September already!

When spring arrives, people say, “Spring has sprung,” and now that the page on the proverbial calendar has been turned to September, I guess we can say that “Fall has fallen” – because that’s what it’s felt like for the past couple of days.

It’s been a hot and dry summer in Prince George, but we’ve enjoyed a few good downpours recently, which has been very nice, and I was awakened by the sound of the furnace kicking in yesterday morning. And so we look forward to the beginning of a more active season, although the summer has been pretty active already!

We spent some time down south, as I attended the Canadian Reformed Mission Association meeting in Langley. It was good to meet up with some of the other missionaries and people who are involved in the various mission projects, both in Canada and abroad, and the guest speaker was Mark Bube, who is the general secretary of the Orthodox Presybterian Church’s Committee on Foreign Missions.

While we were in the Fraser Valley, we also enjoyed our first family camping experience. I guess you could call it a “trial run,” since we had the tent set up in my parents’ back yard in Abbotsford. So it wasn’t exactly roughing it in the wild, but it did show that we could survive under canvas for a couple of nights!

So what’s happening here in P.G.? With the start of a new school year, we’re welcoming some new university students, as well as returning students, taking up their studies again at the University of Northern B.C., and the College of New Caledonia. In the meantime, some of our homegrown youth have left us for the school year, to Edmonton and Tennessee, of all places, where they’ll presumably be doing lots of learning of their own.

Catechism classes will be starting again, Bible studies getting going, and I’ll also be speaking at Immanuel Canadian Reformed Church in Edmonton at the invitation of their evangelism committee, about the Two Ways to Live Program, which they’ll be starting up.

As far as the mission congregation in P.G., we bid farewell to one family, who left us for warmer pastures (if I can mix my metaphors), and we welcomed another. And we also enjoyed having another young family spend the weekend with us as they did some exploratory work of their own, considering making P.G. their home.

I’ve finished off the series of sermons on the Psalms, and since I haven’t posted the audio links to most of the sermons, I’ll be posting them here in the very near future. Like this afternoon maybe…

A sermon on Psalm 93

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Beloved Brothers and Sisters in our Lord Jesus Christ,

 There’s a famous photograph that has been published a number of times as a motivational poster that I’m sure many of you have seen – it’s a picture of a lighthouse being engulfed by thirty-metre waves. In the doorway of that lighthouse, with those waves crashing all around him, is the lighthouse-keeper. Surrounded by that wall of water, that lighthouse keeper looks absolutely tiny, and very vulnerable.

With all of the Photoshopped pictures that have been making the rounds on the Internet, I had assumed that this picture was a fake as well – but as it turns out, it’s not. In 1989, French photographer Jean Guichard took a series of photographs of a lighthouse off the North-west coast of France. That famous picture is one of them – and the lighthouse-keeper survived.

This photograph, and others like it, show us the awesome power of the sea. Pictures like this one, and movies like “The Perfect Storm,” may be the closest that many of us come to experiencing the awe-inspiring reality of the ocean’s might. With all of our technological advances protecting us from the power of the elements, we don’t fear them as much as people once did – but still, those waves have not been tamed, and they’re still a fearful thing to behold.

For people in the Ancient Near East, the sea was a scary place, and the power of the sea was taken very seriously. In Ancient Mesopotamia, there was a creation myth called the Enuma Elish. It was the story of Marduk, the storm god, defeating the goddess of the sea, Tiamat, in battle. After his victory, the other gods appoint Marduk king over all of them, and king over all creation, and build a palace temple for him in Babylon.

In Ancient Canaan, along the shores of the Mediterranean, there were different characters involved, but the creation myth remains very similar. In Syria and Palestine, the story was told about Baal, the storm god. It was said about Baal that he battled it out with Yam, the god of the sea, and ultimately won the victory over him. Just like the Mesopotamian gods were said to have acclaimed Marduk as king, the Canaanite story tells of the gods appointing Baal to the ultimate kingship, and building a royal palace for him in the heavens.

And every year, at the beginning of planting season, worshippers of Marduk and worshippers of Baal would recite the stories of their gods’ enthronement. This had to be done, or disaster would happen. Just like the Aztecs offered human sacrifices to empower the gods to keep the universe from collapsing, the Canaanites and the Mesopotamians enacted their religious rituals so that the order of the world wouldn’t come undone, so that the world wouldn’t descend into chaos, with the waters of the sea overwhelming the dry land. It was fear that drove their worship – fear that the gods would be unable to maintain the boundary that had been established between land and sea, that the terrifying power of the sea would overcome after all.

It was in this world that the 93rd Psalm was originally written and sung. In a world held in the grip of fear, a world in which the gods were placated and fed in order to convince them to maintain the order of things, but where that order was never really certain, Psalm 93 turns the false beliefs and fears of the nations on their head. Instead of reaching out to limited gods in fear, never quite knowing if those gods would be able to do what they were supposed to do, the people of Israel were led to an expression of absolute confidence. In this kingship song, they were led to declare the LORD’s majesty, His invincible power, and His steadfast, unshakeable faithfulness.

Continue reading

And a new series begins!

So, having finished preaching on 1 Peter, I’ve gone back to the Old Testament, to the book of Psalms. I’m doing some work for a project on the Psalms, and since I’m studying them, I thought it would be a good idea to put that work to use in these sermons. This coming Sunday I hope to preach the fourth sermon in the series, on Psalm 97, but here are the links to two of the first three – the sermon on Psalm 93 didn’t get recorded, but I’ll post the text in my next post.

https://archive.org/details/16SermonPsalm95 - The kind of worship God deserves – Psalm 95.

https://archive.org/details/17SermonPsalm96 - The universal significance of our worship – Psalm 96.

 

 

Sermon Audio

Doing some catching up again – here are the links to the final sermons in the series I preached on 1 Peter:

First, on 1 Peter 4:8 – “The end of all things is at hand” – how shall we live in the light of this truth? https://archive.org/details/Sermon1Peter48

Second, on 1 Peter 4:12-19 – “It is time for judgment to begin with the household of God.” https://archive.org/details/Sermon1Peter41219

And finally,  on 1 Peter 5:1-14 – “Humility, Grace, and Glory” – https://archive.org/details/Sermon1Peter5114

Once again, when I finished this series of sermons, I was reminded of the incredible depth of God’s word. The first letter of Peter is shorter than any one of my sermons. I preached ten sermons on the book, many thousands of preachers have preached a whole lot more on it, and still we can only feel like we’re scratching the surface. Kind of reminds me of Romans 11:33 – “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!”