Giving thanks

Yesterday we celebrated Thanksgiving together with a number of members of our congregation. A great time was had by all, and the Thanksgiving meal was wonderful – the usual turkey, of course, stuffing, veggies, and the accompanying goodies. Our house was filled with people, and the best part (aside from the Brussels sprouts, which yes, I love), was spending a few hours of good conversation and fellowship with our brothers and sisters. We have a lot to be thankful for, and one of the most important things we give thanks for is the communion of saints.

This past Sunday I preached another sermon in a series on Peter’s second letter – on 2 Peter 3:1-10. Peter is dealing with false teachers who deny that Christ will come again, and providing us with a reminder of how we can stand firm in the face of scepticism and unbelief. And he reminds us of one more thing (actually, one central thing) that we should be thankful for: God’s patience.

“The Lord is not slow to fulfil His promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (v.9).

So we give thanks for God’s patience – that He hasn’t brought this world to an end, and that He has given us opportunity to turn to Him. That delay in Christ’s coming that Peter writes about has allowed us to be brought into His kingdom, and each day that He gives us is another opportunity to serve Him. This is definitely cause for thanksgiving, every day!

Here’s the audio link to Sunday’s sermon:

https://archive.org/details/Sermon2Peter3110

And Now October!

I must be getting older, because time seems to go by very, very quickly. September has passed without another update from this corner of the world, and October has arrived in its frosty glory. Five below zero this morning, and the sun is shining – it’s a beautiful day in Prince George. Yesterday we had some heavy rain, but it cleared up last night, and when I went outside at about 10:30, I got the best view of the stars that I’ve seen here in P.G. I love this time of year!

In my last post I promised an update on the sermon audio. Here are links to the rest of the sermons in the series I preached on the Psalms:


 

Psalm 94 – https://archive.org/details/SermonPsalm94

The psalmist calls out to the God of vengeance, and provides:

1. A prophetic word of warning to the wicked
2. A pastoral word of comfort to the righteous

Psalm 97 – https://archive.org/details/18Psalm97Sermon

The psalmist shows us the two sides to the awesome presence of the LORD:

1. The LORD’s threatening glory.
2. The LORD’s comforting glory.
3. The dividing line between the two.

Sing to the LORD a new song:

1. The subject of our song
2. The form of our song
3. The newness of our song

A call to worship the three-times Holy God:

  1. His Name is holy.
  2. His Footstool is holy.
  3. The LORD our God is holy.

David’s mirror of a monarch: the integrity of the king.

A lament and confession of faith:

1. The audience of the lament
2. The covenantal character of the lament

I also preached on Psalms 100 and 108, but I’m not sure what happened to the audio from those sermons. I’ll have to do some searching! Meanwhile, I’ve begun a new series of sermons, on Peter’s second letter. The first three sermons have already been uploaded to archive.org, and I will post links here.

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.

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