Biblical Messages

CHRISTIANITY 101: A Costly Decision

The decision made by Adam and Eve to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was a costly decision, and its consequences have been Adam and Evehumanity’s lot ever since.  But there is good news, for God made a costly decision to send his only Son to remedy our sin problem.  Based on Genesis 3, Romans 5.1-11 and Romans 6.1-14, you can listen to this message by clicking here.

Encouragement From The Word

Make It Worth Watching

In the past while, there has been a Lexus commercial on television that has intrigued me – not because I’m in a position to be able to buy a Lexus (were I even interested in doing so), but because of the tag line at the end of the commercial:  “Some day, your life will pass before your eyes.  Make it worth watching.”

That’s an excellent tag line.  But as I see it, it has nothing to do with cars and everything to do with the far more important aspects of life.

Now, I see people almost every day for whom you get the impression that the vehicles they drive might well be what the believe makes life worth watching.  (Don’t get me started on the guy I see driving the Ferrari around our little town.  What’s up with that?  You’d never burn the carbon out of the engine!)   I think Lexus has used in its commercial a line that could easily be employed by the church.

After all, what is it that most enriches life?  It’s not cars, that’s for sure.  In fact, it’s not things at all.  It’s relationships, and especially our relationship with God.  I am constantly astounded at the number of people I meet – even people who go to church, sometimes – for whom the concept of a relationship with God is brand new.  (What have preachers been telling these people all these years?)  Our personal relationship with God really must be the Number One Priority of our lives.  Everything else will find its place when we make the Lord Priority One.

Some people balk at that notion, thinking that their spouse or kids need to come ahead of God.  But that’s not God’s plan for us.  He made us first to be in relationship with him.  Once that relationship is firmly established, relationships with others come next, and come more healthily – especially when we understand how truly and fully loved we are by God.

Most of us know someone whose relationships are largely dysfunctional, in part because they are looking for love in all the wrong places, instead of looking for love from the One who is Love.  Some look for love in Stuff (like cars), while others look for it in acceptance by others.  Ultimately, though, our self-worth comes from knowing that we are deeply loved by our Creator, who longs to be in relationship with us:  it’s why he created us in the first place!  As Augustine said in the fourth century, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.”

Some day, yes, your life will pass before your eyes.  You want to make it worth watching, but not because of the car you drive.  Make it worth watching because of the relationships that unfold in it – especially the relationship with God, who in Jesus Christ has come to give us life to the full.

The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone” (John 1.4, NLT).

Encouragement From The Word

A Rough Week For The World

Normally, after a week that has had so much “news” – everything from an ice storm to bombs going off – I would write to reflect on where God is in the midst of all this.  And I could still do so, but there is someone who already has done so, and with eloquence.  If you are not familiar with Ann Voskamp, and her book, One Thousand Gifts, you will be after you read this post that she wrote yesterday.

Her words capture what we need to know in these challenging days.  May they be a blessing to you.  And don’t hesitate to click the links in the text of her meditation.  They will enlighten you with some details of what has been going on in our world.  Please read Ann’s post.

Jesus said, “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world” (John 16.33b, NLT).

Biblical Messages

CHRISTIANITY 101: The housefly in the airplane

One of my favourite analogies to talk about God’s sovereignty in the midst of human freedom is the story of the housefly in the airplane.  I’m sure I heard the basics of it somewhere, but otherwise I made up the details to illustrate how God remains in control while we exercise a measure of freedom.

Based on Acts 17.16-34, you can listen to the message by clicking here.

Encouragement From The Word

The Blessing of Inconvenience

Yesterday, where I live, we had one of those rare late-season “snow days”.  The school buses were cancelled, and warnings were being issued all over the place advising against unnecessary travel.  When I got up, there was nothing going on at all, meteorologically speaking.  I was hoping that the weather warnings would end up being a non-starter, because I had four appointments that required me to be out of town for quite a bit of the day.

Within about an hour of my needed departure time, the snow started.  Not quite the freezing rain and ice pellets that were forecast initially, but the news was telling me those nasty things were falling where I needed to go that morning.  So I rearranged these appointments.  The later one ended up needing to be rescheduled for other reasons (and the weather still wasn’t looking promising anyway).  So I ended up with some “bonus” time to get caught up on other tasks.

Sometimes, we think of these interruptions as annoying inconveniences.  But have you ever thought of them in a positive light?

After all, I would have preferred to accomplish what my schedule set out for me.  Rescheduling is sometimes difficult and time-consuming.  But I’ve learned that changes to the schedule often come with divinely guided opportunities.

For example, yesterday’s rescheduling afforded me the chance to make some phone calls I needed to make, allowing me to engage in some deep and needed conversations.  Because my wife also got a “snow day”, we were able to walk up to the local Tim’s for a bowl of chili (the perfect comfort food for a yucky day) and enjoy some ‘bonus’ time.  And I was able to move up a local meeting that afforded us to have a longer, deeper and more blessed conversation than time might otherwise have permitted.

So, despite the troublesomeness of needing to reschedule appointments because of the weather, there were many great things that happened as a result.  God blessed me through inconvenience!

How has the Lord blessed you through inconvenience?

For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3.1).

Biblical Messages

CHRISTIANITY 101: One? Three? Three in One!

The Trinity is not an easy concept for us to understand as human beings; in many respects, it defies human understanding, because it’s an attempt to Iphone pics 2012-2013 336quantify the infinite God.  Nevertheless, it’s worth a try once in a while!  In this message, based on Mark 1.1-11, we take a stab at understanding God’s essence as One, and existence as Three.  Listen by clicking here.

Encouragement From The Word

After Easter…

So how was your Easter?  Was it a great celebration with church family and loved ones?  To be sure, it’s a highlight of the year.  Congregations everywhere are encouraged by the attendance, which usually rivals Christmas eve for the biggest numbers of the year.

But then there’s the next Sunday.  Normality returns with a thud.  But should it?

I’ve quoted Kennon Callahan before, who says that Christmas and Easter are God’s way of showing you your future.  That is, the people who attend irregularly, but come to you at Christmas and Easter, may have great potential to attend your church more regularly.  How are you reaching out to them?

To be sure, it’s a challenging time to grow the church.  There are many other tantalizing things to do rather than worship God, so how can the church grow in that context?

There are many things that can be done, but a simple one is this:  continue to invite your friends to worship.  Some who came with you at Easter will accept another invitation.  Why not make it a social engagement?  Offer to take your guests out for coffee or lunch after worship.  Cultivate the relationships.

Maybe the shoe is on the other foot:  perhaps you are the guest who came with a friend last Sunday, or who has been encouraged to come to worship with a friend.  Why not come this Sunday?  Bamboozle your friends by asking to come to worship with them!  You’ve experienced something that you’d like to experience again, so go for it!

Easter is something Christians celebrate all year.  Each Sunday is a little celebration of the resurrection in community, and each day is a further celebration of Jesus being alive in us.  Let it make a difference in your life today, and in your church this weekend.

The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord” (John 20.20b, NIV).