Friday, March 29, 2013

Revelation Videos: "Philadelphia: Weak Church; Strong Witness"

Do you ever feel like your church is weak and will never amount to much? Here is Jesus' answer, and it is full of encouragement.

Pastoral Pings ~ An Empathetic Feeling of Injustice

          This morning I was overwhelmed with the painful consciousness of injustice. I know that the world stumbles over the belief that God allows injustice to prevail. I know that many people struggle through life with a need to see guilty people punished because they have longstanding childhood trauma that continues to fit the description of utter injustice against the innocent.

          I know that the pain of injustice affects women as well as men, for the stories are all around us of abusers “getting away” with things they have done wrong. I also know what it feels like to be a man who has to bear with his wife and children hurting over the consequences of another person’s sinful actions that never seem to be brought to justice.

          With all these feelings churning within me, I brought my heart to God and followed his invitation to: “Arise, cry out in the night, at the beginning of the night watches! Pour out your heart like water before the presence of the Lord! Lift your hands to him for the lives of your children, who faint for hunger at the head of every street.”[1] Let’s just say that the Lord heard me pour out a lot of grief for the injustices against my children.

          Then there is the further invitation: “My eyes will flow without ceasing, without respite, until the Lord from heaven looks down and sees; my eyes cause me grief at the fate of all the daughters of my city.[2] Since my wife is one of the “daughters” of my world, a world that has treated her with much injustice, I found it healing to let my heavenly Father know how I felt about all this.

          The point is simply that it is God himself who calls people in general, and men in particular, to cry out to him about the injustice that grievously wounds them and their loved ones. However, there is a way that people can present these things to God so that it fuels their bitterness and leaves them angry and distant from the Father in heaven. But, there is also a way that people with faith in Jesus Christ present these heartaches to their Father so that it results in healing to their own souls, and soothing comfort to offer to those who suffer in this way.

          It is very fitting that God would teach me this lesson on this particular day. It is the day we call “Good Friday”. It commemorates the Friday that Jesus was crucified. It is “good” because Jesus’ death was for the sins of others, and all the “others” who receive his gift, his payment for their sins, have their sins washed away[3] so they can know God’s love for them without any fear of punishment at all.[4]

          So, what does a heart-wrenching journey into all kinds of feelings of injustice have to do with Jesus laying down his life for the sins of the world? Answer: it brought me to have some feeling of what it was like for Jesus to suffer for the sins of others.

          After all, is that not what our struggle with injustice is all about? Isn’t it that we are hurt, and upset, and angry that we have to suffer because of another person’s sins? Isn’t that what we keep complaining to God about, that he would dare to allow us so much pain in our lives because someone else did something sinful to us, and then seems to be free to carry on through life as if nothing ever happened?

          Isn’t that exactly what Jesus endured? Isn’t it true that, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed”?[5] Do you see that? Do you see the injustice of Jesus bearing “our” sins on “his” body?

          But, do you see the utter love that would bear that willingly, would create man from dust knowing that one day he would die for that man’s sin? Do you see the love of Jesus, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God”?[6]

          And, would you share with me this wonder that God would pick the day people commemorate the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ to open the flood gates of pain to my own feelings of injustice, all so that I could feel the wonder, the awe, the reverence for my Savior who would bear such feelings WILLINGLY?!

          All week I have been preparing for my Easter Sunday message which includes this verse: “…that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings…”[7] This morning God gave me a feel of what I will be sharing with others. If we truly want to know Jesus, and we most definitely want to know the power of his resurrection, then we must also know what it feels like to share in his sufferings.

          I testify that, this morning, God very graciously let me feel an extremely personal experience of the pain of injustice, so that he could lovingly and graciously take me into his arms, and hold me close to his heart,[8]where I could hear the heartbeat of this love that knows the feeling of injustice far more than I could ever experience. He died for MY sins.[9] His experience of injustice now makes God just[10] to pick me up and hold me close without any fear that he will ever judge me as my sins deserve. [11]

          I am thankful that Jesus let me “lose myself” in laying my complaint before him.[12] It got me ready for something very special. I felt the wonder of his willing submission to injustice.  Who but Jesus would think of such a thing? And, who but my Father would think of teaching me this today.

          From my heart,


[1] Lamentations 2:19
[2] Lamentations 3:49-51
[3] Acts 22:16
[4] I John 4:18
[5] I Peter 2:24
[6] Hebrews 12:2
[7] Philippians 3:10
[8] Isaiah 40:11
[9] Isaiah 53:4-6
[10] Romans 3:26
[11] Romans 5:10
[12] Psalm 142:2

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Pastoral Pings ~ The Fullness of the Fullest Joy

          What does it mean to “rejoice in the Lord”?[1] Here is one way of answering that question. Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”[2] Jesus is full of joy, he wants his joy to be in those who receive his words, and his joy in us would result in our joy being full.

          The calling to “rejoice in the Lord” would not then be a burdensome rule to keep with wearisome effort, but an invitation, a joyful reminder, to look at where we are, and whom we are in, and let our hearts rejoice in him.

          This is in contrast to the other options. If we look at ourselves for reasons to rejoice, either we admit that we have none, or we fall into prideful, self-centered ideas that give pseudo-pleasures that simply do not last. If we look at the world around us for reasons to rejoice, either we see that there are none, or we fabricate mirages of joy that disappear as quickly as we approach them. If we look at people to give us joy, we discover that they are so lacking joy that they want us to make them happy as much as our emptiness of joy makes us wish they could make us happy.

          And then we meet Jesus and hear him telling us that the experience of his words will full us up with his fullness of joy so that our joy is filled to the max. What is that really like?

          Have you ever been in a setting where someone is so overjoyed at something to do with Jesus that his or her joy is literally contagious? Now, picture yourself inside perfect, infinite, eternal joy. Imagine yourself inside of Jesus and his joy, as though his very joy was the breath you breathed, the pressure of the air around you that keeps you who you are in him.

          Now listen to Jesus speaking to you from his word while you are in his joy. What would his word sound like? What would happen to you if you heard him speaking to you from his joy, for your joy? What would happen to your desire to meet with him before the day begins, or at the end of a busy day, if you knew that you were entering the one who in his presence there is fullness of joy”, and at his “right hand are pleasures forevermore”?[3]

          Add to this that it is Jesus who initiates your experience of joy, working to convince you that you could be as joyful as he is. He initiated speaking to his disciples, knowing that from his words they would come to have faith,[4] and from their experience of faith in him and his words they would come to have joy, and, when they knew his joy, their own joy would be brought up to the fullness he designed into us by making us in his own image and likeness in the first place.[5]

          Back in my younger years, it was common to hear people say that God just wants people to be unhappy, or that following Jesus is a joy-killer. Those who receive Jesus’ words know that it is quite the opposite, that he is actually the Joyful One who brings our joy to fullness in him.

          Now, let’s try this again: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.”[6]

          From my heart,


© 2013 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~

Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.)


[1] Philippians 4:4
[2] John 15:11
[3] Psalm 16:11
[4] Romans 10:17
[5] Genesis 1:26-27
[6] Philippians 4:4

Bible Memorization ~ John 15:11

Many people would like to be able to memorize Scripture, God's words to us in the Bible. Here is a tool designed to help us fulfill this desire. As this is my first attempt, suggestions for tweaking are quite welcome.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Pastoral Pings ~ When Not to Swallow the Fudge

          One of the reasons I hold to my belief in Jesus Christ as revealed in the Christian Bible is because of how it measures up to every other belief about life. One of the tests of all the different beliefs in the world is to analyze which conflicting viewpoint has to “fudge” information to continue holding to their conclusions.

          I hold to biblical Christianity rather than one of the cults because the cults have to fudge the translation and interpretation of the Bible to hold to their set of beliefs. I hold to biblical Creationism rather than evolution (theistic or otherwise), because proponents of evolution have to fudge-it on so many pieces of evidence that I could never believe such a speculation with any degree of confidence at all. I hold to biblical Christianity over other religions because only faith in the Bible enables me to live a fudge-free life.

          Over the decades of considering conflicting viewpoints about everything under the sun, the Christian Bible has stood out as the most complex, consistent, message about life that has not required me to fudge anything to hold to all that it reveals.

          I suspect that this would sound quite surprising to some. Over the years, I have had many people tell me that they cannot believe the Bible because it is so full of contradictions. However, in checking out the supposed problem passages, I have found quite the opposite to be true.

          Perhaps I could make sense of this by explaining that my exploration of these things has led me to look at contradictions as one would look at light through a prism. On one side of the prism, we see the light that we tend to think of as white (although we aren’t really seeing the light itself, but what it does to things it shines upon). On the other side of the prism, we see the colors of the spectrum of light as the prism refracts each color at a slightly different angle.

          Those who see contradictions in the Bible hold to such a belief in the way that someone might suggest that believing that light is green, and believing that light is red, is a contradiction. Those who understand light (and God is Light[1]), do not see any contradiction at all, since we are really talking about different expressions of the attributes and activity of the same infinite and eternal God.

          In a sense, the Bible allows me to believe that God is Light, and that God is every color of the spectrum of Light, all at the same time, no fudging required. The Bible also allows me to believe everything it teaches about everything without having to fudge the Bible to match some real, verifiable evidence of history, archeology, science or any other category of discoveries we can think of.

          There are so many books, and blogs, and videos out there that would help anyone explore these things for themselves. My purpose in this post is to give a brief testimony to my own lifetime of having to test everything that people suggest are contradictory beliefs or worldviews. I can sincerely say that, I can hold to a sincere, biblical, faith-in-Jesus-Christ worldview, without having to fudge anything at all.

          I encourage anyone who has given up hope in trusting the real Bible that it is not belief in the Bible that is doing all the fudging that is going on out there. Even the Bible’s declaration that falsehood and deception will be chosen by the majority, and truth and faith will be followed by the few, is precisely what we see around us all the time.[2]

          God is still seeking those who will delight[3] in him “in spirit and in truth”.[4] Jesus continues to invite each of us to be one of these children[5], no fudging required.

© 2013 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~
Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.)

[1] I John 1:5
[2] Matthew 7:13-14; Matthew 24:9-14
[3] Psalm 37:4
[4] John 4:23-24
[5] Matthew 11:28-30

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Pastoral Pings: Faith in God who Opens and Shuts

          A year ago, God shut the door to a ministry that I had enjoyed for over twelve years. With tomorrow as the one year anniversary of that finale, it is no accident that our journey through the book of Revelation “just happens” to bring me to consider Jesus' words to the church in Philadelphia (in what is nowTurkey, not Pennsylvania).[1] To that church Jesus declared, “The words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens”.[2]

          Jesus then elaborates on what this church was going through by describing their primary opposition as coming from a “synagogue of Satan who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie”.[3] People can appear to be good, religious folk who are really serving Satan, and are lying about Jesus’ church. What matters is that Jesus describes his church in this way: “I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name”.[4] On one side we have false religious people who are lying, and seem to be stronger than the church. On the other side, we have a weak church that has kept Jesus’ word and not denied his name.

          Putting these two things together, opponents to those Jesus considers faithful may appear to shut doors, but Jesus is ruling sovereign over those doors. If he shuts a door to one town, or one group of people, or one church because they are not receiving his work, he can open a door to another town, or group of people, or church, where people will receive the same thing that was rejected elsewhere.

          The apostle Paul faced this many times. One of the most obvious was when he went to the city of Thessalonica and was soundly rejected,[5] but arrived at Berea with the same invitation to the good news in Jesus Christ and was wonderfully received.[6] Jesus himself could not do many “mighty works” in his home town because of the people’s unbelief, or lack of faith,[7] but he marveled at the faith of a Gentile woman who would not stop pressing him until she received her daughter’s healing.[8]

          The point is simple. All seven of the letters to the churches end with the phrase, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”[9] Ultimately, it does not matter what people say about us, or our churches; it only matters how we measure up to Jesus as he speaks to us through his word and by his Spirit.

          If we seek Jesus daily, he will teach us what we need to learn, reprove us for what we are doing wrong, correct us into how to do things right, and train us in the righteousness that is by faith.[10] If we repent when he convicts,[11] and strengthen our devotion when he commends,[12] it won’t matter whether people support us in our sin, or disown us in our righteousness, we will be doing Jesus’ will,[13] and keeping in step with his Spirit.[14]

          Every day I give praise to Jesus because of something specific he teaches me from his word. Sometimes I give praise to Jesus because that something specific he teaches me from his word so obviously touches on something specific that has happened to me. This deliberate application of the word of God to a unique circumstance I am facing is like a wonderfully soothing balm that heals the wounds that seem to come too often, and last too long. The more I know the sovereign Savior who is the only one who truly opens and closes doors, and leads me through both my wounding and my healing, the more I can rest in his words of victory that wait for me each morning.

          From my heart,


© 2013 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~

Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.)

[1] Revelation 3:7-13
[2] Revelation 3:7
[3] Revelation 3:9
[4] Revelation 3:8
[5] Acts 17:1-9
[6] Acts 17:10-15
[7] Matthew 13:53-58
[8] Matthew 15:21-28
[9] Revelation 3:13
[10] II Timothy 3:16-17
[11] Revelation 2:5, 16,21,22; 3:3,19
[12] Revelation 2:2-3, 6; 2:9; 2:13; 2:19; 3:4; 3:8
[13] Romans 12:1-2
[14] Galatians 5:25

Friday, March 22, 2013

Revelation Videos: Resurrecting a Dead Church

It is a difficult thing when a church thinks it is alive and Jesus says it is dead. Here we look at what this means, and how to come to Jesus in the repentance and faith that can raise churches from the dead.

Considerations: The Bad and the Good of Who I Am

I have lived much of my lifetime trying to prove to people I’m not as bad as they say I am. That’s the down-side of the valley. I’m starting up the up-side of the valley where I am discovering how good I am to the one who knows, more than anyone, how bad I am.

This is one facet of the wonder-filled blessing of the gospel of Jesus Christ, that the one we have been baddest with, who has the power and authority to give us the longest and most painful time-out we could ever imagine, receives me to himself as if I was just as good as his Son, Jesus Christ.

And then, as we grow in this wonder-filled relationship with Jesus Christ, actually becoming like him along the path of God’s unfailing work of salvation, we discover that Jesus himself was treated as one who was as bad as people believed him to be, and yet he never once defended himself. He didn’t have to. He and the Father both knew who he was.

The more I come to know who I am the way my heavenly Father knows who I am, the less I need to give any thought to proving that I’m not what people say I am. Jesus promises to answer them in his time. It is time for me to listen to him instead.
From my heart,
© 2013 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~
Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Revelation Video: "Thyatira: Good Works, Bad Tolerance"

The church in Thyatira (Revelation 2:18-28) was commended for their walk with God, but they had one glaring deficiency: they were allowing a "Jezebel" to poison their church with false teaching and sinful conduct. In this study we consider what Jesus taught this church, and teaches us through this church.

Considerations: A Disapproving Way to Be Like Jesus

Jesus told his disciples that they would be treated the same way as he was treated. I have seen this in many ways, from my own experiences in churches, hearing the war-stories of others, and following the accounts of the persecuted church from around the world.

Today I was drawn to one more facet of this life. In the same way as people judged that Jesus was “stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted” (Is 53:4), many will think that the hardships Jesus’ brothers go through are afflictions from God, or proof that these people are under God’s disapproval.

Jesus’ enemies mocked him while he was on the cross, saying, “let God deliver him now, if he desires him” (Mt 27:43). In their minds, the proof of God’s approval would be Jesus’ deliverance from execution. They did not know that God would bring the greatest victory of all through Jesus’ death, and that Jesus was dying for the sins of others.

Now that these others come into the salvation Jesus’ purchased on the cross, they face the same mocking and jeering from the world that believes that the world’s approval is God’s approval, and their disapproval must surely also be God’s disapproval. Many who know that they suffer unfairly can take great comfort from that fact that this is what Jesus experienced to bring us into such a great salvation.

And, God not only told us, seven hundred years before it took place, that this is what would happen to Jesus; he also tells us that those who suffer according to God's will (should) entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good” (I Peter 4:19). The world will continue mocking and mistreating God’s children, no doubt about that; but let there also be no doubt that we will continue living the life that pleases Jesus Christ our Savior, the most unfairly treated person in all of history.
From my heart,

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A Trio of Helps for the Spirit-led Life

          A few months back I was listening to a message focusing on the difference between handling troubling situations in the sark (the flesh), or in the Spirit.[1] The sark-life means we are depending on ourselves to figure out how to handle problems, while the Spirit-led life means we are depending on God to lead us in his will through whatever problem-situations we are facing.

          The application of this message came down to three things we can do that will keep us in the Spirit-led life, rather than falling into the trap of the sark-led life. The first is to “witness” to God about what people have done or said. The second is to “leave” the whole situation to God to work out according to his perfect will. And, the third is to “join” God in whatever he is doing with “us”, without giving any further time imagining what he should do with “them”.

          As there seems to be no end of problems enticing our sarks to take over, here are some thoughts of encouragement to show how working through these three steps as often as needed will, at the very least, encourage us in the direction of the Spirit-led life.

1.  Witnessing to God

          In both the Old and the New Testaments, God requires that his people deal with conflicts, accusations and sin by establishing everything with two or three witnesses.[2] Under both covenants, no one can be declared guilty just on the say-so of one person.[3] Every matter must be established by multiple witnesses.[4]

          The emphasis on witnessing to God is that we stay within the bounds of a witness. We do not talk to God as an accuser who knows all that another person is guilty of doing (because we don’t). The red dragon does enough accusing of God’s children that we don’t need to join his work. We do not talk to God as a judge, as though we know exactly what a person has done and how they should be sentenced (only God can do that). We do not present our opinions of what people have done, our suspicions, our concerns, our worries, or, what our home church affectionately calls our “column 3” perceptions.

          The only thing we can present to God as a witness is the facts of what happened, and the effect it is having on us. We witness to God about what we saw the person do, with no reference to why we think he or she did it. We present the objective facts to God as real things that have happened, and we tell God all that it has done to us.

          A favorite expression from the Scriptures in this regard is, With my voice I cry out to the Lord; with my voice I plead for mercy to the Lord. I pour out my complaint before him; I tell my trouble before him.”[5] This is the description of witnessing to God, to present the specific complaint we have about what someone has done to us, and put the trouble the person has caused “before him”.

2.  Leaving it With God

          The second step is to “leave” it with God. I often hear people say that they tried to leave something with God but, before they knew it, they had picked it right back up again. One reason for this pattern is that we have not finished witnessing to God about what people did to us. In other words, we try leaving a problem with God before we have even talked to him about the problem. It isn’t really that we want to carry the problem, it’s that we don’t know God well enough to fully lay our complaints before him until we have that feeling of, “it was sure good to get that off my chest.” If we do the first step first, and to completion, we will find it easier to persevere in the second step as well.

          Leaving things with God is based on the reality of who God is and what he is like. He is good, he is loving, he is all-wise, he has all-knowledge, he has all-power, he is perfect in justice as well as in mercy. In other words, we leave things with God because he is the only one who can possibly know how to figure out how to do the right thing with so many people, problems, hidden sins, levels of maturity, and all the surrounding plans and purposes of God that are always working towards their fulfillment in Christ.

          Paul explains this for us in reference to a common longing to inflict vengeance on people who have wronged us. He wrote, “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’”[6] We can “leave” all wrong-doing against us to “the wrath of God” because he alone can express wrath against sin without it being contaminated by sarkiness. At the same time, we must understand the difference between ourselves and God when he says, “Vengeance is mine”. That means it is not mine, or yours, or anyone else’s. Only God has the right and authority to distribute vengeance as his perfect wisdom has so decided.

          Within this picture there is also a promise that tells us, “I will repay, says the Lord”. Our ability to leave things with God rests on our faith in his justice. If we tell God our troubles, and lay our complaint before him for what people have done to us, we can only leave it with him if we believe that he will repay.

          God’s promise to repay is just that, a promise. However, part of leaving things to God is trusting that he will either “repay” the person for their sins if they never turn to Jesus Christ for forgiveness; or he has already exacted payment for that sin from Christ because that person has received Christ by repentance and faith. Since we do not have the knowledge, wisdom, love, justice, or mercy to know which of these to apply, we leave it to God.

3.  Joining God’s work in us

          One of the best cures to constantly advising God on what he should be doing to others is to focus on what he is doing with us. For example, if we were injured in a car accident, the doctor would be interested in the history of what happened only so far as it would tell him what condition we were in. Once he had heard enough, he would expect us to let him do his work of helping us get better.

          In the same way, when we have told God all about what people did to us, and we have chosen to trust him with whatever he deems best to do to them (or for them), we can then put all our focus on what God is doing with us. He may have things to heal, he may have insights to give, he may have maturity-work to do to help us grow up, he may have sins to forgive. Whatever our condition because of what people have done to us, God has plans for making us better.

          One way to join God in his work in our lives is to spend time in the word every day, listening to whatever the Holy Spirit is working to teach us. As we recognize the things God is teaching us in his word, and if we seek to put those things into practice in all that we do, we will find all kinds of applications of his word to things we are going through, as well as to the relationships he brings together among his people.

          God’s word shows us both the individual and corporate aspects of his work, and so we must consider how God is working in us individually, but also how this fits in with what he is doing with his church. Many times I have witnessed a group of people receive great encouragement as each person simply shared what they were learning in the word of God that week, and realized that God was tying it all together in a theme that showed he was working to get us all focused on the same thing, heading in the same direction.

          Since the three activities of witnessing, leaving, and joining have come together in my mind, I have found it easier to remember what it is I am witnessing to God about, what it is I am leaving with him, and what it is I am to focus on as I move forward from any bad experiences. The more I take my thoughts captive in this way,[7]the more peace I feel.[8] I trust that you will find the same for yourself.

          From my heart,



© 2013 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~
Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.)

[1] Jim Wilder’s audio message on “The Picker”
[2] Deuteronomy 17:6;  Matthew 18:16; I Timothy 5:19; Hebrews 10:28
[3] Deuteronomy 19:15; I Timothy 5:19
[4] II Corinthians 13:1
[5] Psalm 142:1-2
[6] Romans 12:19
[7] II Corinthians 10:5
[8] Philippians 4:4-7