Biblical Messages

TAKE A VOW: Friends with Benefits!

The world has its own idea of what ‘friends with benefits’ means.  But in reality, a marriage that includes a deep friendship with the spouse is a relationship with many benefits!

This message is based on Proverbs 27.5-10, and you can listen to it by clicking here.

Near the end of the message, I invited a couple from the congregation, married nearly 52 years, to speak about their experience of friendship in marriage.  Their presentation was fantastic, and included the diagram and acronym pictured.

Do you experience friendship with your spouse?  Feel free to comment below.

Encouragement From The Word

Everything happens for a purpose

I had occasion to walk into a nearby business establishment on Thursday, and while I was waiting to speak with the person I came to see, I was making small talk with the receptionist.  Over the course of about five minutes of conversation, I told her that I am a pastor (something I don’t mention in every casual chat, since it is off-putting for some people).  When I said this, her face lit up.  She mentioned that she was a preacher’s kid herself, and had spent her life in the church.  She then told me about a ministry that she has, which provides assistance for abused women who need to find shelter and begin a new life away from their abusers.

She spoke about the volume of donations of goods of various sorts that she receives to help these women get a fresh start on life – so many donations, in fact, that she can’t make adequate use of them all.

She asked me, “You do outreach, don’t you, in your church?”  I nodded in the affirmative.  “You have been sent here for a purpose.  I believe everything happens for a purpose.”

I must admit that the purpose for which I had come to the business was not quite what she was describing to me, but I surmised that I would be able to accomplish both purposes – hers and mine – in the course of this visit.  We talked a bit further after I finished the task for which I had first walked through the door, and I went back to work, now armed with contact information for her and a challenge to help distribute these goods to those most in need.

This got me thinking, though:  indeed, everything does happen for a purpose.  I don’t believe in coincidences.  Instead, I call them “God-incidences”, since I believe that the Lord brings people and circumstances into our lives for his good purposes – for our benefit, and often for the benefit of others.

Take some time to ponder:  whether anybody has pointed it out or not, what are some “God-incidences” that have happened in your life lately?  What serendipitous events have been part of your day for which God may have been seeking to do his good purposes in you, for you, through you?  Why not take 5 to think about that in God’s presence right now?

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8.28, NIV).

Encouragement From The Word

Lining up to see Oprah?

In case you missed it, Toronto was met with its own ‘mania’ on Monday:  Oprah-mania!  People were lined up outside the Metro Convention Centre, winding around several corners in the core of downtown Toronto, for many hours before the popular talk show host came out on the stage.

Now, I and many other Christ-followers have profound issues with the syncretistic nature of a lot of what Oprah supports.  (Two of her gurus, Deepak Chopra and Eckhart Tolle, teach things directly in opposition to the Christian faith.)  Much of what she purports looks very much like a spiritual buffet table.  You line up, get a plate, take a little bit of this and a little bit of that – all stuff that we enjoy and makes us comfortable, of course – and create your spiritual meal of niceties (no indigestion allowed).

All of this got me thinking, though:  we don’t see that kind of lineup outside churches, with people waiting for the doors to open to worship God and hear his Word expounded.  (To be fair, if there were only one church in the world, the lineup would be much longer than Oprah’s.)  If Jesus were to show up in town, what would the lineup be?  Would the crowd be enthusiastic?

There’s also a word of instruction for the church here.  What most struck me about that group of people lined up to see Oprah was their abject excitement at being in the same room with their hero.  How many of us, followers of Jesus, are excited when we gather together to worship the King of Kings?

Now, there are some of us who don’t get “excited” about much, just because that’s our personality.  But too many of us don’t show by our demeanour just how much our Saviour means to us.  Friedrich Nietzsche once said to Christians, “I will believe in your redeemer when your people look more redeemed.”

Can people tell that we are followers of Jesus?  Do followers of Oprah look more redeemed than we do?  Don’t feign your enthusiasm, but consider what the Lord has done for you, and respond as God has blessed you.  It can make a difference.

For you make me glad by your deeds, O Lord; I sing for joy at the works of your hands” (Psalm 92.4, NIV).

Biblical Messages

TAKE A VOW: New Marriage, Same Spouse

Pictured at right is a photo of two people, taken September 12, 1992.  The lady looks exactly the same today as she did then.  The guy, well, he’s changed an awful lot over those years…

Have you ever wanted to have a new marriage with the same spouse?

This message offers us three ideas from the Bible that can help that to happen.  They’re not the only ideas, of course, but they are three that can make a big difference in your relationship with your spouse.

Based on Genesis 2.18-3.19 and 2 Corinthians 5.17-21, you can listen to “New Marriage, Same Spouse” by clicking here.

Encouragement From The Word

Do you suffer from tridecaphobia?

Do you suffer from tridecaphobia?

That’s the irrational fear of the number 13.  It doesn’t get much press, except on days like today:  Friday the 13th.  Motorcycle enthusiasts in southern Ontario love Friday the 13th, because it gives them an excuse for a road trip.  (Many motorcycle enthusiasts meet on Friday the 13th in Port Dover, Ontario, for a rally.)

Some folks, though, get a bit tied up about the number 13, to the point that they won’t stay in a hotel room with that number, or buy a house with that number, or put a 13th floor in a building.  It’s a bit of an odd phobia, if you ask me.

The word phobia just means ‘fear’.  And in theological terms, ‘fear’ has two opposites:  ‘faith’…and ‘love’.  As Scripture says, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love” (1 John 4.18, NIV).

Followers of Jesus have no reason to fear anything, but especially something like the number 13.   So what makes us afraid of things?

We live in a sinful world, in which seeds of fear and doubt have been sown in abundance.  Jesus came, and lived and died and rose again, because God loved the world just that much.  His purpose was to redeem us from the sin to which we are enslaved, which includes our fears.

The antidote to fear is faith.  Trust the Lord, and give him your fears…even your fears of Friday the 13th.

Biblical Messages

TAKE A VOW: A marriage made in heaven

Some think it strange to preach about marriage on Easter Sunday, but in beginning this series on marriage – which I like to do on a Sunday when there will be a few more folks around – I relate the gift of marriage to the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection.  The message is based on John 3.1-17, and you can listen to it by clicking here.  At the end of the message, I showed this video.

Stay tuned for the rest of the series, in which we will look at God’s purpose for marriage!