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The Gift of Mothers

I've often heard the quote, "Life doesn't come with a manual; it comes with a mother." I don't know who said it but I agree.

God blessed me with a wonderful mother. She passed into glory about four years ago. There are still days I want to pick up the phone to share some good news with her or ask for her advice. Thankfully she was a strong believer so I will see her again.

We are not all blessed to have the kind of mother I had. Mother's Day may be more painful than pleasant for some of us. But even then we know God has ordained every detail of our lives. What a miracle of saving grace if we have come to know Christ without the influence of a godly mother! What a miracle of common grace if we have achieved some measure of success in spite of being raised in a dysfunctional home.

Recently I learned of a young girl whose mother was badly depressed. The girl's step-father abused her repeatedly. They were impoverished. They often ate a "poor man's sandwich," bread and mustard. They lived in the far north and were so poor the children wore plastic bags over their socks. Sometimes the mother was so depressed she stayed in bed for five consecutive days. At one point the girl's parents were separated and she had to live in a homeless shelter.

This little girl had to grow up quickly. She loved to write music and was able to get a job singing in a bar. Can you imagine an 8-year-old girl singing in a bar until 1:00 a.m. in the morning on school nights? When she was older she worked at McDonald's and then at a "cheesy casino resort" while working on a demo tape. When her parents were killed in a car accident she had to raise her younger siblings.

Eventually someone in the great city of Nashville, TN heard the demo tape and the rest, as they say, is history. Shania Twain went on to sell over 100 million records, become the best-selling female artist in music history, one of the best-selling music artists of all time, winner of 5 Grammys, worth more than $350 million. To this day, she still drives a used car.

And just in case you are wondering, the first song she ever wrote was entitled, "Mama, Won't You Come Out to Play?" She wrote it to her depressed mother. One wonders if Shania would ever have tried to write music had her mother not been depressed!

Let us give thanks for our mothers and honor them at all times! They are God's gift to us.
Posted by Jim Bachmann

"Worn-Out" Days

I hope you are enjoying our new sermon series from Esther. This book is a clear manifestation of the basic warfare of history foretold in Genesis 3: "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel."

The devil and his host have waged war against the Lord and His people since the fall of man. Sometimes his attacks are obvious as when the Jews were threatened with genocide. More often though they are subtle as when friends fail us, enemies undermine us, and rivals gloat over us as when Shimei cursed King David.

War is wearisome. Conflict is fatiguing. When our youngest son was six years old he had a very full Saturday with a soccer game, birthday party, and a baseball game. As he settled into bed that night he took a deep breath and said, "I've had a worn-out day!"

Fighting the good fight and keeping the faith leads to many worn-out days for us as well. But we fight on and resolve not to grow weary in well doing. Sometimes we stumble and sometimes we despair but still we aim to finish the course knowing God has made us more than conquerors through Him who loved us and gave Himself for us.

You may recall the scene in The Pilgrim's Progress when Christian was knocked down by Apollyon, lost his sword, and suffered a "dreadful fall." Apollyon stood over him, gloating, pressing him to death so that Christian despaired of his life. But just as Apollyon was about to strike the fatal blow God enabled Christian to stretch out his hand, nimbly recapture his sword, and utter those famous words, "Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy! When I fall, I shall arise." And with that he gave Apollyon a dreadful thrust and mortally wounded him.

Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Posted by Jim Bachmann

The Cosmic Significance of Lord's Day Worship

Back during our Wednesday night series on heaven, many of you approached me with excitement about the things we were learning. One thing that seemed to get a lot of you particularly excited was the idea of how "the saint's eternal rest" in heaven relates to how we worship in the here and now. I want to say a few more words about that. If you weren't with us that Wednesday, you may want to listen to that talk on YouTube for context.

In his commentary on Hebrews 4:10, John Owen makes the point that, in His resurrection, Jesus Christ entered into perfect Sabbath Rest. Rest was promised to Adam, but Adam failed to enter that rest because of his sin. Jesus Christ, the second Adam, through His obedience, obtained what Adam failed to obtain. Owen sees this as the reason that Christians began to observe the "Christian Sabbath" on the first day of the week. They gathered to celebrate Christ's resurrection and all that it means for us.

Palmer Robertson, in his book Christ of the Covenants, makes a similar point. He says that Jesus Christ's resurrection inaugurated the "new creation" foretold throughout the Old Testament. This new creation will be consummated at Christ's second coming, but it was inaugurated in His resurrection. Robertson says that the "old creation" in Genesis 1 and 2 had its Sabbath on the last day of the week while the "new creation" has its Sabbath on the first day of the week. This means that Christ's resurrection is equally, if not more, important than the original creation of the galaxies. It is a cosmically important event.

This is a hard concept to summarize, but it suffices to say that our Lord's Day worship is a massively important testimony to what God is accomplishing in the world through Christ's resurrection. When we gather to worship, we testify that when someone is born again, they become a new creation—the old has passed away and the new has come (2 Cor. 5:17). We testify that we do not have to work to earn our salvation. We do not have to labor or deserve, to enter into, rest. Instead, Christ has done all that is necessary to earn our salvation and calls us to enter His rest by faith alone (Matt. 11:28). Rather than beginning our week with work and then enjoying rest later, we begin our week with rest. And by beginning with rest, we testify that we work in Christ's power. That apart from Him, we can do nothing (John 15:5). We also testify that Christ is risen and has therefore conquered the world, the flesh, the devil, and the grave (1 Cor. 15:55-57).

We also gather on the first day of the week to hear Christ's resurrection publicly proclaimed. We gather to join our voices in song with angels, and archangels, and the saints who have entered their everlasting rest before us, as we praise our risen King. We gather to participate in His sacraments as signs and seals of how Christ is re-creating us in His image. We gather to sit and eat at the table of the risen Lord. We gather to enjoy the communion of the saints with others whom Christ has given new birth. I could go on and on.

Never underestimate the importance of Lord's Day worship. You are not simply "going to church" to have an experience or to feel better about yourself. Instead, when you join God's people in Lord's Day worship, you are giving a public testimony to Christ's resurrection. This has far more significance than any of us can fathom. God works through our worship.

I'm delighted to see many of you returning to our Lord's Day services after the trials that we have been through in the past year. It's hard to believe that just over a year ago we were celebrating the dedication of our new building. After walking through our empty building many, many times, I can testify to the old saying that the church is not a building. But I can also testify that when God's people are in that building together, amazing things happen. So I look forward to what God has planned for this Sunday as we gather. I hope to see you there.

Posted by Heath Cross

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