Through a Glass

Look through a Glass, Less Geekly.  That was the title of an article that I read in a copy of USA Today while travelling this week.  The article was about the new frames that have been developed for Google Glass, and while I’m geeky enough to have found the content of the article cool, what I found intriguing was the title of the article.

I always marvel at culture that at least nods to Biblical references.  In this case it is a nod to 1 Corinthians 13:12 in the King James Version, check it out.

I wonder if the author of the article knew that is where the phrase came from?  And I wonder how many people actually caught the reference.  Probably not many, but again it reminds us of how deeply the Bible has influenced culture.  If you think that is just an American thing then check out the ad for MacGillivray Law here in Halifax.

Whether we are reminded to turn the other cheek, to remember the Golden Rule, or simply told that we can look through a glass less geeky, the Bible continues to pervade our everyday culture.  Now if we can figure out a way to get it to pervade our everyday lives.Have a great week and remember:  To see what is really possible you will have to attempt the impossible.

Master of the Wind

It
was a dark and stormy night.  I’ve always
wanted to start a story like that. 
The
wind howled blowing the top off the breakers before they crashed back into the
troughs below. The darkness was broken by momentary streaks of light as the
clouds raced across the face of the full moon. Could it be? Yes it was hard to
believe but there was a boat there. In the middle of this tremendous storm was
a little open boat, barely afloat. Hard to believe but there it was. And if we
were able to zoom in on that hardy little fishing boat we would discover that
it was occupied by thirteen men, twelve fighting for their lives and one sound
asleep. And you’d have to ask yourself, how in the world did experienced
fisherman who had fished this area all their lives get themselves into this mess?
Well
the story is found in Mark chapter 4. It had been a long day for Jesus and the
disciples. Christ had just finished preaching the Sermon on the Mount, had cleansed
a leper, and healed the centurion’s servant.
Peter’s mother in law had been
healed and Christ had touched and healed many others. The multitudes had
gathered around and evening was coming so he decided it was time to have a
break and so the thirteen of them got into a boat which was probably either Peter’s
or James’ and headed across the sea of Galilee. And then we read in Mark 4:36-37 So they took
Jesus in the boat and started out, leaving the crowds behind (although other
boats followed). But soon a fierce storm came up. High waves were breaking into
the boat, and it began to fill with water.
In the Sea of Galilee it could
happen just that quickly, because of the funnel shape of the valley and the
shallow depth of Galilee a relatively calm sea could be swept into a deadly
cauldron which would explain Matthew’s words “a terrible storm suddenly
struck”.   Listen to how Luke describes
the scene in Luke 8:23 As they sailed across, Jesus settled down for a nap. But soon
a fierce storm came down on the lake. The boat was filling with water, and they
were in real danger.
Sometimes
I find myself identifying more and more with the apostles. I spent three years
at sea and saw some dozy storms during that time. The smallest vessel I served
on was a a hundred and twenty foot tug? and the largest was a six hundred and
thirty foot oil tanker.
And
during that time there were two or three times that although I wouldn’t say I
was afraid I was a mite concerned.
So
there they were, thirteen men in an open boat, twelve terrified and one is
asleep. Now he’s not just resting, not just dozing, not just taking a nap, this
dude is sound asleep. Now if you’ve never tried to sleep on a boat in a storm
you don’t know what you’re missing.
You
can pick one of two position to sleep in, either your bunk will be fore and aft
that is your head will point toward the bow, that’s the pointy end. And if your
bunk is like that your entire night is spent with your head pushed up against
the wall and then your feet, you wake up six inches shorter then when you went
to bed.
The
other way you can sleep is thwart ships that is sideways and if that is the way
your bunk is situated then you spend the entire night trying not to roll out on
the deck.
Whichever way you sleep you are
like a coiled spring and you wake up in the morning with sore elbows and knees
from bracing yourself. And so that is the situation that Christ was sleeping in
compounded by the fact that it was an open boat and so Christ must have been
wet as well as uncomfortable. And so we read in Mark
4:38
Jesus was sleeping at the back of the
boat with his head on a cushion. The disciples woke him up, shouting, “Teacher,
don’t you care that we’re going to drown?”
Now
I don’t know why they woke him up. But it reminds me of a story about a fellow who
was being interviewed for a job as a truck driver and the boss asked him, “what
if you had to drive from here to Toronto, pick up a load and drive back?” “Well
that’s easy” came the reply “my brother’s a truck driver too so I’d take him,
one of us could drive and the other one could sleep.” “Ok, then” said the boss
“what would happen if you were coming down a long steep grade in your truck,
and your brakes suddenly failed?” “Well I’d wake up my brother” “why in the
world would you wake up your brother?” “Because he’s never seen a real good
accident before.”
Maybe they woke Christ up because he had never seen a sea disaster before.
Well,  Jesus woke up rubbed the sleep from his eyes
and said Mark 4:40 Then he asked them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no
faith?”
Now
it doesn’t tell us what the answer was but knowing Peter the way we do I would
suspect that his reply was something like “Oh no particular reason, but while you
were getting your beauty sleep we were in the process of sinking. You think
maybe we’ve put all this water in here to wash the hull down. Boy sometimes
carpenters ask some really dumb questions”
And in Mark
4:39
When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the water,
“Silence! Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm.
Now
some people would have adopted a prayer voice, that’s an octave lower than a
regular voice, and used all kinds of fancy and pious words, kind of sounding
like “In
the name and power of God the everlasting father, eternal creator, master of
the universe I rebuke thee and charge thee to cease and detest your loud and
boisterous blowing.”
But
he Bible tells us that Jesus just said “Silence, be still”.  And it worked and Mark wrote that the sea
became completely calm.
The
bible doesn’t say that the wind died down gradually, or the storm slowly went
away it says that the sea was completely calm. But under natural laws it
doesn’t work that way, because even if the wind stopped blowing it would take a
while for the sea to calm down. Unless of course you are able to step outside
of natural laws.
At
this point the apostles still didn’t have a complete grasp on who Jesus was. I
mean healing the sick is one thing but this is a horse of a completely
different colour, this is a whole new ball game. This guy can control nature,
wow. He truly is master of the wind.
Now
the story ends here but I think I know what happened, I think Jesus went back
to bed and the fellas stayed up for the rest of the trip and talked about what
they had seen happen. But listen up, Jesus is more than simply master of the
wind, he isn’t just master of the universe he can be master of your soul.
1)
He Is Master of Our Yesterdays
. You realize of course that everything that has
happened in your life up to this moment on January 26th is gone. You
can’t redo it, you can’t undo it, and if it hasn’t been done you can’t do it
yesterday. You have absolutely no control over the events that have already
happened, none.
You
may regret it, you may wish to change it or do it differently but you are out
of luck. Now the worst part is that for each of us the past is occupied by our
youth, and I have become convinced that if you are going to do anything really
dumb you are going to do it well you are young.
The
vast majority of abortions are performed on woman between the ages of 18 and
24. Most impaired driving charges are laid against those under 25; the majority
of traffic accidents involve at least one driver under the age of twenty five.
Those who move into a life of crime usually start in their late teens. You ever
wonder why that is? I think I have the answer, you see if everybody is like me
your mind doesn’t fully engage until you are somewhere in your twenties, as a
matter of fact even now mine keeps kicking in and out.
It
would seem that those in the public eye are discovering more and more that the
past can come back and haunt them, and I’m sure that most of us have things in
our past that we regret. And nobody should be judged based on their worst
moment.  We may not be able to control
the past but Jesus Christ can.
Yesterday is gone, and what’s
happened yesterday is done.  The sins you
have committed in the past, will never, ever, never be held against you by
Jesus Christ because if you have asked him to forgive you he has promised that
he will in Acts 3:19 Now repent of your sins and turn to God, so that your sins
may be wiped away. 
Now if’n a Holy and righteous God
can wipe away your sins the least you can do is to allow them to be wiped
away.   Your sins have been forgiven,
they are gone.  God has forgiven you now
you need to forgive you. 
If God has forgiven you and wiped
out your sins that means that you need to leave the mistakes of the past behind
as well Les Brown wrote “If you are carrying strong feelings about something that
happened in your past, they may hinder your ability to live in the present.”  
The Master of the Wind is also the
Master of our yesterdays and only he has the power to erase the mistakes of the
past and eliminate the guilt for past mistakes.
But more then simply the Master of
the Past Jesus is also 2) He is The Master of Our Todays. The biggest
single barrier to Denn Guptill becoming a Christian was that life style that
was expected of me. I was brought up a Baptist, not a good Baptist but that’s a
different story.  I knew all the don’ts
and won’ts and can’ts and musts that went along with professing Christ as Saviour.
I
knew that I couldn’t live the life that I ought to live, and I still can’t, but
the thing is I don’t have to. Denn Guptill hasn’t got what it takes to lead the
“Christian life”.  But Jesus Christ has
bucketfuls of what it takes, and he’s giving it away.
How
often as pastor have I heard people say “I can’t” “I can’t do that” or “I can’t
stop doing this”.  Of course you can’t
but have you every stopped to ask the master of today to help you? Have you
laid your pride at the feet of Jesus and said “Lord I don’t have the strength to
accomplish what you have set before me, help me please”
But
that isn’t the only part of today which he is master of. Jesus is adequate for
whatever befalls you. Whatever you come up against, all your suffering, all
your grief, all your disappointments. There isn’t one area in your life that
Jesus can’t touch us and guide us and help us. 
But
we are taught to be self-sufficient, and we become convinced that we have to do
it all by ourselves.
Robert Louis Stevenson said “anyone can carry his burden, however hard, until nightfall. Anyone can
do his work, however hard, for one day. Anyone can live sweetly, patiently,
lovingly, purely, until the sun goes down. And this is all that life really
means.” 
And if that was true, we would all be
skinny, sober and pleasant.  It’s not
that I don’t believe we can do it, I just don’t believe we can do it by
ourselves.  And we want to, it’s like when kids hit about
two years of age they are adamant, “I do it myself” they want to get dressed by
themselves and brush their hair, and clean their teeth and shampoo their hair
all by themselves. Of course that phase usually passes very quickly, and then
it’s back to parents doing it all.
But
we can’t always get through that day, because the burden is too heavy
I
wonder though if we are trying to prove to God that we are all grown up and he
doesn’t have to help? I wonder if we are trying to demonstrate our
independence? The only problem being is that Christians aren’t supposed to be
independent, they are supposed to lean on Jesus. I remember when Stephen was
about three years old and he was really sick with the flu and we were praying
with him at bedtime and he looked up and said “Can Jesus take my sick away?”
Well
the truth is this, Jesus can take the sick away, no matter where the sick is,
no matter how bad the sick is, or what the sick is because Jesus is in the
taking away sick business.  And if he
doesn’t take away our sick he promises to be there with us through it. 
Maybe
it’s financial problems, or spiritual problems, or emotional problems or
personal problems, or physical problems. Jesus is adequate.  That doesn’t mean that when we pray that
Jesus will take the sick away that we don’t take our medicine, sometimes that’s
how he takes the sick away.  And when we
pray that our finances will get straightened out, sometimes he gives us a
second job.  And just because you pray
that you will have a good marriage doesn’t mean that you don’t have to work at
making your marriage good.
Contrary
to popular opinion “God helps those who help themselves is not in the
bible.”  But the reality is that God
helps those who help themselves.  He
gives us the ability, the wisdom and the strength, and he also helps when we
need a little extra help.
“Yes,
but, pastor”, uh-huh, no yes buts, and no yeah buts, and no no buts, and no but
buts. Jesus Christ is adequate because Jesus Christ is the master of the
present he is the master of today.
3)
He Is The Master Of Our Tomorrows
I
am a dreamer.  I love looking ahead to
the future and sometimes spend way too much time there.  But the reality is that none of us know what
tomorrow will bring, as Yogi Berra said “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the
future.”
Jesus
Christ does two things with the future, first he relieves the worries of
tomorrow and secondly he retrieves the dreams of tomorrow.  
People
tell me all the time that they don’t want to worry.  None of us want to worry, do we? Sure we do,
I mean it’s like people who smoke and say, “I’d really like to quit” no you
don’t if you wanted to quit you’d quit. You might want to quit so people will
stop annoying you, or you might want to quit because of the expense but until
you want to quit for you, you won’t. If the truth was known those of us who
worry do it because we enjoy it.   Clive James said
“stop worrying — nobody gets out of this world alive.”  And not only that but it is in direct
contradiction to what Jesus said in
Matthew
6:34
“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for
tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.
Jesus
has everything under control, everything. Our work, our families, our finances.
Jesus is just as adequate for tomorrow as he is for today. I have to give him
Cornerstone every once and a while and say “Hey it’s your church you worry
about it.”
But
Jesus owning the future doesn’t just mean giving him the negative things.  “Here Jesus, here is my tomorrow bag,
it’s full of worry and concerns.” 
Not it’s also Jesus who gives us our dreams for tomorrow and he wants to
be part of them. We need to concentrate on today but it’s gonna end at midnight
and what then? What are your plans for tomorrow, for next week, for next month
for next year, for five years from now? Where will your career be? Where will
your spiritual life be? Belva Davis made this statement “Don’t be afraid of the space between your
dreams and reality. If you can dream it, you can make it so.”
I
don’t meant unrealistic dreams, “Someday I’m going to win the lottery and
never have to work again dreams.” 
And I wish I had a unicorn I could keep in my backyard, that’s not even
realistic, you’re not allowed to keep unicorns in Kingswood.
There
were times when Cornerstone was struggling along in rented facilities with
fifty people that I would dream of some unknown mysterious benefactor coming
along and giving us a million dollars to build a church, but that wasn’t a
dream that was wishful thinking.  Funny
story though, back in the day a gentlemen who was attending the Church, he
doesn’t attend now so don’t try to figure it out, discovered that his company
was meeting in Las Vegas.  Before he left
he came and told me about a slot machine that had a 2 million dollar payout in
the hotel he was staying in.  And he
pulled out an American quarter and said “This is going to build our
church”.  He went to Vegas and I
started building churches in my head.  I
know, it would have been the devil’s money, sure but I figure the devil has had
it long enough, and no I don’t condone gambling in any way shape or form.  After he had been gone for a couple of days
his wife called me and said, “John just called from Vegas, he said not to
order the carpet he’s already down fifty bucks.”
But
one day God did give me a dream, a dream not only of the building that we would
have but how we would be able to  make
the dream a reality.
If you have no dreams, if you don’t
care about tomorrow why do you get up in the morning?  If your only goal is to get from here to
bedtime and then do the same tomorrow, you’re not living you’re already dead
and just haven’t got enough sense to lie down. That isn’t what Jesus promised
in 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.
Is
he the master of your yesterdays? Is he the master of  today? Is he the master of your tomorrows? He
can be all you have to do is to ask.

Cheaters don’t win, etc. etc.




Well, that certainly makes me feel safe.  There was a report out last week that the United States military has stripped the certification and security clearances of 34 of their air force officers.  The reason?  It appears that the 34 had cheated on their monthly proficiency test, which wouldn’t be an issue if they were in charge of cleaning latrines, painting rocks or something similar.  But these were the exams which tested the officers’ knowledge of the nuclear missile launch systems they were in charge of.  Nice. 
Air Force Secretary, Deborah Lee James, said that she is “profoundly disappointed” in this behavior.  I bet she is.  The military hasn’t told us what part of the exams the officers cheated on, so we don’t know if they aren’t proficient in arming, firing or aiming their missiles.
And it again reminds us of the futility of placing our faith and security in the hands of mortals.  2500 years ago the prophet Isaiah warned people in Isaiah 31:1 What sorrow awaits those who look to Egypt for help, trusting their horses, chariots and charioteers (nuclear weapons) and depending on the strength of human armies instead of looking to the LORD. . .
Still sounds like good advice to me.  Have a great week and remember: To see what is really possible, you will have to attempt the impossible. 

A Day at the Beach, Because you Say So

Have you ever been
tired?  I mean, dead beat tired?  They had fished all night and caught nothing,
nada, zip and they were exhausted, but there was still work to do.  The nets had to be washed to get the seaweed
and guck out and everything had to be put away before they could go home and go
to bed.  Bed!  What a magical, mystical, wonderful word.
Right then, I’m sure
the promise of sleep was the highest thing on their list of priorities. As they
washed and tended the nets their friend Jesus showed up and began to preach to
a few people.  And it was always the
same, the few people became a few more and a few more and finally there was a
whole crowd listening to the carpenter. 
And as the crowd pushed forward to hear the words of Christ he kept
backing up until he was at the very edge of the beach, and then it was as if he
had just noticed the fisherman, and as Peter and his partners begin to load the
net back into their boats Jesus yelled,  “Hey
Pete can I use the boat for a few minutes?” 
This is week two of our “A Day at the Beach” series.  Through January and into February we are
focusing on the events in Jesus life that happened in and around the Sea of
Galilee.   Which as we explained last
week wasn’t even a sea it was just a good sized lake.  And maybe you are thinking “Well why did they
call it a sea?”  Because.  And why would we call it a lake?  In Newfoundland they would call it Galilee
Pond. 
But what is interesting that Luke doesn’t call it the Sea of Galilee,
and yes I know that in our reading this morning from the New Living Translation
it appears that Luke does exactly that.  Actually
if you were following along in your Bibles, you would have noticed an asterisk,
 Luke 5:1 One day
as Jesus was preaching on the shore of the Sea of Galilee*, great crowds
pressed in on him to listen to the word of God.   And down at the bottom of the page it
would have said something like *“Greek: Lake Gennesaret, another name of the
Sea of Galilee.”
If you were using other translations it would read something like, Luke 5:1
(NIV)  
One day as Jesus was standing by
the Lake of Gennesaret, with the people crowding around him and listening to
the word of God,
If I’m clear on this, the
original name was Lake Gennesaret, and that gradually morphed into the Sea of
Galilee because it was situated in Galilee and eventually when the Roman city
of Tiberius became more prominent people starting calling it Lake
Tiberius.  
Story is told of a very
boastful lady who visited the Holy Land and when she came back she told her
pastor “We visited both the sea of Galilee and Lake Gennesaret.”  Her pastor corrected her by saying “Actually
Galilee and Gennesaret are synonymous.” To which the lady replied, “Oh I know
that but I found the Sea of Galilee to be just a little more synonymous.”   Luke was most likely the more formally
educated of the gospel writers and whenever he refers to the body of water it
is by its older name.
But really that is neither here
nor there. So let’s go back to the story. 
Jesus shows up once again on the beach that was Simon Peter’s home port,
so to speak. Remember last week, I spoke about Jesus’ initial call to Peter, Jesus
met him on the beach and invited Peter to follow him. 
This time there is a crowd
following Jesus and he begins to preach. 
All the while Peter is washing his nets in preparation for stowing them
for the day.  And as the crowd pushes in
against Jesus while he is preaching he notices that there are two empty boats
on the shore and he asks Peter if he can borrow his to preach from. 
I’m not sure that having his boat used as a floating pulpit was nearly
as high on Peter’s priority list as getting a little sleep was.  I remember what it was like to fish all
night, and want nothing more than to go to bed, but friends have to do what
friends have to do. 
So Peter pushed the boat out a little bit, threw out the anchor and no
doubt laid his head down on the drying nets to get a little bit of shut
eye.  And as he drifted off in the
gradually warming sun Christ’s words became a drone in the back ground, until
he heard, “ Peter, hey Peter,” and it’s in Luke 5: that
we can read the unusual request that Jesus made to Peter,  Luke 5:4
When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Now go out where it is
deeper, and let down your nets to catch some fish.”
Jesus turned a
fishing boat into a pulpit, and now he was turning the pulpit into a fishing
boat.  And when I read this I realized
first that “Every pulpit should be a fishing boat”.  There should always be a clear call from the
pulpit for people to begin a relationship with Christ.  And the second thing I realized is that
“Every fishing boat should be a pulpit.” 
That is to say that our actions and words should always point people to Christ
and wherever and whatever your fishing boat might be that you will point people
to a relationship with Christ.    Wow, I
could almost stop now and call it a sermon. 
But I won’t. 
So you get the picture, Peter has been fishing all night,
Jesus comes along and asks to borrow his boat, and Peter agrees.  Up to this point Jesus hasn’t been asking a
lot from Peter, all Peter has to do is watch and listen.  He is just an observer in the game, and maybe
he could have been home in bed, but listening to Jesus preach wasn’t overly
demanding. 
Kind of like coming to church.  And lot of folks think that all that is
required is to watch and listen.  I mean
they could be home in bed, but church is overly demanding.  But this becomes a game changer.
Now, Jesus is asking Peter to go from being an observer to
being a participant. And there will come a time, if you are following Jesus,
that Jesus will call you from being an observer to being a participant, to get
some skin in the game so to speak.  And
listen to Peter’s reply,  Luke 5:5
“Master,” Simon replied, “we worked hard all last night and didn’t catch
a thing. But if you say so, I’ll let the nets down again.”
Listen to it again: Luke
5:5
“Master,” Simon replied, “we worked hard all last night and didn’t catch
a thing. But if you say so, I’ll let the nets down again.”  Did you catch that?  Peter wasn’t going to do it because he wanted
to, he wasn’t doing it because it made sense, he was doing it because Jesus
asked him to do it.  
And there was so much wrapped up
in those five words.  Because if we stop
and think about it Peter was actually saying, 
1) Because You Say So I Will
Put Aside Past Experiences 
The
reason that Peter was cleaning his nets was because they had already been
fishing, when fishing was supposed to be done, at night.
Peter knew from past experience
that when the hot sun came out that the fish normally went deeper in Galilee to
escape the heat.  That it was only in the
cool of the evening that the fish came back to the surface to feed.  And with the type of fishing that they were
doing it was no good to cast your net on the surface when the fish weren’t
there. 
When I was fishing with Dad we
started as a midwater trawler, and when we were trawling we could do that
during the day, the net went deep.  But
then we had the boat re-configured as a herring seiner and after that most of
our fishing was done at night, when the fish were closer to the surface. 
Peter didn’t fish at night
because he preferred fishing at night, he fished at night because that’s when you
could catch the most fish.  Apparently
there were times that they would fish from the shore during the day, we read
one of those accounts last week from Mark’s gospel.  Remember Mark 1:16 One day
as Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and
his brother Andrew throwing a net into the water, for they fished for a
living.  But from the other
accounts that we read it seems as if when they were fishing from the boat in
deeper water that it happened after the sun went down. 
Sometimes our biggest challenge to doing
what God is asking us to do is our past experience.  We tried that or something similar to that
and the results weren’t favorable, so we aren’t going to do it again.  Kind of like the old statement “Fool me once
shame on you, fool me twice shame on me.”
Sometimes God asks us to do
something we have absolutely no experience at, throughout the bible we see all
kinds of examples of that, Noah was asked to build a really big boat.  He didn’t even know what a boat was, he had
never seen a boat, and didn’t live close enough to a body of water to float a
really big boat.  Abraham was asked to
sacrifice the son he had waited so long for, Moses was told to walk into the
Red Sea, Joshua was asked to march the people of Israel around Jericho and then
blow their horns.  David was told to take
a little sling and annoy a really big giant with it. 
And Peter was asked
to set his nets in the middle of the day. 
And because Jesus asked him to, Peter did it. 
How often are we
guilty of not doing what we are supposed to be doing using the same old
excuses?  You know the ones through the
years I’ve heard them in churches and I’ve been guilty of using them:   1) We’ve never done that before, 2) we
always do it this way, 3) We tried that once but it didn’t work.
And it’s tough to
break out of the routine, even when the routine isn’t working.  I’ve talked to Pastor’s and churches that
keep doing the same thing year after year and getting the same dimal results,
maybe you’ve seen the same thing in businesses or families.  It’s easier to keep doing what doesn’t work
than to take a chance on something new, maybe we need to listen to  Dakota tribal wisdom
passed from generation to generation that tells us, “If you find yourself riding
a dead horse, get off.” It won’t do any good to reflect on all the great times
you had riding the horse when it was still alive, if the horse is dead we need
to get off.
The flip side of that coin is when you tried something once
and it didn’t work so you vow you will never do it again,   Mark Twain tells us, “If a cat sits on a hot radiator it will never sit on a hot
radiator again, but then again he’ll never sit on a cold radiator either.”
So, when God calls you to obedience are you willing to set
aside your past experience?  But it has
to go beyond that.  Peter had to be
willing to say 2) Because you say so
I will set aside personal pride.
How hard is it to
take advise from someone who really isn’t experienced at what you do?  I would find it difficult to take preaching instruction
from someone who wasn’t a public speaker, well actually I find it hard to take
preaching instruction from anyone, but that is a different story. 
And it would be so
easy for Peter to say “Excuse me pal, but why don’t you go back to your saw
horse?”  Jesus wasn’t a fisherman, he was
a carpenter turned preacher, what did he know about fishing? 
It was Simon Ford, the owner of the Grand Union hotel in NY city “There’s
nothing to running a hotel, you don’t have to know what to do, all you do is
open the doors and all of your guests will tell you what to do.”  And sometimes it seems that we
go through life with people telling us what to do and into Peter’s life comes
Jesus who wants him to do what just doesn’t make sense. 
There was a crowd of people gathered that day, and I would
suspect that some of them were either fishermen or knew fishermen.  I wonder what they thought of Peter’s
mid-morning fishing expedition.  “Hey
Peter, what are you doing?”  “I think you
should have gone to bed, the hot sun has made you crazy.” 
You ever feel
like  saying “God if I do that, then
people will question my sanity.”?  That’s
probably what Noah thought when God asked him to build an ark, probably what
David thought when he took on Goliath with a few stones and a sling shot.  Maybe what Solomon thought when he was called
to build the temple, or what Gideon thought when we was called to take on an
army with 300 men. 
Are you willing to
tell God, I will do what you want regardless of what people say?  But there was a very practical reason why
Peter could have said no, but he was willing to say. . .  3) Because You Say so I Will Put Aside my
Own Weariness. 
I would suspect that Peter was tired.  Remember what he told Jesus?  We worked hard all night.  A long night fishing, then there was cleaning
the net, and when he should have gone home he pushes his boat out so Jesus can
use it to preach from.  Peter must have
been whipped. 
In 2014 we think we have a market on being tired.  But Denn you don’t understand, we have busy
life, there so much stress in our lives, so many things we have to do with the
kids and then God wants me to do what?
I’m sure Peter was thinking not just about how tired he was but the other
stuff he still had to do when he got home. 
One of the great promises
that Jesus made is found in Matthew 11:28 Then
Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and
I will give you rest.”  I bet
there are all kinds of reasons why we are tired and very few of them come from
what God asks us to do.   It might well
be that it seems difficult to fit what God wants us to do on the pile, but what
if it’s the pile that’s wrong?  Could it
be a matter of priorities?  Maybe instead
of shelving what God wants us to do, we need to see what is eating into that
time. 
When we don’t have time to
spend with God is it because we’ve spent that time somewhere else?  Maybe if 
God asked to be friends on Facebook, or was on primetime TV, or could
sit next to us in a cold hockey rink or a warm beach.  Just saying.
It’s easy to quote Jesus
telling us that he will give us rest, but let’s not forget the rest of what
Jesus was saying.  Matthew
11:29-30
Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I
am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my
yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”  Jesus knew that Peter was tired but
there was still more for Peter to do. 
The interesting thing here is
that for Peter, when he put aside his weariness he was rewarded.  Let’s go back to the story.  You remember we left off in Luke 5:5
“Master,” Simon replied, “we worked hard all last night and didn’t catch
a thing. But if you say so, I’ll let the nets down again.”   So let’s pick up there, Luke
5:6-7
And this time their nets were so full of fish they began to tear! A
shout for help brought their partners in the other boat, and soon both boats
were filled with fish and on the verge of sinking.   There could be an entire sermon
preached on how tired we are from chasing nothing, when God offers to reward us
with everything, but that is another day. 
Don’t miss out on what God has
for you simply because it seems like it would be too much work.  It was Football Coach Vince Lombardi who
said “Fatigue
makes cowards of us all.”  Are you
able to put aside your personal weariness to be obedient?
But ultimately it all comes down to Peter saying 4) Because You Say so
I Will Obey 
That’s really the
bottom line. Are we willing to tell God: “Even when I would rather be doing something
else I will obey?”  In the long run it
would save us a lot of grief.
We’ve said before, God doesn’t ask us to do some things and
not do other things to be a spoil sport. 
He does it for our good and our benefit. 
At the end of the day Peter casting his net into the water benefited
Peter.  He couldn’t see it before it
happened and it wouldn’t have happened if he hadn’t done it. 
And perhaps this was when
Jesus realized that Peter was the one who would go on to lead the church that
would change the world, after all it goes right along with what Jesus said
in  Luke 16:10 “If you
are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you
are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater
responsibilities.
And ultimately our obedience to God and his word is the
litmus test to how we really feel about Him.   Which is why we read in  John 14:23 Jesus
replied, “All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we
will come and make our home with each of them. And then we read in John
15:10
Jesus said “When you obey my commandments, you
remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his
love.”   Seems to be a recurring
theme.
There is a story
told about Arthur Wellesley, whom many of you would know as the Duke of
Wellington, the British General who defeated Napoleon at Waterloo.  It seems that going into battle that
Wellington ordered his officers to do something to which one of his officers
objected and told him that would be impossible. 
To which Wellington replied saying “You go ahead and do it, because I don’t
give impossible commands.”
The truth is that God calls people all the time to do the impossible
and that’s the adventure because anyone can do the possible.  Because the promise of God when he calls us
to the do the impossible if found in Mark 10:27 Jesus
looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not
with God. Everything is possible with God.”
What is God calling you to do this morning.  Are you willing to respond by saying “Because
you say so, I will obey”?
 

Of Donkeys and Foxes



Last week I happened upon the news that Walmart has pulled donkey meat off the shelves in China after testing showed it was contaminated with fox meat.  Seriously?!  I’m not sure if I would rather find fox in my donkey meat or donkey in my fox meat.  However, it seems to be a very real problem & Shaun Rein of the Shanghai-based China Market Research Group, told Reuters this recall “is another hit on Walmart’s brand, meaning wealthy shoppers will start to lose the trust they had before.”  Because apparently wealthy shoppers in China don’t want their donkey meat to contain fox. 

If we can get beyond what it was supposed to contain, and what it did contain, we can understand the concern.  When you think something is 100% something and you find out that it isn’t,  that’s disturbing.  Whether it’s donkey or fox.

When we say that we are a Christ Follower, that comes with an expectation that we are actually following Christ, that Christ is a part of our lives, and that we are following what Christ taught.  And when people find out that we are mixing it with the world, they are disturbed and often disappointed.  And that’s worse than finding fox in your donkey.

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

A Day at the Beach: the Beginning

This time of year it’s easy for our minds to
drift to warmer climes and the beach.  If
you close your eyes you can almost envision the turquoise water, the white sand
and a palm tree that you can lean back on.  
I love being close to the water. 
Maybe it’s the fact that my family all came from a small island and that is
where I spent a part of almost every summer growing up, never far from
water.  When we lived in Australia we
weren’t far from the shore and as often as we could we headed for the
beach.  Angela loves her kayak, but for
me I’m
usually content to sit by the water and read and listen to the sound of the
waves.  Whenever I travel overseas I try
to find a beach at some point, even if it’s just to take a walk and smell the salt in the
air.  The other day I realized that I
have walked on beaches in more than a dozen countries in five continents.   For
some of you there is a beach in your near future, as you head south for a week
or two to escape winter.  For other’s it’s a little
further away and will happen come summer at Dollar lake and Grand lake and
Kearney Lake and Shediac or Cavendish. 
So for the next few weeks we invite you to join us
at the Beach. 
As you read through the Jesus story you discover
how much of it happened around the water and on the water.  If we pull up one of our trusty maps we
discover that much of Jesus’ ministry was focused on this area here.  What we often refer to as the “Sea of
Galilee” but it wasn’t really a sea, it was just a lake. 
But it was their lake.  It didn’t matter if you
referred to it as the Sea of Galilee, or the Lake of Galilee or one of the
several other names it has gone by through the centuries it was a focal point
for the people who lived in that area. 
There are only 3 lakes in Israel. 
3, compare that with Canada that has over three million lakes, Canada
has 60% of the lakes in the world.  But
Israel only has 3 lakes, the largest is the Dead Sea and it’s a salt lake so
there is no commercial value to it.  Then
there is Hula Lake which is only 10 foot deep and then there is Galilee which
is 20 km long and 13 km wide and 43 metres deep.  To put that in perspective it is 9 times
larger than Grand Lake but you could put five Galilees in Bras d’Or Lake. 
The Jewish Historian Josephus, who was born
around the time of Christ’s death, claimed that there were 9 good size communities surrounding
the lake and over 230 fishing boats worked the waters in his day.  Compare that with today, Tiberias is the only
city left. 
But back to our story.  If you’ve been reading the gospels, Jesus has been born,
has been baptized by John the Baptist and been tempted in the wilderness.  But his ministry hasn’t really begun, there
have been no records of miracles, the crowds aren’t flocking to hear his
words he hasn’t started upsetting the religious leaders of the day.   After all, up until now he has just been a
solitary voice attracting very little attention with his teaching.  And this incident is pivotal in the history
of what would become the Christian church, which would eventually change the
world.  And it all started one day at the
beach.
I don’t think we could ever over state how important what happened on the
beach that day would be, not only to Peter and Andrew and Zebedee’s boys but to the
world as a whole. 
(Ted Talk Video on Leadership)
This was the day that the movement began. The
day that a lone leader attracted his first follower.   So what is it that we can learn from this
Day at the Beach?
Mark 1:16 One
day as Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, . . . 
It Started on an Ordinary Day  So often we want to make those significant days different than all the
others.  The sun was shining brighter,
the birds were singing louder, there was a sense about the day that made it
different than all other days.  But this
was just an ordinary day.  Jesus it
seemed was doing something that he had often done, he was walking along the
shores of the Sea of Galilee.  Jesus
meets us in life, sometimes on Sundays, sometimes on Monday through Saturday. 
If you had of talked to
Peter that morning and asked him what his plans were for the day I’m sure that
he would have talked about going to work just like he did every day.  Maybe he had special plans for what he would
do at work that day.  We know that on that
day he was fishing from the shore, even though from other accounts we know that
he owned a boat.  Maybe he had heard that
the fish were close to land and he could avoid the extra work of preparing and
launching his boat.   And perhaps he
would tell you what he had planned after the fishing was done, maybe he would
take his wife for a walk or putter around the house.     
But I’m pretty sure that
his plans didn’t include meeting the Messiah, the Son of God and having his
life turned upside down.
The day that I became a
Christ Follower is one I will always remember, on September 2 1979 I
experienced the grace of God, my sins were forgiven and I was made new.  It was a life changing experience and it is a
day that I will never forget.  But it
started out as just an ordinary day.  We
had been fishing on the Gaspe coast and because of quota issues we decided to
take a few days off and return to Saint John, so we tied up the boat and went
home.  I had nothing planned for that
Sunday and so I decided to satisfy my best friend and attend church with him
that evening.  Just an ordinary day. 
And then it changed,
because on that ordinary day I meet the creator of the universe.
The New Testament is full
of stories of how people encountered Jesus, and they all started as ordinary
days.
Paul reminds us in 2
Corinthians 6:2
For God says, “At
just the right time, I heard you. On the day of salvation, I helped you.”
Indeed, the “right time” is now. Today is the day of salvation.  When is the day of
Salvation.
We can wait for special days for special things
to happen, or we can realize that today can be that special day.  Because ultimately you will choose whether
the day will stay ordinary or become special. 
Peter met Jesus on the beach, but he chose to allow that meeting to
change his life.  He allowed it to go
beyond a nod and a smile. 
But Jesus didn’t just go for a walk that day,
let’s go back to the story. 
Mark 1:16 One
day as Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon
and his brother Andrew throwing a net into the water, for they fished for a
living.  It
Started With Ordinary People 
Now I don’t know about you, but if I was God and was looking around
for someone who would lead a movement that would change the world I don’t think
I would have picked Peter. 
Seriously? Peter?  Peter who had problems with his temper, Peter
who had a tendency to shoot off his mouth, Peter who waffled in his faith.  It’s just that Peter seems so much like
us.  God has a habit of using ordinary
people.  Moses, Gideon, David, Daniel,
Peter.  Just ordinary people, but people
who God chose to use and people who chose to allow God to use them. 
We look at Peter
and see the ordinary, God looks at Peter and sees a world changer. 
There is a story
told in the Old Testament of when Samuel the Prophet was given the task of
selecting the second King of Israel. 
Maybe you know the story, God directs him to go to a little obscure town
called Bethlehem and to meet a man named Jesse who had a number of sons.  One of whom would be chosen to be the future
king. 
The bible
tells us that when Samuel met Jesse’s sons he was immediately impressed with
Eliab, and then we read God’s response to Samuel’s suggestion.   1 Samuel 16:7 But the LORD
said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected
him. The LORD doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward
appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”
And that is
why we know the son of a dairy farmer from North Carolina as Billy Graham, the
daughter of a Albanian business man as Mother Theresa and a preacher’s kid from
Georgia as Martin Luther King Jr.  All
just ordinary men and women.
Don’t ever
sell yourself short, God has a wonderful plan for your life, and if you think
“Well, I’m just ordinary”  that’s good
because that’s who God normally uses.  If
he was able to use a  fisherman he met on
a beach to start a movement, think of what he would be able to do with you?
And so the
story continues; Mark 1:17 Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show
you how to fish for people!”  If
up to this point everything had been ordinary now it would change.  It Led to an
Extra-Ordinary Request 
We
don’t know all of the conversation but we know some of it.  Jesus sees the guys and invites them to
follow him but there is more than simply the invitation to follow Jesus he
invites them to join in on the adventure. 
To bring others with them.  And
it’s the same invitation today, to follow Jesus.  But the invitation is not simply to follow
Jesus, it’s never that simple, he still calls us to participate in the
adventure. 
And with Peter,
Jesus does what he does so well, he lifts an analogy from everyday life that
Peter would understand and uses it in his invitation.  He doesn’t challenge Peter using agriculture
terms or monetary terms, instead he invites him to join him in doing what Peter
is already comfortable with, fishing. 
And some
people are content to follow Jesus from a distance, but that isn’t what he’s
calling people to do, because you can’t follow Jesus without obeying his
teaching.    
The invitation comes in two parts, first follow, and then
do.  The invitation was not to simply
follow and it still isn’t. 
There are
those who would say they follow Jesus, they read about him, they know how he
was born and how he died, they might have pictures on their walls of
Jesus.  But they don’t have a
relationship with him.  That’s not
following Jesus, that’s stalking Jesus.
Every once in
a while in the news you hear about a celebrity being stalked and they describe
how the person who is stalking them becomes fixated with them.  They collect all kind of information about
their personal lives, they read everything they can get hands on about the
celebrity, they collect pictures of them, they talk as if they know them, but
there is no relationship there.  That’s
just creepy.   
If you follow Jesus then ultimately you have to have a
relationship with Jesus and if you have a relationship with Jesus then it’s
defined in the terms that Jesus revealed to Peter and his friends 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.”   Jesus invited Peter to follow him, but more
than that he invited him to obey him.  To
not just hear what Jesus said but to actually implement it in his daily life. 
And it wasn’t just a little request, this was an
over the top, outside the box, extraordinary request.  We don’t know about all of the disciples, but
we do know that Peter had a boat, and a job, he had a wife, and a house and a
mother-in-law who lived with them. 
But what Jesus offered to Peter was so much more
than Peter could ever imagine, he would go places and do things that all hinged
on the invitation.  And that was what it
was, an invitation.      An invitation to
follow Jesus and to change the world. 
And Peter could have said ok, or he could have gone back to fishing, and
that would have been his choice. 
So listen to
what happened,  Mark 1:18 And they left their nets at once and followed him.
It Finished With an Extraordinary
Decision    
The miracle of
Christ’s call to Peter is that it obtained extraordinary results from plain old
ordinary people.
When I was
working on my message the thought came to me that Jesus interrupted Peter’s
life.  But Peter’s life wasn’t just a life
interrupted it was a life dramatically and radically changed.  If I’m working in my office and someone
interrupts me, when they are done interrupting me I go back to work.  Jesus never intended to simply interrupt our
lives, that’s why he told us in Luke 9:23 Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower,
you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me.”
  He was saying “If you follow me
your lives will never be the same”. 
Which is why Paul wrote in  2 Corinthians 5:17 This
means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life
is gone; a new life has begun!   
And you might be thinking:  That’s bizarre, a dude walking along the
beach and see four guys fishing, asks them to leave everything and follow him
and they do.  But we are only seeing a part
of the story, the part told by Mark. 
In John’s
account we get a little more detail.  The
day after Jesus was baptized, John the Baptist is standing on the side of the
river chatting with a couple of his followers and Jesus walks by.  John nods at Jesus and tells the other two
guys, “Behold the lamb of God.”  And
immediately we are told the two guys go over and strike up a conversation with
Jesus.  If we pick up the story in John 1:40-42 Andrew, Simon
Peter’s brother, was one of these men who heard what John said and then
followed Jesus. Andrew went to find his brother, Simon, and told him, “We have
found the Messiah” (which means “Christ”). Then Andrew brought Simon to meet
Jesus.
If you
continue on in the story you discover that this is when Jesus told Simon, “Your
name is Simon, but you will be called Peter.” 
And that might not seem like much to us except the name Peter means “rock”
in the Greek, and eventually you recall Jesus told Peter in Matthew 16:18 Now I say to
you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my
church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.
That day at the beach wasn’t some chance meeting
between Jesus, Peter and Andrew.  We
don’t know what was covered in the previous discussion or even whether or not
there had been other meetings and conversations before Jesus went for his walk
that day.  What we do know is that Peter
was ready at that moment to make a decision. 
If I told you the story of my decision to follow
Christ it would seem as if on September 2nd 1979 I went to church
and suddenly my life was changed I quit the fishing boat and went to Bible
College.  And that is true, it  happened just that quick and just that
radically.  But that only tells part of
the story.  The rest of the story is that
for a year my best friend had been telling me about Jesus, for a year my best
friend had been living out his new “Jesus” life in front of me, and for a year
my best friend had a pile of people at Bethany Bible College praying for me.   
Long before I had a conversation with Jesus
about following him I had conversations with him about what that would mean.
And that is how it happens for many people, the “instantaneous
conversion” is usually the end result of a series of events that have been happening.  Like the overnight success that was ten years
in the making. 
But it didn’t end with that decision, I’m not
even sure that Peter knew what he was getting into, as we follow the story
through Peter keeps making exciting discoveries about the Jesus that he has
chosen to follow.   Jesus’ call to Peter
was to join him on a journey, and the invitation is the same today.  When we follow someone it suggests movement.   Jesus may have met Peter where he was at but
he didn’t leave him there. 
Did Peter follow Christ and never look back?
Nope, and that’s what makes it so exciting, Peter wasn’t perfect and there were
times he let Jesus down and times he blew it, but Jesus never gave up on Peter.  Next week we are going to Luke chapter 5 and we
find Peter fishing again.  But there is
Jesus saying “Come on Peter, you know there is more for you then a fishing
boat.  Come on and follow me.”
And again Peter puts down his nets and follows
Jesus, and because he did it wasn’t just his future and his life that was
changed it was the world that was changed.
I wish I could say that from the day that I
decided to follow Jesus that I always did a stellar job, but there were times
that I wasn’t obedient and there were times that I probably embarrassed Jesus and
there were times that if I was Jesus dealing with Denn I would have thrown up
my hands and walked away.  But that isn’t
grace and grace is what Jesus offers. 
If you have never accepted the challenge to
follow Jesus then you need to.  He is
still calling people to follow him, and by follow him he means to accept his
teachings and obey him. 
Or maybe you chose to follow Jesus but now you
find yourself back at the fishing net pursuing your old life and its
agenda.  But Jesus still wants all of
you, and he’s still offering you all of him. 
  

They Burned Their Car!



Seriously, they burned their car!  Two men in Alberta resorted to desperate measures last week after becoming stuck in a snow bank on their way home.  It appears that while returning to Lethbridge, after dark, the men got lost and then wound up in a ditch.  In order to survive the frigid temperatures they first built a fire with their belongings along with the seats they had ripped from their Honda.  When that fire went out, they proceeded to torch the car.  They survived the night, but the car didn’t.  By the light of day they discovered that they were within easy walking distance of a nearby home.  Who would have known?  It was then they remembered that they were both carrying cell phones…… oops.  

We might laugh, but it wasn’t our car and how often have we done the same thing in life?  Maybe we didn’t burn our Honda but we made rash decisions that we later regretted.  Especially when we realized those decisions really weren’t necessary.   And how often have we taken matters into our own hands without stopping to ask for help?  The men who burned their car had cell phones they didn’t use, but how often as Christians do we have prayer that we don’t use?     Have a great week and remember: To see what is really possible, you will have to attempt the impossible.  

Fresh Vision

We are not drunk! 
Interesting way to start a conversation but that’s basically how today’s
scripture begins.  And if you are going
to start a conversation by telling people that you aren’t drunk it’s safe to
assume that at least some of the folks you are talking to thought you were
drunk.
So let’s put things into
context here.  The passage that was read
earlier is a part of the description of the Day of Pentecost.  You might recall that Jesus has ascended back
to heaven and has left the Apostles behind to wait for the Holy Spirit to
come.  And come he has.  In the first thirteen verses of the second
chapter of the book of Acts we see the coming of the Holy Spirit described.  There is the sound of a rushing wind.  Then what looked like flames settled on each
of those who had gathered together.  And
then we pick up Acts 2:4 And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and
began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability.  Now the languages that they began to
speak in were not unknown languages, but other languages.  If we continue with the story we discover
that there were Jews in Jerusalem for the feast of Pentecost, from various
Roman provinces who spoke different languages and they all heard the followers
of Christ praising God in their own language. 
That would be cool.  There are
folks in Cornerstone whose first language is not English, think if while I was
preaching in English they were hearing in their native language. 
Some thought it was a miracle,
but not everyone, Acts 2:13 But others in the crowd ridiculed them, saying, “They’re just
drunk, that’s all!”
And that was where we come in,
as a response to that Peter stands up and preaches his first recorded
sermon.  I heard Andy Stanley a preacher
from Atlanta sum up Peter’s message this way: 
God sent his Son, you killed him, say you are sorry. And while that is
the essence of the message there is a little more.  And part of it is the foundation that the
church will be built on. 
And Peter is telling them that
what is happening shouldn’t be a surprise, that one of God’s prophets, a man by
the name of Joel had pointed people toward this particular event.  The prophecy that Peter is referencing comes
from the Old Testament book of Joel 2:28 “Then, after doing all those things, I will pour out my
Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your old men
will dream dreams, and your young men will see visions.”
And that is neat, it includes
both sons and daughters as well as multi generations.  The young and the old.  And they are all doing the same thing, they
are pointing people toward what could be. 
Prophesies, dreams and visions all look ahead.   I love dreams and visions, and I realize
that there are times that I spend too much time in the future and not enough in
the present.  But I can live with that.
One of my favourite passages of scripture is usually taken
out of context.  As a matter of fact it
is when it’s taken out of context that it becomes my favourite passage of
scripture, which makes it really difficult to preach on because I’m really not
being true to what the passage means. 
But I guess if I’ve warned you that I’m taking it out of context then
I’ve absolved myself a little bit of my responsibility to you.  The passage that I’m speaking of is Proverbs 29:18 Where there is no vision, the people perish
Now what Solomon actually was
trying to say is more accurately conveyed in the New Living Version where the
passage is translated Proverbs 29:18 When people do not accept divine guidance, they run wild. But
whoever obeys the law is joyful.  And that is a great passage and tells us a lot
about our society as a whole right now.  And
some day I might preach on it the way it is, but not today.  So let’s go back to Proverbs 29:18 Where there is no vision, the people perish. 
Time and time again when I talk to people who are in
churches that seem to be in trouble I discover that they are so concerned with
today that they have no vision for the future. Because there is no vision . .
.  well you know the rest.
This morning I want to talk about vision and so the first
thing that we need to do is to define what vision is exactly.  Collin’s English Dictionary defines vision four
ways: The
Power of Seeing,  Something seen in a
dream, A mental image and the ability to perceive something not actually
visible.  What I want to do this
morning is focus on the last meaning and that is the ability to perceive
something not actually visible. 
Now we live in a world where people don’t talk much about
dreams and vision and if they do, people think they are a kook.   But I truly believe that as people of God we
need to have a vision for what God wants us to do and where God wants to take
us.  And it has to come from some
place. 
And visions don’t always happen
late at night or when we are in a trance. 
Sometimes they are given to us when we are wide awake in the bright
sunshine, because often times our visions are simply revelations from God, or
guidance from God.  One of the first
questions that need to be asked is who gives these dreams?  Well let’s look into the Bible. Genesis 15:1 Some time
later, the LORD spoke to Abram in a vision . . .
Genesis
46:2
During the night God spoke to him in a
vision. “Jacob! Jacob!” he called. “Here I am,” Jacob replied.
Acts
9:10
Now there was a believer in Damascus
named Ananias. The Lord spoke to him in a vision, calling, “Ananias!” “Yes,
Lord!” he replied.
Numbers 24:4, Ezekial 8:3, 1 Kings
3:5, Revelation 1:1, They all agree, visions come from God.  At least the visions I’m talking about this
morning come from God. 
And throughout the Bible we see all kinds of different ways
that God spoke to His people, in Matthew 1:20 an Angel spoke to Joseph, in Acts
10:13 a disembodied voice spoke to Peter, In Exodus 3 God spoke to Moses
through a burning bush, in the book of Numbers God spoke to Balaam through his
donkey but in Exodus 20 God spoke to Moses face to face.
In the book of Nehemiah, God didn’t appear himself, he
didn’t use an angel, or a voice, or a burning bush, or a donkey, instead we are
told that God simply reached down and broke Nehemiah’s heart.  And I am convinced that is how God has given
us the vision that we have for Hammonds Plains, the HRM and for Cornerstone. 
It was twenty years ago in Brisbane Australia that God
started speaking to me about a new church that would be planted on the other
side of the world.  I believe that God
sent me here and that God gave me the vision for the church that would be
called Cornerstone.
And I’d better be careful in
that because the scriptures are very clear in their warnings concerning calling
our visions God’s.  Jeremiah 23:16 warns
us of the consequences for those who speak visions from their own heart. Jeremiah 23:16 This is
what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies says to his people: “Do not listen to these
prophets when they prophesy to you, filling you with futile hopes. They are
making up everything they say. They do not speak for the LORD!”
One good example is found in 1
Chronicles 22:7-8
“My son, I wanted to build
a Temple to honor the name of the LORD my God,” David told him.
What was David saying, “I have a dream, I have a vision” and
yet in the very next verse we read  But some time ago, God told me, “David, you
have killed too many people and have fought too many battles. That’s why you
are not the one to build my temple. David started by saying “This is
what I wanted to do”, but God checked him and said, “but that isn’t what I want
you to do.”
When we are walking in step with God then our visions are
his visions and his visions are our visions. 
And when we are walking with him and our visions aren’t his visions then
he will correct us, and we’d better be listening.  Because at that point we will have one of two
choices, we can listen to him and stop or we can ignore him and continue on
with our plans without him.  But we do
that at our own risk.  David could have
built the temple, but God wouldn’t have blessed it or him.
God gives us specific dreams, directions and goals, and if
we are to be obedient in our Christian walk then we are going to have to follow
his direction for our lives.
Some of those guidelines are
pretty general, like the one found in Matthew 28:19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.
That is God’s direction for all churches and for all
believers.  Other dreams and visions are
specifically ours and ours alone here at Cornerstone.  But God will never, never, never leave his
people without direction. 
During the Exodus God led his people out of Egypt and through
the wilderness with a cloud during the day and a pillar of fire at night.  You say, “But Denn, what about the time they
were wandering in the wilderness?”  God
was still leading them, through their disobedience they had to wait to enter
the promised land but God was still leading them. 
And there may be times that we are called to wait, the ten
years between when Cornerstone had it first service and when we moved into our
building seemed like forever.  And I was
often reminded of John Wesley’s words when he said,  “The difference between me and God is that I am in
a hurry, and God is not”
Ok, if it is God who gives vision then to whom does he give
the vision to?  Well if we were to look
into the scripture we would see that Abraham, Isaac, Samuel, Joseph, David,
Daniel, Obadiah, Nahum, Solomon, Ezekiel, Micah, Mary, Joseph, Peter, Paul, Annias
and John all had a dream.  Princes,
priests, prophets, peasants, king, Pharisees, fishermen and farmers.  In other words they were God’s people.  The criteria for a vision from God is a
proper standing before God.
We need to be  “People who see
the invisible, hear the inaudible, believe the incredible and think the
unthinkable.”  In other words we
need to catch the dream that God has for Cornerstone.  And if we are to know what direction God
wants us to go in as a church first we need to know where God want us to end
up.  It was Yogi Berra who said “If you don’t
know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else.”
And once you settle on a destination it is easier to
determine a direction.  If you wanted to
go to Florida then you would go on google maps and find the easiest way to get
there, and chances are it wouldn’t be through London.  And it is unfortunate that too many churches
have never looked to a destination other then heaven.
William Burroughs wrote “There couldn’t be a society of people who didn’t dream. They’d be dead in
two weeks.”  Sounds suspiciously
like “Without a vision the people perish.” In this life do you know what the
thing is that separates the mediocre from the great?  A goal, a dream, a vision.  Whether it’s in business, education, personal
or the effect the church will have on the local community the thing that will
set us apart from all the rest will be our vision.
If you can’t dream it then you can’t have it.  You will only grow as big as your dreams, you
will only go as far as your vision permits. 
Vision very simply is the ability to see beyond tomorrow.
And for years it seemed as if our vision was; we need
property and our own building.  And that
was the vision that I cast at Cornerstone, some would say Ad nauseam.  And here we are, with property and our own
building.  And it’s a nice building, but
is it the fulfilment of the dream?  I
hope not. 
You understand the building and the property weren’t the
dream, they were simply tools to help us reach our dream.  Our dream when we moved from Brisbane to
Bedford was to establish a church that would reach the pre-churched the
unchurched and the de-churched for Christ and to impact and change our
world.  And we discovered that one of the
obstacles that we had in seeing that dream fulfilled was that we didn’t have a
permanent facility.  It was the vision to
reach people that allowed us to see over the mountain of not having our own
facility and to see around the obstacles that stood in our way of having that
facility.  And the vision and the dream
are the same today as they were when we started worshipping in rented space,  to establish a church that would reach the
pre-churched the unchurched and the de-churched for Christ and to impact and
change our world. 
The majority see the obstacles, the few see the objectives,
history records the success of the latter, while oblivion is the reward of the
former.  Through the years I have quoted
the words of  George Bernard Shaw who said You see things; and you
say “Why?” But I dream things that never were; and I say “Why not?”
Alexander Smith  said: “A man gazing on the stars is proverbially at the mercy of
the puddles in the road.”  Well
I’d rather see the stars and step in a few puddles then watch the puddles and
never see the stars.  It was reality that
caused the Israelites to see the height of Goliath standing.  It was the vision that allowed David to see
the length of Goliath lying down.  The
poorest man in the world is not the man without a cent it is the man without a
dream.
So let’s take a few moments and look at visions.
Vision Needs Proper
Perspective.
  Remember David and the
dream of his heart.  Anytime we catch a
vision we best examine it.  What is our
reasoning?  What is our rationale?  Why do we want to grow?  Why do we want expansion?  Is it to share Christ?  Is it to maximize the effect Christ can have
on this community, this city and this province? 
Or do we want to be able to say “Hey look at us, see how big and wonderful
Cornerstone Church is and what a great man of God Denn Guptill is”
Probably one of the greatest factors in your perspective is
your position.  If you go out into the
parking lot what can you see?  The
Hammonds Plains Road, across the road to Tim’s and the new construction,  on the other side of Gatehouse is the coming
soon sign for Esso that’s been there for almost three years.  But if you were to go up to Hammonds Plains
road at night, you can see the lights of Bedford, Dartmouth, Halifax, and Sackville.
In Ezekiel
40:2 the prophet writes Ezekiel 40:2 In a vision
from God he took me to the land of Israel and set me down on a very high
mountain.
If you want to expand your vision you gotta get on the
mountain top with God, because the higher you go the more you’ll see, beyond
today and beyond tomorrow, and into the future that God has prepared for
us.  The day before he was assassinated Martin Luther King  Jr. made this statement I just want to do God’s
will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over, and
I’ve seen the Promised Land.
We have to stand high and to dream, heed the words of D.L. Moody who on his death bed called his children
to him  and said “If
God be your partner then make your plans big.”
Vision is Often Solitary And Then is Shared  God often gives his people vision through
their leaders.  God didn’t take the
people of Israel up Mt. Sinai, he took just took Moses.  God didn’t burden the hearts of all the people
in exile about the temple walls, only Nehemiah.  
It was Gideon who was given the dream, not the 32,000 people
who chose to follow him. 
As one wit put it, for God so loved the world that he didn’t
send a committee. 
Listen to what King David told
his son Solomon in 1 Chronicles 28:10 So take this seriously. The LORD has chosen you to build a
Temple as his sanctuary. Be strong, and do the work.”
Who had God chosen? 
Solomon didn’t build the temple buy himself, he may not have even lifted
one finger to do it, but it was to him that God gave the dream, the vision of
the temple.  Time after time God gives
his dream and his vision to a leader and then commands that leader to share the
dreams and the visions with his people. 
And it is at that point that the people have the option of either
accepting the dream or rejecting the dream. 
God gave Caleb and Joshua a vision of the Promised Land, and they gave
that vision to the people of Israel and the people of Israel rejected the
vision and because of that they were denied entrance for 40 years.
As Martin Luther King Jr. stood at the foot of the Lincoln
Memorial he uttered those immortal words, “I have a
dream.” 
Well friends, I have
a dream, a dream of what God is going to do through Cornerstone and what God is
going to do through you.
Vision Requires Sacrifice 
Dreams don’t come cheap.  Boy
that’s a shocker isn’t it?  Let’s try it
again, Dreams don’t come cheap.  And a
dream without a sacrifice usually remains nothing but a dream.  And my dream is not different; it will
require sacrifice from each person who embraces the dream.  And as part of that you can be sure there
will be financial sacrifice, because everything Cornerstone does will be funded
through your giving.
Your giving is directly reflected in our ministry and our
ministry will be directly tied to your giving. 
And you can always be assured that the church leadership team will
always be accountable to you on how God’s money is spent. 
And it’s not just money, it’s also going to cost us
time.  Every person here has something
that they can contribute to the ministry of Cornerstone.  I know I beat this drum a lot but there is
something for everyone at Cornerstone to do. 
From greeting people as they come in, making them feel welcome with a
hot cup of coffee.  Providing a safe and
clean nursery and children’s ministry, do you know that there are people who
come in on a regular basis to wash and clean every toy that the children in the
nursery play with. 
Christianity involves sacrifice and being a part of the
ministry at Cornerstone will require sacrifice. Remember if it wasn’t for
someone else’s sacrifice you probably wouldn’t be here.
So where does this leave us on January 5th 2014?  Good question so let’s end with two
scriptures and a quote.
In Acts
1:8 Jesus has appeared to his disciples for the last time, you might
recall that he has been crucified, he was raised from the dead and he has spent
the last six weeks with the ones called apostles and now he is about to return
to heaven but before he leaves he makes a promise: 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.”
That promise wasn’t just for that small group two thousand years
ago, it is the same promise that Jesus Christ is making to us today, he will
still send the Holy Spirit and with the Spirit’s coming we will receive the
power we need to touch our communities for God. 
And in the next chapter in the book of Acts the promise is fulfilled,
the Holy Spirit comes, the apostles are changed and ultimately they change the
world.  Now listen to what how Peter
explains the coming of the spirit, Acts 2:16-17 No, what you see was predicted long ago by the prophet Joel:
‘In the last days,’ God says, ‘I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your
sons and daughters will prophesy. Your young men will see visions, and your old
men will dream dreams.
I used to talk about the vision that God gave me for Cornerstone,
lately I’ve begun to see it as a dream. 
But whatever we want to call it, it remains the same.  My dream, my vision is to reach this
community for Christ, and to do my part to make Cornerstone Church everything
that God would have it to be.  And I’m
willing to pay the price.  Are you?  Now the quote.   It was W. B. Yeats who wrote, “But I, being poor, have only my
dreams; I have spread my dreams under your feet; Tread softly because you tread
on my dreams.”


I Resolve


It’s the New Year and a great time for reflecting and being thankful for where we are in life and what we have.  Just the other day I read a story about a woman in South Carolina who beat and stabbed her common law husband with a ceramic squirrel.  Yes, a ceramic squirrel.  It seems Helen Williams was enraged when her partner returned home from his Christmas Eve beer run & was unable to obtain beer because the store was closed.  As I read the story, I reflected on how thankful I was that I’ve never been stabbed with a ceramic squirrel, and more so that I’ve never stabbed anyone with a ceramic squirrel.  The man survived, not so the squirrel.
I don’t know all the circumstances that led to the squirrel stabbing, but I would suspect that any number of those circumstances had to do with choices made by those involved.
In 2014, I have resolved to not make choices that will lead to me stabbing anyone with a ceramic squirrel.  And isn’t that what New Year’s Resolutions are all about?  Resolving to make good choices.  Whether it is choosing to do better things or choosing to not continue to do harmful things.  What choices will you make this year?  Have a great week and remember: To see what is really possible, you will have to attempt the impossible.