Thinking About Home

My mind often returns to the home of my childhood. The people, the places, and the memories that shaped me are a part of me forever. Some good, some not-so-good, but all an important part of the person I grew up to become. Seeing and accepting the link between your childhood and your adulthood is a vital step in the maturing process. 

In the fall of 2019, April and I had to make two trips back east for family funerals. One for “Nana” who was 97 years of age and one for a nephew who was 23 years of age. I preached the message from God’s Word at both services. One in New Brunswick and one in Maine. That fall I came across a quote by the famous Bishop, J.C. Ryle that encouraged me. It reads, “I pity the person who never thinks about heaven.” Whether forced or deliberately, thoughts of heaven are meant to focus us on the real and forever home God has prepared for us.

Thinking about heaven will . . . .

  1. Remind you about your living hope (1 Peter 1: 3-5)

“According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” 

  1. Calm your troubled heart (John 14:1-3)

“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.”

  1. Reassure you of your real and eternal home (2 Corinthians 5:1-5) NB: “tent” is a reference to our bodies.

“For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.”

  1. Prepare you for the great reunion that awaits you (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17)

“But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.”

  1. Change your perspective about suffering in this time (Romans 8)

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

My point is best summarized in the words of C. S. Lewis: I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find till after death; I must never let it get snowed under or turned aside; I must make it the main object of life to press on to that other country and to help others to do the same.”

This Sunday I start a new 5-week sermon series called “Heaven: The Hope of Our Eternal Home.” This week is based on John 14:1-11 in a Bible study that I call “Your Forever Home.” I can’t wait to get started. God willing, I will see you at one of our two services, 9AM or 11AM. 

Pastor Deric

God And Government

I’m sure that one of the greatest influences in how I view government and patriotism was the fact that I grew up knowing that several members of my family served in the military. My grandfather (John “Jack” Collins, pictured right) was undoubtedly the inspiration for the idea of defending and upholding democratic freedom for all people. Others followed and it became a part of our principled duty to serve our country. As a pastor, I’m a big believer that the Bible is “pregnant” with politics (to borrow the words of Pastor Tony Evans). The whole Bible explodes with stories of God’s setting up and taking down kings, rulers, and nations. 

Sometimes I’m shocked at the perfect clarity of the Bible compared to how blindly we miss the obvious. The Bible isn’t the issue. Church fathers correctly taught the “perspicuity” of the Bible.  That is to say, the Bible is to be plainly read and understood. Our relationship to government is one of those areas where I am flatly shocked at how badly some Christians seem to treat this Bible teaching. 

Respecting, even honouring human government, in the words of Wm. Barclay, “is a commandment which runs through the whole New Testament.” He then follows with an impressive list of New Testament passages that teach the mandate to pray for and conscientiously obey the governing authorities. Read them for yourself. SEE Romans 13:1-7; 1 Timothy 2:1, 2, 1 Peter 2:13–17. 

Mr. Phillips makes an equally astounding observation about the ancient king Nebuchadnezzar.  “One of the great lessons of the book of Daniel is that God keeps a firm hand on history. Nebuchadnezzar, mighty king of Babylon, had to learn that “the heavens do rule” (Daniel 4:26). When after a terrible experience this truth was brought home to him, he issued a formal state document in which he asserted: “I blessed the most High, and I praised and honoured him that lives forever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation: and all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he does according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What are you doing?” (Daniel 4:34–35). The whole of Bible history is intended to reinforce the truth that “the powers that be are ordained of God.”

This Sunday we will visit the last study in our summer series “We Believe.” I’ve had lots of great feedback from my church family about the importance of knowing what we believe. THANKS a ton for coming along with me on this journey. My last sermon in this series will address our final statements of core beliefs. It could be a bumpy ride for some!

(1) WE BELIEVE that civil government is of divine appointment for the interest and good order of society; that those in authority are to be prayed for, conscientiously honoured and obeyed, except only in things opposed to the will of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the only Lord of the conscience and Prince of the kings of the earth. (2) WE BELIEVE in the entire separation of church and state. (3) WE BELIEVE in religious liberty; that every man has the right to practice and propagate his beliefs.

Our study will focus on Romans 13:1-10. As with many of the Bible’s teachings, there are lots of nuances to be weighed, but Romans 13 should be considered a baseline in shaping the Christian’s worldview about the relationship of God and Government. 

I look forward to seeing you at the 9AM or the 11AM service.

Stay blessed in Him,
Pastor Deric