From the pastor, 1996 - 1997

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    THE FIRST MARK OF THE CHURCH: JOY   (September 1996)

    As we complete the expansion of our Church facilities, and move forward into a new phase of our Congregational life, it is timely to remind ourselves of who we are, why we exist, where we are heading. Jesus mentioned six characteristics or marks that should be found among his followers.

    The first mark is Joy. In a prayer to His Father in Heaven, Jesus said, "I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my JOY within them." John 17: 13.

    The first characteristic Jesus mentions is not truthfulness, holiness, unity or love, but Joy. Jesus wants His people to be filled with joy. His early disciples were. Indeed, the verb "rejoice" or "be joyful" is found 72 times in the New Testament, and the noun "joy" is found 67 times. "Joy be with you." "Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy." "These things I have spoken to you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full." "Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say, Rejoice." Jesus intends for us to have joy. Yet, too often we are not joyful. What is the remedy? May I suggest several.

    The first remedy for a lack of joy is SOUND DOCTRINE. Jesus says clearly, "I say these things ......so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them." Joy is associated with a mature knowledge of God's Word. Jesus said, "If you keep my commandments, you shall abide in my love, even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in His love. These things have I spoken to you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full." Our happiness or joy consist in having settled all our thoughts on God, His dealings with us, and His purpose with and through us. So long as we are unsettled, we are in a sea of doubt and inner turmoil When we are settled in our knowledge of God, His will and His ways, we can trust Him peacefully and joyfully whatever the circumstances.

    The second remedy for a lack of joy in the believer's life is FELLOWSHIP, and that in two dimensions. There is a vertical fellowship, fellowship with God. And there is a horizontal fellowship, with one another. Jesus is the pattern for us in both cases. Jesus had the joy of moment by moment contact with the Father. This is what sustained Him throughout life. And it will sustain us as well, if we will enter into the reality of that fellowship. Moreover, we can enjoy fellowship on the horizontal level as well. In fact, the evidence that we have fellowship with God is that it draws us close to each other.

    The third remedy for lack of joy is to live a holy life. Sin will keep us from God, and fellowship with Him will be clouded. Fellowship with God and the joy resulting from it will disappear if we go our own way, rather than God's. How much better, to go God's way, in obedience to His will, to rest in Him, and thus allow Him to will us with all joy and peace.

      In Christian joy,

        Floyd McPhee

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    THE SECOND MARK OF THE CHURCH: HOLINESS   (October 1996)

    I mentioned last month, as we settle into our new facilities, it is timely for us to remind ourselves of who we are, why we exist, where we are heading, as a Congregation. Jesus mentioned six characteristics or marks that should be found among his followers. Last month we considered the characteristic of Joy. This month we want to look at the second mark of the Church that Jesus mentioned: Holiness.

    In John chapter 17, he prays for those who believe on Him, that they may be "sanctified" or made "holy." The word "holy" is used interchangeably with words such as "saint" or "sanctify." A saint is not a person who has achieved a certain level of goodness, but rather one who has been set apart by God for God. And it refers not to a special class of Christians, but to all Christians. The saints are the "called out ones," who make up the Church of Christ.

    The same idea is present, when in Exodus chapter 40, the Bible refers to the sanctification of objects. In that chapter Moses is instructed to sanctify the altar and laver in the midst of the tabernacle. That is, he was to separate them apart for a particular purpose. And that is what Christ was praying for, that we might be put aside, separated unto God, for God, so that we might be completely His.

    Jesus knew what hinders this from happening. He prays, "My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it" Our problem is that we assimilate the Satan inspired wisdom, standards, goals, theology, priorities and methods of the secular world. Instead of the Church changing the world, the world under the influence of Satan has changed the Church.

    Our problem is the same as the members of the Church in Thyatira of the first century. Christ commended them for their good deeds, their love of him, their perseverance in faith and truth, and their patient endurance through many trials. But Christ also offered this criticism: "Nevertheless I have this against you. You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols." A member of the Church encouraged others to join trade guilds, where idols were toasted with a glass of wine, where food offered to local gods and goddesses was eaten, where parties involving drunkenness and sexual immorality were the order of the day. The problem for the Christian was that belonging to a trade guild was the way of protecting his business interests and ensuring his livelihood and material prosperity. And the Congregation at Thyatira tolerated the position held by Jezebel and those who sided with her.

    We can quickly condemn the Christians of the Congregation of Thyatira for caving into the influence of the secular world. But we have to be careful that we do not do the same thing. I am fearful that we too easily accept the world's wisdom, priorities and beliefs. You can see it in almost every direction, our emphasis on material wealth, sexual immorality, our belief that it doesn't matter what you believe, as long as you believe something, our willingness to remove with violence anything that is unwanted, from unborn babies to opposing nations.

    The answer to our lack of holiness is not easy but it is clear. Christ reminded the members of the Church at Thyatira who were not swayed by Jezebel, to "hold fast what you have." They knew the will of God through the Word of God. And they were to hold fast to the known truth.

    This is the way to holiness in our lives and in our Church: to know the truth, God's revealed truth in

    Scripture, and then to hold fast to it. May this be our mark and the mark of Parkwood.

      In Christ,

        Floyd McPhee

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    GO AND TELL   (November 1996)

    In St. Mark's Gospel, chapter 16, verse 15, we read the words of Jesus: "GO INTO ALL THE WORLD AND PREACH THE GOOD NEWS TO ALL CREATION." It is known as the "great commission." History confirms that when the church has obeyed that commission it has become alive, exciting, and growing, and when for various reasons it has disobeyed that commission it has become stagnant, dead and decreasing in numbers. The great joy, or the great problem, for the Christian, depending on how you look at it, is that part and parcel of being a Christian is that we are to give witness to the Lord Jesus Christ.

    Now we may not take that very seriously, shrugging off the call of Christ, by saying, "Oh, that is the minister's job" or, "I don't think it is right to shove my belief on someone else" or "religion is a private matter," or "I am a shy person when it comes to things like that". Those excuses may sound great, but are shattered in face of the words of Jesus, who said in Luke 9:26 "IF ANYONE IS ASHAMED OF ME AND MY WORDS, THE SON OF MAN WILL BE ASHAMED OF HIM WHEN HE COMES IN HIS GLORY AND IN THE GLORY OF THE FATHER OF THE HOLY ANGELS." If I am hearing correctly Jesus and the testimony of the rest of the New Testament, it means that if we refuse to give witness to our Lord we in fact are denying Him, and we will be rejected by Jesus Himself, because no matter what we say, and how religious we may seem, we are not one of Jesus' disciples. Does that help to get our attention, and add some importance to the question "how can a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ witness to Him."

    One excellent outline of how to witness is given by John in his Gospel, chapter 1, verses 6 to 9: "There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. He himself was not the light, he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world." If we examine these verses, we see at once that they contain three statements about John the Baptist's testimony: 1. He was not the Light; but 2. was sent to bear witness to the Light, in order that 3. all men through him might believe. I suggest that if only these three points are followed, the witness of any Christian, no matter how halting it may be, will be effective.

    The believer must recognize in the depth of his being that he is not the answer to other people's problems, that he is not the light. A delegation from Jerusalem came to visit John the Baptist to ask him who he claimed to be. Was he the Messiah, or Elijah, or maybe Moses? John rejected all three suggestions, claiming to be only a "voice", one who had come to prepare the way of the Lord. When he saw Jesus, he said, "He (Jesus) must increase, but I must decrease." John wanted men and women to forget him and see only the King. This should be a goal of every true witness.

    If we are to bear a witness to Jesus, clearly we must know something about Him. And this means that we must have a message. What is our message? The major parts of the answer to this question are suggested in our story. They are: 1. A witness to who Jesus Christ is; 2. A witness to what He has done; and 3. A witness to how a man or woman can come to know Him personally.

    We witness to who Jesus Christ is. John did this when he said, "I have seen and testify that this is the Son of God." Jesus said of Himself, "I and my Father are one (John 10:30)." He also told His disciples "He that has seen me has seen the Father (John 14:9)." Most non- Christians have never actually faced these claims, and many have never even heard of them.

    Then too, we witness to what Jesus Christ has done. We want to share particularly the meaning of His death on the cross , when we try to tell others about Him. In his day, John the Baptist did this by reference to the Jewish sacrifices. He said, "Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world." Jewish people understood that a sacrifice involving innocent blood had to be made to obtain forgiveness. They also knew that in the daily services of the temple, lambs and goats were sacrificed as a substitute for those who had sinned. On this basis, John , in pointing to Jesus and declaring "behold the Lamb of God," identified him as means through which our sins would be removed.

    Finally, we also witness to the way in which a person can come to know and trust Jesus for himself. John did it by pointing to the fact that Jesus is the giver of the Spirit. He meant that Jesus Christ was the One who would give of His spirit to those who would follow Him. Or, to put it another way, it means that Jesus would come to live within the lives of His followers. Thus, when we bear witness to Jesus today, we talk not only of who He is and of what He has done, but also, of how a person can come to have Him enter his life and fill it.

    Someone will ask, "you say that Christ must enter our lives, but you have not told us how that can happen.' The answer is that it happens by faith as we receive Him or open the door of our lives to His knocking. In Revelation 3:20 Jesus says, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If any man hears my voice, and opens the door, I will come into him, and will sup with him, and He with me. There are few greater joys in the Christian life afforded the believer than to have a person respond to Jesus by trusting in Him for forgiveness and inviting Jesus to be His indwelling Lord. May we be good stewards of the Gospel: GO AND TELL.

      In Christian love,

        Floyd McPhee

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    LOVE ONE ANOTHER   (December 1996)

    During these months, we are reminding ourselves who we are as a people of God, why we exists, and where are heading. Jesus mentioned six characteristics in John chapter 17, that should be found among His followers.

    We have already looked at the characteristics of joy, holiness and witnessing. This month we want to consider the mark of LOVE. Jesus prays in His great prayer to the Father, that we might know and have the love of God. Without love, all else is for nought. Paul knew this. After talking about faith, hope and love, he concludes by saying, "But the greatest of these is love." It is the new commandment that Jesus gave his disciples to follow: "As I loved you, so you must love one another."

    In verse 26 of John chapter 17: Jesus prays: "I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them, and that I myself may be in them." What can we say about love on the basis of this verse.

    1. First of all, we can say that it has its source in God. It comes from God. James Packer describes God's love "as an exercise of His goodness towards individual sinners, whereby, having identified Himself with their welfare, He has given His son to be their Saviour, and now brings them to know and enjoy Him in a covenant relationship." Another person explains the love of God in writing, "My grace, saith God, shall be yours to pardon you, and my power shall be yours to protect you, and my goodness shall be yours to relieve you, and my mercy shall be yours to supply you, and my glory shall be yours to crown you." His grace, power, wisdom, goodness, mercy and glory are exercised and demonstrated out of love. Such is God's love. And how do we know that God loves us. By the Old Testament, yes; by the teaching of the New Testament, yes. But most specifically and clearly through the cross of Christ. As we understand our position before God; condemned to eternal separation from God, because of wilful disobedience, and inspite of this, God intervening in our history, through the death of Christ, so that our sin would no longer be held against us, and a bridge to the Father made so that we can know Him in a personal way, and have fellowship with Him. This can have only one result: "Love so amazing, so divine, demands our my soul, my life, my all."

    2. Secondly, we find in our text that Jesus does not merely show us where can find love, He also shows us where we can demonstrate love. For He goes on to pray that "the love you have for me may be in them, and that I myself may be in them." Love is to be shown in our lives. Why is Jesus concerned that His love should be seen in us. He is concerned about it simply because it is only in His followers that anyone in this age, or in any other age except His own, can see the love of God. But how do we do it? How do we love one another? How do we put this great love of God dwelling in us, into practice?

    One way to love one another is by listening to each other. God listens to us, and in response to our deepest needs says, "call upon me in the day of trouble," "cast your burdens upon the Lord," "come unto me all you who labour and are heavily laden." We need to listen very carefully to one another, and hear not only the words spoken but the feelings felt. Resulting from our careful listening, we can give practical help as needed. We can also give prayer support, and words of encouragement when needed. When we love people we will also share with them the glorious message of the Gospel, that, "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but having everlasting life." John 3:16

    3. Thirdly, we must serve. We love by serving. In the thirteenth chapter of John, we have a demonstration of what serving means, as Jesus got on His knees and washed the feet of His disciples. Jesus concluded, "I your lord and teacher, have just washed your feet. You then, should wash one another's feet." This is an emphasis, that is largely forgotten today, even in the church. We are servants of one another. We are to love one another by serving each other. You have been given gifts by God, not for your benefit, but for the benefit of others. As we serve one another, and move out into the world and love those we encounter, God will use that testimony of love to draw people to Himself.

      In Christ's love,

        Floyd McPhee

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    THAT THEY MAY BE ONE   (January 1997)

    During the past few months we have been looking at God's will for Parkwood. We have considered such themes as "having joy," being holy," "being faithful witnesses". This month, the beginning of a new year, I want us to consider a further intercession by Jesus for His disciples, for us, and that is that we might be "as one;" that we might have a unity among us. Jesus prays to the Father and says in verse 20 of St. John's Gospel chapter 17, "My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me."

    When one considers the unity of the Christian Church, the truth which surfaces is that the Church is very much fragmented. There are churches and denominations of all sorts, often without dialogue with each other. This is true even in local congregations. And yet we hear Christ praying for unity of the church, of all who are God's children.

    Now what kind of unity does Christ want us to have? Is it a great organizational unity, one worldwide church under one head? Is it unity by conformity, that is, an approach to the church which would make everyone alike, worshipping, behaving all in the same way? Surely not. The answer is that Christ wants us to have a unity, in the way that He was one with His Father. Jesus speaks of it in these terms: "that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you.". "That all of them may be one". This means that the Church or believers are to have a spiritual unity of oneness. Our oneness comes from the fact that we have a common Lord. We have all been saved by God's marvelous grace.

    And here we are helped by the various pictures or images used of the church throughout the New Testament. One of the most valuable images is that of the family. Christians belong to the family of God. We are spiritually brothers and sisters in Christ. There is a love bond between us.

    Salvation is explained in the verses that use the term "family", as God having spiritual children, who are therefore made members of His spiritual family through His choice and not through their own. As John in his gospel writes: "They did not become God's childrne by natural means, that is, by being born as the children of a human father; God Himself was the Father." There is a tendency in the world to talk about all men and women as brothers and sisters, and while this is true in a certain sociological sense, it is nevertheless not what the Bible is speaking of, when it refers to Christian brotherhood. This is something that God has intervened to establish among those whom He has brought to Himself.

    Becase God has chosen us, and is our Father, there are several consequences. If the family to which we belong has been established by God, then we have no choice as to who will be in it or whether or not we will be his or her sister or brother. On the contrary, the relationship simply exists, and we must accept other believers, because they are God's children, and therefore they and we are brothers and sisters in Christ. We do not choose them. We accept them, and we treat them as brothers and sisters as they are, in the Lord. On the congregational level, as in Parkwood, this means that we are to celebrate the gift of others that God has given to us. We are not to make distinctions of class, or race, or position, talent, or wealth. Rather, we are to accept them as gifts given to us by God, and surround them with our love, care, encouragement and practical help.

    The second important image or picture uised to illustrate the unity of believers is "fellowship", which the New Testament normally indicates by the greek word "koinonia". In its original meaning "koinonia" had to do with sharing something or having something in common. In spiritual terms, "koinonia" or "fellowshio", is had by those who share a common Christian experience of the love of God in Jesus Christ. But fellowship is not only defined in terms of what we "share in together". it also involves when "share out together".And this means that it must involve a community in which Christians actually share their thoughts and lives with each other. This can be done in many ways, as we paint a room together, as we sing as a choir, as we mee in prayer together, as we join in small groups to the study the Word of God. As we join in fellowship, we become the living, vibrant, exciting, joyfull Church of Christ, which we we called to be. This is the unity of which Christ spoke.

      In Christ's love,

        Floyd McPhee

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    SLAVE OF JESUS CHRIST   (February 1997)

    "Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle." (Romans l:l)

    "It's my life. It's my business how I live. Nobody has the right to butt into my affairs." That is a common view of life. True, it is your life, but is it, really? You did not create it. You did not ask to be born. You came into a world that already existed. So why are you here? What is the purpose of your life?

    Your life is not really your own, to do with as you please. And if your life is not your own, to whom then does it belong?

    The apostle Paul had a ready answer. He declared that he was a "servant of Jesus Christ". The word is not really servant, it is slave. The world of that day knew what it meant. There were menial slaves who did the work in the kitchen and stables, and there were educated slaves who were secretaries, managers of the estate, and even teachers. But whatever a slave's work was, he was bought and sold, controlled and commanded, beaten and even killed at his master's beck and call. Paul was glad that he was a bond servant of Christ. He talked about it often, and he was ready to boast about it. And with joy he sought to do what Christ approved.

    J. C. Ryle describes a Christian as a person of "one thing". "He only sees one thing, he cares for one thing, he lives for one thing, he is swallowed up in one thing; and that one thing is to please God. Whether he lives, or whether he dies; whether he has health, or whether he has sickness; whether he is rich, or whether he is poor; whether he pleases man, or whether he gives offence; whether he is thought wise, or whether he is thought foolish; whether he gets blame, or whether he gets praise; whether he gets honour, or whether he gets shame, for all this, the zealous man cares nothing at all. He burns for one thing; and that one thing is to please God, and to advance God's glory. If he is consumed in the very burning, he cares not for it, he is content. He feels that, like a lamp, he is made to burn; and if consumed in burning, he has but done the work for which God appointed him."

    As Christians, we are "slaves of Christ". We are not our own because we are owned. We are dependent upon His grace, and we respond to that grace by seeking to do what pleases Him. We ought to be people who desire only to please God and to bring Him glory.

    Let us remember that we belong to God. Let us seek to be His instruments. Let us be willing to do those things that please and honour Him.

      In Christ,

        Floyd McPhee

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    ATTITUDE CHECK *   (March 1997)

    One of the reasons so many of us are unhappy much of the time, is our attitude toward those around us. We react with bitterness to the slurs, the gossip, the lack of love and concern from others. And our lives become so filled with resentment that we are miserable with others and within ourselves.

    One person prayed:

      "Lord,
        Thou hast commanded me to forgive,
          Seventy times seven.
            I say I have forgiven,
              Yet cannot forget the
                slurs,
                subtle hurts,
                dislike,
                displeasure,
                barred ways,
                contempt
                shown me.
                I have absorbed my wounds
                until saturated
                and unable to take another,
                even though I know I must.
                (I know they will not stop.)
                Saturate me with Thy loving presence
                That I may understand
                as I would be understood;
                treat as I would be treated,
                love as I would be loved;
                forgive as I would be forgiven.
                Help me to be gracious as Thou art gracious."

      The secret to forgiving others, loving them and being kind to them, in spite of themselves, is to first remember the extent to which God went in forgiving us. The Bible says that "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." Jesus died so that God could forgive us our sins. Remember that, and receive His forgiveness. Secondly, as we remember how God forgave, and actively forgives us, we find it easy, indeed, we are eager to share His love by forgiving others. We would do well to follow the words of Jesus to the unfaithful wife: "Your sins are forgiven. Your faith has saved you. Go and sin no more."

        In Christian love,

          Floyd McPhee

      * webservant's note: original letter had no title


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      A POSITIVE ATTITUDE   (April 1997)

      There is a very interesting passage in the Bible found in Philippians , chapter 2. It goes like this: "Is there any such thing as Christians cheering each other up? Do you love me enough to want to help me? Does it mean anything to you that we are brothers in the Lord, sharing the same Spirit? Are your hearts tender and sympathetic at all? Then make me truly happy by loving each other and agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, working together with one heart and mind and purpose." (The Living bible) I would like to ask you four questions based on this reading.

      1. DO YOU LOOK FOR SOMETHING TO CRITICIZE, OR DO YOU LOOK FOR SOMETHING TO PRAISE? For instance, if in our church, the choir, the Session, the Finance and Maintenance Committee, or some other group or individual attempts to do something, are you quick to criticize the shortcomings or mistakes, rather than notice and commend what is worthy of praisel?

      2. DO YOU ENCOURAGE, OR DISCOURAGE? When some course of action is suggested, do you promptly see all the difficulties which make it impossible, or do you see the possibilities which make it well worth trying?

      3. DO YOU COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS, OR DO YOU COUNT YOUR MISFORTUNES? Adler, the famous psychologist, tells somewhere of two men each of whom lost an arm. At the end of a year, one of them was so discouraged that he decided that life was not worth living with a handicap like that. The other was so triumphant that he went about saying that he really did not know why nature had given us two arms when he could get along perfectly well with one. DO YOU THANK GOD FOR WHAT YOU HAVE, OR DO YOU CURSE GOD FOR WHAT YOU HAVE LOST?

      4. DO YOU LOOK ON DIFFICULT SITUATION AS A DISASTER, OR AN OPPORTUNITY? One person has said, "I do not like crises, but I do like the opportunities they provide." Do you regard a crisis as a time to sit down and wail, or a time to rise up and act?

      Let us begin today by the grace of God to praise rather than tear down, encourage, rather than discourage, count our blessings, rather than our losses, recognize our problems and difficult situations as opportunities.

        In His grace,

          Floyd McPhee

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      CHRISTIAN PARENTING   (May 1997)

      Just as marriages are in trouble in North America, so are families. The family is becoming increasingly fragmented and broken. The results of this are all around us. The problem is, what to do about it. What principles ought we to have which will help us in parenting. Christians have different ways of looking at the issue. For example: if children are viewed primarily as sinful, parents are led logically to an authoritarian view of family government. Since children, according to this point of view, are basically rebels or bad, they need to be controlled or punished. And this forms the basis of a parenting style. Someone else may say, "well, children are essentially good, therefore parents ought to be fairly permissive." If left to their own devices, and given ample love, according to this outlook, children will develop in positive directions, and there is no need for the parental exercise of authority. Someone else may come down the middle, and say that the biblical alterative to the extremes of the authoritarian and permissive approaches is to be a "loving or benevolent authority." This thinking states, that although a child is made in the image of God, he is also a sinner, so he or she needs to be raised within a climate of authority and love. I think this is basically the style we need to adopt.

      But I want to suggest a different way of deciding on a philosophy or theology of raising children. That is to look at God as a parent, and understand how He deals with us, modelling the way we ought to deal with our children. The basic truth about God is that God is Love. And His love has been shown most completely and profoundly in the "Incarnation" the coming into the world by Jesus Christ. God's love was embodied in the life and death of Jesus. Once we understand God's love, it then becomes our task as parents to incarnate that love in our relationships with our children. What, then, are some of the characteristics of God's incarnate love that can serve as a model for parenting?

      1. FIRST, TO LOVE IS TO CARE. God as parent cares for us. The Apostle Peter in the simple words, "He cares for you," sums up the heart of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus reveals that God is like a shepherd who cares for his sheep and their well being. The caring nature of God is most solidly revealed in the death and resurrection of our Lord. Someone has said that "Golgotha is both the demonstration and measure of God's caring." And parents are to care for their children. Caring is an essential thread in the fabric of family life. To care for children is to help them grow and become themselves. Caring is the opposite of simply using the other person to satisfy one's own needs, for it is a process -- a way of relating to children that involves their growth and development as a creature of God. As parents become caring persons to their children, they point beyond themselves to a greater reality, to an eternal God who cares.

      2. SECONDLY, TO LOVE IS TO RESPOND. God as parent is responsive to us. Jesus taught us to address this caring, responsive God as Father; "Our Father who art in Heaven." Parents living under the grace of God respond in love to their children's needs as they would respond to their own needs.

      3. THIRDLY, TO LOVE IS TO DISCIPLINE. God as parent disciplines us. Since God is intensely personal in that He cares and responds to His child, He also demonstrates divine anger when they fail to be accountable to Him, the Creator and Lord. Parents are to discipline their children. Children learn accountability through testing the rules of parents, society and God. Testing the rules and experiencing the consequences are important to a child's development of a sense of worth. Discipline must be executed with consistency. Above all else, children must have the feeling that their parent's love is unconditional.

      4. FOURTHLY, TO LOVE IS TO GIVE. God as parent gives Himself to us. God revealed His love for us by giving His most precious possession, His only Son. Parents are to give themselves to their children. Because parents have received freely God's gifts, they are to give freely in return to their children, without expecting anything in return.

      5. FIFTHLY, TO LOVE IS TO RESPECT. God as parent respect us. A love which responds, disciplines and gives, could degenerate into domination and possessiveness, if it were not for the dimension of respect. Parents need to respect their children. Each child is created in the dignity of God's image and has the right to become his or her own unique person. It is important to interpret to children the consequences of the choices they make, but it is also important that they have the right to choose. Children themselves will become respecting persons to the degree that they have experienced respect.

      6. SIXTHLY, TO LOVE IS TO KNOW. God as parent knows us. Parents are to know their children. We get to know our children by being in dialogue with them, when we get to see their needs, and see their strengths and weaknesses. Without such personal knowledge a parent's caring, responsiveness, and respect toward a child leads to sentimentality and blindness; and a parent's discipline leads either to harshness and injustice or permissiveness. To love is to know and to know deeply.

      7. LASTLY, TO LOVE IS TO FORGIVE. God as parent forgives us. Parents are to forgive their children. The family is probably one of the greatest laboratories for learning to forgive, for it is in the family where we can be hurt most deeply. When children wrong their parents, forgiveness calls for them to examine together the wrong doing, the hurt, the pain, the feelings, and the barriers, and to use the experience to create a new quality of relationship between them.

      Care, response, discipline, giving, respect, knowing, and forgiveness; these are ways that God deals with us. It is the model for us in dealing with our children.

        Sincerely in His love,

          Floyd McPhee

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      LIVING FOR THE LORD DAY BY DAY   (June 1997)

            Is there a simple and practical pattern for daily living, whereby we might honour Christ on a daily basis? Indeed there is. Scripture makes clear that if we are to be effective Christians, radiant in life and effective and powerful in witness, there are certain things we must do every day. In order to do these things we must have resolution or determination; we must be able to say like the Apostle Paul, "But one thing I do." As we consider these points let us resolve that with God's help we will try to fit our lives into this pattern.

            1. EVERY DAY I WILL OFFER MYSELF AFRESH TO THE LORD. In Numbers 29:6 we are told that the priests were instructed to offer the Lord "daily burnt offerings". When we wake up in the morning let this be our first act: present ourselves wholly to the Lord. Say to Him, "Lord, I give myself afresh to You for this day so that You may live Your life in me. Take possession of my hear and control all my loving; fill my mind and guide my thinking; motivate my will and direct all my choosing." In this way we will make ourselves a daily burnt offering", and we will be available to Him for Him to do His work in us and through us during the whole of each day.

            2. EVERY DAY I WILL CALL UPON HE LORD IN PRAYER In Psalm 86:3 the psalmist says, "I call to you all day long." It is very significant to note that all those men and women who have been a power for God have known what it is to be faithful in this matter of the "the Quiet Time". To spend time alone with God means sacrifice, and we must resolve that we will make the sacrifice and that we will make our time alone with the Lord a priority matter. If we are successful in achieving this objective we will experience poise and power throughout each day, and our lives will be joyful and a blessing to others.

            3. EVERY DAY I WILL SEARCH AND FEED UPON THE WORD OF GOD. In Acts 17:11 we read of the Bereans, that they "examined the Scriptures every day". It is a bad thing to start the day's work without any nourishing food, without any breakfast; and it is an equally bad thing to try to live the Christian life with insufficient nourishment and sustenance. Do not expect to be a healthy, vibrant Christian if you are starving yourself. Get alone regularly with your Bible and feed upon the Word, and you will become strong spiritually.

            4. EVERY DAY I WILL SEEK TO DIE TO SIN AND SELF. In 1 Corinthians 15:31, the Apostle Paul says a very remarkable thing. He says, "I die every day." But surely, we as Christians, want to live? The Lord Jesus said that He had come to give us life, abundant life - This is true, but it is also true that the way to live is to die. This means a daily funeral service where we are the deceased; this means a voluntary willingness to be die to pride, flattery, envy and resentment, for the measure in which Christ can live and reveal His life in us is exactly in proportion to our willingness to die to ourselves.

            5. EVERY DAY I WILL SPEAK TO OTHERS OF MY LORD. In Acts 5:42 we are told that this is exactly what Peter and John did. The great evangelist D. L Moody made the vow that he would speak about the Lord Jesus to at least one person every day. If you have never done so, why not consecrate your conversation to the Lord? If we will do so we will see Him working in wonderful ways in the hearts of those to whom we speak.

            6. EVERY DAY I WILL HELP SOMEONE ELSE WHO IS IN NEED. In Hebrews 3:13 the apostle says, "Encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today." There is a great ministry here, in which every Christian can engage. It is the ministry of encouragement and support that we give to others when they are in trouble or in any kind of need. As Christians, we should be the first people to offer help to those who are in any kind of distress, and while we have a special ministry to our brothers and sisters in Christ, we also have a responsibility to help those who are not believers.

            7. EVERY DAY I WILL LIVE AND WORK IN THE LIGHT OF THE SAVOUR'S COMING AGAIN. In Proverbs 8:34 we read the words, "Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway." Here is the whole idea of vigilance, of being on the watch. We do not know when the Lord will return; therefore we will want to live carefully and prayerfully in the light of His return.

            A daily offering of ourselves to the Lord, a daily prayer time, a daily meeting with Him to feed upon His Word, a daily dying to self, a daily endeavour to witness in the power of the Holy Spirit, a daily ministry of compassion and encouragement to others, and a daily watchfulness, remembering that He may return at any moment - this is a Scriptural pattern for living for the Lord day by day.

        In His love,

          Floyd McPhee
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