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The notion of self-worth or self-esteem is a part of the human experience that everyone will grapple with at some point in life. We may struggle with understanding our value as a person when we are enduring an emotionally difficult time. The circumstances may be the loss of a job, or it may be rejection by a close friend, a parent, or even a spouse. For some, the struggle for understanding one’s worth can be an almost daily battle. Going from one emotional disappointment to another, from one relational trainwreck to another, whether real or perceived, can be very damaging to one’s sense of self-worth.

If you are struggling with the matter of self-worth, the first thing that you need to look at is the very name of the concept. “Self-worth” is by definition, a self-evaluation of your own value. Therein lies the problem. Perhaps an illustration from the world of real estate will be helpful to understand the nature of this problem. Ask any realtor about this, and they will have lots of stories of people who want to sell their house but have no idea of it’s actual market value. Sellers will approach a realtor with sometimes wildly unrealistic ideas of what their house is worth. Sometimes their notion of worth is too low, but usually it is too high. The realtor’s job is to do research and to properly estimate the worth of their property so that it can be sold in a reasonably short amount of time for a reasonably good price. It takes skill on the part of the realtor to break the news to someone that their house is worth only a fraction of what they thought it was worth; not a job I would enjoy! In the end, even what the realtor estimates may not be the correct number. It is the free market which determines the ultimate value of my house. It is worth whatever someone is willing to pay.

This illustration shows that we are not good at determining what our house is worth, and we are no better at determining what we are worth. Determining our own self-worth is a futile exercise of circular reasoning. It goes like this. I am worth what I think I am worth, but my thoughts about my worth are only worth as much as I am worth. Did you get that? Ok, when I think highly of myself, then I also think highly of my thought process which determined my self-worth at that moment. That’s when everything is great, the sun is shining, and everybody loves me. But, when I my self-worth is running low, my thoughts are also running low, nobody loves me, my world is coming to an end. The very meter which I use to measure my self-worth is calibrated according to those things which I am measuring to determine the value which I have placed on myself. This is circular reasoning.

In an attempt to escape this circular reasoning, we may go to outside sources to get an estimate of our self-worth. This is like going to a realtor to get an estimate of the value of my house. We may get our notion of self-worth from what others think of us and that, once again, is great when everybody loves us. On the other hand, there can be times in life when the closest of friends reject us in the most shockingly hurtful ways. When that happens with friends to whom we gave the keys to our self-worth, we can be thrown into the abyss of self-pity and self-loathing. Thus the opinions of friends (who are as fickle about estimating worth as we are) do not provide for us a useful, or even stable notion of what we are worth.

This is why we must go to the ultimate source for determining what we are worth. In the real estate illustration, that ultimate source was the free market. In our lives as human beings created in the image of God, the ultimate source is Jesus Christ. Only He should have the keys to determining your self-worth. Only He has the necessary understanding of who you are. Only He has the correct motives for determining the course of your life and your eternity.

Does your personal estimate of self-worth really matter all that much? Is the estimate of your worth in the eyes of others really that important?

This is what Jesus Christ says about the value of His followers.

Matthew 10:28-31

28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. 30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

This is what the Apostle Paul says about the love of Christ for you.

Ephesians 3:14-19

14 For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

As in the real estate example, your house is worth only as much as someone is willing to pay. You are worth what Jesus Christ was willing to pay.

Romans 5:8

8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

November 29th, 2016

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make-way-for-ducklings-boston_cropIn our home state of Massachusetts, there is a new challenge to the freedom of religion.

This challenge comes in the form of a new transgender accommodations law which allows the use of public restrooms, locker rooms, shower facilities, and any other traditionally sex-segregated accommodations on the basis of “gender identity” rather than biological gender. This law, called the “Bathroom and Locker Room Law” by those who oppose it, gives the right to anyone whose “gender-related identity is sincerely held as part of one’s core identity“ to use the public facilities of whichever gender they identify with, regardless of whether or not it is in accordance with their biological gender.

An example of what this law allows, and indeed protects, is the ability for a biological male, who sincerely believes that he is a woman, to freely use the women’s locker room at the local gym. The new law allows this, and also stipulates that any who might protest against this situation is subject to fines and imprisonment.

So, you may be thinking, “What does this have to do with the freedom of religion?” To answer that question, we must consider what religion is. Religion, as defined by my favorite search engine, is “a particular system of faith and worship.”

Religion, at it’s core, consists of the activities which surround the expression of faith. At the expense of boring you with more definitions, let’s look at what faith is. A good working definition of faith is that it is “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” In other words, faith is a sincere and hopeful belief in that which cannot be seen or cannot be scientifically proven.

Thus, it seems quite clear that a person’s “sincerely held” belief regarding their gender identity, which is in opposition to the observable evidence of their actual biological gender, is a statement of faith. In fact, it can be nothing other than a statement of faith.

As the saying goes, If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck. In the same way, if an individual’s gender identity is not based on their observable biological identity but rather it is based on a sincerely held belief, then it very much looks like a matter of faith.

It can then be properly understood that the practice of their faith is expressed by dressing differently, using the opposite bathroom, etc. These are some of the external expressions associated with their faith. Just like when a Muslim wears a burka, or a Christian wears a cross, a transgender individual may wear clothing which is consistent with their faith-based identity.

In a pluralistic society, this is all well and good. That is, until the government mandates by law, under threat of fines and imprisonment, that everyone else has to agree to the statement of transgender faith. This is the result of the “Bathroom and Locker Room Law” in Massachusetts. Everyone is forced to adhere to the tenents of the transgender faith. As far as I can see, this plays out in three different ways.

There is the most obvious case where a man, who sincerely believes that he is a woman, is standing fully undressed in the presence of other women in a locker room (please don’t think that this hasn’t already happened). He may be practicing his faith, but I can tell you for sure that while the women in that room are not interested in practicing his faith, they are compelled by law to do so, or leave the room. In that moment, they are forced to practice in his faith, and they are stripped of any ability to not practice his faith. Their locker room has become his state-sanctioned faith experience.

Secondly, according to the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) gender identity guidance legal document, the act of not using the “preferred name and gender pronoun” of someone’s sincerely held gender identity constitutes “sex discrimination”. If that didn’t sink in, let me say it this way. If you do not call him “her”, or her “him”, based on his or her belief, then you are in violation of the law. Can there be a clearer case of the government forcing individuals to verbally affirm the statement of faith of another individual? It is difficult to imagine a more clear violation of religious conscience than to force an individual to verbally affirm the tenants of another’s faith.

Finally, the implications of what was just stated above applies to churches. There are no special provisions in the “Bathroom and Locker Room Law” that exempt churches from its reach. Thus, churches, which are wholly devoted to the expression of particular faiths are being forced by the government to ascribe to the tenants of a faith which may be entirely at odds with their own beliefs.

In the context of Christianity, it is of paramount importance for pastors and parishioners alike to have the freedom to speak with biblical and loving expressions of truth. Whatever the sin, whatever the offense which has been committed against a holy God, the first step towards repentance, forgiveness, and ultimately salvation, is understanding the truth about the offense. It is a grievously flawed law which inserts itself into that process, blocking the very words that might be spoken in order to bring about forgiveness and restoration to a precious soul.

September 16th, 2016

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August 29th, 2016

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rhodeislandIn 1664 Rhode Island’s seal emerged depicting an anchor with the word “Hope”.  Given these two elements, plus Roger William’s evangelical background, the motto probably comes from the Bible verse: “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and steadfast”.

On August 31, Franklin Graham will bring his “Decision America Tour” to our Statehouse, where we get to hear more about Rhode Island’s “Hope”. During this election season, the tour seeks to have people pray for our country and its leaders, as well as preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ- mankind’s only “firm and steadfast” hope.

As Rhode Islanders, we tend to feel weighed down under a dark cloud of corrupt government, violence in society, broken families, poor leadership choices, etc. Whatever promises or expectations we may have been given so far are generally false or fleeting. Graham seeks to go beyond what this world has to offer and give us a message! of assurance through faith in God and belief in His Son. A call to repent of our sins and believe in the sinless Savior, who suffered God’s wrath in our place. He died and was raised to life so His chosen people could receive new life, eternally secured with God.

People generally do not come to Smith Hill to speak with us about such an “anchor for the soul”, this hope realized through an unchanging, trustworthy God. Please consider these matters and hear more at our State House August 31. Our time is short.

David Northup

August 26th, 2016

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March 17th, 2016

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The new year is coming and it sounds like a good time to seek the Lord.  Ok, it’s always a good time to seek the Lord.  The Knights of Worship will be joining us on Saturday, January 2nd at 7:00 PM to lead us in thoughtful and joyful worship through music and fellowship.

Recently at Heritage Christian Church, we have been preaching on the 24th and 25th chapter of the gospel of Matthew.  If there is anything that can be learned and applied from the “Olivet Discourse”, it is the idea that we must be ready to meet our God.

Matthew 24:42-44

42 Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. 43 But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. 44 Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

Whether this passage refers to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD, or the 2nd coming of Jesus, or the moment when you and I will stand before the sovereign judge of all, its caution still rings true.  Be ready!

So, you might ask, what does this have to do with a coffeehouse?  Well, we begin with an understanding that the purpose and destiny of every Christian is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.  This is portrayed for us in the book of Revelation as the multitude of saints participating in joyful and unencumbered vocal worship (Rev 4-5).  Whenever we gather together as the people of God to worship together, we are preparing for the ultimate worship service.  This preparation for eternity is not only meant to give us an experience of enjoyment, but it also is meant to incline our hearts to the worthiness of Jesus Christ, bringing us to a deeper understanding of His mercy and His love, expressed through His ultimate sacrifice on Calvary.

Let us be diligent in preparing our hearts for eternity by every means that has been so graciously provided to us by our Father in heaven.  Gathering together as His people for the purpose of singing His praises is a perfect opportunity to do that.  It has been my experience that these evenings with Knights of Worship have been a rich blessing and we hope that you will be able to join us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

December 18th, 2015

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Oct 3rd CoffeehouseOn Saturday Oct 3rd, come join us at 7pm for an evening of intimate fellowship and worship.  This is our 2nd coffeehouse event with Brethren and we are looking forward again to having a night of uplifting words and music.

Colossians 3:14-17 says this:

14 But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. 15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. 17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

Love, peace, and truth are some of the inseparable elements of the Christian life.  It is the truth of God, found in the word of God, that makes love and peace meaningful, or in fact even possible.

There is a connection between having the love and peace of God rule in your hearts and having the truth of God communicated to your mind.  Music has a way of achieving this which is exceedingly powerful.  As I think back to the coffeehouse in July, it is these things that I found to be in abundant supply.

Having the truth of Christ communicated through music, and experiencing the peace and love of the Christ in fellowship with others, these are the things which we look forward to.  Hope to see you there.

September 25th, 2015

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In chapters 22-26 of the book of Acts, we are given a detailed account of the defense that the Apostle Paul gave during his arrest under the Roman government.  His legal strategy was to follow an appeals process which brought him before local officials, a regional governor, and finally the king.  Appealing to the various levels of government, his defense was based upon the laws of Rome and his rights as a Roman citizen.  While he testified in his own defense before the various government officials, he also used the opportunity to proclaim the truth about the resurrected Christ and His gospel.

What can we as Christians learn from this?  We learn that Paul did not shrink from his duty to see justice prevail in his dealings with the Roman government.  We also learn that Paul did not hesitate to defend himself using strategies that he believed would be truthful and effective.  Finally, at every opportunity, he spoke, even to the highest levels of government, about the absolute truth of Jesus Christ the Lord.

On Friday, August 28th at 7:00 pm, we will be hosting Andrew Beckworth, President of Massachusetts Family Institute.  This will be an opportunity for all who attend to hear about the work that is being done in our state to protect, defend, and restore religious freedom, justice under the law, and biblical righteousness.  While these things are necessary, the most important work of proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ in the public square is also being upheld by the Massachusetts Family Institute.

A native of West Newbury, Massachusetts, Andrew graduated summa cum laude from Gordon College and cum laude from the University of Minnesota Law School. From 2004 to 2007, he served as a judge advocate in the U.S. Marine Corps in Japan, and he continues to serve our country in the Marine Reserves with the rank of major. From 2007 to 2012, he served as assistant chief counsel in the Boston Office of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Andrew is a man of strong faith and devoted to his wife, Karen, and their three children. He is a also committed to defending the sanctity of life, the dignity of natural marriage, and our Constitutional rights to religious freedom. Currently, Andrew serves as the President of Massachusetts Family Institute, the leading pro-family voice in the Commonwealth. From the State House to local schools and houses of worship, Andrew is dedicated to leading MFI’s mission of strengthening the family and affirming the Judeo-Christian values upon which it is based.

Please come join us for this event and for refreshments to follow.  It will be held at our location on 54 Olney St, Seekonk, MA.

 

August 16th, 2015

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This coming Friday, joins us in Seekonk for an evening of Christian acoustic music. Our friends Ray and Smitty will be with us, and we will together make music in our hearts to the Lord. I have found their music to be honoring to God and uplifting to my soul.

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July 13th, 2015

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