How We Grow

 You ever
think about Church Growth?  You ever
wonder about whether or not Cornerstone is growing?  Does it every cross or mind, is it even
relevant in your life?  

There are
some folks at Cornerstone who honestly never think about church growth, they
attend, they enjoy the services but whether the church is growing or in decline
never crosses their minds, until it effects them personally. 
They
arrive and can’t find a parking space, the coffee has run out or they have to
sit too close to the front.  Or if all of
a sudden we didn’t have the volunteers to greet them at the door or make their
coffee then they might wonder where folks went. 
But it’s not on their radar, if asked they might say: Not my circus, not
my monkey.
Then there
are others who are asking me all the time about how our attendance is?  Are there more folks attending now then there
were last year?    Others want to know what our plans for growth
are, will we add more services or expand the building?  
And they
want to know what Cornerstone is actually doing to grow, do we have a plan?  Because they know that in order for us to
continue to grow we need to have a plan for where people will go, or we will
end up in the same situation as the restaurant in St. Louise that Yogi Berra was speaking of when he said “Nobody goes there anymore, it’s too crowded.”
And then
there is a third group and they think that any talk of church growth is
worldly, that we should simply let God take care of growing the church and we
should focus on more spiritual issues.
But regardless of how you view church growth the
reality is the church was born to grow, just like each one of us was born to
grow and everything alive was born to grow.
Listen to some of the early descriptions
of the church Acts
2:41
Those who believed what Peter said were
baptized and added to the church that day—about 3,000 in all. Acts 2:47  all the while praising
God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to
their fellowship those who were being saved. 
Acts
4:4
 But many of the people who heard
their message believed it, so the number of believers now totaled about 5,000
men, not counting women and children.
Eventually they just stopped counting, and
so we read in Acts
5:14
Yet more and more people believed and
were brought to the Lord—crowds of both men and women. Acts 9:31  The church then had peace throughout Judea,
Galilee, and Samaria, and it became stronger as the believers lived in the fear
of the Lord. And with the encouragement of the Holy Spirit, it also grew in
numbers.
Last week
Stefan led you through “Why We Need to Grow” and he spoke about how Jesus
Commands it, the Bible Illustrates it and Reality Demands it.
But that
still leaves us with the question: how? 
How do churches grow?
Sometimes
I embarrass Angela, for various reasons. One of those times was when we went to
see “A League of their Own” with a group of friends in Australia.
Perhaps
you remember the movie.  It starred Tom
Hanks, Madonna and Genna Davis and it tells the story of the first professional
women’s baseball league which was formed during the Second World War.
And there
is a  scene where Coach Jim Dugan is
confronting Genna Davis’ character who wants to quit the team and  move home to Oregon.  So let’s pick it up with this clip.  (Clip for A League of their own.)
And I
loved that quote, and so in the dark of the movie theatre I start asking who
has a pen and paper to write it down. 
Because that is not only the reality of baseball it is the reality of
church growth, it is supposed to be hard if it was easy everybody would be
doing it, and they’re not. 
There are
only a small percentage of churches that grow on a consistent basis.  The rest? 
The best case scenario is that they hold their own.  They aren’t growing but they aren’t
declining, they have plateaued.  Sometimes
they will say they are consolidating or just stepping back so they can get a
running start at moving to the next level. 
And often it might seem like it’s a plateau but once you start looking at
it over the long term you would see that it is actually a gradual decline. 
But for
too many churches the decline isn’t gradual. 
Every year there are fewer people worshipping than there had been before.  And it wasn’t always like that, I mean before
they could stop being a church of 100 or 200 they had to become a church of 100
or 200.  There was growth somewhere in
their history.
Last week
Stefan talked about how church growth was modelled in the New Testament, our
scripture reading this morning was a letter written to a growing church by the
Apostle Paul, but not one of those churches still exist today. 
So let’s
start with the last verse of the scripture that was read earlier,  1 Corinthians 1:10
 I appeal to you, dear brothers and
sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with
each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind,
united in thought and purpose.
So we
need to begin by Preparing the Church.  Sometimes, when I talk to pastors about
church growth they seem to imply that perhaps it isn’t God’s will for their
church to grow.  And I’m not quite sure
how to respond to that.  Not God’s will
that their church should grow? 
Does that
mean that it’s not God’s will that people will be reached with the love and
grace of God?  Does that mean that while
God loved the world so much that he sent his Son to die for them that he
doesn’t want them to be reached by a particular church?  Does that mean that when Christ commanded the apostles
to go into all the world teaching them, baptizing them and discipling them that
he was only kidding?
I do
believe that there are some churches that God doesn’t want to grow, because
they are aren’t the churches they are supposed to be.   Paul
was afraid that the church in Corinth was heading down that road and he
addressed those problem in the two letters he wrote to them.
And while
I think it is God’s will that all healthy churches should see growth I also believe
that there are times in the life of a particular church that it would be
unhealthy and unhelpful for Christians or pre-Christians to become part of the
group.
And so
the church needs to be prepared for growth, no quarrelling, no divisiveness, and
no bitterness. In the book of Revelation there are letters addressed to 7
churches and in those letter Jesus addresses issues that are keeping those
churches from being all that can be. 
Issues like they had lost their first love, their love for one another
and their love for God, that they had accepted false teachings in the
church.  Teachings about doctrine and
teachings about moral behaviour. 
And so in
order for a church to be prepared for growth they need to be prepared to be the
church.
You’ve
often heard me quote Bill Hybels who says “The local church is the hope of the world.”   But that’s only a part of the quote
the full quote says  “The local church is the hope of the world.  When it’s working right.”  
But it’s
not just about the “Church” in general.
In
his second letter to Timothy Paul instructs Timothy with these words  2 Timothy 2:15  Work hard so you can present yourself to God and
receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and
who correctly explains the word of truth.
So, along
with preparing the church it’s also about Preparing
the Pastor
  I have been around the
block a couple of times and I have discovered that some pastors grow churches
and some pastors don’t grow churches. 
That is a reality that cannot be denied. 
You can
check, there are pastors out there who have never consistently pastored growing
churches.  The previous pastor might have
seen church growth and the next pastor might see church growth but they
don’t. 
That doesn’t
mean that they aren’t men and women of God, it doesn’t mean they don’t have a
great prayer life or that they don’t love Jesus,  it just means they can’t grow a church, or at
least they can’t if they continue to do what they’ve always done and continue
to act like they’ve always acted. 
One of my
favourite sayings comes from Mark Twain who said “If
you always do what you’ve done then you’ll always get what you’ve always got.”  And we all know the definition
of insanity “Doing the same things over and over
again while expecting different results.” 
And
you might be thinking it was Einstein who said that.  Probably not, it also been attributed to
Benjamin Franklin and Mark Twain.
As one commentator wrote, “It’s not surprising that it has been
attributed to Einstein, since everything but the Book of Genesis has been
attributed to him at some point.”
And so
some pastors will go through their entire ministry doing the same thing year
after year without seeing consistent growth in the churches they are serving,
but they never change the way they do things, they keep doing the same things
and they keep expecting different results.
Oh they
might have a year here or there when things pick up,  but in reality the church has either plateaued
or gone into decline.
Now this
is where it get’s tricky, because there are pastors who do see growth,
consistently in whatever church they are in. 
Oh there might be a year here or there that they see a decline or things
plateau but the trend is normally one of growth.  And the scary part is that there aren’t a lot
of those pastors out there.  Right now on
our district there are probably fewer than a dozen.
Why is
that?  Why are some pastors capable of
growing a church and some aren’t?  Well I
have discovered that if you suggest that it’s because they are talented or
skilled at what they do then there are those who would say that is vain the
real reason is that  that God has chosen
to work through them. 
But
really which is more vain to say that 1) Someone has skills and abilities that allow
them to grow a church or 2) That they have God’s favour upon them? 
I’d
rather have someone tell me that they are more skilled at something than I am
rather than that God loves them more than he love me.
We all
understand that we aren’t all naturally gifted at all the same things.  I can’t sing. 
That’s not a spiritual issue that is reality, I love to sing but I’m
really horrible at it.   
Now, not
only can’t I sing but if you know me at all then you know, surprisingly, that I
am not comfortable meeting new people. 
It’s not
that I don’t like people, or I  mind
getting to know people, I’m just really uncomfortable in the process. 
I wasn’t
here last Sunday because I serve our district as director of Global Partners,
that’s our overseas work.  And I need to
represent our district occasionally at events, last week I was in Holland
Michigan for a conference.  I really
wasn’t looking forward to it because I didn’t think I would know anyone at the
event, so it was looking like a day of meeting new people. 
I can’t
do anything about the singing, I’ve tried. 
Not going to happen outside of a supernatural work of God.  And people who sing can’t understand why I
can’t sing.
And
people who love to meet new people can’t understand why I find it really
uncomfortable, not just a little uncomfortable but really uncomfortable.   
But that
is something I can do something about, so I work hard at being able to meet new
people, I’ve read books, watched videos and I go out of my way in order to
intentionally do it.  
I’m still not comfortable, still don’t enjoy doing
it but I do it.  Why?  Because it’s important for Cornerstone and
important for the Kingdom.
So the pastor
needs to prepare himself to be all that God would have him to be if the church
is going to grow.  And that may involve
stepping outside their comfort zone and maybe even changing their behaviour.
But let’s
continue, in his letter to Titus Paul tells the preacher he’s writing to in
this letter  about the behaviour that is
expected from various groups in the church and he finishes by saying:
Titus
2:10
.
. . Then they will make the teaching about God our Saviour attractive in every
way.
So now we
need to look at Preparing the Church  Now in case you are thinking that I’ve
slipped a gear I know that this was the first point.  In the first point I was speaking about
preparing the “Church” spiritually but now I want to talk about preparing the
“Church” in the practical sense. 
Might I
even say working at making the church more attractive?
What
happens at your home when you are expecting guests?  I would suspect that if you are like most of
us you tidy things up and are on your best behaviour.  I’m not talking about being phoney but simply
putting your best foot forward.
You ever
sell a house?  When you know there is
going to be a showing you do your best to make sure that everything looks the
very best it can.  You might have it
staged,  you paint where it’s needed, you
get rid of the clutter, you clean up.  You
do all the things that you’ve been putting off. 
 It would be dishonest if you
showed them somebody else’s house but you do everything you can to show your
house in the best possible light.
That is
one of the reasons we refreshed the carpet this year that’s why when I walk
back across from Tims and see garbage on the lawn I pick it up and it’s why
Tamara and the gardeners work so hard keeping the gardens looking fresh. 
And Kudos
to Ben and Kaitlyn Slauenwhite, two of the youth at Cornerstone, who adopted
the garden around the big rock by the driveway and kept it weeded and tidy this
past summer.   
And you
can make a difference, if you are walking across the parking lot and see a
piece of garbage just stop and pick it up. 
I love the fact that we can drink coffee in the worship centre, but if
you spill it, just tell one of us so we can clean it up, because fresh wet
coffee is a whole lot easier to clean up than dry coffee.  And I promise we won’t think any less of you.
And it
means being courteous to our guests, every once in a while we  have a baby who objects to being in the
service.  And folks at Cornerstone are
usually pretty good about that, they understand that can be distracting and
take the little one out, but sometimes that doesn’t happen.  Sometimes it’s a guest and they aren’t
comfortable leaving their baby with strangers.    Let me give you a hint, glaring at them
will not make the little one any quieter nor will it endear you to the parents. 
And if
you arrive and someone is sitting where you normally sit then making them feel
uncomfortable isn’t an awesome way to react.
One of
our challenges at Cornerstone is parking so how can we make sure that there are
parking spaces for our guests? 
There is
all kinds of parking off the pavement. 
Both up by the corner where I park and over on the side where the rest
of the staff parks.  It might mean
walking another 20  or 30 feet but really
in the light of eternity is that all that far? 
Some folks have started parking on Gatehouse and that is another option
especially if you are concerned about not being able to get out of the gravel
area in a timely manner. 
It might
mean moving over so there is room for others in your row, even if it means you
won’t have an extra seat between you and the person next to you, most of them
don’t bite.  The reason we spent the
extra money and put racks under the seat is so you’d have a place to put your
bible and purse.
And just
take the time to be helpful and friendly. 
For a lot of people coming to a church for the first time can be a
little intimidating. 
I
mentioned that I was away last week, I was in Holland Michigan for a
denominational function where I was representing the district, and I can be
really cheap when it comes to booking flights. 
I figure that a travel day is pretty well shot anyway so If I can save
some money by making an extra stop I figure that’s money that can be used
somewhere else. 
So I flew
from Halifax to Philadelphia and then to Chicago and then to Grand Rapids and
then I rented a mule and wagon to get to Holland.  Just kidding about the mule and wagon it was
actually a Ford, they wouldn’t upgrade me to the mule. 
When I
landed in Philadelphia my boarding pass for my next flight didn’t have a gate
number on it, so I went over to the Airline counter presented my ticket and
asked what gate my flight was leaving from. 
The lady punched some keys on her computer and without looking up handed
me back my boarding pass and said “A3”. 
“A3”? 
I didn’t
have a clue, I looked up and I was at B something, people are going every which
way.  “Excuse me” I replied “Where is
A3?”  She looked at me as if I had just
asked what colour blue was and said “It’s down to the end of the corridor and
turn left”, as if everybody would know where A3 was and really in her world
everybody did know where A3 was.  The
problem was I wan’t from her world.   
When
someone arrives at Cornerstone the first time, they don’t know where to take
their kids, where to grab a coffee or where the bathroom is and they might not
be comfortable asking, I wouldn’t be.
That’s
why we have big signs that say nursery and washrooms and children.  But if someone is looking lost, take a minute
and ask if you can help.  In a lot of
cases it’s super helpful if you say let me take you over to where you sign your
kids in or I’ll introduce you to someone in the nursery. 
You might
not want to offer to walk them to the washroom but you know what I mean. 
And if
you are on greeting or in one of the children’s ministry areas it is always
helpful to be there and to be on time. 
It’s just awkward to take a guest somewhere and the person who is supposed
to be there isn’t.
Some
folks don’t necessarily need to be talked to when they come to a church the
first time, personally I’m good with a smile and a nod.  But others are looking to connect, and you
can usually tell.  If you see someone
standing looking lost, then introducing yourself is always a good place to
start and mentioning that there is coffee available is a good icebreaker.
And it
might be outside of your comfort zone, if I was going to do what I am most
comfortable with my office would be right off the platform and I would stay in
my office and just magically show up on the platform when the service started
and then when the service was over I would disappear into my office again.
Instead I
come down early and try to find folks I don’t know that I can talk to and
following the service I greet people at the door.
When I
plan the service and write  my message I
need to remind myself all the time to be clear in my preaching, that not
everybody who comes to Cornerstone was brought up in Sunday School or learning
bible stories at their mother’s knee.
So let’s
go back to the question from last week, Why? Why Should we grow?  One of the people I did know at the
conference was Chad McCallum, Chad is director of Mobilization for Global
Partners and recently his 10 year old son Miles asked him “Dad if telling people about Jesus and them saying yes
means that they would got to heaven then why wouldn’t everybody want to tell
people about Jesus?”
Miles had
a good question, and why wouldn’t everybody want their church to grow if that
meant reaching more people so they could go to heaven?
Let’s
finish today with the words of Coach Jimmy Duggan “It’s
supposed to be hard, if it wasn’t hard everyone would do it”, and God’s
promise from Joshua
1:9
 This is my command—be strong and courageous!
Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you
go.”

You Can Check in Now



I thought I was booked, I was planning on going and never doubted for a minute that I wouldn’t make the trip.  Back in June, I booked my trip to represent the Atlantic District at a conference in Michigan.  I even paid for it, and then I tried to check in online only to have US Airways tell me that I wasn’t actually booked.  It seems that they had changed one leg of my reservation after I booked my trip to and Expedia forgot to confirm the change so the booking lapsed, even though I had paid for it.  Oops.  Luckily I had tried to check in the day before I was supposed to leave and discovered the error. 
After many hours on the phone with the airline and Expedia, we got it worked out, but Expedia had to buy me very expensive tickets to get me to Holland in time for the conference. Oops.  But all’s well that ends well.
I have another booking, one for Heaven and I confirmed my booking the other day when I read 1 John 5:13 I have written this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life” Hope you’ve confirmed your booking as well.
Have a great week and remember: To see what is really possible, you will have to attempt the impossible.

Just wait. . .


I read an article a while ago that said that we will spend 5 years of our life waiting in line! I was probably reading it while I was waiting.   There have been times that I’ve felt like I waited 5 years in one line, usually behind someone checking lottery tickets.  That doesn’t even start to include the time we spend waiting on the phone, waiting at red lights and stop signs and waiting in doctor and dentist offices. 
If you are anything like me, you probably don’t like waiting; nothing seems to irritate me more than waiting for something to happen — in the case of the dentist’s office, it almost seems perverse to be waiting for what’s going to happen there!  But sometimes in this super-fast world, waiting is the only time we get to think.  The Old Testament prophet Isaiah wrote in Isaiah 40:31 But those who wait on the LORD Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.
This week, why not take a little bit of time to wait on the Lord, a little bit of time to ask Him, “God, what are your plans for my life?”  He might have a pleasant surprise in store for you. Have a great week and remember: To see what is really possible, you will have to attempt the impossible.

The End of the Story, The Story of the Book #11

When I was a teen one of my favourite singers was folk
singer Harry Chapin, you probably know that from my many references to
different songs that I’ve used in messages through the years. 
And one of my favourite Harry Chapin songs is a song called
30,000 pounds of bananas.  And it based
on an actual event that happened in Scranton PA in 1965 when truck driver
Eugene Sesky lost control of his tractor trailer which was carrying, you
guessed it 30,000 lbs of Bananas. 
It is assumed that the brakes on  his truck failed and by the time it reached
the town its estimated speed was 140 kmh. 
Sesky flipped the truck in an attempt to keep anyone from being hurt and
was killed in the accident.
It was a folk song.
But if you ever heard Chapin in concert he tells about how
in writing the song he actually wrote four different endings to the song before
he found the one that he recorded.  And
each of the different endings puts a different twist on the song.
If you have ever read Ernest Hemingway’s novel “Farewell to
Arms” you might be surprised that he wrote 47 endings before he found the one
he finally used to conclude the novel. 
In 2012 “Farewell to Arms” was republished with all 47 alternate endings.
If you’ve read the book then you might remember how the book
ended, it told about the the death of Frederic Henry’s lover, Catherine
Barkley; “It was like saying good-by to a statue. After a while I went
out and left the hospital and walked back to the hotel in the rain.”
One of the rejected endings was, “That is all there is to
the story. Catherine died and you will die and I will die and that is all I can
promise you.”
Completely different ending.
Maybe you remember this great ending to a classic movie.  But that wasn’t the original ending, that
showed Butch and Sundance dying in a hail of bullets and their bodies lying in
the sun.
Back in the 80s and 90s there was a series of Children’s
books called “Choose Your Own Adventure” 
Anyone ever read those?  Even if
you haven’t read them you know the basic concept.  You come to a place in the story where you make
a choice, if you turn left then you continue to read and get one ending or if
you turn right then you skip to page 232 and get a completely different ending.
It’s like the author couldn’t decide which way to go. 
Some movies that come out on DVD come with different
endings, you can see the good guys win or you can see the bad guys win. 
Sometimes you read a book and it has one ending and then you
see the movie and it has a completely different ending. 
The ending of this book is kind of like that, you get to
choose how the story ends.  You come to a
place where basically if you have committed your life to Jesus Christ your
ending is found in Revelation chapter 21 verse 7 and if you’ve never committed
your life to Jesus Christ then your ending is found in Revelation chapter 21
verse 8. 
And the great thing is you get to choose the ending.  Nobody else can choose for you, it’s your
decision and yours alone.
 And really we don’t
get many decisions in our life where the choice is ours. When we are young our
parents make our decisions for us and once we are married and have children
decisions are made based not only on what’s in our best interest but also
what’s in the best interest of our spouse and children. But here is a decision
that you get to make all by your lonesome. 
And in order to help you make that decision we are going to
take a look at the two different endings to the story, so you can decide which direction
you want to go, because that’s important.
In the book Alice in Wonderland we read this encounter “One day Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a
Cheshire cat in a tree. Which road do I take? she asked. Where do you want to
go? was his response. I don’t know, Alice answered. Then, said the cat, it
doesn’t matter.”  
So as we come to the end of the story it would be wise to
know where we are going because as Yogi Berra
said “If you don’t know where you are going, you
might wind up someplace else!”
So here we are at the end of the story.  We began our summer series, “The Story of the
Book” in July and over the past 11 weeks we’ve toured the Bible. 
Through the period we looked at the Pentateuch, the
Historical Books, The Books of Poetry and Wisdom, The Major Prophets and the
Minor Prophets.  Over the past four weeks
we’ve looked at The Gospels, the Book of Acts, the Letters of Paul and the
General Letters.  Which brings us to
where we are today, the end of the Story. 
And here we are at the end, the book of The Revelation, did you catch that there’s no S, it’s not many
revelations, never has been, never will be it’s only one revelation. 
Sometimes it’s called The Revelation of John, but actually
it’s the Revelation of God to John. It says that in the first verse and so I
guess that makes the Author God. 
The human author or scribe is identified as John who wrote
down the revelation and sent it to the seven churches in Asia.
The book was written around A.D. 90 to warn the 7 churches
of Asia against falling away from their faith.
Although we don’t know exactly which John this was,
tradition holds that it was John the Apostle who wrote this book while an exile
on the Island of Patmos which is located in the Aegean Sea just off the coast
of modern day Turkey .
And so that brings us to the end of the book, the part where
you get to make a decision.  Actually the
decision is one that needs to be made now, the result of that decision will
echo in eternity. So you ready? Here we go.
At the end of the story there are two destination, not one,
not three but two.  And every person who
has ever lived, every person who is living now and every person who will live
until the end of the story will wind up in one place or the other.
Now when I was at Bible College studying homiletics, which
is how to preach, they taught us that if you were going to deal with a negative
topic and a positive topic in the same sermon you ought to deal with the
negative topic first. Which makes sense.
So we are going to start with Revelation
21:8
 “. . .their fate is in the fiery
lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.” The first thing we
want to look at is  1) Where You Don’t Want to Go!
Today when we talk about the alternative to heaven we call
it hell.  Which is one of several
different names used in the Bible to describe the final destination of the
unrighteous. 
The term Sheol in the Old Testament or Hades in the New
Testament are used interchangeably and literally mean the place of “Departed
Souls.”  In some instances the term is
used to simply mean the grave or death, and in other instances it refers to an
actual place, what we call hell.
In the New Testament there is a word that is used by Jesus
almost exclusively for hell and that is the Greek word Gehenna which is a form
of the Hebrew phrase that means “The Valley of Hinnom” which was a valley
Southwest of Jerusalem. 
Now I know that’s not very nice to refer to a specific area
as Hell.  In 1981 I joined the Crew of a
salvage tug in Miami and it had just come from Brownsville Texas and I asked
one of the crew what Brownsville had been like, and they described it as being
like Hell without your friends.  
But you have to understand the history of Gehenna.  It was in this valley that the Canaanites
worshiped Baal and the god Molech, they did this by sacrificing their children
in a fire that burned continuously.  In
the book of 2 Kings 23:10 we discover that King Josiah put an end to this
worship and “defiled” the valley so it would be unfit for even pagan worship.
By the time of Jesus this area was used as the garbage dump
for Jerusalem, into it was thrown all of the filth and garbage of the city,
including the dead bodies of animals and the bodies of executed criminals.
To consume all of this, fires burned constantly.  Everybody knew what it was like and when the
wind blew from that direction, everybody in the city understood its
awfulness.  To the people Jesus spoke to
there could be no worse fate then spending eternity in Gehenna. 
And so Jesus said “do you want to know what hell is
like?  All you have to do is look at
Gehenna. The garbage, dead bodies, the fire and the smell, now multiply that by
eternity and that’s what the  unrighteous
have to look forward to”
And so hell could be described as God’s “Cosmic garbage
dump.”  Everything that is unfit for
heaven is thrown there. 
Sometimes because of the symbolic nature of the description
of hell people question whether it will consist of actual fire. 
Don’t deceive yourself, the reality will be worse than any
description that a person could conjure up, and it will last forever, and ever
and ever.  It’s worse than can be
described and longer then can be imagined.
But who is this particular verse talking about?  It has to be speaking of somebody because it
says: their fate is
in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. Whose fate?  Well eight specific
groups are listed; this is not meant to be an exhaustive group but an
illustrative group.
Cowards, The idea being conveyed here is not someone who
expresses fear but someone who at one time or another professed to be a
Christian but turned away from their faith because of some type of
persecution. 
It might
have been physical as in the case of the early church where believers were
afforded the opportunity to deny Christ in order to save their lives. 
And while
some took that opportunity a great many others were willing to surrender their
lives instead of denying Christ. 
Jim
Elliot was a missionary
to Ecuador who was killed by members of the tribe he had gone to minister to,
it was Elliot who said “A
man is no fool who loses that which he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot
lose.” 
The martyrs understood that they would
die anyway eventually.
On a more
subtle level, people have denied their relationship with Christ in order to
gain friends, a spouse or an economic advantage in life. 
Those are
the people that Jesus is referring to here. 
There are some
who would say “then those people didn’t have a real relationship with Christ to
start with.” Ok, that’s fine but the end result is the same.
2) Unbelievers This is the group who
rejected the claims of Christ. They didn’t have the confidence in the salvation
that Christ had to offer.  And so they  simply refused it. 
Perhaps they sought the road to heaven in some other means,
followed another god or another creed or trusted in their own goodness.  For some it was simply that they refused to
believe anything, that there was a heaven or a hell or a God they were
unbelievers.
3) The corrupt This is an all inclusive term
which take into account all types of immorality.  It’s translated by some as the vile, or the
abominable. And it means those who are religiously and morally filthy. 
4) Murderers  Pretty simple here, the takers of
life. I take a very strong pro-life stand, although I probably don’t talk about
it as much as I should these days.
But I would suspect that those who kill the most defenceless
members of our society, the unborn would fit into this category as well. 
One commentator says “These are not only those who have
actually taken the life of another in an intentional, evil way, but also those
who have hatred in their hearts which motivates murder.”
And he references that back to 1 John 3:15 Anyone who hates another
brother or sister is really a murderer at heart. And you know that murderers
don’t have eternal life within them.
5) The immoral.  The reference here is to sexual
immorality.  And I know that when I speak
of the sexually immoral everyone has a mental picture of someone.  But this statement encompasses the full range
of sexuality practiced outside of heterosexual marriage. 
Sorry, I know there are some out there who are saying “Yeah
But?” no “yeah buts”.  The bible is very
clear that God created sex, it’s a gift and for our own protection it is a gift
that is only to be enjoyed inside the institution of marriage. 
And there are those who are saying “What do mean for my own
protection?”  Unwanted pregnancies, aids,
sexually transmitted diseases, emotional hurts, need I go on?  
6) Those who practice
witchcraft
  Again let’s not narrow this down to
one activity.  And in our minds we see
the witches in their black capes and pointy hats gathered round a caldron
chanting Double, double toil and
trouble, fire burn, and cauldron bubble. 
But this encompasses the whole range of the occult and the supernatural,
including by not limited to witchcraft, divination (that’s talking to the
dead), astrology and the psychics hotline.
 
7) Idol worshipers If you worship something
other then God, you are an idol worshipper. 
Doesn’t have to be a little stone shrine that you bow down to, it could
be your career, your hobby, your children, money etc.  Anything that takes God out of first place in
your life is an idol.
8) All liars  If you’ve hung around me enough then
at one time or another you’ve heard me ask the question “You know where liars
go?” and then answer it with “Ottawa”.
Here is the reality folks. Liars go to hell.  A liar is any person who does anything to
deceive. They might pervert the truth or simply manipulate it, they might
convey a wrong idea by speaking or by remaining silent but they are not honest
people.  They may lie by word or by deed.
And never forget that half a truth is a whole lie.
A transition is in order at this part of the message and so
I will tell one of my favourite stories which I have told numerous times.  The story is told that when Calvin Coolidge
was Vice-President of the United States he was chairing a congressional meeting
that was becoming very heated.  During
the meeting one Congressman stood up and told another, “Sir you can go straight
to hell”.  Well the victim was
understandably upset and looked to the Vice President for support and saw that
he was reading a book. 
“Mr. Coolidge” cried the victim “Did you hear what he told
me to do?” “Yes” replied the Vice-President, “But I checked the rule book and
you don’t have to go.”  Well friends I
have checked the rule book and you don’t have to go.
And maybe you have Obeen checking things off the list
and figure that you have already made your choice and there is no hope.  Listen to what the bible says in Hebrews 10:22  let us
go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For
our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us
clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water.
You see verse 8 is only half the story, if we go back to
verse 7 we read Revelation
21:7 All who are victorious will inherit all these blessings, and I will be
their God, and they will be my children.   
Which brings us to
2) Where You want
to Go!
So who goes there?  Vs. 7 said
all who are victorious, but what does that mean?  The who are defined in John 3:3 Jesus replied, “I tell you
the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.”And
then 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.”  
And the blessings are defined in verses 1, 3 & 4 of
Revelation 21.  The first one is a little
abstract because it says And the sea was also gone.  Now for someone like me who loves
the ocean, this doesn’t necessarily sound good. 
However if
we allow ourselves to see the ocean from the perspective of the original
readers of this book we begin to understand. 
2000 years ago the sea was an uninviting and hostile environment. 
Without a
compass the only safe way to go to sea was to stay within sight of land, and so
when the Revelation was written this was a poetic way to say that confusion,
turmoil and danger would be no more.   
The
blessings get clearer as we go along.  In
verse three we discover
God’s home is now among his people!  If hell is the absence of all that is
good and all that is pure, then heaven is the presence of all that is good and
all that is pure. For it is in heaven that we come into the presence of the
almighty God, the creator of the universe. 
We will be
restored to what we were created for and that is to have fellowship with
God.  We will be in his presence and in
the presence of all that is good. 
In the next
chapter we are told the result of this will be that there will be no more night
or darkness because of the presence of God. 
And listen to what will be missing in heaven.
There
will be no more death.  Never
again will the old enemy death crouch next our bed or the bedside of a loved
one.  I am a firm believer in heaven, I
think it’s a wonderful place, and I truly believe with all my heart that heaven
is better than earth. 
But I still weep at the funerals of believers, not because
they are in heaven but because they had to die to get there, and I’m truly
believe that while most Christians don’t fear death that we do fear dying. 
I spoke about this last week and how  most of us would agree with Woody Allen who said “I’m
not afraid of death, I just don’t want to be there when it happens.”
It’s the fear of the unknown, of not knowing how we will
die, not knowing if it will be peaceful or painful.
It’s not wanting to be separated from our loved ones, even
for a little while.  The Bible calls
death the enemy, and it is the enemy but it is a defeated enemy because while
we may die physically we will never die spiritually.
There
will be no more sorrow.  When I think about not having any
sorrows I think about not having any regrets. No regrets, no what ifs,
or if only. 
I am the world’s worst second guesser.  Take me to a restaurant and after I order the
nachos I say darn I should have had the fajitas.  Let me buy anything and after I get it I
think I wonder if I should have shopped around a little more? And the worst
part is that I’m not smart enough to stop looking. 
If I buy a car, the next week I’ll be looking at car ads,
shoot if I had of waited a week I could have got a better deal.  I wonder what would have happened if I had
of. . . When I get to heaven there will be no more regrets and with no more
regrets there will be no more sorrows.
We won’t think about missed opportunities because there
won’t be any missed opportunities, we won’t dwell on dumb mistakes because there
will be no dumb mistakes..  There will be
no more sorrows.
There
will be no more pain.  Think about the pain that we go
through in our life, from birth to death. Physical pain, emotional pain, pain
caused by sickness, old age and accidents. 
What’s
hurting right now?  Your knees, your
back, maybe you have a headache or a toothache. Maybe you can’t pinpoint it
exactly you just know you hurt and you’ve hurt for a long time. 
There’s
great news folks, if you are a Christian, when you get to heaven there will be
no more pain.  None, zip, zero, nada, no pain.  Sometimes I marvel that we are so eager to
hang onto a existence of pain. 
And we can talk about what heaven will have, the streets of
gold, the gates of pearls, the walls of precious stone, but I’m looking forward
to what it doesn’t have. No death, no pain, no sorrow. 
Some of you are thinking “Denn you spent more time on Hell
then you did on Heaven”, yeah, well so did Jesus. 
You understand that the Bible exhausts human language in describing heaven and hell but here is
the reality, heaven is more glorious, and hell is more terrible, than language
can ever express. 
And this we
discover at the end of the story, everybody here will end up in either heaven
or hell and it will be decided by only one person and that person is you. 
So let me
leave you with the words of my favorite philosopher, because it was Yogi Berra who said, “When
you come to a fork in the road, take it.” 
You are at that fork right now, which path will you follow,
which destination do you want to arrive at? 
We’ve told you before the promise of the Bible is this, confess your
sin, ask for forgiveness and you will live forever with your Creator and
Saviour.  

Bad parenting or bad choices?


I have never watched 19 Kids and Counting, I didn’t watch 18 Kids and Counting or 17 Kids and Counting. I have never had the slightest desire to peek into the lives of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar and their brood. If reality TV had to rely on me, then television would look very different.  Anything I know about the Duggars I have picked up peripherally, from conversations I have overheard concerning the family.
Recently however the Duggars have had their show canceled and have been all over the news because of the behaviour of their oldest son, Josh. First there were revelations that while Josh was a young teen he molested a number of younger girls, and recently he was outed as having been on the Ashley Madison list.
The world, and some Christians, seem to take delight in Josh’s fall.  I’m not defending Josh Duggar, he made his choices but I find it difficult to comprehend that there are those who blame Jim Bob and Michelle for Josh’s failings. 
I’ve discovered that many times how our kids turn out is more good luck than good management.  Like the Duggars, most of us do our best and hope for the best.  And if it’s a comfort, remember, God has problems with His kids too.  Have a great week and remember: To see what is really possible, you will have to attempt the impossible.

Walking With God, Story of the Book # 10

Walking with God

Every once in a while I will hear
that someone has been elected to this hall of fame or that hall of fame.  Maybe the Country Music or Rock and Roll Hall
of Fame, and I will think “Seriously, what took them so long?”  I would have assumed that they would have
been there long ago.  But then again
nobody asked my opinion. And while I can’t speak to sports those of you who
follow hockey and baseball probably have had that feeling at one time or
another. 

The Bible has its own hall of fame, part
of it was read for you earlier.  It’s
found in Hebrews Chapter 11 and often it is referred to as the “Faith Hall of
Fame”.

And for the most part we understand
why those who are listed are listed.  It
starts with Abel, the younger son of Adam and Eve who offered a better
sacrifice than his brother Cain did.  And
then for thirty five verses example after example of faithful people are given.  Noah who built an ark, Abraham who became a
father in his old age, and then Abraham’s son, grand son and great great
grandson, that would be Isaac, Jacob and Joseph and then the author highlights
Moses and the faith that he had to lead the people of Israel out of slavery in
Egypt to the promised land.   And finally
we read Hebrews 11:32  How much more do I need to say? It would take
too long to recount the stories of the faith of Gideon, Barak, Samson,
Jephthah, David, Samuel, and all the prophets.

This
is week ten of our Story of the Book series, this summer we have taken a
whirlwind tour of the bible.  Three weeks
ago we landed in the New Testament.

And
now we are in the section most often called the General Epistles, or General
Letters.  These are the letters in the
New Testament that weren’t written by Paul and they include. Hebrews, James, 1
and 2 Peter, 1, 2 and 3 John and the book of Jude. 

For
the most part it has been accepted that James the brother of Christ wrote the
book of James, Peter the apostle wrote 1 and 2 Peter, John the Apostle wrote 1,
2 and 3 John and Jude, another brother of Christ, was the author of Jude.  Jude of course is the diminutive of Judas and
was used  to avoid association with the
one who betrayed Christ.

Nobody
really knows who wrote the book of Hebrews, many would suggest that it was the
apostle Paul but there are enough differences between this letter and others
that he wrote in writing style and structure to cast at least a shadow of
doubt. 

Among
the suggestions of who the writer may have been Priscilla is gaining more and
more acceptance, and if that is the case she would be the only female writer of
the New Testament. The letters were written between 45 and 90 AD. 

The
earliest being written by James and the latest being written by John while he
has exiled on the Island of Patmos. 

And
so for this section we are landing in the book of Hebrews in one of my
favourite chapters.  In most of the
stories that are told in Hebrews 11 there are some really neat things
happening, nations begin, arks are built, and people are rescued.  But listen again to the scripture that was
read earlier  Hebrews
11:5
It was by faith that Enoch was taken up
to heaven without dying—”he disappeared, because God took him.” For before he
was taken up, he was known as a person who pleased God.

That
sounds like something out of x-files. 
“Enoch was taken up to heaven without dying.”  You might say “there he was and then there he
was, gone.”   

That
is so cool and it’s even cooler in the King James Version because it reads Hebrews 11:5 By faith Enoch
was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had
translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he
pleased God.  

Enoch
was translated.  I’ve had my words
translated, and we all know what that means. 
You speak using words from one language and they are repeated in a
different language.  One night on my
first trip to Africa my friend Nick Graham spoke in English, his words were
translated into a second language and then another person translated them into
a third language. 

 So we know that when you translate a language
the message remains the same but the words used are different.  In the original language the word used meant
“To change, or to turn”. Before H.C. Wilson returned to be our district
superintendent he gave oversight to the Wesleyan Church worldwide and I heard
him refer on some occasions to translators as “Word Turners”

So
Enoch was changed, he was turned from one thing into another thing, while the
essence of who he was remained the same. And we don’t know how, not at
all.  And if anyone tells you they know
how it happened they are bluffing. 

But
it is a neat concept.  When I was trying
to figure out what happened and how it happened this is what came to mind  (scene from Disney’s Cinderella).  The essence of who Cinderella was remained
the same but she had been changed and translated. 

Quite
a number of years ago now Joe Diffie had a
song called “Prop me up beside the Juke Box When I’m Gone.”    And that’s why I love country music. 

And
in the song there is a line that says “I’m not
afraid of dying it’s the thought of being dead.” 
But for most of us it is the opposite, we’re not afraid of being
dead it’s the thought of dying and not knowing what that will look like. 

And
I don’t think I’m alone in that, four hundred years ago Francis Bacon wrote “I do not believe
that any man fears to be dead, but only the stroke of death.”  And forty years ago Woody Allen said virtually the same thing “I’m not afraid to die, I just don’t want to be there
when it happens.”

And
probably if most of us were honest here today we would admit to the same
thing.  That we have the assurance of an
eternity with God, but we aren’t really looking forward to the journey. 

It’s
like travelling with Angela, she wants to be wherever it is we are going but
she hates to fly and doesn’t look forward to that part of the trip. 

If
we could be assured of the transition and that it would be peaceful, then
perhaps we could say with Samuel Butler “To die is
but to leave off dying and do the thing once for all.”  Or Joyce
Cary who said “I look upon life as a gift from God. I did nothing to earn it.
Now that the time is coming to give it back, I have no right to complain.”

I
love the Meme that says “I want to die in my sleep
like my grandfather, not screaming like the passengers in his car.”

But
we don’t get that choice; most of us won’t get to pick how or when we are going
to go.   

So
what do we know about Enoch?  Not
much.  He is mentioned three times in the
New Testament. Here in Hebrews, in the book of Luke he is mentioned in the
genealogy of Christ and there is a brief and obscure reference to a prophecy of
his in the book of Jude. 

There
is almost as much written about him in Hebrews 11 as there was in the original
story where we read in Genesis 5:21-23 When Enoch
was 65 years old, he became the father of Methuselah. After the birth of
Methuselah, Enoch lived in close fellowship with God for another 300 years, and
he had other sons and daughters. Enoch lived 365 years, walking in close
fellowship with God. Then one day he disappeared, because God took him.

Now
some of you have fixated on the fact that Enoch lived 365 years and you are
stuck there.  And you are thinking “365
years that is impossible, how can I believe the bible when it makes statements
like that?”  

You
know I don’t have a problem with that. 
Some people have said that it was just a different way of counting back
then.  I tried that different way of
counting when I was taking math in school, didn’t work out so good for me. 

But
you know I’m quite content to say “ok, he live 365 years, let’s move on.”
Because it wasn’t even that long in the big scheme of things back then, the
bible tells us that Enoch’s son Methuselah lived for 969 years.  Enoch was just middle aged when he was
translated. 

And
I wouldn’t worry too much about not living that long Mark
Twain got it right when he said “Methuselah
lived to be 969 years old . You boys and girls will see more in the next fifty
years than Methuselah saw in his whole lifetime.”  And if that was true over a hundred
years ago think of how more you will see today.

My
theory, if you are interested in it, is that when humanity was that close to
creation it wouldn’t have been unusual for people to live that long.  Have you ever made a copy of a copy of a
copy? Starts to get a little fuzzy doesn’t it?  
Every step away from the original means that the copy gets a little less
crisp and clear.  If we believe the bible
account then Enoch was only six copies from the original.  

But
really what does it matter to you?  You
probably won’t live to be 365 years old. 
If you are lucky you won’t have a child at 65 and you probably won’t be
translated. 

Although
in saying that you understand that we believe that Christ will return, that is
part of the promise that we are given in the bible, and here is another part of
that promise.  1 Corinthians 15:51-52 But let me
reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be
transformed! It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last
trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be
raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed.   Sure sounds like what happened to
Enoch.  But that is a whole different
sermon.

But
ultimately we have very little control over when or how we will die, but what
we do have control over is how we will live, so today I want to focus on what
we can learn about living from Enoch.

If
we go back to where we started we read Hebrews 11:5 It was by faith that Enoch was taken up to heaven without
dying—”he disappeared, because God took him.” For before he was taken up, he
was known as a person who pleased God.” 

Enoch
is not on the list because he built an ark or fought a giant, he is on this
list for one reason only “He was known as a person who pleased God.”   Well that is
a given, I would suspect that each of the people on this list pleased God,
that’s how they got on the list.

But
in the other cases we are told how they pleased God, so let’s return to the original
story to see if we can find some clarity. 
Genesis 5:23-24 Enoch lived 365 years, walking in close fellowship with
God. Then one day he disappeared, because God took him.

So
Enoch pleased God by Walking with God, but what does that mean?  Especially for today.

In
the book of Deuteronomy we read Deuteronomy 26:17 You have declared today that the LORD is your God. And you have promised to walk in his ways,
and to obey his decrees, commands, and regulations, and to do everything he
tells you.   

Walking with God Requires a
Choice 

One
of the basic tenets of Christianity is the doctrine of “Original Sin” or “Inherent
Depravity”.  That is the belief that we
have been born sinful and with what some would call a bent toward sin.

There
are some who would debate this and lean the other way and talk about the
innocence of children and how people are inherently good.  I think I have mentioned that this summer I
had a chance to be on CBC radio on a panel speaking about communities of faith
and the environment. 

The
other speaker was from the Shamballa Community and he kept referring to the
inherent goodness of man and how if left to their own devices they would do the
right thing.  But in the same breath he
spoke about how the government needed to legislate this or that.  But if man is inherently good and will do the
right thing if left to their own devices then the government shouldn’t have to
legislate anything.   

The
bible tells us that all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory and try as
we will we can never bridge the gulf between sinful man and a holy God, it is
just too great.  And the path that we
walk by default is a path that leads away from God and into an eternity devoid
of God and goodness and light and love. 
A destination the bible refers to as hell.

But
God sent his Son to provide a different path, a path that would lead to God and
goodness, to light and to love.  A
destination that the bible refers to as heaven. 

But
it requires a choice.  It was Robert Frost who wrote
“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both.
And be one traveler, long I stood.
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;”

Like
Robert Frost many of us come to that juncture and want to travel both, but the
reality is we can’t.  Walking with God
will require a choice.  And when we choose
to walk with God we will have the words in our heart that Frost finished his
poem with.

I shall be telling this with a sigh 
Somewhere ages and ages hence: 
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— 
I took the one less traveled by, 
And that has made all the difference

It
wasn’t long after the story of Enoch that we read the story of Noah and it
begins with these words, Genesis 6:9  This
is the account of Noah and his family. Noah was a righteous man, the only
blameless person living on earth at the time, and he walked in close fellowship
with God.

While
the rest of society walked a path of disobedience and rebellion Noah choose to
walk in close fellowship with God. 

If
you have never chosen to be a Christ Follower, then today is the day.  Paul wrote 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.

That
conscious act to walk with God begins when you acknowledge that you are a
sinner and need forgiveness and you turn from your sinful nature and turn to
God.  That is called repentance.  And the next step is accepting the reality
that your sins have been forgiven and your new life is about to begin.   Which leads us to the next point. 

The
Old Testament Prophet Amos asked in Amos 3:3  Can
two people walk together without agreeing on the direction?  That of course is a rhetorical question.   Walking with God Requires Direction
and Movement
If we are going to walk with God then we will need to walk in the same
direction as God is walking. 

Sometimes
we want to have our cake and eat it too. 
We want the end result of walking with God but we want to walk where we
want to walk and and how we want to walk. 
And that can’t happen. 

Jesus
told us in John 14:15  “If
you love me, obey my commandments.”  And in proverbs Solomon
tells us Proverbs 21:3  The
LORD is more pleased when we do
what is right and just than when we offer him sacrifices.

And
how do we know what is right and wrong?  Psalm
119:105
Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and
a light for my path.

Too
often I meet Christians who know they are being disobedient but they are way
too eager to play the grace card.  “Well
I know it’s wrong, but I’ll ask God to forgive me and it will be all right.”  Seriously? 
That sound suspiciously like the question Paul asks in Romans
6:1
 Well then, should we keep on
sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace?

The
thinking was that if we are saved by God’s grace and it is through grace that
we are forgiven, and God’s grace is a good thing, that the more we sin then the
more grace is evidenced.  Win, win. 

But
Paul answers his own question in the next verse when he writes Romans 6:2  Of course
not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it?  And I’m sure that under his breath he
muttered “Idiots”. 

And
it’s not just knowing what direction to go in but actually moving in that
direction.  Throughout the bible metaphors
for the Christian life usually include movement.  Whether it’s a walk, a race, a journey or
simply moving from childhood to maturity there is never an implication that it
is stationary.  As Will Rogers said, “Even
if you are on the right track you’ll get run over if you just sit there.”

So
we have made a choice to follow God and to walk with him in the direction that
he chooses.  Now there is a fallacy that
says that if we are walking with God that there will never be problems or
challenges.  And that is a lie. 

When
we talked about choosing to follow God you are choosing not to follow Satan,
not to follow the ways of the world.  So
understand that    

Walking With God Requires
Commitment  
Somewhere some have bought
into the myth that the walk of the Godly is somehow a beautiful stroll in a beautiful
peaceful  park. 

Sometimes
we have problems just because we are people who live earth.  But there are other times that the evil one
is intent on messing with us. 

Jesus’
best friend wrote to the early church warning them, 1
Peter 5:8
 Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He
prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.  Throughout the bible the Devil is referred
to as the enemy of the godly, as our adversary, as the accuser.  Tommy Douglas said
“We must never
underestimate our opponents; nor should we forget that the closer we come to
reaching our objectives, the more vicious and forthright will their opposition
become.”

If you are keeping score, that was a liberal quote
2 weeks ago, a conservative quote last week and a NDP quote this week.

But
while we need to acknowledge the opposition that comes from the Devil we need
to remember the promise of the word of God, we read in James
4:7
 So humble yourselves before
God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 

And
while Satan can tempt you to do wrong, and tempt you to turn from God he can’t
make you do it.  “The Devil made me do
it” is a cop out and a lie.  Remember 1
Corinthians 10:13
 The temptations in your life are no
different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow
the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will
show you a way out so that you can endure.

And
finally we need to understand that This Walk
Will Come to an End  
What happened
to Enoch will always be a mystery.  But
the reality is that unless the Lord returns during our life time each person
here will die. 

As
you know from the number of times I quote him I’m a big fan of William Barclay
who wrote the Daily Study Bible.  If I
have a problem with Barclay it’s that he’s constantly trying to explain away
the supernatural and offering alternate scenarios for miracles. 

The
case of Enoch is no exception, but I enjoy his explanation in this case, In a
wicked and corrupt generation Enoch walked with God and so when the end came to
him, there was no shock or interruption. Death merely took him into God’s
nearer presence. Because he walked with God when other men were walking away
from him, he daily came nearer to him and death was no more than the last step
that took him into the very presence of that God with whom he had always
walked.”

The
question for each one of us today has to be, where will your last step lead
you?

Got Gas?

It was like a flash back to the 70’s without the long hair, bell bottom jeans and great music, or as Yogi Berra said “It’s like  Déjà vu all over again.”  What I’m referring to were the scenes last weekend when gas stations across Nova Scotia began to run out of gasoline.  When I left church last Sunday afternoon, every pump at the Esso was busy and cars were lined up Gatehouse Run to the traffic lights. 

Apparently supplies were short and so were tempers.  According to industry sources, the shortage of gas was the result of a tanker of gasoline arriving in Halifax and failing to meet environmental standards & the replacement tanker experienced the same problem.

It was only when the third tanker arrived that the supply was restored. 

I had lots of gas, at least for the weekend, but it was a reminder of how fragile our society is and  that even a minor event like a tanker not arriving could cause such a major disruption for so many people. 

3000 years ago King David challenged the people of Israel to place their trust in God instead of horses and chariots. I would suspect the principle still holds true, that our trust needs to be placed in things higher than the world can offer.  Have a great week and remember: To see what is really possible, you will have to attempt the impossible.