Biblical Messages

Fake I.D.: Who(se) Are You?

We live in an unprecedented era of questioning identity.  It’s normal for adolescents, but even adults nowadays are trying to find their identity in any number of ways.  The Bible has something to say about our identity in 1 Samuel 30.1-6 and 1 Peter 2.9b-12.  Have a listen to the message based on these passages, or watch the Facebook Live video in the links below.

Encouragement From The Word

Hiding behind the façade of social media

I don’t know if you’ve noticed – if you are a social media user – but lately, it seems to me that Facebook has been getting nasty. With an election in Alberta, and a sex education curriculum in Ontario, and the Stanley Cup playoffs (among other things), it seems that everyone has an opinion or two. And social media is a common place to air those opinions.

Sadly, what seems to be happening is that people are using social media as a screen, such that they somehow believe it becomes appropriate not to fight fairly, making pot-shots and sweeping statements that would not ordinarily occur in the course of civil conversation. I think it’s because we don’t have to look each other in the eye on Facebook. (This seems to be less of an issue on Twitter, where the limit of 140 characters seems insufficient to air a rant or rebuttal.)

In life, there will always be areas where disagreement happens. It’s true in families and marriages, in friendships and collegial relationships – even in church. And there must be room for disagreement. That doesn’t negate the reality of absolute truth, of which there is much, but it does require tolerance.

Tolerance, nowadays, has been watered down to mean the acceptance of (and even belief in) everything. But what it really means is to give someone the right to be wrong. The awkward thing about this is that two people who argue, each of whom believes she or he is right, can tolerate the other and believe him or her to be wrong. That’s called agreeing to disagree.

Sometimes, agreeing to disagree is best left tacit – that is, the argument never actually happens. But in social media, that civility has lately been left behind.

So, if Jesus were on Facebook, what would he do? Well, that’s sort of a moot point, because even if the Internet had existed in the first century, Jesus had this thing about personal relationships. My guess is that if Jesus were on Facebook, he would say to everybody, “Let’s get away from this façade and have a personal conversation.”

Of course, that’s hard to do when one is conversing over social media with someone halfway around the world. But that might translate this way: “Have your social media conversations in the same way you would face-to-face conversations.”

Or, as Peter put it: “So get rid of all evil behavior. Be done with all deceit, hypocrisy, jealousy, and all unkind speech. Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment, now that you have had a taste of the Lord’s kindness” (1 Peter 2.1-3, NLT). The great thing is that this is a helpful word even if we are not social media users!

Biblical Messages

Christ our Foundation

One of the things my addiction to HGTV has taught me is that foundations matter.  A lot.  And the same is true in our walk with God.  Jesus needs to be our true foundation, our cornerstone.  Our reading from 1 Peter 2.4-12 teaches us about our identity in Christ, too.  A rich passage indeed!  In this message, I quote Richard Foster, from Celebration of Discipline, who wrote:

Superficiality is the curse of our age. The doctrine of instant satisfaction is a primary spiritual problem. The desperate need today is not for a greater number of intelligent people, or gifted people, but for deep people.

Listen to the message here:

Encouragement From The Word

Soul Food

I’ve been thinking this week about the importance of Scripture. That’s probably not a bad thing for a pastor to do, right? But here’s the kicker: I spend a lot of time in Scripture on a weekly basis – partly because I enjoy reading God’s Word, and partly because it’s my job. So it’s easy for me to forget that spending time in the Word may not be atop everyone’s list of priorities.

For the follower of Jesus, though, it needs to be.

As God’s people, we can’t survive on just a Sunday dose of the Bible; we need it all week. The preacher’s job, as I heard one person put it, is to whet the listener’s appetite for the Word of God. When the preacher climbs into the pulpit to expound on Scripture, she or he isn’t giving you a week’s worth of Bible to tide you over; she or he is giving you a taste so that you’ll want more.

Think about it: if I ate one big meal on Sunday evening, would that be enough to sustain me until the following Sunday evening? Of course not. We eat more regularly because the body needs more nourishment, and it needs it in regular intervals, lest we find ourselves malnourished and unable to function normally.

The same is true when we feed on the Word. If all we get comes in one relatively small ‘meal’ called a sermon, once a week, it’s not enough. The Sunday worship experience was never designed to be enough for the week; the message is an act of worship on the part of the pastor, and an opportunity to help the listener desire more.

That’s why small groups, and personal devotional time, are of ultimate importance for the growing Christian. When we take time alone with God and read his Word, there is daily nourishment. And when we take time with a small group of fellow disciples to explore the Word more deeply, there also is nourishment. These disciplines ensure that the soul will not be starved.

What’s more, as we grow, these spiritual ‘meals’ we receive, through reading and studying Scripture, need to become deeper. We can’t thrive and grow if our spiritual input remains at the level of Grade 1 Sunday School (as good as the foundational material is). We need to go deeper if we are going to grow in our walk with the Lord. Are you challenging yourself to do that?

Consider what Peter told the early church: “Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment, now that you have had a taste of the Lord’s kindness” (1 Peter 2.2-3, NLT). As we grow up, we move from milk to more substantial foods, so our bodies grow. Likewise, we move from spiritual milk to spiritual meat as our souls develop. Praying with you that your soul is growing deeply in the Lord’s goodness!