Meditations from the Word

by Pastor David MacAdam

Posted by David MacAdam

There are many appointments in life; some more important than others. Some are non-discretionary - they are made for us. Others are discretionary. We make them for ourselves. Some are incidental. Some will affect our eternal destiny. "It is appointed for men once to die, and then the judgment." (Hebrews 9:27).

Solomon reminds us that there are a variety of appointed happenings in life. "There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven -- A time to give birth, and a time to die; A time to plant, and a time to uproot what is planted." (Ecclesiastes 3:1-2).

Life's appointments are not easy, whether it be childbirth, sowing a field, building up a business or downsizing. Life has its inevitable rewards and troubles (Job 5:7). There are good times and bad times. Some of life's experiences can be exhilarating. Some can be disappointing. Destructive storms and calamity come upon both the wise and the foolish, the righteous and unrighteous (Matthew 7:25; Luke 13:2-4).

How do we handle these appointments? So much of what happens is unfathomable to the natural mind (Ecclesiastes 3:11; 1Corinthians 2:9). However by maintaining communion with the Holy Spirit we can have confidence that there is a purpose in everything.

Happiness depends upon what happens. Joy is the result of recognizing the unseen reality of God's unfolding plan and His loving presence. Happiness is a response to certain conditions. Joy is a response to a fulfilled condition - God is present. He cares, He is all powerful and He has a plan. This is why the Apostle Paul reminds us to rejoice always (1Thessalonians 5:16).

There are times for celebration, and times for humiliation and sorrow. Jesus said "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted." We should not fear any experience when we can recognize God is there with us in it.

How we respond to an event is a matter of our personal discretion. We can choose to interpret an event as either a disappointment or His appointment.

In the acknowledgement of His presence,

David MacAdam, Pastor/Teacher
New Life Community Church

Posted by David MacAdam

"Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." (John 15:4-5).

The call to Christ is a call to a disciplined dependency. The words 'discipline' and 'dependency' balance each other. Whereas, 'dependency' reminds us that without Christ we can do nothing, 'discipline' reminds us that we are called to take responsibility for maintaining that existing relationship. Jesus explained that He is the vine and we are the branches. The branches are absolutely dependent upon the vine for its life and identity. But Jesus also commanded his disciples to remain in Him. This does not happen automatically. It requires discipline. The Greek word for abide, or remain, is 'meno'. He uses forms of the word twelve times in this chapter. It can be translated 'continue, dwell, tarry or stay put'. (I like that, 'stay put').

The Christian life is not one where we have to work independently. "Come unto me ..take my yoke upon you." A yoke partners us together with Christ in service. Christian discipleship requires our full cooperation through both the trust and obedience of faith. Both dependency and discipline.

Discipline: Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." (Matthew 16:24). Dependency: "It is God who works in you both to will and do of His good pleasure." (Philippians 2:13). "Faithful is He who calls you who also will do it." (1Thessalonians 5:24). "I go with you to the end of the world." (Matthew 28:20).

We warn everyone we meet, and we teach everyone we can, all that we know about him, so that, if possible, we may bring every man up to his full maturity in Christ Jesus. (Discipline). This is what I am working at all the time, with all the strength that God gives me. (Dependency). (Colossians 1:28-29 J.B. Phillips paraphrase)

There is a danger in the popular philosophy to 'let go and let God'. It implies that we need to be dependent, but it fails to speak the truth about our need to be disciplined. We must be ready to take action, to joyfully implement the will of our Master. "If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love." (John 15:10).

It takes discipline to 'stay put' in a position of dependency. Brother Lawrence wrote about his discipline of affirming the Lord's presence with him as he worked in a hospital kitchen in 17th century Paris. Our society has continually chooses to drink from broken cisterns rather than the fountain of living water (Jeremiah 2:13). Misplaced dependency is sin. It takes discipline to stay at the true fountain.

Henri Nouen noted: "In the spiritual life, discipline describes the effort it takes to create some space in which God can work." As society spends more time with machines, diversions and busyness rather than with other people or God, we need to put a stake in the ground and create space to experience God.

To practice the presence of God; to be in the mind to say 'yes' to God, to purposefully and restfully abide in Christ, takes discipline. To know His power working through us takes dependency.

Creating space for God to surprise me,

David MacAdam, Pastor/Teacher
New Life Community Church

Relational Realities

02 Oct 1995
Posted by David MacAdam

As important as we might believe our professional achievements to be, in the light of eternity, they pale next to the importance of our relationships with God and with others.

The God of the Bible exists as a community of oneness. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit, one in divine essence, yet three distinct persons, live in perfect co-equality and relational harmony. There is no history of tension, distrust, argument or selfishness in their relationships. This relational God made us in His image: relational. We make His invisible nature visible by the nature of our relationships with each other. Jesus said that we demonstrate the reality of our relationship with Himself by our unity with the community of the redeemed and when we love one another (John 17:21; 13:35). The fruit of the Spirit can only be tasted in the context of relationships.

The Apostle John, who continually directs his readers to the ultimate realities of Christ, put it this way, "If we walk in the light, (and then to distinguish the true light from any Satanic counterfeit he adds) as He is in the light (making it clear that Jesus is the paradigm of truth, holiness, love etc.) we shall have fellowship one with another." (1John 1:7).

As society moves further away from Truth it moves deeper and deeper into personal isolation. As believers mature in Truth they recognize their call to community, their responsibilities for personal conflict resolution, redemptive relationships and commitment one to another.

The more we walk in the light, the more relationships become a priority. The best way to reflect the nature of God is in the way we relate to each other. A common response to the early church was: "Behold how they love one another."

Your covenant partner,

David MacAdam, Pastor/Teacher
New Life Community Church
Posted by David MacAdam

In the earlier part of this century T.S. Eliot wrote about the 'Hollow Men' of his day. Pursuing every possibility under the sun, they fail to find the peace of knowing God personally: "We are the hollow men We are the stuffed men... Shape without form, shade without color, Paralyzed force, gesture without motion."

We need to see 'hollow men' turned into 'men of heart'. The human quest for fulfillment often takes us down the cul-de-sacs of narcissism (self-absorption) hedonism (love of pleasure and leisure), materialism (the belief that who we are is equal to our material net worth), escapism (finding relief in distractions), utopianism (seeking with imperfect hearts a perfect world) or intellectualism (being satisfied with an unsatisfied mind, 'ever learning but never coming to the knowledge of the truth' 2Timothy 3:7). Thousands of years ago Solomon had the time and money to try each of these avenues and consistently came up dry. He even documents in the Book of Ecclesiastes his attempts at religion which took him only as far as the knowledge of a Creator. But the mere knowledge of God's existence did not fill the hollowness of his heart nor will it ours.

Fulfillment does not necessarily come with theological knowledge. In the preface to Jonathan Edward's "Religious Affections" the editor notes that the more the Christian faith is propagated, organized and institutionalized the more it is reduced to a notional system of thought rather than a relational reality that results in transformed living.

The ultimate Truth is not merely propositional. It is relational. Jesus said, "I am the Truth." He that wants the truth, loves the truth, will hear Him, come to Him, follow Him, own Him as Lord and Savior, and know the Truth.

This is the satisfying reality. Hollow men become hearty saints. Solomon trades in his 'Vanities of vanities' for a 'song of songs'. He trades in viewing life in natural light alone for the light of the gospel. He trades in religion for a relationship. Jesus said, "This is eternal life, that you may KNOW (intimately by heart) the only true God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent." (John 17:3). Someone said that "Christianity started as a relationship, the Greeks and Romans made it an idea, and the Americans made it a business."

Let's pull the plug on distractions and get down to the real business of knowing Him.

Yours in passionate pursuit of Truth,

David MacAdam, Pastor/Teacher
New Life Community Church
Posted by David MacAdam

"Then the LORD God made (literally in the Hebrew the word is 'banah'- built) a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, 'This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called 'woman', for she was taken out of man.'" (Genesis 2:22-23)

Only three times in the Bible is the Lord said to build anything. He said He would build his church (Matthew 16:18) which is the body of Christ (Ephesians 1:22,23). He would build a house through the seed of David and establish an eternal kingdom (2Samuel 7:12-13; 1Chronicles 17:10-14, Psalm 127:1) and in Genesis 2:22, the Lord builds a bride for the first man, Adam.

In the book of Ephesians, the Apostle Paul takes us through these same images of God's great construction program. In Ephesians 1 he prays that the church at Ephesus would have the spirit of wisdom and revelation to discern the significance of what they were participating in. The church is Christ's inheritance, the rewards of His suffering, identified with His substantial victory over sin, death and the dominion of Satan. It is designed to take back territory from the dominion of darkness. In Ephesians 2, the church is also a spiritual house.

(Ephesians 2:19-22 NIV) Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household, {20} built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. {21} In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. {22} And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

In Ephesians 3 we have a further clarification of the purpose of what God is building. In Ephesians 4 we are shown how each member of the church plays a vital part in His construction program and in Ephesians 5 we have the unveiling of what the Apostle Paul calls 'a profound mystery': The church is the bride of Christ. She is constructed 'bone of his bone'. (Compare Genesis 2:23-24 with Ephesians 5:28-31). The Hebrew word for bone is 'etsem' from which we get the English word 'essence'. The life of the bride was derived from the substance or essence of the man. The church is constructed only of that which derives from Christ. Her essential being emerges from the wounded side of the bridegroom. So the church, the bride of Christ was purchased by the blood of Christ (Acts 20:28) which poured from the pierced side of the Savior who was put into a deep sleep (death) on the Cross (John 19:34).

The church is the bride of Christ! Love her! Cherish her! The church is God's workmanship, God's masterpiece. The Greek word for 'workmanship' is 'poema' from which we get the word 'poem'. The church is a carefully crafted expression of God's thought. Appreciate her! These are the affections of the bridegroom for the bride, the affections of Christ for His church. Paul brings this spectacular vision down to the practical reality of our daily living. We can be involved in building what God builds and loving what God loves. The words we speak, the efforts we take to preserve our essential unity in Christ, the honor we give to our brother and sister, the Adamic practices of sin we repudiate, the relationships we build, the strength we appropriate by faith from our true source, the kingdom life we mirror in our homes, all play a part in the building of the bride.

On the construction site,

David MacAdam, Pastor/Teacher
New Life Community Church
Posted by David MacAdam

"When all kinds of trials and temptation crowd into your lives, my brothers, don't resent them as intruders, but welcome them as friends!" (James 1:2, Phillips)

I'm convinced now that if I had no problems in my life, the Lord would give me some. If there were no problems in our church, something would be quite wrong.

The reason is that He is at work building something that He intends to last. Jesus said, "I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it." The God-given revelation of Who Jesus is as the Christ, the unique Son of God who lines up with the witness of the Spirit and the Word as the prophesied Messiah, is the church's one foundation. An enduring community is to be built on this revelation. And this revelation must be put through the fires.

The Apostle Paul reminds us that we are to be careful how we build on that foundation (1Corinthians 3:10-16). Our lives and communities should get their alignment and agenda from the chief cornerstone. It is also vital that we use nothing less than quality building materials: gold, silver and precious stone. Gold speaks of the nature of God, love. Silver is a Biblical symbol of redemption, the motive to buy someone out of slavery or captivity, and precious stones are building materials that can withstand fire because they have been formed through the pressures of the earth (diamonds), and hidden wounds and irritations (pearls). They not only endure the fire, they are perfected in the fire.

The builders of the Titanic boasted that their ship was unsinkable. In the worst case scenario it was to take at least two days to sink. As it happened, after it struck an iceberg around midnight on April 14, 1912, the 900 ft long 46,000 ton ship sank 12,612 feet to the ocean bed in under three hours. Thomas Andrews, the ships designer, was one of the 1500 passengers that perished. Designed to make over 1000 ocean crossings, it was never to complete its maiden voyage.

Today we realize that the tragedy of the Titanic was due to human error and faulty materials. Recently scientists discovered that the high sulfur content of the Titanic's steel made it brittle in icy water. It is the error of putting our agendas before that of the kingdom, not seeking alignment with the Word, or building with something less than God's love, redemptive motives and enduring faith that will cause us to suffer loss. Remember: Trials are 'good friends' that prepare us as living stones for the building His eternal dwelling place.

One day our work will be brought to light. If what we have built survives, we will not be ashamed. We will receive our reward (1Corinthians 3:14).

One of the stones that Jesus owns,

David MacAdam, Pastor/Teacher
New Life Community Church

We're Pressing On

04 Sep 1995
Posted by David MacAdam

Have you ever wondered why the Holy Spirit saw fit to record the heroic deeds and the standards of excellence exhibited by David's mighty men? Three chapters in the Bible describe the dramatic transformation of David's rag-tag army (2Samuel 23; 1Chronicles 11&;amp;12). Those who were once discontent, in debt, and in distress, emerged as daring, discerning and distinguished men in hot pursuit of God's full thought.

There is a clear parallel between the story of the anointed King David and his mighty men and Christ and his 'called out ones' (ekklesia), the church. David's men recognized their need to pay their debts, be delivered from futility and obtain peace of heart. They saw that God's answer was being expressed through David, the anointed, despised and rejected king. In David were the ways of God. As they were gathered to Him they were renewed in spirit and daily developed their exceptional virtues (2Peter 1:3-8). Soon they were built together as an army united with one heart.

Three of these heroic soldiers distinguished themselves above the others: Eleazar, Jasobeam and Shammah. Reflecting on the characteristics of the mighty men in general, and the Three in particular, we can see that they had the following trademarks of a winning team:

  1. They had a clear vision - to bring in the King!
  2. They were fully dedicated to the King.
  3. They were persistent in the right things (the hand of one warrior froze to the sword!).
  4. They owned the responsibility of the vision (they didn't wait until a 2/3 majority felt like going after Philistines!).
  5. They majored on the majors (defended the non-negotiables, standing their God-given ground and the high protein food supply).
  6. They were faithful in the little things - which are no little things - (a cup of cold water).
  7. They demonstrated love through self-less concern, and sacrificial service.

God sees the church of the Lord Jesus as already perfected in Christ. That is our position. Christ has fully paid our debts to God's holy law. But here and now, we don't consider ourselves as having attained. We press on with our eyes on the goal, trusting that the King will be brought into every area of our lives through our daily cooperation with His Word and His Spirit!

On the track,

David MacAdam, Pastor/Teacher
New Life Community Church

Built to Last

28 Aug 1995
Posted by David MacAdam

Hello fellow travelers of the Way. It is good to be back in the saddle again after visiting relatives, a refreshing study break in Chicago, and getting two kids off to college. I pray that all is well with you.

This summer I have been reading the Books of Ezra and Nehemiah, two books of great relevance to the church today, describing the restoration of the temple (the heart of worship) and the walls of Jerusalem (the testimony of God's people to those outside). These books also contain the last chronological history in the Hebrew canon of Scripture before the first coming of Christ. I believe these books contain special insights for the church as we await the second coming of Christ.

I have also been studying two books by Solomon: 'Ecclesiastes' (describing life without the vertical dimension of an intimate love life with God - 'vanity of vanities') and The Song of Solomon (describing life with a vertical dimension of an intimate love life with God - 'song of songs'). I have heard people debate whether Song of Solomon should be in the Bible! I, for one, am so glad that it is. The Holy Spirit knew what He was doing. For those with the 'eyes of a dove' (Song of Solomon 1:15) it is more than the story of conjugal love, it is the love story of the church in revival.

Another book I read was "Built to Last" by James Collins and Jerry Porras which focuses on eighteen visionary companies which have endured not so much because of the success of their products, personalities of their leaders, but the way they built effective mechanisms within their organizations to express their core values.

It reminded me of a far greater visionary company, the church of the Lord Jesus, the body of Christ. It is being built to last because it is being prepared for the kingdom. To enter the kingdom is one thing. It happens when we first believe. For the kingdom to enter us is far more involved! The writer of the Book of Hebrews tells us that we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken (Hebrews 12:28).

Humankind takes pride in its enduring contributions - its legacy of art, architecture, technology and grand institutions. Yet the Lord reminds us that all of these things can be shaken and ultimately will be shaken. His kingdom and His kingdom alone is unshakeable and enduring. It is the only kingdom that will stand the test of time. That is why it would do us well to take to heart and put into practice the timeless principles and core values of His kingdom and seek the ways of expressing the kingdom in our relationships as a priority. To make love your aim is no trivial matter. To release forgiveness is not the way of defeat. The way of self-emptying and self-sacrifice is the way of true survival. To do good to others and bless your enemies is not a vain pursuit. These are the ways of the everlasting kingdom.

Growing,

David MacAdam, Pastor/Teacher
New Life Community Church