Critics are like. . .

Angela and I saw a great movie last week.  I know this isn’t the place for movie reviews but it was funny and exciting and we really enjoyed it.  Unfortunately that wasn’t the view of most of the critics. It was panned and ridiculed in the media and as a result lost a boatload of money.  Which is unfortunate.
How often in life do we allow the opinion of the critics to affect how we view something,or worse, how we view someone?  We mentioned to several people  the movie we were planning to see and we were warned that it had been panned and wasn’t worth seeing.  But none of those who offered that opinion had actually seen the movie themselves.
In the end, we decided that we had been really looking forward to seeing the movie and that we would be willing to take the chance, and we really enjoyed it.
Ultimately it was just a movie so it wouldn’t have been earth shattering if we had missed it.But how many times do we miss out on important things or individuals in life simply because we listen to someone who listened to a critic?
And so now my response to critics will be: Hi-Yo Silver,away!    Have a great week and remember: To see what is really possible, you will have to attempt the impossible.   

Here today. . .

He was a million times richer than Bill Gates. . . for a day.  Think of the possibilities.  Last week Chris Reynolds became the world’s richest man . . . for a while.  Imagine the Pennsylvania account executive’s surprise when his monthly statement from Pay Pal showed a balance of  $92,233,720,368,547,800, that’s 92 quadrillion dollars.  Alas, when he logged in to his account it showed a balance of $0.00, zip, nada.  It had all been a software glitch.  
In a matter of degrees we are all like Chris Reynolds, everything we have, we only have temporarily.  Oh, we might get to hold on to what we have longer than Reynolds did, but in the long run everything we have will belong to someone else. 
When asked what he would have done if it had of been a reality, Reynolds commented that he was a responsible man, “I would pay the national debt down first. Then I would buy the Phillies, if I could get a great price.”

But the question isn’t what we would do with the 92 quadrillion dollars we don’t have but what we are doing with what God has given us, for however long God has trusted us with it.  Have a great week and remember: To see what is really possible, you will have to attempt the impossible.   

Mission Statement of the Church

For those of you who have kids and can remember leaving
their children alone, whether it was for an hour, an evening or a day you understand
that the most important thing that you wanted to them to remember were your
last words.
“I love you, remember your homework”, “I love you don’t
forget to do the dishes and clean your room.” 
“I love you, remember no parties and don’t burn the house down.” 
Jesus’ last words to his kids, the
apostles were read for us earlier. 
Now just a word of
warning, don’t go looking for that particular conversation in your Scriptures
cause you won’t find it.  At least you
won’t find it exactly like that because that is a compilation of the
recollections of those who heard Jesus’ last statement.  Just as each of you will walk away from the
sermon this morning remembering certain things I said each of those at the
ascension of Christ remembered what to them appeared to be the most important
parts of Christ’s last class with them. 
Those fragments by the way are found in Matthew
28:19-20, Mark 16:15-19, Luke 24:47-49 and Acts 1:8-9. 
This is week six of our Red Letter Summer
series where we are looking at those words that are written in Red in the
Bible.  And those Red Letter Words are
the words of Jesus. 
Two weeks ago we looked at the first Red
Letters in the book of John and these are the last Red Letters words in
Matthew, Mark and Luke.
It is out of this
particular conversation that Matthew gleaned what we call the great commission,
now I know that for those of you in sales your idea of a great commission is
25% of the gross and while that is “a” great commission it is not “the” Great
Commission. 
This is in reality
the mission statement of the early church. 
You know what a mission statement is right?  It is when you have boiled the purpose of
your life or the life of your church down to a concise statement of
purpose.  At Cornerstone we can tell you
that Cornerstone
Wesleyan Church
exist to reach pre-Christians through dynamic worship and relevant preaching,
bringing them to a life expanding relationship with Jesus Christ and guiding
them into a practical holiness as evidenced through the fruit of the Spirit.  That is our mission statement, the short
version is Cornerstone Wesleyan Church exist to reach
pre-Christians, the even shorter version is We are here to help de-populate hell.  The
mission statement of Christianity is this “Christianity
exists to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them and teaching them to
obey everything that Jesus commanded.”
That my friends is
why Christians are left in the world, to fulfil that mission statement.  You see if Cornerstone Wesleyan
Church does not reach
pre-Christians through dynamic worship and relevant preaching, bringing them to
a life expanding relationship with Jesus Christ and guiding them into a
practical holiness as evidenced through the fruit of the Spirit, then we have
failed to do what we set out to do. 
Our mission
statement does not say that Cornerstone exist to provide Wesleyans with a place
to worship in Hammonds Plains, nor does it say that we exist to have this
beautiful building or that we exist to do what other churches in the area are
already doing or that we exist so that our people can have a pastor call on
them when they are feeling in need of company. 
The reason that we
are here, our passion, the all-consuming reason we exist should be to reach
pre-Christians through dynamic worship and relevant preaching, bringing them to
a life expanding relationship with Jesus Christ and guiding them into a practical
holiness as evidenced through the fruit of the Spirit.  That is why we are here and if we don’t
accomplish that, then we have blown it and might as well turn this building
into a furniture store or a car dealership.
I have said that to
say this: The greatest measure of our success is how well we fulfil our mission
statement.  And a mission statement is
really just your vision set down on paper. 
And just a word to the wise here, the vision has to be from God.  Too often churches use vision in much the
same way that a drunk uses a lamp post, more for support then for
illumination. 
A vision or mission
statement is not for the express purpose of supporting what we are doing now,
instead it is a reflection of what God wants us to be doing and sometimes there
is a difference. Our measure of success will be whether or not we are
fulfilling our mission statement. 
But it’s more than
that for you and for us because along with the mission statement that we have
for our church is Christianity’s mission statement which was laid down by our
Lord, Jesus Christ in His last public address to his followers: “Christianity exists to make disciples of all nations,
baptizing them and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded.” 
If we are not doing
that then we have failed, so a few questions about “it”.
1)  What Is It?   There has to be a reason why the church
is here and why the Lord leaves us in the world after we get saved.  I mean let’s think about it, the world is
cold and uncaring, full of pain and grief and heaven has none of that.  The old song is right when it say “Heaven is
a wonderful place, full of glory and grace.” 
And so isn’t that where we really ought to be?  But that isn’t where we are. 
So, why are we here and not
there?  Well, Jesus offered a couple of
suggestions in his teachings when he told the disciples in Matthew 5:13  “You are the salt of the earth.” He added to that in the next verse when He said Matthew 5:14  “You are the light of the world.”  And so we are told that we are to be an
influence in the world, both preserving it and flavouring it as salt and
lighting the way brightening it as light. 
But there has to be more to it than that. In John
20:21
Jesus, tells His disciples why
they are being sent out John 20:21 “As the
Father has sent me, so I am sending you.”
 So we are being sent by Christ in the same way
that Christ was sent by the Father, and why was that, To keep people out of
hell, right?  John
3:16
“For God loved the world so much that
he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not
perish but have eternal life.
Winning the lost is
the bottom line that’s why we are here, that ought to be the mission statement
of every Christian and every Christian Church, to reach the lost.  The problem though is that the main focus of
the church and of Christians is not the lost, it’s the found.
You say that’s not
true preacher, oh no?   When churches are
willing to sacrifice their children in order to hold on to their traditions and
preferences what makes you think they would do more for strangers?
Open the cheque book
of most evangelical churches and see where the money is spent.  Open the calendar of most Wesleyan Churches
and see where the time is spent. Is the majority spent on reaching the lost or
on making the found more comfortable?  Do
churches expect their pastors to spend the majority of their time and effort on
the sinners or on the saints?  It’s easy
to say we have a commitment to winning the lost but our beliefs are confirmed
by our actions not by our words.  In
other words my friends, talk is cheap.
Sometimes I get the
impressions that most Wesleyan’s don’t really believe the Bible.  I mean we are supposed to, the discipline
tells us that we believe the Bible, our preachers tell us we believe the Bible
from the pulpit, and when we compare ourselves to the liberal churches we tell
other people that we believe the Bible, but personally I think that we are
lying.
Has anybody seen the
movie “Schindler’s List”?  The plot is
about a German industrialist during the Second World War who saved a pile of
Jews from the concentration camps and certain death.  Do you know why he did that?  Well he was convinced that if he didn’t save
them then they were destined for the gas chambers.  His mission was to save Jews from a certain
death.
30 or so years ago Air
Florida flight 90 flew into a bridge and crashed into the Potomac River.  In response a man named Arland Williams
jumped into the February chilled waters and saved five people from drowning.  Do you know why he did that?  Well, he was convinced that if he didn’t save
them then there were destined to drown. 
His mission was to save people from drowning.
Are we convinced that
people who don’t know Jesus are lost?
It was Charles Spurgeon who
wrote:  “If sinners
be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our dead bodies. And if they
perish, let them perish with our arms wrapped about their knees, imploring them
to stay. If Hell must be filled, let it be filled in the teeth of our
exertions, and let not one go unwarned and unprayed for.”
Sounds like Spurgeon was committed to keeping
people out of hell.   
2000 years ago Jesus
Christ came to this earth, lived 33 years, took the sins of the world upon
himself and died on a cross.  Do you know
why he did that?  Well he was convinced
that if he didn’t save the world then they were destined for hell fire.  His mission was to save the world
Today most
Christians are concerned with themselves and most churches are concerned with
keeping Christians happy.  And do you
know why?  Because they are not convinced
that the people of the world are destined for hell.  You say ”That’s pretty harsh isn’t it
preacher?” 
No if I wanted to be
pretty harsh then I would say that Christians are convinced that those people
are going to hell and that they just don’t care and that would make them
monsters.
2) Where Does “It”
Happen? 
Acts
1:8
But you will receive power when the Holy
Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me
everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the
earth.”
Basically that means “here
there and everywhere.  Too often we
qualify the word missions by adding either foreign or home to the beginning of
it.  But the church only has one mission
and that is to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them and teaching them
to obey everything that Christ commanded.
We have an
obligation to reach people where ever there are people. Jerusalem was where theywere
at, that’s Hammonds Plains, the HRM,  in
all Judea meant in their entire country, Samaria was the place next to Judea
where the people were a bit different but a bit the same, maybe that is another
province or across the line in Maine and of course to the ends of the earth
covers everyone else.  That means that we
have an obligation to reach our next door neighbour, to reach the guy across
the street, to reach the lady on the other side of town, those in Ontario and
Michigan as well as those in Ghana and Sierra Leone.
And it needs to be
intentional.  It won’t just happen.  If you don’t plan a way for it to happen then
don’t count on it happening.
At Cornerstone
reaching the lost is a priority, not just in Hammonds Plains which is our Jerusalem, but also in our Judea, our Samaria and to the very ends of the
earth. 
One thing that we
did when Cornerstone was in the planning stages was to list our core
values.  Those are the principles that
our church was founded on, there are seven and we live and die by those seven
core values, they are non-negotiable and they are what Cornerstone Wesleyan Church
is all about, if you like our core values you’ll like us, if you don’t like our
core values then perhaps you’d feel more comfortable in another church.  Three of the seven core values are
1)  Cornerstone Wesleyan
Church
is committed to the reaching of
pre-Christians through relational evangelism. 
Evangelism is and will remain a priority.
  
Every dollar spent,
every staff person hired, every program instituted will have to answer the
question how will this reach the lost?   This is our Jerusalem
3)  Cornerstone Wesleyan
Church
is committed to reaching the lost and will
make tithing our general offering to world and home missions a priority.
   We are already Supporting Kerry and Carol
Allison in the Ukraine, Carl and Mya in Haiti, Robin White in Japan as well as
supporting the work in both Suriname and Ghana.  As well as Kevin and Laura Myers with their
new church in Sidney.  That is our Samaria and the very ends
of the earth
6) Cornerstone
Wesleyan Church

is committed to planting additional churches.
  We have assisted in planting churches
here in the HRM and around the Maritimes with both people and money and some
day we are going to take an active role in starting a new church in the
Elmsdale Enfield area.   That is our Judea
The vision has to be
bigger than these four walls, it has to be bigger than Hammonds Plains and it
has to be bigger than Nova Scotia or the Canada. And it has to be bigger than
home missions or foreign missions, what it needs to be is a vision to  make disciples of
all nations, baptizing them and teaching them to obey everything that Christ
commanded.
3) Who Is
Supposed To Be Doing It?
If we
were to look at who was there on the day of the ascension we would discover the
eleven remaining apostles, but the great commission had to have been for the
entire movement at that time, it wasn’t enough for those eleven to be committed
to evangelism without the rest of the group being committed as well. 
The great commission
is meant to be a mission statement for all of Christendom.  It doesn’t matter what Christians call
themselves, whether it be Wesleyan, Nazarene, Baptist, Pentecostal or whatever.  They have a common mission and that is, that
is to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them and teaching them to obey
everything that Christ commanded.  For
Christianity to survive, Christianity has to be committed to the mission of
winning the lost.  When we stop making
disciples and baptizing people then at that point the Church will begin to die,
and will die within one generation.
But the great
commission has to go beyond simply being for all of Christianity; it needs to
be a burning passion for the Wesleyan
Church.  Without the desire to win souls to Jesus
Christ our denomination will become just another empty shell in the
ecclesiastical wastelands of our country.
But the great
commission has to go beyond simply being for all of the Wesleyan Church
it needs to be for this church right here. 
Without the desire to win souls to Jesus Christ our church will become
just a service club, we’ll be like the Lions or the Rotary Club.  Not that there’s anything wrong with the
Lions or the Rotary club it’s just that they are not the body of Christ and we
are, or at least that’s what we are supposed to be.
But the great
commission has to go beyond simply being for this Church it has to be for
you.  Without the desire to win souls
what do you become?  What does it say
about you as a person if you aren’t willing to put yourself out just a little
bit to ensure that someone that you care about doesn’t end up in hell?  You see everything boils down to our
responsibility. 
If we aren’t
committed to the mission, then our local church won’t be and if the local
churches aren’t committed to the mission than the denomination won’t be.  And if the denominations aren’t committed to
the mission than Christendom won’t be. 
Maybe we need to adopt the adage of salespeople who say “If it’s going
to be it’s up to me”
The problem is that
even though most Wesleyan Churches are sound evangelically they are sound
asleep evangelistically.  And I’m here
today to say, “That ain’t the way it’s supposed to be!”  Our main purpose for being here is very
simply to depopulate hell.  Somehow we
need to get a grasp of the reality of hell fire and realize that those who do
not know Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour are destined for a Christless
eternity and will be tormented forever. 
Do you believe that?  Do you
believe that people today, people we know and people we don’t know will suffer
for eternity because we didn’t do anything to prevent it?   There are times that I think most Christians
take Mark Twain’s position on heaven and hell
when he said, “I don’t want to express an opinion. You
see, I have friends in both places.”  but
we have to express an opinion because that is part of the deal of being a
Christian.

It would be so much easier to convince people of the value of evangelism if
the Bible said that the only way that you would get into heaven is if you
brought somebody with you, but it doesn’t. 
However listen to the words of Christ in John 14:21
Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. And
because they love me, my Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal
myself to each of them.”
You want to be loved by God and by Jesus? 
Sure you do.  Well here’s the
ticket all you have to do is to obey Christ’s commands and one of those is Matthew 28:19-20 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach
these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you.”

If that was a
command of Christ and we don’t do it then John 14:21 says that means that we
don’t love him, and only those who love Christ are loved by the Father and only
those who are loved by the Father are going to get in.
I love the story
told about when Calvin Coolidge was Vice President of the United States.  One day the Vice President was presiding over
the Senate, one Senator angrily told another to go “straight to hell.” The
offended Senator complained to Coolidge as presiding officer, and Cal looked up from the
book he had been leafing through while listening to the debate. “I’ve been
looking through the rule book,” he said. “You don’t have to go.”  Friends we need to be in the business
of telling people that we have checked the rule book and they don’t have to go.”
4) How Are We
Supposed To Be Doing It? 
The power of the Holy Spirit is the means, the
method is not defined.   Deng Xiaoping said “It
doesn’t matter if a cat is black or white as long as it catches mice.”  When we allow the Holy Spirit to take
control of our lives neat things happen. 
The Bible tells us in: Mark 16:17-18 (Jesus Said) These miraculous signs
will accompany those who believe: They will cast out demons in my name, and
they will speak in new languages. They will be able to handle snakes with
safety, and if they drink anything poisonous, it won’t hurt them. They will be
able to place their hands on the sick, and they will be healed.”
Now some people get
really caught up in those particular things, but they are simply indications of
the power of the Holy Spirit in the lives of those who minister.  It is a promise of enablement and
protection.  When Kerry and Carol minister
in Ukraine they speak in a new tongue because their mother tongue is English.  When Medical missionaries minister in a
hospital in Sierra Leone and Haiti aren’t they placing their hands on sick
people to heal them?  I don’t think that
you ever have to worry about me picking up snakes, but I was convinced that the
drinking deadly poison was a direct reference to Australian Coffee.
Sometimes we get so
caught up in how we should do it that we never do it. What should the church
look like?  What should the church sound
like?  What songs should we sing?  Should we have pews or chairs?  Let me share with you my new favourite quote Thomas Jefferson said “In
matters of style swim with the current in matters of principle stand like a
rock.”
Do you remember when
Nike used the phrase “Just Do It.”?  I
would like that to be my message to the church, “Just Do it”  Listen again to the promise of Christ in Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon
you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in
Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
There are two things
that happen when the Holy Spirit comes into our lives, two evidences of his presence.
1) We receive power 2) We will tell people about Jesus.  If our lives do not exhibit power and we are
not witnesses than it would appear to be very obvious that the Holy Spirit has
never come upon you.
As far as evangelism
on a personal level that is all of our responsibility, you can no more shirk
that than you can walk past a drowning man and not throw him a rope.  But on a broader spectrum there are those who
God has called to reach people where you can’t. 
Let’s face it, realistically we can’t all move to Cape Breton to plant a
church, you can’t move to the Ukraine to help Kerry and Carol Allison to
minister to street kids or to Haiti to help Carl and Maya in the Work there.  But that doesn’t remove the obligation that
God has placed on you to reach the lost in those places, it simply changes how
you can do that.
Instead of going to the
Ukraine, or going to Haiti or going to Japan you help Kerry and Carol, Carl and
Maya and Robin to go.  Even though you
can’t be there your prayers can be there and your money can be there.    You
may not be able to say, “Here am I send me” but you can say, “Here I am, let me
help send others.
Let’s not forget our
mission statement “Christianity exists to make
disciples of all nations, baptizing them and teaching them to obey everything
that Jesus commanded.”

No Ransom

In November of this year I will be travelling to Peru with an international relief agency on what is referred to as an “Exposure Trip”.   So this week I filled out the eight page “Travel Release” form that is required before I travel.  I have done this different times for different agencies, but this time, as I signed here and initialed there, I actually took the time to read what I was agreeing to.  Can you imagine? 
One of the paragraphs that I initialed reminded me that the organization has a policy to not pay a ransom or give in to demands if I am abducted while on my trip.   I understand that and I hope potential kidnappers do as well, because unless they want an 8 year old Smart Car and part of a house, they are out of luck.

However, I was reminded that 34 years ago I needed to be ransomed and if it hadn’t been for the sacrifice paid by the Son of God it never would have happened.  I didn’t have what it took and nobody else was willing.  But Jesus stepped into my life with grace and forgiveness and did what I couldn’t and others wouldn’t, He paid the price and set me free.     Have a great week and remember: To see what is really possible, you will have to attempt the impossible.   

It’s not Black and White

Angela and I were talking the other day and I commented on a friend we had in Australia.  According to his older sister, when Adam was a child, he thought that colour was a recent innovation.  He had assumed that in the old days, everything was black and white!  That may seem silly to us today, but to him it was a reasonable assumption. 
Think about it, all of the pictures that Adam had seen from back in the day were black and white, and the old movies and old television programs were all in black and white.  It was only when he asked his parents when colours were invented that he learned the truth.

And even though colours have always been around there are people who go through life never seeing them.  They might as well be living in a world painted in various shades of grey.  Their life is one of drudgery not one of beauty.  But that isn’t what God wants for us!  God has given us a palette full of colours, and it’s up to us as to which ones we choice to paint our lives with.  Because in how we perceive life, the difference will be how we choose to colour it. Have a great week and remember: To see what is really possible, you will have to attempt the impossible.   

What do you Want?

The Palestinian sun beat down on the two friends as they
listened to John exhort the crowds to repentance.  For the past few weeks they had followed John
everywhere he had gone, listened to his message, and watched the crowd’s
reaction. 
At first they were sure that he was the one that the
prophets had pointed to.  The one who
would deliver Israel from the hands of the Romans.  This guy even looked like a prophet, that
long wild hair, a beard that reached down to the middle of his chest and the
eyes, his eyes shone with a zealots rage.
But as he preached he said things like, “I am not the Christ”,
and  “After me will come one more
powerful than I, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and
untie.”
Who would it be? Who could be more powerful then John the Baptist?  And then today, a day that really had nothing
special about it John said, “Behold the lamb of God”.   He was the one, the one they had waited so
long for the one who was going to change the world, the messiah, the Christ,
the son of God.  They were so stunned
that they just turned and followed him, 
thinking that he didn’t look so special as a matter of fact John looked
more like a messiah should look then this man.
But they didn’t say anything they just followed wondering
what they should do next, what they should say, how they should approach
him.  And then it happened he turned
around and saw them following and asked them point blank, “what do you want?”
This is week four of our Red Letter Summer series.  For something to be marked in Red Letters
means there is a certain importance or significance attached to it.  The practice began over 500 years ago when
they started marking Holy Days on the Calendar in Red.  They were Red Letter Days.  And then, just a little over a 100 years ago
the first Red Letter New Testament and Bibles were printed with the words of
Christ printed in red.  I would suspect,
although not a hundred percent certain that the majority of bible printed today
would be Red Letter editions.
And these are the first words of Christ as recorded by John,
obviously not the first words of Christ, simply the first written down in John’s
Gospel.
  
The question is asked in John’s gospel Chapter 1 verse 38,
and was asked almost 2000 years ago by Jesus of Nazareth.  But it is a question that is timeless.  It is a question that remains, the question
of the day, the $64,000 question.  The
question that Jesus Christ still asks everyone who seeks to follows after
him.  “What do you want?”   “What are you after?”  And it is a good question. 
Jesus Christ wanted to know what these two men wanted, why
they were following him and what they were looking for.  Notice that he didn’t ask, “Who do you want”  but instead he asked “What do you want?”
Were they the legalist who wanted to indulge in
conversations about the law?  You know
the Pharisees?  They’re still around
today.  You know the ones if Christ
returned tomorrow they would proudly tell him “We didn’t let anyone call
themselves a Christian if they weren’t Wesleyans, or they smoked or drank, or
wore their hair too long or went to the movies or danced, or had any fun at
all.”
Or maybe they were just ambitious time servers, they were
after power and position and were just seeking 
to use God for their own means, and they’d follow whoever they had to
follow.
Or maybe they were fierce zealots who were looking for a
political demagogue or military commander to overthrow the pagan Romans and
restore Israel to her proper greatness.
Or perhaps they were just humble men of prayer  looking for a light to point them toward God
and the higher calling.  Or then again
maybe they were just puzzled bewildered sinners who were stumbling along
through life and were looking for a light on the road.
Whatever and whoever they were Christ recognised one thing
in them, and that was the fact they that wanted something.  And however noble or base their motives were
they were after something.
And as we come to Christ two thousand years later we have to
recognize the truth of the fact that everyone who comes to Jesus is looking for
something.  Good, bad or indifferent it
doesn’t matter the fact is that you are looking for something.
Everyone of us is striving for something as we plod through
this life, from day to day, week to week, month to month and year to year.  You are looking for the one thing that makes
you tick, the thing that shakes your tree, rattles your chain, floats your boat
or scratches you where you itch.
There are those who seek security, you know a house, a job,
a family, and when their life approaches those twilight years a pension.  And there is nothing wrong with seeking
security but it is a low goal.  A basic
goal of survival.
Others are looking toward their career, the power, promise,
position and prestige.  They pour their
heart and soul into their work.  And if
it is directed to good it can be a high aim, but often it has a price that must
be paid.  And if that price is
sacrificing family and enjoyment, and sometimes God then it becomes a distorted
aim.  And of course it is limited by the
horizon of time and health.
The thing that most everyone is seeking is peace with God,
and when we find that then he directs our aims and points us in the right
directions.
If Jesus Christ was to tap you on the shoulder this morning
and ask you “What are you after from me, what do you want?”  what would your answer be?
Perhaps it’s time that you thought about it, “what do you want?”
Matthew 16:9-10 Jesus saidDon’t you understand even yet? Don’t you remember the 5,000 I fed with
five loaves, and the baskets of leftovers you picked up? Or the 4,000 I fed
with seven loaves, and the large baskets of leftovers you picked up?”
1) Some Were Looking
for Stuff.
 I wonder how long it was
after Jesus started feeding the multitudes that some people only came for the
sandwiches?  
There are those today who have commercialised the gospel and
are trying to make a buck from it.  Now
you may think that is a new problem but one of the reasons that Martin Luther
left the Roman Catholic Church was their practise of selling indulgences,
profiting from grace.  You could pay now
and sin later. 
And Paul wrote in Philippians 1:15 It’s true that some are preaching out of jealousy and rivalry. But
others preach about Christ with pure motives.
Paul saw that there were those who preached for
themselves.  And really if we think of
those who preach for monetary gain we don’t have to look very far to find the
excesses.
The problem is that we often focus on the major excesses,
but if we ignore the Benny Hinns and Joel Osteen, we discover that some of
those very people who were hurling stones at the TV evangelists need to examine
their own lives.
Some of the TV Evangelists are earning ten time what an
average Canadian family makes and probably fourteen or fifteen times what the
majority of their supporters make.  But
if you can’t admire these men for anything else admire their ambition and
dedication to the task.  If nothing else
you have to admit they preach well.
Some of the poorest preachers in the world are preaching for
the very same reason that the Copelands and Jakes are preaching for.  And the difference between 1.6 million
dollars a year and twenty thousand dollars a year is minute if the dollars are
the reason why the person is preaching.
The bottom line is not how much you make in marketing Jesus,
it is the fact that when you preach to simply make a living, or because it’s a
job, or to drive a rolls Royce you are simply pawning the blood of Jesus Christ
to make a few bucks.  And that applies
equally to the millionaires as to the pauper who preaches because he has neither
the talent or inclination to do anything else.
And this doesn’t just apply to preachers, there are lay
people out there that are just as guilty, they see Christianity as an
investment. Years ago I had a friend in Amway and you could always tell when
the speaker at a weekend rally had been a Christian because Bruce was in church
on Sunday hoping that this was another step to success.
There are people that say “Well if I give God this amount of
money then he will double it.”  or “ If I
go to Sunday school, morning worship, and mid-week services then God will see
to it that I prosper.”
What do you want? Be honest, if it’s material blessings you
want then at least be honest enough to admit it.
But that’s not all people are looking for, Mark 3:10 He had healed many people that
day, so all the sick people eagerly pushed forward to touch him.
2) Some Were Looking
for Healing 
There’s nothing
inherently wrong with that.  The reason
that the sick people eagerly pushed forward to touch Jesus was because Jesus
was healing sick people.  You’d have to
be  fool to be sick and see people being
healed and not want to be healed as well.
But for some that’s all Jesus is.  A healer.  When they are sick, or their children or
family member is sick they remember that Jesus healed the sick and they begin
to pray and they contact Karen and ask to be put on the e-prayer chain. 
It kind of reminds me of the story of the two old guys who
were talking the day after a hurricane went through and the first one said,
“Quite the storm last night.”  To which
his friend replied, “Yep, God probably heard a lot of unfamiliar voices.”  It’s unfortunate that some people only talk
to Jesus when it’s storming in their lives.
And I believe that Jesus healed people two thousand years
ago, and I believe that he still heals people today.  But he is so much more than a healer, he
didn’t come to heal our bodies he came to heal our souls.  I sometimes wonder how God must feel when we
never have time for him until we need a favour.

Jesus came to bridge the gap between us and God, to allow us to enter into a
relationship with the King of the Universe, Master of all Things, and there are
those who treat that relationship like a giant vending machine.  Put your prayers in, pull the handle and wait
for a blessing to pop out. 
You think of all the people that Jesus healed in the Gospels
and we never hear from them again, they don’t appear at the cross, or at the
resurrection.  At no time in the book of
Acts or in any of Paul’s letters is someone described as the blind man that
Jesus gave sight to or the cripple man whose legs were healed. 
Two things that we should never forget when we talk about
Jesus and the accounts of those he healed, he didn’t heal everybody, and
everybody he healed eventually died.  It
wasn’t a forever healing.  Although there
is a forever healing, and that is the healing of the soul that Jesus
offers.   
But not everyone who comes to Jesus is looking to become
wealthy and or healthy. 
 Mark 10:37 They replied, “When you sit on
your glorious throne, we want to sit in places of honor next to you, one on
your right and the other on your left.”

3) Some Were Looking for Power   Jesus had just gotten through talking
about his crucifixion and what happens? The Sons of Thunder, John and James,
want to get dibs in on the power and the influence.  Kind of like Ashleigh
Brilliant who said “All I want is a warm bed
and a kind word and unlimited power.”

Where had they been, had their minds been on vacation?  Christ has just finished saying that he would
be mocked, and scourged and spit on and killed and they say “ Yeah yeah, oh by
the way when you get your power can we be your vice-presidents?”  Come on guys give your heads a shake and see
if they rattle. 
They had come to Jesus believing he was the Messiah but not
necessarily knowing what type of Messiah. 
They obviously pictured him overthrowing the Romans and establishing an
earthly kingdom.  He was saying one thing
but they were hearing another thing.  He
must of felt like Foghorn Leghorn who said “I keep pitchin’ ‘em and you keep missin’ ‘em. Ya
gotta keep your eye on the ball.”
Today there are men and women who come to Christ because it
is the political thing to do.  And that
has nothing to do with politics and everything to do with what people think.
If the reason you come to church each Sunday is because of
what people would say if you didn’t then you are looking for the very same
thing James and John were looking for.
If you are hoping that people will say, “Oh what a good
person, they go to Cornerstone” then you are looking for power and
position.  In one community I pastored
there was a politically correct church, if you wanted to be seen by those who
counted then you went to that church.  And
the only thing some of those people wanted was the political and social
benefits that could be reaped from the name of Christ.
Luke
10:25
One day an
expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus by asking him this question: “Teacher,
what should I do to inherit eternal life?”
4) Some Were Looking
for Eternal Life. 
And that’s valid, that’s part of what our salvation
offers.  However there are a lot of
people out there who are taking Jesus Christ as nothing more or less than a
fire escape from hell.  They don’t want
to suffer the torment of hell so they say the magic words and Allah kazzam they
are on their way to heaven.  And all they
have to do is come and sit in church every Sunday to keep the promise current.
Hold unto your seats, Jesus didn’t come just to save you
from hell.  And Jesus doesn’t want you to
accept him just to escape hell.  The
sincerity of the person who comes to Christ simply to get into heaven can only
be compared to the child who performs for his parents so he can receive a candy
or some other treat.
Do you remember in the Eighties when Oral Roberts told the
world that he had a vision where God told him if he couldn’t raise eight
million dollars for medical missions that he was going to die?  Jimmy Swaggert responded to that by saying “God is not a
terrorist.”
And yet there are many people who come to Christ as hostages
under the threat of hell.  There is no
joy in their Christian life, because even though they have been given the
promise of eternal life through repentance and forgiveness they live under the
constant fear of losing that which God has given them.  And no wonder some Christians are so
miserable, they think they are paying a ransom of their fun so they can get
into heaven.
If your primary reason for coming to Jesus Christ is to
achieve eternal life then your aim is like the person who only wishes to be
secure in this life, not wrong but it is low and it is base.
There is more to Christianity then a hell to be shunned and
a heaven to be gained.  There is a life
to be lived, a God to be worshiped, a Christ to be served, a joy to be
expressed and a world to be changed.
What do you want ? 
Eternal life?  Ok that’s fair, but
there is so much more than that.
John
21:15
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.
5) Some Were Looking
to Love Jesus.  
I don’t know why Peter followed Jesus the first time, I
really don’t.  Perhaps he saw an
opportunity to pick up a few extra coins, maybe he knew that Jesus could heal
his Mother-in-law  or perhaps he saw the
opportunity to become more than a fisherman. 
Or maybe he was looking for eternal life.
I don’t know why Peter followed Jesus the first time, but
the second time around Jesus made sure that his motives were pure.
If you are in this for the money then there is a good chance
that you will die broke, if it’s a healing you are looking for it will only be
temporary.  If you’re here for the power
and position don’t be surprised if you are humbled.  And if eternal life is your only goal, well
fear can only keep you faithful for so long.
When it comes right down to brass tacks, right down to where
the rubber meets the road the only answer to the question “what do you want?”  can only be “Jesus I want to love you and
serve you.”  no more, no less.
It was John F. Kennedy who said “Ask
not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.”  Perhaps it wouldn’t be a
stretch to rephrase that and say “Ask not what God can do for you, ask what you
can do for your God.”
And it’s when we come seeking to enter into that
relationship with Jesus, when we offer him our love that so often those other
things happen.  I truly believe that
there is prosperity in the gospels.  Not
a magic genie in the bottle type prosperity but when grace gets a hold of us it
makes us better people, better parents and better employees and those things
pay dividends. 
The person who comes to Christ and gets their addictions
under control, the liar and thief who come to Christ and become honest people, people
who can be trusted.  The employee who
becomes a person of integrity and provides his employer with all that he is
paid for and more.    And there are tangible benefits to being a
changed person. 
And Jesus does offer healing in this life and Jesus does
offer healing in the next life and that is the promise of eternal life.
And here is the promise, 1 John 4:9-10 God showed how much he loved us by
sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life
through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and
sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.
And so today, as we come to the communion table, Jesus is
still asking “What do you want?”     

No Excuse.

I received a certificate in the mail the other day from Canada Blood Services recognizing the fact that I have made fifty donations.  And it made me feel a little bad.  I’ve been donating blood since high school but I’ve only made fifty donations?  It probably should be a hundred and fifty donations. I don’t intentionally miss the clinics, but it doesn’t seem to be a priority. It wasn’t always that way, I remember when I first became a donor, I counted the days until I could give blood. And talk about being vocal! I wanted everyone to know that I was a blood donor, and I tried my darndest to convince other people that they should be blood donors too. I knew all the statistics and could answer all the objections. But gradually my priorities changed. I still believed that donating blood was important but I didn’t talk about it as much as I used to.
It wasn’t long after I stopped talking about it that I found getting out to the clinic sometimes conflicted with other things I had planned.  Pretty soon it wasn’t that giving blood became a lower priority it just wasn’t a priority at all.

I wonder what other commitments in our lives suffer the same fate?  Have a great week and remember: To see what is really possible, you will have to attempt the impossible.