Passionately His

Pursuing the Christian life in all its fullness

THE MISSING PEACE: Peace with yourself

Posted by Jeff on August 30, 2015

Warning:  if you listen to this message, it could be a game changer for you.

I’m serious!  In our world, where we tend to let others dictate who we really are, a message about having peace with yourself has never been more important.  I hope you will take time to listen.  It’s based on Psalm 139.1-18. Have a listen!  I’d be interested in hearing your response.  (Toward the end of the message, I showed this video.)

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Priorities, in light of eternity

Posted by Jeff on August 28, 2015

Sometimes, we say things inadvertently, without words. And sometimes, we give a message by what we do or don’t do, or by what we say or don’t say. Let me give you an example.

Last Sunday in my message, I was talking about having peace with one’s family. In Ephesians 6, the apostle Paul talks about the importance of treating one’s children well, and helping them to know the Lord. One way we do that is by giving our kids a theology.

When we tell our kids that they have multiple choices in their activities, that they can stay home and play video games, watch TV, or go to soccer practice or hockey practice or whatever, and tell them that they also can go to youth group (for example), what we’re saying to our kids is that each of these activities matters equally.

I’ll bet you didn’t think of that, did you?

That’s why it’s important to look at what we do with our kids, or how we order our own lives, in light of eternity. After all, which of those listed activities is apt to have the greatest impact on your kids in light of eternity?

Those activities are not all equal, are they?

When we look at activities we do, or that our children do, in light of their eternal impact, it helps us order our priorities even better. I’m not saying that hockey and soccer are bad, or even that video games or TV are bad (though we should be careful with those!), but there are activities that are better. Always choose the better for yourself, and help your kids do the same.

They may not thank you for it today, but down the road, they will.

Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it” (Proverbs 22.6, NLT).

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THE MISSING PEACE: Peace with your family

Posted by Jeff on August 23, 2015

Someone once said, “Everyone deserves a close, tightly-knit family…in another city.”  Family is often a source of conflict, because we often let down our guard with those closest to us.  So how can we know peace with our families?  Based on Psalm 133 and Ephesians 6.1-4, you can listen to the message and find out.  (By the way, the orange football was found…behind a stack of books in the pulpit!)

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You reap what you sow

Posted by Jeff on August 21, 2015

Apparently, there are a lot of nervous people walking the streets these days. News broke this week that Ashley Madison, an online agency that links people up for illicit extramarital affairs, had its website hacked, and some other website now gives the public access to all the email addresses of those who were connected to the agency.

Someone asked me what I thought of that, and the best I could come up with was the words of the apostle Paul to the churches of the region of Galatia: “You reap what you sow.”

If you are or have ever been married, you know that the relationship takes effort, and needs to be built into on an ongoing basis if it is to thrive and grow. Often, those who resort to affairs are in marriages where that effort is not happening through the efforts of one, or both parties. An affair seems to be the easy way to get the affection, or even the friendship, that should come from building up a marriage.

Those who might be “outed” by this very public website hacking do well to be concerned; it’s one thing to be worried about the availability of one’s personal information, but it’s another thing to be worried about where that personal information has been found. We do reap what we sow.

Even if your email address is not to be found in connection with Ashley Madison, this can be a lesson for you and me, too, and an encouragement to have an honest conversation with our spouse, if we have one, about how the relationship can be strengthened.

Reaping what you sow isn’t really intended to be a negative thing – for if the sowing we do builds our marriages, we will reap stronger marriages and healthier families and, therefore, a stronger society!

Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant.  Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit.  So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.  Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith” (Galatians 6.7-10, NLT).

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THE MISSING PEACE: Peace with your theology

Posted by Jeff on August 16, 2015

A lot of us are not very clear about what we believe, or why we believe it.  Sometimes, when we belong to a particular church or even community organization, it may be assumed we believe certain things when we’re not even aware of them or sure that we believe them.

The church needs to be composed of those who grow in understanding what they believe and why they believe it. That’s why it’s important to teach and preach about theology.  If we buy what we believe – if we put our money where our mouth is, theologically – we will be better equipped disciples of Jesus.

This message, based on Philippians 2.1-11, can be heard here:

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Victory is assured!

Posted by Jeff on August 14, 2015

It’s a great time to be a Blue Jays fan!

On Wednesday night, with a victory over Oakland, and a loss by the New York Yankees, the Toronto Blue Jays ascended into first place in the American League East. It came with the Jays’ second 10-game winning streak this season.

Pennant fever has struck Toronto in a way not seen since the early 1990s.

When this happens, people who otherwise pay almost no attention to baseball become rabid fans. We, O human race, are a bunch of bandwagoners.

Jesus had his share of fair-weather fans, too. When he was teaching about peace and love and justice, they were right there beside him. But when Jesus would teach about discipleship and holiness and taking up your cross, folks backed off faster than Blue Jays fans in a slump.

See, here’s the deal: Jesus does not call us to be fans, but to be followers…not to be showgoers, but to be students. Following Jesus isn’t always about being comfortable. Sometimes, the Lord’s call to us is decidedly uncomfortable, but the role of the disciple is to follow and learn, even when the going gets tough.

My wife’s aunt was a huge Blue Jays fan. She kept records and statistics for every game. She taught me – back in the day – that the best way to watch a Jays’ game on TV was to watch it with the sound muted, turn on the radio, and listen to Tom Cheek and Jerry Howarth call the game. And she cheered for the Jays even when they weren’t winning.

It can be difficult for us “cheer” for Jesus when the church seemingly is in a slump. But, unlike the Blue Jays, we know for certain that Jesus will win the final victory. Stand fast! Follow Jesus even when it’s not the ‘in’ thing to do. Victory is assured!

After all, the Blue Jays might win the World Series, but Jesus has overcome the world!

But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when you will be scattered, each one going his own way, leaving me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me. I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world” (John 16.32-33, NLT).

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THE MISSING PEACE: Peace with God

Posted by Jeff on August 9, 2015

Everybody wants peace.  Some want peace with God, some want the peace of God.  But everybody wants peace.  In this series, we’re going to look at the missing peace:  peace with God, peace with your theology, peace with your family, peace with yourself.  This week, in thinking about peace with God, we consider three steps that may help us with it.  At the end of the message, everyone was challenged to come up with some ways, prayerfully, that they could help others have God’s peace in their lives.  What would your answers be?

Based on Ephesians 2.1-3 and Philippians 4.4-9, you can listen to the message here:

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Promises, Promises…

Posted by Jeff on August 7, 2015

Last weekend, the Prime Minister asked the Governor General to dissolve Parliament, thereby sending Canadians into an election campaign – an eleven-week season that promises to be full of, well, promises.

While there will be heaping helpings of vitriol and negative advertising, we all hope that there also will be some positive statements made; after all, we want to know more about what a party or a candidate stands for than what a party or a candidate stands against. Yet recent Canadian electoral history, at all levels, suggests to us we will see (and hear) more negative than positive campaigning.

We sometimes become jaded at hearing campaign promises, because we know that once a government is elected, the reality it faces upon taking office almost by necessity changes the outlook of the party (and its leader and its members). Some allegations against others have to be retracted. Some promises have to be reconsidered.

Human promises are almost always like that, because we can’t see much of the future. We wonder what is around the corner, but until we round it, we can’t know.

Thankfully, God can see all of the future. God knows what is around the corner, and because of that reality, we know God’s promises will always be true.

What are your favourite promises of God? I’m fond of many, but two in particular stand out for me:

The Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31.6, NIV)

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”(Romans 8.38-39, NIV)

God’s promises, found everywhere in his Word, can be relied upon fully. What are your favourites?

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The 110

Posted by Jeff on August 2, 2015

I began this message by asking what is the world’s most precious commodity.  I got several answers, but the true answer is time.  I did some math to figure out what kind of time we have to use for non-sleep and non-church activities.  How can we make the best use of it?  Based on 2 Timothy 2.14-26, you can listen here to find out:

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Hearing and Doing

Posted by Jeff on July 31, 2015

Like many people, I was saddened to hear that a famous lion named Cecil had senselessly been killed recently in Zimbabwe by an American dentist. The outrage and vitriol that has been unleashed toward the man is unprecedented.

To be sure, it is a tragedy when an endangered animal is needlessly killed, as if for sport. We should seek to protect endangered species.

I wonder, though, why it is that western society finds it so easy to get behind causes – like Cecil’s – that are a world away, while we find it so much more difficult to stand up for causes that are closer to home?

I fear it may be because there is so much more effort involved in putting our money where our collective mouth is when it comes to supporting causes that are on our doorstep.

Last weekend, on my way home from a week of study and prayer, I visited something I might call the biggest model railroad in the world, except it’s not a model. It comprises a full-size 18-stall roundhouse, with turntable, all built to the standards of the mid-1900s, a backshop, and a whole bunch of steam and diesel locomotives – all 12-inches-to-the-foot scale. There had to be an investment of at least US$100 million on the property. And it was all built and amassed for the pleasure of the owner.

I found myself thinking, There are so many amazing things that could have been done with the money that’s tied up here. I have no idea what other wealth the owner has, or what he does with it, but I do know that $100 million would build a lot of Habitat For Humanity homes. It would serve as seed money for a lot of small businesses that would employ those without work. It would plant a lot of crops to feed the hungry.

But the fact is, I can’t do anything about what another rich person does with his money. I can only do what I can to support causes that matter to me – human causes, causes that are close to the heart of God.

I can tweet about all manner of awful situations, but what am I doing about them? How am I putting muscle and sweat, along with money and speech, into efforts that will help build God’s Kingdom?

I encourage you to ask yourself the same question.

But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.  For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror.  You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like” (James 1.22-24, NLT).

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