Quack

So they fired the Aflac Duck.  Well they didn’t actually fire the duck,  they just fired his voice.  It is kind of an interesting situation. Aflac hired comedian Gilbert Gottfried who is known for his insensitive and offensive humour but then they fired him because he sent a tweet that was insensitive and offensive.  Who would have thought?  Really, if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck.   As for Gottfried’s tweets damaging Aflack’s reputation, I didn’t even know Gottfried was the duck until after they fired him, but now I have to wonder if I would trust an insurance company that would hire him as their spokesman. 
How often do we do  things knowing the potential consequences, and then we get all upset when what we should have known was going to happen, happened? 
Like people who buy a house in a flood plain and then are surprised when their house floods, or people who cheat on their spouse and can’t understand how they wound up divorced.  Or, or, or. . .

Seriously folks, not only did God give us His word to guide us, he also gave us common sense to use.  But it’s still up to us to read and use what he gave us.  

500 Hats

Read from Book.
Now let’s be honest today; how many people here had actually heard of “The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins” let alone read it before this morning?  I had actually read this book as a child and apparently it stayed with me because the day that I decided to preach this series it was one of the first books to come to mind.
One of the more obscure books by Dr. Seuss it was written very early in his career, it was actually the second children’s book that Theodor Giesel wrote as Dr. Seuss, the first one being “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street.”  Actually as obscure as “The 500 Hats is” it is probably better known this this one, “The Seven Lady Godivas” 
The 500 Hats was published in 1938 and unlike most of Dr. Seuss’ books it was written in prose rather than the rhymes which he later became famous for.  Seuss claimed he got the idea when riding on a commuter train and sitting behind a business man who was wearing a hat.   
For those who are curious Seuss began drawing cartoons for magazines in the 1920’s and 30’s  wrote over 60 books in a career that spanned more than 55 years, the first one was published in 1937 and the last one was published in 1998, seven years after his death.  
During the Second World War he worked for the US army producing animated films to be used by the defence department. 
So, back to the book.  The story of course involves the main protagonists Bartholomew Cubbins a young farm boy  in the kingdom of Didd and King Derwin.   We read a little bit of it and you can probably figure out the rest, Bartholomew keeps on taking off his hat and a new one takes its place.  Bartholomew keeps getting more confused and the king keeps getting more frustrated. 
The story takes an interesting twist when starting with the 451st hat they become increasingly more beautiful or ornate, until finally the five hundredth and last hat appears and it is a beautiful bejewelled hat, well let’s pick the story up at that point.  (read last two pages) 
So what do we learn from the story?  Well, it’s so obvious I shouldn’t have to tell you, but I will.
When we first begin our journey as a Christ Follower and meet our King we take off our hat, it is a sign of respect and we recognize our place and His place.  But as we mature in our Christian walk, and we are supposed to mature in our Christian walk, just listen to what Paul tells us in Hebrews 6:1-3 So let us stop going over the basic teachings about Christ again and again. Let us go on instead and become mature in our understanding. Surely we don’t need to start again with the fundamental importance of repenting from evil deeds and placing our faith in God. You don’t need further instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And so, God willing, we will move forward to further understanding.
As we mature in our Christian walk a new hat appears to replace the one that we just took off, and we are faced with a dilemma, will we remove that hat as well or will we simply brace our feet and maintain that we’ve already taken off our hat.  And that’s what some people do, they never grow up in their Christian faith, they never mature, they never move beyond John 3:3 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.”   They are confident they are a child of God but they have no interest in growing up.  But what is cute in a new born in disturbing in a child who is a year old, and at two years old we expect more of them and as a child ages chronologically we expect their behaviour to change and if it doesn’t we become worried and they are referred to as “developmentally challenged”. 
In the scripture that was read earlier the author of Hebrews warns of the consequences of not growing in our Christian faith of becoming “developmentally challenged” but he finished with this statement Hebrews 6:9 Dear friends, even though we are talking this way, we really don’t believe it applies to you. We are confident that you are meant for better things, things that come with salvation.
Those better things happen as we are confronted with our behaviours and attitudes, the hats we are wearing.  And then we make a decision to either remove the hat or leave it in place.
I’ve mentioned this before and here it is again.  A number of years ago back I developed the Guptill principle of spiritual growth, and it’s based on the Peter Principle a principle first expounded in 1969 by Canadian-born University of Southern California education professor Laurence J. Peter, in a book of the same name, Peter stated: “In a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence”  Right?  So the part time sales man is good at his job and so he is given a full time sales position.  And he does an excellent job in sales so he is made a store manager and he excels there and he’s made an area manager and he is really terrible at that job, he just can’t seem to get the hang of it, and so there he stays.  He doesn’t get promoted, but because of his seniority they can’t fire him.  He hates his job, it gives him ulcers and grey hairs but he has a family to support and so he can’t really quit and if he asked to be demoted to his previous position he’d lose face, and so there he stays, miserable, unhappy, discontent and stuck.
Under the Guptill Principal of spiritual growth each of us grows in our spiritual walk to our own personal level of disobedience.  So we get saved, we are obedient to the spirit of God in our life, and we begin to grow and God shows us this and we deal with this and he shows us that and we deal with that, and we continue to grow.  And then one day God says, “Hey sport what about this area?” and it might be anger, or our language or habits, or immoral behaviour or attitudes or an unforgiving spirit.  It’s a hat we are still wearing, and we say “Uh-huh, you leave that alone.”  And our spiritual growth stops dead in its tracks.  And because we know that we are disobedient we are grumpy and miserable and unhappy.  And at that point we have three options, one is that we just stay there, miserable and stuck.  God won’t take us any further in our Christian walk then that point of disobedience.  Or we say “forget this” and we backslide, we just walk away from God.” or we surrender to His will in our life, take off the hat and become obedient and move on in our Christian life and continue to grow.
What is your point of personal disobedience?  Where are you stuck?  Or maybe you’ve come to the place where you have sold out to God and you continue to grow and he continues to show you areas in your life that need to be dealt with and you deal with them, no ifs ands or buts.
The Apostle Peter’s Story is a great illustration of this.
Matthew 4:18-20 One day as Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers—Simon, also called Peter, and Andrew—throwing a net into the water, for they fished for a living. Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!” And they left their nets at once and followed him.
Peter Took His Hat off to Jesus the Man  When Jesus first came into Peter’s life he liked him, he liked what he had to say and he like who he assumed Jesus was, but he really didn’t know him.  At that point Peter didn’t really understand Jesus teachings, who he really was or what he would demand of him.   But he was willing to at least give him a hearing.  There are all kinds of people like that in churches today and I’d be willing to wager some of you are sitting in these chairs today. 
You like Jesus, or at least what you know about him.   He seems comfy and cozy and not too threatening.  A local pastor was quoted in the paper a few years ago as saying that Jesus wasn’t really the son of God but that he was a spiritual genius in the same way that Mozart was a musical genius or Picasso was an artistic genius.  And I’ve talked to that pastor and he likes Jesus the way he has defined him, as a good man, a moral teacher, a spiritual genius.
And it’s easy to take our hats off to a Jesus that we have defined in our own terms.  And there are lots of people outside the church like that.  A few years ago we started hearing and reading that there was a whole generation of people who said “They liked Jesus but didn’t like the church.”  
But that isn’t really true, what they like is their view of Jesus the man, they are quite willing to take off their hats to him.  Mikhail Gorbachev “Jesus was the first socialist, the first to seek a better life for mankind.”  And Mahatma Gandhi wrote this about Jesus “A man who was completely innocent, offered himself as a sacrifice for the good of others, including his enemies, and became the ransom of the world. It was a perfect act.”
But many of those people who simply like Jesus as a man don’t really take the time to find out what Jesus was like, the Jesus who warned people about hell being the consequence of their behaviour, the Jesus who required obedience to his commands, the Jesus who spoke about daily taking up your cross, and they have never heard his words when he said in  John 14:6 Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. And when they hear that then isn’t nearly as much fun and accepting and inclusive as the Jesus they thought they knew
C.S Lewis wrote in “Mere Christianity” “‘I’m ready to accept Jesus, as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God’.  This is the one thing we must not say.  A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things that Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher.  He would either be a lunatic on a level with a man who says He’s a poached egg, or else He would be the devil of Hell.  You must make the choice.  Either this man was and is the Son of God or else a Madman or something worse.  You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call Him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher.  He has not left that open to us, He did not intend to.”
And maybe that is where you are at today, quite happy to take your hat off to Jesus the man.  But now you have come to the place that he is asking why you haven’t removed your hat for him?
Let’s continue in Peter’s story, Matthew 16:13-16 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” “Well,” they replied, “some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.” Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
Peter Took His Hat off to Jesus the Messiah  You will come to the place that it is not enough for you to simply like the man Jesus without accepting and removing your hat to the Messiah, the Son of the living God.
This is when you come to the place that you understand that Jesus wasn’t just a man, he wasn’t just a good moral teacher, or a prophet or a spiritual genius that he is the Son of God and he has more to offer than just good teaching and moral platitudes.  That through his life and death and resurrection that he offers us forgiveness and eternal life through his grace.  And he couldn’t do that as a man. 
It is when we come to that point of acknowledging that Jesus is the Christ, that he has something to offer us and we accept that offer that we have taken our hat off to our Saviour.  That is what Peter wrote about in 1 Peter 1:3-4 All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. And what Paul echoed in Ephesians 2:4-5 But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!)
And that is a wonderful time in a person’s life, the scriptures tell us that they Angels rejoice when that happens.    And the word of God calls it being born again, or having a new beginning, and there are promises of forgiveness and eternal life that go along with the experience.   But it doesn’t stop there.  That is merely the beginning of the quest to follow Christ, not the end of the journey, it is a comma not a period. 
Unfortunately too many people think this is the place to stop, “the hallelujah I have made it” point in their lives.  But the bible speaks about growing up, moving on, finishing the race.
It was at this point that Peter acknowledged Christ not just as a good man and a moral teacher and guide but as the Son of God and as his Saviour.  But over the next couple of years there came times that it was apparent that another hat had replaced the one that Peter had taken off.    Times that he realized that he was once again wearing a hat in the presence of his King.
It wasn’t long after Peter had come to that life changing conclusion about who Christ was that Jesus told his disciples about what lay ahead for him, that he would be put to death and rise again, and what was the response of Peter?  Matthew 16:22 But Peter took him aside and began to reprimand him for saying such things. “Heaven forbid, Lord,” he said. “This will never happen to you!” He reprimanded Jesus!  Or during the Last Supper when Jesus prepared to wash the disciple’s feet and we read in John 13:8 “No,” Peter protested, “you will never ever wash my feet!” Jesus replied, “Unless I wash you, you won’t belong to me.”
And then there was the scene in the Garden when they came to arrest Jesus and the old impetuous Peter grabbed a sword and hacked off a servant’s ear.  And then only hours later Peter is cowering when a servant girl asks him if he was one of Jesus’ followers and he denies him three times.   And yet each time he stumbled Jesus was there to offer his hand and his grace and Peter removed his hat and grew a little more in his faith.
There is really only one way to keep from stumbling and that is by not moving, but that really isn’t an option, not in our life and not in our Christian life. It’s like when you were learning to walk as a baby, if you stopped the first time you fell down you would never have learned how to walk. 
 Understand that failure is never fatal as long as failure is never final.  As long as you are willing to get back up, and embrace the grace that He offers you, learn from your experience and move on things are going to be all right.
It’s taking off the hat once when you realize that you have it on.
And you would think that after the resurrection that Peter would have it figured out.  You know, the entire being crucified, buried and raised from the dead thing should have finalized it for Peter.  But apparently not.
Peter is standing on the threshold of the greatest adventure of his life, and what does he do?  The story is told at the end of John’s gospel.  John 21:3 Simon Peter said, “I’m going fishing.”   And he does.  He’s still not sure about the entire “follow me” thing.  Earlier in the story when Jesus was teaching about people’s priorities in life Peter makes the bold statement Matthew 19:27 Then Peter said to him, “We’ve given up everything to follow you. What will we get?”
But obviously he hadn’t given up everything.  The boat was still there, the nets were still there but more importantly his desire to be in control of his own life was still there.  Jesus may very well have been an important spiritual teacher to Peter, and he may even have been Peter’s Saviour, but his actions demonstrated that Jesus wasn’t Peter’s Lord.  Peter hadn’t given up everything to follow Jesus he had only given up what he wanted to, he had only given up what was convenient. 
And this would be the deciding point in Peter’s life, and I think he knew that, I think he went down to the beach and then he went out in the boat to make a decision.  And that decision was about who was really in control of Peter’s life.  Would it be Peter or would it be Jesus?  That particular night I think Peter went more for the fishing than for the fish, if you know what I mean.
If you know the story then you know that after a fruitless night of fishing Jesus appears on the shore and tells them to throw their nets on the other side, they do and fill their nets with fish.  When they finally get them in and arrive back on the shore they discover that Jesus has prepared breakfast for them and that’s where we will pick up the story.
John 21:13-17 Then Jesus served them the bread and the fish. This was the third time Jesus had appeared to his disciples since he had been raised from the dead. After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” Peter replied, “you know I love you.” “Then feed my lambs,” Jesus told him. Jesus repeated the question: “Simon son of John, do you love me?” “Yes, Lord,” Peter said, “you know I love you.” “Then take care of my sheep,” Jesus said. A third time he asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep.”  
This was the five hundredth hat because it was here that Peter Took His Hat off to Jesus His Lord
There will come that point in each of our lives if we have allowed ourselves to grow in our Christian walk, it often comes after multiple little surrenders where God wants it all and we have to decide if we will give it all.  And I really don’t know what that will mean for you, I know what it meant for me and you will know what it means for you.  For some it means acknowledging a call on their life to do something radical for God, a new career perhaps.  
When Barry and Beth Gould were here in the fall we saw an example of that, a professional couple in their fifties and God says “I want you to move to Haiti and serve me there.”  Wow!  Maybe it won’t be that dramatic in your life, maybe it will be allowing your child to move to Haiti and serve God there, that would be even tougher, wouldn’t it?  
Or maybe it’s control over your finances, or your habits, control over what you watch and listen to or how you do business or simply allowing him to have his will and his way over how you live your everyday life.  There is a lot of truth in that old saying “If Jesus Isn’t Lord of All, Than Jesus Isn’t Lord at All”
But whatever it is that he is asking for ultimately the choice will be yours.   God won’t pull the hat off your head; you will have to take it off yourself.  But the question is:  Will you?

Peter, Peter Peter.

Peter, Peter, Peter!  What were you thinking?  $400,000.00 on  Black Eyed Peas?  How many people were you feeding?   It’s not about the money….. well maybe it’s a little bit about the money, but you keep changing your story.  You didn’t know.  You did know but you didn’t know it was wrong.  You did know and you did know it was wrong but you thought it was all right because your staff made the decision.  You did know and you did know it was wrong and you knew it wasn’t right just because your staff made the decision but it’s all right because the staff who did it resigned. 
Peter, Peter, Peter!  What were you thinking?  We expect more out of our mayor.  We know you are human, and we know you sometimes make mistakes but how about a little integrity.  Whatever happened to: The buck stops here? 

Actually, forget about the Mayor, that would be a pretty good way for all of us to live. To do the very best that we can and be people of integrity.  When we’ve made a mistake, and we will make mistakes, just fess up and believe in the power of forgiveness.      Have a great week and remember: To see what is really possible, you will have to attempt the impossible.

Lucky or Blessed?

Crazy stuff on the news. In the past three months we have seen flooding of Biblical proportions (their words not mine) in Australia, earthquakes in New Zealand, earthquakes, erupting volcanoes and nuclear accidents in Japan and the U.S. has Charlie Sheen.  In a discussion with someone about the weird stuff happening worldwide I mentioned how lucky we are to live in Canada and they corrected me and told me that we weren’t lucky, we were blessed. So I stopped and thought about it and pondered it and considered it and I think I’m going to have to stick with lucky.
If we are blessed to live in Canada that means that we have been blessed with God’s favour.  I have no problem with that, but have serious problems about why other people in the world have not been blessed with God’s favour.  Obviously, it’s not because of the sterling moral character of the people of Canada.

We live in a fallen world that is drawing closer and closer to its best before date and we are lucky to live in a country that so far has escaped the consequences of that.  When that happens, then we will be blessed to have God’s grace to carry us through. Have a great week and remember: To see what is really possible, you will have to attempt the impossible.

The Cat in the Hat

The Cat in the Hat
The Cat. . .in. . .the. . .Hat.  The Cat in the Hat is probably the best known of any of Dr. Seuss’s books, with the possible exception of the Grinch Who Stole Christmas, but really most people are more familiar with the Grinches’s Christmas special or movie then they are with the book.  The Cat in the Hat is iconic.  Probably the most recognizable face out there, maybe with the exception of Charlie Sheen. 

We are told that Theodor Geisel, Dr. Seuss, wrote the Cat in the Hat in response to an article published in Life magazine in May of 1954.   The article written by John Hersey was critical of school primers, in the article which was ten pages long Hersey wrote “In the classroom boys and girls are confronted with six books that have insipid illustrations depicting the slicked-up lives of other children. [Existing primers] feature abnormally courteous, unnaturally clean boys and girls. . . .”    Of course those were the Dick and Jane books.
A friend of Seuss’, publisher William Ellsworth Spaulding, challenged Suess to “Write me a story that first-graders can’t put down!”  He gave Seuss a list of 348 words that every six year old should know and insisted the book should use no more than 225 of those word.
The Cat in the Hat uses 223 of the words that appeared on the list and 13 words that didn’t.  Seuss wanted the title to rhyme and Cat and Hat were the first two words on the list that rhymed and worked as a title. 
The story is 1629 words long and uses 236 different words.  For those who are interested there is only one three syllable word,  – “another” –14 words  which have two syllables and the 221 remaining words are monosyllabic. The longest words in the book are “something” and “playthings”.

You know the story, the narrator, who is unnamed, and his sister Sally have been left home on a cold and rainy day, which begs the question:  What kind of mother would leave her two little kids with only a fish to watch them?  Tell you what that lady would be charged today with being an unfit parent and her kids would be taken away.  But it was a different time, many of us can probably remember being left home alone with a list of rules and no fish.
And into their lives arrives The Cat in the Hat and his two friends Thing one and Thing Two.  Against the strenuous objection of the Fish, the Cat in the Hat and his cohorts turn the house into absolute chaos.  Ending with things broken and bent.  (Read from book)  The mess is cleaned up only when Sally and her brother realize that their mother’s return in imminent and then they are left with the dilemma of what to tell their mother about the events that had gone on.  (read last page)
So what do we learn from the book?  Well, my first idea was to draw a comparison between the story of the Cat and the Hat and the story from the Book of Genesis about the temptation of Adam and Eve.  Then I realized that using the Cat in the Hat as an analogy for Satan probably wasn’t the best way to win friends and influence people and would end up doing  irreparable damage to any children listening, so we aren’t going there.
However, we still need to understand that into the lives of these children came the temptation to do things that they knew that not ought to do and even if they were not personally responsible for those actions they knew that they were wrong in permitting the Cat to come into the house and allowing him to do what he did. 
So this morning we are talking about temptation, doing or permitting things which we know are wrong in our lives.  And being tempted doesn’t mean you are a bad person, it just means you are a person.  Paul remind us in  1 Corinthians 10:13-14 The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure. So, my dear friends, flee from the worship of idols.
Every one of us will be tempted by something at some time in our lives.  And what makes it so difficult to understand is that what tempts you might not tempt me, and so I don’t understand it.  It’s so easy to stand in judgement when someone gives in to something that has no appeal to us.  
We are told in Galatians 6:1 Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself. And might we add:  or another, different temptation. 
So what should the kids have done?  Or more importantly, because really it is just a kid’s book, what should you do when you are faced with temptations in your life?  Well 2000 years ago Paul addressed a letter to a young preacher by the name of Timothy and he offered his friend advice that is just as valuable today as it was then. 

It comes from the passage of scripture that was read earlier and it is found at the very end of 1 Timothy 6:11-12 But you, Timothy, are a man of God; so run from all these evil things. Pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have confessed so well before many witnesses.
Three pieces of advice for Timothy to follow, three pieces of advice for Denn to follow, three pieces of advice for you to follow, if you are indeed a Christ follower, and probably not bad advice if you aren’t a Christ Follower.
So Paul begins his closing The closing words of his letter with this advice for Timothy, 1 Timothy 6:11-12 But you, Timothy, are a man of God; so run from all these evil things.. .

1) There are Times You Should Run The word run is mentioned 102 times in the Bible,  ten of those times are in the New Testament.  And when the writers are not speaking about literal running they are telling us to run to God, run the race set before us, run with endurance.  But three times we are told to run away from certain things.   We are told in 1 Corinthians 6:18 Run from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body. 
Plus 1 Timothy 6:11-12 But you, Timothy, are a man of God; so run from all these evil things.. .And finally in 2 Timothy 2:22 Run from anything that stimulates youthful lusts.

Kind of a common theme that is running through there.

So here we go.  Most of us have survived in life by knowing that there are times that we need to execute what has been called as a tactical advance to the rear.  That whatever it is ahead of us it’s either too big to fight, or not worth the effort. Do you remember the scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail where they are up against the Killer Bunny?  Do you remember the advice that was given?  “Run Away, Run Away.”
Now I know that retreat is a dirty word, to most of us it signifies giving up or surrendering.  But it would appear that Paul is telling Timothy that in this particular instance that discretion might be the best part of valour.  When I was young my father imparted some advice upon me which while not necessarily heroic sounding was certainly practical, here it is, you might want to write it down. “He who fights and runs away, lives to fight another day.”  I thought that was pretty profound and it was only as an adult I found that Dad was actually quoting the Roman Historian Tacitus who said “He that fights and runs away, May turn and fight another day; But he that is in battle slain, Will never rise to fight again.”
What we are being warned about are those areas in life that we are prone to be spiritually weak in.  And it’s a personal thing, what may tempt you may not tempt me and vice versa.  But you know what areas you are weak in.  Someone once said “The reason most people don’t pray ‘lead me not into temptation’ is they are afraid God will take them serious.” 
But Mark Twain hit the nail on the head when he said “It is easier to stay out than get out.”
You know that don’t you?  You think that the temptation to give in to sinful behaviour is strong, but that’s nothing compared to the temptation to give in to that sinful behaviour again.
James the brother of Jesus warned those in the early church James 1:14-15 Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.   

Another way to look at is that you need to avoid the opportunity for sin.  If we go back to our book for a moment, there really wasn’t opportunity for Sally and her brother to run from the cat but at no point in the story did they actually tell him to leave. 
This isn’t rocket surgery people.  If you have a problem with gambling you don’t go down to watch the folks feed the VLTs, you don’t wander through the casino just to kill time.  If you have a problem with lust you don’t watch certain programs or go to certain movies, if you struggle with alcohol you don’t hang out in the bars or keep a bottle around just in case. 
Paul doesn’t tell Timothy to walk away from evil, or to saunter away from evil or to stroll away from evil.  Instead he yells, Run away, run away.  Don’t mess with it, don’t play with it, just walk away from it. 
You say “Don’t worry Denn, I have everything under control.”  Sure, famous last words, I think Custer said the same thing.  Listen up, write it down, engrave it on your forehead, I don’t care what you do to remember it but remember it.  1 Timothy 6:11 But you, __________, are a person of God; so run from all these evil things…   And I shouldn’t have to give you a list of what evil things Paul is talking about, E V I L Things, evil things.  Things that you should not be messing with, things you shouldn’t be looking at, things you shouldn’t be thinking

about.  And you know what they are.  Remember what Solomon asked in Proverbs 6:27 Can a man scoop a flame into his lap and not have his clothes catch on fire? 

While that is a rhetorical question and isn’t meant to be answered, the correct answer is “No you dummy.”  You don’t stick your hand into the fire and pray that you won’t be burned, you keep your hand out of the fire and pray for enough sense to not put it in.
I’ve told you before, I am telling you now and I will tell you again.  “Sin will always take you further then you want to go.  Sin will always keep you longer then you want to stay and sin will always cost you more then you want to pay.”  Run Away, Run Away.
But we can’t spend our lives running so Paul tells Timothy in 1 Timothy 6:11-12 But you, Timothy, are a man of God; so run from all these evil things. Pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness.  In other translations it reads “Follow what is right and good” 

2) There are Times You Should Follow.  Follow is another one of those words that doesn’t have a high profile. We don’t want to follow we want to lead.  Following is for followers.  Ahhhhh.  Like Christ Followers, those who would follow Jesus.  What was the invitation that Christ extended to those he met?  Mark 2:14 “Follow me and be my disciple,” Jesus said to him.

You ever hear the old adage “Idle hands are the Devil’s hands”?  The easiest way to stay away from what is evil is to immerse yourself in what is good.  That’s the concept that Paul is teaching to Timothy, the concept that we need to learn as well.  So, if you commit yourself to following what is right and good. To pursue a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness.  How much time are you going to have for evil?
Focus on the good.  Read good books, watch good movies, listen to good music, think good thoughts.  But Denn, don’t but Denn me.  A number of years ago a  survey showed that the majority of Americans thought that there was too much sex and violence on Television, at the same time the two highest rated shows were CSI and Desperate House Wives.  You scoop fire into your lap you will get burned. 
For just a minute think about what you have watched, read and listened to this week, how does it stack up?  And I know that you can’t isolate yourself completely from the world.  But if you were able to weigh on a scale the amount of garbage that you subject yourself to on a daily basis and then on the other side you placed the good stuff, the stuff that is right and good that you take in.  Which way would the scale tip? 
The scriptures are full of the things you should be doing, and as we’ve often noted if you spend all your time doing the dos, you won’t have time to do the don’ts. The slide that’s been up on the screen a couple of times this morning makes some suggestions about what our thought life should look like, did you catch it when it was up?  True, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, praiseworthy think about these things.  What do you think? A pretty good description about what goes on between your ears?  It should be.   
Instead of focusing on what you are supposed to avoid, what you are supposed to run from set your eyes on what you are supposed to follow.  Those things that are right and good, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. 
And all the kids in the story had to do was follow the advice of the fish.  Time and time again he warned them.  God doesn’t leave us alone, instead he provides us with his word and His Spirit.  But we can choice to listen to God’s direction or ignore God’s direction. 

1 Timothy 6:12 Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have confessed so well before many witnesses.

3) There are Times You Should fight.  Do you know there are people out there who don’t believe what you believe?  There are people out there who will actually mock our beliefs.  That’s a given, Jesus told us it would happen, Paul told us it would happen, Peter told us it would happen, James told us it would happen.  We’d be foolish if we thought we would be immune. 
And when we are confronted by people and situations like that we have a couple of options.  Actually there are at least three options and we’ve looked at a couple of them so far.  We can flee from them, just walk away.  We can follow them and decide that maybe they are right and we are wrong, or we can fight.
But who or what are we supposed to fight?  The last major fight that the church seemed to be involved in was the same sex marriage issue.  But we can see in the news from time to time how the church fights to keep prayer in school and the Ten Commandments in public buildings in the States and Christ in school Christmas presentations.
Is that what Paul was talking about when he said to fight the good fight?  Was he telling us to fight for what we believe in so that our society will be a “Christian society”? I’m not so sure? 
I mean when the Taliban tries to enforce their view of Islam in Afghanistan we say it’s a bad thing.  And we can’t understand why secular countries throughout the Middle East enforce Sharia law.    
If one of Paul’s goals was to fight to change society the early church did a dismal job and Jesus did a worse job.  The only way the early church tried to make society better was by making individual people better.  And if we look at history we discover that society changes when people change, not the other way around. 
And so if this is not about fighting the big fight, you know the fight to keep society intact and the institution of marriage safe what are we supposed to be fighting?  Here are more of Paul’s words to Timothy, 1 Timothy 1:18 Timothy, my son, here are my instructions for you, based on the prophetic words spoken about you earlier. May they help you fight well in the Lord’s battles.
Again with the fighting, but what are the Lord’s battles?  Paul answers that in the next verse, 1 Timothy 1:19 Cling to your faith in Christ, and keep your conscience clear. For some people have deliberately violated their consciences; as a result, their faith has been shipwrecked.
The fight we are supposed to be fighting is the fight against evil in our own lives.  We are supposed to be fighting against temptation and sin.  We are supposed to be fighting to maintain our moral purity and integrity.  Not out there but in here, and it is a fight.  You see the fight isn’t to keep trash off of television; the fight is to not watch the trash on television.  The fight isn’t to protect marriage; the fight is to protect our marriages. 
If Satan’s not picking on you maybe it’s because he doesn’t think you are worth picking on because you’re not doing anything for the kingdom.  And if you think maintaining a strong and vital relationship with God isn’t a struggle then maybe that’s because you’re not doing it.
And we need to be taking a stand and saying this is what the church is supposed to believe in.  It’s amazing that we will criticize the liberal churches publicly about their stand in favour of same sex marriages or abortion but we never publicly denounce them for denying the deity of Christ, or the virgin birth or the resurrection.  Those are things worth fighting about and taking a stand for.  
So this week what are the things you are going to run from?  What are the things that you are going to embrace and follow and what are the things you will be willing to fight for?
So let’s go back to a scripture that we looked at earlier, because this is your promise for today and for tomorrow.
1 Corinthians 10:13The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.
No let’s personalize it and make it our own, read this with me this morning. 
1 Corinthians 10:13The temptations in my life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than I can stand. When I am tempted, he will show me a way out so that I can endure.

Rollllll up the Rim

As a country, we have now come together for a national season of prayer.  Collectively, even though most folks wouldn’t consider Canada to have a national religion, it becomes very apparent at this time of year that we have a common point of faith.  I’m not talking about the season of Lent leading into Easter, I’m talking about the great Canadian Religion.   That’s right it is time for, “Roll Up the Rim”, and in Tim Horton’s across Canada and into the States people are fervently whispering, “Please God, let it be the car”, as they roll up the rim of their coffee cups.   Of course, we have already explained the rules about Roll up the Rim at Cornerstone: You win it here you leave it here.
It is funny and sad, how many Christ Followers will get more excited over having won a free coffee or donut than they do about having experienced the grace of God, which results in eternal life.  They will talk about it to complete strangers, they will rejoice over it publically, and yet are silent about the great gift that God has given them.   And seriously the odds are much better with God’s Grace than they are with Tim’s. Have a great week and remember: To see what is really possible, you will have to attempt the impossible.

Brothers with different Mothers

Do you know the name “Sayed Mossa”?  Well you should, he’s your brother, or at least your brother from a different mother, but you have the same father: God.   Mossa is a Christ Follower from Afghanistan who just recently escaped the death penalty. His crime?  Becoming a Christ Follower.  Sayed, a Red Cross worker, lost his leg in a land mine explosion, and while recovering began a relationship with Jesus.   It was during a baptism service, shown on Afghan television that he was identified as having converted from Islam to Christianity, and he was arrested and subsequently sentenced to death. It was only because of a Twitter campaign that he was released.  But there are millions of Sayeds around the world who live in fear of their lives because of their relationship with Jesus. His story is very similar to the story of the man throwing the starfish back into the ocean, who commented, “made a difference to that one.”
So what do we learn?  First, how blessed we are to have the freedom to worship as we please, but secondly, that we can make a difference in the life of a brother thousands of miles away if we are just willing to make the effort.  Have a great week and remember: To see what is really possible, you will have to attempt the impossible.