Friday, August 24, 2018

Jesus Sets us Free From any A, B, C or D

The first conscious hint that the church-world I was part of did not believe that Jesus sets people free was back when I was beginning my introduction to the hopelessness of eating disorders. The unified message from church leaders and peers was, “So sorry that poor person is struggling with an eating disorder because now they’re stuck with it for the rest of their lives.”

Okay… so that didn’t sound right. But why did they assume that someone struggling with something that was hopeless from a human standpoint meant it was hopeless for Jesus as well?

Along the way, I learned some very painful lessons about church leaders having no answer to things I was facing in ministry. Even senior-aged pastors responded to my talk about people suffering with memories of childhood sexual abuse, or various expressions of dissociation, with a clear message of non-interest. In fact, their non-interest was to the point that I never heard from them ever again! Sigh.

After some years, I came to a conclusion: virtually every church-going person I ever got to know would reach a point in their lives where they faced something inside them that they would not address because they did not believe Jesus could set them free. They did not believe that their particular issue of sin, or hurt, or dissociation, or coping mechanism, or whatever else they would describe of their hidden world, qualified for any of God’s promises to heal the brokenhearted, bind up their wounds, deliver, save, or help.

Somewhere in there, I made another discovery: this same problem went back to my early years as a child of God! The traumatic things I experienced at home where never discussed. No questions were asked. Even the one night I ran away from home because I couldn’t stand the pain, people who had been out looking for me never asked me later what was wrong. There was simply no message that whatever was going on in my life, or in my heart, Jesus had a way to set me free that was better than running away from pain.

More recently, churches have been publicly communicating that whatever letter of the alphabet people use to describe their sin, the church must welcome them with open arms and make them feel right at home doing what they are doing. The church is apparently supposed to accept such people in love because they can’t help themselves and... well, you guessed it… Jesus no longer sets people free.

Where do I stand in this?

Answer: the same place I began standing when I first heard about eating disorders and childhood sexual abuse. Jesus sets people free.

No matter which letter of the alphabet people use to describe their eating addiction (A for Anorexia, B for Bulimia, C for Compulsive Over-eating, D for Denial), the underlying worthlessness and hopelessness have the same cure: Jesus sets people free.

What about all the other letters of the alphabet people use to describe their hopeless sin problems?

Same answer: Jesus sets people free.

God’s promises in this regard are written like this:

“The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners."

God describes himself like this so we will know his good intentions towards us:

“He heals the brokenhearted    and binds up their wounds.”[1]

This prophecy 700 years before Jesus’ lived among us was fulfilled in Jesus’ life and ministry:

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,    because the LORD has anointed meto bring good news to the poor;    he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,to proclaim liberty to the captives,    and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor,    and the day of vengeance of our God;    to comfort all who mourn;[2]

Jesus described the fulfillment of this prophetic promise like this:

And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,    because he has anointed me    to proclaim good news to the poor.He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives    and recovering of sight to the blind,    to set at liberty those who are oppressed,to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.” And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”[3]

Which is why Jesus continues to present this invitation to people today as he did twenty centuries ago:

"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”[4]

This is not an exhaustive list of the promises of God for our freedom. It is a summary of why I reject all the negative messages regarding Jesus’ inability to set people free. God’s word says he will still do these things for all who relate to him in faith; I have seen him do so as often as people have trusted him and followed where he was leading, and I will present Jesus as the hope of the nations until the day I die.

I’m sure we could write an ABC book that listed the sins associated with every letter of the alphabet. It would not matter whether we used ancient or contemporary terms to describe either our broken condition or the sins we express, the message would be the same: Jesus sets people free.

For a long time, I have lived by the aim: “Leading people to freedom in Christ so they can experience God in a real and personal way.” I have not heard of any area of bondage or oppression that contradicts this hope. God has given us too many promises for us to miss out on what he would do even now if we turned to him with all our hearts and souls.

Oh yes, that reminds me of another promise: 

“But from there you will seek the LORD your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul.”[5]

Let me know if you need help.

© 2018 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~
Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.)

[1] Psalm 147:3
[2] Isaiah 61:1-2
[3] Luke 4:17-21 (context: Luke 4:16-30)
[4] Matthew 11:28-30
[5] Deuteronomy 4:29

Monday, August 20, 2018

Home Church Video ~ Wisdom Above, Wisdom Below, It All Depends On Who We Know ~ Part 1

Our home church is working through a paragraph on the book of James that begins with the question, “Who is wise and understanding among you?”[1]

In this introduction to a short series on this passage, we begin considering how the fear of God is necessary to wisdom. God’s word declares, “The fear of the LORD (Yahweh) is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever!”[2]

Many people have fear-based issues where their lives are directed by the things that scare them. The fear of the God of the Bible might seem like just one large representation of the same thing.

However, in reality, the fear of Yahweh is the attachment in a relationship that heals and cures every other fear. And, it is when we know the safety and security of this fear of God that we begin to gain wisdom and understanding of everything to do with life.

Join our home church as we explore both God’s Book, and our hearts, to see how to enter into a relationship with God in which our reverential fear of Yahweh sets us free to become the wise and understanding children of God.

© 2018 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~
Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.)

[1] James 3:13 (paragraph is James 3:13-18)
[2] Psalm 111:10

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

My 60th Birthday Wishlist ~ Wish Number One

Well, my third wish for my 60th birthday was fulfilled last night with a fun time of ice skating at the Merritt Arena. I think this is the earliest in August I have ice skated since maybe the early 70’s when I participated in hockey schools as a young teenager. It was a great time.

Wish number two is somewhat uncertain as we scheduled a water fight for this afternoon but everything is literally “up in the air” given the smoke from wildfires has been so thick the last couple of days. If it clears enough by this afternoon, it may give us a green light to proceed with the plan. Otherwise, it will be an indoor snowball fight to hold us over for a nice clear and hot day.

Wish number one needs no special conditions except for meeting people who wonder about life as much as I do. This would potentially open the door for me to do my favourite thing in the whole wide world, which is to talk with others about the significance of knowing and loving Jesus Christ, our Creator and Savior.

Since childhood, I have not only had big questions about life, but I have had to answer them in the midst of conflict regarding the answers. I was not brought up in a home where one worldview surrounded me and I simply slipped into the family beliefs and values.

Rather, I grew up aware that my parents had opposing ideas about life, and this forced me to process what I believed from a young age.

However, what I came to believe about life did not solidify through any kind of personal skill at uncovering and answering the biggest questions we face. It was more like constantly discovering that someone was actively pursuing me to show me the truth, and every facet of truth I discovered settled the most serious of the who, what, when, where, why and how questions of life.

My first recollection of being pursued by God was when I was around seven years old. I was standing by myself in the front yard of our home in Sandspit, and as I looked up in the eastern sky, I was suddenly aware that someone was looking down with a keen interest in this little child. Simply put, I knew God was watching me, and somehow I knew that was a good thing.

The next spiritual marker was when I was twelve years old sitting in a boys' Sunday School class. At the end of that day’s lesson, our teacher explained what I now understand to be the gospel, the good news of salvation. As he explained how Jesus died for our sins in order to secure our forgiveness from God, it clicked. I got it. Even a good kid like me was a sinner who could never claim to have loved God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength, or loved my neighbour as myself. Jesus came to find me and save me.

In a small way, I understood that my early awareness of God watching me now had an explanation. God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son so that whoever believes in him would not perish but have eternal life.[1] He led me to believe in him, and so I began to understand that his watching over me was not only a good thing, it was also a loving thing.

A few years later, I had another step forward in my relationship with God. The churches of the Abbotsford, BC, area had brought in a speaker by the name of Barry Moore to share the good news about Jesus with anyone who would listen. Our youth group went for one of these evening sessions in the MSA arena, and during that night’s message, something else became very clear.

What I understood that night was simply that Jesus’ death for my sins was a once-for-all event, and I only had to receive it in a once-for-all kind of way. Because I grew up thinking I was invisible and stupid, every time I heard someone repeating the gospel message in a sermon, I felt like a worthless worm who needed to ask God’s forgiveness all over again, EVERY! SINGLE! TIME!

It was such a relief to get this, that when God leads us to faith in his Son, we receive a new life in which we live forever. God does not give us the Holy Spirit as a spiritual paramedic who has to do CPR on us every time we hear the gospel because somehow we died since the last time we came alive.

Rather, there is life in God’s Son, and when we enter that life by grace through faith, we have eternal life. Period.

By the time I as in my late teens, I knew that knowing and loving Jesus Christ was the most important thing in life. Jesus is our Creator, so how could we ever find anyone better to know?[2] He is the only Savior of the world, so why would I want to look to anything or anyone else for a sense of security regarding my present experience and my impending death? He is also the judge before whom we all will stand, so the discovery that God was determined to save me from his own judgment against my sin by pouring out that judgment on his Son, priceless!

I will likely use the coming days to elaborate on these things. In fact, I am sure I will use the rest of my life to share the same good news about Jesus that brought me to know and love him as my God, my Savior, my Creator, my King, and even my firstborn brother.

I understand that I have not necessarily shared enough to convince anyone of the validity of knowing and loving Jesus Christ. My real birthday wish is that anyone reading this who does not already see the supreme value in a relationship with Jesus our Creator, that you would please give me the opportunity to share with you in a personal way.

The bottom line is that every which way I have seen Jesus and his Book challenged, criticized, scrutinized, even mocked and slandered, it has always come out that the challengers don’t stand up to the wisdom and knowledge of God’s word (or his Word, if you would let me explain over coffee). I would simply like the opportunity to explain this in a just-between-me-and-you kind of way.

So, in conclusion (I just had to say that), I don’t need anything else for my birthday; an opportunity like this would do me just fine!

© 2018 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~

[1] This is a paraphrase of John 3:16
[2] Yes, in spite of all the false claims of the evolutionary religion, science loudly confirms that Jesus Christ created all things. 

Sunday, August 12, 2018

My 60th Birthday Wishlist ~ Wish Number Two

Since a 60th birthday is kind of a once-in-a-lifetime experience, I hope you will allow me a bit of opportunity to ramble on about things that matter to me in life. Here is the next installment of my focus on the three wishes that are most prominent in my celebration of this particular birthday.

My third wish for my 60th birthday is going ice skating, and that should take place Monday, August 13 from 6:00-7:30 pm at the Merritt arena.[1]

My second wish is for a daycare water fight on the afternoon of my birthday, Tuesday, August 14, with present daycare kids and any alumni who would like to join in the fun. I will elaborate upon the significance of this wish in today’s post.

My first wish, most important of all, is to share personally with anyone who is willing why knowing and loving the Lord Jesus Christ in this present age is the life of my life, so to speak, the thing that drives everything else that matters to me.

So, why would a guy who (technically speaking) is a grown man look forward to a water fight with a bunch of little kids?

Sharing in a family-style daycare in our home is one more of those things in life that my wife and I had never planned. In fact, our one regret with the whole adventure is that we did not start sooner!

After almost fifteen years of sharing life with the children in our home, there are many things that have wonderfully impacted me. While I happily share how spending time with kids does tend to keep a person feeling younger, there is another side of such relationships that helps us grow up.

When I consider the impact of children on my life, I think the first and foremost quality the Little Ones have brought is their capacity to be real.

In context, by the time we reach our adult years, many of us are so broken and dissociative from the actual condition of our souls that we’re hard-pressed to be real ourselves, let alone find mature adults living as their authentic selves.[2]

What I have recognized with children is that they usually have not yet learned the pretenses and role-playing that are common among us grown-ups.[3] Yes, some Little Ones have already been wounded by traumatic experiences and their coping skills are already well entrenched. However, in most cases, children are wonderful examples of being real.

I recall vividly the first summer that we had children ranging in age from 2 to 8 years old. Much of that season I spent marveling at what I saw in each of the children, and in the social dynamic they shared together.

This was particularly significant to me because I was 9 years old when we moved away from Sandspit on the Queen Charlotte Islands, and by that age, I had already come to see myself as both invisible and stupid. Somehow I knew that people could not see the real me and were quite okay with that, and “stupid” is the best summary of how I felt about myself.

So, watching children spread out over the various ages reflected in my seven years of growing up in Sandspit taught me a lot about children in general and myself in particular. What I learned was that children are neither invisible nor stupid (unless they are taught to feel that way). Left to themselves in a loving and nurturing environment, all the children showed that their lives mattered very much, and that they were brilliant, creative and inspiring little creatures.

How does that connect to a water fight for a 60th birthday celebration?

Simply put, over the years I have discovered the value of a man’s affirmation of children’s worth. Listening to their stories, smiling at their referencing, returning them to joy in their hurts, joining their fun and games, and always having a pocket full of Tic Tacs, has been a wonderful way to communicate to children that they are seen, and they are treasured.

One of the things that give our Little Ones an amazing dose of relational joy is to pull out the water-squirters or the fire hose on a hot summer’s afternoon. Getting everyone wet is not only a lot of un, but also a great way to cool down. And, the fascinating thing is that the Children don’t seem to have as much fun doing this among themselves as when they can try their best to get me soaked in the process.

For some time now, I have appreciated the immense value in multi-generational social groups. When we first started daycare my wife and I were in the upper end of the parenting level of life, and now we are well-established in the grand-parenting aspect of this dynamic.

In fifteen years, I can see that I’m not quite as agile in a daycare soccer game as even a decade ago. I also now let the kids do most of the running in the water fights and other adventures. But maturing through the years increases what an old guy has to offer a multi-generational group such as a daycare setting provides.

This means that I fully expect to continue water fights and other activities as long as we continue our daycare life. But, more than that, I look forward to sharing my growing view of life with whichever children we have in our daycare at any given time, as well as the treasured experiences when any of our alumni drop by and reconnect with us.

As long as we are free to mature to the level that most matches our age, children will always benefit from us doing so.

So, if you happen to hear or see anything going on in our backyard the afternoon of August 14th, 2018, and you see what appears to be an old guy running around spraying water on any kids he can catch, and you think you should tell me I ought to grow up, I would simply answer you that I already am. The smiles on the Little Ones’ faces and the joy in their little hearts blows me away with wonder that they know this as well as anyone else.

© 2018 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~ 

[2] Much of what our world pridefully declares to be real about them is not real at all but an outer role-playing fantasy that avoids how they are really doing on the inside. The suicide rate among people we thought had it all together in a real kind of way betrays that such is not the case. Others cope with the discrepancy with food and chemical dependencies (drugs and alcohol) and addictions of many varieties. These, too, declare that the role-playing so commonly accepted among us is not people living out of their real selves.
[3] A grown-up is an older person, not necessarily a mature person. It is important to note the distinction. 

Friday, August 10, 2018

My 60th Birthday Wishes

On Tuesday, August 14, 2018, I turn 60 years old. Yeeha!

In one way, no big deal. It’s just another day.

In another way… well… I’m getting old!

So, lots of thoughts about what my life has meant, what it is, and what to do with what’s left.

To celebrate this inevitable event, I have three birthday wishes. You are invited to share in any or all of them. Here they are in reverse order of importance. In the following days, I will explain why each one is important.

My third wish is to go public ice skating on or near my birthday. Yes, the ice is in for hockey schools and training camp, so I fully expect to do this. I just need to wait for the schedule to be posted in order to pick a time to go.

My second wish is to have an afternoon water fight at the daycare. Heat will be no problem since water fights have a way of cooling one down rather quickly. Smoke from all the wildfires may be an issue. At the moment, I’m aiming to do this on the afternoon of my birthday.

My first most important wish is that you would let me explain why knowing and loving the Lord Jesus Christ is the absolute most significant part of my whole sixty years, and will carry me through whatever time remains. Come for coffee (tea, water, kombucha also available); come alone or in a group, or start an email conversation. I’m open to almost anything, and will schedule in any opportunities that are available.

I had a really good walk around the truck route this morning. The smoke was thinner than yesterday afternoon, so I was thankful to fit this in. I’m feeling ready for wishes two and three.

However, before that, I had a really good time alone with my heavenly Father talking about life from his perspective. It was a good and growing time. I know I am prepared for my remaining time in life. I am also feeling ready for any opportunities to share my relationship with Jesus Christ with anyone who accepts the invitation.

So, stay tuned for developments in both my explanations and opportunities. I look forward to whatever is ahead.

© 2018 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~ 

My 60th Birthday Wishes ~ Wish Number Three

My three wishes for my sixtieth birthday (August 14) are to go for an ice skate close to that day, have a daycare water fight that afternoon with our Littles and any alumni who would like to join us, and have opportunity to personally share with all my friends why knowing and loving the Lord Jesus Christ is the absolute most significant part of my whole sixty years and beyond.

Today I would like to share why ice skating is still an important part of my life.

The best seven years of my childhood were spent growing up in Sandspit on the Queen Charlotte Islands (now Haida Gwaii). Due to the mild weather, I had never heard of anyone going ice skating in the winter. We only had one TV channel beamed over from Prince Rupert (CBC), so I do recall Hockey Night in Canada taking over Saturday evening programming but it didn’t seem very interesting at the time.

However, everything changed in Grade 8 when my family all got used ice skates and began the great adventure of learning to use those slippery varmints. As I recall, it was a rather bittersweet time as a very shy and insecure kid had to awkwardly maneuver around the arena boards without looking stupid.

Okay, so the looking stupid part may have been just my personal view of myself, but at that age, it was a very real difficulty for me. On one occasion there were three pretty high school age girls standing against the boards as I was trying to make my rounds. When I let go of the boards and tried to bravely skate past them without looking like a fool my feet slipped out from under me and I took them all down in one fell swoop, as they say. So much for not looking stupid!

It was not long before I was doing well enough with skating that I wanted to try playing hockey. I recall going to a hockey school that included Hale Lacoe who was coach of the Vancouver Canucks at the time, and one of the Vancouver players, Bob Dailey, who was in his rookie season (I think).

In no time, I was enthralled with minor hockey and fell in love with the fun and excitement of playing the game. Because I started so late (compared to most of the other guys), I had an enthusiasm for every game that many of the players had lost after years of league play. What I lacked in skill I often made up for with sheer determination.

As I look back on that time, I realize that I was driven by the satisfaction of discovering something that I did well. It was a new experience to be able to participate in an activity that did not seem to include the criticism and ridicule for never being good enough.

I did not know at the time that I was addicted to the dopamine-drive that was a counterfeit of what my heart really longed for. Even when I wanted to walk the ten miles to the arena in a snowstorm because my parents didn’t think it was safe to drive, I wasn’t aware of why it was so important. I just knew I desperately loved the game.

After a few years, something changed. First, it was the growing distaste for the ugly talk that took place in the dressing rooms. I had a love for God that was already maturing at that age, and to hear the vile ways fellow teens spoke about my heavenly Father, and about their love of indecent experiences, ruined things for me. Guys coming drunk to games didn’t help either. At the same time, I was also taking a beating to my sense of worth on other fronts. Together these two things shut down my desire to participate in the game.

During my Bible School years, I discovered that it was a different story playing with fellow students against one of the area church teams. The dressing room talk was clearly different, and I was with peers who expressed a lot of appreciation for me as a team player. While it lasted, it was just a heap load of fun in the midst of gruelling studies and the transitioning years into adulthood.

After that, I would sometimes be able to fit in some drop-in hockey and public skating, but as time passed, things to do with skating faded from my activities.

Then, eight years ago, a little girl who adopted Fern and me as grandparents (it was mutual), did her kindergarten year in our daycare. This meant getting creative with physical education. So, that year I began taking her to the Friday afternoon public skating and a new tradition was born. For the next eight years I continued taking her skating, soon joined by friends from her school (up to six kids one year), and adding her little sister sometime later.

Over these eight years of public skating, my age has crept up on me. I slowly noticed that I did not have the finesse of my younger years. Each season it seemed to take a bit longer to warm up the limbs and ligaments at each skating session. It also took more time to feel back in shape for the distinctive exercise skating provides.

On the other hand, the reason that going for a skate to celebrate my sixtieth birthday is so meaningful to me is that it allows me to do a fairly strenuous workout but without the jarring pressure of running. I have also enjoyed the social side of things as I have watched my granddaughters growing up, and have appreciated the other friendships we have shared.

So, it looks like my birthday skate will be on Monday evening, August 13th, from 6:00-7:30pm. If any friends or daycare alumni would like to share this start of the skating season, I would love the company. Otherwise, I just want to express my thankfulness to enjoy good health, and a growing desire to live every day to the glory and honour of Jesus Christ our Creator and Savior.

Yes, even with public skating!

© 2018 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~ 

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Home Church Video ~ The Righteousness, Peace and Joy of Jesus’ Kingdom

For the kingdom of God is not a matter 
of eating and drinking
but of righteousness and peace and joy 
in the Holy Spirit.
(Romans 14:17)

Since the apostle Paul wrote that the kingdom of God is a matter of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, all believers would agree that those descriptions obviously mean a lot to our understanding of our life in Christ.

However, what if the order in which the words are given also summarizes so many wonderful and glorious doctrines of God's word that the very sequence itself builds us up in our faith?

Join us in this home church video as we look at the meaning of each of these terms, how they work together to build us up in Christ, and how believers can unite for our mutual growth in joy as we thrive in the righteousness and peace we have in our Savior.

© 2018 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~

Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.)