nature as a faithful, covenant God. He always cherishes those in covenant with Him.

Monday, August 28, 2006

My Summer In Review

Well, I've been gone for a while, but I thought I should get back to the blog...

It's been quite the summer. I've had a fair bit of time to myself, as school has been out since the beginning of June. I've spent a fair amount of time helping out my church - we've run a basketball camp, a day camp, and a backyard Bible club - style Vacation Bible School this summer. The first two each took a week and ran almost all day, and took place in July. We had more than a hundred kids at the basketball camp and two dozen for the day camp - big numbers, considering our church has barely 25 members!

On top of the kids' stuff, the church entered a raft in the Legion's regatta on the Bow River in Cochrane. I watched, but didn't participate - the back's been bugging me this summer - and the team took first place overall. I've written a sermon under the supervision of the pastor, Jesse, and have led two services at the church already. We're doing a step-by-step, expository study of the book of James this summer; I'm preparing a study of James 4:11-12 for this Sunday, which I shall lead if I'm there (more on that in a minute). I might post some of my material on the blog.

We've had some family time this summer. Erin and I took a trip down to Vancouver to visit my mom; Erin fell in love with B.C. while we were there, and wants to move to the Okanagan or the Lower Mainland now! I don't blame her; having lived half my life in B.C., I'd say it's the most beautiful place on earth.

We also went camping with my brothers, sister, and dad at Writing-On-Stone Provincial Park, near Milk River, Alberta. There is a beautiful river there that flows through the hoodoos - I've put up a great picture taken by my sister Rebekah. It is blazing hot down there - I think it's technically desert, actually - but the water is so cold and so nice to float in. Erin loved it - even as pregnant as she was! We ate like kings, played lots of Kaiser (our family card game) and were very sad to leave.

Now, Erin is at nine months, and we're just waiting for baby to arrive. That's why I may not make church on Sunday. She's been doing a lot of reorganizing and cleaning - the "nesting" instinct. Fun for the hubby.... She looks so cute, waddling around with her big belly! She's all belly - hasn't really added weight anywhere else! The baby is an active little bugger, too. If Erin leans against my arm, I feel the baby kicking me - poor little thing's running out of room, and is a little protective of its space!

So please pray for Erin and for a safe delivery! It's all in God's hands, and I'd want it nowhere else.