Trying Again

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I came across an interesting YouTube channel today called CSLewisDoodle where an artist draws doodles along with “selected essays by C.S. Lewis in order to make them easier to understand.” The videos are fantastically well done and I can recommend you check them out.

In watching one of the videos drawn from Lewis’s Mere Christianity the following section stood out to me:

We may, indeed, be sure that perfect chastity [sexual morality] – like perfect charity – will not be attained by any merely human efforts. You must ask for God’s help. Even when you have done so, it may seem to you for a long time that no help, or less help than you need, is being given. Never mind. After each failure, ask forgiveness, pick yourself up, and try again. Very often what God first helps us towards is not the virtue itself but just this power of always trying again. For however important chastity (or courage, or truthfulness, or any other virtue) may be, this process trains us in habits of the soul which are more important still. It cures our illusions about ourselves and teaches us to depend on God. We learn, on the one hand, that we cannot trust ourselves even in our best moments, and, on the other, that we need not despair even in our worst, for our failures are forgiven. The only fatal thing is to sit down content with anything less than perfection.
                                                                                                     (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity)

I found C.S. Lewis’s words to be incredibly insightful and encouraging. As believers, we are all on this journey of sanctification, that is, becoming holy through putting to death the sinful habits in our lives and becoming more like Jesus. We all have certain areas of sinfulness that we struggle with and at times it can seem impossible to attain that Christian virtue in our lives. Nevertheless, we mustn’t stop trying.

For some of you, this period of isolation has been a setback in your journey towards holiness. Without the physical presence and encouragement of your brothers and sisters in Christ, you may be struggling even more in your daily battle against sin in your life. Do not stop trying. “Never mind. After each failure, ask forgiveness, pick yourself up, and try again.” God will give you the strength to try again, the Holy Spirit will empower you to pursue holiness.

13 Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. 14 As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:13-16 NIV)

 

God Bless

Graham

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Sickness

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Have you ever wondered why we get sick? Why is it that our bodies can be infected with various viruses and troubled by different ailments? The short answer is because sin exists. Sin brought with it a whole host of different problems when humanity succumbed to temptation. With the fall of man came various consequences and sickness is one of those consequences. The reason why I felt it necessary to address this topic today is because there is a lot of talk going on about COVID-19 at the moment. With all this discussion have come many different takes on God’s plan for our lives in these challenging times. One such forwarded message I recently received from a friend said:

“One of the blessings God has for us is health. Sickness is not part of His plan for your future. In His goodness, He wants to come and remove sickness from our lives. Believe for divine health and trust Him to protect and heal you” – Author Unknown

While this message is very encouraging there are parts of it that are untrue as we will experience sickness in this life for a few different reasons such as:

  • A result of living in a fallen world
  • Poor health choices
  • Satanic or demonic attack or influence
  • God’s cause or allowance

That last reason may make you feel a bit uncomfortable. But we must remember that God is Sovereign and above everything in His creation. Sometimes we will get sick because we simply walked past someone else who was sick and get infected with whatever they have or maybe our sickness is self-inflicted through prolonged poor health choices. Sickness can also possibly be a result of a demonic attack or maybe, just maybe, God is causing or allowing us to be sick for a specific purpose to accomplish a specific goal in our life or someone’s close to us.

While we don’t have the time to get into all the theological discussions that could be had on this topic, what I want us to take away from this post is that we will get sick in this life for a variety of reasons. And when trying to determine the reason for our sickness we must remember that God is still good, even in our sickness, and that God has every ability to use that sickness for our good:

28 We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose – Romans 8:28

Much Love,

Luke

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Change of Plans

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I was chatting to a congregation member over the phone yesterday and she mentioned that for her birthday in May her family had planned to come visit from all over the world. What with all that is going on with the Covid-19 pandemic they had decided to postpone the arrangement to her birthday next year. She then said something along the lines of when we made the plans we should have said “God willing…” referencing James’ words in chapter 4 his letter to the believers. I felt it was a very apt observation.

This is the passage from James 4:13-16

13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will travel to such and such a city and spend a year there and do business and make a profit.” 14 Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring — what your life will be! For you are like vapour that appears for a little while, then vanishes.

15 Instead, you should say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” 16 But as it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.

No one could have predicted the global disruption to all of our lives that the coronavirus outbreak brought this year. As things progressed event after event got cancelled. Gatherings were called off. Plans were disrupted. Even the things that we’ve always come to see as constant, things so concrete that we’d never have dreamed of them not happening, would not happen. This global pandemic is a reminder that we do not know what tomorrow will bring or what our life will be.

Now this is not to say that we shouldn’t make plans. After all Proverbs 21:5 says, The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance and advantage, but everyone who acts in haste comes surely to poverty,” (AMP). It is good to plan, but in our planning we shouldn’t become presumptuous. We shouldn’t give in to the temptation that having a plan means we have life all figured out. The truth is we don’t, there is only one plan that will always come to fruition: Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails,” (Proverbs 19:21 NIV).

This is why James advises us to remember, in all our planning, to acknowledge, “if the Lord wills , we will live and do this or that.” Our lives are in His hands, in fact, all life is in His hands. We are but just a vapour, He is eternal, and it is His plan that will prevail.

The wonderful thing about this, for us as believers, is we know that God is good and His plan for our lives, and for all creation, is ultimately good. So even when our plans get disrupted, when nothing seems to go to plan, it’s okay because we are still in the will of God.

 

God Bless

Graham

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Weeds

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So I think I finally get it – after years of people telling me how amazing it is – I have finally experienced it for myself… gardening is pretty cool! For a while now I have often walked around my parent’s garden, and the next thing, an intense pain invades my foot and when I quickly pull it up I have a thorn (or thorns on a bad day) which need to be carefully extracted. This past Sunday Cammie and I decided to do some gardening as we are staying with my parents for the duration of the lockdown (thanks mom and dad!) My goal was to get rid of these pesky weeds which have been hindering my barefoot walks through parts of the garden – their time had come! So with garden rake in hand I began to gently pull at a visible patch of weeds and they slowly began to give way. I pulled and pulled and finally realized that I now had a bare patch of sand staring back at me.

Unfortunately while pulling up the weeds I also pulled out all the grass in that area as well… my bad! So I thought, “I must persevere! Maybe I just needed to refine my technique a bit!” Unfortunately my second attempt was no better than the first as this time I decided to throw on some gloves and tackle the task by hand with no luck. When I took time to investigate the patch where there was once grass and weeds I noticed the intricate network of roots that kept these weeds alive. To the best of my knowledge they had intertwined themselves with the grass and it would be really difficult, or next to impossible, to extract them without uprooting the grass as well.

Upon pondering on this experience I was reminded of these words by Jesus:

24 He presented another parable to them: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while people were sleeping, his enemy came, sowed weeds among the wheat, and left. 26 When the plants sprouted and produced grain, then the weeds also appeared. 27 The landowner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Master, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Then where did the weeds come from?’ 28 “‘An enemy did this,’ he told them. “‘So, do you want us to go and pull them up?’ the servants asked him. 29 “‘No,’ he said. ‘When you pull up the weeds, you might also uproot the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest. At harvest time I’ll tell the reapers: Gather the weeds first and tie them in bundles to burn them, but collect the wheat in my barn.’” – Matthew 13:24-30

In Jesus’ kingdom there are good seeds who represent His disciples and weeds who represent false believers and teachers who Satan has sowed amongst these disciples. We see that these false believers and teachers will be present with us to the end of this age and are sometimes quite difficult to tell apart from the true disciples of Jesus. What does this mean for us as disciples then? Are we supposed go out expending all our energy tracking down and ripping out all those who we expect to be weeds? No – according to this parable these people will one day have to answer to God.

Instead of going on a weeding expedition I think what would benefit us all the more is to allow the Holy Spirit to cultivate in us the evidence of His presence in our lives, enjoying the positive influence we can have on the world while being genuine disciples of Jesus:  22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control – Galatians 5:22.

I don’t know about you but I think the world is in need of a lot more of all these fruits which we have to offer!

Much love,

Luke

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