Thursday, October 30, 2008

One no better than the other

Romans 3: 9

9What shall we conclude then? Are we any better? Not at all! We have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin.

One line that carries such weight! This one statement applied today covers a multitude of peoples, and nations. This pride that so many feel about being Christian really needs to be addressed. While we should all be proud, even boastful, it should be pride in Christ, and boastful of the Lord. It is by glorifying Him that we are blessed, it is by His grace we are saved.

To believe for one second that there is an us, against them mentality is to miss the blessings of Christ. We are all "them" we all live under sin. By bringing others in to the light of Christ we give more glory to the Lord, not to ourselves. Our mission is not to change hearts and "win souls" for our church, our denomination, or ourselves. We bring people to the Lord so they to can experience the outpouring of love that God shows to his people.

We lead people to Christ so they to can magnify God, and we can continue to work towards the goal of all nations proclaiming Glory to God. For us to put ourselves in any other position, or to think of ourselves as anything other than a mere conduit for God's work is to miss a huge opportunity to place the praise where it belongs, squarely at the feet of Christ.

I would like to clarify, we lead people….we do not drag, force, condemn, or threaten. We lead. Just the term lead would indicate that people follow, or move in a group. This infatuation that many have with spreading the word by force, or by judgment, is exactly what Paul was speaking out about. One is not better than the other; hence it takes patience and understanding, not force, or judgment. St Francis of Assisi said it best “Go out in to the world and preach the Gospel, and use words if you have to.”

So let us all realize that one is not better than the other, we are all in this together. Let us all go out in to the world…………

Rev. Thetford

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

teaching all things?

John 14: 25-27
25"All this I have spoken while still with you. 26But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

I brought this passage up, and the question came up about just what might be meant by the Holy Spirit would teach all things. I am of the opinion that we will be all knowing about what has been written, thus for the disciples it would be a revelation, for us it would be more of an understanding today. SO of courts that brought up if we are all understanding, then why does their seem to be so much division, and lack of understanding.

To which I say, we are all understanding! The Holy Spirit reveals much to us all. The problem lies in us being human. I like the way a pastor friend of mine Guy put it. "We have fractured the cross of Christ". We are at odds with the devil, something that more and more people talk less and less about. When we look back at all of the fractures typically they start with the Church turning the faith on the people. Man starts to use the religion as a means to control and direct the people to their own ends, not God’s. So a Group splinters off, with the best intentions in the world, yet in comes the devil, working ever so diligently in the hearts of men, to twist, turn and divide us. Working to take the focus off of glorifying the Lord, and turn our attention to cutting us off from one another. Divide and conquer, it is the basic maneuver in any book of war…..and we are at war.

We are united in Christ; we are here to glorify God. At the core, that is the focus of all of the different denominations. Christ did not coin the phrase "Christian" man did. We are supposed to follow his teachings, and the Holy Spirit guides us in that direction, giving us all the understanding we need along the way. We as a whole however choose to spend more time looking at our differences than our common ground. As a result many have built up walls that separate and divide.

We use laws written by men, as justification of those walls. We use terms like Baptist, Catholic, Lutheran, Methodist, and Protestant even non-denominational, as labels to divide. That is not the work of the Holy Spirit, or the teachings of Christ, this in my humble opinion is the pride of man, and the devil whispering in our ear that one is better than the other. What we can't do is pick each other apart over our differences, each of us has to work to first encourage everyone to assemble back at Calgary, we should kneel at the cross of Christ and remind ourselves that we all have one goal, and that is to glorify the Lord under one banner, as one group.

Understanding that it has taken a couple thousand years for us to get to this point, we will not break down these walls overnight, but they are walls that we should be chipping away at. I am at the end of a book written by John Piper, One thing I love about him is, if he did not come out and say he was part of a Baptist Church, I would not have guessed that he was. I believe that this is the direction that we need to go, and the way that we will be sucsessful. When men step forward within a denomination, and start focusing of the Lord; when men get back to professing our Faith, and quit using the pulpit as a device that divides, but use it as an inroad back to the core of Christ, that is when we will see walls tumble. When men start leading the charge with the battle cry of "Glory to God", instead of "we are_________ and Glory to God" then we will allow ourselves to see all that the Holy Spirit has to offer.

As for the scripture reading and one taking something from it, that others do not see, or might not totally agree with....I think that is part of it. It goes back to the 4 Gospels. Each has a different viewpoint of the life and times of Christ, and how that played out in their eyes. One might be very factual when giving the account, while another might be very emotional. Yet they all tell the same story, they might have different nuances, but the teachings, the goal, and the outcome are all the same. Let's say one person might tend to be very factual. A to B to C. While I tend to be very emotional...I feel, I believe, I think....I know when I read what a factual based person writes I see exactly where he is coming form, and at times he might make me feel "reined in" while I like to think that when he reads some things that I write, it stirs emotions a little higher for him.

It is not a matter of contradicting each other; it is more of a balancing out of each other. That is the Holy Spirit working. Because we rely on each other. I believe that the problems we run in to come from the very human emotion of feeling hurt. Instead of listening to each other, one might tend to shut down and withdraw from a conversation. Just like the denominations we turn it in to a conversation of right or wrong, instead of looking for merits of both sides and marching to the goal of Glorifying God. “Like steel against stone, one man sharpens another”. For the Holy Spirit to be allowed to fully be realized we have to first drop our "Jesus Face" and admit that none of us are always right. So the question returns, but Jesus said the Holy Spirit would teach us all things. It does teach, it does reveal, we have to realize that we are not the only ones in this fight, the Holy Spirit brings us together as a group to give Glory to God. For It to be sucsessful we have to allow many truths already shown to us to sink in. We have to resist the urge to put forward our pride first. When we start with humbleness we begin to see the reason why the Holy Spirit uses each of us to help, and no one person is given everything, or all of us given everything at once. Pride comes easily, humbleness does not.

One of the things Christ taught was to be the most, we have to be willing to be the least. For us to learn that lesson the Holy Spirit uses others to show us truths that we might have missed. When we take the time to understand that, we can see that yes the Holy Spirit will teach us all things, but we will have to humble ourselves before God, and before our brethren to receive the teachings. Thus our disagreements are not a bad thing, they are an opportunity to let the Holy Spirit work in all of us, to teach us all, and to give us the understanding that we all so badly desire.

Rev. Thetford

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

No excuses

Romans 2: 1-4

1You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. 2Now we know that God's judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. 3So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God's judgment? 4Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness leads you toward repentance?

It has been said that the things that we are most critical, and judgmental of in other people, are really things that we do as well (Or at least are inclined to do) and can't stand about ourselves! While that might not be true for every little thing we are critical of; if we do a little soul searching, we will quickly see that it does have some merit to it! It is always easier to tell someone else how to live, than it is for us to live our lives that way.

As sad as it is, most find it easier to doubt than to believe; to be faithless, instead of faithful; to spread contempt, and hold judgment, than to offer compassion, and forgiveness. Most of it stems from the fact that just like 2000 years ago, it is always easier to point the finger at someone else, than it is to come to the painful recognition that we have the same short comings; that we stumble and fall; that we are just as weak as those that we point the finger at. It is only through Christ that we can find the strength to be more than conquerors. It is Christ alone that will be the judge, and no one will escape it.

Rev. Thetford

Thursday, October 23, 2008

it's just a step off the path

28Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. 29They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

The wicked are looking for a few good men......literally! In our daily lives we are hit with the onslaught of wickedness. If we read this passage some might be surprised at the groupings of the wicked. Gossips, boastful people, envious people, are put in the same group as murderers, God-haters, and faithless people? Remember to God sin is sin, it is humans that make a distinction. We put "rules" on what is worse than the other, not God. I bring this up, because it is the "little" sins, the ones that we feel "are not that bad"; they are the ones that lead to the big ones.

No one starts off a junkie, they ease in to it. Much in the same way man does not just make a 90 degree turn off the path of the Lord. It happens in degrees, it starts with half a foot, off the path, then a whole foot, next thing you know your just walking beside it. You convince yourself that you can walk right beside the path and be is only a white had the best intentions when you were talking about that you continue to drift off the path, you find that now you can just barely see it.....but that is ok, as long as you keep it in sight! So what if you just started the latest lie in the rumor mill.....that person deserved it! You are better than any of them any way!........the next time you look up, the path took a turn to the right when you were not looking, and now it is have lost sight, you are in the weeds, and you are now a junkie!

It is just that simple, sometimes what starts out as harmless, ends up as life changing events. Even the devil started off as an angel, and we have both at work in our lives. The wicked want us just as much as the Lord does. What tends to make things harder, is what Paul talks about, the wicked don't just practice evil, but they encourage others! It is far more accepted in many circles in this world to run with the wicked, it is easier, it is self-serving, and most of all the lure is very subtle at first. Make no mistake folks, that enticement leads to death.

Rev. Thetford

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

temple of the mind

Romans 1: 18-20

18The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities-his eternal power and divine nature-have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

There is not excuse to deny the Lord. His presence is around us daily. His workings are evident to anyone who will take the time to look. However just like in the times of Paul, there is plenty of godlessness, and wickedness surrounding us. There are plenty of people today that would have you not only disregard the word of God, but have you believe that it in fact does not exist. They will tell you that it is a "fairytale" believe me, I hear it quite often. These are the forces that we must battle, as Paul reminds us in Ephesians 6:12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

1 Corinthians 3: 16 reads “16Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you? Our body is our first temple, it is our first line of offence, and defense. So often this passage is used to speak to health of the body. The most important area of our temple is our mind. This is where the battle starts, and where the battle is waged daily. What we allow into our mind can well define our outlook, and for some reason many people miss this point. While in a perfect world one would say, just fill your head with scriptures and all will be fine. I am quite aware that it will not happen that way for most people. We might be of Christ and our lives will continue on into eternity, but we have to live in this world every day, until that day comes. As a result we are assaulted daily with all sorts of temptation. We are bombarded with garbage from all sides.

I understand that no one is going to throw out the T.V. nor will they quit listening to the radio. They are not going to stop going out in public! What we have to do is recognize theses temptations, and empty promises for what they are, and not allow them in. I think one of my favorite sayings is “if you don’t like it, change the channel”…….BUT you have to change the channel, and that is the challenge.

We should question what we allow in to our temple. So I encourage all of us to start our day with the word of God. The truth is plain to see for all who search for it, but you have to look. It is the first thoughts of the morning that can drive the tempo of our day. Let those thoughts be filled with the truth that is Christ, lest the godlessness and wickedness have a chance to gain a foot hold.

Rev. Thetford

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

wrath and the plagues

Exodus 8: 14-16
14"For this time I will send all My plagues on you and your servants and your people, so that you may know that there is no one like Me in all the earth.
15"For if by now I had put forth My hand and struck you and your people with pestilence, you would then have been cut off from the earth.
16"But, indeed, for this reason I have allowed you to remain, in order to show you My power and in order to proclaim My name through all the earth.

When I hear people talk of the Old Testament God versus the New Testament God, often it is like they are talking about two different Gods. The Old Testament God is often shown as a “hell fire and brimstone” God. There is a reason that God acted as he has, and often we mistake his wrath as vengeance, or as wrath for the sake of wrath. We often miss the point behind it. So I find myself reading about the Plagues, and thought this was an opportunity to explain my thoughts at least in brief.

God allowed the Egyptians to remain so that they might witness his power, and recognize God as the supreme all powerful God. God allowed them to live so that he might be glorified. If you remember, this is really how the whole showdown with Pharaoh started. God, through Moses and Aaron, instructed Pharaoh to let the Israelites go out and worship Him. In short he was saying let my people come glorify me, and all will be right with the world. However Pharaoh's heart was hardened, so God sent the plagues.

Now the plagues are often used by people to show an example of the wrath of God. People use it to show how God was a spiteful, and vengeful God. I think that mind set falls well short of the mark. Pharaoh's heart was hardened, the text reads that God hardened his heart in some verses, in others it simply says his heart hardened, and in verse 34 of this chapter it reads that he sinned and again hardened his heart. There lies the root of the problem. Did God harden Pharaoh's heart, or did he simply allow it allow it? I believe the question here is moot, for in the end verse 34 sums it up, Pharaoh sinned again and hardened his heart. One thing gets overlooked often in this story......freewill. Does God not allow our hearts to become hardened? If you think about it, we can all come up with a time that our hearts have hardened against something or someone. It is our choice how we deal with that. Just as it was Pharaoh's choice how to handle his hardship. Since the beginning of time, God has never removed a persons free will from them. The text does not read that God made Pharaoh go against him, nor does it read that God commanded Pharaoh to refuse to listen. Pharaoh's heart was hardened, and time and time again Pharaoh chose to turn his back on the will of God.

I believe if anything this actually shows a compassionate God. As God himself said, he could have struck the Egyptians down. That would have been the easy thing to do. However God used the opportunity to to give everyone a choice. HE used it as a way to show his power as the one God. God wants to be glorified, he wants us to acknowledge him as our God.....THE God, really that is all he asks for. Do not mistake this for vanity. God does not need us, he is not dependant on us, there is nothing that we can do for God that He cannot do for Himself, but there is nothing that we can do without him. Yet He serves us, He protects us, and this shows him to be a loving God, for all he asks in return is for us to acknowledge him, for us to glorify him in our thoughts, in our actions, in our words, and in our hearts.

Now it always seems to be asked why the plagues, they were so sever, they brought so much misery, if God is a loving God then why all of the wrath? First, hardened hearts require hard signs. If the Lord had produced a sky full of rainbows this too would have shown God's greatness, but it would not do much to soften hearts, would some believe yes, but most, no. If he had sent flocks of doves with olive branches in their beaks, and had he commanded all pain in the world to cease, here again some would turn but most would not. People love their sin, they love their lives, Sadly it often takes threatening that life to make them look at things differently. Second, had God not used the opportunities like this to show his power, to show the love of his people through his wrath, then I believe that we would not have been as receptive to the Prince of Peace when he came in to the world (many to this day do not accept him). God does not make mistakes, he has had his plan in place well before he created us. We however tend to have hard hearts, and hard heads. We accept God through Love today, because we know fully of his strength and power. While it is my hope that we all can see the full measure of God's love for us, it is by overcoming the tests that harden our hearts that we can fully appreciate it, and glorify Him.

Rev. Thetford

Monday, October 20, 2008


1 Thessalonians 5:10-12

10He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. 11Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

Paul uses the word encouragement time and again in all of his letters. He understood how vital it was for each of us to not just support, but to encourage one another. We all hear the call of God, we hear him tell us to move, yet time and time again we all just look to the sky, head tilted, nose wrinkled, and say " Lord, are you sure you have the right guy?"

I often feel Like Moses; the Lord is clearly pointing me in a direction, yet just like Moses, I have a bag full of excuses, as to why I will not be sucsessful. God gave Moses Aaron for support and encouragement. God put people in my life that do the same for me. It is that encouragement that keeps us driven. The encouragement is not self- gratifying, nor does it make one boastful. It is not an affirmation of our strength; it is affirmation of the Lord’s strength, and his amazing ability to work within us. More often that not the encouragement offers the angel an opportunity to lean over and whisper in our ear, "see He told you that you could do it.........why did you ever doubt?" We live for the Glory of God. If He tells us that we can do it, then you can bet, God will be glorified, you will be sucsessful!

Not only does Paul preach encouragement, God himself urges people to encourage others in Deuteronomy 1:37-39 The Lord tells Moses “38 But your assistant, Joshua son of Nun, will enter it. Encourage him, because he will lead Israel to inherit it.”. The Lord reminds Moses again in Chapter 3 when he tell Moses “28 But commission Joshua, and encourage and strengthen him, for he will lead this people across and will cause them to inherit the land that you will see.” In Isaiah we are reminded again in Chapter one. 17 “learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed”.

The Lord also encourages each of us personally. As we see in Romans 15: 5-6 5May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, 6so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Or in 2 Thessalonians 2 where Paul reminds us 16May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, 17encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.

When we help strengthen others by faith-based encouragement, we are in fact glorifying the Lord. We should all listen for the encouragement, not just form the people around us, but from the Lord, and the Holy Spirit. They call out to us loudly sometimes, but more often with a gentle whisper, “Yes you can”. If the Lord can believe in us, how can we think of not believing in ourselves?

\Rev. Thetford

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Fixing what we did not break

John 15: 24-25

24If I had not done among them what no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. But now they have seen these miracles, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. 25But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: 'They hated me without reason."

Psalm 69:4

4 Those who hate me without reason outnumber the hairs of my head; many are my enemies without cause, those who seek to destroy me. I am forced to restore what I did not steal.

Have to keep it short today. I included both passages because Psalm 69 is one of the passages Christ was talking about when he said " what is written in their law: they hated me without reason". Christ also told us in John 15 that if they hated him, they will hate us. The last two lines of the Psalm really speak to me. That really sums it up. Christ came to fix what he did not break. He came to repay a debt that he did not owe. Everyday we too go out in to the world looking to try and fix things that we did not break. That is really what we are here for, to go out and look for those broken people, the people who are hurting, and lost.

There is little doubt that we will be despised by some for this. There will be people who will not understand because their eyes are shut, and their ears are closed. We cannot let this deter us in our quest. We cannot falter because many do not understand, there are people out there who are lost and searching, we need to be a light for those people, and hope that the others will open their eyes in time. We will be misunderstood, and yes even hated. That should not worry us in the least. It is when the world loves us that we need to give pause!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Luke 13-14
13And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. 14In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost.

We all feel lost from time to time. Not sure of where are going, or not sure why we are at this point in our life. We question, our accomplishments, and wonder why we chose one path over the other. All too often we find ourselves in a place where that past is a blur, and the future is not only unknown, but often we might think there is nothing to see.

We all knock around and stumble through this life for at least part of our lives….some longer than others. If we really think about it though, most are not really looking for anything; they just know they want a change. They do not know where they want to go; they just know they do not want to keep going on the path they are on.

Well I have a secret, no one is really sure of where they are going. Even the most confident people in the world might think they know where they are headed, but they are not sure. They can’t be, because none of us know the path that God has laid out in front of us. We like to fool ourselves, and say we have it together, or that we know where we are going, so sure, so confident, in the end all we know is what path we are on, where the next turn takes us, or what is over the next hill will not be known until we get there. So where do we turn?

There are always people around who will tell you about the latest great self-discovery method, or about the next up and coming Hollywood guru who has all of the answers, they all will say they have the secret. Let me be the first to say they are all wrong. You already have the answer. It is inside of you, you just need to find it. I would suggest praying on it. Pick up a bible read; reflect on what it means to you, and above all talk to the Lord.

I want to be clear about something, people always assume that praying brings about some brainwashing effect that produces nothing but Jesus freaks on steroids, or that by spending time with the Lord you turn in to some guy like me who writes several times a week about God, and how he works in our lives. I don’t mean to make those things sound like they are a bad effect, they are not, and I love where the Lord has taken me; but I know that people that are lost have that fear. They are scared. I get it, I don’t agree with it, but I get it.

You become what you were born to be, it is really that simple. Many people do find their calling in life turns out to be carrying out the Lords work, however many find that their calling takes them into a different direction in the private sector than where they are now, or it might be that they are called to take on a different role than they now have. I work with people daily that are living good lives, they are happy they have realized that they do not control the boat, and they look to the Lord for direction. He has a plan for each of us; if we learn to rely on him he will show us the way.

There is no need to feel lost, we are all searching, and no one is alone in this. The Good news is that the Lord is searching for us. He is always looking for the lost, if you recall the story of the lost sheep (Luke 15), you will remember that when he finds one lost sheep he is happier about that, than he is about the flock that stayed together. If we look and listen; if we ask for help, and guidance, we will be show the way, and where we end up might not be where we thought we were going at all, but I can promise you if you will give the Lord the faith he needs to work, you will be where he wants you to be. In the end, that is what counts.

Rev. Thetford

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Luke 18: 1-8

1Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. 2He said: "In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men. 3And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, 'Grant me justice against my adversary.'
4"For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, 'Even though I don't fear God or care about men, 5yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won't eventually wear me out with her coming!' "
6And the Lord said, "Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? 8I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”

Persistence is a quality we all must possess. This life, while it is short in terms of eternity, can seem like it will never end. We typically feel this way when our path gets a little rough, or the waters become murky. These are the times when it is easy to throw in the towel. We throw our hands up in the air, and exclaim that we just cannot do it anymore. This is actually the moment that we should be on our knees offering up our prayers for persistence. We should ask fro the strength to see the hardship through.
Often people will say why can’t this just stop. I have to say that they are missing the point. It is not a matter of making the rough patch come to an end, We should not be asking to have our load lightened, we should be persistent no matter the weight of the load or how bleak things might seem. Things worth having are worth fighting for; as a result it does no matter how difficult the struggle. Often you will find the more value something has to you the harder you will have to struggle for it.

I have said before that Christ saved us “right now” all we have to do to get that acceptance is accept him. That cannot be disputed. The next step in our journey requires persistence. We are told that we will be judged by our knowledge, and that we should strive for knowledge of the Lord in an effort to reach spiritual maturity. This path can prove daunting to say the least. That is why I say we should strive to be like the widow, we have to continue to return to the Word in an effort to strengthen our faith. We cannot simply give up because it might become difficult, or come in contact with someone who might try to shake our faith. We have to find the strength inside of us, the strength that the Lord gave us, and carry on. Returning time and time again, never tiring, and never quitting.

Paul tells us in Galatians 6:9 ….. for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. This is just another indication that we must be persistent in our lives, we have to continue our journey looking for more knowledge, and not giving in when the times get tough. The first time Christ came he was looking for the sinners, hoping to call them to repentance, however the second time he comes, he will be looking for lives full of faith. Who he finds will depend greatly on how many of us do not give up.

Rev. Thetford

Friday, October 10, 2008

right now

Romans 5: 6-8

6You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. 8But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

I was watching a show last night and there was a line spoken that I loved……”we have to love people for who they are, not their potential.” That is a pretty hard thing to do. Most of us tend to see some one for all they can be, not what they are right now. When we choose a spouse, we look at the potential, our kids, we are looking at the potential, our jobs….you got it…. it is the potential. It is not that I think there is anything wrong with looking to the future, we all do it; where we fall short is “right now”. So often we fail to love people for what they are right now, for how they are, and what they do, flaws and all. We forget that we are sinners, one no better than the next.

As the passage above reads “While we were sinners, Christ died for us”. What we do with that is up to us. He died for us knowing that it would not be enough for some, and many would think it was more than needed, but he loves us…..all of us, just as we are, he gave his life for all before him, and all that came after him, in spite of all of our wickedness, he loves us. In turn, we are charged by Christ, to love others as he loves us.

Christ did not say you can be forgiven, if you do better, or you are close and maybe next year you will be good enough to be saved. All he asked was for us to acknowledge him, and in return he would acknowledge us before his Father. Right then and there, no if ands or buts. He is willing to take us, and place us under his wing, and love us, no matter our past, no matter our mistakes, no matter how low we think we are in our life, “right now” that is a good place to start as far as the Lord is concerned.

If the Lord can love us with that much conviction, with that much grace, then we must in turn love each other in the same fashion. Yes, we can have a wonderful discussion about the potential of that relationship, where it will go, what is expected of us, and how we should live, but the point is for the Lord to love us “right now” is enough. It is not our potential that he loves us for. He does not love us because of where were are going or what we can do. This is how we must love others, we all will end our journey at different points along the path to the Lord, some will make it further than others, some will struggle at the starting point their whole life. This spiritual journey does not have an earthly destination, it is the journey itself that is the task. At the starting point, in the middle…… no matter your place, it is you right now that the Lord loves, just being on the path sometimes is enough. So….as he loves us, let us love each other.

Rev. Thetford

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Conforming to Society

Ephesians 1:10-12
10to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment—to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ. 11In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.

Everything works out in conformity with the purpose of his will…. It is the Lords will, and his plan that we are here to carry out, on that I think we all agree. However there always has and always will be a huge pull to conform to everything other than what glorifies God.

We are pressured to conform to society, to become “mainstream”. We should be more concerned with what Susan Sarandon has to say than what the bible says. We should worship the earth, and our cars, science, and Hollywood. If we do not, we are labeled as out of touch, or against change. Our children are urged to look to spoiled child stars as role models, they are told that while there is nothing wrong with lying to your parents, and as long as someone does not hurt them personally then that person should be allowed to do whatever they want.

I think 1 Peter 1: 14-15 sums it up well: 14As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do. When we lived in ignorance…… I know most of us can look back in our lives and remember all too well just what living in ignorance encompassed. While the Lord tells us that once we put our hand to the plow we should not look back; he was talking about looking back and craving those old desires. I think it is imperative that each of us remember exactly what our lives were like before we turned to Christ. We have to remember so that we can see what societies “mainstream” has to offer, empty hopes, broken promises, lost time, wealth, and self respect. That is the reward that awaits those who fall prey to the pressures of this world.

Today is no different that a few thousand years ago. Adults and children faced the same struggles then, that we all face now. Sure, the names and positions might be different, but there has always been a part of society that has been trying to separate itself from God. There is no need to fear that part of our world, but we must recognize it. We have to show our children how empty the promises are.

We should all be striving to conform, and change our lives, but it should be in the direction of the Lord, not Society. I pray that we all have the strength to withstand the storms and undercurrents of societies pressures, more importantly, I pray that we are all active enough in our children’s lives so they too can withstand the attack.

Rev. Thetford

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Just a white lie

Genesis 50: 15-17

15When Joseph's brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, "It may be that Joseph will hate us and pay us back for all the evil that we did to him." 16So they sent a message to Joseph, saying, "Your father gave this command before he died, 17'Say to Joseph, Please forgive the transgression of your brothers and their sin, because they did evil to you.' And now, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father." Joseph wept when they spoke to him.

SO yesterday I write about rationalizing our lives, and this morning I find myself reading Chapter 50 in Genesis. Lo and behold we find Joseph's brothers lying to him. I know when you first read it, many think well it was just a "white" lie. A way to give an apology, and ask for forgiveness while increasing the chance for that forgiveness that we are looking for. The conflict there is that when we base an apology around a lie, it is not an apology given out of remorse, or a realization that there is need for forgiveness. It is an apology given out of fear. When we offer an apology out of fear, we are not sorry we hurt someone, we typically are not sorry that the event, we are only sorry that we got caught, or now find that we might be exposed and suffer the consequence of our actions.

We rationalize the lie. We feel better about ourselves and the situation, but it is an empty feeling we are left with. The reason for that is because we have not only wronged someone but now we have lied to the same person in an effort to protect ourselves. Seeking forgiveness is about bearing our soul, it is about openly admitting our mistake and shortcoming and accepting the fact that we will have to atone on some level for our transgressions.

We do the same thing in our daily lives. If we need a deal to go through, if we want to make ourselves look better, we can think of all kinds of reasons that would make it seem's just a white lie..... A lie is a lie, the intent does not matter. Christ is the way, the TRUTH, and the light, not the good idea, the half truth, and the darkness. We can only honor him if we are truthful, not just with those around us, but with ourselves as well. I will tell you that the being honest with yourself is the more difficult of the two.

Rev. Thetford

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

rationalizing our lives

Genesis 1:26-27

26 Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground." 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

A fellow shared his testimony with me this morning, and part of it reminded me of a very important detail that so many good people seem to forget. We are created in the image of God, not the other way around. the bible says that the love of money is the root of evil......I would have to say that rationalization has to rate pretty close to love of money. I say that because so many of us do it. I know that if I try there is not much I cannot rationalize. I spent many years of my life making sure that I looked at life throught the right set of lenses, so that what I was doing was “OK”. I will be the first to admit that I am not perfect, but I have come a long way from where I started.

There is always an angel to exploit if we look for it. We can look at the things we like to do, and make up a good excuse as to why it is ok. Something as simple as burning 3 hours in front of the TV at the end of the day, instead of spending that time with your family. All the way up to something as complicated as going out and drinking to the point of excess. There are excuses for all of it, there is a way to look at any situation, and you can come up with a well it is ok because______. (you fill in the blank)

We are given pretty specific laws handed down by the Lord. They do not have gray areas, and they are not complicated (now we have made some of them that way, but that is a different conversation). There is no rationalizing the word of God, it is set, and it is plain to read.

We are made in his image, we should emulate Christ, and that means opening up our hearts and letting the love flow. When we lock it up and keep it for ourselves, it turns very quickly into self-love, then to conceit, then to pride / vanity. God gives His love freely, we must do the same. The first step is getting our own backyard in order, and that means no more rationalizing our lives. There is right and there is wrong, you can try to twist it and turn it to fit your need, but all of the dressing that you put on it will not be able to change the truth.

Rev. Thetford.

Monday, October 6, 2008


Jeremiah 48:29-30
29 "We have heard of Moab's pride— her overweening pride and conceit, her pride and arrogance and the haughtiness of her heart. 30 I know her insolence but it is futile," declares the LORD, "and her boasts accomplish nothing.”

It has been said that vanity is the devil’s favorite sin. I would have to agree. Vanity, and pride typically go hand in hand. More people have been brought down from great heights due to vanity than any other means. From Nimrod, to your current favorite celebrity, man putting himself first has always turned out badly.

It is common today for people to want to put themselves first, hair products tell you it is because you are worth it, car companies sell you on the luxury, and exclusivity of their product, today’s world is all about one thing, how to make you better than the next guy. The ad agencies rely on our vanity to sell the product.

Now don’t get me wrong here, there is nothing wrong with wanting things, it is natural and normal, it is when we take it to the extreme, it is when we start to drink our own kool-aid that we have problems. It is when we start to believe that others opinion of what we have might actually make a difference, that it might be time to do a little soul searching. We all have to make it a point to remember that nothing we gain here really amounts to much. The car, the clothes, the house….sure everyone wants nice things, however all of the window dressings in the world cannot be allowed to change what is inside of you.

Our lives are defined by what we do, not what we have. We are given plenty, so that we can give freely. When we find that we are more concerned about what others will think of our purchase, than we are about the need of that purchase; that is when it is time to stop and look at where we are placing our priorities.

We have to be careful not just for ourselves, but for our children as well. We can have a wonderful Christian heart, but if our actions do not allow that heart to be seen our children, while they might hear the word, will most likely follow the action. This is another reason that you will always hear me say that faith takes action. We cannot teach our children good moral beliefs, if we are running out to buy the next that we are so sure will complete us.

In the end all we are left with is the life we have led. Our time will expire, and we will stand before the Lord. I do not think that he is going to care if we won life’s version of monopoly. However we will have to answer for how we lived, and what we taught.

Rev. Thetford

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


Romans 5: 3-5

3Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

Hope is a matter of the mind. Not to be confused with faith, hope is in our head, faith is in our heart. Hope is our attitude of expectancy. While we might have strong faith, without hope in the future we will not stand and act. So that begs the question, what do you hope for? We might start everyday with prayer, and thanksgiving to the Lord, do we follow that up with hope for the day?

As we step out into the world do we have a attitude of positive hope? We cannot fill our heart with faith, then fill our hope with the negative, something like " I know the Lord will protect me, but I just don't think I can make it through today" is a good example, or maybe we start our day off with nothing more than "I hope today goes alright"...... That is not living with the hope Christ blessed us with, that is getting by, that is surviving. The Lord wants us to live, not just get by. However all to often we work directly against God. We don't mean to, but we close off so many positive thoughts. It seems that you just do not hear many people today saying "man, you just have to hope for the best", no, today you hear a lot more of" don't get your hopes up"!

That small little mindset right there is the start of either great things to come, or one of just getting by. Just think on those two phrases. don't get your hopes up....what a junky phrase, you are telling yourself that you want the mediocre, you are not hoping for good things, you are just hoping to get by! On the other hand "hope for the best" four little words, and you are not looking to get by, you are not hoping for OK, you are hoping for the best that the day can give you.

When we start the day with the hope for the best, we open our hearts to let the Lord work. That type of hope, coupled with your faith in the Lord, will make you unstoppable. Don't listen to everyone who is trying to drag you down with all of that negative thinking. Hope for the best! As verse 5 tells us hope does not disappoint, because God has poured out his love into our hearts. Faith and hope, start the day with both, and you will be walking with the Lord all day long.

Rev. Thetford