Amazing Grace in the Life of Eric Scolding (1933-2018)

This past Lord’s Day we had a booklet launch for a spiritual biography of our dear departed brother, Eric Scolding. The booklet tells his life story from a faith perspective, a perfect read for any Christian, nominal Christian or earnest seeker of Christ.

You may download a pdf. here or pick up a free hardcopy at the Chapel.

The Lord’s Sweetest Blessings,

Pastor Chris

Wisdom for Politics

My default Bible translation is the English Standard Version (ESV). However, as I read the Bible to my 6 month old son I am reading from the International Children’s Bible (ICB) at his bedtime readings. At the moment I am reading to him the wisdom of Proverbs. This book has a lot to say about leadership and politics, from a spiritual perspective. One proverb that had never registered with me before, and perhaps did so because I re-encountered it in a children’s translation, is Proverbs 28:2a. This is what says in the ICB:

When a country is disobedient, it has one ruler after another.

[The ESV renders this verse: When a land transgresses, it has many rulers.]

Another way of putting this would be:

“When a country so blatantly sins against the Lord, its politics will be unstable.”

A child is wiser than a godless leader. Such is the case we find our Parliament in at this juncture in history—political deadlock, little faith in its leaders, instability, little seeking of the King of kings. How much good it would be for each Parliamentarian to have a Bible, read Proverbs, believe what it says and in faith put it into practice.

Years ago I read in Keeping Faith: Memoirs of a President how former President Jimmy Carter (1977–81) read the book of Proverbs each month (that’s a chapter a day), every year for the four years that he was in office (He also wrote: Through the Year with Jimmy Carter: 366 Daily Meditations from the 39th President, which though it has been some time since I read both books, I did generally profit from reading them).

The pursuit of the wisdom of this world has clearly proven how inferior it is to the wisdom that is from above.

The verse, however, not only speaks to leaders who’ve enacted a string of godless legislation in recent years but also the wicked populace who’ve elected them. Saving faith in Jesus is at, arguably, an historic low. We have the Parliament that we deserved. I expect that the last time an official national day of prayer was called was probably during WWII. When will we cease to seek the face of our rulers and know that justice comes from the Lord? (Prov 29:26).

Yet despite all this, as Christians, even though we be in the minority as Abraham and Lot were in Sodom, may we call out to the Lord to have mercy on our land for the sake of His faithful remnant. May the Lord raise up strong and godly leadership (read the second half of our verse).

The Lord’s Sweetest Blessings,

Pastor Chris

Follow Me

10:1. That is the ratio between the number of times Jesus said “follow me” in the Gospels to the occasions He said, “believe in me.” Following of course presumes belief, but discipleship authenticates our faith (e.g. Jn 8:12, 31; 10:27; 13:35). It forms part of the fruit of faith. It is how we come to know Jesus more deeply. It is the mission of the Church to make disciples (Mt 28:19), or “to turn people into fully devoted, mature followers of Christ.” “Christianity without discipleship is always Christianity without Christ,” said Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and that means it is not Christianity at all. Billy Graham said, “Salvation is free, but discipleship costs everything we have.” DISCIPLESHIP, both becoming a follower and the means of maturing as a follower of Jesus, is our 2019 theme (Jer 17:7­–8a). Jesus said some pretty radical things about following Him (c.f. Mt 8:22; 16:24; 19:21). For instance He said, “Whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” (Mt 10:38). Whilst the cost of discipleship may be high (perhaps even our lives), Jesus promised it is worth it (Mt 19:27), especially when compared to the cost of non-discipleship. So with expectancy and God as our helper let us prepare for the great adventure of making and maturing disciples in 2019!

The Lord’s Sweetest Blessings,

Pastor Chris

Xmas?

Many Christians can get quite upset when they see this term used which seems to remove their Lord’s name from the cherished celebration of His birth—Christmas.

Is this, however, really a blasphemous move (like saying Christmas) or maybe a quick way to write out an otherwise long word (like saying X_______mas)?

Either way you cut it, you cannot take Christ out of Christmas with Xmas and here is why.

Christ, Jesus title and not his last name, is spelled this way in Greek: Χριστός. Notice anything? That giant “X” is the Greek letter chi used to express what we would say in English as “ch”. So the X in Xmas is actually the first letter in Christ!

Chi RhoIn fact in early Christian history the chi and the rho (the second letter which looks like an English “p” but actually is an “r”), or the first two letters of Christ, were a common symbol of the Christian faith; indeed long before the cross was ever considered. It was by this sign that the future Roman Emperor, Constantine, perceived in a dream that he would conquer by.

So the next time you see Xmas, don’t get upset, but take the time to explain, Christ can never be taken out of Christmas no matter how you cut it!

Happy Christmas,

Pastor Chris

Did you know?

Christians often use the big word “Incarnation” at Christmastime to refer to the miracle that took place that first Christmas, but have you ever wonder what exactly it means?

The carol “Hark the Herald Angels” says this: hail the incarnate deity, please with us in flesh to dwell, Jesus our Emmanuel. [Emmanuel means God with us, Matt 1:23b]

Instead of using lots of smaller words to say one thing “the incarnation” has been how Christians have referenced this amazing event of Jesus’ birth. Let’s break down the word (in English):

In-carn-ation[1]

“In” speaks of entering into; “carn”—think carnivore— refers to flesh (but not the flesh of turkeys, which I dare say we will be eating a lot of!), human flesh or form; “ation” speaks of the act or process of entering, taking on or enfleshing.

If you string them all together INCARNATION speaks of the event whereby God the Son, the 2nd member of the Trinity, took on human flesh, and was born of a Virgin so as to be the redeemer of mankind. It was an act that of course began at Jesus conception (Lk 1:31) but which culminated at His birth (Lk 2:1).

JOHN 1:14—And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father.

Praise the Lord for the wonder and grace of the Incarnation.

Now you know!

The Lord’s Sweetest Blessings,

Pastor Chris

[1] https://www.etymonline.com/word/incarnation

A Plea to T.H.I.N.K.

If you’ve ever been trained on using a fire extinguisher you’ll know the acronym PASS (point, aim, squeeze, sweep). It is very useful when presented with a physical fire. A recent speaker at the Chapel helpfully brought our attention to another acronym to deal with fires of a spiritual sort, the tongue and gossip (litt. A whisperer).

James 3 describes the tongue as being able to cause wildfires that may well bring untold damage to thousands.

Gossip is deadly and not something to be trivialised as so many tabloids do.

Scripture makes clear that gossip is a sin, it is worldly, its source is hell.

Whilst something that is universal, Scripture also speaks of how women are particularly susceptible to this sin (1 Ti 5:13).

At the very best it is sinful for a believer to commit (perhaps even their besetting sin) (2 Cor 12:20).

At the very least it is a sign of being unregenerate, flowing forth from the bitterness of the heart (Ro 1:29—what a sobering verse!).

This is why the remedy for gossip is peace with God through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. Then we are promised the gift of the Holy Spirit who will bear good fruit in our lives. Fruit opposed to gossip such as peace and kindness. Nevertheless, the following acronym may be a practical gossip extinguisher to help fight this dangerous demon.

True: Is what I want to say true? Since God is truth and commands us not to lie (Ex 20:16, the 9th commandment), if we love the truth we will be a people of truth. We will value the accuracy of a statement, shunning those that lack warrant and clinging to those that are trustworthy.

Helpful: “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” (Eph 4:29) If it won’t help the person or situation before us, why say it?

Inspiring: Are we a Barnabas, that is an encourager? (Acts 4:36). Is what we want to say spiteful? Does it have the intent or possibility of bringing down or building up? Let’s encourage one another! (1 Thes 5:11).

Necessary: At the Resurrection the women had an urgent, important and godly message to tell the Disciples—HE IS RISEN. They were compelled to share this good news. Would the world stop spinning if you didn’t share what you want to share? Is it necessary or even relevant?

Kind: Finally, remember Paul’s description of what the renewed Spirit filled life in Christ looks like (Eph 4:32-be kind…).

Together, let’s stamp out gossip by T.H.I.N.K.ing. Take no part in it. Don’t fan the flames of those who do; in fact, actively dissuade them and encourage them to T.H.I.N.K. for themselves.

The Lord’s Sweetest Blessings,

Pastor Chris

Treasure

John Bunyan (1628–88), who spent 12 years in Bedford prison for preaching the riches of Christ to lost sinners,[1] once wrote:

“The poor man that loves Christ is richer than the greatest man in the world that hates Him.”

Whilst the world searches after great earthly treasures like the man & his barns in Lk 12:13–21, Jesus gave this wisdom, Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. (Mt 6:20, ESV). Jesus warned such treasures are like “thorns” that choke the Gospel (the Parable of the Sower). What type of treasure are we seeking, investing in—an earthly one that does not last or one that is heavenly and true and that is eternal? Consider what riches the Bible says are available in Christ Jesus:

  • The riches of His grace, glory, kindness and patience, and wisdom (Eph 1:7; Ro 9:23, 2:4; Col 2:3);
  • The riches of full Gospel assurance (Col 2:2);
  • The riches of entry into the Kingdom of heaven (parable of the hidden treasure and precious pearl, Mt 13:44–6);
  • Treasure for the last days (James 5:3);
  • Not to mention the precious gifts of His Spirit, of prayer, of Scripture, fellowship in His Church, etc.

Jesus bestows, His riches on all who call on Him (Ro 10:12), and when we are in Him we can say, I count everything as rubbish compared to the surpassing worth of knowing Jesus Christ my Lord. (Phil 3:8).

Where is your treasure? There your heart will be also (Lk 12:34).

The Lord’s Sweetest Blessings,

Pastor Chris

 

[1] Here, he is very much like Joseph, c.f. Heb 11:26.

number your days…

Teach us to number our days and recognise how few they are, to that we may spend them as we ought. (Ps 90:12)

As humans we like to number things. Houses have numbers, registration plates have numbers, phones have numbers. We’ve also counted days for millennium. It’s what we do. We remember the years, we count the months, we tick off each day of the week. The older you get the quicker times seems to go too. Yet most live as if our days are endless, and try to suppress anything that might remind us that one day, perhaps today, or maybe in 50 years, we will physically die (see why- Ro 6:23), we will all die and then face judgement (Heb 9:27).

This verse reminds us of our need for humility, yes; our need to spend our days wisely, yes. But its greatest reminder is to measure our finitude in light of God’s greatness and our eternity. The “wisely” bit is a moral wisdom. In light of our limited days, have we used them to seek Jesus and find Him, to cultivate the greatest of all relationships with God the Father through faith in Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins? Or, do we keep plodding on, ignoring the Almighty?

Someone once compared the average lifespan to a clock, this is what they came up with:

If you are 15, the time is 10:25 A.M.

20, the time is 11:34 A.M.

25, the time is 12:42 P.M.

30, the time is 1:51 P.M.

35, the time is 3:00 P.M.

40, the time is 4:08 P.M.

45, the time is 5:15 P.M.

50, the time is 6:25 P.M.

55, the time is 7:34 P.M.

60, the time is 8:42 P.M.

65, the time is 9:51 P.M.

70, the time is 11:00 P.M.

Where does this put you? How have you spent your life? Have you spent it seeking the Kingdom of God? What about Jesus? Where would you spend eternity if you died today? Eternity is a long time to be wrong, so let’s be morally wise and seek Jesus whilst He may be found (Isa 55:6-7). Then when time as we know it ceases and we enter into eternity, it won’t be an eternity of regret but one of eternal life.

The Lord’s Sweetest Blessings,

Pastor Chris