From the pastor, 1998 - 1999

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    YOUR PLACE IN CHURCH   (September 1998)

    "They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer." Acts 2:42

          Christians cannot survive spiritually on their own. They find the support, fellowship and the opportunity to serve that they need, only by being part of a group of believers, the church. Let me explain, by using 3 little stories and a hymn.

          "Long, long ago in a village of crafty and careful peasants, the village Chief arranged a great community Celebration. He prepared a great Oak Cask and told each family to put a wineskin of their best wine into the Cask. He said, if each one supplies us with his best there will be sufficient for all of the best quality. One crafty peasant thought, if everyone else puts in their best wine, no-one will notice if I just pour in water and let the others put in their best. My little bit won't be missed. Finally on the day of the Celebration the Oaken Cask was tapped and only water poured out. Everyone thought that their contribution was so small that it would not be missed. And so there was nothing at all."

          "Up the Fraser Canyon on a side road to the west of North Bend lies a lonely abandoned farmstead. The house has been destroyed by fire and the barn is falling down."

          "There is evidence of an attempt to have a garden and some shrubs and trees have survived the passing years. In what used to be a flowerbed near the ashes of the house a lone yellow tulip blooms almost smothered by the encroaching weeds. The tulip is very small and is almost choked by weeds. As I saw it I wondered how many years can it survive all by itself?"

          This is like our Christian life; alone we shrink and perhaps fade away; together we stand strong encouraging each other. We all need each other in the Church."

          "In the city of Pasadena, California a man was waiting for an appointment. He put in the time in Pasadena's famous rose Garden. At the appointment a friend commented: "I know where you were. You were in the Rose Garden. The perfume of the roses has stayed with you." The sweetness of Christ remains with those who stay with Him."

          Carol Rose Ikeler wrote this hymn describing what the church should be.

      "The church is wherever God's people are praising,
      Singing His goodness for joy on this day.
      The church is wherever disciples of Jesus
      Remember His story and walk in His way.

      "The church is wherever God's people are helping,
      Caring for neighbours in sickness and need.
      The church is wherever God's people are sharing
      The words of the Bible in gift and in deed."

          Remember, you are the Church. You are needed in worship, service, and witness.

      In His fellowship,

        Floyd McPhee

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    IN EVERYTHING GIVE THANKS   (October 1998)

    "Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." l Thessalonians 5:16

    Should we give thanks to God even in the face of adversity, suffering and loss? Who can give thanks to God for a life threatening disease, the loss of job, or the sudden death of a loved one? Not many of us. It is easy for us to be joyful in happy situations, but what is so special about that.

    As one person has said, "when you get right down to brass tacks, only a few options are available for handling adverse circumstances. We can curse God or curse our luck. We can be angry with the universe. We can indulge in whimpering self-pity." Someone else had said, "human beings are specially prone to three temptations: to whine, to shine, and to recline! Many of us are whiners. Or we can become embittered and cynical. Or we can become defeatist and despairing; we can say, 'Stop the world, I want to get off."

    How then are we to take Paul's words, "give thanks in all circumstances". If we are not to handle life's calamities by giving expression to anger, self-pity, bitterness, cynicism, or despair, how are we to respond? Perhaps the key is to make a distinction between giving thanks FOR all things, and giving thanks IN all circumstances. There is a world of difference. Surely Paul does not mean that one can thank God for everything that happens. One cannot be thankful that people starve. One cannot be thankful that many people suffer from the ravages of war and disease and economic oppression. And certainly one cannot be thankful when suffering comes to someone else.

    What the Apostle Paul is stating here is something deeply personal. He is suggesting that while believers may not be able to give thanks to God for everything that happens, at least they can give thanks in spite of everything that happens. While we may not be able to praise God FOR everything, we should be able to give thanks IN everything. And why not? This much we do know; no matter how bleak our circumstances may be, we are not forsaken by God! This, in itself, is cause for rejoicing! How much more our witness is, if in the midst of adversity we can give God praise born out of faith in God's unchanging goodness.

    It is helpful to consider more closely Paul's ability to be thankful in all circumstances. We discover that there were a variety of things for which he was grateful.

    The Apostle Paul was grateful to God for the supreme gift of his life in Christ. In writing to the Corinthians he exclaimed, "Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift." This had to be the driving force of Paul's life: gratitude for the unspeakable gift of God's salvation in and through the life, death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ. Why was Paul willing to endure hardship, persecution, scourging, imprisonment, shipwreck, and even martyrdom? There can be but one answer: gratitude. Then too, Paul was grateful to God for victory even in suffering. To the Corinthians he wrote, "But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ...." 2 Corinthians 2:14. What is so unique about the Apostle's attitude is that he exhorts his fellow believers to "rejoice always," "on every occasion," "in every set of circumstances." The Apostle both taught and practised the principle of praying unceasingly and of giving thanks in every conceivable circumstance. It is quite possible that few of us achieve this kind of spiritual maturity.

    One day, we are told, Johann Tauler of Strasbourg met a peasant. "God give you a good day, my friend," he greeted him. The peasant answered briskly, "I thank God I never have a bad day." Tauler, astonished, kept silence for a time. Then he added, "God give you a happy life, my friend." The peasant replied composedly, "I thank God I am never unhappy." "Never unhappy!" cried Tauler, bewildered. "What do you mean?" "Well," came the response, "when it is fine I thank God, when it rains I thank God, when I have plenty I thank God, when I am hungry I thank God, and whatever pleases Him pleases me, why should I say that I am unhappy when I am not?" Tauler looked upon him with awe, "Who are you?" he asked. "I am a king," said the peasant. "A king?" Tauler gasped. "Where is your kingdom?" The peasant smiled gravely. "In my heart," he whispered softly.

    I do not know about you, but I covet this kind of spiritual maturity; in every situation to give God thanks.

      In Christ's love,

        Floyd McPhee

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    CAN YOU BELIEVE IN CHRIST AND GO TO HELL?   (November 1998)

    "And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified." Romans 8:30

    On the last Sunday in October we remember each year the contribution made to the Christian Church by such reformers at Zwingli, Hus, Luther and Calvin. One of the questions answered by the Reformers was: Can a person who has become a child of God by his faith in Jesus Christ, ever be disowned by God his Father."? Or, can a person receive eternal life and then go to hell forever? Most Christians, before the Reformation and since that time have said in answer to both questions, YES. One notable exception is the Presbyterian Church. The Westminster Confession of Faith puts it this way: "They whom God hath accepted in his Beloved, effectually called and sanctified by his Spirit, can neither totally nor finally fall away from the state of grace; but shall certainly persevere therein to the end, and be eternally saved." (Chapter XVII-I)

    In other words, if you have come to God through faith in Christ, by repentance, belief and commitment to Jesus Christ and therefore are a child of God, no matter what, you will always remain his child and will one day go to be with Christ. The reason we can be so sure of this, is not because of us or our faithfulness, or we would never persevere, but because of God. It is not that we have a great faith in God, but that we have faith in a great God. Our sovereign God, all wise and all powerful, before the foundation of the world, loved us and claimed us for himself, drew us to himself, declared us righteous and is making us in the very likeness of Jesus by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and will most assuredly complete what he has started, bringing us safely through life and death to dwell eternally with him in heaven. Now, this belief is not just wishful thinking; it is founded and rooted in Scripture. Read passages such as John 10:28,29; 2 Timothy 1:12; 2 Timothy 4 18; Romans 8: 28 - 30.

    In helping us to understand this biblical truth, there are three points I would like to make.

      1. First of all, WE DO NOT PERSEVERE ON OUR OWN. If we depended on our good works, our faithfulness and obedience to God, we would hardly last one hour, let along one day, one year, all of our lives. Fortunately, Scripture assures us, "We are kept through the power of God unto salvation." Romans 1:16. The very omnipotent power of God keeps us and holds us in this salvation. If it were not for that, none of us would ever persevere.

      2. The second point I wish to stress is this: A CHRISTIAN PERSON CAN AND DOES FALL AWAY, PARTIALLY AND TEMPORARILY BUT NOT TOTALLY OR FINALLY. As long as the Christian remains in this world his state is one of warfare. He suffers temporary reverses and may for a time appear to have lost all faith; yet if he has come to the Lord in humble faith and repentance, and is therefore saved, he cannot fall away completely from grace. He will sooner or later return to God confessing his sins and asking forgiveness, and rededicating his life to His Father and Sovereign Lord.

      3. Finally the third point I wish to make is this: THOSE WHO BEGIN THE CHRISTIAN LIFE ON EARTH WILL CONTINUE IT IN HEAVEN. Notice the words from Romans 8 verse 30, "whom he justified, he also glorified." Justification is the first act of the Christian life; glorification is the first act in heaven. Justification is the first thing that happens to a Christian on earth. He is pardoned for his sins. He is accounted righteous in the sight of God. Glorification is the first thing that happens to the Christian in heaven. Every last vestige of sin is removed. He is made absolutely pure and holy, fit to stand in the presence of God. Those who begin the Christian life on earth will continue it in heaven, because we are kept by the very power of God.

    Jesus said, "My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand." John 10:29 Isn't that a wonderful truth. Will you let it thrill your heart. Will you let it encourage you to be faithful and obedient in all things to the Lord. Will you allow it to make you a more joyful person, on fire for Christ.

      In His grace,

        Floyd McPhee

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    IS CHRISTMAS MORE THAN A TRADITION?   (December 1998)

    Christmas is no longer only or even mainly a Christian celebration. It is celebrated by people of different religious persuasions, or of no religious conviction at all, and it is easy to make it simply a secular event. That is why it is so important for the Christian Church and for each Christian to affirm the basic meaning and significance of Christmas, and to put these beliefs into practice.

    We must make clear what it is that we believe in. For us to declare to the world the significance of Christmas, we must know ourselves why we celebrate it. What would you say if some asked you why you celebrate Christmas? You might say that you celebrate Christmas because it is a time of giving and receiving, or that it is a family tradition. These are or may be true.

    But I hope you would also be able to say, "I celebrate Christmas because of Jesus," and you might go on to say, "I celebrate Christmas because on the very first Christmas God expressed Himself in a unique and decisive way for the salvation of His people, in the babe born in a stable in Bethlehem to die on a tree in Calvary. God was acting to save us." Would this be your answer?

    I celebrate Christmas, because I have always celebrated it. It has been part of my life since I was born. Most of us would say that. But I celebrate Christmas for some other reasons also. So do you. We celebrate Christmas because something has happened to us spiritually, and therefore as we are receptive and give ourselves to it something now can happen in us again. As Luther once put it: "There is a sun that smiles at me, and I can run out of the dark house of my life into the sunshine."

    A theologian has said: "I live by virtue of the miracle that God is not merely the mute and voiceless ground of the universe, but that He comes to me down in the depths. We see this in Him who lay in the manger, a human child, yet different from all of us. We see that He, whom all the universe would not contain comes down into the world of little things, the little things of our lives, of men and women who are afraid, into a world in which people cheat and are cheated; in which men and women die, where people are murdered, where there are droughts, floods, volcanoes erupting, wars, earthquakes, airplane disasters, disease and unemployment. And we wonder if there is any meaning or purpose or hope in the world. Yet we see God's special person, His son, reaching out with one hand and gripping the hand of God the Father, and with the other hand, gripping the hands of men and women. By His birth in a lowly manger and His death on the cross a great reconciliation was made."

    The word 'reconcile' means to bring together two parties that should have been together all along. This is what Christ has done for us by His death on the Cross. He has brought us to God. When we come to understand this, something happens in our lives and to our lives.

    Therefore Christmas will always be more than just a tradition. It is a living experience. Christ has become the focal point in our lives. Therefore Christmas can never be simply a tradition. The same is true for everyone who has met the Saviour. We must celebrate and shout: "thanks be to God for this indescribable, unspeakable gift.'

    Paul the apostle had met Christ face to face, and afterwards he wrote: "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature, old things are passed away, behold all things are become new." As the angel said: "I bring you tidings of great joy, for unto us is born this day a Saviour which is Christ the Lord."

    It is that Saviour, the living Saviour, who brings hope, meaning, purpose, and joy to life, and to Christmas.

      Sincerely in Christ our Lord,

        Floyd McPhee

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    A WORD OF HOPE FOR 1999   (January 1999)

    Each new year brings with it all the uncertainties and fears that are part of life. Yet the Christian has cause for hope and confidence. In Deuteronomy chapter 33 verse 27, we read: "THE ETERNAL GOD IS YOUR REFUGE, AND UNDERNEATH ARE THE EVERLASTING ARMS."

    1. THE ETERNAL GOD. God has no beginning and no ending. A line from the Hymn "Abide With Me" is "Change and decay in all around I see; Oh Thou who changest not, abide with me." Change is a constant factor in our lives. It can be either good or harmful. In contrast, the one who is CHANGELESS is God. He cannot change because nothing can be added to His perfection. We are stronger in the midst of change, when we are living in harmony with the ETERNAL GOD!

    2. This ETERNAL GOD IS YOUR REFUGE. A refuge is a place of security no matter what may happen. Nothing can interfere with the Eternal God nor those who take refuge in Him. Even death, a serious matter and a great worry to many, does not harm us. Death for a Christian is "Good night" here and "Sunrise" in God's Eternal World. The Refuge applies to this life as well as to the next. A person whose life is in God's protection is spared the frustration and hurt that is experienced by those who are carried away by the passing fads of human behaviour. For example, those who take refuge never get to the real issue of the matter. Those who find REFUGE in the ETERNAL GOD are able to meet the problems Of life with clear minds and a careful consideration of the facts. They have an infallible centre in the reality of God.

    3. UNDERNEATH ARE THE EVERLASTING ARMS! The picture is that of a child falling into the protecting arms of a loving parent or that of a child tired from a day's activity falling asleep in the arms of a loving parent. We live and die in the ARMS OF GOD!

    Yes, 1999 has its uncertainties. But each step of the way, we will be able to experience GOD AS OUR REFUGE, AND HIS LOVING PROTECTING ARMS SURROUNDING US AND HOLDING US TO HIMSELF.

      In Christ's love,

        Floyd McPhee

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    LET US DO WHAT WE CAN FOR JESUS IN 1999   (February 1999)

    In the Gospel of Mark, Chapter 14, verses 1 - 9, we have the beautiful story of a woman pouring expensive perfume on the head of Jesus. When some of those present Ďrebuked her harshlyí Jesus said, "Leave her alone. She has done a beautiful thing to me."

    "She did what she could."

    "She did what she could," or "she has done what was in her power to do." This word of commendation from our Lord seems to be the pivot around which all the teaching of this incident centers. Two great elements are contained here: first, the element of worship and then that of service; and as Christians we enjoy these two very wonderful privileges: that of worship, which is giving something to the Lord, and that of service, which is doing something for the Lord. Both these privileges blend together in Maryís loving act. Her worship is seen in verse 3, where she expresses her love to the Lord in such a wonderful way; her service is seen and commended by the Lord in verses 6 and 8. Think now of the privilege of Christian service, and of its permanent value in Godís estimate.

    1. THE MEANING OF CHRISTIAN SERVICE:

      What do we mean when we, as believers, talk about serving the Lord? Often we think it means being a Minister, a Missionary, a Sunday School Teacher. Does Christian service only consist of these! No! We are all saved to serve. Christian service is doing things for Jesus, and there are boundless opportunities open to us all to serve the Lord, and even if we give a cup of cold water in His Name, we are doing this for His glory. Notice, however, the qualifying word in our definition of Christian service. It is doing things FOR JESUS - that is, out of love for Him and in order to bring glory to Him. So all of us can serve.

    2. THE MEASURE OF CHRISTIAN SERVICE:

      How much are we to do for Him? All our Lord expects is that we do what lies in our power. This is the meaning of our Lordís word in verse 8. "She did what she could." If we really love the Lord, in the most unconscious ways, we shall do what we can for Him; we shall do it for others, but in doing it for others for Him we shall be ministering to Him. What are you doing for Jesus? Are you doing "what you can" and serving Him to the limit of your power?

    3. THE MOTIVE OF CHRISTIAN SERVICE:

      What was Maryís motive? Why did she worship the Lord in this way and express her appreciation of Him in such loving service? She did not do it to get recognition or to gain the Lordís praise, but simply out of love for Him. And that is the true motive for Christian service.

    4. THE MEMORIAL OF CHRISTIAN SERVICE:

      In verse 9 we are told a very wonderful thing. Our Lord declared that Maryís loving act would never be forgotten. Maryís simple act of service, done for Jesusí sake would never be lost. The record of what Mary had done, the pleasure it brought to the Lord, and the blessing that it would bring to millions of others, would never pass away. This tells us that every little act done out of love for the Lord Jesus abides forever.

    Let us do what we can for Jesus in 1999.

      In His love,

        Floyd McPhee

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    SPIRITUAL RENEWAL   (March 1999)

    Sometimes it is possible to find ourselves in need of spiritual renewal, in our own personal lives, and as a congregation. We may find ourselves lacking the joy, enthusiasm and commitment we once had or know we should have. How do we become spiritually renewed?

    Here are three suggestions.

    1. Return to "your first love". This was the apostle Johnís advice to the Congregation at Ephesus (Revelation 2:4). The members of the Church were known for their hard work, good deeds, perseverance, righteous behaviour, and endurance of hardship. But they had lost the reason for being faithful. They had lost their love of Christ. They had lost sight of the cross, the fact that though they were sinners destined for eternal separation from God, Jesus intervened on their behalf and reconnected them to God, through the Cross. They had once loved Christ with all their hearts, but they had lost their first love. John advises them to repent, remember and return.

    2. Make use of the "means of grace". These are gifts God has given to us in order to help us stay alive spiritually and to help us continue to grow spiritually. The Bible speaks of personal and corporate prayer, the study of Scripture, fellowship with one another, worship, taking part in the Sacraments, giving of oneself for the benefit of others, the sacrificial giving of our money for the support of the Church, fasting, etc. These are opportunities offered to us to enable us to become more Christ-like in character.

    3. Use the "spiritual gifts" God has entrusted you with. In Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, and Ephesians 4, we are reminded that God gives each of His children "gifts". A "spiritual gift" has been described as "a special attribute given by the Holy Spirit to every member of the Body of Christ according to Godís grace for use within the context of the Body". Whether your gift is teaching, encouraging, giving, mercy, leadership, cooking, administration, service, faith, pastoral care, hospitality or some other gift, it is needed within the Body. Be sure to offer yourself with your gift to the Church.

      Sincerely in Christ

        Floyd McPhee

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    DEATH WITHOUT FEAR   (April 1999)

    Jesus called out with a loud voice, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit". When He had said this, He breathed his last. Luke 23:46

    During the past couple of decades, we have made several significant advances for the prolonging of life. Perhaps the most spectacular have been the dramatic heart operations. Heart repair, insertion of artificial values, and heart transplants have given new hope, and indeed new life to men and women who otherwise would have been doomed to a premature death.

    We have learned a great deal about life and about how to prolong it. But everything we do will remain a little hopeless so long as we continue to be hounded by the horror of the grave and death. Though we are glad that we have learned how to control life and how to prolong it in new ways, we must admit that there is still one force in our world that we can do nothing about. That is the force of death.

    In spite of all our new surgical techniques and in spite of all our new preventive procedures, death still stands there, unmoved, and essentially unchanged. It may have to wait just a little longer before we finally surrender to its relentless power, but surrender we will.

    With all our joy about the delays we are able to make because of new medical discoveries, the truth is that we haven=t really won very much so long as the reality of death still sits there waiting for us at the end of the road.

    If only there was some way we could break through the fear barrier when it comes to death itself. If only we could look our grim enemy squarely in the eye and say, "I'm not afraid of you, you can never harm me." If only we could come to that point, there would be a relief greater than the relief that a heart patient feels when he discovers that he can breathe freely and walk confidently once again because a new heart pumps in his chest.

    To be able to face death without fear; that is the greatest gift of all. Medical science cannot help us attain it, for most doctors bow out just at that moment when the eyelids are pulled down over the unseeing eyes and the sheet is pulled up over the setting face. The only way to be fearless in the face of death is to follow the one man who died without any fear in his heart. That was Jesus. For Him, dying, in the end was like stepping through an open door into victory and joy. Death without fear - what a priceless gift that is. It=s more valuable than a borrowed heart that can only put death off for a few years, at best. Death without fear - those who follow Jesus through the door of death can experience the full victory of it.

    Let us listen to the gospel of Luke where the record of Jesus' last words and of his actual death have been carefully preserved. This is what Luke says in the 23rd chapter of his book, verses 44 to 46. It was not about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." When he had said this, he breathed his last.

    There are a couple of things to notice in Luke's report. First, of all, Jesus' strength was still quite strong when he died. So, he wasn=t overpowered by death, he went out to meet it courageously. And second, there was no terrifying mystery about death for him; he knew what it meant going from that flesh and blood body that hung on the cross and entering into the presence of his father. For him, death meant simply entrusting himself to his Father in heaven.

    The good news for us in all of this is that we can experience the same thing Jesus did; we can face death without fear ourselves, if we believe that he suffered and died for us on Calvary's cross.

    Death without fear; this is more precious than all the ways we have found to make life linger on a little while longer. Once we have conquered the fear of death, our lives take on new strength and purpose and we are to live with new courage.

    May we be able to say with Jesus, Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.

      Sincerely,

        Floyd McPhee

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    SALTY CHRISTIANS   (May 1999)

    Jesus spoke in a simple and easy-to-understand way. He used ordinary everyday events and things with which everyone was familiar to illustrate His teachings. One could hardly find a more well-known substance than salt, for it is a daily necessity and so ordinary that we speak of it as "common salt". Jesus said His followers, you and I, play a role in society similar to what salt plays in the food we eat.

    SALT IS A PURIFIER: Salty water has been used to wash cuts and bruises and to prevent infection. It is a simple antiseptic which washes away the dirt and kills the germs. Christians, by their ideals, principles and example, are purifying factors in society. In the process of purifying, there is some discomfort, for when salt gets into a wound it smarts and stings. The temporary pain is endured for the long-term benefits and because it prevents more severe and serious future pain. Christians who seriously follow Christ, are sometimes an embarrassment to people who feel uncomfortable and guilty because their actions are judged and condemned by the different life they live. Than language that is used, the stories that are told, the deeds that are performed are all different because the Christian’s presence purifies the life of non-Christians and makes the whole of life different. Christians purify like salt and make life less vulgar and profane.

    SALT IS A PRESERVATIVE: With refrigeration we no longer depend upon salt to preserve meat as we once did. In Jesus’ day, however, everyone knew the value of salt as a preservative.. Sin is destructive and spoils life. This is true in the life of an individual and it is the same for the nation. A power is needed to counteract the destructive forces of selfishness, envy, greed, lust and pride. Life is so tainted with sin and a disposition to destruction, some powerful preservative for it destroys the destructive power of sin, and Christians themselves become a saving factor in society. Because Christ is our Saviour, we become saviours who are preservatives in society. Like salt we keep society from spoiling.

    SALT GIVES FLAVOUR: For so many today life is flat and tasteless. We hear so much about people feeling alienated, bored and lonely, and finding no purpose in life and no purpose for living. Salt improves the taste of food, it gives it flavour. Christ came to "give life and give it more abundantly." Christians ought to be a continual inspiration to members of their own families, to the people with whom they work, to the people they meet in daily living. For most people, life is not easy and they need something to give life a better flavour and improved taste.

    As a Christian, how do you improve the flavour of life for others? Christ said our presence in the office, the school, the home, at work should be like salt in food,

    May God help us to be Salty Christians, who purify, preserve, and improve the lives of all the people with whom we come in contact. The only way many people will know our Saviour is by seeing the effect He has had on our own lives.

      Sincerely in Christ,

        Floyd McPhee

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    THE KIND OF MEMBERS THE CHURCH NEEDS   (June 1999)

    A good example of the kind of person the Church needs is Barnabas. His real name was Joses or Joseph. He was a native of Cyprus and was a Levite. He had a stewardship rather than an ownership view of property. He was well known for generosity in disposition and in material things. Being nicknamed "Zeus" probably meant that he was huge in size. In Acts 9, we learn of his magnanimous spirit. With the "blood of Christians still on his hands" Saul found himself friendless, but when he sought fellowship with the Christians, they were afraid of him. How gracious and good it was of Barnabas to befriend and commend Saul to the Lord's people! No wonder he was called the "son of encouragement". In Acts chapter 11, verses 19 - 30 we catch a glimpse of THE KIND OF MEMBERS THE CHURCH NEEDS. The particular thing about Barnabas is mentioned in verse 24 - "he was a good man". No greater thing can said of any person than this. We may not be great, talented or prosperous, but we can all be good; and how the Church of Christ needs good people of the Barnabas type. Notice the following characteristics of a good person.

    1. WE KNOW THAT BARNABAS WAS A GOOD MAN BECAUSE OF WHAT HE SAW. In verse 23 we read of Barnabas that he "saw the evidence of the grace of God." In a strange place, and in unexpected ways Barnabas saw God's grace at work. He saw people coming to faith in Christ, lives being transformed, and Christians who were rejoicing in the Lord. He saw the grace of God in action; and a good man or woman will always see the grace of God, that is, what God is doing, in others. The first mark of goodness, then, is to see the best in others, not the worst.

    2. WE KNOW THAT BARNABAS WAS A GOOD MAN BECAUSE OF WHAT HE FELT. What were his innermost reactions when he saw the grace of God? Verse 23 tells us "he was glad....". He was thrilled when he saw what God was doing. Barnabas rejoiced in the work of God although he had no part in that work. Do we rejoice when God is using others? Are we glad when someone else is the special instrument of His power?

    3. WE KNOW THAT BARNABAS WAS A GOOD MAN BECAUSE OF WHAT HE SAID. Speech is a good barometer of character, and our tongues certainly have a great power for good or for evil. In verse 23 we are told that Barnabas "encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts." He encouraged new Christians; he urged them to be "out and out" steadfast believers; he helped them to "look unto Jesus" and to keep close to Him. Barnabas had a glorious opportunity of starting a new sect, denomination or movement; but his great concern was that these new believers should make much of the Lord Jesus.

    4. WE KNOW THAT BARNABAS WAS A GOOD MAN BECAUSE OF WHAT HE DID. There is something very wonderful indicated in verses 25 and 26. Barnabas sent for Paul, the better man, the abler man, the more gifted man. This was a mark of true humility. He did not say, "I will keep this work in my own hands!" It is a mark of grace to be willing to discover a more talented person than yourself and then to be willing to fade out of the picture. Obviously Barnabas had a self-forgetful heart. He was content to fill a little space, so long as the Lord was glorified.

    5. WE KNOW THAT BARNABAS WAS A GOOD MAN BECAUSE OF WHAT HE WAS. The real test is not what we see, feel, say or do, but what we are; and verse 26 tells us that Barnabas lived a whole year among the Christians at Antioch, which suggests that his life was consistent. He practiced what he preached.

    How greatly our churches need members of the calibre of Barnabas! But what was the secret of the his life of goodness? Was he inherently good in himself? The secret is in verse 24 - he "was full of the Holy Spirit and faith". He had emptied himself of Barnabas, and allowed the Lord Jesus to have control.

    Barnabas was not perfect; but he certainly was good. The church needs good people - of the Barnabas type.

      Sincerely,

        Floyd McPhee
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