Taking a Stand

Well, he’s certainly gotten people talking.  This past week actor Angus T. Jones made headlines after his video condemnation of the television show that has made him a very wealthy teen-ager.  Depending on your perspective he was either taking a courageous stand for his faith or he was joining in former co-star Charlie Sheen in being a complete kook.  
If you missed it, Jones who played the ½ in 2 ½ men asked people to stop watching the show “and filling your head with filth.”  It seems that the actor has recently connected with God and has come to the conclusion that “You cannot be a true God-fearing person and be on a television show like that”, and he wants out.
In the past 12 months, Jones has made approximately $8,000,000.00 from the show, and it seems that he willing to give that up for his convictions.  But really, the important issue isn’t whether Angus T. Jones walks away from his $350,000.00 per episode contract because of his Christian faith, but whether his words will have any impact on the television watching habits of Christians.  I wonder how many Christians who applaud his stand will still watch the show or shows just like it?    Have a great week and remember: To see what is really possible, you will have to attempt the impossible. 

QRC Disappointments

That time of the year is coming again, you know when we can
sit around our television sets and watch people’s hopes, dreams and aspirations
crushed and ground into the dust.  It was
advertising guru Roy Williams who wrote “Every dream
of the future is a seed. But until your dream falls into the ground and dies,
it cannot burst from the ground and deliver the harvest you seek.”

If that is the case then there will be a lot of seeds
falling into the ground when American Idol airs again in January.  And some of those dreams will recover and
others will remain shattered and dormant. 
Many of you know that I am a huge Harry Chapin fan and one of my
favorite songs is the story of Mr. Tanner. 
And the song opens with these lines
Mister Tanner was a cleaner from a town in the Midwest.
And of all the cleaning shops around he’d made his the
best.
But he also was a baritone who sang while hanging clothes.
He practiced scales while pressing tails and sang at local
shows.
His friends and neighbors praised the voice that poured out
from his throat.
They said that he should use his gift instead of cleaning
coats.
And so one day Mr. Tanner took the plunge, this was long
before the days of American Idol so he found an agent in New York booked a hall
and poured all of his resources into his opening performance. 
We’ll let Harry Pick up the story.  Video Clip from Harry Chapin singing Mr.
Tanner. 
(He did not know how well he sang, he only heard the flaws.
But the critics were concise, it only took four lines.
But no one could accuse them of being over kind.
(spoken) Mr. Martin Tanner, Baritone, of Dayton, Ohio made
his
Town Hall debut last night. He came well prepared, but
unfortunately
his presentation was not up to contemporary professional standards.
His voice lacks the range of tonal color necessary to make
it
consistently interesting.
(sung) Full time consideration of another endeavor might be
in order.)
He came home to Dayton and was questioned by his friends.
Then he smiled and just said nothing and he never sang
again,
excepting very late at night when the shop was dark and
closed.
He sang softly to himself as he sorted through the clothes.
Wow, that’s gotta hurt. 
Have you ever been disappointed?  Have you ever had your dreams snatched
away?  Maybe a love scorned? A child who
has chosen a path that is diametrically opposed to the way you brought them
up?  A career that you love, that ends in
a crash or a whimper?
This is week five of our series “QR-Codes for your
Life”  QR-Codes or QRCs are those ever
present bar codes that seem to pop up everywhere.  And their purpose is to make the retrieval of
information easier for those who are interested.  So if you go to a Tim Horton’s and you want
to comment on their service you simply scan this QR-Code with your smart phone
and it takes you to this site where you can make comments on their service.
The QR-C on the back of your bulletin will take you to our
Web-site where you can find all kinds of information about Cornerstone Wesleyan
Church.
And when I introduced this topic back in October I commented
about how great it would be to have QR-codes that would give us information
from God’s word when we were facing certain issues and situations in our
lives. 
So three weeks ago we looked at
what to do when we are tempted to do wrong, where we should look for that
answer and our QRC directed us to 1 Corinthians
10:13
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.
The week after that we talked
about failure, when we feel like we just can’t go on, that our feet have been
kicked out from under us and we feel that we just can’t give anymore and we
want to quit.  And as a response to that
we looked at Galatians 6:9 So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the
right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.
And last week I spoke about the
need for forgiveness in our lives, what happens after you’ve been betrayed or
hurt.  When someone you love turns
against you, or someone you hardly knows says or does something that hurts you?  And our QR-code last week took us to Colossians 3:13 Make
allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you.
Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.
But what happens when you are
disappointed with life? When it doesn’t give you what you expected or gives you
what you didn’t expect? 
Not the failures that I spoke
about two weeks ago, but setbacks, discouragements, disappointments.   If I was to offer you up a QR-Code today it
would take you to
2 Corinthians 4:7-9 We now have this light shining in
our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great
treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from
ourselves. We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We
are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never
abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed.
We are never told that as
Christians that we won’t have disappointments or discouragements.  What we are told is that we have a power that
is not from ourselves, what we are told is that we will not be crushed what we
are told is that we will not abandoned by God and we will not be
destroyed. 
When Angela and I were first married, late in the last
century, we owned a couple of kittens. 
And one day the male, Mick, discovered a balloon on the floor of our living
room and he started playing with it.  He
would bat it and then chase it across the carpet,
he was having a ball.  Now I knew what
was going to happen, but having a
slight nasty streak decided to let things progress on their own.  Well eventually Mick cornered the illusive
beast and pounced with every one of those needle sharp kitten claws
extended.  And with a bang his prey
disappeared.  The bang set him back a bit
but the look of disappointment on his face when his plaything disappeared was
so sad. 
If you have ever tried at one time or another you’ve had
your balloon pop.  At some time or
another in your life you have had dreams come crashing down.   You’ve
been there you know what I’m talking about. 
Perhaps it was a job or promotion that didn’t materialize like you
thought it would, or a dream that
you’ve never seen fulfilled.  Maybe it
was just a delay or maybe it was a complete stop.
I am convinced the more vivid the vision the greater the
disappointment should the vision fail to materialize.  Author Eric Hoffer
said “Disappointment is a sort of bankruptcy — the
bankruptcy of a soul that expends too much in hope and expectation.”  Bankruptcy of a soul that expends too
much in hope and expectation, if you’ve felt it you know how apt that
description is. 
If the disappointment isn’t crushing then maybe there wasn’t
enough passion in the dream.
We’ve all had disappointments,
in our education, our careers, our marriages and our spiritual lives.  But how we deal with our disappointments will
determine whether they destroy us or make us stronger. 
1)  Disappointments Sometimes are Just  Delays. 
Who says that every setback has to be final?  This wasn’t the first piece of property that
we put an offer on to build this church. 
And this wasn’t the church we first intended to build, and when things
didn’t work out on property 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 I was disappointed.  But in retrospect this was better than all of
the other ones and if we had of gotten 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 we wouldn’t have had
this property.
Even though you may not be able to enjoy the taste of
victory today doesn’t mean you won’t taste it tomorrow.  You may have to reshuffle your plans, you may have to rearrange your priorities, but disappointments don’t have to be final.  The anticipation can be as much fun as the
arrival.  That delay may give you the
extra time you need for more planning. 
2) Disappointments Should
be Educational
Many times we can actually learn from our setbacks.  I never make a mistake that I don’t try and
learn something from it. And I am convinced that we never learn nearly as much
from our successes as we do from our failures. 
Now I know that it’s a lot more fun to learn from our success, but we
don’t learn as much.
As many mistakes as each one of us makes, as many disappointments as we experience in our
lives it would be one of the greatest wastes of resources in the world if we
failed to learn from those mistakes and disappointments that come our way.  Sometimes the delays that we experience
provide time for reflection and self-examination and in that it provides us
with a learning opportunity. 
In 1990 we uprooted our family and moved from the booming
metropolis of Truro to Brisbane Australia with a population of 1.75 million
people who all drove on the wrong side of the road.  Now not being one to shun a challenge we
immediately made plans to drive into the centre of the city, actually the plans had already been made for us
but we were game to try.  So armed with
our trust refer-dex, which was
simply a fancy name for a book of street maps we ventured into the valley, as downtown Brisbane was called.  And it was there that I discovered the
benefits of stop signs and red lights. Although they did slow me down they
allowed me to sneak a look in the book and find out where we were.  Because with traffic going in all directions
I needed the opportunity to stop and get my bearings.  Sometimes the disappointments in our lives
are stop signs that allow us to get our bearings.  And sometime they prevent us from continuing
in the wrong direction.
It is only when you can’t learn or are unwilling to learn
from life’s disappointments that they become failures.   And when we stop we need to look at what we
have experienced and ask the big question; Why? 
What caused this to happen?  Can I
correct it?  If it can be corrected then
do it.  Maybe the reason you didn’t get
that job you wanted was that you showed up in ratty clothes needing a haircut
and mouthwash, you can learn from
that experience and change things for a more favourable outcome.  Or perhaps you wanted to play basketball in
the NBA but you’re only 5’2’’ then you might want to look for a different
calling, because some things you
can’t change.
3) Disappointments Can
be Times of Adjustment 
Too many
times life becomes boring and routine. 
We are in a rut and we all know what a rut is right?  Right,
a rut is simply a grave with both ends kicked out.
Day after day we do the same thing.  Day in and day out we are content to simply
continue doing the familiar.  And it’s
only when disappointments come that we look at these experiences and
re-evaluate the way we’ve been doing things. 
Some of our greatest moments happen because we are forced out of our
pattern of repetition by a disappointment. 
11 years ago we had a series of events that resulted in down
turn in our attendance and revenue at Cornerstone, it was a disappointment for
me.  In order for us to continue we
decided that the best option was for me to look for an outside source of
income.  That was a disappointment for
me; I didn’t really relish the thoughts of having two jobs. 
As a result of that setback I ended up writing for six
different magazines, something I would never have done without that
disappointment, and I was also offered a position as adjunct faculty at our
Bible College in New Brunswick and now I still teach there part time which has
led to me teaching in Ghana.  And I
discovered that not only do I enjoy teaching, but I’m not bad at it
either.  I’ve been looking for a place to
quote Red Green and this looks like the spot. 
Red Green says “You
are not good at something just because you enjoy it. Karaoke has proved that.
To my way of thinking, you are not
good at something because you enjoy it; rather you enjoy something because you
are good at it.”
The disappointment that lead to those offers wasn’t fun I
did not enjoy it one little bit, but the adjustments that we made as a result
have been a real bonus for Denn. 
At the time of a disappointment it’s always wise to examine
the events surrounding the disappointment and see if you need to make
adjustments. Many churches and pastors have chosen to accept disappointment as
the norm, rather than changing
traditional behaviour. Anytime we begin to fail in evangelism, in seeing people won to Jesus Christ, in attracting people to our church we need to stop
and ask: Why?  Tradition is good as long
as tradition is effective.  And it doesn’t
have to be old to be tradition.  Cornerstone
has only been around for eighteen years but we already have our own traditions.
It is an unfortunate that many people through the years have
gone to hell because ineffective church programs have become sacred cows.  And there are times we need to discover that
sacred cows make the best hamburgers.
Every program,
every custom, every tradition and
every facility must be examined from time to time to make sure they are still
doing the primary function and objective and that has been, and should remain to be glorifying God and
bringing a lost and dying world to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. 
And sometimes it takes a disappointment in a program before
we make a change.  And sometimes it takes
a disappointment in your job for you to evaluate your position and your
performance.  And sometimes it takes a
disappointment with your children to adjust your child rearing techniques.
We have to be able to recognize those disappointments and
instead of whining, adjust.
4) Disappointments Can
be Pace Setters
.  Often after a
professional athlete has injured their self they return to their sport too soon
only to discover that the injury still hurts. 
Although the pain is a disappointment it is essential to set the proper
pace for the athlete’s development and complete healing.
At first they are disappointed because their fastball isn’t
as fast as it used to be, their slap shot isn’t a hard as it used to be and
their jump shot isn’t as high as it used to be. But it will through time and
care eventually heal to pre-injury capabilities.
But sometimes there is a physical healing but not a mental
healing. When I was a teenager I owned a horse, a fact of which my daughter
reminded me of constantly, usually with words like “How come I can’t have a
horse you used to?”  To which I remind
her that my horse was a free horse, at least that was the initial cost, as my
father is fond of reminding me.  The reason
Extra Time was a free horse was because he was a standard bred race horse who
had been hurt.  In 1972 his best time was
2 08 for a mile but during a race he stumbled and fell and pulled his chest
muscles.  The vets claimed that he was
completely healed but he never got his speed back.
Sometimes we get hurt emotionally or spiritually and we
never get over the disappointment and we don’t ever grow any further unless we
take the time to recover.
In the growth cycle of a church, they usually grow, plateau,
grow, and plateau and so on.  Plateaus
will always be disappointing and sometimes if not corrected will become a
downward trend. But the reason that churches plateau is that it’s pace
setting.  If a church grows too fast for
too long they get out of balance and become top heavy with new Christians.  But after a church takes the time to disciple
and assimilate those people they are ready to grow again.  What was a disappointment actually helps in
their growth. 
5) Disappointments Sometimes
are Necessary
I love good weather, I love the sun and I love the warmth.  I’m not totally a Grinch when it comes to
weather, I love a white Christmas, in my world it would start to snow midnight
Christmas Eve and then warm up to 27 degrees Celsius on December 27th.
  
The year we moved to Australia we had 93 days without seeing
a cloud.  I thought I was in
Paradise.  The result of that beautiful
weather?  The grass got brown, the
flowers died, the water supply got low, the farmers of Queensland weren’t
nearly as impressed with the weather as I was. 
Nature cannot survive as we know it without rain.
In the 1970’s there was a song out the lyrics were “I beg your
pardon, I never promised you a rose
garden, along with the sunshine
there has to be a little rain sometimes.”  And such is life.  For total complete full development we need
to have different types of experiences come our way.  There is no way we can exhibit the fruit of
maturity in our life without the rain of disappointment.  A land without rain is called a desert.
Some of life’s greatest virtues: faith, hope, patience and
perseverance only come our way through disappointment. Only then will you
discover that every problem has a solution. 
Only when you have met with disappointment and overcome it will you develop
the ingredients in your character to seek a solution instead of being perplexed
by the problem.
6) Disappointments
are Normal
Don’t take disappointments personally.  Our normal reaction is “Why?” or “How could
this happen to me?” 
Way back when Canadian Idol first began my Cousins’ daughter
auditioned and didn’t make the cut and I’m sure that when Jackie didn’t move on
to the next level of competition she wondered how it could have happened to
her.  Well it also happened to over 800
other people, Jackie Guptill wasn’t the only person to go away disappointed
that day.
When things go wrong it doesn’t mean that God’s out to get
you.  That’s life, disappointments
happened.  But disappointments do not
have a negative or a positive impact in themselves.  Instead it is our reaction to those
disappointments that make them either negative or positive.
2 people can have exactly the same disappointment and end up
with two completely different outcomes. 
It is how we handle our disappointments that will determine our
success.  Some people are motivated by disappointments;
others are destroyed by their disappointments. 
How you act and react to life and it’s many disappointments
usually indicates who you are and what you can become.  Henry Ward Beecher stated
“Ones best success comes after their greatest
disappointments.” You don’t have to guess how he dealt with
disappointments.
I wonder if Mario Andretti the race car driver ever had to
face disappointments?  I wonder if he
ever lost a race?  Listen to what he said
“Circumstances may cause interruptions and delays, but never lose sight of your goal. Prepare
yourself in every way you can by increasing your knowledge and adding to your
experience, so that you can make the
most of opportunity when it occurs.” 
How do you view disappointments?  As stepping stones or as stumbling blocks? Do
they strengthen your faith or weaken your faith?  Do they draw you nearer to God or push you
farther away from God?  The choice is
yours and yours alone.
I don’t know what
disappointments you are facing today but I’d like to pray for you.  Because here is God’s promise for you today Psalm 30:5 Weeping may remain for a night, but
rejoicing comes in the morning.
Did you catch it? 
Weeping may remain for a night.  Maybe, but for sure, rejoicing will come in
the morning. 

They don’t have a prayer

So, Kim Kardashian had to apologize for comments that she made on Twitter.  And you might be thinking, “ and this is worthy of a Penn?”  Well yeah, because of what she had tweeted.  It appears that Kardashian had the audacity to post “Praying for everyone in Israel,” and she followed that with, “Praying for everyone in Palestine and across the world!”  The reaction from her almost 17 million followers (which could be a whole Penn on its own) was overwhelmingly negative. 
It seems that the reality TV show star can talk about fashion and what she has for breakfast but that she stepped over the line with her comments about her prayer life.  Ms.  Kardashian not only received negative, obscenity laced responses but also had several death threats.  I don’t know if it was because she was planning on praying for Israel or for Palestine.  Wow!  She probably should take the threats serious, after all, it was teaching like Matthew 5:44 “But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” that got Jesus killed.
And as Christ Followers we are still supposed to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us and maybe even tweet about it.     Have a great week and remember: To see what is really possible, you will have to attempt the impossible. 

QRC Forgiveness

He just kept right on smiling. It didn’t matter what they
did or what they said he just kept right on smiling. They were American army
officers and he was their Korean house boy, and for whatever reason they gave
him a hard time about everything, he wasn’t fast enough, he wasn’t polite
enough, he wasn’t good enough, but he just kept right on smiling. They had
rented a house in Seoul and he was the servant, he cleaned, he cooked and he
served and no matter how hard he tried he seemed to fail in their eyes. They
ridiculed him and they humiliated him in front of their guests and he just kept
on smiling. The more he smiled the more they seemed to be determined to break
him and their humiliation of him got even worse if that was possible, but he
just kept right on smiling.
One day a visitor came to the house, it was another American
officer but he was cut from a different piece of cloth and he was horrified by
the way his fellow officers were treating their house boy but he was also
fascinated by the boys response, no anger, no tension, apparently no ill
feelings and so after a while he got the boy aside to find out what his secret
was. “Why is it that no matter what the men say you just smile back?” he asked.
“What is you secret?” The boy didn’t hesitate at all before responding “My
secret is that every day, just before I serve them their dinner, I spit in
their soup.”
Not bad, but not forgiveness. There are people here today
who just keep right on smiling. They have been hurt by someone, and yet they
don’t appear to let it bother them. A true Christian, it would appear that they
have the Lord’s Prayer down pat where it says Matthew 6:12 Forgive us our sins, just as we have
forgiven those who have sinned against us.
At least that’s how they appear on the outside. But on the
inside they are spitting in that person’s soup, every day. And my friends that
is not forgiveness. It may make us feel better but it doesn’t bring healing.
This is week four of our QR Codes for your Life series.  QRC’s are those little square bar codes that
are popping up everywhere.  You see them
in newspapers, magazines, billboards, stores and restaurants.  And if you have the right app on your
smartphone, blackberry or iPhone you can scan the QRC and it will take you to a
website that will give you more information about that product or service.  We have a QRC on the back of our bulletin
which takes you to the Cornerstone Website. 
And while you are there you can find out information about the church,
what we believe, a little bit of our history, what services we offer, what’s
coming up and a video archive of our past services.  Pretty cool. 
When we introduced our series we talked about how great it
would be if as Christians we had QR Codes for those hard situations that pop up
in our lives .  Places that we can go in
the bible that will give us the answers we need.
So two weeks ago we looked at
what to do when we are tempted to do wrong, where we should look for that
answer and our QRC directed us to 1 Corinthians
10:13
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.
Last week we talked about
failure, when we feel like we just can’t go on, that our feet have been kicked
out from under us and we feel that we just can’t give anymore and we want to
quit.  And as a response to that we
looked at Galatians 6:9 So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the
right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.
But what happens when you’ve
been betrayed or hurt.  When someone you
love turns against you, or someone you hardly knows says or does something that
hurts you?  As Christ followers what are
we supposed to do when we have been abused or someone hurts our family?  What do we do when we get cut off in traffic
or the barista messes up our coffee order?  
Our QRC code this week takes us to the middle of the scripture that was
read earlier.  Colossians 3:13 Make allowance for each
other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave
you, so you must forgive others.
And in theory that sound easy,
but in life things aren’t always that easy. 
Colossians 3:13 Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone
who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.
And Peter seemed to be trying to get a handle on the entire
forgiveness thing when he comes to Jesus in Matthew 18:21 Then Peter came to him and asked,
“Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?”
I don’t think that Peter was talking about something
abstract, I think that as Jesus was teaching that Peter had been stewing.  Thinking about something someone had said
about him or did to him, perhaps more than once.  Maybe five time or six times and he was
getting tired of turning the other cheek. 
And to be truthful if this was more than a hypothetical situation and
Peter had already forgiven the person multiple times he was a better person
than most of us.
Under Jewish teaching Peter would have learned that it was
good to forgive someone three times.  
One Rabbi had written “He who begs forgiveness from his neighbour must not
do so more than three times.”  While
another taught “If a man commits an offence once, they forgive him; if he commits an
offence a second time, they forgive him; if he commits an offence a third time,
they forgive him; the fourth time they do not forgive.”
Would you be willing to forgive three times?  The correct answer shouldn’t be “It
depends”. 
And so Peter probably thought he was being gracious, he
takes the teachings of the Rabbis, multiplies it by two, adds one for good measure,
and offers it up as enough.
 But he wasn’t ready
for Jesus’ answer Matthew
18:22 “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!  Seventy times seven!  That’s crazy talk, why that is, naught,
naught, carry the four, three is seven, seven is four and wow, that’s almost
500 times.   How can you forgive someone
490 times for doing you wrong? You couldn’t live that long. Maybe that is the
answer.
Jesus must have seen the look
of unbelief on Peter’s face because he says: Matthew 18:23 “Therefore, the Kingdom of Heaven
can be compared to a king who decided to bring his accounts up to date with
servants who had borrowed money from him. 
And then he tells this story to illustrate the forgiveness
that is so essential to belonging to God’s Kingdom. He tells us that the
Kingdom of Heaven is like a King who was doing up his accounts and discovered
that one fellow owed him millions of dollars. 
Actually the original text says ten thousand talents. Not a figure drawn
out of the air, instead it represented the largest amount of money in Greek
thinking. The talent was the largest denomination of currency, much like our
one hundred dollar bill, and ten thousand was the largest number in Greek
figuring, anything above that figure was merely abstract.
And so this one man owed the largest amount possible that Christ’s
audience could conceive. When the man couldn’t pay his debt, the King decreed
that the debtor and his family should be sold into slavery to at least get back
a partial return on his debt. The debtor began to beg his master to relent and
the master did.  He granted the man a
pardon, cancelled his debt and set him free.
As you can well imagine the man was over the moon. And it would
be a great story if that is where the story ended,  but it didn’t. 
As the man was walking home he ran across a man who owed him a few
thousand dollars, again the original says one hundred denarii, which means nothing
to us but was trifling sum in comparison to what he had been forgiven.
He seemed to have forgotten the forgiveness shown him and
immediately demands payment and when the man can’t pay he has him thrown into
prison. When the king heard about this he was not visible impressed, called the
man back and said Matthew 18:32-33 Then the king called in the man
he had forgiven and said, ‘You evil servant! I forgave you that tremendous debt
because you pleaded with me. Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant,
just as I had mercy on you?’
And then the rich man had the servant thrown into prison
where he was tortured until he could pay, which was obviously never. Jesus sums
up the story by saying, Matthew 18:35 “That’s what
my heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and
sisters from your heart.”
It is impossible to translate the amount of money that was
owed by the two men and Jesus never meant for it to be a precise amount it was
the difference that was important, one was too large to be imagined the other
was too small to be bothered with. The smaller debt was approximately
1/600,000th the size of the larger debt.   That would be the Canadian Government being
forgiven its entire national debt and then coming after a man because he owed a
hundred bucks on his income tax. 
The lesson being that no matter what it is that you have to
forgive it doesn’t compare with what God forgave you for. There is a line in
the Lord’s Prayer which tells us the urgency with which we need to
forgive.  Matthew 6:12 Forgive us our sins, as we have
forgiven those who sin against us.  You
understand what you are praying when you say that, right? 
So instead of looking at what forgiveness is this morning I
want to take a few minutes looking at what forgiveness isn’t, because when I
talk to people about forgiveness, and you’d be surprised how often that subject
comes up in my office, these are usually the objections I hear.  They are not adverse to forgiveness but they
often have reasons why they can’t or actually won’t forgive.
Forgiveness Isn’t Simply a
Matter of Overlooking A Wrong.
How many times have we said or heard words like, “Oh that’s all
right” or “Forget it I didn’t pay any attention to it.” often we
try to overlook small wrongs like when someone says something that hurts us, or
when we are slighted about something. Somebody steps in front of us, or doesn’t
say “thank you”, little things that maybe shouldn’t hurt but do, and
if they hurt they need to be forgiven not overlooked. 
As Christians we think that we are super spiritual when we overlook
those little wrongs. But when we make a blanket statement like “Don’t
worry about it”, or “It wasn’t anything” we aren’t forgiving we
are covering. When we overlook wrongs we aren’t resolving them we are hiding
them and in doing so we are actively preventing our healing, and the healing of
relationships. Maybe you’ve been overlooking somebodies treatment of you, the
things your spouse says or doesn’t say, the way your children treat you, the
fact that the Pastor hasn’t recognised you for the things you’ve done. You’ve
told them and yourself that it doesn’t matter, but it does because overlooking
isn’t forgiving.
Forgiveness Isn’t
a Matter of Being Asked.
Often people will say “But they haven’t asked for
my forgiveness.”  Somehow we have come to
the mistaken conclusion that forgiveness is something we bestow upon someone
like the Queen bestows a Knighthood. 
That we wait until they come grovelling asking for forgiveness. But
nowhere in the bible does it say that people have to ask us to forgive them
before we do.  Not there.
Forgiveness is not a reward to be earned it is a gift to be
given.
Understand by forgiving someone you aren’t doing it for
their benefit you are doing it for your own benefit.  What happens when we don’t forgive
someone?  We are consumed with anger and
bitterness.  We spend time plotting to
get back at that person, replaying the incident over and over again in our
minds and they are going blissfully along with life.
Author Isabelle Holland reminds us 
“As long as you don’t forgive, who and whatever it is will occupy a
rent-free space in your mind.”
You understand don’t you that 90 % of those who you need to
forgive either don’t know they need to be forgiven or don’t care? And that goes
back to the fact that 73% of statistics are made up.  You cannot allow your emotions to be held
hostage by others.  Just let it go.
Forgiveness Isn’t
a Matter of Feeling 
Sometimes when I
talk to people they imply that they have not yet come to a place emotionally
where they are ready to forgive.  “I’m
just not ready yet.”  You need to
understand that forgiveness is an action not an emotion.  It is something we do not something we feel
and like every other action or activity we will choose to do it or not.
Her name was 66730, or at least that was the name she went
by. Her father had died in a German Concentration camp as did her sister. Her
freedom, her dignity, her humanity had been stripped away by those who
imprisoned her and yet she survived. And not only did she survive she went on
to minister to some of the very people who had been responsible for what had
happened to her.  You probably know her
as Corrie
Ten Boom and she said  “Forgiveness is
an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of
the heart.”  And I would suspect
that Corrie Ten Boom had a lot more to forgive than any one of us.
Forgiveness is a choice and you will either choose to do it
or you won’t.
Forgiveness Isn’t
a Matter of Trust 
Often I will hear people
say “How can I forgive them when I can’t trust them?”  Two different issues.  Forgiveness is about the past, trust is about
the future. Sometimes we hear people say “you haven’t forgiven if you haven’t
forgotten.”  That isn’t true. 
What happens when you cut yourself?  You often scar.  Even after the cut is healed over and no
longer hurts there is still a reminder.  I
was rooming with a couple of other pastors years ago and they started comparing
scars.  One had been in a horrific car
accident while the other had numerous surgeries for cancer when he was  a pre-teen. 
Let me tell you the scars were impressive.  Then they looked at me.  So I held up my hand and said “Once when I was
changing the oil on my VW convertible the wrench slipped and I got a really
nasty cut on my hand.”
When we have been hurt by someone, emotionally, physically,
spiritually it hurts and will often leave a scar.  With forgiveness the hurt will go away but
often times the scar will remain.  If
someone takes advantage of me in a business deal, I can forgive them but I
would be silly if I allowed them to do it again.  Goes back to “Fool me once shame on you, fool
me twice shame on me.”
And if they broke the law they need to be accountable to the
law even if you forgive them, you can forgive them for what they did to you but
it is not in your power to absolve them of criminal behaviour.
And often it is the person who did the hurting who equates
forgiveness with forgetfulness.  The
person who breaks their wedding vows is hurt because their spouse doesn’t trust
them.  Duh.  The abusive parent can’t understand why their
relationship with their kid can’t be the same as other parents and kids have,
even after they’ve been forgiven. 
Because the scars are still there. 
Now understand that the scars fade and we are reminded of
the hurt less and less.  Time may not
heal all wounds but it heals a lot of them. 
But understand this, you can’t earn forgiveness, it is a gift, but you
have to earn trust.  Forgiveness is about
you, trust is about them.
It was Friedrich Nietzsche  who
said “What
upsets me is not that you lied to me, but that from now on I can longer believe
you.”
Forgiveness isn’t Blaming
Ourselves
Too many times I
have heard someone trying to excuse the behaviour of others by taking guilt on themselves. 
It’s almost if we can figure out what we did wrong then we won’t have to
forgive because it will be our fault not the other persons, and then we can ask
for forgiveness. This creeps up so often in cases like sexual abuse in
children, where they are convinced that they must have done something to
initiate the encounter. Or in the case of physical abuse where the child
convinces himself that he must have been really bad for mommy or daddy to hurt
him that way. How many children who are involved in divorce blame themselves
for the emotional hurts that their parents inflicted upon them?  by accepting the blame that is not rightfully
ours we deny ourselves the opportunity, the necessity to forgive and to be
healed. 
There are people out there who suffered hurts years ago who continue to
blame themself for things that aren’t’ their fault. Wives who mistakenly think
that the command for wives to submit in Ephesians five means to live in
grovelling servitude beneath a tyrant. And because of that these women
constantly take the blame, grovel and ask for forgiveness even when they are
not in the wrong. This isn’t being a good “Christian wife” and it
certainly isn’t following God’s plan for marriage. Instead it is unhealthy
neurotic behaviour, and it is definitely not the same as forgiveness. Blaming
ourselves provides us with an easy out where we don’t have to forgive those who
have hurt us.
Forgiveness Isn’t
an Option. 
If you are a Christ
Follower you cannot simply choose to not forgive someone.  Not an option, not at all.  Two scriptures to close this message and they
do not need explaining or commentary. 
The first one comes at the end of the Lord’s Prayer, 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.
And the second was part of the story we read earlier Matthew 18:34-35 Then the angry king sent the man to prison to be tortured until he had
paid his entire debt. “That’s what my heavenly Father will do to you if you
refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters from your heart.”

Caught!  He got caught.  The fact that a high ranking government official was caught cheating on his wife really shouldn’t be a newsworthy item.  We’ve seen it happen with mayors, senators, governors and Presidents.  That doesn’t make it right, it just makes it common.  But this guy was supposed to be able to keep secrets.  Last week David Petraeus stepped down as director of the CIA (That’s the Central Intelligence Agency, just to be clear) after having admitted to an extramarital affair.
As in most cases, Petraeus didn’t admit to cheating on his wife of 37 years out of guilt or remorse, he did it because he got caught.  Had he not been caught, the 60 year old, 4 star general would have kept right on cheating. 

In a letter explaining his decision the director wrote “After being married for over 37 years, I showed extremely poor judgment by engaging in an extramarital affair. Such behavior is unacceptable, both as a husband and as the leader of an organization such as ours.”   Which roughly translated means, he was sorry he was caught. 
But, it was inevitable, even for the director of the CIA.  God’s word tells us “You may be sure that your sin will find you out.”  Have a great week and remember: To see what is really possible, you will have to attempt the impossible. 

QRC. Failure

The year was 1863 and the US Civil War was in its second year.   Historians tell us that at that point if you
were keeping score the Confederate Army was ahead.

The War had shifted its focus from the Southern States and
General Robert E Lee was embarking on his second Invasion of the North marching
into Pennsylvania.  The hope being, that
if the South could penetrate as far as Harrisburg or even Philadelphia that the
North would call an end to the war that had divided a nation.    The Battle began at Gettysburg Pennsylvania
on July 1 and the Confederate forces quickly took the advantage.  By the second day the Rebel forces are preparing
for the push that would assure them the victory.
One of the vital positions being held was a hill called “Little
Round Top” and it was held by the “20th Maine”, a volunteer unit in
the Union army.   The unit’s commander was
Colonel Joshua Chamberlain a 34 year old professor of rhetoric from Bangor
Maine.
Just a year before we are told there had been over a 1000
men under Chamberlain’s command when they left Bangor.  However by 1863 the numbers had been reduced
to a few hundred who had been commanded to hold the line at Little Round Top
against the advancing 15th & 47th Alabama regiments. 
After the third advance of the confederate forces the men of
the 20th Maine were out of ammunition and the command was given to
gather the ammunition from the dead and the wounded.  The men were able to gather enough ammunition
to hold off another attack from the Alabamians one more time.  But only one more time.  The Southerners gathered at the bottom of the
hill, preparing to attack again, knowing that the small group of union soldiers
couldn’t hold on forever.  And they were
right.
Chamberlain was left with fewer than 100 men facing a force
many time their size.  Without ammunition
and no chance of reinforcements it was apparent that their brave efforts had
failed and the line would be breached.  
They had tried their best, no one could fault the men of the
20th Maine or their commander, but it was apparent to all with the
sense that God gave them that they were finished  I’m sure this wasn’t how Joshua Chamberlain
pictured his military career ending when he took a leave of absence from Bowdoin
College. 
Have you ever been in that position?  At your own “Little Round Top”?   You’ve
tried, you’ve really tried you’ve given it everything you have but it just hasn’t
seemed to work.  Perhaps it was in your
work, maybe a passion in your life or a relationship or maybe as part of your
commitment to follow Christ.  But now
your resources are spent, you are tired and you can’t imagine going on.  In the eyes of the world, in the eyes of your
friends and in the eyes of yourself you are a failure. 
This is week three of our “QR Codes for your life series”.  QRCs or Quick Retrieval Codes are those
square bar codes you see everywhere you go these days.  They are in magazine, newspapers, on
billboards and signs in restaurants.  
And with the proper app you can scan them with your iPhone;
BlackBerry or Smart Phone and they will take you to a website with more
information on the topic at hand.
If you scan the QRC on the back of our bulletin it will take
you to Cornerstone’s Website where you will find out all there is to know about
our church. 
What if there were QRC’s for our Christian life, when we
came to a difficult situation we could just scan the code and it would take us
to where we need to go in God’s word to find an answer? 
That of course it our premise
for the month of November.  Last week we
looked at Temptation and our QRC took us to 1
Corinthians 10:13
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.
This week we are looking at Failure.  What does God’s word have to say when we feel
that we can’t go on?   But first back to
our story.
July 2nd 1863, Joshua Chamberlain and the 20th
Maine have held back the men of the 15th Alabama Infantry regiment four times,
but now they were out of ammunition and almost out of men.  Chamberlain orders his men to again collect
ammunition from the dead and dying only to be told there was no ammunition
left.
Some of his junior officers recommended surrendering, but
Chamberlain had been told how vital their position was to the Union defence and
he knew that they would be unable to defend Little Round Top one more time.  And so he commanded his men to fix their
bayonets and he led the charge against the enemy position.  And the remaining 80 members of the 20th
Maine, armed only with bayonets captured over 400 heavily armed confederate
soldiers. 
One commentator wrote: 
“Had
the 20th Maine retreated from the hill, the entire Union line would have been
flanked, and would have most likely lost the battle of Gettysburg, although
there is much debate on the subject. Union morale and support for the war was
wavering, due to many defeats. If the Union had lost the battle of Gettysburg
the Confederate army could possibly been able to march on to Washington D.C.
and end the war. The 20th Maine’s action in holding the hill has been credited
with helping to turn the tide of the war.”
Chamberlain’s actions were key in the Union army’s victory
at Gettysburg and Gettysburg was the turning point in the War Between the
States, all because Joshua Chamberlain refused to give in and quit.
Chamberlain may have been considered a failure after the
fourth charge of the 15 Alabamians, but he wasn’t a quitter, and that made all
the difference in how the story ends.  By
the way, Chamberlain went on to become a general in the Union forces, was the
General who accepted the surrender of the Confederate forces in 1865, was
elected as the Governor of Maine for four terms from 1866 until 1869 and then
served as president of the Bowdin College in Bangor until 1883. Not sure if he
would have achieved those goals if he had of quit on July 2, 1863 and become a
prisoner of war.
But what does the bible tell us
about failure?  Our QR code today takes
us to Galatians 6:9 So let’s not get tired of doing
what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we
don’t give up.
Think about it we will reap a harvest of blessing, if we
don’t give up.
 
There are two thoughts here, the first is the reward, and
the second is giving up.  And you can
either obtain the reward, or you can give up.  
However, you cannot, cannot, cannot give up and obtain the reward.  There are lots of reasons to quit, and a lot
of people quitting, but I’ve got good news for you; you don’t have to quit.
Regardless of how tough it gets, and regardless of what
people say, and regardless of how discouraged you feel; you don’t have to
quit. 
Quitting is a choice that you will make and nobody can
make for you.  “Will I quit or will I
keep going?”  “Will I stop or will I
press on?”, “Will I give up or will I succeed?”    Those are questions that can be answered by
you and you alone. And so this morning we are going to look at ten ways to quit
the quitting habit.  
1) Realise that
failure isn’t final.
Here’s the encouraging word for the day if you live, if
you walk if you talk, if you endeavour, if you try, if you attempt anything you
will at one time or another be a failure. 
Noah got drunk he was a failure. 
Moses murdered an Egyptian and fled to the desert, he was a failure.
David committed adultery he was a failure. Peter denied knowing Christ, he was
a failure. 
You don’t really think that the Wright brothers flew on
their first attempt do you?   Or that
Edison got the light bulb right the first time? 
Or that Bell perfected the phone on his first try. 
Personally I like the words of J.M.
Barrie, the author of Peter Pan who said “We are
all failures—at least, all the best of us are.”   The only people who never fail are the
people who never try, as a matter of fact it would be well within the mark to
say the world is divided into two categories: failures and unknowns.
This may not be the most encouraging statement in the
world but listen up folks; you are going to make mistakes, because my friends
that is a fact of life.  And you can let
those mistakes knock you down, and walk all over you and keep you flat on your
back or you can say, “God, what can I learn from this mistake?”  You didn’t learn to walk with your first
step.  You didn’t learn to swim with your
first stroke.  You didn’t learn to play
an instrument on your first attempt.
The very same mistake can be a stumbling block or a
stepping stone and only you will decide. 
Failure is not final it is just life.  I have said before that every hill has a top,
every mountain has a summit, every tunnel has an end and every night has a
dawn.  The Bible may say that “trouble
came to pass” but it never says that “trouble came to stay.”  Failure isn’t final.  Every day that Denn
Guptill lives, Denn Guptill
makes mistakes, and all God’s people said. . . Don’t let your failures be
final.   Listen to the words of Samuel Beckett “Ever tried?
Ever failed? No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better”.
2) Believe in
yourself 
As a child of almighty God, creator of the universe, when
you say “I can’t do that” you are really saying, “God can’t do that.”  And when you say “I haven’t got what it takes”
you are really saying, “My God isn’t big enough.”  But you know you are probably right, you
probably can’t do it, you probably haven’t got what it takes, you probably are
a miserable, pathetic destitute failure, but that doesn’t matter because you
are a child of the king. 
Prince Charles has problems but he is still Crown Prince
Heir Apparent to the British Empire and he can’t
lose that.  And you can’t lose the fact
that you are a child of almighty God with all of the power and privileges that
go with that.
And even though you will
discover that there are times that you can’t lean on yourself, you can lean on
the book and the book says, in Philippians 4:13 For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.
Not some things, not a few things, not most things, not
easy things.  But I can do everything
through Christ who gives me strength. 
Moses couldn’t part the Red Sea but he did.  Joshua couldn’t bring down the walls of Jericho but he did.  Samson couldn’t pull down the walls of the
temple but he did.  Daniel couldn’t
survive in the lion’s den but he did. 
Peter couldn’t walk on water but he did, and Jesus Christ the carpenter from
Nazareth couldn’t
come back from the dead but he did. 
Christians if you learn nothing
else from this message, if you never commit another scripture to memory please
memorise Philippians 4:13
For I can do
everything through Christ, who gives me strength.
3) Understand that
other people have problems too  
You aren’t alone; there are other people out there who
have problems just like you.  And no
matter how bad things seem there is someone who is a little worse off.  Your foot hurts?   There is someone out there missing their
leg.   You missing a leg?   There is someone out there who is confined
to a wheelchair and can’t use their arms. You stuck in a wheel chair and can’t
use your arms? Read the obits in the paper, there are all kinds of people who
are dead.  You ok?  And you thought you had it bad. 
4) Do something
worthwhile 
Realize that you aren’t the only person in the world.
Quitters are usually selfish people, they quit because they aren’t being
fulfilled, or they aren’t making progress, or they are depressed.  But it’s always them.  Get involved, get involved in the church, be
a volunteer at the hospital, hospital are always looking for people to come in
and read to their patients.   Visit shut-ins,
work at a youth drop in, and help out at school.
Do something for others make your life worthwhile, you
have been saved to touch a lost and dying world so get to it, do something.
5)  Set Realistic Goals
Some people quit because they get discouraged because
their goals are too high.  That is not to
say that we shouldn’t have high goals, but realize that they may not happen
tomorrow.  The longest journey begins
with a single step, and that first step is as much a goal as is the end of the
trip.  If you are learning to fly you
goal shouldn’t be to be a qualified pilot after the first lesson.  Need to lose weight concentrate on the first
pound not the first hundred pounds.  Want
to finish a degree, take it one course at a time.  One reason I never learned how to play guitar
was because I wanted to play like Leona Boyd the first week.
Dream big, but have some realistic steps along the
way. 
6) Remember That
With God You Are On The Winning Side. 
We have to realize the same thing that David realised as
he stood looking up at Goliath, and that is this when we are on God’s side it
doesn’t matter how big the giants are, we are on the winning side. And that’s
all she wrote.  Always remember that if
you are on God’s side then God is on your side, and that is the winning
side.  And there isn’t anything that
needs to be done in this world that God can’t do through me or through you if we
will let him.  
7)  Ask Others for Help 
Don’t be so proud that you fail
simply for lack of asking for help.  I’m
a terrible one for that, but sometimes we have to admit that we need the help
of others.  There’s a great illustration
about this in the bible, in Exodus 17:8-12 While the people of Israel were still at Rephidim, the warriors of
Amalek attacked them. Moses commanded Joshua, “Choose some men to go out and
fight the army of Amalek for us. Tomorrow, I will stand at the top of the hill,
holding the staff of God in my hand.” So Joshua did what Moses had commanded
and fought the army of Amalek. Meanwhile, Moses, Aaron, and Hur climbed to the
top of a nearby hill. 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.
When Jesus went to the garden
he asked Peter James and John to be with him. 
In Galatians 6:2 we are told to bear one another’s burdens.  Don’t try to carry the weight of the world on
your shoulders  listen to what king
Solomon said in Ecclesiastes
4:9-10
Two people
are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person
falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real
trouble.
God can help and he might help by providing a somebody, so
don’t be afraid to ask for help. 
8) Commit Yourself
Publicly 
For whatever reason it’s a lot easier to stick with, and
accomplish a goal when others know about it. 
Let others in on your dreams, your visions, your aspirations, let others
know what you want to accomplish in this life. Make yourself accountable to
others.  It is a lot easier to fulfil a
pledge made to someone else then a pledge made to yourself.  Share with your friends a little bit of what
you seek to achieve in this life.  It
also gives you a degree of accountability when someone follows up on your goals
and can offer suggestions, help and encouragement.
Let’s go back to David and 1 Samuel 17:41-47 Goliath walked out toward David
with his shield bearer ahead of him, sneering in contempt at this ruddy-faced
boy. “Am I a dog,” he roared at David, “that you come at me with a stick?” And
he cursed David by the names of his gods. “Come over here, and I’ll give your
flesh to the birds and wild animals!” Goliath yelled. David replied to the
Philistine, “You come to me with sword, spear, and javelin, but I come to you
in the name of the LORD of Heaven’s Armies—the God of the armies of Israel, whom
you have defied. Today the LORD will conquer you, and I will kill you and cut
off your head. And then I will give the dead bodies of your men to the birds
and wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel!
And everyone assembled here will know that the LORD rescues his people, but not
with sword and spear. This is the LORD’s battle, and he will give you to us!”
Now that’s putting it on the line.
9) Visualise Your
Successes. 
Now I know that this type of thing has had a lot of bad
press but I think that it is one of the keys to succeeding is the fact that you
really have to have a firm grip on where you are going.  Cause if you don’t know where you’re going
how will you know when you get there?  It
was Yogi Berra who said, “If you don’t know where you are going you might end up
somewhere else.” 
Stop seeing yourself as a loser, stop seeing yourself as a
quitter, stop seeing yourself as a failure and start seeing yourself the way
that God sees you.  You might not be able
to see Cornerstone the way it is going to be in two years, five years and ten
years down the road, but I can. 
Visualise your dreams because if you can’t see them in your mind you
will probably never see them in reality.  
Rememeber If you never build castles in the air you will never build
anything on the ground.
10) Bring All Your
Problems to God

This is the most important point in this entire message;
if you don’t get anything else get this. 
Christ cares and he wants to help. 
Got a bad marriage, broken dreams, financial problems, spiritual
difficulties, Jesus wants to know, and he doesn’t just want to know he wants to
help.   
One hymn writer wrote, “What a friend we have in Jesus all
our sins and grief’s to bear!  What a
privileged to carry everything to God in prayer.  Oh, what peace we often forfeit, oh, what
needless grief we bear all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer!”
You don’t have to carry your
load alone in Matthew
11:28-29
Then
Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and
I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am
humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
And here is our promise to end
with today:  Hebrews 13:5 . . . God has said, “I will never fail you. I will
never abandon you.”   Because you
may fail God, but God will never fail you.

What is in a name?

She was proud of the name she carried and tried to her best to add to the legacy of that name.  Most of us heard the tragic  news of the sinking of the HMS Bounty this past week. What you may not know is that the crewmember whose body was recovered was Claudene Christian.  Does her name ring a bell?  It should, her great-great-great-great-great-grandfather was Fletcher Christian and he was the chief mate who led the Mutiny on the Bounty in 1789.  Now think about predicting that Buzz Aldrin’s great-great-great-great-great-grandchild would die in an accident involving a working replica of Apollo 11. Mind boggling isn’t it?
42 year old Christian, joined the Bounty in May and spoke on several occasions about the pride she felt following in the footsteps of her mutineer ancestor.
As “Christians”, we follow in another’s steps and the name we carry isn’t that of a mutineer but instead it is the name of the Saviour of the world.  And while most of the world didn’t know about Claudene’s heritage until her death, we proclaim our heritage through our lives.    I hope that we will be as proud and as conscious of the name Jesus Christ as Claudene Christian was of the name Fletcher Christian.   
 Have a great week and remember: To see what is really possible, you will have to attempt the impossible.

QRC Temptation

QRC: Temptation
We’ve all been there, at one time or another.  Standing on the very cusp of doing what we
know is wrong.  And we have to decide;
will we do what we know we shouldn’t do or do we make the right decision.  And each of us is tempted by something
different in our lives, which makes it really difficult to understand how
someone can give into to their particular temptation.  “How could they do that?  I don’t understand what the appeal could
possibly be.” 
I have never had a struggle with alcohol.  Ever. 
That’s not to say I never drank, I just never had a problem with it, and
when the time came for me to quit, I quit. 
For those who don’t know the story, on Thursday August 30th
1979 I was a commercial fisherman on the largest herring seiner on the East
Coast, our quotas were cut where we were fishing and so we came home for a few
days and I became a Christ follower in a Sunday Evening service at 1st
Wesleyan Church in Saint John New Brunswick. 
On Wednesday I moved into my dorm room at Bethany Bible College which is
now Kingswood University.  And one of the
rules was “thou shalt not drink.”  And I
have not had a drink since that day, not a bottle of beer not a glass of wine,
nada.  And in those 33 years I don’t
think I ever thought “wow, a cold beer would be nice right now”  or “I could really use a drink.” 
And so there have been times that I have had very little
patience with people who struggle with alcohol. 
And I think “Well just stop it.” 
On the other hand, I had major issues quitting smoking,
serious problems.  And to be truthful to
this day there are times I think, “I could really use a smoke.”  Does that make me a bad person?  And people who have never smoked don’t
understand, they call it a dirty filthy habit and can’t understand the appeal
of sucking on burning organic matter that is filled with poison and will kill
you.  And I knew that and still know
it.  But that didn’t help much.
We are all tempted, but we tend to be tempted in different
ways.  I am not a worrier, sure there are
times I worry but for the most part I don’t. 
But there are those out there who struggle with worry, even though they
know that the Bible says “Don’t worry” they are tempted to worry about things
they have no control over. 
There are those who struggle with gluttony, and don’t
confuse that with simply being overweight, and they are tempted to eat more
than they should.  There are those who
struggle with lust and sexual sin, there are those who struggle with anger
issues and issues of unforgiveness.    There are those who struggle with drunkenness
and greed, and hatred and every day there will be those who give in to those
struggles and those who stand firm and don’t. 
The issue isn’t whether or not we will be tempted, because
we will be tempted.  You have no control
over that.   The issue is whether or not you
will give into the temptation.  And you
are the only one who will have control over that.  Nobody else can resist temptation for you,
nobody else can win that battle except you.
Most of you are aware that our theme for the next four weeks
is “QR Codes for life” QRCs or Quick Retrieval Codes are those funky little
square bar codes that you see everywhere these days, and if you scan them with
your smart phone or iPhone they take you to a website where you can quickly
find the information that you need about . . . whatever.    Last week in our  introduction we talked about how great it
would be if there were QR codes for our lives as Christ Followers, when we face
difficult situations we could just scan them and find the answer that we
needed.  Often times, as Christians, we
are reminded that the Bible has all the answers we need.  But it’s a big book, and we don’t always have
time to search through it looking for the answer that we need, right now.
So where do we go to face our
temptations?   Our QR Code for this week is
 1 Corinthians
10:13
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.
This verse sums up all we need
to know about temptation.  And gives us
the tools we need to deal with temptation. 
So let’s start at the beginning
because the beginning is usually a great place to start.
1
Corinthians 10:13
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.
We all think that what we are
dealing with is something strange and wonderful, that nobody has ever had to
deal with the temptations that you are dealing with. 
I can’t count the number of
times people have uttered the words to me “You don’t know what it was like, you
can’t understand.”  Everyone thinks their
situation is unique, that if I could only put myself in their place that I
would have done what they did.  
And yet the reality goes back
to the words of Solomon in Ecclesiastes
1:9
History
merely repeats itself. It has all been done before. Nothing under the sun is
truly new.
The temptations that we face
today are the same as our parents faced and that their parents faced.  There is nothing new under the sun.  We
Have Been Forewarned
Oh the clothes temptation
dresses up in might be modern garb, but at the root the temptation to do what
is wrong still comes from the same place. 
If we go back to the start of the story we discover the first man and
woman happily frolicking in the Garden of Eden. 
They can do whatever they want and there is only one rule in their
existence.  One rule, how tough can that
be?  How easy would it be to memorize
“The One Commandment”?
Genesis 2:15-17 The LORD God placed the man in the Garden of Eden
to tend and watch over it. But the LORD God warned him, “You may freely eat the
fruit of every tree in the garden— except the tree of the knowledge of good and
evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die.”
 How easy should that
be?  “You can do whatever you want,
except to eat the fruit from that one tree.” 
What  would be the smart thing to
do?  Not go near the tree.  But no, when Satan shows up and tempts Eve to
eat from the tree she knew exactly what tree he meant and exactly where it
was.  And what was the route the
temptation took?  The fruit looked
delicious, so the temptation begins by Appealing
To Her Desire to Have Something She Didn’t Have
.    Most temptations begin with an appeal to
our appetites. 
Now we aren’t talking about appetite here in the sense of a
Big Mac a large order of Fries and a shake. 
No this is the temptation to satisfy our physical desires, even when we
know that it is wrong.  Every one of us
will be tempted at some time or another through our appetites.  It may not be hunger it may be your sexual
appetite, it might be an addictive substance, or it might simply be the
appetite to have more, whatever the cost. 
Of course the power of temptation is multiplied because our
society has reverted back to the philosophy of ancient Rome that said “Eat, drink,
and be merry, for tomorrow we die.”  Or
perhaps it’s the philosophy of the not so ancient 60’s that said “If it feels
good; do it.”
But the question is: Why do we do things when we know they
are wrong?  Why do we watch movies that
we know Christ wouldn’t approve of, why do we listen to music that flies in the
face of everything the Bible teaches, why do we cultivate relationships that we
know are dangerous?  If you were to
answer honestly it would be because we enjoy those things and those
people.  We are seeking to fulfill the
appetite of pleasure.   Even when we know
that to do so is to be disobedient to what God wants in our lives.
But really, Eve could have eaten from any other tree in the
garden and been just as full.    
But it wasn’t enough that the
fruit looked delicious, Satan ups the ante, he tells Eve in Genesis 3:5 “God knows that your eyes will be
opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and
evil.”   Satan is saying, “Is it really fair
that God has something that you don’t have? 
He just doesn’t want you to know what he knows.  But you should have the same knowledge that
he has, God shouldn’t mind if you know the difference between good and evil,
that is if he really loves you.”
So Satan promises that Eve will
get something that she didn’t have, something that she didn’t even know she
didn’t have and something she couldn’t get anywhere else.  “Your eyes will be
opened and you will know both good and evil.” 
So now Satan is Appealing
to Her Desire to Be Something She Wasn’t. 
This is also the temptation of pride, Madonna made this statement “I
won’t be happy till I’m as famous as God.” 
She’ll never be as famous as God, but I would suspect that she
has done some things in the quest for that fame that has dishonoured God and
Madonna.  But even when you think you are
that famous, you aren’t.  Remember John Lennon saying “We’re
more popular than Jesus Christ now. I don’t know which will go first; rock and
roll or Christianity.” 
And you’re thinking, Denn that isn’t a problem for me, I
know that I’ll never be famous so it’s not a temptation.  Sure, but have you ever considered fames
little brother, popularity. 
When I was in school I was both unpopular and popular, and
trust me popular is better, but it’s not worth selling your soul for.  Don’t give into the temptation of doing
things just to fit in with the crowd. 
Because when the time comes to pay the price for the compromises that
you make the crowd will be nowhere around.
Listen again to
what Satan offers:  Genesis 3:5 “God knows
that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God,
knowing both good and evil.”   
Finally Satan is Appealing To Her Desire to Have Power.  To be just like God, people are still
trying to be like God.  What Eve was
after wasn’t knowledge it was power. 
People are too willing to pay whatever price they need to in
order to achieve the power they crave. 
They will sacrifice their morals, their ethics, and their
integrity.  James
Byrnes former  Secretary of State
wrote “Power intoxicates men. When a man is
intoxicated by alcohol, he can recover, but when intoxicated by power, he
seldom recovers.” 
Most of the problems in today’s world are caused by a quest
for power.  Read the papers.  What is it that the Israelis and Palestinians
are fighting over?  Land? No they have
land, they are fighting over power, who will be in charge.  Radical Islam is fighting for control, they
want the power that comes with being in control.  The Taliban wants to be back in control in
Afghanistan so they will have power over the people and will be able to demand
they do it their way.
Marriages are destroyed because someone wants power, crimes
are committed because someone wants power, friendships are sacrificed and
Churches have been split all because of someone’s desire for power, to be in
charge, to have control.
If we fast forward thousands of years through human history
we discover Jesus in the desert before he begins his ministry and there is Satan,
with the same bag of tricks.  “Turn the
stones into breads Jesus, satisfy your appetites.”  “Jump off the temple wall Jesus, and everyone
will worship you, satisfy your desire for fame.”  “Bow down and worship me Jesus and I will
give you all the kingdoms of the world, I will give you power.” 
Fast forward another two
thousand years and in a Pastoral management class that I took in University a
professor tells the class that the three things that pastors will be tempted
with will be: The Gold, the Glory and the Girls.   1 Corinthians
10:13
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.   But there is more to this QRC then
simply the knowledge that others have been tempted before us. 
1 Corinthians 10:13 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.

Here is our secret weapon, first we are forewarned now We are Forearmed.  This
is the knowledge that you don’t have to give in.  You have what it takes to win this
battle.  The Bible promises you that you
don’t have to give in to temptation; God will not allow the temptation to get
that strong.  But we don’t want to
believe that, we want to think that we didn’t have a choice. 
This is not a self-help book
that we are reading, this is the word of God, God’s word for God’s people and
it tells us that He will not allow the temptation to be more than we can
stand.  You don’t have to give in. 
A couple of things to remember,
the first one is: this promise is for Christ followers, it’s not for
everyone.  Sometimes people get into the
thinking that every promise in the Bible is for everyone, doesn’t work that
way, the promises in God’s word are for God’s people.   
And the second thing this is
for Christ followers who want to resist temptation.    That’s the secret; you gotta want to.  We talk the good talk but the reason we give
into temptation is because we want to. 
Jesus’ brother James hit the nail right on the head when he wrote in James 1:14 Temptation
comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away.
Scottish writer Margaret
Oliphant  Said the same thing, “Temptations come, as a general rule, when they are sought.”
Don’t go looking for temptation and don’t under estimate
them.  You’ve heard me say it over and
over again; “Sin will always take you further than you want to go it will always keep
you longer than you want to stay and will always cost you more than you want to
pay.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson observed “We gain the
strength of the temptation we resist.” Every time we win over temptation
the next win is easier, but the converse is true as well, after we give in it
gets tougher to not give in the next time, which is why Mark Twain said:  “It is easier to stay out than get out.”  
Listen carefully, you can win, you don’t have to lose, you
don’t have to give in.  The promise is
here in the book, and we don’t debate the book. 
“I couldn’t help myself”, or “the temptation was too strong”, or “the
devil made me do it” are cop-outs.  The
Bible, the word of God promises us that we can win over temptation.   And more than that, look at the promise again
1 Corinthians 10:13 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.

God has promised to show you a way out, so your part is to look for that way
out.  Sometimes the easiest way out is
just to leave, turn around and walk away. 
Sometime though you need to stay where you are. 
When Satan was tempting Jesus,
time and time again Jesus returns to the scripture.    But that only works if you know what the
Bible says.   It’s no good to wave it
around and say, “Somewhere in here it says something that’s helpful” 
In Psalm 119 David asked Psalm 119:9 How can a young person stay pure? And then he answers his own
question By obeying your
word.   Two verses later he adds
to it by saying Psalm 119:11 I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin
against you.
You need to read the book and you
need it hide it in your heart.  You say,
“But Denn I’m no good at memorizing scripture.” Just read it, and read it and
read it.  Make it a part of your day.  If you don’t have a bible reading plan you
can find one for your computer, you iPhone, your BlackBerry or you can do it
the old fashion way. 
Devotional books are wonderful but they are no substitute
for reading God’s word.  David didn’t say
“I have hidden “The Daily Bread” in my heart, or I have hid “The Upper Room” in
my heart, or I have hid the latest Christian best seller in my heart.  Read the book.

But remember if you are going to master temptation then first you are going to
have to let God master you.
Let’s read it the promise
together but this time let’s personalize it  
1 Corinthians 10:13 The 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.