Monday, April 28, 2008

A new blog

This is my first posting to my blog. And as I write this, I wonder, Why another blog? I'm reminded of a favourite film of mine, "Lawrence of Arabia," when a reporter approaches General Allenby at Lawrence's funeral. The reporter asks, "Any words regarding Lawrence, general?" Allenby replied, "What... more words?"

Precisely. Does this world truly need more words? And do I wish to add to them?

Well, I suppose I do, since here I am posting this entry. That's because my answer to a comment like the scripted General Allenby is that yes, in fact, we do need more words. The problem is not that there are too many words in this world. The problem is that too few of those words point people in the right direction. Among the myriad of words sent to us on television, in newspapers, in magazines, at the theater, in libraries and on the internet, many of them offer no real hope to a hurting world. That's what we need more of: words of hope, words of faith, words of peace. Who would complain about more of those words? Who would ask, "What... more hope?" or "What... more peace?" But lest the world still end up with a glut of unhelpful words, I suggest that we need words that communicate a specific kind of hope or faith or peace. Jesus said, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you - not as the world gives do I give to you." (John 14:27). The words of peace that Jesus offers are different than the words of peace the world offers. And the same is true of the words of hope and faith Jesus offers. Jesus offers heavenly words, and those are the kind of words I'm hungry for. What he offers will satisfy my soul for eternity, long after my soul no longer needs this earthly body. It's words of hope like those that I want to add to in this world. Let such words multiply as bloggers all over this planet add words of real and certain hope to the many other words of this world.

© 2008 by Ken Peters

Sunday, April 27, 2008

A Worship that's Sincere (church bulletin cover)

They sought God. I seek God. They were eager to know God’s ways. I am too. They asked God for just decisions and delighted in His nearness, and I hope the same could be said of me. But God strongly rebukes the people who are described in this way in Isaiah 58:2. Why?

What was so wrong that God would be that upset with a people who seemed so passionate for Him? Isaiah 58 goes on to point out what God knew was missing in the lives of these seemingly devout people. In this passage, God is graciously providing us the clues we so desperately need for knowing if our delight in God and our desire to seek Him are sincere. And the main issue? How God’s people responded to the needs of people around them.

I’m extremely challenged by how Isaiah 58 helps me to know if my devotion to the Lord is truly from my heart. Verse 7 asks if we “share [our] food with the hungry and provide the poor wanderer with shelter—when you see the naked, [do you] clothe him…?” I know I can’t help everyone in that kind of need, but am I consistently doing anything to help with such needs? The way for me to ensure that my relationship with God is sincere is to be sure that my love for God is revealed in my love for my neighbour—and particularly the poor. 1 John 3:17-19 agrees as John declares that it is by putting our love for the needy into action that we can assure our hearts before God and know that we are of the truth.

For this to be the case requires some careful intentionality. I need to be on the lookout regarding needs that God exposes me to in my everyday life. God help each of us to see the needs around us and to respond appropriately! And I trust that Love Winnipeg and Caring for the Core will be valuable incentives for those of us who could use a little help growing in this area of regularly responding to the needs of people living right here in the city of Winnipeg!

© 2008 by Ken Peters

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Diligent to Hope! (church bulletin cover)

When I feel shaken by the gritty gusts of life and my confidence in God is not so sure, it’s likely that I’ve pulled up what the writer to the Hebrews called “the anchor of the soul”, which is our hope in Christ (Hebrews 6:19). I certainly have my days when I struggle to trust God, and you can be sure that my focus on those days is on me and my circumstances rather than on Jesus. Keeping my focus on Jesus on such days is an effort. But nobody should feel less spiritual just because it’s work to trust in God! We’re in a battle, and to remain confident in the smoke of it ought to call for diligence.

Hope takes work. Hebrews 6:11 speaks of a “diligence” necessary for realizing “the full assurance of hope.” And then warning us of sluggishness, the writer to the Hebrews exhorts us to imitate those who inherited the promises of God “through faith and patience” (6:12). This makes it clear to me that God fulfilling His promises in our lives is not likely to be some short-term, quick-fix, instant-gratification kind of scene. Hoping in God’s promises requires persevering faith in tough times and hard-fought patience as we wait for God’s timing.

But Hebrews 6 makes it abundantly clear that this is no futile exercise. God provides us with great words of hope in this passage so that we can lower the anchor of our soul — our hope in Jesus — into the bedrock of God’s Word, and be deeply encouraged. Words of hope like “I will surely bless you…” (6:14), “...the unchangeableness of His purpose...” (6:17), and “...a hope both sure and steadfast...” (6:19).

God’s Word is Truth, and Jesus is God’s Word made flesh. And I want to make every effort to keep the anchor of my soul hooked on Jesus as I face the aggressive gusts and sea swells of this life. Whatever the circumstances, we can be sure of the hope we have in the One who sits on the throne of grace: Jesus our great High Priest (4:14-16; 6:20)!

© 2008 by Ken Peters

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Influenced by His Glory! (church bulletin cover)

It’s been said that Gateway’s South congregation is now moving from being “tent-dwellers” to having a building. But as I consider their move into a building in Fort Rouge, I recall what happened at the completion of the tabernacle in Exodus 40. I’ve always been amazed at the description of God’s glory filling the Tent of Meeting as the tabernacle was completed. What a sight that must have been —this cloud coming and covering the tent and filling the entire tabernacle, and then becoming a fire at night! And it says that Moses, the man with whom God spoke from the cloud at the entrance of his tent — the man whose face would shine from being so near to the LORD — couldn’t even enter the tent of meeting because it was so full of God’s glory! Exodus 40:38 says that “throughout all their journeys, the cloud of the LORD was on the tabernacle by day, and there was fire in it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel.”

That verse shifts my amazement to confusion. With this awesome display of glory ever before the Israelites, how could they have ever shrunk back from the things God told them to do, such as when He urged them to go in and take the land? And as that question occurs to me, I realize that I’m caught. Caught in the same confusing acts of unbelief before God’s awesome glory as the Israelites were so prone to. After all, I’ve seen God’s glory revealed in the love and mercy of His Son on the cross. I’ve experienced the goodness of the Gospel at work in my life as Christ has come and made His tabernacle in my heart! And corporately speaking, we’ve seen God extravagantly provide for us to purchase the building on Rathgar, thereby providing a new home for Gateway South. And yet as human beings, we are so prone to unbelief, often doubting that God will be enough for us as He calls us to obedience, such as the taking of new land in which His glory is to be made known.

What are we to do? As I read Exodus 40 again, I want us as a community of faith to be so influenced by God’s display of His glory through His work in our lives and in our midst, that we would be filled with an unshakeable awe and confidence in the God who chose us to be His children! And with that, let us go into the land that God has placed before us so that His glory will be seen by all around us!

© 2008 by Ken Peters