Healthy Vision

This is week six of our health check series and for me it represents the most frightening topic that I’ve spoken about since the New Year, and that is optical health. Being very honest this morning the thought of losing my sight is frightening. I tend to be a procrastinator about most things, if my dentist didn’t book my next appointment when I’m finished with my cleaning, I wouldn’t think of it until I had problems, I have a blood work requisition that has been sitting on my dresser since November. I know that I should exercise and I plan on getting on that, maybe next week or definitely the week after that.

Last spring my sister, who is a year older than me, was diagnosed with Glaucoma. I was talking to my optometrist so fast it would make your head spin. When she got me into a specialist and he told me there was no evidence right now that I had the same thing I was over the moon, and when he added that there were some markers that indicated that I might be at risk and recommended that I have a test a couple of times a year that I would have to pay out of pocket I said “sign me up.”

And if you were to question me about this fear of blindness I could probably talk about missing the beauty that surround me but bottom line is would be about reading. I literally can’t imagine my life without books. Most of you know that we do a third service at the Berkeley each Sunday afternoon and last year one of the ladies who attend our services had a stroke and lost a good portion of her sight and each week she would tell me how much she missed reading. On the other hand another one of the ladies was Agnes DeGarthe who lived to be a hundred and one and was a voracious reader, you very seldom saw Agnes without a book and she never wore glasses.

Most of you didn’t realize that I wore glasses until I started wearing them for this series but I have worn glasses since I was a teenager and only started wearing contact lenses about 6 years ago. In the scripture that was read this morning was the story of a man who did not have healthy vision but then he did and that is where we are going to start.

He opened his eyes and it was dark. Panic welled up inside him as he realized that he couldn’t see. But then he realized that he had never been able to see that it was just the start to another black, barren day. He felt his way around his room looking for his clothes, getting ready to face a hopeless day begging on the streets. He had long ago surrendered any hope of seeing the things that others saw. He knew that he would never see the sun that he felt on his face, would never view the grass he felt under feet. Never know what a tree looked like or and never see the people that jostled him on a daily basis as they pushed past him on their way through life. He would never be anything but what he was, a poor, blind, beggar in a hard land during a cruel time in history.

And so his day began, no different than any other day that he had spent, no better no worse just a day. And then his day changed because some friends came and took him by the hand and dragged him out of his house, their voices blending together in confusion as they told him of the man Jesus, the one who made the lame to walk and the blind to see. He was here they said, and Jesus could heal him. And so they dragged him through the streets of Bethsaida looking for the one that so many called lord. And then they were there and they pushed him into the carpenter begging that he heal their friend. His voice was soft, but his hands were hard and callused by his years spent working with wood and timber. Jesus spoke quietly to the blind man as he led him out of the crowd and through the city gates. “Where were they going? What did this Jesus want with him?” All he’d wanted was his sight he protested but Jesus continued to lead him by the hand. And then they stopped. And he waited, straining to hear, willing his ears to see the things that his eyes couldn’t. Jesus spit, that’s right he spit, spit right in his eyes and then laid his hands on him. And, and he could see, he looked around and the colors and shapes and sizes, and movement overwhelmed the blind man he was speechless words couldn’t explain or describe what he was seeing. Then he heard the master speak saying “do you see anything.” Could he see anything? He could see everything but it was so confusing, “what was the everything he could see” “I see people, they look like trees walking around?” And then Jesus reached out and touched him again and then he realized another miracle had happened because now the confusion was gone, and he knew what everything was.

Think about it, just for a minute. Here was a man who had struggled through his entire life without vision. His entire life revolving around what he could feel and hear. And into his darkness walks Jesus and his life is changed forever. You realize of course that there are far greater blindness’s then not being able to see physically. Although being the reader that I am the thought of not being able to see a written page terrifies me more then any other handicap. There is a lesson to be learned here, and it is a whole lot bigger then knowing that Jesus can heal the physically blind. And we are going to use this story as a platform for the concepts that we are going to share as we look at the need for healthy vision in our churches today.

1) Healthy Vision is From God This might be obvious but it needs stating. Blindness had robbed this man of a lot of opportunities in life but it wasn’t life threatening as long as he didn’t walk off a cliff or into the path of a chariot. He could still walk and talk. He could still love and be loved. Admittedly there were things that he couldn’t do, but there were a lot of things that he could do. The problem was that he missed out on so much. Some of it tangible like the ability in that time and culture to earn a living without begging. Other things couldn’t have a price tag put on them but they were just as important or even more so. Seeing a sunrise, or sunset. Looking into the eyes of the one you love. Seeing for the first time a new born foal struggle to it’s feet, watching God draw a rainbow across the sky. But he was alive. Even if he wasn’t living life to the fullest.

The lack of vision doesn’t mean that a church is dead. There are a lot of churches out there without a vision that are alive. They function. People are saved and ministered to. But they miss out on so much. Simple things like knowing where they are going so that they can plan ahead in buildings, staff and programs. Major things like knowing what God wants them to do so they can be in the centre of God’s will. God has a plan for every church, just like he has a plan for every individual. And if we don’t have vision that plan will never be fulfilled. We might do good things but we will never do the best things.

A church without vision is like a man without sight, handicapped. Even though there are lots of things that a blind person can do to cope with that handicap and minimize that handicap it will always be a handicap, and as long as they are blind they will never see. Science is racing to find a way to provide a substitute for sight with guide dogs and ultra sonic devices but they will always be inferior to being able to see.

A church may try to substitute different things for vision. Programs, staff, buildings. They may race ahead embracing every new concept and strategy that comes along, but if they haven’t got vision they still can’t see where Christ wants them to be. Just as that blind man only enjoyed part of the wonderful creation that God had provided for him churches without a vision often only enjoy a part of God’s total plan for them.

The great commission might be a good starting place for the church. The Great Commission was the direction that Jesus gave to the apostles before he left them, but it is as general and generic and no more a vision then Genesis 1:28 Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.”

We need more to guide our lives as individuals then the command to procreate. And in our churches we need to know more than simply; go forth into the entire world.

Too often local churches get confused between the mission of the “church” that is all churches and the specific vision that Christ has for them individually. Matthew 28:19-20 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

That is our mission. How we are going to achieve it is our vision.

What about your personal life? You can be alive without having a vision for your life. You can walk and talk and go to class, love and be loved but do you know where you are going. If you don’t have vision you are handicapped just as if you were blind.

Have you got a vision for where God wants to take you? Have you got a vision for your spiritual walk? Have you got a vision for where God wants you to be next year or five years from now? And if you have a vision you have to ask yourself is it God’s vision? How often are we guilty of doing our will in God’s name and then calling it God’s will? When you dream and set goals for the future is God even in it? Perhaps you need to let Jesus take you by the hand, lead you away from the hustle and bustle of life and give you vision as only he can.

2) Healthy Vision Is Personal Jesus took the blind man to one side; just the two of them and then Jesus touched the blind man and gave him sight. He didn’t touch the blind man’s friends he didn’t touch the blind man’s family he touched the blind man. It didn’t matter that everyone around him already had vision this man needed it personally. Nobody else’s vision would do. I can’t see through your eyes, and the vision and dreams that you have for your life won’t do me any good. It’s unfortunate that so many churches feel that all they have to do is to adopt the vision of a successful church and then they too will be successful. And so we have a whole bunch of churches trying to operate with the vision to reach the lost that God gave to Bill Hybels at Willow Creek, or to Rick Warren at Saddleback, or Kevin Myers at 12stone or Laurel Buckingham at Moncton

But the vision of those men was given to them by God, for that particular situation. The vision that God has given me for Cornerstone is totally different then the vision he gave me for North Point Wesleyan church or Truro. The vision that God gives to churches is as distinctive as fingerprints. It has to be in order to take into account things like demographics, personal, property, staffing.

The vision that God has given Paul Yongi Cho for reaching Korea, utilizing a church base of a million people and tens of thousands of volunteer lay assistants must be different then the vision that God gave to me almost 17 years ago when we had Angela and I and the two kids getting ready to plant a church.

It doesn’t matter if all the other churches around have a vision; the only vision that will help the local church is the local church vision. Not only is the vision of the church unique for that church but it is normally given first to the pastor of that church. Throughout history God has provided a clear vision of where he wants his people to go through a leader.

Whether it was Moses who was given a vision of delivering his people out of Egypt, Joshua who had a vision of taking the promised land, David who had a vision of making Jerusalem the city of God, Solomon who had a vision of building a temple or Gideon who had a vision of freeing Israel from the Midianites.

Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Wesley had a vision for the common people. We need to realize that the vision is given first to a leader and then through him it is communicated to God’s people. And if that vision is the vision for the local church then it will need to come to the local church. A vision for the denomination is great for the denomination but that isn’t a local church vision.

It is scary to talk to pastors who have no vision for what God can do in their communities because unless the pastor has a vision then the church can’t effectively have a vision. And not only that but it has to be a God given vision. It’s not enough to sit down and decide on the vision and dreams that you have for your church if they aren’t from God and yet many churches do exactly that embracing human visions and expecting supernatural results. Too many churches use vision like a drunk uses a lamppost! More for support than illumination. They know where they want to go and so they provide a vision to support their direction. And that’s not the way it’s supposed to be.

What about your personal life? The vision that God gives you will be as distinctive as your fingerprints. You see God has a wonderful plan for your life. And realize that if you are going to get the most out of your life it will only be by following God’s plan.

How often do you feel like “God loves me, and everybody else has a wonderful plan for my life.”? The bottom line is this if you are going to be happy it will only be when you have God’s vision for your life. If I had done what I wanted to do I would have been a politician, if I had of followed what my father wanted me to do I would have been a sailor. There are a lot of people out there who think they know what is best for your future, including you but only God truly does.

3) Healthy Vision Is Perfect have you ever been confused by this particular portion of scripture? You know the story, Jesus spits in the guy’s eyes, you say “no pastor he spit on his fingers and then applied it to the man’s eyes” uh-huh read it again, Mark 8:23 Jesus took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village. Then, spitting on the man’s eyes, he laid his hands on him and asked, “Can you see anything now?”

So he had spit on the man’s eyes and laid his hands on him and then he asked him “do you see anything?” And the man responds in Mark 8:24 The man looked around. “Yes,” he said, “I see people, but I can’t see them very clearly. They look like trees walking around.”

And then Jesus touched him again and he could see properly.

You ever wonder, “How did he know what trees looked like?” Or “were the people really brown with branches and leaves?” Or “how in the world did Jesus mess up that miracle?” The answers are: that what he said was that he saw people, they were walking and they were talking but they didn’t match the description that he had in his head, instead they looked like what he thought trees would look like. His vision had been restored but his perception was all wrong.

When Jesus touched him the second time he wasn’t fine tuning the first miracle, “well it’s obvious we have a problem with the colour contrasts and vertical hold let me, there that should do” instead he was changing the perceptions that the man had of what things should look like.

When Jesus gives us a vision either as a church or as a person they are often coloured by our perceptions. In other words if you perceive church to be six hymns, three prayers, and a fifty minute message all geared to edify the folks who have been on the way and in the way for thirty years. Than the vision that God has given me for Cornerstone might confuse you. I see church but it looks like trees walking around. Often times it isn’t that we need to have our vision healed nearly as much as we need to have our perceptions changed. At Cornerstone we have a vision for touching those who are Unchurched and those who have been abused by churches, is that too strong of a term. And because of that we have worked at making church a little friendlier in order to more effective minister to those people.

It means that I need to spend more time in developing and implementing ways of reaching those lost sheep then in coddling the flock. It means that all over again we need to get concerned over winning lost rather than concerned over losing the found. And part of that means that we expect the believers in the church to minister to those people who come to our churches looking for a spiritual healing.

And even though sometimes what we are doing seems out there it really isn’t. When we started using music from Hill Songs in Australia in 1995 we were the first church on the Atlantic District to do it, when we launched our website in 1996 we were the only Church on our district with a website, when we started using PowerPoint in 1998 we were the first church in the Atlantic District to use PowerPoint in every service. And now we are just one of any number of Wesleyan Churches that do that. And two years ago when we started broadcasting our services live on the web we were the first church in Halifax and the first Wesleyan Church on our district to it. And we will continue to seek out new and exciting ways to deliver an ageless message.

What is it that we need to do to reach those folks who are indifferent to church? Host a health clinic with area health professionals? Preach a series a messages revolving around CSI or spend half a year looking at 24 Hours in the life of Jesus, how about using Dr. Seuss as a springboard for a series of messages.

You say, “But Denn I want church to be the way I perceive it, with a pulpit, and a communion table and hymn books, singing the hymns I grew up with and having bake sales to raise money.” But you have to realize that in order to accommodate the 400 people who call Cornerstone their church home we would have to have church 400 different ways to match each person’s perceptions of church. And if you think that is a problem with a larger church it was the same when we only had 40 people. Where two or three are gathered there will be two or three different opinions on what church should look like.

In the same way we can have a faulty perception of what life is supposed to be like. If we view life as making us “healthy, wealthy and wise.” And figure that we’ll never have problems or pain or grief then the life that Jesus gives us will never match up to the perceptions that we have. It isn’t that our life is wrong it’s our perceptions of what our life should be like that are wrong.

The vision that Jesus gave to the blind man was perfect vision in Mark 8:25 Then Jesus placed his hands on the man’s eyes again, and his eyes were opened. His sight was completely restored, and he could see everything clearly.

He was neither near sighted nor far sighted. The church that can see where God wants it to be in 10 years without being able to see tomorrow doesn’t have perfect vision. The person who knows where God wants them without knowing how to get there doesn’t have perfect vision. How about it, has Jesus touched you and given you vision? Or maybe you need to have your perceptions changed and healed.

So how do we protect our the health of our vision? Good question, and one I asked my optometrist. And the answer were all things that we can do: Make sure that you have regular eye exams, not just eye screenings where they check your vision but eye exams where they check the health of your eyes. A thorough eye exam can also catch diabetes, blood pressure problems and skin cancer. Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from UV damage, wear eye protection when you are working at anything that might get in your eyes, and quit smoking. Funny how that keeps coming up, want a healthy heart? Quit smoking. Want a healthy mouth? Quit smoking? Want healthy vision? Quit smoking.

You want healthy spiritual vision? Keep your eyes on Jesus, he told us in Matthew 6:33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

I began by saying that one thing that scares me as a person is to lose my vision, and the thing that scares me more than anything as a pastor is for the church to lose its vision

I have a bad feeling about this

Can anything good come from this? I think not.  Apparently a team of Russian scientist are ready to broach a lake in Antarctica that was been sealed since the last ice age.  Reports out of Moscow are that the group has been drilling for weeks to reach the lake hidden 3,750 metres (12,000 ft) beneath the polar ice cap.  Team leader  Alexei Turkeyev stated that they are only 5 metres from breaking through into what has been dubbed Lake Vostok.
A hidden network of subglacial lakes were discovered by satellite imagery in the late 1990s and scientists around the world are anxious to discover what mysteries the lakes might hold.  There have been theories that these pristine reserves could hold life forms that we have never experienced before.  Sounds like a plot in a science fiction movie, leading of course to all of humanity being rescued by Bruce Willis, or someone much younger. 
So we have an environment that has never been sullied by people and just above it is a12,000 foot borehole that has been pumped full of Kerosene and Freon to keep it from freezing shut.  You’d think we would have learned by now to leave well enough alone after the fiasco in the “Garden”. Apparently not.     Have a great week and remember: To see what is really possible, you will have to attempt the impossible.

A Healthy Mouth

This is week five of our Health Check series, and we’ve looked at a Healthy Body, Healthy Appetites and a Healthy Heart and so this week we are looking at “A Healthy Mouth”

 It really isn’t fair! When I think of Doctors there are a whole slew in the media who come to mind. From my childhood it would have been Marcus Welby MD, as a teen it would be Hawkeye and Trapper John, in my twenties obviously Cliff Huxtable and now . . . I guess it would be House MD. All fine examples and nice people, with the exception of House. Not a nice person but he would be a great doctor, maybe. You ever notice that House and his team can kill their patient three or four times in the run of an hour?

 But go looking for a dentist in the media and what do you get? Nothing zip, nada and in the movies the only one I can think of is the villain from the “Marathon Man”, Dr. Christian Szell, the Nazi Dr. Understand he is listed as one of the top ten movie bad guys of all time but still. . .

 Through the years our concept of oral health has changed. Dentistry only began being seen as a serious medical practice in the last 150 years or so, before that if you needed a tooth tended to it was a barber or tooth drawer at the market who tended to you.

 But things began to change in the early 1900’s Here is a quote from: Oral Hygiene volume 1, number 1 printed in January 1911 in an article by George Edwin Hunt entitled: What is the Best Way?. “Yesterday practitioners of the healing art said, Let us pray; today they are saying, Let us cure; tomorrow they will be saying, Let us prevent.” Years ago we never through of our teeth unless they were giving us problems. It wasn’t that long ago that it was recommended that you visit your dentist every two years, now it’s every six months and there are reasons for that.

 People are more conscious than ever about how their teeth look, are they white enough, straight enough, too big or too small? And people spend a lot of money on their teeth, from check-ups and cleanings to whitening and straightenings. From root canals to caps and implants we are obsessed with how their mouths look. And if you visit the oral care section of your local supermarket or pharmacy you are overwhelmed with the plethora of toothpaste and toothbrushes, whitening kits and various types of floss, Listerine used to be the taste people hate twice a day now there are a half a dozen types of Listerine promising stronger teeth, whiter smiles and healthy gums.

 And our teeth and our smiles aren’t’ something that people just started noticing. In the Song of Solomon, which if you have missed it is a love song written in the middle of the Bible, the author talks about how white and even his lovers teeth were. Three thousand years ago a person’s smile was considered an important attribute. And there is a lot of truth in what was said by Soupy Sales “Be true to your teeth and they won’t be false to you.”

 But this morning we aren’t looking at the appearance of your mouth, as important as that might be, but the health of your mouth. New research is showing more correlations between oral health and the overall health of our bodies. As a matter of fact we now know that there are links between oral health and diabetes, respiratory illness, pre-term, low weight babies and cardiovascular disease. Then there are the direct results of neglecting your oral health, tooth pain, tooth loss and chronic bad breath. And whether you want to admit it or not society as a whole has a slightly lower impression of people with bad teeth.

 But it’s not just our physical mouth that we are talking about this morning, let’s talk about the spiritual impact of your oral health, that is what comes out of your mouth. We are warned by Jesus in Matthew 15:11 It’s not what goes into your mouth that defiles you; you are defiled by the words that come out of your mouth.”

 And that isn’t the only place in the Bible that our tongues and mouths are spoken of. Listen to the words of Solomon in Proverbs 13:3 Those who control their tongue will have a long life; opening your mouth can ruin everything.
Our mouths will reveal as much or more about our Christian character or lack of Christian character then our actions will. The words of our mouth are the most powerful influence in the church and it is able to build people up or tear them down.

 This may shake some people up but there’s a lot more in the bible about gossip then there is about drinking, smoking, gambling, movie going and dancing combined.
They say that the old nature needs to be crucified, well I’ve met more than one Christian that would benefit from having their tongue nailed to a cross, or at least some of us would benefit.

 In the scripture that was read this morning you heard the truth of the word of God when James wrote James 3:12 Does a fig tree produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs? No, and you can’t draw fresh water from a salty spring.
There are things that your dentist can determine about your physical health from your mouth and so here is the question: What does Your Mouth Say about Your Spiritual Health?

 And so it’s not just how you walk but how you talk that will determine the credibility of your Christianity.

 And so on a day to day basis you are judged not just on your actions but on your words, and on your tone of voice. And you’re not just judged by the person you are talking to you are judged by everyone within earshot, and so for just a few moments let’s look at what your mouth says about you. Will your mouth betray spiritual flaws, or will it reveal spiritual strengths?

 Those of you who remember your Old Testament history may recall that Moses sent twelve spies into the promised land to determine whether or not it could be occupied. It was the most beautiful country they had ever seen, it was fertile, it was rich, and they brought back a sample of its produce. And here is their report Numbers 13:27 This was their report to Moses: “We entered the land you sent us to explore, and it is indeed a bountiful country—a land flowing with milk and honey. Here is the kind of fruit it produces. The problem was, that numbers 13:28 began with the word but, and with that but, ten of the twelve spies began telling Moses and the children of Israel why they could not possibly go into Canaan, Numbers 13:28 But the people living there are powerful, and their towns are large and fortified. We even saw giants there, the descendants of Anak! They recognized the promises of God, but because of their unbelief they were unwilling to claim those promises. 1) Your Mouth Can Reveal How Little Faith You Have

 Time and time again, we see Christian men and women who have glimpsed what God can do but they don’t go any further, not because God can’t or won’t take them further but because of unbelief in their hearts. The problem that those twelve spies had was summed up in Numbers 13:33 We even saw giants there, the descendants of Anak. Next to them we felt like grasshoppers, and that’s what they thought, too!”

 The spies had come to the conclusion that there was no way they could conquer the promised land by themselves and they were right. But God had never asked them to do it by themselves. And when the Israelites finally entered into the land which God had promised them their journey was a journey of miracles. In Joshua 3, the Jordan stood still, in chapter 6 the city of Jericho fell when on the seventh day after marching around it seven times the people blew their horns and shouted unto the Lord. In chapter ten Joshua called to the Lord and the God made the sun stand still.

 The children of Israel, knew that there was no way in the world that they could conquer the promised land, and their speech betrayed that fact. But God never implied that they would have to do it by themselves. They talked themselves into defeat. And when we say, “I can’t do that” or “we can’t do this” we are usually right because we have convinced ourselves that we can’t. And worse then that we have convinced ourselves that God can’t do it either. Leo Tolstoy had it right when he wrote “We lost because we told ourselves we lost”.

 Because when we are saying as Christians, “it’s too hard, it’s too long, it’s too tough” “I can’t get victory over cussing, or drinking, or smoking, or gossiping or my temper.” what we are really saying is that it’s too hard for God, or too tough for God or too long for God. Don’t let your speech betray your lack of belief.

 But there were Twelve Spies not ten and here is the report of the other two Numbers 14:7-8 They said to all the people of Israel, “The land we traveled through and explored is a wonderful land! And if the Lord is pleased with us, he will bring us safely into that land and give it to us. It is a rich land flowing with milk and honey. 2) Your Mouth Can Reveal How Much Faith You Have

 Not only did Caleb and Joshua believe that God was able to deliver them into the Promised Land but they were willing to put their faith on the line and verbalize their belief. It’s funny but faith often doesn’t become reality until it is spoken aloud. In Genesis 1 we see God speaking the world into existence, and through the rest of the creation process we read that God spoke, or God said or God called. Now to be truthful I don’t know if it’s accountability or if God just wants us to verbalize our belief and faith in him. But I do know this, that we have to get beyond “no I can’t” and get to “yes God can!”

 I can’t kick that habit, I can’t overcome that sin, I can’t love that person, I can’t tithe, I can’t I can’t I can’t. But remember Philippians 4:13 For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.

 Again, this is one of those verses that is fun to take out of context. Whenever we are facing difficulty in our personal, academic or business life we trot this one out like some magical mantra. But understand, this is not a name it and claim it verse, a blab it and grab it promise foisted on us by the cargo cults. It’s not a genie in a bottle, but it is a promise of empowerment in our Christian walk, it is the promise when we are facing temptation or when we need strength to follow and obey Christ’s commands.

 I believe there is real power in the positive self-talk, not trying to be new agey or uber positive thinking here, not wanting to jump on the “name it claim” it band wagon but we all know how good it feels to be encouraged by others, to hear others tell us they believe in us and believe we can do it, so why shouldn’t there be the same encouragement when we hear it from ourselves.

 Your mouth will not only reveal your faith in God but also in God’s greatest creation which you. All goes back to the premise that “God don’t make Junk.”

 Exodus 14:11-12 and they said to Moses, “Why did you bring us out here to die in the wilderness? Weren’t there enough graves for us in Egypt? What have you done to us? Why did you make us leave Egypt? Didn’t we tell you this would happen while we were still in Egypt? We said, ‘Leave us alone! Let us be slaves to the Egyptians. It’s better to be a slave in Egypt than a corpse in the wilderness!’ ” 3) Your Mouth Can Reveal How Discontent You Are

 This goes back to the beginning of the story of Israel’s escape from Egypt. Moses has led the children of Israel out of Egypt and for the first little while everything was a cake walk. The people were rejoicing and the entire spirit of the journey was one of joy and happiness. Moses was the hero of the day. And he leads them to the shore of the red sea, and as they look out at the angry waves lapping the beach at their feet they chance a look back and here comes the other side. Talk about being stuck between a rock and a hard place.

 That theme of whingeing and whining was to be repeated time and time again as the Jews marched through the wilderness in search of the land of milk and honey.

 Even when God provided them with a food source that required no more than for them to bend over and pick it up they had complaints.

 You know what I mean, there are people who are sea sick on the entire journey of life. And wouldn’t be happy if they didn’t have someone or something to complain about. Don’t let your mouth betray your discontentment.

 In writing to the Christians in Philippi, the apostle Paul says in
Philippians 4:11 Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. (by the way this is the lead in to Philippians 4:13) 4) Your Mouth Can Reveal How Content You Are

 Now I want to make one thing perfectly clear, contentment is not complacency.

 Discontentment tends to rail against things and people, while contentment moves consistently toward Godliness. It is never willing to stand still and be stagnate. We can be content to live in 2011 without becoming complacent toward the evils which surround us, instead we will seek to change them. The content person is the person who says “I believe that God is in control and will seek to serve him regardless of the situation.”

 I am content at Cornerstone Wesleyan Church, I tell you I am happier than a raccoon in a garbage can, I am in hog heaven here. I love you folks; I love the church God has given me. I really do. I am content here but I will not allow that contentment to develop into complacency, contentment must never become an excuse for complacency. Does your speech reveal your contentment with what God is doing in your life?

 3 John 9-10 I wrote to the church about this, but Diotrephes, who loves to be the leader, refuses to have anything to do with us. When I come, I will report some of the things he is doing and the evil accusations he is making against us. Not only does he refuse to welcome the traveling teachers, he also tells others not to help them. And when they do help, he puts them out of the church. 5) Your Mouth Can Reveal How Nasty You Are

 I can think of no other one thing that does as much damage within the body of Christ as the words of Christians. But brother I was just sharing sister so and so’s problem so that we could pray about it. Uh-huh. Yah right. You got a problem it doesn’t go to the person down the street; it doesn’t go to the pastor or the board. The scriptures are very plain ifn you got a problem with someone, then you go to that person and you get it straight.

 It’s unfortunate that so many Christians think they’ve taken a vow of silence when it comes to witnessing and then try to make up for it when they are revealing the faults and weaknesses of brothers and sisters in the Lord. And the nine times out of ten it matters not whether those faults are real or imaginary.

 Gossip isn’t the only problem with our words, another one is candour. And we try to dress this one up and take credit for it. A woman once told Wesley, “I have a talent for always speaking my mind.” His response, “that’s one talent that would be best buried.” It’s sometimes too easy to point out a person’s shortcomings and sometimes the damage is devastating.

 It’s been said that we need to apply a threefold test to what we say, 1) is it true? 2) is it kind? 3) is it necessary? It would probably help a lot. If we can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all.

 Don’t let your mouth betray your lack of love and never underestimate the power of your words, as Eric Idle said “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will make me go in a corner and cry by myself for hours.”

 Romans 1:8 Let me say first that I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith in him is being talked about all over the world.

 6) Your Mouth Can Reveal How Encouraging You Are

 It is imperative that we be positive when we talk to and about people. It is so important to hold up people’s achievement and give praise where praise is due. As parents we need to verbalize our love for our children and tell them how proud we are of them. Our words mould our children and become self-fulfilling prophesies. And not just your children, but our spouses as well. Husbands tell your wives, wives tell your husbands.

 How about telling your friends how you feel about them, or your brothers and sisters in the church, or the workers in the church. I’m not talking about flattery I’m talking about sincere praise. Most people can tell the difference.

 Dale Carnegie wrote “You have it easily in your power to increase the sum total of this world’s happiness now. How? By giving a few words of sincere appreciation to someone who is lonely or discouraged. Perhaps you will forget tomorrow the kind words you say today, but the recipient may cherish them over a lifetime.”

 Let’s make a conscious effort to be positive in our comments to one another. To speak up more in praise and encouragement. Everything that happened this morning happened because someone did it. Have you thanked and encouraged someone lately?

 And here’s one I would like to add because I can 7) Your Mouth Can Reveal What a Jerk You Are This is just a short one but it involves cussing. You understand that who you are as a believer will be judged by the words you speak, and who you are as a person will be judged by the words you speak.

 Profanity and blasphemy doesn’t make you a hero it doesn’t make you sound grown up, it doesn’t make you sound worldly. It makes you sound like a jerk, with no education and no respect for the people around you. When I hear someone use profanity I immediately deduct 30 IQ points and I’m not alone. Remember that is the same mouth you use to kiss your mother.

 When you start to swear it means that you’ve lost the argument and can’t think of any intelligent reply.

 So where are you at? What will your mouth reveal about you? Physically we are told that the most important things we can do to have a health mouth is brush and floss, don’t have to join a gym, don’t have to deprive yourself of your favourite food, just brush and floss.
On the other side of the coin, I have two quotes and a scripture to close Calvin Coolidge was president of the US in the early 1900’s and was known by many people as Silent Cal and he said “I have never been hurt by what I have not said.”
Dan Quayle was Vice President of the US in the late 1900s and he said “Verbosity leads to unclear, inarticulate things.”
And David was the greatest King to ever serve Israel and his prayer was Psalm 19:14 May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.
Let’s read that together this morning as our prayer.


The End is Near. . .or Not

There’s catastrophic weather systems, political unrest, uprising and not to mention that 2012 is just around the corner, and yet it seems that people have stopped talking about the end of the world.  It used to be that every new political crisis or weather anomaly brought about a fresh rash of speculation as to whether these were heralds of the end times.  There was a time that anything that happened in the Middle East was examined and dissected in light of the book of Daniel and/or The Revelation and new dates and theories were bandied around.  But not now, nary a word.  Earthquakes, cyclones, and  volcanoes erupting are taken in stride. Very few people even talk about such things as “acts of God”. Instead, people speculate how our irresponsible environmental habits are to blame.  I wonder what they blamed the destruction of Pompeii on? 
Do I think that recent events are harbingers of a coming apocalypse?  Maybe yes, maybe no, but regardless it would be a pretty good idea for your soul to be ready either way.  The reality is that we know this old world has a “best before date”, even if we don’t know what the date might be.    Have a great week and remember: To see what is really possible, you will have to attempt the impossible.