Biblical Messages

Ask Anything?

In this new series, we’re looking at a few Scripture passages that get twisted from time to time.  The series is inspired by Craig Groeschel from in Oklahoma, and I have adapted his outlines for my own voice.  This week, we look at the notion that when Jesus tells us we can ask anything in his name, he’ll do it.  So where’s my Cadillac?  We read John 14.12-14 and allude to Habakkuk 3.17-18.  Listen or watch below:


Encouragement From The Word

Changing the world

Most of us don’t know who Robert Raikes was, but he changed the world.  He also article-2680751-1F6362C700000578-945_634x653changed the church – through children.

Robert Raikes was the founder of the Sunday School Movement back in the 1700s.

What most people don’t realize is that when Raikes began his effort, he was not exactly aided by the church.  The Englishman, whose efforts sought to rescue children from what was effectively slave labour, teach them to read, and disciple them, caught the attention of the Archbishop of Canterbury, who convened a bishops’ meeting to attempt to stop him.

They believed Raikes’ attempts to disciple children was a violation of the fourth commandment, that it broke the Sabbath.

As time went on, what were called “Sabbath School Societies” were begun across North America, particularly in the United States.  But where was the greatest opposition to these groups?  Clergy.  It was the pastors who were opposing ministry to children because they viewed it as a desecration of the Lord’s Day.  One Connecticut pastor even said of a class held in his church one Sunday, “You imps of Satan, doing the devil’s work.  I’ll have you set in the street!”

Remarkable, isn’t it?  That something we take for granted – ministry to children on Sunday – would have been met with such resistance initially!

So it is with so much change in the church today; it meets with initial resistance, but in the end, if God is in it, it changes the world.

Gamaliel was a learned Pharisee in Israel in the time of the early church.  When people would complain about what the apostles were doing in Jesus’ name, Gamaliel’s advice was sage:  “If they are planning and doing these things merely on their own, it will soon be overthrown.  But if it is from God, you will not be able to overthrow them.  You may even find yourselves fighting against God!” (Acts 5.38b-39, NLT).

When change comes, church leaders with integrity are bringing it in not for its own sake, but because they know that the change can help the church change the world for the glory of God.  And while that may initially be difficult to take, who wouldn’t want to get behind changing the world for the glory of God?

Biblical Messages

Beautiful and Faithless

As you’ll hear at the start of this message, the original title, and what appeared on the church sign, wasn’t quite congruent with Nahum 3 (or Romans 13.8-14)!  Have a listen, or watch the Facebook Live video below.


Encouragement From The Word

Iron sharpens iron

Last Tuesday night, the active elders of St. Paul’s Church, Nobleton invited all the elders who had previously served on the congregation’s leadership team to a pot luck dinner for some conversation around change and the future of the church.  It was a really productive and encouraging evening; I wish it could have been longer, but by the time everybody pitched in with clean-up, it was getting late, and we didn’t want to keep people.

Consulting with people who’ve “been there” is always time well spent.  I’d say if you added up all the years of service to the Lord that were gathered in that room, it would total many hundreds of years – that’s a long time.  That’s a lot of wisdom to draw from.

I wish I had always seen the value of such gatherings, but when I was younger in ministry, I actually feared these sorts of conversations, probably because I didn’t handle criticism very well…even when it wasn’t offered as criticism.  If I’d held gatherings like this when I was in my 20s and 30s, I might have made fewer mistakes.

Likewise, having mentors and friends who can encourage us in the work we do and in our walk with the Lord will benefit us greatly, whether we see immediate results or not.  The key is to be open to the conversation, to listen, and to act on what we learn.

Who could you meet with that would improve your work?  Improve your discipleship?  Improve your church?  There’s something to pray about!

As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend” (Proverbs 27.17, NLT).

Biblical Messages

Slow Leak: a fall from grace

Nahum 2 gives us a snapshot of what the fall of a great city can look like.  How does that relate to the Christian life?  Ephesians 6.10-18 gives us a hint…listen to find out (or watch on the Facebook link below).

Encouragement From The Word

Fight the good fight

These are challenging days to be a follower of Jesus.

We are living, it seems, in a culture that is about as far removed from its Christian heritage as it can be.  Living for Jesus is a daily battle.

There are a couple of principal ways that God’s people, the church, can respond to culture.

First, the church can adopt culture when communicating the gospel.  For example, a church can reflect the musical style preferences of the community it is seeking to reach by singing songs in worship whose style sounds like what its neighbours are listening to on their car radios.  (That means, in urban centres, there can be room for churches that express worship style in virtually every fashion – but in smaller communities, it is necessary to know what people listen to in order to design worship effectively.)  Another example comes in using language that makes sense to the contemporary ear – using modern Bible translations, avoiding religious jargon, and the like.

By adopting culture when communicating the gospel, the church speaks the language of the people it seeks to reach, and more people come to know and love and serve the Lord.  Win!

Another way that the church can respond to culture is to adopt cultural values in place of the gospel.  If you’re an active follower of Jesus, I don’t need to list off the cultural values that are winding their way into the church’s doctrine across North America, but there are some that don’t make the headlines.  Downplaying the centrality of the cross, for example, leads to the downfall of the church as people assume that everyone’s going to be saved in the end.  In churches that adopt cultural values in place of the gospel, some are also using contemporary means of communication, but what they are communicating is not the gospel.

If you are seeking to live for Jesus, you understand that you’re fighting a cultural battle.  As Lutheran pastor Hans Fiene said in a tweet earlier this week, “If you’re still breathing, you’re still soldiering.”

Each of us who loves and serves the Lord Jesus is responsible to soldier on, ensuring the good news is told far and wide:  that Jesus died in our place, to atone for our sins, and rose from the dead to bring us eternal life.  There’s nothing culture’s got that can beat that!

Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have declared so well before many witnesses” (1 Timothy 6.12, NLT).

Biblical Messages

Good Cop/Bad Cop

Is the God of the Bible a God of love or a God of justice?  Yes.  And we see that underlined in the oft-ignored book of Nahum, chapter 1.  Have a listen below, or click the link at the bottom to watch the Facebook Live feed (no account required).


Encouragement From The Word

Why do you do it?

Just realized I forgot to post this on Friday!

At St. Paul’s Church, we’re gearing up for our annual Vacation Bible Camp, what we call “Camp WannaKnowGod”, that runs next week.  Many hundreds of hours are volunteered by several people to ensure that it’s a week of great fun and great learning for the children who attend.

A question worth asking is why?  Why would we go through the amount of work that we go through to run a program for five mornings for kids?  There are several reasons, including the most important one:  it’s a prime opportunity to plant the seeds of faith in the children’s hearts.

We don’t do Camp WannaKnowGod merely as a babysitting service, even though some parents may see it as five mornings of relief.  That’s completely okay; we undertake this ministry because we know that God can change the hearts and lives of the kids he sends us, no matter the motive.

We don’t do Camp WannaKnowGod merely as a community program.  There will be tangible differences between what the municipality might offer to kids and what we offer.  When we lead this event, we do so with the love of Jesus in our hearts, spilling out into the lives of the children we serve.

Even the songs we sing reflect that there’s something a bit different about what we’re doing…and, as we all know, kids remember songs.  I sometimes see children with their parents in the grocery store, months after camp, and they’ll sing me at least one of the songs from camp.

The seed is being planted.  That’s why we do this.  Kids’ lives matter to God.

You may or may not do Vacation Bible Camp in your church; but whatever you’re doing, do you know why?

The Son of Man is the farmer who plants the good seed.  The field is the world, and the good seed represents the people of the Kingdom” (Matthew 13.37b-38a, NLT).