He is Risen

Penn of Denn
Talk about a swing in emotions. I have been working on two separate messages this week, one for Good Friday and one for Easter Sunday. A message of despair and a message of hope. A message of defeat and a message of victory. A message about the depths that man can fall and a message about the heights that God can lift us. Two messages both need to be preached, but truthfully I prefer Easter Sunday messages to Good Friday Messages. I know that without the crucifixion, we couldn’t have the resurrection, but still we killed Him!

He offered us life and we killed him. He came in love and we destroyed Him with hatred. Good Friday? For who? Jesus? They nailed him to a cross. For humanity? We showed how depraved we really can be. Good Friday, I think not. Black Friday? Maybe. Bad Friday? For sure. Without Sunday, Friday is a blot on the history of humanity. But Sunday changes all of that and turns despair to joy, defeat to victory.

We may not have been there on Friday, but we are just as guilty. We may not have been there on Sunday, but we are just as forgiven.

Have a great week and remember: He is Risen.

 

 

 

    

Look Behind You

Penn of Denn
Did you hear the one about the man who was hit by the airplane, while he was jogging? True story. Robert Jones, of Georgia, was jogging along a beach in South Carolina, with his headphones on, when he was struck from behind and killed by a small aircraft, making an emergency landing.
Seriously, you have to think about things like that, and that is why I don’t jog. I don’t know how many times I’ve thought, “I should go for a run.” And then I think, “No, what happens if you get hit from behind by an airplane, that is making an emergency landing?” Better safe than sorry, that’s my motto.

The story is a reminder of just how short and fragile life can be. I’m sure that when Jones went for his jog, that morning, that his death was the last thing on his mind. He was probably planning on returning home after his business trip, to be there for his daughter’s third birthday. But that wasn’t how the story ended. We all make plans for tomorrow, maybe even including beginning a relationship with God, but what if there is no tomorrow? Have a great week and remember: To see what is really possible, you will have to attempt the impossible.


 


 


 

    

He stood there staring up at the sky, he still couldn’t believe his eyes, and it was as if he was seeing the sky for the first time. In a way he was, even if it was the same old sky that he’d always looked at it, he was seeing it through a whole new perspective. Actually he was seeing it through a hole in the roof.
If you were here last week you’ll remember the story, how Jesus had returned to Capernaum and while at Peter’s home the word had gotten out that he was there. People started to arrive to hear and see this one that some had dared to call the Messiah, until finally the crowd was so large that you couldn’t get near the door. And into the crowd came four men carrying a friend who was paralysed and couldn’t walk. When it became obvious that they weren’t going to be able to get him through the crowd they managed to get their friend onto the roof of Peter’s home, tore a hole through the clay and lowered him in front of Jesus. When Jesus saw their devotion he healed their friend. If you weren’t here a week ago you’re going to have to take my word for it. That was the story. And out of that story I spoke about four characteristics that those men had that we would do well to emulate.
Their Love. If you read through your New Testament you would discover that Jesus didn’t really lay down new commandments, he simply refined or clarified the old commandments. But Jesus did lay down at least one new commandment John 13:34 So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.

 Their Dream These four guys had a dream of what could happen if Jesus touched their friend. They knew that if Jesus wanted to that he could heal their friend and he’d walk again. If we are going to accomplish the things that need to be accomplished in this life then we will first have to dream of the way they could be. Remember “If you don’t build castles in the air, you’ll never build anything on the ground.” Just because it’s never been done before doesn’t mean it can’t be done. But before you can do it you have to see it and you have to leave the road of what is and venture down the path of what could be.
Their Commitment
What are you willing to do to achieve your dream? They probably could have been doing any numbers of things that didn’t involve carrying a man on a stretcher across town in the heat, climbing a ladder and tearing a hole in a roof.
Their Cooperation
Seriously it took all four of them working together, one couldn’t have done it, two couldn’t have done it and it would have been tough with three. Instead it took four people working in unity to get the job done. Notice I didn’t use the word uniformity, there is a difference between the two. Throughout the New Testament, Paul compares the church to a body, made up of different parts, doing different jobs, but all functioning for the common good.
Part of Christ’s last prayer is found in John 17:23 I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
That’s what we preached on last week, but that isn’t what we are going to preach on today. I truly believe that Cornerstone Wesleyan Church is a loving church, not to say we can’t become more loving, I mean we can never be too loving. And that’s not to say that we can stop loving people, cause you can’t store or bank love for a future use. If we are to continue to be all that God wants us to be we must continue to love people.
And I believe that the people of Cornerstone have a dream. Not just a dream for a church but a dream of touching lives and changing a nation, a dream of seeing people introduced to Jesus and of the difference He will make in the lives of people and families.
And I know that we share that determination. From the group of fifty who committed close to four hundred thousand dollars as a down payment on this building and property to those who are here every Sunday taking part in ministry, to our staff who if they were in it for the money would be somewhere else.
And as a church we are united and there is a sense of unity within the body here. We as a church have caught the vision for what God would have us to do and where God would have us to go. And we are pushing in that direction and sharing in the sacrifice.
But we aren’t going to talk about those things this morning, cause that is what we preached on a week ago. This is today, and there is another question that must be asked. Because if a week ago we were interested in knowing who kicked the hole in the roof today we have another question that must be answered and that is this “Who fixed the hole in the roof?”
Never thought of that did you? It never really bothered you that when all the excitement died down, when the paralysed man walked away, and his friends ran away rejoicing. When the crowd left puzzled and the scribes left angry, when Jesus and the disciples were through that there was still a great big gaping hole in the roof. So that’s the question isn’t it? Who fixed the hole? Who took the time to patch the roof? I mean someone had to, it didn’t fix itself.
Sometimes it is easy to get so caught up in all the excitement that we forget the mundane, the everyday things that make up life.
Beulah camp will be starting in four months, for some Wesleyans the year is divided in two by Christmas and Beulah. And some of you will get a chance to get up before it’s over and it will once again prove to be 10 days of spiritual ecstasy. The speakers will be used to bring the word of God alive, the music will take us into the throne room of God. The Christian Fellowship is incredible, but that’s not life. When paralytics walk and the blind see, that’s wonderful, but there will come a time in our life when the roof needs patching and somebody is going to have to do it.
And before we can discover who fixed the roof we can probably narrow it down to who didn’t fix the roof.
The Curious Didn’t Do It. These people weren’t involved in the work; they were only there to see what was going to happen. They were attracted not by Christ, not by his teaching, or by his life, they were just attracted because he said he was God, and they had never seen anyone who called himself God before.
Curiosity is a wonderful thing, you can tell the average person that there are 10,987,654,321 stars in the universe they will believe you, but if the sign says “wet paint” they have to find out for themselves.
And so the first group of people were there to satisfy their curiosity, not because of Jesus. They would have been just as quick to rush down the street and see the monkey riding a bicycle. No, I don’t think they would be all that interested in fixing the roof.
The Naysayers Didn’t Do It These people weren’t nearly as interested in building up the Kingdom as they were blowing it up. They weren’t there to help only to hinder. The only way they would have fixed the hole in the roof is if they thought by doing it they could damage Jesus reputation. And there are still people like that in the world today, and unfortunately some of them are in the church. These people haven’t learned that knockers belong on doors not in churches.
You know the type, they would have you write it, sing it, play it, paint it, carve it, or preach it, but only the way they would, if they could. And the one thing we know about the critical person is that they are more interested in imparting their valuable knowledge, than in helping.
They could at least learn from the mule, which has discovered that you can’t kick and pull at the same time. To continue to mix our metaphors it very difficult to row and rock the boat at the same time.
No, the critics were too busy issuing a dissertation on the proper methods of roof construction and the theological and philosophical ramifications of the entire project to actually help do anything.
The Bunny Believers Didn’t Do it. These are the folks who hop from church to church, they are the folks who want the thrill without paying the bill. They are sincere believers but they really aren’t all that interested in contributing to the work. Kind of like the family that got home after church and were having roast preacher, none of you ever have roast preacher for lunch do you? Anyway, one of their teens observed it all and interjected, “Well, what do you expect for a buck?”
I’ve got a little bit of Scot in me, kind of feel like the Scotsman who wrote the local paper and said “If you continue to make disparaging remarks about Scotsman being so cheap, I shall cease to borrow your paper.” And I get right excited down town when I find a parking meter with 10 or 12 minutes left on it. But I’d don’t get too impressed when people come to church and park on somebody else’s nickel.
The Bunny Believers kind bounce around never, make a commitment to church, never get involved and never give more than a tip. And if the church had to rely on them for anything there would be no church.
The Bunny Believers are always on the move, where there is a free spiritual food that is where they will be found, but they are always taking never giving back. My dear sainted Grandmother was almost 90 years old when she went home to be with her Lord, and for the last fifteen years of her life she was a self-professed church tramp, if there was something going on in a church it didn’t matter what church, she was there. But on Sunday morning her and her money were at Grand Harbour Baptist.
The Bunny Believer is all wound up and excited and they always want to be telling you about the last singer they heard sing, or the last speaker they heard speak or how great the worship is at this church or how great the preacher is at that church. But they are always taking in and never giving back. They talk a good talk but they don’t get much done. The thing about the Bunny Believers is that they look like they are doing a lot, I mean they are all excited and talk a good show but they don’t fix many roofs.
When I was fifteen I went to work with my Dad on the tugs in Saint John Harbour and one day my dad pointed another one of the deckhands out and said “Watch old Bill.” And I started watching old Bill. And Bill always had a paint brush in his hand, or a marlin spike for splicing rope, but I never saw Bill do any painting or any splicing. But he always looked busy.
Friends it’s not how high you jump or how loud you shout but how straight you walk when you hit the ground. I like jumpers and I like shouters but I would trade a whole handful of jumpers and shouters for a quiet worker. Now if’n you can jump and shout and work, that’s a bonus.
The Pew Warmers Didn’t Do It. This was the week to week crowd. They were there whenever Jesus preached, they were solid followers but they only cared for themselves and theirs. Face it they wouldn’t even move to let the crippled man in. It was their lack of concern and love that necessitated the hole in the roof.
I heard a sermon once on “Sacrificial Pew Sitting.” You know what I mean; after all it’s why the back rows fill up first. But Denn when you sit down front you get a crick in your neck. And if’n I was sitting in the middle what would happen if I had to get out? Same thing that would happen if you were at a movie sitting in the middle I guess. And something to think about, better you should get a crick in your neck, then the guest who hasn’t been in church for twenty years and decided to try Cornerstone out. And it’s the same story with parking and in a lot of churches when it comes to expanding it’s the same old thing. When we pastored in Truro we were at the place where we were averaging 25 more each week then the church would sit. And during one of the meetings to discuss expansion, a Christian, who had been on the way and in the way for forty years or more questioned why we needed to expand the parking lot and the church because he always had a place to park and a place to sit.
And one day a teenage girl who attended our church told me that her twenty six year old brother who hadn’t darkened the door of the church in 10 years decided to try out the new preacher and see all the commotion was at the church. But he arrived a little late and there weren’t any parking spots, so he left. The believers who took the very best parking spots may have saved themselves a walk but they might have cost Jimmy his eternity. At some point some of us are going to have to start parking out on Gatehouse Run so there are spots in the parking lot for newcomers and you may need to sit in the front row, gasp, so there is room behind you for newcomers.
No the average attender wouldn’t have fixed roof.
I’m not even sure that it was the Original Four. Cause it a whole lot easier getting things done while the excitement is running high. We can do a lot more things in anticipation of a good time then we can after we’ve had the good time. I love to cook and I love to make special meals, but I’m not nearly as enthused about cleaning up after the meal. Ever notice that people are a lot more enthused about decorating the reception hall before the wedding reception then they are about helping to clean up afterwards.
It probably wasn’t a conscious thought on their behalf to not fix the hole but they were just so excited that Fred could walk; they wanted to get him home and show him off to his friends and family.
So, you’re asking Denn, who fixed the hole? I don’t know. Thomas probably doubted that it had happened at all. Judas complained about how much it was going to cost, Peter was outraged and complained about the hole in his roof, John and James were fighting over who would be mentioned in the Newspaper account of the miracle.
But someone looked up, and saw a need and filled it, and probably didn’t put up a big sign announcing that they were doing it. And the Kingdom of God is filled with people like that. Joseph of Arimathea gave up his tomb for Christ, Noah worked 125 years building an ark and int the book of Acts Stephen and Phillip were willing to wait on tables.
It takes special people to have the love, the dream, the commitment and the cooperation to knock holes in the roof. But we also need people with selfless love and quiet determination who will fix the roof as well.
The type of people who minister in a dozen different ways at Cornerstone and at every other church. People just like you, people who greet people at the door, who read scripture and pray in the service, people who work in the nursery and the Children’s church, and people who are on the worship team. The ones who if they are walking across the parking lot and see a piece of garbage they pick it up, people who write a cheque every week so the mortgage and salaries get paid and the lights stay on.
You ever notice after a potluck or social event here at the church there are always those who say their good byes, thank you for a wonderful evening and leave, and there are those who are quietly putting away chairs and doing dishes and cleaning up.
They don’t do it for the glory and recognition they do it because they love Jesus and enjoy Cornerstone and know those things have to get done.
Stephen R. Covey, author of “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” wrote “Without involvement, there is no commitment. Mark it down, asterisk it, circle it, underline it. No involvement, no commitment.”
And so if we want to show your commitment don’t tell me about it, get involved. Sit up front and park a little further away from the door, offer to help out with something, anything! What would it take for you to help Jennifer out in the Nursery, or Marilyn in Jr. Church and Children’s church and will help put on coffee and clean up afterwards
So where you at?

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

It’s here, it’s here! That time of the year that we all look forward to. The time of the year that we realize how lucky we are to live in this wonderful country and we can take the time to reflect on how blessed we are. That’s right… it’s “Tax Time”! What did you think I was writing about? Spring? March 21st isn’t actually the beginning of spring, it is just an arbitrary date picked by some lunatic who never lived in Nova Scotia.
But tax season is a great time to be thankful. Seriously, if you have never visited a third world country you have no idea how privileged we are with our health care, transportation and political stability and most of those things are a result of the taxes we pay.
Don’t want to pay tax? No problem, just don’t earn enough money. So, we need to be thankful that we make more than the threshold, and that the CRA graciously allows us to deduct our giving to the church. Try that in most other countries. So this year instead of grumbling while doing your taxes why not take a moment and breathe a prayer of thanks.
Have a great week and remember: To see what is really possible, you will have to attempt the impossible.

 


 


 

    

Tear Up the Roof

As they moved closer to the crowd their hopes begin to sink, what they thought would be a fairly simple task had taken on monumental proportions. When the suggestion came up to take their lame friend to Jesus everyone thought it was a great idea, all they had to do to get their friend to walk was put him on a stretcher carry him across town and have Jesus touch him. But that plan now seemed doomed to failure. The closer they got to the house Jesus was staying in the larger the crowd got and they realized that it would be impossible to break through the wall of people while they were carrying their friend. Their efforts were wasted, their dreams were dashed and their hopes were shattered.
The story actually begins in the first chapter of the book of Mark. After Jesus had called Andrew, Simon Peter, James and John to follow him they made their way to the town of Capernaum, let’s pull up a map here. Capernaum operated as Jesus Head Quarters while he ministered in the Galilee area, and we are told in that while there he stayed in the home of Peter and Andrew. In the first chapter we see Jesus speaking in the Synagogue, casting out unclean spirits and healing the sick, including Peter’s Mother-in-law. Then we are told that he left town for a few days and continued doing the same thing in a different location. And then he returned to Capernaum, presumably back to Peter’s house and it was in this home that the story picks up in chapter 2.
The people have flocked to the house to see the one called Jesus, the one some called the Messiah. There were the sincere, the religious, the sick, the devoted and the curious, you know the ambulance chaser. And there were those who were there to destroy Christ. That was the only reason they had shown up was to find fault with what he said. And all of these people crowded around the front door of Peter’s home presenting a wall of flesh that could not be dismissed or penetrated.
And into the story walk four men carrying a paralysed friend. We don’t know why he was paralysed, whether it was from birth or the result of an accident or an illness or what had happened all we know is that he was paralysed. And when they got to the house it became very apparent very quickly that they weren’t going to be able to get their friend through the mass of people gathered to see Jesus.
Well you know the rest of the story, at least you should Bonnie read it earlier in the service. The four guys heist their friend up to the flat roof of the house, that must have been some ride, and then they tore a hole in the roof and lowered their buddy down in front of Jesus. Well a little bit of a discussion ensued Jesus and makes this incredible statement; he says “My son, your sins are forgiven.” Do you remember that I earlier said that there were those in the crowd who wanted to destroy Jesus? This was all they were waiting for and they started nattering in the corner. “Like who does he think he is? Forgiving sins? Only God can forgive sins, this is blaspheme”
Well Jesus knew what they were saying and he countered with “What is it easier to do to say, your sins are forgiven or to so pick up your mat and walk?” And then he turns to the guy on the mat and says, “Stand up, take your mat, and go home, because you are healed.” That’s the story.
The entire “Your sins are forgiven you” may seem to be a strange way to respond to someone’s physical ailments but 2000 years ago it was a natural starting place. The Jews saw a direct correlation between sin and suffering. You’ll remember that argument from your extensive study of the book of Job. Or maybe not. One of Job’s friends asked the question  Job 4:7 “Stop and think! Do the innocent die? When have the upright been destroyed?
The same heresy is around today, just dressed in different clothes, do good and God will bless you.
We are told that the Rabbis of the day had a saying “There is no sick man healed of his sickness until all his sins have been forgiven him.” And the reality is that as important as it was for the man to have a physical healing it was infinitely more important that he have a spiritual healing.
And we all say we believe that but why do more people ask for prayer for their friend’s and relative’s bodies than ask for prayers for their souls? Just wondering. That was what is technically referred to as a tangent, so back to the message.
But who were these four guys? We don’t know, all the Bible tells us is that they brought the paralysed man to Christ. It provides no details at all. It gives no names, no occupations, no addresses. We are left completely in the dark as to their identities. But even though we don’t know who they were we do know that they exhibited certain characteristics. Characteristics that it might not be bad to emulate.
The first thing we need to note about these guys is Their Love. If you read through your New Testament you would discover that Jesus didn’t really lay down new commandments, he simply refined or clarified the old commandments. For example in
Matthew 5:27-28 “You have heard the commandment that says, ‘You must not commit adultery.’ But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
But Jesus did lay down at least one new commandment John 13:34 So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.
Think about what the motivating force must have been here. They willing gave of themselves, gave of their time, gave up the opportunity to be in the front row to see Jesus, not only were they concerned about their friend but they were concerned enough to be inconvenienced. Maybe that would be a good definition of love, caring enough to be inconvenienced. You see genuine love is demonstrated by our willingness to be involved regardless of the price tag. There were probably a dozen other things these four guys could have been doing, no doubt they had to clear space on their calendars in order to make time to carry their friend to Jesus, but they were willing to do it.
Back when Cornerstone was just a dream we were told that as a church we should have some things that we stood for, that would help provide a foundation for our new church, so being good little church planters we wrote out what were to become our core values, and number 5 is Cornerstone Wesleyan Church is committed to showing Christ’s love to those who attend in practical and tangible ways. How about it, today, March 14th 2010 Jesus Christ is saying to each person who is here, who claims to have a relationship with him, Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. You understand of course when Jesus Christ was laying the foundation for His Church 2000 years ago one of his core values was that the members of that church would love one another.
And when we don’t demonstrate Christ’s love to one another in practical and tangible ways, not only are we failing to fulfil one of the core values of Cornerstone Wesleyan Church, we are failing to fulfil the core value of the Church of Jesus Christ. When people come to this church, they may enjoy the music, they may want to get involved in a small group, their kids may like Jr. church but what they are looking for are relationships. Today, in an age when the nuclear family is but a distant memory and people move on an increasingly more frequent schedule people are looking to find a community of people who will extend the love of Christ to them. And when we fail to do that, when we fail to love each other, the way Christ loved us then we are in direct disobedience to his commandment.
And you know who holds the primary responsibility for developing relationships between those who make Cornerstone their church home and those who would like to make Cornerstone their church home? Those who are already here. And that relationship may be the one primary factor in a person coming to know Christ as their Lord, because they need to see His love demonstrated through the lives of his people.
In the last book of the bible, the Revelation of John, Jesus speaks to Seven Churches this is what he said to the Church in Ephesus,
Revelation 2:2-3 “I know all the things you do. I have seen your hard work and your patient endurance. I know you don’t tolerate evil people. You have examined the claims of those who say they are apostles but are not. You have discovered they are liars. You have patiently suffered for me without quitting. Sounds pretty good doesn’t it?
The problem is the word that the next verse begins with, BUT, and serious students of Biblical exegesis and hermeneutics know that after the but comes the truth. This is what the next two verses say. Revelation 2:4-5 “But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first! Look how far you have fallen! Turn back to me and do the works you did at first. If you don’t repent, I will come and remove your lampstand from its place among the churches.
Let’s never forget that it has to come down to love, Love God, Love others. After all if we aren’t here for one another than why are we here?
Their Dream. These guys weren’t content to spend their time in what, was they were willing to travel into what could be. They had a dream of seeing their friend walk again, of seeing him run and jump. And even though they realized that in the realm of the possible it would never happen, that didn’t stop them.
If we are going to be everything that we are supposed to be, if we are to have everything we are supposed to have and if we are to do everything we are supposed to do it will only happen because we first dreamed it would happen. One of my favourite statements is “If you don’t build castles in the air, you’ll never build anything on the ground.”
If you only believe what you can see, you will only see what you can believe. Just because it’s never been done before doesn’t mean it can’t be done. But before you can do it you have to see it.
It is said that Abraham Lincoln shucked corn for three days to buy a copy of the book “Washington’s Life” when someone asked him why he replied, “I don’t always intend to delve, grub, shuck corn, split rails and the like, I am going to be president.” Is it true? Who knows, but it makes a great story.
What are your dreams? Where would you like to be a year from now, five years from now or ten years from now? Can you verbalize your dreams? I want everyone to close their eyes, come on people work with me on this one.
Can you see your dream? You remember what I said, if you can’t see it, you can’t have it? Cause you gotta start with a dream cause dreams are the raw material of reality.
How about it?
These guys had a dream, and not just any dream, they knew what it was to dream the impossible dream and to reach for the unreachable star.
You will never achieve more then you can dream.
Their Commitment. These guys were determined to see their dreams fulfilled. They didn’t just sit around waiting for it to happen, and when something came between their dream and its fulfilment, they climbed over it. Probably 100 people knew about the paralysed man and felt bad that he couldn’t walk. Probably 50 of those thought about taking him to Jesus and eventually maybe 20 of them might have actually gotten around to doing anything about it. But out of all of those how many would have turned around and gone home when they saw the crowd? I bet those four guys were the only four who would have been willing to go to the extremes that they went to for their friend.
The Bible is filled with men and women who dreamed of the great things they could do for God, well actually it is filled with the people who dreamed and then had the stickwithitness to see the dream become reality. Those who just dreamed, dreamed themselves into obscurity.
Abraham had a dream of a new nation under God, Moses had a dream of freeing his people, Deborah had a dream of delivering her people, David had a dream of uniting his people. And each one of them had more than a dream they had a determination to see the dream become a reality. Each of them must have been ridiculed and mocked but they kept at it. They must have come across obstacles and stumbling blocks but they stuck with it.
We can’t wait for our dreams to come to us; we need to go to our dreams. And if something stands in our way, like the crowd stood in the way of these men and their dreams then we need to go around it, and if we can’t go around then we need to climb over it. Because to use a baseball analogy, stopping at third adds no more to the score then striking out.
There are those of you here today who will dream with me of someday expanding this building and reaching even more people for Christ, and you will tell me that you are part of that dream but there will come a day that the dream will cost you something and you’ll make a decision to step away from the dream. How do I know that? Because I’ve been there, done that and got the T-shirt.
Obstacles are what you see when you take your eyes off your goal. These men had a dream and in order to see the dream fulfilled they had to get their friend to Jesus and if that meant climbing a ladder, and digging a hole in the roof of the house where Jesus was then that is what they were going to do.
What are you willing to do to achieve your dream?
Their Co-operation Church, this one’s for you. I don’t know how they came to the point that they agreed they should carry their friend to see Jesus. Maybe it started with a discussion and ended with a vote, “All in favour of carrying Fred to see the carpenter raise your hands.” Or maybe it was the result of one strong leader who said, “Come on guys grab the other handles of this thing and let’s get going” I really don’t know where it started but I do know that it took the four of them operating together to make the thing happen.
One of them couldn’t have done it, two of them couldn’t have done it and while three might have carried the stretcher to the house it’s doubtful that they could have gotten it onto the roof top without four.
If we are to accomplish everything that God wants for this church it will only be through the unity of the body, notice I didn’t say uniformity, they are different. Throughout the New Testament, Paul compares the church to a body, made up of different parts, doing different jobs, but all functioning for the common good.
We may not ever all agree on everything, we may never cross our ts and dot our Is the same way but we can agree to put those little differences aside to fulfil the task set before us.
Do you remember one of the most important lessons that we learned from Sesame Street? Video clip, that’s right: Cooperation
Just hours before his death, Christ went to the Father in prayer and part of that prayer is found in
John 17:23 I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me. Jesus was telling us that our unity would be our witness, and you only have to talk to the unchurched for a few minutes before they start asking why there are so many denominations and why we seem to be fighting all the time.

 Let’s never allow disunity in the body destroy what we are trying to do in this community. There may be times that we don’t do things the way that you think they should be done. There may be times that we go in a different direction then you think we should go. And I say this, not to be malicious or cocky, but because I am committed to this church being all that it can be. If we ever get the place that we aren’t doing what you think should be done, either co-operate or leave, don’t try to destroy what we are trying to do here.

 We are committed to hearing what people have to say, we are committed to allowing people to share their views. But once the body has made a decision don’t campaign against it, because that reveals a split and the truth is united we stand and divided we fall.

 There is a great story in the Old Testament in the book of Exodus chapter 17 verses 8-13, the Amalekites attacked the people of Israel at Rephidim. Joshua led the battle for the Israelites and Moses stood on top of the hill and watched the battle, listen to what happened at this point.
Exodus 17:11-13 As long as Moses held up the staff in his hand, the Israelites had the advantage. But whenever he dropped his hand, the Amalekites gained the advantage. Moses’ arms soon became so tired he could no longer hold them up. So Aaron and Hur found a stone for him to sit on. Then they stood on each side of Moses, holding up his hands. So his hands held steady until sunset. As a result, Joshua overwhelmed the army of Amalek in battle.

 We are in this together, each one of us with a task to do, and it’s only as each one of us holds up our corner of the stretcher that they job will get done. Let me end with Paul’s prayer for the Christians in Rome 2000 years ago.

 Romans 15:5 May God, who gives this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other, as is fitting for followers of Christ Jesus.

 

The Game


Quite the game, eh?  And if you have to ask what game, you have obviously been living on a different planet over the past couple of weeks. And at the end of the game, the Canadians celebrated, the Americans were disappointed and the Russians whined.  Oh well. 
I read the other day, that the game was the most watched television broadcast in Canadian history.  At least one source referred to it as “the Crosby Show”, which is probably unfair to the rest of the team.
The interesting thing, is the sheer number of people who watched the game; those in the know, tell us that an average audience of 16.6 million viewers watched the Olympic title game, which is almost half the population of Canada!  In addition, about 80% of the country, 26.5 million Canadians, watched at least some part of the game.  Incredible!

But there is another event that will be watched by an even greater audience and that will be the return of Christ.  And some people will celebrate and others will be disappointed and others will whine.  You will have to decide for yourself, which category you will be in.  Have a great week and remember: To see what is really possible, you will have to attempt the impossible.

Interesting

Have you ever felt like you’ve been cheated? You know, you were planning on doing something and looking forward to doing it and then somebody else did it for you or before you and you just felt disappointed, like you had been robbed or cheated. But sometimes you find out someone was going to do it and you are able to stop them, so even though they almost ruined it, they didn’t.
That must have been how the state of Ohio felt last week, when prison officials found Lawrence Reynolds unconscious on his cell floor, after taking an overdose of pills.
Luckily, officials were able to revive Reynolds and rush him to the hospital, where he is expected to make a full recovery. Good thing, because they had to re-schedule his execution for next week. Apparently, when they discovered him, it was only hours away from his date with the executioner. I’ve always thought it was strange that they put death row inmates on suicide watch in the days before the execution, but I guess it goes back to my assertion that capital punishment is more about revenge than about justice. Have a great week and remember: To see what is really possible, you will have to attempt the impossible.

 

 

 
    

Childlike or Childish

It had started out quite innocently. But then again it usually does. It was just a discussion. They had just been sitting around chewing the fat and somebody had mentioned how important so and so was going to be in heaven. “I don’t think so” said Peter “He hasn’t got what it takes.” Well it was off then. Each of the twelve putting forth his opinion on “Who would be greatest in the Kingdom of God.” Would it people like the Pharisees. People who were so careful to obey all the rules, making sure that all the dos were done, and all the don’t were skipped. Or would it be those like the scribes, those who knew the Holy Scriptures inside out and could quote a chapter and verse for every occasion? “No” said Thomas, “the Sanhedrin they are the ones who know all the theology, they will have the best spot in the kingdom” “Hey guys. What about us? We are the ones who gave up our livelihoods to follow the Lord, what about us?” They all turned to look at John, “that’s right” they thought “maybe we’ll get the best spot in the kingdom. ” “I know” James said “let’s ask Jesus, he will know who the lucky person is or better yet how we can be the lucky person.”

 So the twelve crowded around Jesus and Peter asked him “Which of us is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?” And then they waited for his answer with baited breath. By the way baited breath is what a cat has who has just eaten cheese and now waits outside a mouse hole. “Well Jesus who will it be? James or John, Peter or Andrew? Or perhaps it will be Judas Iscariot the one who watches the money.”

 But Jesus knelt and called to a little boy playing with pebbles on the side of the road and as he approached the carpenter picked him up. Smiling the child reached out and clasped the finger of the one who exuded so much joy and peace and then Jesus looked back at the twelve and said “you want to know who will be the greatest in the Kingdom? It is the one who is most like this child.”

 What? A kid? No he obviously misunderstood them; they wanted to know who would be the greatest in the kingdom, but then almost as if reading their minds he reinforced it saying “Unless you are willing to humble yourself and become like a child, you’re not going to make it.” Sorry.

 So here’s our dilemma today. Jesus told his disciples to become like little children, Paul told the early believers to grow up. Is there a balance that can be struck between being childlike and being childish? Last time I spoke we looked at some of the negative qualities that we can find in children. Do you remember what they were?

 We mentioned that children can be short sighted, they can’t tolerate solid food, they need to be catered to, they can be critical & uncaring and they are selfish. Those are the characteristics that we need to be careful not to exhibit as believers.

 But Children also have many redeeming characteristics as well. If not then we would all share the view of Bob Hope who said “Kids are wonderful, but I like mine barbecued.” Or Robert Byrne who stated “Learning to dislike children at an early age saves a lot of expense and aggravation later in life.”

 When Jesus told the twelve to become like little children what qualities was he espousing?

 1) Children Haven’t Lost Their Sense of Wonder

 What is more fun then watching a little kid come into the room on Christmas morning? When Stephen and Deborah were really little we used to put the tree up on Christmas Eve and that way we’d get the full meal deal. They’d come down stairs, around the corner and see the tree, the lights, the decorations and all the gifts. It was like total sensory overload. Their eyes got this big their jaws dropped open. It was great. But it’s not just at Christmas, children marvel at what God has done throughout the year.

 They see the magic in rainbows and stars; they laugh at animals playing and marvel at creation. Watch a little kid at the beach, every thing is a discovery and most of their discoveries are fabulous treasures. Some of you will remember our dog diesel, a 140 Lb Great Dane and I loved when children would see us when we were walking him at the waterfront.

 As adults we have become blasé about this world. Too many times we’ve lost our sense of wonder. Oh it comes back occasionally like when we see a really spectacular sunset or rainbow or the Northern Lights. A new born will sometimes do it or a colt struggling to its feet for the first time. But for the most part we drift through life with a “Been there done that” attitude.

 King David wrote in Psalm 77:14 You are the God of great wonders! You demonstrate your awesome power among the nations.

 How long has it been since you’ve thought of God as the “God of great wonders.” It was God who created the Great Barrier Reef and the Rocky Mountains, it was God who threw the Milk Way into the night skies and it is God who draws the Northern Lights. And if we are going to be childlike then we need to regain our sense of wonder. We need to marvel that God created us, we need to be able to pray as David did in Psalm 139:13-16 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.

 Most of us tend to be a little self depreciative of who and what we are. We’re too tall or too short, too fat or too thin our hair is the wrong colour or the wrong texture or the wrong length. But you are a miracle. Mankind with all of its scientific achievement has never come close to creating a “you”. You’ve heard the story of the scientist who challenged God saying, “We can now do everything you can do including making life, I challenge you to a man making contest.” God said “You’re on, you go first.” The scientist reached down and picked up a handful of dirt to which God said “Oh no you have to make your own dirt.”

 Every minute of our lives the heart pumps over five litres of blood through our bodies, that’s over 300 litres of blood an hour, 7,200 litres of blood a day through a network of 96,000 km of arteries, veins and capillaries.

 Think about it, you represent on the average, 5 million hairs, 20 sq. Feet of skin, 650 muscles, 206 bones, 100 joints, 96,000 km of blood vessels and over 13 million nerve cells.

 Within you there is enough fat for four cakes of soap, enough lime to white wash a small shed, the carbon equivalent of 14 kilos of coal, enough phosphorus to make 2,200 matches, enough iron for a 1 inch nail and for good measure a spoonful of sulphur and 28 grams of various metals other then iron. In the course of your life time you will eat 45,400 kilos of food, drink 45,000 litres of liquid and walk about 24,000 km.

 As a matter of fact Life Gem, an Illinois company, says it can turn cremated remains into diamonds. They remove the carbon, turn it into graphite and simulate the conditions that create a diamond, and voila, your no good smelly brother-in-law is now, as he always told you, a diamond in the rough weighing in at about a quarter caret.

 This world is no accident and neither are you, and neither is your salvation. Do you ever marvel at the fact that God, the creator of the universe, chose to be born a child, live for thirty three years in a hostile occupied country and then willing surrendered himself to die on a cross so you could go to heaven. Simply by acknowledging what he had done and asking him to let you in.

 2) Children Haven’t Lost Their Ability to Trust. Do you remember as a child leaping into your father’s arms and knowing that he wouldn’t drop you? Allowing someone to grab your arms and swing you around knowing they wouldn’t let go. Never once did you think, “I wonder what would happen if dad let me fall, or if he let go when he was spinning me and I went careening into a wall?”

 John Bradshaw an author and lecturer on children and families said “Children are curious and are risk takers. They have lots of courage. They venture out into a world that is immense and dangerous. A child initially trusts life and the processes of life.”

 Do we trust our Heavenly Father as much as children trust their earthly father? Or for that matter as much as children trust their Heavenly Father?

 I love looking back and remembering times that my kids said “Well of course it happened, I prayed.” Whether it was having an escaped Budgie returned or being allowed to have a cat after the landlord had said no. Children trusted God to be true to his promises.

 Have you embraced the promise of God from Psalm 50:15 Then call on me when you are in trouble, and I will rescue you, and you will give me glory.”

 Jesus told us in Matthew 6:25-34 “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

 Very simply he was saying “Trust God” Paul reinforces that in Hebrews 13:5 Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.”

 Do you trust God? Story is told of a man who fell over a bank and just happened to catch hold of a branch that was growing out from the face of the cliff. Holding on as tight as he could he hollered; “Hello is anyone up there?” After a few moments a voice came from above saying “This is God, do you trust me?” and the man said “Thank you God of course I trust you.” And the voice came back “Do you really trust me” “Oh yes God you know that I really trust you.” The voice answered again and said “Let go of the branch” there was a pause and the man yelled “Is there anyone else up there?”

 Author Paul Little
wrote “The statement that God is in control is either true or it’s not true. If it’s not true, we’d better forget about God. But if it is true and we accept God’s revelation of himself, our faith enables us to enjoy and rest in the certainty of his providence.”

 I guess that means that sometimes we have to let go of the branch. As a church, if we are going to be everything that God wants us to be there will be times that we will need to step out in faith. And if we aren’t 100% sure where God is leading us then like the Psalmist we need to be able to say Psalm 56:3 But when I am afraid, I will put my trust in you.

 I think one of the greatest statements of trust that I’ve ever heard came from Elsa Einstein who said “No, I don’t understand my husband’s theory of relativity, but I know my husband, and I know he can be trusted.”

 You may not understand all of what God has in store for you individually or us collectively but I sure hope that you can say “But I know God and I know that he can be trusted.”

 3) Children Haven’t Lost Their Ability to Forgive Have you ever had to ask one of your children to forgive you? Actually you probably needed to at some point or another even if you didn’t actually do it. And the wonderful thing about children is they are willing to forgive.

 Watch children play and even if they’ve been hurt by the words or actions of another child and declare for the entire world to hear “I hate Sally and I’m never going to play with her again.” But all it takes if for Sally to say “I’m sorry.” And they are back together again, best friends as if there had never been a problem. And sometimes Sally doesn’t even have to say “I’m sorry.”

 So how come adults can’t be like that, even as Christians? Why do we want to hold and nurse a grudge, allowing it to fester and grow until it’s all consuming? Forgiving isn’t simply something we do for others, it something we do for ourselves as well. If you aren’t willing to forgive then you are allowing yourself to wallow in self pity and bitterness that will eventually destroy you. It was Francis Bacon who said “This is certain, that a man that studies revenge keeps his wounds green, which otherwise would heal and do well.”

 Oh by the way teens it would be wise to take a look at the theory that Francis Bacon was actually the author of Shakespeare’s plays, only because it adds spice to high school English class when you can bring it up with at least a semi-plausible defence. You know when to use it, the class is bogging down as you look at the Bard’s use of Iambic Pentameter, the teacher is going on and on and on, your fellow students are on the verge of casting themselves from the second story windows and you say “Excuse me teacher, isn’t it true that Francis Bacon wrote the works you attribute to William Shakespeare?” Fun, fun, fun.

 Jesus himself tied our forgiveness of others to his forgiveness of us. Listen to his words in Matthew 6:14-15 “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins. Remember after the “but” comes the truth. That’s scary and if you didn’t catch it let’s read it together. Now let’s do it again but let’s make it a little more personal.

 If I forgive those who sin against me, my heavenly Father will forgive me. But if I refuse to forgive others, my Father will not forgive my sins. (Pause)

 We need to forgive people, not for their sake. As a matter of fact Oscar Wilde said “Always forgive your enemies — nothing annoys them so much.” But for our own sake for our emotional well being and for our spiritual well being.

 So where are you at today? How childlike are you? Are you coming to Christ as a child or are you just acting childish? The choice is yours.