The cost of a Beautiful Day.


I was on my way back from my trip to Peru last week and we had a three hour layover in Dallas on November 22, 50 years since the assassination of John Kennedy.  And it was cold.  Not cool….. cold.  When we flew in it was 3 degrees Celsius and raining, it was warmer in Halifax!  But the weather got me pondering.  If it had of been 3 degrees and raining 50 years ago, JFK and Jackie would not have been sitting up high in an open convertible and perhaps this year he would have been celebrating his 94th birthday.
But because it was a beautiful day, life changed for JFK, his widow, Lee Harvey Oswald and Jack Ruby.    
And once again I realized how fragile and fleeting life can be.  God’s word says, “ life is like the morning fog, it’s here a little while and then it’s gone.” 
As fleeting as life might be, it is the life that was given to each of us to make a difference in our world.  So, the question is: do you live your life in such a way that when it’s gone you’ll have no regrets?  There are no mulligans in life, and I don’t want my last thoughts to be “If only. . .”  Have a great week and remember: To see what is really possible, you will have to attempt the impossible.  

Walking Dead, Finale

Walking Dead, Finale
Well here we are at the end of our series “The
Walking Dead”.  It
was been a seven week journey though Biblical accounts of people who were given
their lives back.  Sometimes it was
simply metaphorically, in the case of the 10 lepers that we looked at on
Thanksgiving Sunday.  These people weren’t literally
dead, but they might as well have been. When they were diagnosed with leprosy
they were declared to be dead, they had to leave their homes and their
communities.  Their spouses were
permitted to remarry and their estates were divided amongst their heirs.  And so when Jesus spoke, and they were healed
they were literally given their lives back. 
It was like they had been dead, and then they were alive.
But in the rest of the cases we looked at we
see those who were literally dead.  They
had no life in them, the word that was used in the original accounts was
Nekros, which was the Greek word for dead, and there was no other meaning.
The title for our series comes from the AMC
television series by the same title and the show focuses on a Deputy Sheriff by
the name of Rick Grimes who is wounded in a shoot-out and wakes up in a
deserted hospital.  When he ventures
outside he discovers himself in a post-apocalyptic world that is now inhabited
with zombie or walkers as they are called in the series.  So for three seasons, now into their fourth
Grimes and a group of survivors have been fighting the walkers and trying to
find the cause of the plague.
We have mentioned several times for those who
have been concerned that we might be straying over to the dark side with all this
talk of Zombies, these aren’t the zombies of voodoo and witchcraft, more
frighteningly is that this was caused by something of this world.  And in a world with biological warfare and
the jury still out on GMO’s who knows this might be a reality someday.
My personal view is that this is all a
nightmare that Rick is having in the hospital, that when he wakes up the world
will be normal again and the series will be over.
So with that said, we need to introduce this
morning’s message with a spoiler that happened in the last
episode of the second season.  So if you’ve
been working your way through the series and haven’t
gotten to the last episode of the second series this would be a good time to
put your fingers in your ears and sing, La, la, la, la, la. 
Because in that episode Rick
finally tells the group what he learned at the CDC, the Centre for Disease Control
in Atlanta.  He says “We’re all infected. At the C.D.C., Jenner told
me. Whatever it is, we all carry it.” 
Up until that time the survivors felt like
they were different than the walkers, that they were safe, but now they realize
that there isn’t much that separates them from those they
fear.
Sometimes as
Christ Followers we separate ourselves from other’s
thinking that what makes us different is something within us.  There are times that we are guilty of being
like the story Jesus told in Luke
18:11
The Pharisee stood by
himself and prayed this prayer: ‘I thank you, God, that I am not a sinner like
everyone else. For I don’t cheat, I don’t sin, and I don’t
commit adultery. I’m certainly not like that tax collector!  It’s so
easy to get into that “I’m so glad I’m not like those people” mode.
But you see, a dog isn’t a dog because he barks, he barks because he’s a
dog.  And people aren’t
sinners because they sin, they sin because they are sinners.  We are told in Isaiah 64:6 We
are all infected and impure with sin.   You see whatever it is, we all carry it.  The theologians call it inherent depravity or
original sin, but the truth is; we all carry the sin gene.
So let’s go back to the scripture that was read
earlier, specifically the fifth verse of Ephesians 2 where we read, Ephesians 2:5 Even though we were dead because of our sins,
he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s
grace that you have been saved!)
What does it mean to be dead?  What is this death that we talk about?   Well it was Alice Thomas Ellis who wrote, “Death is the last enemy: once we’ve
got past that I think everything will be alright.”   
It was Timothy Leary who wrote “How you die is the most important thing you ever do. It’s the exit,
the final scene of the glorious epic of your life. It’s the third act and, you
know, everything builds up to the third act.” And Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross who observed  “Dying is
something we human beings do continuously, not just at the end of our physical
lives on this earth.”
 And I
think we all share the sentiments of the tombstone that Read “I
expected this but not yet”.
The words, death, dead or dying are mention
over 1300 times in the Bible.  The past
six weeks we have looked at what begin dead means and more importantly what not
being dead means.  The question I need to
ask today is this, Are you dead?
You say, “don’t be foolish preacher, I ain’t
dead.”  For the most part we understand
that.  We know that you aren’t physically
dead.  But are you spiritually dead?  Are you walking this old earth alive in the
body but dead in the spirit?  Are you one
of the Walking Dead?
In each of the cases that we looked at during
our series, there were those who were dead. 
Lazarus was dead, the widows son was dean, Eutychus was dead and Jarius’
daughter was dead.
And so these provides for us an illustrative
base from which to proceed with the analysis of the aforementioned inquiry into
the metaphysical condition of your soul. 
That is to say those who were dead will be our example.  Are you dead? 
Well the only way you can know for sure that you are not dead is to know
that you are alive.
Now understand we aren’t talking about the
undead here, we are talking about the dead dead.   The undead don’t exist, there are no Zombies
or Walkers.  Regardless of what you look
like before your first cup of coffee. 
Dead is dead and alive is alive. 
1) The Dead Have No Appetite. When a man is dead, food no longer holds any
interest for him.  You can have filet
mignon wrapped in bacon, stuffed mushroom caps, baked potatoes, sour cream and
chives and fresh strawberries and cream and he won’t care.  Dead people don’t have Big Mac attacks.  They don’t crave for food.  Pizza, ice cream, burgers, fries, not even
Chinese food interests the dead man. 
While a man is alive he gets hungry on a regular basis, some of us more
regular then others.  The dead man though
is unmoved by food. 
One of the symptoms of the spiritual dead man
is a lack of appetite for God.  Now lack
of appetite for God does not necessarily mean lack of appetite for church.  The problem here is that many people get God
and church confused.  You can have an
appetite for church without having an appetite for God. 
Your church appetite may be because you like
the music, or perhaps the preaching, or because it is a social occasion, maybe
it adds to your prestige.  There can be
many reasons why you like church and God may not come into the picture at
all.  No hunger for God indicates a lack
of spiritual appetite, which is usually indicative of spiritual deadness.
One of the easiest ways to diagnose your
appetite is by watching what you eat.  I
love burgers!  When we eat out the first
thing I look for on the menu is there burgers. 
I have often regreted not ordering the burger but seldom have I
regretted ordering the burger.  This
gourmet burger craze is heaven for me.  I
could eat burgers seven nights a week.  I
haven’t but probably could have burgers for breakfast.  I have an appetite for pizza, I should have
that type of appetite for fruit and vegetables, and even though I like a good
crisp slightly tart apple I prefer burgers. 
Through the years Angela love chocolate, dark
chocolate, light chocolate, milk chocolate any type of chocolate.  When our kids were home we knew what their
favorite foods were, Stephen was really into very expensive seafood, lobster
and scallops and the like, he never actually bought them but he certainly
enjoyed eating them.  When Deborah was in
high school she developed a real love for soup.    It’s very easy to tell what we our
appetites are if you know us. 
It’s the same in the intellectual &
spiritual level as well, what are you feeding on?  Do you have a desire to feed on the things of
God?  Where do you feed your soul?  Do you feed your appetite in front of the
idiot box or reading God’s word?  Now I’m
not advocating throwing your television out but it cannot supersede the time
you spend with God.  When you read your bible
you are feeding on the things of God, after all he did call it the bread of
life.
Some people can’t figure out why they don’t
grow spiritually, there’s a good chance that it’s because they don’t feed on
the word of God.  Back when computers
were still in their infancy there was a term that said, “Garbage in, Garbage
out.”  And that applies to our spiritual
lives as well.
If you are only being fed by Ellen,  CSI and Duck Dynasty you probably aren’t
getting the spiritual nutrition that you need, even if the Robertsons pray at
the end of every episode.  If your view
of the world is shaped entirely by Fox News, Time Magazine and CNN you probably
aren’t seeing the world with God’s eyes. 
Do realize that during the year we have a
half a dozen Life Groups happening through the week at Cornerstone?  Catering to virtually every group in the
church, they are an opportunity to feed on the things of God.  But just as other people can’t physically eat
for you they can’t spiritually eat for you either.
Do you have an appetite for the word of God?  Do you seek it out or do you find it
boring?  Do you feed on what God says or
do you have no appetite for the things of God? 
No appetite means no life and that means that you are dead.
And even though you might fake your appetite,
God knows what it really is.  I’ve
obtained a reputation through the years as being a real coffee hound, someone
who drinks a pile of coffee, (can you pile coffee).  But I don’t really, I usually drink two cups
of coffee in the run of an average day, don’t drink any coffee at home and yet
people perceive me to be big coffee drinker. 
Sometimes we can give the impression that we have an appetite for the
things of God but it’s just an illusion.
2) The Dead Have No Activity.  A
strange thing about dead people is that they are usually very still.  No matter that they had been quite active
previously, when they die they have to stop, I mean they have no choice.  That’s going to be the hardest thing for me
when I die, it will take me three days just to get caught up with the work I
have to do.
Lazarus, Eutychus, the widows son and Jarius’
daughter had all been normal active people, but when they died they became
motionless.  They were without
activity.  The spiritually dead person is
usually without activity.  Somebody else
can lead or host a life group, work with the teens, help with the children’s
ministry, work on the social committee, serve on the board.
Now it’s not that
they are totally without activity, it’s just that they are just without kingdom
activity.  They find time for other
activities, duties and functions but they never have time to work in the
church, strange thing that.  There’s room
in their lives for the Lions Club or school activities or sports activities,
but if you ask them to commit time to ministry, they will tell you “Well Pastor,
family comes first.”  Well actually if
the truth was known family probably comes twelfth after work, play, hobbies,
school, sports, television, friends, yard work, the cottage, fishing, crafts
and defleaing the dog.  But God’s work
definitely comes after family, regardless of what rank family actually is.
3) The Dead Have No Direction.  Now that is really redundant because lack of motion translates so often into lack
of direction.  Those who were dead didn’t
have to know what direction to go in cause they weren’t moving, they was quite
content to head in whatever direction they’d been laid in.
Sometimes though
we are moving but we’re not sure what direction we are supposed to be
going.  It’s like we’re all guys who don’t
want to admit that we don’t know the way and we certainly aren’t going to ask
for directions.  But guess what?  We got to.   
Many people sense
a lack of spiritual direction in their life but it’s cause they ain’t asked the
way.  If you want to know where God wants
you to you gotta ask.  And when you talk
to God that’s called prayer.  A sign of
spiritual deadness is a lack of spiritual growth or spiritual direction. 
God does not
direct the dead.  Doesn’t have to cause
they’re not going anywhere. 
4) The Dead Have No Love at one time those who were dead had probably
loved all kinds of people, their friends and their family.  People that they went to the synagogue with.
But when they died
their love died with them.  Dead people
can’t express their love and neither do dead churches.  The spiritual appetite, spiritual activity
and spiritual direction, which we have seen is indicative of life, must
ultimately produce Love.  A love that
touches people and communities for the lord Jesus Christ. 
How is your love
quotient?  How do you exhibit your love
to the people who surround you?  And not
only do we have to love people, but we need to tell people that we love them.  We need to express our love now because there
will come a time that we are unable to express it. 
In
the Book of the Revelation, which is the last book of the Bible Jesus spoke to
the Church in Ephesus, which is the same church that the scripture that was
read earlier was written to.  And He
commended them for all they did and then he said this Revelation 2:4 “But I have this
complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first!”
That’s not
necessarily something I would want said about me or about this church.  I truly believe that if we were to try and
find a secret weapon for reaching people it would be love.  Bill Hybels,
the pastor of Willow Creek Community Church just outside of Chicago makes this
statement.  “If
you create a loving community, first time seekers will sniff it and say “I want
in.”  Crusty old veteran believers whose
hearts have shut down will warm up again. 
Arrogant people will have their pride melted.”  That’s my desire for Cornerstone.
How do you measure
up?  Are you dead or alive?  If there’s no appetite, activity, direction,
or love then it’s probably time to take a spiritual pulse, and I’d bet dollars
to donuts that you won’t find a pulse at all.
You
have expired, deceased, passed away, you’re no longer with us, you’ve kicked
the bucket, you’re done dead.  You may
not think so, but like Christ said in Revelation 3:1 “I know all the
things you do, and that you have a reputation for being alive—but you are dead.”
Well then if you’re
dead then what do you need, well there are some who say all that people need is
a good example, and there are
those who do their very best to provide that good example for society. But  let’s face it have you ever tried to be a
good example to a dead person?  It is
really quite hopeless.
Oh no someone says, what they really needs is
encouragement, they need to know that the possibilities are endless.  Now I think that encouragement is wonderful,
enthusiasm is contagious.  But you can
never encourage a dead man to be anymore then dead. 
Others would tell us that the most important thing is a
person’s environment, that if we can get them out of their negative environment
that everything will be all right.  But
face it even if a dead man’s not in the funeral parlor he’s still just as dead.
 
And education isn’t the answer either.  As important as
education is, you can’t educate the dead, although some of my high school
teachers certainly tried.  But face it if
a person is dead then their most pressing need is life.  Very simple, when you are dead what you need
more than anything is to be alive.  The
word life or live is mention 1458 times in the bible, that’s almost one hundred
more incidence then death.
You
say fair enough preacher I need life where do I get it from.  After Lazarus died his sister asked Jesus the
same question and here is his reply, John 11:25 Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone
who believes in me will live, even after dying.
And he told the disciples in  in John 14:6 Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No
one can come to the Father except through me.
                                                             
Life
can only be given by the life giver and that is Christ.  He gives life, not in teaspoons but in
buckets, in 100-gallon drums.  John 10:10 The thief’s
purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and
satisfying life.  
Let’s go back the scripture
we started with Ephesians 2:4-5 But God is so rich in mercy,
and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he
gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace
that you have been saved!) 
So did you catch that?  Because Jesus didn’t stay dead, we don’t have
to stay dead.  But it’s not because of
how good you are, it’s not because of what you do, it’s all because of what
Jesus did and what Jesus offers.  That is
what grace is all about, remember, getting what we don’t deserve. 
Next
Sunday we are planning a believer’s baptism in both services, and that is a
fitting way to end this series on the dead being given new life, listen to what
Paul writes to the believers in the city of Rome.  Romans 6:3-4 Or have you
forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him
in his death? For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as
Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we
also may live new lives.
Do you see the symbolism?  We died to our old lives and were buried with
Christ by baptism.  And then just as
Jesus was raised from the dead we are raised in baptism.  I truly believe that Baptism is the first
step of obedience for a Christ follower and if you have taken the challenge of
following Christ but have resisted his command to be baptised I would challenge
you as to why.  What has stood in your
way of obeying that command?  If you think
believer’s baptism isn’t necessary then you need to go back and reread the New
Testament and see what Paul said about baptism, what John said about baptism,
what Peter said about baptism and what Jesus said about baptism. 

Defining Moments



Defining  moments.  Do you  ever think about the defining moments in your life? You know, the big things that make you stop and think about life. A couple of the defining moments for our generation, celebrated (if you can use that word) major anniversaries this past week. The assassination of John F. Kennedy happened fifty years ago on Friday. For many people inside and outside of the U.S. this was definitely a defining moment in their life. They can tell you where they were and what they were doing when it happened.
For example, I was three and I was playing with my building blocks.  I remember thinking, “This can’t be happening.” Just kidding.

I have no memory of that event whatsoever. On the other hand, I do remember where I was and what I was doing on November 18th, 1978, and I remember how I felt when I heard the news about the Jonestown tragedy. At 18 years old, I couldn’t comprehend what would compel 913 people to commit suicide.  At 53 I’m none the wiser, at least in regard to that incident.

So here’s the question. Are we as committed to giving Jesus Christ our lives to live as they were in giving Jim Jones their lives to die?

Have a great week and remember: To see what is really possible, you will have to attempt the impossible.

Preached by Pastor Jason Vienneau

So here we are week 6 of our Walking Dead series, we’ve had an opportunity to look into many saved lives over the past 5 weeks. This week we are looking into of the only three timesJesus himself raise someone from the dead.
To give us some context here we find Jesus at one of the highest and lowest times in his ministry. It was a high time because he has the twelve with him and they are strong and growing inunderstanding and knowledge of him, and he is healing and teaching everywhere he goes. That reason, is a good and bad this because the low point is that he is becoming known by the Sanhedrin who will ultimately play their part in killing him.
Mark 5 opens with Jesus delivering a man possessed by demons on the Gentile side of the Sea of Galilee. Jesus climbs into a boat and crosses to the other side. And this is where we pick up our story today.
21 Jesus got into the boat again and went back to the other side of the lake, where a large crowd gathered around him on the shore.22 Then a leader of the local synagogue, whose name wasJairus, arrived. When he saw Jesus, he fell at his feet,23pleading fervently with him. “My little daughter is dying,” he said. “Please come and lay your hands on her; heal her so she can live.”
Picture a large crowd all waiting to see, to touch, to hear Jesus and one man pushes his way to the front and falls down at the feet of Jesus.  The scriptures tell us that his name is Jairus he is the leader of the local Synagogue. Why is this Significant?Jairus would have been a man of considerable wealth and social standing in the Jewish culture, not to mention he belonged to the same group of people who would eventually accuse and help sentence Jesus to a roman death. For him to ask for the help of this ‘teacher’ would not have been a decision he would have arrived at easily. But when he did I’m curtain because of his standing and position he would have prepared how he was going to talk to and ask Jesus for his help. But with Jarius as with each of us in our time of need, our practice our formalities go out the window. The desperation of Jairus pours out of him when he comes face to face with Jesus. This man of great formality and ritual falls on his knees and begins to beg Jesus. He tells Jesus that his daughter is dying and she needs him to touch her and heal her.
Jesus agrees to go with him and where Jesus went the crowd was sure to follow. On the way to Jairus’ house something happens.Scholars call this next section of text the interruption. You almost have to expect that tis crowd isn’t going to just let Jesus walk away without speaking to them or healing the various others that would have been there needing the help of Jesus.Jairus and his daughter are not the only people in need. In that crowd was a woman suffering.
25 A woman in the crowd had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding.26 She had suffered a great deal from many doctors, and over the years she had spent everything she had to pay them, but she had gotten no better. In fact, she had gotten worse.27 She had heard about Jesus, so she came up behind him through the crowd and touched his robe.28 For she thought to herself, “If I can just touch his robe, I will be healed.”
This woman is desperate, here we have Jairus who insists on Jesus coming to his home to heal his daughter and this woman who seemingly doesn’t want to inconvenience Jesus, she simply wants to touch his robe. What an incredible amount of Faith; She is saying ‘ Jesus I believe that you are so powerful that even though doctors and priests can’t fix me and my family has deserted me all I want is to touch the clothes on your back to be healed’.  
This woman had only heard of Jesus, she hasn’t met him all she has is roomers of this teacher from Nazareth healing people. So she pushes through the crowd to reach Jesus and she stretches out her arm to touch him.
29 Immediately the bleeding stopped, and she could feel in her body that she had been healed of her terrible condition.
She was healed. For 12 years she had suffered, for 12 years she was a burden an outcast. And with one touch she is healed. Joy fills her but only for a moment and it is replaced with fear. She hears Jesus stop and address the crowd.
30 Jesus realized at once that healing power had gone out from him, so he turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my robe?”  31 His disciples said to him, “Look at this crowd pressing around you. How can you ask, ‘Who touched me?'”
Who touched me? You can almost picture the disciples looking at each other saying. Seriously, we are in a crowd people are pressing in on every side.
This woman was considered unclean because of her illness.Levitical law stated when a woman was bleeding in the manner in which she was for the past 12 years she was Unclean. And touching someone else would make them unclean as well. It was viewed at that time that until you were cleansed you could not be used by God. She made Jesus unclean.
32 But he kept on looking around to see who had done it.33 Then the frightened woman, trembling at the realization of what had happened to her, came and fell to her knees in front of him and told him what she had done.34 And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace. Your suffering is over.”
 35 While he was still speaking to her, messengers arrived from the home of Jairus, the leader of the synagogue. They told him, “Your daughter is dead. There’s no use troubling the Teacher now.”
Jairus day just went from bad to worst his daughter was no longer sick but she was dead. This interruption, this delay, this woman had killed his daughter.
36 But Jesus overheard* them and said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid. Just have faith.”
 37 Then Jesus stopped the crowd and wouldn’t let anyone go with him except Peter, James, and John (the brother of James).38 When they came to the home of the synagogue leader, Jesus saw much commotion and weeping and wailing.39 He went inside and asked, “Why all this commotion and weeping? The child isn’t dead; she’s only asleep.”
 40 The crowd laughed at him. But he made them all leave, and he took the girl’s father and mother and his three disciples into the room where the girl was lying.41 Holding her hand, he said to her, “Talitha koum,” which means “Little girl, get up!”42 And the girl, who was twelve years old, immediately stood up and walked around! They were overwhelmed and totally amazed.43 Jesus gave them strict orders not to tell anyone what had happened, and then he told them to give her something to eat.
So what can we learn from this story today. I believe that there are four things we can learn from this encounter with Jesus.​This is not an exhaustive list by any means but here we go. 
1.

God works in his own time. 

Often when trials or difficulties come our way we want things fixed immediately but more often than not God takes his time. I’m sure that each of us can think of a time in our lives when we wanted something so bad in our live that we couldn’t wait;An answered prayer, a healing, a voice to tell us what to do and where to go, a problem fixed or even the solution soonerrather than later. God always gives us what we need more often than not God gives it to us in a way and time that we may not have expected. God may have even met a need for you when it wasn’t convenient; you know an answer when or how you didn’t expect it. And looking back I know youwouldn’t change how God did things. We all have needs, wants, and desires. Sometimes it just good to realise that God works in his own time and that chances are we are not the only person in the crowd. Just like Jairus and his Daughter.
Jairus has a valid need but the need of the woman who was bleeding for 12 years was just as important. God is outside the scope of what we can see or begin to understand. Unfortunately saying this is easier than doing it at times. It takes faith to trust that Jesus will do what he says.
2.

Faith is required

Jesus mentions the need for faith twice in this passage, first to the Woman and second to Jairus. For the woman Christ tells her that it was her faith that healed her and for Jairus he points to that same faith as the source of healing that will come.
A lot of times we talk about how it is hard to have faith, faith in others, or faith in God.  I think that that is just the devil working in our minds to trick us into doubting what we know is certain. The reality of it is this we are creatures of faith. Everyday every action we take requires faith. I’m not getting spiritual just yet. I mean literally the everyday and the mundane of our lives takes faith. The chair you sit in today is a prime example of your faith. You sat down believing that it would support you.
How many of you here today have a license to drive… and how many of you take that liberty on a daily basis… good so you get into your car and drive on the road and do you once think about the brake pedal not working? You have faith that it will. How about all the other drivers on the road? You have faith that the laws and systems that our society has set up will be followed by everyone else on the road. Another example; How many of you have ever taken a drink from one of these? It’s an ordinary can of soda/pop. When you purchase one of these you do what any sane person does you open it… and take a drink… right? You can’t see inside this can. You don’t know where has come from, or who placed the contents in this can. But you open it and take a drink because you have faith. We are creatures of faith.
I’m not trying to scare you I’m just trying to open your eyes to the fact that your faith does not have to be difficult we were made to trust and have faith in God. Our faith is a necessary part of who we are but far too often we exclude it from our daily walk with Jesus.
3.

Death is defeated.

In this story Jesus has not yet gone through a mockery of a trial and he has not yet been killed and raised again, but he is still death’s master.
39 He went inside and asked, “Why all this commotion and weeping? The child isn’t dead; she’s only asleep.”
He is in control of life and death, to the point that for him raising someone from the dead is as easy as waking them up. He was not saying that the people outside the house were wrong, she was indeed dead. He was telling them that his power was greater than anything they could understand.
This series title The Walking Dead is merely a ploy, a gimmickto peak your interest. The harsh reality behind it is that if you do not have Jesus in your life you are the walking dead. Sure when we sin we don’t look as bad as a zombie on the outside, but on the inside we do.
Most of us know the story of the Lost Son. After he has spent all of his inheritance and he is living in poverty he realizes that the servants in his father’s house live better than his current accommodations. He returns home.
Luke 15:20-32
20 “So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him.21 His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.*’
 22 “But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet.23 And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast,24 for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began.
 25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the fields working. When he returned home, he heard music and dancing in the house,26 and he asked one of the servants what was going on.27 ‘Your brother is back,’ he was told, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf. We are celebrating because of his safe return.’
 28 “The older brother was angry and wouldn’t go in. His father came out and begged him,29 but he replied, ‘All these years I’ve slaved for you and never once refused to do a single thing you told me to. And in all that time you never gave me even one young goat for a feast with my friends.30 Yet when this son of yours comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes, you celebrate by killing the fattened calf!’
 31 “His father said to him, ‘Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours.32 We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!'”
Your Brother was dead and now he is alive.
None of us are physically dead before we meet Jesus face to face, but we are not truly alive either.
Some of you may have been having a hard time at first seeing the connection between your lives and the lives around you with this theme of the walking dead. Let me break it down a bit for you. The basic function of a walker is to kill, mame and literally devour anyone it comes in contact with, it is a selfish self-serving purpose. A person without Jesus in their lives ultimately is only looking out for themselves, and their most basic of needs. A walker cannot help its self; it can’t just one day stopbeing what it is. Someone without Jesus cannot help themselves, it’s in their nature. Paul talks about this sinful nature, we received it from Adam, and they can’t do it alone. In order for a walker to stop devouring everything in its path it must die. This is where the metaphor begins to breaks down. In order to stop this sinful pattern in our lives we must die and be reborn. A walker cannot change who it is, but God can change who we are. Jesus came for one purpose to give glory to his father by dyingon the cross.
Our souls, our insides are dead. When is something truly alive? When it is doing what it was created to do. Before we meet Jesus we are the walking dead. There is a disease in us that rots us to the soul; our sinful nature. But when Jesus comes to us touches us and says “get up”, he gives us purpose. Our lives have reason. You may not have discovered what your purpose is yet but remember it is in God’s timing not ours. We are alive because he has defeated death.
Maybe today some of us are the walking dead and others are if you’re honest with yourself, you’re just death warmed over. In other words Jesus spoke into your life but you haven’t change much.
Maybe this is where you are today. Jesus died on the cross to bring Glory to God and we get to reap the benefits of his death.
4.

You are alive

Basically- I am alive because, I’m alive in you. It’s all because of Jesus, I’m alive. Steve Fee

5

Safety Briefing


I was on my way to South Carolina the other day and I started my flight doing something I haven’t done in a long time.  I actually listened to the airline’s safety spiel. It was kind of interesting.  The first thing that captured my attention was the seat belt demonstration.  Now I don’t want to appear unkind in any way, shape or form, but let’s face it, if you don’t know how to operate a seat belt you probably shouldn’t be permitted to fly by yourself. Just sayin’
But then it got even more interesting! The flight attendant started to explain the oxygen masks and told us if they dropped and we were travelling with children that we should put ours on before attempting to help our children,  and I thought to myself,  “That will preach!” 
What she was telling us was: while there was no guarantee that your salvation would assure that your children would be saved, apparently it would make it more likely.  That transfers to church as well.  While spiritually there is no guarantee that your salvation will assure that your children will be saved, it will make their salvation more likely.  Why?  Because more is caught then taught.  And you do care about your kid’s salvation, don’t you?  Have a great week and remember: To see what is really possible, you will have to attempt the impossible.  

The Walking Dead, The Widows Son.

It is a story told only in the gospel of Luke. Jesus is
coming into the community of Nain and around him a crowd of his followers
jostled one another to get closer to their friend and teacher. And as often is
the case when a group of like-minded people gather together the sound of
laughter rose above the sound of good natured conversation. They spoke of the
miracles he had performed and of the lessons he had taught.  It was a great day to be alive and those
following Jesus were celebrating life.
Another crowd gathered together that day in the same town
at the same time. But instead of celebrating life they were mourning a death.
The death of a son, a brother a friend. A life cut short. And we don’t know if
it was cut short by an accident or an illness. But we do know that however his
life ended it ended too soon and however the young man’s life ended it was a
tragedy.  And that was not the way it was
supposed to be, children are supposed to bury parents, parents aren’t supposed
to bury children.  But it happens; as a
matter of fact the first death recorded in the bible was not that of a father
but that of a son.  It was not an older
person it was a younger person.  But that
doesn’t make it any more right. 
And so here we have a collision of two worlds.  On one hand we have a group celebrating and
on the other hand we have a group mourning. Laughter and tears. One group
looking ahead to all the future holds and the other group looking back to the
past and what it had held.
This is week five of our Walking Dead series here at
Cornerstone, a series that has taken us on a journey through the Biblical
accounts of folks who were literally given their lives back.   From the 10 Lepers in the first week, to Lazarus
who Jesus called out of the tomb after he had been dead for four days, a valley
full of dry bones that Ezekiel watched re-animate and come to life, to last
week’s story of Eutychus who was literally bored to death before being raised
from the dead. 
And too often we just take these stories in stride but
they are anything but normal.  Dead
people don’t come back to life.
The theme of course comes from a Television series of the
same name, now in its fourth season.  In
the show “The Walking Dead” are those who have been infected by some unknown post-apocalyptic
plague.  The show follows Deputy Sheriff
Rick Grimes and a small band of survivors who are trying to stay alive and
discover the cause of the plague. 
It has developed a cult following and is one of the most
popular shows on Television right now. 
But really when you get right down to it, it’s just a soap opera with
Zombies. 
But it’s not just television that has caught Zombie
fever,  it has even spread to academia,
one example is the book “Zombie Autopsies” written by Harvard psychiatrist
Steven Schlozman.  Even my wife has
caught the bug, so to speak, when she read “Pride Prejudice and Zombies” last
year and enjoyed it. 
Today we are looking at a tragic event that Jesus comes
upon on his travels.  And in this event
we see the dichotomy that often appears in times of loss. 
I see it most times that I gather in a family home to
prepare for a memorial service for a loved one, a collision of two worlds. 
Most times when I’m with a family to discuss a  memorial service to be held for a family
member you will hear the sound of sound of laughter comes from the next room
mixed with the sobs as folks talk about their father, mother, brother, sister
or friend.  A collision of two worlds, as
we celebrate the life of a loved one and mourn their death at the same time.
And on that hot Palestinian afternoon so many years ago in
the middle of the collision was Jesus. 
And we are told on that day that Jesus’ heart broke as he saw this woman
who had already lost her husband and now had lost her only son. And so he did
what he had only done twice before, he reached out his hand and spoke to the
boy and told him to arise and he did. 
And through his touch and his words Jesus defeated death.  But the defeat was only temporary because we
have to assume that the time came that the young man closed his eyes for one
last time and died, and the second time the preacher from Galilee was not there
to bring him back. 
It is interesting that in the three instances that are
recorded of Jesus restoring life he uses the same method: he spoke to the dead
person. 
In the book of Mark we read about the healing of Jairus’
daughter and the climax came in Mark 5:41-42 Holding her hand, he said to her, “Talitha koum,”
which means “Little girl, get up!” And the girl, who was twelve years old,
immediately stood up and walked around! They were overwhelmed and totally
amazed.
John records the story of Lazarus in John 11:43-44 Then Jesus
shouted, “Lazarus, come out!” And the dead man came out, his hands and feet
bound in graveclothes, his face wrapped in a headcloth. Jesus told them, “Unwrap
him and let him go!”
And here Dr. Luke tells us Luke
7:14-15
Then he walked over to the coffin
and touched it, and the bearers stopped. “Young man,” he said, “I tell you, get
up.” Then the dead boy sat up and began to talk! And Jesus gave him back to his
mother.
And Jesus doesn’t only call
dead people back to life; listen to the words of Christ to the church in Sardis
Revelation 3:1 “I
know all the things you do, and that you have a reputation for being alive—but
you are dead.”   Now listen to
what Christ tells the church in Revelation 3:2 “Wake up!”   
By the very sound of his voice Jesus is able to conquer
death, physical death and spiritual death and that remains true for each one of
us.
But back to the story, you see there are only two things
that we know for sure about this young man and those are two things that he
shares with every person who has ever lived and who will ever live.  The first thing we know is that he was born
and the second thing we know is that he died and in the book of Ecclesiastes Solomon
writes in Ecclesiastes 3:1-2 For everything there is a season, a time for every activity
under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die.
And every person in this room today has achieved the first
part of that equation, we have been born, and at some time down the road each
of us will experience the second part, we will die.
And there is absolutely nothing that we could do that
would affect us being born, every once in a while someone will be past their
due date and will say “This baby just doesn’t want to be born.”  Doesn’t matter, it’s still going to happen
eventually. 
And for the most part most of us will cling to our lives
but there is absolutely nothing we will be able to do to affect our dying.  It was David Niven who said about dying “I won’t go,
I’ll kick and scream and make a terrible fuss” 
But on July 29 1983 he still went.
I read recently the most important thing that will
determine how long we will live is our genetics so we have to be very careful
in who we choice to be our parents. You had no control over your life beginning
and you will have very little control over your life ending but you have an
amazing amount of control over what happens between those two points.  You understand that the most important thing
on our tombstones will not be the date we were born or the date that we die but
the dash that separates them because that little dash represents our entire
life.
It has been said that when we were born we cried and
everyone else was happy and we should live in such a way that when we die
everyone else cries and we are happy.  It
was John Wesley who said “The world can
say what they like about us Methodist, but they have to admit: we die well.”
Today I challenge you to live in such a way that when you
die not only will you die well but that you will cause a collision of two
worlds where people will gather to laugh and celebrate your life and at the
same time weep and mourn your death.  So
what is it that people should celebrate? 
Philippians
1:11
May you always be filled with the fruit
of your salvation—the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus
Christ—for this will bring much glory and praise to God.
First of all I think People
Should
Celebrate Your Life.  This is a matter of character.  When someone passes away one of the first
reactions people have to the news of their death is a description of their
character.  “He was a nice guy, that’s
too bad.”  Or “What a jerk, he sure won’t
be missed.”   And it’s not enough for you to be eulogized
as a person of character, people are supposed to say nice things about the
dearly departed.  How often have you been
told not to speak ill of the dead? 
I’ve performed more funerals in the past thirty years then I can count,
and I have never heard a bad word said about the guest of honour.  You’d think that I’ve only buried saints, and
I can assure you that’s not the case.  People even find nice things to say about
jerks, but when they are mouthing the words people may be nodding their heads
on the outside but they are shaking their heads on the inside.
The preacher was waxing eloquently at the funeral as we are sometimes are
wont to do. He described the dearly departed as a loving and supportive
husband, a good provider and a wonderful and caring father. Someone who was
loved and admired throughout the community. Finally the widow leaned over to
her son and said “Go up and see if that’s really your father.
Paul gives us some good advice in 2
Corinthians 6:3
We live in such a way that no one will stumble because of us, and no
one will find fault with our ministry. 

The Guptill paraphrase is: live in such a way so people won’t
have to lie at your funeral. 

This encompasses a wide range of activities, your morals, and
your ethics, how you treat your family, your friends, and your co-workers.  How do you want to be remembered when you die?
What is it that you would have them write in your obituary and carve on your
tombstone?

Hopefully you won’t be like the politician who Mark Twain had
in mind when he wrote “I did not attend his funeral, but I wrote a nice letter
saying I approved of it.”

Psalm
112:1
Praise the LORD! How joyful are those
who fear the LORD and delight in obeying his commands. . . Psalm 112:9 They
share freely and give generously to those in need. Their good deeds will be
remembered forever. They will have influence and honour.
Secondly I think People Should
Celebrate Your Legacy.   Now I know all the clichés, that there
won’t be a U-Haul following your hearse, and at the end of your life everything
you’ve spent your life collecting will belong to someone else but understand
that we are not talking here about your estate, because often that isn’t a
reason to celebrate it’s simply a reason for your family to fight. 
It was Colonel Harland Sanders who said “There’s
no reason to be the richest man in the cemetery.” What you leave in the
material sense may be celebrated while at the same time you might not be celebrated
for leaving it. 
I’m talking about the difference you make in your life. What you leave
behind is the change you’ve made in this world. 
I think that one of the saddest things that I see on a day-to-day basis
are people who are just putting in time. 
They’re just here going through the motions.  I mean they are here, they go to work every
day and raise a family but the overriding goal of each day is simply to make it
through to the next day.  They lay
absolutely nothing on the line, never take any risks, and never put anything
back into life.
I truly believe that even though we may never be another Da Vinci or
Rembrandt, may never be a Martin Luther King or Mother Theresa that we were
each put on this world to make a difference. 
We can help make an impact on our world, but only if we want to.
I remember reading, “If you want to put your life into perspective put your
finger into a bucket of water and then pull it out, that is the difference that
your being here will make.”  I am here to
say, “That is wrong, wrong, wrong!”  The
world is what it is today not because of what society has done but because of
what individual people have done.  And
every one of us has the potential to make a difference.
Hopefully on the day that people gather to say goodbye to the mortal
part of us they will talk about what we left behind in terms of making a
difference of how the world or at least our world is a better place because we
were here.
What mark will you leave behind on your community, your church, your
family?  How will you make your world a
better place?  What will be your legacy?
Theodore L.
Cuyler wrote “You may not be able to leave your children a great inheritance, but day
by day, you may be weaving coats for them which they will wear for all
eternity.”
Some people will come to your funeral because of how you lived and
others will come because of what you left but the people you want to be there
will be there for a deeper reason. 
Romans
12:10
Love each other with genuine
affection, and take delight in honouring each other.
People Should Celebrate Your Love.  John Donne wrote “No man is an
island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the
main.”  There are times when we
want to subscribe to being an island when we want to hide in a hole and never
come up but if our life is going to be all that it can be then we need to reach
out to those around us.  In each of our
lives are other people, people with whom we have to coexist and to those people
we owe a certain obligation, and that obligation is love.
Most of us have a spouse, many
of us have children at home, all of us have friends and each one of those relationships
require one essential ingredient and that is love.  Now not necessarily the same type of love,
that is impossible.  You don’t love your
children like you love your parents and you don’t love your friends like you
love your spouse.  But in our lives there
is to be reciprocity.  Just as we are to
make a difference in our world we are to make a difference in the lives of
people we share our life with. 
Do
the people in your life know that you love them?  I mean without guessing.  Is your love revealed through your
words?  Through your actions?   Ultimately it will be the greatest thing you
leave in the hearts of your family and friends. We are reminded in 1 Corinthians 13:13 Three
things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is
love.   In the end they may talk
about your faith, they may remember how positive you were in life but the thing
they will cherish more than anything will be the love you had for them. 
Don’t leave with people having
to guess if you loved them. 
And
it’s not just the love we have for our family that will be celebrated but the
love we had for our God and our church.    You understand at the funeral of a Christian
the talk shouldn’t be about their theology but about their love.  Remember the words of Jesus in John 13:35 Your love for
one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”
But if you want people to
celebrate your love when you are gone you will have to demonstrate that love
while you are here.  And so your life
should be celebrated but we all know that isn’t the entire story.
Perhaps you’ll recall the shortest verse in the bible,
which is John
11:35
Jesus wept! 
On that day, when those two worlds collided there was not
only a celebration of life, there was also a mourning.  So People
Should
Mourn Your Death.  You see the old must die and the young may
die.  We will all die; every person here
today will die, unless the Lord returns first. 
Death is the only thing humanity has in common besides birth. 
And even though we know that death is inevitable it doesn’t
make it any easier, regardless if it happens when you are 9 or 99.  Let’s go back to John 11:35
Jesus wept!  That was at the
funeral of his friend Lazarus, the very same Lazarus whom he raised from the
dead just a few moments later.  And in
the story that was read it says in Luke 7:13 When the Lord
saw her, his heart overflowed with compassion. “Don’t cry!” he said.  And then Jesus reached out and touched
the boy and raised him from the dead. 
So why do we mourn? 
If we believe in eternal life, that those who have embraced Jesus Christ
will live forever with their Creator and Saviour without pain, without sorrow,
without grief why do we cry? 
Because.  We weep for our loss, we
weep because we will miss our friend, our child, our parent our spouse.  We weep for the hole their death has left in
our lives.  And that’s all right, that’s
the way it’s supposed to be. 
So remember the way you live and love today will determine
the script on the day you die. Will people celebrate your life and mourn your
death?  Only you have the power to assure
that they do.
I know some people don’t like going to funerals and so I
leave you with the words of my favourite philosopher Yogi
Berra, “Always go to other people’s funerals, otherwise they won’t come to
yours.”  When you have a chance to
go to a friend or colleague’s funeral make every attempt to make either the
service or the visitation beforehand. 
It’s not for the dearly departed but for those they have left behind.  So that those who have lost their loved one
will be reassured that their mother, father, brother, sister, child or friend
had an impact on their world and the people they knew and interacted with.

Who’s Who?


I cringed the other day while watching the news and it was reported that the youth pastor at a nearby Baptist church had been arrested and charged for possessing and accessing child pornography.  Sin is sin but it seems like some sins are more reprehensible than others, at least in the eyes of many. 
If the charges are proved to be true, then the young man has not only damaged his career and family but has brought disrepute on his church and all churches.  And if the charges are proved to be false, well the damage has been done.   At least in one  news accounts it states,  “None of the allegations against Hudgins have been tested in court.”  But in the real world that really doesn’t matter because he has already been tried in the media.  If he is found to be not guilty there won’t be nearly as much attention coverage given and he will always be painted with that particular brush.
It’s also interesting to note that while the accused worked part time as a youth pastor he also worked full time for the National Research Council, which many media outlets either skipped or minimized that fact.  I Guess “Youth Pastor Sinning” makes a better headline than “Civil Servant Sinning.” 
Have a great week and remember: To see what is really possible, you will have to attempt the impossible.  

The Walkng Dead, Eutychus

It was a tragedy, and worse than that it was a tragedy that
could have been prevented. But really isn’t that the way of most tragedies?
So here we are, week four of our Walking Dead series, so far
we have looked at 10 lepers who were healed and given their lives back.  In many ways the lepers were the walking
dead, when they were diagnosed they were declared legally dead, their spouse
was allowed to remarry and their estate was divided amongst their heirs.  And Jesus miraculously intervened and literally
gave them their lives back.  In week two
we looked at the story of Lazarus and how he had been dead for four days when
Jesus called him out of his tomb and gave him his life back.   When he appeared in the door of the tomb
with his grave clothes hanging off him, he must have scared some of those folks
half to death.  For many he would always
be one of the walking dead, “Look there goes Lazarus, you know he was dead and
then Jesus made him alive.  That is so
wrong.” 
And then last week Pastor Ben took us on an awesome ride to
the Valley of the Dead Bones, even sounds like a great name for a horror
movie. 
If you are new to Cornerstone or visiting today you might be
wondering, what’s with this Walking Dead stuff? 
Halloween is finished.   Well, through
October and November we are looking at stories from the Bible where people have
been given their lives back.
When we are familiar with the bible it’s easy to normalize
these stories, but they aren’t normal. 
Dead men aren’t called out of their tombs; people with incurable
diseases aren’t suddenly and miraculously healed, valleys full of dry bones don’t
suddenly begin to move. 
The title of our theme comes from a Television show that set
in a post-apocalyptic world populated by Zombies or Walkers as they are called
in the show.  The hero of the show is
Deputy Sheriff Rick Grimes who joins with a small band of survivors  who are trying to stay alive while at the
same time solve the mystery of what has happened to the world as they knew it
and whether or not they will be able to reverse the Zombie Apocalypse.  In honour of the geekiness of the entire show
each week I am wearing a themed T-shirt. 
 
Lest you think that Zombies and the walking dead are
something not to be taken serious.  The
CDC, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has an entire section of
their website dedicated to Zombie Preparedness and has produced a 40 page
Graphic novel on that theme. Granted the CDC claims they aren’t actually
preparing for a Zombie Apocalypse, they are simple using the concept as a
teaching tool.  Or so they say.  
It was a tragedy, and worse than that it was a tragedy that
could have been prevented. But really isn’t that the way of most tragedies?
So let’s recap the story.  Paul is on what is often referred to as his
last missionary journey and he ends up making a brief stopover in Troas, which
if we bring up our trusty map we discover is located here in what is now called
Turkey.   After being there a week Paul
is ready to move on to Assos by land. 
But before he leaves we are told Acts 20:7 On the first day of the week,
we gathered with the local believers to share in the Lord’s Supper. Paul was
preaching to them, and since he was leaving the next day, he kept talking until
midnight.   It is interesting to note
that the church has gathered to celebrate communion, not on the Sabbath which
was Saturday or the last day of the week but instead on Sunday the first day of
the week.  The day that is referred to as
“The Lord’s Day” and is commemorated because it was the day of the
resurrection.  And because he was leaving
the next day Paul wanted to spend as much time as possible bringing the church
up to speed and teaching them all they would need to know as believers.  And so we are told that he talked until
midnight.   A couple of weeks ago I was in Moncton as part
of a task force on New Church Development and I roomed with AJ Thomas the
pastor at Deep Water Church.  And we
talked until after one in the morning. 
But the difference is that we talked and here it said that Paul
talked.  This wasn’t a discussion, Paul
was downloading as much information as possible for the believers.
And as we continue on in the
story we read Acts 20:8-9 The upstairs room where we met was lighted with many
flickering lamps. As Paul spoke on and on, a young man named Eutychus, sitting
on the windowsill, became very drowsy. Finally, he fell sound asleep and
dropped three stories to his death below.
So it’s easy to visualize
what’s happening.  It’s late, people have
worked all day and now that have come weary but eager to listen to Paul.  They meet in a room crowded with people,
probably hot and stuffy to start with, 
lit with oil lamps and not just a few, the author here, who was an eye
witness, makes sure we understand that there were many flickering lamps.  This isn’t just a detail he throws in, we are
told that the author, Luke, was a doctor and I’m sure he seeking to isolate or
at least identify some of the causes for what would happen. 
And the hero of the story
begins to nod off, but instead of slumping asleep in his chair he tips back
through an open window and falls to his death. 
Now I understand that there are those who would suggest that Eutychus
wasn’t dead that he was just knocked senseless. 
But remember that this was a doctor who witnessed what had
happened.  The word that Luke uses in the
original language is the Greek word “nekros” and it means “dead”.  That word is used 132 times in the New
Testament and each time it means “dead” not senseless, not unconscious but
dead. 
Luke seems pretty sure of
himself in this case, as opposed to a story told by the same author earlier in
the book of Acts.  There he was talking
about Paul being stoned for preaching the gospel and we are told in Acts 14:19 Then
some Jews arrived from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowds to their side.
They stoned Paul and dragged him out of town, thinking he was dead. They
thought Paul was dead they knew Eutychus was dead.  Or as that great modern day philosopher Homer
Simpson summed it up “Don’t let Krusty’s death get you down, boy. People die
all the time, just like that. Why, you could wake up dead tomorrow! Well, good
night.”
Eutychus fell asleep and woke up dead. 
It was a tragedy, and worse than that it was a tragedy that
could have been prevented. But really isn’t that the way of most tragedies?  And tragedies are something we all have in
common, the degrees of our tragedies may differ but it’s very doubtful that we
will escape this life without experiencing a loss.
Billy Joel wrote “I’ve come to realize that life is not a
musical comedy, it’s a Greek tragedy.”
And it’s tough to prepare for them, nobody in Eutychus’
family would have been expecting him to go to church and die. 
The Bible tells us in Ecclesiastes
9:12 People can never predict when hard times might come. Like fish in a net or
birds in a trap, people are caught by sudden tragedy.
So this morning I want to look
at:  How Do We React to Tragedy?  Actually my initial theme was “The Church,
boring people to death for 2000 years.”
Probably the most common
response to tragedy for most is that We Question We ask, why did this happen? Or
more often why did this happen to me? 
And that’s tough to answer.  Often
there is no answer or the answer is one we don’t want to hear and that is: Why
not you?  Is there someone who is more
deserving of the tragedy?  Perhaps it
would be more comforting for tragedy to only happen to bad people, but who gets
to determine who is bad enough to be subjected to the loss of a child or the
loss of a spouse.  There are only so many
Hitlers out there. 
Who gets to pick the person who
should get cancer or should lose their job because of a bad economy?  If not Eutychus was there someone else in the
room who was more deserving of falling to their death?  Would another family have been more deserving
to lose their son?
The answer to “Why?”  Often is no answer.  There is no reason.  It wasn’t because you were bad, it wasn’t
because you needed to be taught a lesson, it wasn’t because God knew you were
strong enough to stand it.  It happened
because you were a person. 
We could ask you to look around
and see how others have suffered more than you, but really would that do any
good?  Would that make you feel any
better?
And once we are done
questioning the next thing we tend to do is We Blame  If we can’t figure out why it happened to us
than we need to find someone to point the finger at. 
In the story that we have we find lots of opportunity to pin
the blame on, and often when we are faced with tragedy we seek the usual
suspects.
Perhaps it was Satan’s Fault  As Christ Followers this seems to be our
first stop when we play the blame game. 
We feel that we are under attack by the forces of evil.  And I would never want to minimize the power
of Satan.   We are warned in 1 Peter 5:8 Stay alert! Watch
out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion,
looking for someone to devour.
In this case you could see how Satan would benefit from what
happened.  The early church is starting
to gain traction in Asia, people are coming to know Jesus, leadership is being
developed, and the message is poised to spread into Europe.  A little distraction might be what is
needed.  So it would be easy to picture
Satan giving Eutychus a little shove backward. 
Sometimes when troubles come to
us personally or in our church we want to blame Satan for what’s
happening.  “After all” we say “Look at
Job.”  True enough, the central theme of
the book of Job seems to be what Satan did to Job.  Actually the central theme of the book of Job
is how Job stands up to those attacks. 
And remember what qualified Job for Satan’s wrath, Job 1:1 There once
was a man named Job . . .  He was
blameless—a man of complete integrity. He feared God and stayed away from evil.
Probably most of us are safe.    When we focus on Satan being the author of
our problems often it causes us to be looking in the wrong direction. 
The Devil is our enemy, but he
is a defeated enemy.  That fact is
reiterated time and time again in the New Testament.  1 John 4:4 But you belong to God, my dear
children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit
who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.   That is your promise for today:  You have already won the victory. 
Well if it isn’t Satan who caused the tragedy then Perhaps
it was God’s Fault  Ultimately God could
have prevented Eutychus’ fall and subsequent death.  He could have nudged him to wake him up, he
could have provided an angel to catch him on the way down, or he could have
just done a God thing and the kid could have fallen and not been hurt. 
And it’s easy to blame God for all the things he doesn’t do.  Why didn’t he prevent the accident? Why
didn’t he cure the cancer?  Why didn’t he
keep my spouse from cheating?  Why didn’t
he keep our child from rebelling?  And
sometime those questions are valid, but in many instances they move into the
realm of removing our free will. 
Some go further instead of blaming God for not interceding
that have been those who would say that maybe God had a direct hand in what
happened.  That maybe he gave Eutychus
the nudge that sent him hurtling to his death. 
Matthew Henry writes “Others think that God designed it for a warning to
all people to take heed of sleeping when they are hearing the word preached;
and certainly we are to make this use of it. . . Let us watch and pray, that we
enter not into this temptation, and by it into worse. Let the punishment of
Eutychus strike an awe upon us, and show us how jealous God is in the matters
of his worship; Be not deceived, God is not mocked.”  
Seriously?  A kid falls asleep in a service and God
pushes him out a window?    Not the God I serve.  Not the God who told Jeremiah in Jeremiah
29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for
good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”
Or maybe we are just stretching it to the supernatural.  It would be easy to look around for someone
with skin on them to cast the blame on. 
So Perhaps it was Paul’s Fault 
If Paul hadn’t preached so long, if Paul had of realized how
tired Eutychus really was, and why didn’t Paul warn Eutychus that he shouldn’t
be sitting in an open window.  Bad Paul.
After all, listen to what Paul himself writes in  2 Corinthians 10:10 For some say, “Paul’s
letters are demanding and forceful, but in person he is weak, and his speeches
are worthless!”  So maybe if Paul had of
been a better preacher. . .
I’ve been preaching for thirty years and have been at
Cornerstone for 19 of those years and I’ve copped the blame for all kinds of
things.  Kid’s rebel, must be the
preacher’s fault.  You aren’t getting
enough out of church, you aren’t being fed spiritually, must be the preachers
fault.  Your spouse just doesn’t’ get it,
must be the preachers fault. 
And if it’s not the preacher it must be someone else. We
don’t want to blame ourselves  or the
ones we love so we look around to see where the blame should go.  Your kid’s not doing well in school, blame
the teacher, it couldn’t possibly be that your child isn’t interested in
learning and has behavioural issues.. 
You can’t seem to catch a break at work and then you lose your job, must
be because your boss is a jerk and the other employees are out to get you.     
Every once in a while there will be story on the news of a
police chase that ended tragically, for whatever reason the police attempt to
pull over a car and the car decides they can outrun the police they miss a
turn, hit a tree or whatever and then we hear the hue and cry in the media
blaming the police.  Really?  When I’m driving and the lights and siren
come on behind me I pull over.
Maybe Paul could have been a little more engaging but I’m
sure it wasn’t his fault.  Although it
reminds me of the story of the preacher who notice a man sleeping during his
sermon and told an usher “wake that man up!” to which the usher replied “You
wake him up you put him to sleep.”
Or Perhaps it was Eutychus’ Fault What was he doing going to
sleep while Paul was preaching?  And then
what was he thinking sitting in an open window three stories up?  Why didn’t he think?  The truth is in Billy Sunday’s words “Sinners
can repent, but stupid is forever.”
Seriously, if I played out the worst case scenario of
everything I had ever done or want to do I’d never get anything done.  So maybe it wasn’t the wisest move to sit in
an open window, but hey the room was hot and he was trying to stay awake.  You at least have to give him credit for
that.
Sometimes when tragedy hits, people blame the person
involved.  We play the “If only” game or
“What were they thinking?”  Reality, they
probably weren’t.  They didn’t do it hurt
you, or ruin your life, they were probably as surprised as anyone when the
accident happened, or they got arrested, or fired or discovered they had lung
cancer. 
The truth of the matter if we are looking to cast blame
All of the Above and None of the Above  If Satan didn’t cause it he probably enjoyed
it, God could have prevented it, fallen in a wagon full of hay, could have
nudged the kid and woke him up before he fell.
Seriously Eutychus what were you thinking?  It’s an open window!  And Paul wouldn’t be the first preacher to
have put someone to sleep.  And while bad
preaching seldom kills anyone physically I would hate to think of those my
preaching has caused to reject the gospel.  
The reality is, the hour was late, people were tired,
regardless of how good Paul was when he started to preach it’s hard to maintain
people’s attention forever.  The room was
probably too warm and because of all the lamps that were lit it was probably
stuffy and the CO2 was probably a factor.
So if it’s not Questioning or Blaming what should our
response be to tragedy?  Let’s go back to
the story that we looked at a couple of weeks ago.  The story of Lazarus in John Chapter 11.  Jesus’ friend Lazarus was sick and his
sisters sent a message to Jesus letting them know about their brother. 
For all kinds of reasons that we won’t get into today by the
time Jesus got to the village Lazarus had been dead for four days. 
When Jesus greets Lazarus’
sister Mary we hear this part of the conversation:  John 11:21-22 Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if
only you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know
that God will give you whatever you ask.”
I love that statement.  But even now! 
In the face of the tragedy Martha still believed in the goodness of
God.  So it’s fine if we question, we
might not like the answers. 
And sometimes there is even
someone to blame.  But ultimately we need
to be able to say “Even now.” 
Because as Christ followers we We
Need to Learn to Trust.  And this can be
tough, to be able to say, even now, I may not understand it, I may not like it,
I might not even agree but I will believe that you can be trusted. 
Why trust God?  Listen to what we are told in 1 John 4:16 We
know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love,
and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.
We need to trust God.  Why? 
Because we need to trust his love. 
How much does he love us?  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.
Let’s go back and pick up the
story of Eutychus, remember he’s fallen asleep and fallen three stories to his
death, Acts 20:10-12 Paul went down, bent over him, and took him into his arms.
“Don’t worry,” he said, “he’s alive!” Then they all went back upstairs, shared
in the Lord’s Supper, and ate together. Paul continued talking to them until
dawn, and then he left. Meanwhile, the young man was taken home unhurt, and
everyone was greatly relieved.
And I know, you are thinking that isn’t fair that Eutychus
was raised from the dead but your loved one wasn’t.  but ultimately Eutychus died again, and that
time he stayed dead, just like the rest of us. 
And if his parents or other loved ones were there when he fell then they
would have to experience the loss of Eutychus not once but twice. 
Maybe we need to understand and embrace the words of Samuel
Johnson who wrote:
“When any calamity has been suffered, the first thing to be
remembered is how much has been escaped.”
Can you trust God today? 
Not only trusting that God will do what is good but that whatever God
does is good?  Let us pray.