An oft misunderstood funeral passage

*Taken from a recent funeral address.

John 14:1-6

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Our second reading is a very common reading at funerals; sadly it is commonly misunderstood. Permit me to put it in context for us and draw our attention to the personal hope it offers us today.

Jesus’ followers were scared; Jesus was speaking of leaving them (ch.13) & returning to heaven (that is the context). It is near the end of His earthly ministry right before His death, resurrection, & ascension to heaven where He reigns and whence He will return to judge the living and the dead (Apostle Creed).

BUT they were on the other side of the cross, they didn’t have the blessing of hindsight as we do. So this talk deeply troubled His followers. Jesus was their friend, their teacher, it upset them that he was speaking of leaving; just as no doubt we are troubled and saddened at [name]’s departure. So Jesus said to them, Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me (v. 1).

Jesus IS God, God the Son. If we believe in He whom the Father sent, we believe in the Father. If we don’t believe in Jesus we don’t believe in God, just like Judas. But if we trust in Jesus as the Lord and the Saviour like Thomas and the other disciples did, a place will be made for us in God’s kingdom, which is what is meant by the metaphor of the Father’s house. That is the ultimate reason Jesus came, to prepare—to die and rise again, defeating sin & death—so all those who’d trust in Him for salvation and follow Him would be assured of a way to heaven, Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (v.6), an assurance [name] found before He died, and Good News of assurance & peace that Jesus offers to all who fear death & mourn [name]’s departure today.

A psychiatrist recently said that if guilt and inner turmoil were taken away, 2/3 of the patients in her hospital could go home!

Some great wisdom, because forgiveness and peace with God is what we are ALL looking for & what we ALL need…. Indeed, as that early Christian Augustine put it, our hearts will go on being restless until they find their rest in Him [Jesus Christ].

The Lord’s Sweetest Blessings,

Pastor Chris

Faith + Hope

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

So begins the ‘hall of fame’ list of faith in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews. Given the dark days in which we live—rife with evil, moral decay and unbelief—days in which humanly speaking I resign myself to believe our civilisation is doomed, what is faith, what is hope?

Most people today are hopeless, their lives uncertain, because they have a presumptuous ‘faith’ (trusting in themselves, others or in ungrounded optimism & wishful thinking [a ‘faith in faith’ mentality]) that ‘hopes’ in uncertainties (selfish desires, earthly shifting sands, fallible people). It is a trust in a hope of a feeling of expectation that something good might happen. When this leads to shattered hopes and broken faith—as it almost always does—people invariably despair; over time they give up.

Biblical faith and hope are not so vague, but are described as an “assurance” and a “conviction.” Faith is a trust in a promise made by a faithful God. He is the object of our faith, His promises the basis of our hope. Therefore, whatever He has promised we can trust and as we actively wait for it we hope. In fact, our trust is so firm and our hoping so active, it is as if what is invisible is visible before our very eyes (see: Ro 8:24–5; 2 Cor 5:7; 1 Pet 1:8).

Hebrews is speaking about Jesus and His return, but He seems to tarry; we’ve also been promised eternal life, but can feel so dead; we’re promised a happy resurrection, but our bodies know corruption; we are made just, as yet sin dwells in us; we hear the call to rejoice, but are in the midst of miseries; we have the promise of good gifts, but still we hunger and thirst.

What would become of us if we were not supported by true hope and faith, the ministry of Christ’s Spirit and the Word, along with the example of a cloud of witnesses, who together enable us to triumph over the world and endure to the finish line, “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith” (12:2).

The Lord’s Sweetest Blessings,

Pastor Chris

A Letter from a Friend

Some of you may remember that we prayed for a brother in Christ in Canada recently who was very ill. The Lord saw him through that illness and he wanted to express his thanks to us for our prayer support and offer some lessons and encouragements from his experience:
Hello to my brothers and sisters in Christ!
My name is Shawn Robinson.  I’m a good friend of your pastor and he was telling me just the other day that many of you were praying for me over the last little while.  I wanted to write to you and thank you as well as share with you a little of what God has taught me over this time.
Back in January, right at the end of the month, we had the privilege of invited a large group of Muslims to our church on a Sunday evening for a dinner and we were able to share the gospel with them clearly in Arabic.  It was a great privilege for us as we had more people out to that evening than we would typically have to a Sunday morning service!  Unfortunately, I had just started developing some pain in my left eye and two days later was diagnosed with Shingles in the eye and up the scalp.  It was hard to minister to those visiting and heading the gospel due to the pain and discomfort, but as Paul wrote, “Power is perfected in weakness.”  The morning after being diagnosed with Shingles, I passed out just after breakfast, stopped breathing and had a seizure, all in front of my wife and two young sons.
By the weekend, I was diagnosed with encephalitis which can cause death or serious brain damage.  It is amazing to me how the Lord cares for us through all of this.  I can see the hand of our great God in protecting me through the seizure—without which the encephalitis may not have been caught.
Prior to all this, ministry had been going wonderful with incredible opportunities for the gospel.  I was being very disciplined in my time and focus.  My health was good and I was feeling great!  But within days of “feeling great” I was in isolation in a hospital bed.  One of the beautiful things the Lord taught me through this is that my health and my life are entirely out of my control.  I do not choose how my days will progress or even if I will live to see tomorrow, this is in the hands of God.  There is great peace in knowing that a loving, good God is in control of our health and strength.  His goodness and greatness means we can trust Him with our lives!
As I lay in the hospital, one of the struggles I faced was the thought of possibly passing away and leaving my wife and two sons without a husband and father.  This was a painful thought for me as I imagined my children and their grief and my wife struggling forward.  As I brought this before the Lord, He taught me that not only can I trust Him with my own life, but I can trust Him with my family.  If He chose to take me from them or to leave me with serious brain damage and unable to love and care for my family as I wish to, I can trust the Lord with them.  He knows what is needed and He knows my family.  God is good and can be trusted in all areas of life!
Thank you all for your prayers.  It means more than I can express.  I know we have not met, but I also know we are planning on spending a lot of time together in eternity so if the Lord does not cause our paths to cross now, we can maybe catch up then!
God bless you all and thank you again for your love and concern for me, my family and my church.
Shawn Robinson
Truth Community Church
Thamesford, ON


There are many things I would rather write about, the wonders of Jesus, the depths of what it means to follow Him, however, pastors—in every age— often spend a great deal of their time speaking into the particular issues of the day, which morally speaking centre right now around the LGBTI and gender inclusive agenda. Like I said, this is not a hobby horse but something I feel I must address.

Many Christians have reluctantly acknowledged that until a move of the Holy Spirit comes upon our land to awaken us to the truth and reveal our sin and need for Jesus, there is a very small likelihood that the recent tide of laws against marriage will be reversed. And that we can very comfortably sit behind a belief that while these things may exist in society (and even grow as they are promoted as a choice) that we are safe because of our “freedom of religion” and “freedom of speech.” If you read the fine print of the Article 9 of the 1998 UK Human Rights Act[1] you’ll see there are loopholes that permit a way to circumvent these “freedoms.” This, however, is not the news that concerns me today.

You may have seen a recent news article where the European country of Malta passed legislation banning “gay cure conversion therapy.” Click here to read the BBC article. There are a number of things that I think are disconcerting about this law:

  • That the law “enshrines” that sexual orientation or gender identity is not wrong or a “short coming of any sort”
  • That others who disagree for religious or non-religious reasons are therefore legally “wrong.”
  • That religious freedom is outweighed by others “rights.”
  • That if you believe such things are not acceptable and seek to help change someone you will face up to £8,450 in fines and a year in prison (sending a clear message that freedom of religion is really freedom from religion and that this freedom is at best secondary).
  • That if it has gained a foothold in Europe, how much longer until such laws are advanced in the UK?
  • Lastly, that it strikes hard against two Biblical truths, the first is that what the Bible describes as right and wrong is the standard, there is no other; and the second, the Gospel itself.

While the law targets professionals such as psychiatrists who offer various forms of gay conversion therapy, it also would apply to Christian leaders, preachers and teachers who preach the life transforming message of the Gospel. While physical and psychological routes for gay conversion may assist they ultimately fall short of offering true hope to the individual because the issue is ultimately about sin and requires a spiritual solution.

This is what we read of in 1 Cor 6: 9–11 (emphasis added):

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

This passage identifies a representative list of various sins (which includes but is not limited to homosexuality) that separate us from God. Paul then reminds the Corinthians “and such were some of you” meaning they had been CHANGED by believing in the Gospel (that’s the “but”). They once were and were now no longer. The hope of change from homosexuality is possible (though many prefer to continue to walk in darkness). However, it comes not through gay conversion therapy but by trusting in Jesus.

May we never lose sight of the wonder and power of the Gospel which can transform any sinner and make them a new creation in Christ Jesus, regardless of the consequences. May we never cease to be defined by the message of the Gospel that sets us apart as Christ’s.

The Lord’s Sweetest Blessings,

Pastor Chris

[1] Article 9 Freedom of thought, conscience and religion

1Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief, in worship, teaching, practice and observance.

2Freedom to manifest one’s religion or beliefs shall be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of public safety, for the protection of public order, health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.


Praying for Nice

If you began your day like me today, you will have got up and then at some point seen or heard of the news flash that 84 people had been killed by a lorry driver in the French city of Nice during celebrations for Bastille Day.[1]

Heureux les affligés, car ils seront consolés! (Matthew 5:4)

Firstly, let us all stop right now (if you haven’t done so already) and pray for the victims, the citizens of Nice and the French Republic. Let us pray—holding this situation up before the throne of grace—out of our deep compassion and love and because it is our Christian duty (1 Tim 2:1). May we also mourn over this great evil (Ro 12:9).

Most people will be asking two questions: why and what’s going on? Both of those are difficult and yet straightforward to answer, and in my attempt to do just that I therefore proceed with great humility.


Many Christians will look at these events through one of two lenses: the sovereignty of God or eschatology (end times belief). Since I am no seer other than some basic things Jesus has told me will happen (He is coming, to live as if His return is imminent, and that we do not know the day or the hour) let me seek to find the answer to WHY? in what the Bible says about the sovereignty of God.

First, if God is not sovereign, the things that happen are either by pure chance or happen because God is not sovereign or almighty or all wise enough to stay the hand of evil. As we will see the Bible clearly tells us this is not who God is.

Secondly, we need to resist the temptation to attribute every evil act to a karma like belief that the 1st century Jews held. That if you sinned you would not prosper, you would be judged. Jesus challenged this belief (Luke 13:1-5 ESV):

There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

 But with that tempering truth in view, if God is sovereign then evil is part of his will (at least indirectly). This is a truth we cannot faithfully shy away from, even if we ought to be slow to attribute all evil acts definitively as judgement.


Every age has its troubles. In every age some Christian has cried “the end of the world.” Like I said earlier I’ll leave that with the Lord. However, that does not mean we cannot look around today and notice that the Lord is shaking the nations. This is but one instance of that.

A verse from our passage this coming Lord’s Day from Isaiah 22:11b helpfully reminds us:

But you did not look to Him who did it, or see Him who planned it long ago.

While God cannot do evil, in accordance with his will evil men and women can do evil things, and that can be used by and accomplish his greater purposes. So while God cannot do evil, we must acknowledge that in accordance with His sovereignty, nothing can come to us by chance but by His fatherly hand. Hard to swallow at times, perplexing to fathom, but encouraging to know we serve an almighty God. These wake up calls ought to cause us to look to the Lord and not to continue a life without Him.

Islamic Movements[2]

It would seem that with the rise of Islamic extremism the Lord has been using this to cause many Muslims to become disenchanted with Islam and consider Christ. Indeed, in the last 15 centuries there have been 88 movements of Muslims to Christ (a movement being 1000 Muslims becoming Christians in an area). 72 of those have been in the last century with most in the last 15 years since 9/11. The Lord is doing something amongst the nations.

Shaking Self-reliance and godlessness

The average person, let alone the average French citizen, devoid of trust in God, is fearful. We live in an increasingly uncertain world. Though major international leaders seek to calm these fears, there words are often a smokescreen. Increasingly, as the Lord is at work shaking the nations we are being forced to trust Him or self, divine government or the ruler(s) of this world.

The French president said they had been “badly hit” but was strong, adding “we need to do everything we can to fight against” such attacks…”All of France is under the threat of Islamic terrorism.” Here is a secular state fighting a deeply religious phenomenon and trying to do so temporally! They are trying to do “all they can” ignoring the one thing that is needed. While there are many causes behind Islamic terrorism the spiritual reasons and solutions are discounted as naïve (are the other explanations and tactics working…?). Instead of viewing these events as from the Lord and issuing a call to repent and seek him, the West continues to discount religion and fail to return to the quarry from which they were dug [Christianity; Jesus!] (Isa 51:1).

If the Church in the UK is very small (estimates ranging from 1–4% of the population) then the Church in France is even smaller. Friends of ours recently vacationed in France. They tried to find a church—any church— to worship in. They searched for “evangelical church,” “Protestant church” and finally “Catholic church.” The nearest Mass was 28 miles away. Nominal Christianity aside, figures for the size of the Church [born again] in France estimate it to be around 0.9% of the population.[3] Much of this represents recent growth and immigration of believers from former colonies.

Pray that the people of France would look not to themselves or their government or to hatred for explanations or solutions to resolve these issues, but to Christ! Pray the Church there would be ready. Pray that the French may “return to the Lord,” “look to Him who did it,” and “repent…lest they perish.”

Pray the Lord will continue to shake all nations, as He sees fit, until His will is accomplished and His glory revealed.

Cherchez-moi, et vous vivrez! (Amos 5:4b)

The Lord’s Sweetest Blessings,

Pastor Chris

[1] Bastille Day 1789, the beginning of the French Revolution: an age of “liberty” and a quarter century of political turmoil, terror and international conflict (


[3] Gospel centred and evangelical, reformed and Lutheran churches and faithful minorities from mainline churches (most studies also . For some introductory reading on Christianity in France see:;


Father Knows

It is no secret that our Canadian residence has been for sale for 20 months, 14 of which we have lived in the U.K. This has frustrated our best laid plans and desire to be good stewards of what God has given to us and has increasingly become a great burden. We have patiently waited on the Lord. Indeed, of all the trials I have ever faced this has been perhaps the most unique and difficult to endure. Last week, it appeared that God had finally arranged the sale of our house. The offer had been accepted, the conditions in the conditional period had been met, and then on the day [Monday] the buyers were to sign the deal that would have seen us all move towards the closing date (and them suffer a penalty if they chose to back out)— you guessed it—they backed out. No sale, and no going back to visit family as we had hoped to be able to do from the finances of the sale. That happened the day after I preached a People’s Choice question on suffering. Suffering manifests itself in many different ways. For Rebekah and I, this news caused our hearts to sink, gravely. It was a hard moment to trust in providence when it seemed that providence continually seemed to be against us. In our daily reading of the Psalms we read a passage that summed up how we felt:

O Lord, all my longing is before you;

                               my sighing is not hidden from you.

               My heart throbs; my strength fails me,

                               and the light of my eyes—it also has gone from me.

(Psalm 38:9-10 ESV)

One of the reasons for sharing this is to demonstrate that pastors and their wives are human like the sheep they shepherd. They are not impervious to the trials, temptations and burdens that can and do beset us in our fallen world. What good would it be for me to proclaim James 1:2-4 from the pulpit if in my own walk I could not demonstrate that had been and was currently my experience?

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

(James 1:2-4 ESV)

And so even when such faith was difficult in the present, as with the Psalmist, by God’s grace, we read on in that same Psalm:

But for you, O LORD, do I wait;

                               it is you, O Lord my God, who will answer.

(Psalm 38:15 ESV)

Who else but to the Lord could we turn, even when the Lord’s providence to us, in our limited wisdom, we could not even apprehend let alone comprehend. And so we waited. Then on Thursday the Lord sent us the most miraculous encouragement. He did not sell our house, but another bill, one of those administrative bills where you are over charged for something and cannot see how, despite your best attempts to appeal, you’ll get out of, was waived in a postal update we received upon returning from a three day camping trip. God was in control and was reminding us of it.

Our Father knows. We do not but He knows.

And so like the Psalmist we wait on the Lord for His deliverance out of the burdensome situation praying,

Do not forsake me, O LORD!

                               O my God, be not far from me!

               Make haste to help me,

                               O Lord, my salvation!

(Psalm 38:21-22 ESV)

The Lord’s Sweetest Blessings,

Pastor Chris