Well, that makes sense.


I was getting ready for church last week when I noticed how grey my hair had become. As I wondered how that could possibly have happened without me noticing, I remembered something I was told almost thirty years ago. Roy Corey, a member of the Truro Church, told me how he had discovered his eyesight was directly connected to the amount of pigment in his hair. When I questioned him more, he told me how he had noticed that when his hair was dark he had no problem seeing, but as his hair became progressively greyer his eyesight got progressively worse. Ergo, it was apparent that his eyesight was directly connected to the amount of pigment in his hair.
When you think about that, it makes complete sense. An obvious case of cause and effect. But I have discovered in life that just because something makes sense doesn’t mean it’s true. Those in the world will often ask you to embrace their culture and their values simply because they make sense. Granted, sometimes they do make sense, but that doesn’t mean they are true or right.
And just because you colour your hair doesn’t mean you won’t need glasses. Have a great week and remember: To see what is really possible, you will have to attempt the impossible.

Huh?


I’m confused, again.  When Bruce Jenner decided that he wasn’t the gender that he had been born and decided to change how he had been created he was lauded as a hero.  When Rachel Dolezal decided that she wasn’t the race that she had been born and decided to change it she was denounced as a fraud.  If you don’t know the Dolezal story, it appears that a  number of years ago she began living as a black woman, she coloured her skin, permed her hair and eventually was hired as the president of the Spokane, Wash., branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.  One headline announced that she had been outed as a white person.   
This is not a rant against Bruce Jenner, I don’t know Bruce and he/she has never asked my opinion, nor is it an attempt to justify Ms. Dolezal’s decision, again I don’t know her or her motives. 
What bothers me is how different their situations are being viewed by society and the media. The moral absolutes are now determined by the media and how they portray a particular story.  But regardless of how the stories are reported or how these individuals feel about themselves, Bruce Jenner is not a woman and Rachel Dolezal is not black.   Have a great week and remember: To see what is really possible, you will have to attempt the impossible.

Love Wins!


Most folks have heard about the shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina.  If you missed it, last Wednesday during a prayer meeting 21 year old Dylan Roof opened fire killing nine, including the pastor of the church.  Roof has said that his motivation was to start a race war in the United States.
The on-line response has been interesting, I have seen a number of Pastor’s forums discussing the need for their parishioners to be able to come to church armed, in order to defend themselves in similar circumstances.  Perhaps they missed the part where Jesus said “Turn the other cheek” and “Those who live by the sword will die by the sword.”  Others have talked about the culture of violence and racial divide in the US that would allow incidents like this shooting to become more and more common.
But ultimately the voices that have been heard the loudest are the voices of the victims’ families. When Roof appeared in court just days after the shooting, family members were allowed to address the court and the accused.  And over and over again they echoed the same message, “We are hurting, but we forgive you.” 
And there is no answer to that, because ultimately: Love wins!  Have a great week and remember: To see what is really possible, you will have to attempt the impossible.

A Little Respect


So, two Canadians have been detained, along with several others, in Malaysia for causing an earthquake that killed 16 people.  And while the ability to cause earthquakes seems like something a villain from a James Bond movie might possess, it wasn’t that complicated.  It seems that the Canadians and their friends peeled off to have their pictures taken in the nude at the peak of Mount Kinabalu, which is considered a sacred site by many of the residents of Sabah.  Sabah, known for its natural beauty, is a state on Borneo’s island.
When their guide asked them not to disrespect the site they responded obnoxiously and rudely.  There are some in the country who feel that the disrespect that was shown was the cause of the earthquake, and the deaths that resulted.
We don’t have to agree with someone in order to respect what is sacred to them.  We would want people to respect our beliefs and even our church building so it shouldn’t be that far of a stretch to extend the same respect to others.
And while I don’t think the rude tourists should be punished for causing the earthquake, maybe it would be fair if they had to pay a price for being disrespectful to what others view as sacred.  Have a great week and remember: To see what is really possible, you will have to attempt the impossible.

Dress for Sucess Part 2

How many guys had GI
Joes when you were kids?  They weren’t
dolls they were action figures.  Ken was
a doll, and GI Joe was cooler and had cooler stuff.  I was an army brat so the only GI Joe I had
was the army one, but a friend of mine had all four, and he had all the
equipment that went with them, jeeps and guns, belts and packs and holsters, it
was so cool.
It there had of been
action figures 2000 years ago I bet that the Roman Solider one would have been
a big hit.  He would have come with
armour, and a helmet, a sword and shield and you would be able to get
accessories like chariots and Christians to feed to the lions. 
We started this
series two weeks ago when we looked at an overview of the entire passage.  Paul had been arrested for preaching the
Gospel and as a Roman citizen he appeals his arrest to Caesar and has ended up
under house arrest in Rome.  He uses his
time to write letters of encouragement and correction to the various churches
that he has helped to start across Asia and Europe.  One of those letters was the Letter to the
Ephesians and in this section Paul focuses on what he perceives to be a
critical area.
In our first week we
focused on how We Need to understand There is a Battle, Sometimes
in 2015 we find the entire concept of a spiritual battle something that we
might read about in a Stephen King novel but Paul wanted us to know that it is
real We Need to Know Who The Enemy
Isn’t,
The enemy isn’t other believers or even those who say
they don’t believe, they are distractions who we don’t focus on who the enemy
really is and that was the next point We Need to Know Who The Enemy Is,  The enemy is the one who wants our souls and
that is Satan, the Devil.  And then I
spoke about how We Need to Dress for Battle and finally We Need to Remember Our Secret Weapon, which
of course is prayer.    And while we were
on the fourth point I said that we would come back and revisit it, and last
week we came back and started to look at what it meant to dress for
battle. 
Now understand Paul
wasn’t teaching a lesson on Roman armour, it was just a convenient illustrative
device.  2000 years ago everyone knew
what Roman armour looked like Paul wouldn’t have had to explain what it meant
to gird your loins, or what Roman breastplate looked like or a Roman
helmet.  People just got it.  But 2000 years later while we might know that
the guy with Sajonna is a Roman soldier we’ve probably never thought all that
much about what he was wearing.  And here
it is for those who asked for it, the only picture of a Roman Soldier wearing
pants, yep that’s the Duke.
So last week I told
you that It’s Not Some, it’s All, You
can’t simply pick and choose which parts of the armour you want to wear and
what parts you’d rather leave behind and you need to Stand Your Ground, each
Roman soldier was given a spot in the formation and his sole responsibility was
to defend that position.  As Christians
the primary spiritual battles that we will fight will be personal ones, what we
believe and how we behave. 
And so the first thing that Paul tells us is essential is we need to Put
on the Belt of Truth. 
And it
really doesn’t matter if we use the newer translations which talk about the
belt of truth or the older translations that remind us to girt our loins with
truth, the main thing is Truth.  And that
is the understanding and acceptance of Jesus’ words 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.
There are moral
truths that are unchanging, regardless of what society says, regardless of what
popular opinion says and regardless of what the Supreme Court says.  And that is why Jesus told us in John
8:31-32
 Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my
disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings.  And you will know the
truth, and the truth will set you free.”
 
So once we have established
the truth we are told Ephesians 6:14 Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body
armour of God’s righteousness.   Put on the Body Armour of God’s
Righteousness   
In some translations it simply says
righteousness, and because of that some folks feel that Paul is taking about
how we act and how we live.  That we
cover ourselves in our righteous behaviour. 
The problem is that
when we take a stand on the moral high ground of our behaviour we are setting
ourselves up for a fall.  The prophet Isaiah
reminds us that our righteousness is like filthy rags, just dead leaves blowing
in the wind.  That would be like a
policeman making his own bulletproof vest and stuffing it with leaves from the
yard.  When you remind Satan of how good
you are, he will be right there to remind you of how good you aren’t.
Do you really want
to trust your eternity to your righteousness? 
The assurance here is to understand that our body armour is not our
righteousness but God’s righteousness. 
It’s not spiritual
protection based on how good we are instead it is our knowledge of how good God
is, that God is righteous.  Can we say
with David in Psalm 71:19 Your righteousness, O God,
reaches to the highest heavens. You have done such wonderful things. Who can
compare with you, O God?  
This is the
knowledge in our lives that God is good and God is just and that God is
God.  We may not understand God, and
that’s ok, He’s God, if we could understand everything about God it would
diminish who he is.  He is God.  His commands are just and he care about us
and loves us.  And that knowledge of
God’s righteousness is an issue of the heart, knowing that God loves us and if he
doesn’t want us to do some things it is for the best. 
There are things we
tell our children and grandchildren not to do, and they don’t always understand
the why behind it, and even if we explained it they might not understand or
agree but it is for their own good.  And
so when God warns us about not doing certain things then we need to trust his
righteousness, that he knows what is best. 
And we hear people
ask. . . If God is good and God is righteous than who do you explain. . .
?  And you can fill in the blank, World
Hunger, War, Cancer, Racism, Violence, the Kardashians or Golf?
But the reality is
that God has given mankind the intelligence and resources to solve all of those
problems, well, all of them except golf. 
People aren’t hungry because we have a shortage of food, years ago I
heard it said “we don’t have a production problem we have a distribution
problem.”  Food that is wasted and thrown
away because it is slightly blemished or there isn’t enough profit it selling
it.   God isn’t responsible for children
going to bed hungry, people are. 
You think of what
would happen if we invested the money and resources that are spent on the
military and defence into cancer research? 
Violence and wars are the result of bad people not a bad God. 
And as Jesus’ best
friend wrote in 2 Peter 3:13  But we are looking forward
to the new heavens and new earth he has promised, a world filled with God’s
righteousness.
Today might not be
perfect, but that wasn’t God’s plan, that was mankind’s choice, but there will
come a time that we will live in a world filled with God’s righteousness. 
So we have our belt
and out body armour, but we aren’t finished yet. 
Ephesians 6:15  For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good
News so that you will be fully prepared.
For shoes, put on the
peace that comes from the Good News  
It’s
the thing we do when we are getting ready to leave.  How many times have you heard someone says
“Just a minute I have to put my shoes on.”? 
And these weren’t slip ons that Paul was referencing, these were sandals
that laced up.
I would suspect that very seldom would you have heard a
Roman Soldier say “Just a minute I have to put my shoes on.”  that, when they were on duty they were ready
for service, and from what I understand when they were awake they were on duty.
And so Paul tells the Ephesians to be prepared by having the
peace that comes from the Good News. 
That’s the gospels, the story of Jesus. Have you read the gospels?  Do you know the story of Jesus?  I mean more than what you hear at Cornerstone
or have seen on a television mini-series?  
This week take the time to read one of the Gospels.  If you don’t have a paper bible you can read
it on your phone, or tablet or computer. 
If you don’t have a paper bible and want one just let one of the staff
know and we will get you one.  The
version we use here at Cornerstone is the New Living Translation and it reads
well. 
Pick a gospel and read the Jesus story, read about what he
taught how he lived, how he died and how he lived again.  Get to know his friends and family so when
people challenge you and say “Did Jesus really teach that?” or “Jesus wouldn’t
act that way, or say that.”  You’ll be
prepared because you will know the story.
And the result is a gift that Jesus promised in   John 14:27  Jesus said “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the
peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.”
And if there are questions that you can’t answer then Paul
tells us  Ephesians
6:16
 In addition to all of these, hold
up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil.   Hold
up the shield of faith
 
Fiery arrows were the nuclear weapons of the day, kind of
glad the New Living Translation calls them fiery arrows.  The older translations called them Fiery
Darts, and if the preacher was the least bit dyslexic, well. . . 
These were just what the name implies, arrows that were
dipped in tar and lit on fire, they were then shot into the oncoming troops,
terrifying. 
The defence against them were huge shield made out of wood
and covered with cow hide.  They would be
raised up to provide cover, the arrows would sink into them and the fire would
be put out, ingenious. 
In this analogy the fiery arrows are the darts of doubt that
Satan sends the way of the believer.  When
he whispers in your ear: You don’t really believe the creation story do you? You
don’t really believe that God created Adam and Eve?  You don’t really believe that Jesus was born
of a virgin or rose from the dead?  You
really don’t believe that Jesus is the only way to God do you?  And then Satan will tell you that if you have
the least of doubts than how can you call yourself a Christian? 
And no you can’t prove that God created the earth and
everything on it in 6 days, and no you will never be able to prove that Jesus
was born of a virgin or that he rose from the dead.  But those who claim that the earth and
universe just happened, they can’t prove that they are taking in on faith.  And those who tell you that Jesus couldn’t
have been born of a virgin or couldn’t have been raised from the dead, they
have no evidence to the contrary.  There
is no record of Mary discounting the virgin birth story, or someone who knew
how Jesus fooled people into thinking he died and rose again. 
There are some things and some questions that you sometimes
have to take on faith.  And that’s not a
cop out.  There are all kinds of things
that we take in faith in life and not all of them are spiritual.  We don’t have to know how things work in
order to believe they will work.
I have discovered in my Christian life that when one of
those questions comes my way and I don’t have definitive proof that I need to
use my shield of faith to put out the flames of doubt that Satan is trying to
ignite in my heart. 
Ephesians 6:17  Put on salvation as your
helmet. . .   Put
on Salvation as your Helmet
 
It’s interesting the helmet the Roman soldier wore was the
only thing that protected him from behind. 
His armour was designed for battle and battles aren’t fought with the
thought of retreat.  I read years ago
that when failure becomes an option than failure becomes the outcome. 
But look at the helmet that the Roman Solider wore.  It come down and covers the back of his head
and his neck.  I don’t know the reason
the helmet was designed like that but I do know that our salvation is not only
about tomorrow but it’s also about yesterday. 
Our salvation allows us to look to the future to the victory
that is before us but it is based on the fact that God has forgiven us of our
past.  And when Satan tries to get into
your head to remind you of bad decisions you might have made in your past just
remind him that those things have been forgiven.  That your salvation has taken care of what’s
behind you. 
Remember it was in one of Peter’s first sermons after
Pentecost, he was preaching to a crowd outside the temple in Jerusalem, his
message was one that he had preached before. 
Common theme, God sent his Son, you killed him, now say you are
sorry.  And he concludes by telling the
crowd in Acts 3:19-20  Now repent of your sins and turn to God, so that your
sins may be wiped away.  Then times of refreshment will come from the
presence of the Lord, and he will again send you Jesus, your appointed Messiah.
What happens to your sins when you repent of them and turn
to God?  They are wiped away, they are
gone, that is the protection that the helmet of salvation gives from the past.  The time of refreshment that comes from the
presence of the Lord, that is your salvation allowing you to see the
future.  
And finally Paul tells the church, Ephesians
6:17
 . . . and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. So
we are to Take the sword of the Spirit Did you catch what has
happened here?  Up to now all of the
armour that has been talked about has been defensive, it has been designed to
defend you.  But the sword was an
offensive weapon.  And Paul tells us it
is the word of God. 
In the book of Hebrews we are told the same thing,  Hebrews 4:12  For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is
sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit,
between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.
Do you remember the story from the Gospels when Jesus was
tempted in the wilderness?  Sure you do, and
with each temptation Jesus responded by saying, “It is written” and then he
would quote scripture.
The reason I use so much scripture in my messages is because
it isn’t about what Denn thinks, it’s about what the word of God says.  When we take a stand against something and we
get all spiritual about it let’s make sure that it’s a biblical stand and not
just a “that’s what I think or that’s how I feel” stand. 
And there will be times that people feel that we are being
offensive, and will take offense to the word of God.  But let’s remember what Paul wrote to Timothy
2 Timothy 3:16  All
Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make
us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and
teaches us to do what is right.   Very
few people like to be corrected, even when we are wrong we don’t like for
someone to point it out.  And in a lot of
cases being perceived as wrong or even being wrong isn’t the end of the world.  But there are times that it can be. 
If someone told you they were going to a certain destination
and told you the route and you knew they were heading in the wrong direction
then correcting them would be in order. 
If you knew that someone was going to take the wrong medicine you would
correct them, wouldn’t you? Or would you be afraid of offending them? 
But it’s tough at times, but when there are eternal
consequences and we don’t correct someone how much blame will we have to
share? 
But handling a sword is a lot tougher than it looks.  And if you don’t do it right you will
probably get hurt.  Get to know your
bible and what it says. And then Paul finishes by writing,  Ephesians 6:18  Pray
in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent
in your prayers for all believers everywhere.
And Again with the Secret
Weapon
You see we aren’t in this alone, God never intended for us to take
on the devil by ourselves, because it wouldn’t be a fair fight.  And there are three things that Paul tells us
about prayer.  Don’t use prayer as a last resort, “Well we’ve tried everything
else we might as well pray.”  Paul says
to pray at all times and on every occasion, prayer is just talking to God,
don’t be a stranger.  Don’t just take
your problems to him, thank him when things are going right, ask him for wisdom
and strength when things aren’t going well and don’t be afraid to ask for a
miracle if that’s what you need.
Paul also says to be
persistent in Your prayers
.  Pray
like it matters to you, don’t whisper a prayer once and be done with it.  And don’t just pray for yourself, pray for other Christians, even those
you don’t know. 
And we close with the words of Mark
Twain
who said “Clothes
make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.”  And
Christians who don’t wear their spiritual armour will have little or no
spiritual influence on Society.  
So have your put on
the belt of truth?  Have you girded your
loins for battle?  Have your covered
yourself in the knowledge of God’s righteousness?  Are you prepared with the peace of the
gospel?  Are you certain of your
salvation and the forgiveness it brings?  And are you comfortable using both your shield
and your sword?  The choice is yours, as
a Christ Follower, each day will you dress for success or will you dress for
failure?

Whiter than White

I had forgotten how white, white was supposed to be, until I saw how white, white was again.  Say that sentence real fast a few times!  We had our house washed the other day and while I knew that it was a little grimy, it wasn’t until the first section was finished and we could see the difference that we realized just how dirty it had gotten through the years.  And it wasn’t like we had a forest fire or a volcano that covered the house in soot, it was just life. The daily accumulation of life.  But we couldn’t simply wish it clean; it cost us something and it took some time and a concentrated effort before our house was white again. 
And that made me realize how careful we have to be with our souls, and it’s not necessarily the grime of some catastrophic sin but just the daily exposure to life that sullies our souls.  That’s why David begged God in the Psalms to wash him and make him whiter than snow.   But it doesn’t just happen, you can’t simply wish your soul clean. It will take a little time and a concentrated effort if you are going to be as white as white can be.     Have a great week and remember: To see what is really possible, you will have to attempt the impossible.