Flatlander Faith

Apologetics from an Anabaptist perspective

Tag Archives: Christian life

Do people make a church?

A church leader once told me “We have never seen it happen that a church would begin to drift away from the truth and then recover itself. When you see a church begin to drift, it’s time to get out and start over again.”

I have observed a lot of getting out and starting again over the years. Some people have given up on the whole idea of church and just meet at home with a few family or friends.

Where is Jesus in all of this? When Jesus said “upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it,” He meant it. Why are  many people today so ready to believe that the gates of hell have prevailed against the church?

The rock is Jesus Himself, not Peter, not the words that Peter spoke. This is made plain when we consider other verses:
1 Corinthians 3:11: For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
Isaiah 28:16: Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste.
Acts 4:11: This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner.

The New Testament portrays the church as a building or temple with Jesus as the foundation or corner stone, or as a body, of which Jesus is the head.

Jesus is the architect, the foundation and the builder of the church. Nowhere in the Bible do we read that we mere mortals are called upon to build the church, nor that we are capable of doing so.

People are running to and fro today, trying to find a church that fits their concept of what the church should be. Time after time they are disappointed.

I have been there and done that. After many such disappointments, I began to understand that while I had been searching for a church that fit my design, Jesus had been searching for people like me that He could form and shape to fit into the church that He has designed.

A little humility is in order here. We may be born again and be doing our best to live a life that conforms to our idea of what a Christian should be. But is our idea the same as Jesus’ idea? Just being willing to ask that question might break through our pride and stubbornness and allow Jesus to lead us to something far better than we could attain by our own efforts.

Books that unsettle

I read a lot and glean at least a kernel of useful information from everything I read. Perhaps a snippet of information that might someday be useful, perhaps a way of seeing things that is new to me and helps clarify my vision.

Sometimes I read a book that shakes the walls of smug complacency that delineate my life. I have written about two such books in the past and will mention them again at the end of this post.

Another is The Power of Weakness by Dan Schaeffer. He tells us that most of us have it wrong when we think of what it takes to be useful in the kingdom of God. God wants to use us to glorify Himself, but we think that it is God’s plan to glorify us. That seems ridiculous at first, but if we examine our unspoken ambitions, we are apt to squirm at the realization that Schaeffer has identified the root of our ineffectiveness.

The book that really makes me uncomfortable is The Broken Way by Ann Voskamp. Let me admit from the start that I was put off by the intense emotions that pulsate through this book. I have spent too much of my life stifling my emotions to welcome a book that invites me to be vulnerable, that tells me that admitting my brokenness is the key to the abundant life. But she is right.

These four books are an antidote to the smugness of so much modern Christian literature. I believe it is good to read books that shake us up. I don’t endorse everything that is said in these books, but may they be a means of refining our motives for serving our Lord and Saviour.

The four books are:

Humble Roots, © 2016 by Hannah Anderson, published by Moody Publishers

Embracing Obscurity, © 2012 by Anonymous, published by B & H Publishing Group, Nashville

The Power of Weakness, © 2014 by Dan Schaeffer, published by Discovery House Publishers

The Broken Way, © 2016 by Ann Voskamp, published by Zondervan

Meditations on spring in Saskatchewan

For months our yard looked barren. Spring came, the snow melted, yet the weather remained cool and we waited week after week for signs of a change. The grass was brown; the trees were dry sticks. Very hesitantly, signs of new life began to appear. Last week warm weather arrived in full force, temperatures as high as 31°. Now the grass and the trees are green, the strawberries are not only green, they are flowering. The mountain ash and the lilacs are loaded with flower buds and my wife has filled her outdoor flower pots with flowering plants.

An incredible transformation in just one week. Isn’t this what Jesus was meaning when He said: “Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?” (Matthew 6:30)

Do we doubt His power to transform us from dull lifeless creatures into children of the most high God? Or His ability to provide for all our needs?

The birds are back, too. We saw goldfinches and orioles for the first time last Sunday. At one point yesterday afternoon there were two dozen goldfinches around our bird feeder. This morning we drove into the church yard and as soon as we stopped a yellow warbler lit on the hood of the car, hopped around a bit, then perched on the mirror on my side of the car. This little bird, weighing at best 25 grams, less than an ounce, has flown 6,000 kilometres from Central America to brighten our lives for the summer.

How is that even possible? Yet it happens year after year. Jesus tells us that His Father knows all the little birds, where they are, what they are doing. “Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God? But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.” (Luke 12:6-7)

The glories of spring are evidence of God’s care for His creation, and promises of what He wants to do for each one of His children. How much does the yellow warbler understand about all this? I have no way of knowing, all I know is that he goes south in the fall, returns to the north in spring and trusts that he will find what he needs.

Jesus’ statement that not one of the little birds is forgotten by God boggles our mind. Such knowledge is far beyond our grasp. Yet it is so hard for us to trust. We want to understand God’s plan for us, not just for today but for tomorrow, all our tomorrows. Isn’t that why Jesus said “O ye of little faith”? Why not just trust our times into His hands, do the little things that He prompts us to do right now and see where that will lead us?

What Do We Live For?

What do we live for?
Is labour so lowly,
Toil so ignoble, we shrink from its stain?
Think it not – labour
Is God-like and holy;
He that is idle is living in vain.

What do we live for?
Creation is groaning,
Her desolate places are yet to be built;
The voice of the years
Swells deeper the moaning,
As time rolls along the dark tide of guilt.

What do we live for?
The question is sounding
Low in the silence, and loud in the din,
And to each heart-ear
With warm pulses bounding,
Answers come thronging, without and within.

What do we live for?
We live to be waging
Battle, unceasing, with indwelling sin;
We live to fight on,
In conflict engaging
Temptations without, and passions within.

What do we live for?
To sow, by all waters,
Fruit-bearing seeds of deeds for all years;
To toil in the ranks
With earth’s sons and daughters,
Manfully striving with doubtings and fears.

What do we live for?
We live not to rust out,
Slothfully standing aloof from the strife;
A thousand times better,
More noble, to wear out,
Battered and burned in the hot forge of life.

-written over 100 years ago by Jennie E. Haight, a Montréal school teacher

%d bloggers like this: