I’m beginning a two-month Sabbatical, called an Inter-Mission, this week coming, so today at worship, I preached a message from Romans 12.6-13 that encouraged the congregation to stay the course, and how to do that. Have a look! The message itself starts at 31:40.
Month: September 2019
Rest: it’s important.
We all know it’s important.
Yet too few of us take time for real, significant rest.
We live in a time when the culture values busyness, almost as a badge of pride. “How are you?” someone will ask. “Oh, I’m great. Really busy,” we reply.
A while back, I saw a meme online that showed the image of a cellphone battery in the ‘red zone’ – less than 10% power remaining. It said, “You’d never let this happen to your phone. Why do you let it happen to yourself?”
We are a society of the dangerously tired. We so tightly schedule our own lives – and those of our children – that we leave little margin for God to work in our lives, or for us to notice God’s work in our lives. We need rest.
The Bible follows an “order of creation” model for teaching us about the value of rest by suggesting that because God made the world in six days and rested on the seventh, we, too, should take one day a week for rest and re-creation. Every week. Yes, every week.
Many of us think that would be impossible to do, but it wouldn’t be impossible. We just have to undertake the hard work of prioritizing what matters in our lives.
As I’ve said before, in a hundred years, the only thing that’s going to matter is what you did with Jesus. Work does not prepare us for eternity. Sports do not prepare us for eternity. But worship and rest do prepare us for eternity.
Eternity is a long time. Don’t you think that which prepares us for eternity deserves top priority?
Christians traditionally take Sunday as their day of rest, because it was the first day of the week that Jesus rose from the dead. And it is from that day of rest and worship that we are able to have the energy to undertake all that the coming week holds.
I know that not everyone is able to take Sunday as a rest day in our secular culture. But if you can’t take Sunday every week, at least take a day somewhere in there.
“Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy” (Exodus 20.8, NLT).
Encouragement From The Word is taking an eight-week hiatus while I take a long-planned and much-needed Sabbatical. This weekly email will return on Friday, November 29, 2019.
It’s federal election season in Canada, and as has been the custom, there’s all manner of digging going on, trying to find sordid things about candidates’ past. The digging is normally done by people active in one of the other political parties, rather than by the ordinary folks of the electorate.
If you’re anything like me, you’d rather hear what a particular candidate or party stands for, as opposed to what they stand against. And you want to know what’s going on in their beliefs and platforms now rather than what may have happened in the past.
In one sense, the goal of the diggers is noble: they want to unearth past truth about a person in order to find out if that happens also to be present truth. As with so much of life, politics is a complicated beast.
But you know who one of those diggers won’t be?
When we present ourselves to God in faith as we are, now, God is not concerned with the past. We might lie awake at night, from time to time, thinking about that stupid thing we did 20 years ago, ruminating about how stupid it was, but God never does that.
When we come to God in faith, believing that Jesus died to take away all our sins, and believing that he rose again to bring us eternal life, God receives us as we are. He doesn’t care about what we did 20 years ago. Jesus died to forgive that sin, too.
Unfortunately, human beings are not often as gracious as God. I wonder if we can change that, one human being at a time?
“For his unfailing love toward those who fear him
is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth.
He has removed our sins as far from us
as the east is from the west” – Psalm 103.12, NLT
A Presbytery Primer for Ruling Elders
In years past, in my role as Clerk of the Presbytery of Oak Ridges, I have led a brief discussion about the role of the Presbytery and the role of the elder in the Presbytery. This has been aimed at new-to-the-Presbytery elders, but can be helpful for anyone.
In order to allow elders to attend their committee meetings in September, though, I decided to put together this video, along with a couple of handouts, to expedite the process, and allow for time at the September meeting for any who have questions.
Download these handouts:
An overview of Bourinot’s Rules of Order: Bourinot Overview
Excerpts from the Clerk’s Handbook: Clerk handbook Presbytery
And watch the video below.
Bring A Friend!
Every year, on or about the fourth Sunday of September, St. Paul’s Church, Nobleton celebrates “Bring A Friend” Day. While any Sunday is a good Sunday to bring a friend to church, we make a special effort on that weekend: invitations are issued, lunch is shared, guests are ‘expected’.
It’s become challenging for many people to issue the invitation, to make the ask. As I’ll say on Sunday, we’ve been taught for a few generations now not to talk about politics or faith in polite company, and the result, especially in our polarized society, is that we are no longer able to dialogue in a civil manner about the Lord Jesus.
The key is to build relationships.
When we are engaged in healthy relationships with our neighbours, our friends, our family members, and when faith is an integral part of our lives, those with whom we share those relationships will naturally want to know why faith is part of who we are.
And that opens the door to inviting them to join you for worship.
I’ve occasionally shared a vlog done by Penn Jillette some years ago about how, despite his avowed atheism, he admired a man who gave him a Bible after a show. His point was this: If we believe we know the way to eternal life, how much do we have to hate someone else to be unwilling to share it?
It’s a good question. And a haunting one, if we’re honest.
Whatever congregation you’re part of as you read this, I hope you’re not waiting for an excuse to invite someone to worship with you. If you’re looking to understand why this is important, I will be talking about our role as ambassadors this Sunday. I’m inviting you!
“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).
The best things in life…
The devastation left in the more northerly islands of the Bahamas by Hurricane Dorian this week has been unspeakable. The images that have been flooding social media (perhaps an unfortunate, yet apt, choice of verb) have torn at our hearts.
People take different lessons from natural disasters. Some will say a deity is angry (a strange notion and a stranger way for said deity to express it) and that we need to appease it. Others will say it’s a side-effect of climate change (which would be difficult to prove) and that we should take better care of the planet (which is always a good idea). There may be countless other lessons people will take from the hurricane.
But here’s one to consider: life is fragile.
I remember a number of years ago being given a tour of the beautiful home of some friends. In their daughter’s bedroom there was a small plaque that simply said, “The best things in life aren’t things.”
How true that is!
In recent years, as I have reflected on vacation times, I’ve discerned that my favourite part of vacation has been conversations with people; that’s a big deal for an introvert! But more than bringing Stuff home, more than seeing great sights, what has been most impactful is encounters with people.
When someone is in a tragic accident, or when a loved one has died, we often read social media posts to the effect of, “Hug the people you love.”
For those folks in the Bahamas, and in other places severely affected by this hurricane, that phrase may have more meaning than many of us will ever know.
Stuff is helpful. Things are meaningful. But none of it matters as much as people. Life is fragile.
“O Lord, what are human beings that you should notice them,
mere mortals that you should think about them?
For they are like a breath of air;
their days are like a passing shadow” (Psalm 144.3-4, NLT).