Biblical Messages

Supernatural Church

With this message, we wrapped up the series on the Holy Spirit, based on Francis Chan’s book, Forgotten God.  It’s based on Acts 2.42-47.   At a pause near the end, you can stop and watch this video; there’s only a bit of the message that follows it.  You’ll notice in about the last five minutes, the sound changes; that’s because I had a technical glitch during worship this morning (the memory got filled up on my digital voice recorder), so I had to re-record the last few minutes at home!

Listen to “Supernatural Church” here:  

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Encouragement From The Word

Christians learning from Olympians

Yesterday was a pretty patriotic day for Canadians.  I dare say, even for those who are not sport or Olympic fans, there was a certain boasting in 1609980_755418451136857_509748926_nnational pride when Canada’s Olympic Women’s Curling and Hockey teams earned gold medals in their respective disciplines.  The men have a chance to follow suit in the coming days, and they have, no doubt, received inspiration from their hard-working female colleagues.

While I wasn’t able to watch either game because of ministry commitments, seeing the looks on the athletes’ faces in photos posted after the games told the story.  These competitors – including those who do not medal – work very hard to excel in their chosen sport.   They go with a desire to win, and an intention to represent their country well.  And, I dare say, every athlete wearing the Canadian flag has upheld the good name and the good reputation of their Home And Native Land.   Those who win gold demonstrate by their faces just how much a dream-come-true it is for them to win.  It’s a wonderful thing to witness in the middle of a long, hard winter back home.

In interview after interview, Olympians articulate what a privilege and honour it is to represent Canada on the world stage.  From competitors to coaches, those witnessing the games develop, or retain, a very favourable view of Canada.  After all, when you live in such a great country, it’s easy to want to represent it well, as ambassadors.

We followers of Jesus can learn something from our nation’s Olympians.  Every day, from the moment we wake up until we fall asleep, we represent Jesus and his church.  We represent Jesus when we speak to our spouses and children, our co-workers and bosses, our neighbours and friends, the strangers we encounter on the street and the clerks in the stores where we shop.  Whether we wear an emblem of our faith commitment or not, we are God’s ambassadors in the world.

When you serve such an amazing God, it’s easy to want to represent him well, as ambassadors.

But because we are called to this important role every day, and not just for a couple of weeks out of four years, it can be hard for us to remember that we represent Jesus.  Sometimes, we don’t represent him well.  This is an area where we all can grow.  It’s one of the many graces of being a disciple of Christ:  we do not achieve perfection upon our profession of faith.  We grow into our calling as faithful followers, looking more like Jesus every day.  It’s a process whereby we are shaped and molded day after day, year after year, until we die (or Jesus returns).  We are being formed as ambassadors for the Lord.

Can we, like our Olympians, show on our faces, and by our actions, how amazing is our God?   It needs to be an intentional act; it won’t happen on its own.  And it can make a real difference:  the atheistic philosopher of the 19th century, Friedrich Nietzsche, famously said to Christians that he would believe in their Redeemer when his people looked more redeemed!  Sometimes, countenance makes all the difference.

It’s about more than “Smile, God loves you”, though.  It’s about actions that back up the claim that God loves people – the world – so much that he gave his only Son.

Be intentional.  We can do it!

So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, ‘Come back to God!’” (2 Corinthians 5.20, NLT).

Encouragement From The Word

Remain In My Love

While not everyone finds Valentine’s Day a very fond or comfortable day because they might not have a “sweetheart” with whom to share it, if we look at it as a day when God’s love is celebrated, the perspective changes.  So, whether you’re attached or unattached, happy or sad in love, be encouraged with the love of God in these words.  Read them through slowly, like a love letter.  Read the passage twice, and if any word or phrase jumps out at you, take that to God in prayer as your love-relationship with him grows deeper today.

 

I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love.  When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.  I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!  This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you.  There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.  You are my friends if you do what I command.  I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me.  You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name.  This is my command: Love each other.”  (Jesus, John 15.9-17, NLT)

Biblical Messages

Why Do I Want The Holy Spirit?

Last week, we talked about our need of the Spirit; today, we’ll get more practical and consider why we’d want the Holy Spirit.  This message is based on Galatians 5.16-26. Near the end, I show this video of NHL star Mike Fisher, to illustrate how putting God first as the Spirit lives through us matters most.  Listen to the message here:  

 

I also reference this comic, from Radio Free Babylon’s “Coffee With Jesus”.

Encouragement From The Word

Getting ready for the real thing

Watching Rick Mercer Report on the CBC a couple of weeks back, I saw that Rick got to do what any railfan or model railroader would love to do:  he got to run a full size locomotive. (He happened to be at the rail museum in Squamish, BC, which I have visited and was impressed with.) Rick operated the former Canadian Pacific FP7 number 4069, built by General Motors Diesel Division in London, Ontario, painted in her old maroon and grey scheme. (I have that locomotive on my layout, in the action red paint scheme.) As is his custom, Rick acted like a little kid.  Obviously, he had been schooled a bit, since starting and running a locomotive is a great deal more complicated than doing the same with a car.

I must confess that I have had the experience of operating a diesel locomotive. While I didn’t giggle like Mercer did, I certainly found it an exciting Jeff at the controls of an S3experience. With some good friends, I got to operate an old Montreal Locomotive Works S3 switcher on an industrial spur outside Windsor, Ontario, a few years ago. (See the photo; ironically, I was wearing the T-shirt that I got at the rail museum in Squamish that day!)

Operating a real locomotive made me a better model railroader, I think. (I have no idea what it did for Rick Mercer, except bring up his ratings among the railfan demographic.) Now, when I run trains, I don’t just turn on the layout power and start rolling at 50 scale miles per hour. No, I make sure there’s time for the brake pressure to increase, and start slowly so the slack in the couplers between the cars is taken up gently. Running a train, in any scale, is an art form, and I found that operating the real thing helped me operate the imitation better.

So what?  Good question. There is a sense in which the Christian life is intended to be a rehearsal for heaven; what we do in worship and service, seeking to bring God’s Kingdom on earth, all serves as preparation for our eternal destiny.

There’s a lot we don’t know about heaven. The great cartoonist, Gary Larson, depicted it with a fellow, wearing wings, sitting on a cloud, saying, “Wish I’d brought a magazine.” Anybody who has read at least some parts of the Bible can say with assurance that Larson’s notion is not particularly accurate. However, what we do in worship – or, perhaps, what we should do in worship – does reflect a measure of the reality of heaven.

For the Christian, worship participation (not merely attendance, which doesn’t require engagement) is the model railroading that leads to operating the full size locomotive. When we read the Scriptures and participate in worship, we are seeing a glimpse of what heaven will be like, where we will be, as Charles Wesley put it, “Lost in wonder, love, and praise.”

And it will be a lot more exciting than operating a locomotive. If you know me, you know that it’s a big deal for me to say that!

Engage in church life. Read the Scriptures. Get ready for the eternity in God’s presence whose price Jesus has paid.

For now we see only a reflection, as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face” (1 Corinthians 13.12a, NIV).