Biblical Messages

TRUE[ISH]: “…As long as I’m sincere…”

A lot of people think that it doesn’t matter what we believe, as long as we’re sincere in our belief.  But does that really make sense?

Implicit in this notion is the idea that all religions are basically the same and all lead to God.  However, even a cursory study of the various religious traditions of the world will quickly demonstrate that all religions are not basically the same.  While most may have some truth about them, they cannot all be true.

In Acts 16.16-34, the passage on which this message is based, the Philippian jailer asks Paul and Silas a very important question:  “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”  It’s one of the most important questions anyone can ask.  If all religions are the same, however, it’s an irrelevant question.

Listen to this message here.

As part of the message, two videos are used, and they can be viewed  here and here.

Encouragement From The Word

Learning from Kanye: taming the tongue

Even if you’re not a fan of his style of music, by now you have probably heard of Kanye West.  He’s a hip hop/rap musician in the United States, who, if you didn’t know about him through his music, has become popular of late because of his rather public “dis” of country singer Taylor Swift at the MTV Video Music Awards on September 13 upon her receipt of the award for Best Female Video.

Kanye grabbed the microphone  from Taylor and said, “Yo Taylor, I’m really happy for you;  I’m going to let you finish, but Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time…one of the best of all time!”

Talk about stealing the spotlight!  Kanye was disappointed, to be sure, but in the process of expressing his disappointment, he devastated Taylor and lost a great deal of credibility as a result.  All sorts of mock-statements have been made in other contexts since then.  (If you haven’t seen any, they’re all over the Internet.  Use a search engine to check for them, as some of them are quite entertaining.)

Kanye West later apologized, both publicly and privately, to Taylor Swift, and she has accepted the apology.  When Beyoncé won an award later in the show, she invited Taylor Swift out to have another moment on stage, which was very kind of her.  Despite all this, the words were still said, the damage had been done.

It’s not surprising, then, that many years ago, James wrote in the New Testament:  “People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, but no one can tame the tongue.  It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison.   Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God.   And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth.  Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right!” (James 3.7-10, NLT).  The tongue is a serious weapon.  It can be used to build up, and it can be used to tear down.

All of us, and especially we who belong to Jesus, should be careful in how we use our tongues.  We want to be known as those who edify, and who tell the truth – in love, and when the time – God’s time – is right.

Encouragement From The Word

Taking Jesus to work (or, Learning from U2)

Among my friends on Facebook, I felt like I was in the minority this week:  I did not attend the U2 concert on either Wednesday or Thursday at the Rogers Centre in Toronto.  Other things got in the way.

U2 is seen as one of the most popular bands of our time, and (among many) as one of the best bands of all time.  This is a remarkable thing, when you think about it, because U2 is known for greater depth in its lyrics than its main rivals for “best band of all time”, like the Beatles or the Rolling Stones.

In fact, there are both covert and overt biblical references in the songs of U2.  They wouldn’t call themselves a “Christian” band, but the depth that reaches into the hearts of their many fans has quite a lot of Scripture in its words.  I won’t furnish you with examples; if you type “U2 Christian lyrics” into a search engine, you’ll see what I mean.

This got me thinking:  there are far too many Christians in our world who think it’s the responsibility of the “religious professional” to exude God-honouring depth in life.  But that’s not what God intended for his people.  The Bible doesn’t advise the faithful, “Go, hire somebody, send him away for three years to get a master’s degree, and let him tell you all about what it means to be holy.”  No!  What does the Word say?  “But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy.  For the Scriptures say, ‘You must be holy because I am holy’” (1 Peter 1.15-16, NLT, referring to Leviticus 19.2).

It is possible for a “secular” band to share God-honouring lyrics.  It is possible for someone in a “secular” job to live out God’s love to others.  In fact, it’s not just possible:  it’s expected.  I’m always encouraged, as I was this week, when I hear a story from someone who works in a completely irreligious (maybe even anti-religious!) workplace and is invited to have a faith-based conversation with a fellow worker.  This is awesome stuff!

Whatever you work at, you can leverage influence for Jesus in that context.  It starts with doing your job well, because you’re seeking to honour God.  Work as if you’re working for him (see Colossians 3.22-24).  When people see your consistent ethic, that will open doors for Jesus to come to work with you.

And that’s how the Kingdom grows.  One conversation at a time!

Biblical Messages

True [ish]: What Is Truth?

Most everybody is searching for truth.  After all, when we’re lied to, we feel cheated.  We want the truth – and, despite the famous movie line, in most cases we can handle the truth. 

But most of the time, we settle for things that are partly true, but mostly lies.  They are true [ish].

This message, the first in the series, is based on John 8.31-47 and the story of Jesus’ Good Friday encounter with Pontius Pilate in John 18.28-40. You can listen to the message by clicking here.