Holy Day or Holiday?

I have often thought the concept of Easter Monday was kind of strange.  You just know it had to be a blatant quest for a four-day weekend. That someone, somewhere, had a eureka moment and decided that the Monday following Easter Sunday was obviously Easter Monday and as such deserved to be a holiday.  And it had to be a bureaucrat as they seem to be the only ones who get that day off.
That’s fair; people ought to be thankful for Easter, if only for the extra-long weekend. Yesterday I heard some stores advertising that they were open on “Holiday Monday” and my first thought was, “I wonder what holiday that is?”
After all, it was too early for Victoria Day and too late for New Year’s Day.
It would seem that the world would like to borrow the church’s holidays, but would prefer not to acknowledge them.
So I had an idea. Everyone should be able to observe whatever religious holidays they prefer, i.e. Christmas and Easter or Passover or Eid ul-Adha, but in order for it to be a paid holiday, you would have to get a note from your Pastor, Priest, Rabbi or Imam, saying that you actually took the time to observe the religious holiday.   Have a great week and remember: To see what is really possible, you will have to attempt the impossible.

Making a Messiah, Easter Sunday

Jesus was guilty!  That’s right on that Good Friday so many
years ago Christ was declared guilty.  He
had fought the good fight but he had lost. 
In the eyes of the world, in the eyes of His followers and in the eyes
of his enemies Jesus Christ the carpenter from Nazareth had been proven to be
guilty.

Everything he said about being God,
everything he had said about his Kingdom, everything He had said about His
power.  Every statement He ever uttered,
every promise He ever made, everything had been shown to be a lie because Jesus
was guilty, guilty of claiming that he was God when apparently he wasn’t.

If Jesus had lived it would have been
different, but he died and because he died everyone knew he was guilty, as
guilty as sin.

The
Jewish Leaders Testified to His Guilt.
  It was Jesus who was marching out of step,
not them.  He was a liberal, trouble
making activist.  I mean, think about it,
things had been happening the same way in Israel for thousands of years.  What right did this young upstart preacher
have to come in and try to change things all around?

He wasn’t a Rabbi, he wasn’t a Levite, he
wasn’t a scribe or a Pharisee.  He was
just a carpenter, he was a newcomer to Jerusalem,
he was only thirty three years old and he was wrong.

So why should they change?  After all it was the Sadducees who were the
lawmakers, not Jesus.  He just didn’t
understand how things were done.  What
right did he have to tell them as he did in  Matthew 22:29 Jesus replied, “Your mistake is that
you don’t know the Scriptures, and you don’t know the power of God.”  Well they had shown
him, because they were right and he on the other hand was wrong.

How dare he call them vipers, how dare he
call them fools, how dare he call them hypocrites.  Who did he think he was anyway?  And then he had the utter gall to claim to be
the equal to Jehovah God.  In their Eyes he
was guilty as guilty as sin.

Pilate
Testified to His Guilt 
And he was right because he was smart.  Pilate knew what he was doing, he was every
inch a politician.  He saw trouble coming
and he already had too much trouble in Jerusalem.  There Jews were on the brink of revolt.  Perhaps it had happened when he had put the
images of Caesar on the flag standards in direct defiance of the Jewish law.  Maybe he was guilty that time, or perhaps it
was when he financed the municipal water supply with money he had seized from
the temple treasury, he may have been guilty that time too.

I mean Pilate had enough trouble; he didn’t need all the
problems that this young Nazarene carpenter represented.  Pilate had the authority of the Roman Empire
behind him; at the snap of his fingers he could have levelled Jerusalem. 
And this young peasant had the nerve to stand in front of him and
say  John 19:11 Then Jesus
said, “You would have no power over me at all unless it were given to you from
above. So the one who handed me over to you has the greater sin.” Oh
yeah, right, well Pilate proved him wrong.

Pilate feared the trouble that the Jews could raise with
his superiors but then again there were his superstitions about this one who
called himself God.

What should he do, please the Jews or set this harmless
preacher free?  So he crucified him, but
hey it worked out for the best. In Pilates eyes Jesus was guilty, as guilty as
sin.

Barabbas Testified
to His Guilt 
According to custom each year at the Passover celebration the Roman
Governor would set one prisoner free. 
And so Pilate asked the crowd, “Should I release Jesus the Christ or
Barabbas the murderer?”  It would have
been so easy for Pilate to have released Christ if the Crowd had of asked him
to.  But no, the crowd yelled, “Free
Barabbas, crucify Jesus, free Barabbas, crucify Jesus.” And he so he did.

So you see Barabbas was declared innocent and Jesus was
declared guilty.

But who was this Barabbas? 
Well his name was probably Bar Rabbis which in the Greek means Son of
the Rabbi. I’m sure some people are thinking; typical preacher’s kid
right?  Maybe his dad was one of the
leaders who called for the death of Jesus. 
We do know that Barabbas was one of the Zealots, those who wanted to rid
Israel of Rome.  And the Zealots didn’t
care what it took, murder, robbery, terrorism.

Now tradition tells us that Barabbas was not this man’s
first name.  Remember our old buddy
Peter?  Sometimes in the gospels he is
referred to  Simon Bar Jonah, or Simon
the Son of Jonah.  Tradition has it that Barabbas
had a very common first name, a name that he shared with many other Jews, one
that he even shared with a young carpenter from Nazareth.  You see tradition tells us that the Zealot’s
complete name was Jesus Bar Rabbis.

Two Jesus’, one who preached love, and one who preached
hate, one who preached peace and one who preached war, one who preached
forgiveness and one who preached vengeance. 
Two Jesus, as different as day and night.  And one walked away a free man and one died
on a cross.  And because Barabbas walked
free in his eyes Jesus was guilty, as guilty as sin.

The Roman Guards Testified
to His Guilt 
 These men represented the
power of Rome; they were impartial and interested only in doing their job.  They had probably been brought in from
Caesarea Philippi to help keep the peace in Jerusalem during the Passover celebration.
They didn’t know who Jesus was and if they had of known they wouldn’t have
cared.

If Pilate declared that he was a criminal and deserved to
be crucified, than as far as they were concerned he was a criminal and deserved
to be crucified.  And so they split his
clothing amongst them and nailed Jesus to the cross.  Because as far as they were concerned Jesus
was guilty, as guilty as sin.

His Disciples Testified
to His Guilt 
Was there any real reason for all of them to die?  Self preservation is nothing to be trifled
with.  God himself put that survival
instinct in each one of us.  I mean think
about it, if Jesus was wrong now, then he must have been wrong all along.  Maybe he really didn’t know what he was
talking about. Turn the other cheek indeed and look where it had gotten Jesus.

Perhaps Barabbas needed some followers, now there was a
winner.  They’d have to talk to him on
Tuesday after everything had settled down over the holidays.  The meek will inherit the earth.  Sure, all it had gotten Jesus was a cross and
a borrowed grave.

The disciples were right when they choose to lay low for
awhile.  What would they have
accomplished by taking a stand?  Whey
should they all have to die.  If Jesus
had of shown them he was innocent by calling down an army of angels, well that
would have been a horse of a different colour. 

But it was all in vain, Jesus wasn’t God and they were just
fishermen.  The disciples were right and
because they hadn’t stood up to defend the one they called Lord and friend they
were proclaiming for all to hear that they thought Jesus was guilty, as guilty
as sin.

Popular Opinion Testified
to His Guilt 
On Palm Sunday the crowd had sang hosanna and waved palm branches
and if a Roman or a Jew had of laid a hand on Jesus, there would have been a
riot.  Oh they were right about Jesus on
Sunday, but then on Friday they shouted “Crucify Him, Crucify Jesus.”

Just like today, how many people praise his name and sing
Hosanna on Sunday but on Monday they live for themselves and take his name in
vain?  Popular opinion had proclaimed
Christ a king and now it was proclaiming him a Criminal.  And popular opinion was right and Jesus was wrong.  He was crucified because popular opinion
decided that Jesus was guilty, as guilty as sin.

Good Friday ends on a very final note.  Jesus was gone, dead, buried and silenced
forever.  Everything that Jesus had said,
everything that Jesus had taught, everything that Jesus had done was gone and
would be forgotten, because Jesus was wrong.

For two days Jesus was wrong.  By every measure that is used by the world
Jesus was wrong. Dead wrong because on Friday Jesus had died.  Jesus clashed with all the selfish distorted
values and morals of a fallen society and he died because nobody can fight a
monster that big and win.

He took on the sins of the world, the collective evil from
creation onward and from all outward appearances he had failed.

And that was the plan. 

On Palm Sunday we looked at how the day Jesus rode
triumphantly into Jerusalem had a dark side. 
It was that day during the celebration that the Jewish leaders decided
that Jesus had to die.  They were afraid
of what it would mean if the people were to embrace this radical young leader.

Afraid of what it would mean to their authority and afraid
of how the Romans would react.  For them
there was only one solution.  And they
were willing to do whatever had to be done to make it happen.

For Judas it was the day he decided that things with Jesus
weren’t going the way he wanted them to go. 
And we’ll never know for sure if Judas was looking for Jesus’ death or
if he was just trying to give him a push to force his hand.  But the results were the same.  They led to the cross.

And on Good Friday a flawed arrest led to several flawed
trials.  Trials where the rules and
regulations set in place to ensure justice were flaunted, ignored and broken
all for one end, so Jesus would be found guilty and to guarantee that Jesus
would die.

And while the verdict on Friday was guilty, was that the
reality?

If we go back to the story we read in Matthew 27:3-4  When
Judas, who had betrayed him, realized that Jesus had been condemned to die, he
was filled with remorse. So he took the thirty pieces of silver back to the
leading priests and the elders.  “I have sinned,” he declared, “for I have
betrayed an innocent man.” “What do we care?” they retorted.
“That’s your problem.”

Judas Testified to His Innocence   Judas had spent
three years with Jesus, he had seen the miracles, he had eaten the fish and
loaves by shore of galilee.  He had heard
Jesus preach on love and grace and forgiveness. 

And regardless of what he had done in the
garden, Judas knew that Jesus was innocent.

On Friday we discovered that while the
religious leaders were the one who demanded that Jesus must die they didn’t
have the authority to have him executed, so they turned to Rome.  Jesus was sent to the Roman governor, Pilate
for sentencing, and while the result was that Jesus was crucified, it was a
flawed verdict delivered under pressure because Pilate wasn’t really convinced
of Jesus’ guilt.  We read in  Luke 23:14  (Pilate) announced his verdict. “You brought this man
to me, accusing him of leading a revolt. I have examined him thoroughly on this
point in your presence and find him innocent.

Pilate Testified to His Innocence  

Pilate may have given in to the pressure of
Caiaphas and his cohorts but he knew in his heart that Jesus was innocent.  And we read this little act of defiance in John 19:19-22  And
Pilate posted a sign over him that read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the
Jews.”  The place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the
sign was written in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek, so that many people could read
it.  Then the leading priests objected and said to Pilate,
“Change it from ‘The King of the Jews’ to ‘He said, I am King of the Jews.’”
 Pilate replied, “No, what I have written, I have written.”   

But it wasn’t just Pilate, you’ll remember
from the story of Good Friday that Pilate had sent Jesus to the puppet king
Herod so that he wouldn’t have to deal with the religious leaders and their
demands.  And Herod examined Jesus and
sent him back to Pilate with his findings. 
We read in Luke 23:15  Pilate said “Herod
came to the same conclusion and sent him back to us. Nothing this man has done
calls for the death penalty.”

And so Herod Testified to His Innocence  Herod, who had
killed John the Baptist at the insistence of his wife, Herod who’s father had
had the infants of Bethlehem slaughtered in an attempt to kill the new born
Jesus.  Even Herod knew that Jesus had
done nothing to deserve to die.  

But despite the fact that Pilate and Herod
knew that Jesus was innocent of the charges, they allowed him to be mocked and
beaten and ultimately crucified.  Pilate
may have declared himself innocent of Jesus death, but without Pilate’s consent
Jesus would not have been killed that day. 

And as Jesus hung on the cross, between two
thieves we read this account.  Luke 23:39-41  One of
the criminals hanging beside him scoffed, “So you’re the Messiah, are you?
Prove it by saving yourself—and us, too, while you’re at it!”  But
the other criminal protested, “Don’t you fear God even when you have been
sentenced to die?  We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn’t
done anything wrong.”

The Thief Testified to His Innocence Legend has named the thief Dismas. 

Maybe Dismas had been in the crowd and
heard Jesus preach, or maybe a loved one had been healed by Jesus.  We’ll never know.  We don’t know what brought Dimas to his
conclusion, but the one thing he was sure of was that Jesus was innocent and
Dismas wasn’t.   

And when Jesus did
die, and his body was being removed from the cross, we see this closing scene
from Luke’s account:   Luke 23:47  When the Roman officer overseeing the execution saw
what had happened, he worshiped God and said, “Surely this man was innocent.”   

His Executioner Testified to His Innocence I’m sure this man had seen plenty of people declare their innocence
or the innocence of loved ones.  He had a
job to do and he had simply done his job, but at the end of the day he realized
that some of the blood that he had shed that day had been innocent blood. 

And so the trial and
death of Jesus was a travesty and a crime. 
But that is the biggest failing of capital punishment, it is so hard to
undo.

And so it really
didn’t matter if Jesus was a guilty man or an innocent man, at the end of the
day on Friday his enemies had won, because he was a dead man.  They had been right and he had been
wrong. 

But the story doesn’t end with the crucifixion, that was
Friday but this is Sunday. Stand with me for the reading from God’s word.  Scripture
Reading

Matthew
28:1-10

The Miracle of
Easter is that The Empty Tomb Testified to His Innocence

On the third day when Mary Magdalene and
the other Mary went to the tomb to prepare their master with the spices donated
by Nicodemus instead of finding Jesus they found Angels. 

But wait if Jesus was guilty and dead then
how come he wasn’t still in the grave? 
If Jesus was wrong if he wasn’t the messiah he claimed to be, then where
was he? 

For two days the world proclaimed itself
right.  For two days they had declared
that Jesus was guilty of falsely claiming to be God, but on the third day and
for eternity Jesus Christ was proclaimed to be innocent, and proven to be
God.  Jesus was right and the rest of
them were wrong.

If Jesus had of remained in the ground he
would have been just as wrong as Mohammed, Confucius and Buddha.  If Jesus had of remained dead he would have
remained dead wrong.  Just another
misguided prophet who thought he was right. 

And because Jesus of Nazareth was right on
Easter day, fifty days later on the day of Pentecost those first 120 Christians
were filled with the Holy Spirit and Christianity was proven right.

On Good Friday, Christianity heard the
bells of Hell peal out the death toll of Jesus Christ and the movement he
founded.  On Good Friday Simon Peter
cowered under the gaze of a little servant girl.  On Good Friday the believers were of many
accord, each one interested only in their own welfare, each Christian concerned
only with their own salvation.

But Christianity didn’t lose because Jesus
Christ didn’t lose.  And because
Christianity didn’t lose good won’t lose. 
There are times that it looks like Christianity is beaten but time and
time again we struggle back to the surface and emerge victorious.  Oh our doctrine may fail us and our leaders
may disappoint us but Christianity will not be kept down.  And as we look around at the evil in this old
world sometimes it appears that Satan has the upper hand, sometimes it would
appear that Satan is victorious.  We see
abortion, hunger, war and deceitfulness. 
We see illness, pain and suffering. 
We see scandals from inside and outside the church.

And as the world looks on it chants; “Jesus
was guilty, Jesus lost, Jesus was guilty and Jesus lost.” 

But we have only to look beyond Friday when
it appeared that Jesus was guilty, to Sunday when Jesus Christ rose
triumphantly from the grave throwing off the shackles of death and proclaiming
himself right for eternity.

Jesus was innocent, he was innocent on Palm
Sunday, he was innocent on Good Friday, He was innocent on Easter Sunday.  Because he not only claimed to be God, he was
God.  And because of that He will remain
right as will his church. 

Because Jesus Christ did not lose we will
not lose.  In winning the victory over
death on Calvary’s mount so many years ago
Jesus won the victory for us.  When Jesus
won over death, he offered us the power to win over death.

Now Jesus did not win on the cross so we
could have the Easter Bunny, and Jesus did not win on the cross so we could
have chocolate eggs, and Jesus did not win on the cross so we could have a long
weekend in the spring. 

Jesus Christ won on Calvary
for one reason and one reason only, and that was to give you and I the
opportunity to have eternal life.  I
would suspect that if you gave Jesus a list of things he would like to have
been doing over the Easter weekend that dying on a cross would have been
somewhere near the bottom of the list.

But Christ died on the cross so you
wouldn’t have to and he rose again to demonstrate that he was even in control
of death.   

Making a Messiah, Good Friday

It had been a full
week, it had started with the crowds on the streets of Jerusalem and now here
they were, just the thirteen of them in a private room celebrating the
Passover. 

And only two people in
that room knew where the night would lead.

Jesus, because he was.
. . Jesus.  And Judas because he had put
the wheels into motion, the day before, when he had agreed to betray his friend
for thirty pieces of silver. 

And Jesus knew that he
had been betrayed, and yet in this amazing display of grace he still invites
Judas to celebrate with them.

And that is the
invitation that continues to be extended by Jesus, even knowing all that we
will do, and all the ways that we will betray his love and name he still says,
come. 

Communion
Celebration

Last week we
celebrated Palm Sunday and we looked at the dark side of the celebration and
how it was after Jesus had entered into Jerusalem riding on a donkey while the
crowds praised him and waved palm branches that the religious authorities felt
that they had no option but to take matters into their own hands.  It was at the point that they decided, that
Jesus must die.

And that decision has
led us to this point only five days later.

It was a perfect set
up, it had to be this way.  During the
day Jesus was surrounded by crowds of sympathetic people who had come to hear
him preach.  People whose lives had been
impacted by Jesus.  Perhaps they had been
healed by him, or maybe because of his teaching on forgiveness they had seen a
relationship restored, or perhaps they had been part of the multitude he had
fed by the shores of Galilee.  Regardless
of the how and why, those who gathered around him during the day would pose a
considerable problem for the authorities, and so they came for him under the
cover of night.  

But even then they
were taking no chances.  And so to arrest
the man who had spoken so much of love, forgiveness and grace a crowd was
sent.  Three of the gospels simply
identify them as a crowd of men armed with swords and clubs, however John gets
more specific and tells us in John
18:2-3
 Judas, the betrayer,
knew this place, because Jesus had often gone there with his disciples.
 The leading priests and Pharisees had given Judas a contingent of Roman
soldiers and Temple guards to accompany him. Now with blazing torches,
lanterns, and weapons, they arrived at the olive grove.

I don’t know if they expected Christ to
fight or run, but either way they came prepared, what they didn’t prepare for
was for him to simply surrender.  And
Jesus asked them in Luke 22:52-53  Then Jesus spoke to the leading priests, the captains
of the Temple guard, and the elders who had come for him. “Am I some dangerous revolutionary,” he asked, “that you come with swords and clubs to arrest me?
 Why didn’t you arrest me in the Temple? I was
there every day. But this is your moment, the time when the power of darkness
reigns.”

And in that one statement Jesus was letting
them know that he knew.

You see even though the night arrest made
for good strategy and good theatre it was the beginning of the flawed
prosecution of Jesus. And Jesus knew what they knew and that was if they
couldn’t prove a case against him then they would fabricate a case against him.

And it started with the reality that The Arrest Was Flawed Historical we are
told that there were two problems with the arrest, the first was that it was
performed at night.  There were all kinds
of guidelines and regulations in place for the Jewish judicial process and one
was that neither arrests or trials were to conducted at night. 

Two thousand years ago in Israel justice
was under the authority of the Sanhedrin, they were the supreme religious
authority at the time, and functioned kind of like a supreme court.   And
there would have been no discussion about the separation of religion and state
then.  While Israel may have been under
Roman rule they still considered themselves a Theocracy. 

In Canada we enjoy a Democracy and that
word can be traced back to two Greek words: 
“Demos” meaning “People” and “Kratia” 
meaning “Power”.  2000
years ago Israel was a Theocracy. 
“Kratia” still meant “Power” but “Theos” meant “God”.  And so in manners of religious and civil law
you had a religious court, the Sanhedrin, comprised of members of the
Pharisees, Sadducees and the Priest Hood. 
The Grand Sanhedrin had 71 members and was only convened for matters of
national security and then you had a cabinet of 23 that was probably the group
that conspired against Christ.

And they functioned, just like courts
everywhere, under restrains.  And one
those constrains was that justice would be performed in the daylight
hours.   And there was a symbolism wrapped up in that,
justice was all about being transparent and was about light being shone into
the darkness and that justice should be able to bear up to the scrutiny that
would come on it in the light of day.

But here they are with their torches
seeking him out after dark. The arrest of Jesus happened somewhere between 1
and 2 o’clock in the morning.  And that
was wrong.

The other issue is he was arrested on the
information of Judas and under the law of the day someone who was a criminal
associate could not provide the evidence needed for an arrest in a capital case,
because of the conflict of interest. 
They would be as guilty as the accused.

And yet the story here revolves around the betrayal
of Jesus by Judas, one of his closest associates.  And when the crowd came to arrest him, Judas
steps forward embrace Christ and kisses him. 
And that was done to ensure that in the darkness of the night, lit only
with flickering torches that no mistake would be made, that the right man would
be arrested.  Because the one thing that
those who conspired to end Jesus’ ministry agreed on was “Jesus must die.”

Music

But it wasn’t only the arrest that was
flawed, The Trials Were Flawed.  And notice that I said trails, not trial. 

What happened after
the arrest of Jesus would have been considered a travesty by today’s legal
standards. From his arrest, to his interrogation, to his conviction to his
sentence things were done differently than we would do them today.

And that is to be
expected, we often watch as historical figures are judged by today’s standards,
and very seldom do they fare well.  And
so we can’t expect that a trial held in an occupied country 2000 years ago
should be held to the same standards as the same trial would be today in
Canada.  But we would expect that it
would be held to the standards of that day and time.

In 1948 British Judge
Frank Powell wrote a book called “The Trial of Jesus Christ”  and it looks at the trial of Jesus in light
of the historical standards of the day, that is the way that a capital case was
supposed to be tried under Jewish law. 
And what he discovered was that there was nothing fair about the trial
of Jesus and very little was done properly in the trial of Christ.

Around the same time
American Lawyer David Breed wrote “The Trial of Christ” and found a number of
errors that under Jewish and Roman Law would have been considered serious
breaches.  Today they would be considered
reversible errors, and would be the basis of a new trial.  And not just one or two, Breed identifies 17
different issues that contravened the trial laws of that time.  

From his first
appearance in front of Annas we see that nobody is really interested in justice,
they are interesting in ridding themselves of Jesus.  John
18:13
 First they took him
to Annas, the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest at that time.

Annas had no legal
standing in the Jewish community.  He had
been the High Priest but now he was retired and he was the father in law of the
man who was now High Priest, Caiaphas. 
So why would Jesus have first been taken into the home of this man?

I would suspect it
goes back to an event that happened earlier in the week, when Jesus cleansed
the temple courts. You might recall how Jesus had come into the courts and saw
the money changers and vendors who were taking advantage of the pilgrims who
had come for the Passover celebration. 

The story is told in Mark
11:15-17
 When they arrived back in Jerusalem,
Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out the people buying and selling
animals for sacrifices. He knocked over the tables of the money changers and
the chairs of those selling doves, and he stopped everyone from using the
Temple as a marketplace.  He said to them, “The Scriptures declare, ‘My
Temple will be called a house of prayer for all nations,’ but you have turned
it into a den of thieves.”

Well here is an interesting tidbit from history,
the man who was in charge of what happened in the temple courts, the man who
profited from the extortion, was none other than Annas.  The temple courtyards were even referred to
by the Jews of the day as “The Bazaars of Annas.”  Hmmmm. 

And so Annas demanded the names of Jesus’
followers and what he had been teaching them. 
When Jesus didn’t give the answers that Annas was looking for, he was
beaten.  And in turn Jesus responds by
saying John 18:23  Jesus
replied, “If I said anything wrong, you must prove it. But if I’m speaking the
truth, why are you beating me?”

And so it was at that point that Annas had
Jesus bound like a criminal and sent to his Son-in-law, Caiaphas.  You remember Caiaphas. 

We read about him last week, in the Gospel
of John in reference to Jesus, Caiaphas told his colleagues  John 11:50  “You
don’t realize that it’s better for you that one man should die for the people
than for the whole nation to be destroyed.”

And two days later we read this account Matthew 26:3-4  At
that same time the leading priests and elders were meeting at the residence of
Caiaphas, the high priest,  plotting how to capture Jesus secretly and
kill him.  So the next person that
who is involved in Jesus’ trial has already stated publically his intention to
have Jesus killed.  I’m thinking that
Caiaphas might have had a little bit of a problem being unbiased.

I think Caiaphas knew the truth about Jesus,
because we read in Matthew 26:59-61  Inside, the leading priests and the entire high council
were trying to find witnesses who would lie about Jesus, so they could put him
to death.  But even though they found many who agreed to give false
witness, they could not use anyone’s testimony. Finally, two men came forward
who declared, “This man said, ‘I am able to destroy the Temple of God and
rebuild it in three days.’”

 Understand that under
Jewish law a capital trial could only happen during the daytime, they are still
under the cover of dark. And criminal cases weren’t permitted to be held during
the religious celebrations and the Passover celebrations had started the day
before.  The trial had to be held in the
meeting place of the Sanhedrin, but they were meeting in the home of
Caiaphas.  At least two witnesses had to
be examined separately, yet here the witnesses were examined together after
being coached to twist the words of Christ. 

And under Jewish law, only a not guilty
verdict could be delivered the same day as the trial.  When the verdict was guilty at least one
night had to go by before sentencing, so the tribunal would have time to
reflect and perhaps consider mercy, and Jesus’ trail was finished in hours.

These were the Sanhedrin’s own rules and in
their rush to be rid of Jesus they, were prepared to make a mockery of a legal
system that was admired in their day.

The charges that
Caiaphas and his cronies finally settled on was the charge of blasphemy.  That Jesus had claimed to be God.

The problem for them
was that 300 years earlier they might have had the authority to have Jesus
executed, but not under Roman law.

And so we pick up the
story in John 18:28  Jesus’
trial before Caiaphas ended in the early hours of the morning. Then he was
taken to the headquarters of the Roman governor. His accusers didn’t go inside
because it would defile them, and they wouldn’t be allowed to celebrate the
Passover.  Well
at least they were conscientious about that.

The problem was that blasphemy was a
religious charge and Pilate couldn’t have cared less.  And so we read in Luke
23:2
 They began to state their case: “This
man has been leading our people astray by telling them not to pay their taxes
to the Roman government and by claiming he is the Messiah, a king.”

So the charge has changed from blasphemy to
treason.  And when Pilate said that he
didn’t see any evidence of that they up the ante and tell him Luke
23:5
 Then they became insistent. “But he is
causing riots by his teaching wherever he goes—all over Judea, from Galilee to
Jerusalem!”   Riots?  Seriously? 
Riots?   

But it was here that Pilate saw an out, he
didn’t want to execute the carpenter but he didn’t want to alienate the
religious leaders.  And he responds Luke 23:6-7  “Oh, is
he a Galilean?” Pilate asked.  When they said that he was, Pilate sent him
to Herod Antipas, because Galilee was under Herod’s jurisdiction, and Herod
happened to be in Jerusalem at the time. 
The old pass the buck trick.

This was the same Herod who had John the
Baptist killed, it was his father who had tried to kill Jesus when he was a new
born.  We are told that Herod had heard
about Jesus and wanted to meet him and see him perform a miracle.  Comedians often tell how annoying it is when
they meet someone and are asked to say something funny, and magicians say that
they are often asked to perform a trick for people.  Very seldom does the preacher get to eat in a
group without being the person who is asked to say grace. 

And so in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Jesus
Christ Super Star” Herod sings
So You are the Christ
You’re the great Jesus Christ
Prove to me that You’re divine
Change my water into wine

That’s all You need do
And I’ll know it’s all true
C’mon King of the Jews

But we are told that Jesus doesn’t even
grace Herod with an answer, and so Herod puts a purple robe on Christ and sends
him back to Pilate.  Saying that he just
found Jesus annoying.

So what is Pilate to do?  He has the religious leaders and the mob they
had incited demanding that Jesus be executed, but he can find no evidence to
support a case against Jesus and neither can Herod.   His wife has shown up in the middle of
everything, telling him about a dream she had about Jesus and how Pilate should
release him.

And Pilate tries, he tells the crowd that
as a gesture of good will because it’s the Passover he will release one
prisoner.  And he stands Jesus up next to
a known murderer named Barabbas and offers the crowd their choice of who should
go free, he figured it was a no brainer. 
And the mob egged on by the authorities yelled, “Free Barabbas, crucify
Jesus.”

Things are getting out of control and so Pilate
has Jesus flogged with a steel tipped whip, but even that doesn’t satisfy the
bloodlust of the crowd.

 And finally in frustration Pilate turns to the
crowd and says:  “I am
innocent of this man’s blood. The responsibility is yours!”

“The responsibility is yours, what will you
do with this innocent man?” he asked.

Good Bye to the Rim

As difficult as it might seem to believe, I was having a coffee at Tim Horton’s the other day and I heard a staff member comment on how pleased the staff was that the roll up the rim contest was finished for yet another year.

Curious, I asked why that was?  She replied, explaining that some customers would get upset when they didn’t win. Interesting.  They were upset because they were leaving not having what they didn’t have when they went arrived.

Roll up the rim is a life lesson dear reader. For all the scraping and conniving, all the work and toil that we expend during our brief time on spaceship earth, each us will leave not having what we didn’t have when we arrived. Or as Job said, “naked I came into this world and naked I will depart.”  

We all know that we can’t take it with us, so why are we so willing to sacrifice what we will have forever to gain what we’ll only have for a while?  The Apostle Paul tells us that the prize is an eternity with Christ and every cup is a winner if we are only willing to roll it up and claim the prize. 

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

Making a Messiah, Palm Sunday

For most of us the
lead up to Easter begins with Palm Sunday, in case you missed it that’s
today. 

But really the stage
was set before the celebration of the triumphant entry.

Most of you know that
I am a Jesus Christ Super Star nerd and in the past I’ve shown the Palm Sunday
clip from the 2000 production of Superstar and for me it just sums up what the
day must have been like, it captures the excitement and
joy of that day.  From the excitement of
the crowd to the animosity of the religious leaders and the torment of
Judas. 

And I didn’t start with that clip but I
will be finishing this message with the song that leads into the Palm Sunday
scene.  This time from the 40th anniversary production
tour.  The tour travelled across the UK
and Australia and was viewed by over 320,000 people. 

The recording was
performed live in Birmingham in 2013.  And while some might argue on the orthodoxy of Andrew Lloyd Weber’s view of
the events leading up to the Holy Week I would argue that the scene that we
will close with truly captures the emotions of that event as recorded in John’s
account that was read earlier.  But that
will be later in the service.

Ultimately what
happened both leading up to and the events that happened on the actual day when
Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the donkey set the stage for what would happen
less than a week later. 

It seemed that
everything in Jesus ministry led up to this point. And it would be a turning
point for many.  This was a veritable “Come
to Jesus moment.”

So how could the
celebration that happened on “Palm Sunday” lead to the horrors that would
happen five days later?   

Our theme for Holy
Week is Making a Messiah, and we are focusing on the fact that what happened on
Good Friday was a travesty of justice and we don’t have to look very deep into
the story to discover that Jesus was set up and framed by the authorities.  And Palm Sunday was where and when the stage
was set. 

For Jesus This was Something That was Planned You have to understand
this wasn’t something that just happened, you know the stars aligned and Jesus
just happened to be in the right place at just the right time, or one of the
other excuses we use to explain away divine appointments, this was how it was
supposed to go down.

John’s account of what happened on Palm
Sunday is very typical of John’s Gospel, he sees the big picture but doesn’t
delve into the minutia of the event.  So
in John 12:14 we read John
12:14
 Jesus found a young donkey and rode on
it . . . and we are tempted to think that it was just
that simple, “Oh look a donkey, let’s use that.” 

But if we look into the other gospels we
see the preparation that went into the event, in Luke’s account we read,  Luke 19:29-31  As they came to the towns of Bethphage and Bethany on
the Mount of Olives, he sent two disciples ahead.  “Go
into that village over there,” he told them. “As
you enter it, you will see a young donkey tied there that no one has ever
ridden. Untie it and bring it here.  If
anyone asks, ‘Why are you untying that colt?’ just say, ‘The Lord needs it.’”

Now we might be tempted to add a whole
range of mystical application here, that maybe this was a miracle or a step of
faith on Jesus behalf, you know, just do and it will happen.  Chances are that Jesus knew the man and had
arranged in advance for the donkey to be there. 
The words “The Lord needs it” were probably a password so the man would
know that he was giving the donkey to the right people.  I mean he’d feel kind of silly had the two
disciples shown up and he had to tell them, “I gave the donkey to two other
guys who were here about an hour ago.” 

We know that Jesus had friends in Bethany,
that’s where Mary, Martha and Lazarus lived and so it’s not that far of a reach
to see that Jesus had already put steps in place for his entrance to
Jerusalem. 

Which would lead me to suspect that if it
were alright for Jesus to do preparation and not always wait until the last
minute and then call on God in panic that there might be a lesson there for us
as well.

And Luke gives us a few details about the
colt that they brought back for Christ to ride. 
We are told that it was the colt of a donkey and that it had never been
ridden before.  

Now that may not mean a whole lot to you
and me but to the people of Jerusalem it meant a great deal, and just in case
they missed it John reaches back into the Old Testament and pulls out a
reference from the prophet Zechariah 9:9  Rejoice,
O people of Zion! Shout in triumph, O people of Jerusalem! Look, your
king is coming to you. He is righteous and victorious, yet he is humble, riding
on a donkey— riding on a donkey’s colt.

Jesus knew that the religious leaders were
out to get him and yet instead of slinking into the city under the cover of
darkness he rides triumphantly in a manner that is bound to reveal him as
messiah.  William Barclay who wrote the
Daily Study Bible Commentaries made this statement “It
is a breath-taking thing to think of a man with a price upon his head, an
outlaw, deliberately riding into a city in such a way that every eye was fixed
upon him. It is impossible to exaggerate the sheer courage of Jesus.”

It is so easy to simply view Palm Sunday as
an inconsequential event that led up to the main story, Easter.  But the Easter story hinged on what happened
the week before when Jesus rode into town on the back of a donkey.

What happened that day sealed Jesus’
fate. 

For the faithful This Was Something That was
Anticipated
Jesus had been talking of his Kingdom
almost from day one and His followers had been anticipating the coming of his
kingdom almost from day one.  I don’t
think that the twelve gave up their former lives simply based on a future of
following Jesus around from town to town relying on the charity of others to
survive.

They were expecting things to change, and
they were clinging to promises such as Luke 18:29-30
 “Yes,”
Jesus replied, “and I assure you that everyone who has
given up house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the
Kingdom of God,  will be repaid many times
over in this life, and will have eternal life in the world to come.”  

And while there had always been crowds they
had come to hear him teach and then they left.

But now they were looking to the future and
talking about it, John tells us in John 11:55-56  It was now almost time for the Jewish Passover
celebration, and many people from all over the country arrived in Jerusalem
several days early so they could go through the purification ceremony before
Passover began.  They kept looking for Jesus, but as they stood around in
the Temple, they said to each other, “What do you think? He won’t come for
Passover, will he?”  

And so this day was different, this time
they weren’t greeting Jesus simply as a teacher, or as a Rabbi instead they saw
him as the one who would deliver them Luke
19:36-38
 As he rode along, the crowds spread
out their garments on the road ahead of him.  When they reached the place
where the road started down the Mount of Olives, all of his followers began to
shout and sing as they walked along, praising God for all the wonderful
miracles they had seen.  “Blessings on the King who comes in the name of
the LORD! Peace in heaven, and
glory in highest heaven!”

We don’t know who all were there, but I
would suspect that along with the twelve that probably Mary, Martha and Lazarus
were there, no doubt Mary Magdalene, maybe Zacheaus, Simon the leper and others
whose lives and bodies Jesus had touched.

For many that day Jesus was not just an
abstract or an ideal he had changed their lives and they were there to express
their thanks and their adoration to him. 
Psalm 135:1 was a reality to them and they were going to
follow those words that said Psalm 135:1  Praise
the LORD! Praise the name of the LORD! Praise him, you who serve the LORD,

I don’t think that I’d be far off in saying
that most of you folks fall into that last category; Jesus is a real part of
your lives.  You’ve made a decision to
follow him and through His power and His grace your sins have been
forgiven.  And when you come on Sunday
mornings your praise is genuine.

But it wasn’t just the faithful who were there, and
while we don’t know how many people were present that day the accounts seem to
imply that it was a large crowd who came out to welcome him.  We are told in John’s account,  John 12:12-13  The next day, the news that Jesus was on the way to
Jerusalem swept through the city. A large crowd of Passover visitors took palm
branches and went down the road to meet him.

  And For
the Crowd This Was Something that was Interesting 
Call them what
you like, the undecided or seekers they heard the noise and wanted to find out
what it was all about.  They probably got
caught up in the excitement and began to sing and shout and wave palm branches
but they still weren’t a hundred percent convinced that Jesus was the
Messiah. 

Perhaps they hadn’t heard him speak, or
maybe they didn’t know anyone whose life had been changed or who had been
healed.  So they were there for
themselves to find out what all the fuss was about.

Most of us don’t come to know Jesus as Lord
the first time we hear the message, as a matter of fact most of us don’t come
the first half dozen times we hear the message. 
It often takes time and multiple hearings before we come to the place
that we are ready to surrender our lives to him.  For some it is fairly quick for others it
takes a little longer.  The secret is
that you remain open to God and to his message.

Jeremiah 29:11-14 
For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for
good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.  In those days when you pray, I will
listen.  If you look for me
wholeheartedly, you will find me.  I will
be found by you,” says the LORD.

We do know that less then two months
later, after Jesus had been crucified, after Jesus had risen from the dead,
after Jesus had taught for another forty days and ascended into heaven, after
the Holy Spirit fell upon the small group of believers in Jerusalem and after
Peter preached on the streets of Jerusalem, perhaps to many who had been there
on Palm Sunday that this is recorded in  Acts 2:41  Those who
believed what Peter said were baptized and added to the church that day—about
3,000 in all.   They went from
merely being interested to becoming convinced, and that is a step we all need
to take.

And so if you are here today, but you
have never made a decision to follow Christ continue to seek him, but here is a
warning, don’t take too long.  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.

Why today? 
Because you don’t know what might happen tomorrow.  And friends listen up you say “I’m almost
convinced.”  90% found is still lost.  I would hate to think that any one of you
might slip into eternity, by the way that’s just a pastoral way of saying kick
the bucket, without having the assurance of your salvation.

For Judas This was Something That Was a Game
Changer
I would suspect that we wouldn’t have to
look very far in the crowd that day in order to find Judas Iscariot.  You remember Judas don’t you?  He was one of the twelve and the treasurer of
the group.  Ultimately he would be
remembered through history as the one who would betray Christ to the
authorities. 

Now at this point Judas had not even talked
to the high priest about a deal. It would be another three or four days before
Judas would go to the chief priests and ask what they would be willing to pay
if he would betray his friend.  But do
you really think that the turning point came after the triumphant entry?  Do you think that half a week could make a
man turn from being a committed follower of Jesus Christ into the one who would
turn his friend and teacher over to be executed? 

Whatever it was that had turned Judas
heart had happened before that last week, oh something might have been said or
done to trigger the incident but the wheels were already in motion.  On the day that Jesus rode into town being proclaimed
Messiah Judas already knew that he had lost the first love that he had for
Christ. 

Judas’ true nature is revealed in a story
told by John in his gospel.  Jesus has
already entered into Bethany,
and is attending a dinner given in his honour. 
His three friends Mary, Martha and Lazarus are all there.  Martha is doing what Martha is always doing,
preparing the food and serving it to all the guests, Lazarus is being a typical
man in this situation and is doing nothing. 
Understand ladies, Lazarus isn’t deliberately doing nothing, he just
looks around and doesn’t see anything to do.   And besides that, he had recently been dead,
that’s gotta count for something.

The third sibling, Mary comes into the
room with a container of perfume which she proceeds to pour over the feet of
Christ and then she wipes it off with her hair. A little bizarre but I’m sure
that in that cultural and historical setting it must have been acceptable
because no one jumps up and says “Wow that was kind of strange.”  But someone does object, this is what we read
in  John
12:4-6
 But Judas Iscariot, the
disciple who would soon betray him, said,  “That perfume was worth a
year’s wages. It should have been sold and the money given to the poor.”
 Not that he cared for the poor—he was a thief, and since he was in charge
of the disciples’ money, he often stole some for himself.

And so it would appear that while Judas
had all the outward trappings of one of the disciples that in here, where it
counts, there had never been a transformation. 
Oh people looked at him and said “There is a follower of Christ, one of
his disciples, he is a Christian.” 

But Judas and God knew that was a
lie.  When he shouted hosanna that day he
didn’t mean it, he did it because it was expected of him.  And on that day, he decided that he was
backing the wrong horse, that if he was going to accomplish every thing that he
dreamed of than things would have to change.

And it was only four days later that we
read, Matthew 26:14-16  Then
Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve disciples, went to the leading priests
 and asked, “How much will you pay me to betray Jesus to you?” And they
gave him thirty pieces of silver.  From that time on, Judas began looking
for an opportunity to betray Jesus.

But even with all of those players the
story wasn’t complete.  What set
everything in motion toward what we now call Good Friday is revealed in John 11:57  Meanwhile,
the leading priests and Pharisees had publicly ordered that anyone seeing Jesus
must report it immediately so they could arrest him.   For The Authorities This was
Something That was Feared 

 They
weren’t shouting, they weren’t singing or waving palm branches or laying their
coats down.  They weren’t in the least
bit interested in being identified with Christ, I mean you have to give them
credit, at least they were honest about it, they weren’t pretending.  They had their minds made up; they weren’t
going to believe in him, no matter what. 

It didn’t matter how many miracles they
witnessed, how many times they saw lives changed, they had already made a
decision to not follow Christ, and we’ll never know what it was that kept them
away, pride, sin or the fear of losing control but it was something.

Not all of the religious leaders where like
that, in the Gospels we read about men like Nicodemus the Pharisee and Jairus
the ruler of the Synagogue.  But the
majority of them, if they had a favourite hymn it would be “I will not be
moved.”  If they were in the crowd that
day, they were standing with their arms crossed and frowning. 

I don’t know what it
was that kept the authorities from believing that Jesus was the Messiah, or
maybe they just didn’t want to believe that Jesus was the Messiah because that
wouldn’t fit in with their plans.    I think they were like the atheist that George Orwell described in Animal Farm when he wrote He was an embittered atheist (the sort of atheist who does
not so much disbelieve in God as personally dislike Him).

It is interesting to
note that by the time the religious leaders got to this point they weren’t
denying his miracles or trying to explain them away anymore. So overwhelming was the evidence for the miracles that had been
performed that his enemies simply accepted them as fact.

The only question that remained for them
was what to do with Jesus.  And if they
had any doubts about their decision, those doubts were swept away by the
outpouring of support they
witnessed on Palm Sunday for Jesus, because it was at that point we read in  John
12:19
 Then the Pharisees
said to each other, “There’s nothing we can do. Look, everyone has gone after
him!”  Which
brought them to the only decision that they felt they could make . . . and that
was Jesus would have to die.

May the Choice be with you

It was good to see old friends again, if only for a couple of hours.  This week Angela and I finally got around to seeing Star Wars: The Force Awakens.  And we enjoyed the familiar faces, although through the years the characters kept getting mixed up. Sometimes I thought I saw Indiana Jones instead of Hans Solo and Jesus instead of Lor San Tekka, but that’s just me. 

A few things did jump out to me about the movie.  I wondered how much Mark Hamill got paid for his role? I think I could have done it.  After all I had the same bathrobe when I was in high school.  I wondered if George Lucas has father issues?  I thought Chewie aged remarkably well and Angela wondered if he coloured his fur.  And I realized that in the end, the entire story has very little to do with the power of the force and a great deal to do with the power of personal choice and decisions that are made.

Characters made good choices and bad choices, not because they had to but because they decided to.  And that is where Star Wars is like life. Ultimately each of us will decide for ourselves if we will embrace the dark side or the light side   Have a great week and remember: To see what is really possible, you will have to attempt the impossible.

Your Attitude Will Determine Your Altitude

How many people know what a bucket list is?  If you don’t know, it is a list of things you
want to do before you die, or kick the bucket. 
The concept is best explained in the 2007 movie with Jack Nicolson and
Morgan Freeman. (Show clip)  How many of
you have a bucket list?  How’s it going.

I don’t really have a formal bucket list,
but there are things that I would like to do. 
And while we were on vacation I got to scratch one of them off the
list.  I got to fly in a bi-plane, what
I’d really like to do is fly a bi-plane but that probably isn’t going to
happen.

When I was in college I started taking
flying lessons, there had been a speaker at one of our chapel services who represented
MAF, Mission Aviation Fellowship, which is an organization that provides air
services for missionaries in areas like Papua New Guinea.  I was 20 thought it sounded cool and started
to learn how to fly, but soon it became apparent to me anyway that my calling
was to pastor a local church and I knew that flying would be a hobby that I
wouldn’t be able to afford, so I gave it up. 
But I loved to fly.

And as many of you know I am a convertible
buff, so if you combine my love of flying and my love of convertibles a
bi-plane seems to be a logical leap

Here is a picture of me and the plane I
flew in, which is a Waco YMF from the 1940s. 
Here is my favourite shot of what the seat belts look like and my
biplane selfie.

The only downside is it reminded me how
much I love to fly and now I want a biplane. 
Angela and my banker say no. 

When we were taxiing down the runway for
take-off I remembered a statement that jumped out of my ground school manual when
I was learning to fly.  I had written it
down and kept it on my desk, it became a mantra of mine for years.  But somewhere along the line the note
disappeared but on that sunny day with the roar of the engine in my ears and
the wind in my face it suddenly came back to me. 

Here it is write it down because it is a
deep and profound spiritual truth. You ready? “Your attitude will determine
your altitude.” 
Did you catch it?

 “Your
attitude will determine your altitude.” 
Coached in layman’s terms that simply means the direction your nose is
pointing will determine how high you fly. 
Right? 

Let me illustrate with my handy dandy
model airplane.  If the nose of your
airplane is pointed level than you will fly level, if the nose of your airplane
is pointed up than you will fly up, if the nose is pointed down than you will
fly down, and it’s doesn’t matter how much you increase your speed ultimately
it is your attitude that determines your altitude.

That concept and statement is just as true
for life as it is for flying.  How high
you fly personally, emotionally, spiritually, academically, vocationally will
be determined in the most part by your attitudes.  And once we realize that, once we realize
that we are in control and that circumstances aren’t then that gives us the
power to determine our destiny.

Now there may be people here today who
disagree with me.  That’s ok, I’ve been
disagreed with before, will probably be disagreed with again.  But that doesn’t change the fact that in
life, less is dependent on what happens to you and more is dependent on how you
react to what happens to you.  I have
seen people go through similar traumatic situations, one person going through
the ordeal, the other person growing through the ordeal. One person becomes bitter
one person becomes better.  If it’s not
the circumstances that dictate the outcome what is it?  It is the person’s attitude. How they
determine that are going to handle that situation.

You ever read this book?  It’s called Alexander and the Terrible,
Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.  A few
years ago it was made into a movie.   Have
you ever had a terrible, horrible, no good very bad day?  Sure you have, we all have them. 

Listen up, you can’t control the
circumstances that come your way, but you can control how you respond to them.

Leo Buscaglia writes “There are two big
forces at work, external and internal. We have very little control over
external forces such as tornadoes, earthquakes, floods, disasters, illness and
pain. What really matters is the internal force. How do I respond to those
disasters? Over that I have complete control.” 

So the question is, what type of attitude
do you have?  How are you going to face
life and what it has in store for you?

Some Have
a Downward Attitude  
You
ever meet someone who is always down.  It
seems that they are perpetually seasick on the journey of life.  It doesn’t matter what happens they know
things are going to get worse. 

There’s a story in the Old Testament, you
probably remember it.  The Israelites
have escaped from Egypt and have come to the very edge of the Promised
Land.  In preparation for the people of
God to enter in to the land that had been promised to them Moses sent 12 spies
into Canaan to do what spies do best, spy. 
And when they came back they had a glowing report of how fertile the
land was  and then they dropped the
bombshell in Numbers 13:28  But the people living there are
powerful, and their towns are large and fortified. We even saw giants there,
the descendants of Anak!

And they weren’t content in being quietly
negative if we keep reading in Numbers 13:32  So they spread this
bad report about the land among the Israelites: “The land we travelled through
and explored will devour anyone who goes to live there. All the people we saw
were huge.

In Mike Duffy’s first speech in the senate
he referred to “Nattering
nabobs of negativism.”  Burt it
wasn’t all that original, I heard it when John Crosbie was running for
the Tory Leadership way back when, and he actually stole it from American Vice
President Spiro Agnew, and it wasn’t even original with him because it was part
of a speech written for him by William Safire. 
But regardless that’s what these ten spies were, “Nattering nabobs of
negativism.”

John Symonds a good friend of mine and
pastor of Yarmouth Wesleyan once commented on a person he knew, he said “They are
so negative that if the Angel Gabriel came down they’d put on dark glasses and
shoot him for a crow.” These people remind me of Janeane Garofalo “I guess I
just prefer to see the dark side of things. The glass is always half-empty. And
cracked. And I just cut my lip on it. And chipped a tooth.”

So you can have a downward attitude, or
not!

Some Have
an Upward Attitude
Now in the story we told you about in the
book of Numbers we mentioned that there were 12 spies who went into the
Promised Land and that 10 of them came back with a negative report, so what
about the other 2?  This is what they
reported:

Numbers 14:7-8  They
said to all the people of Israel, “The land we traveled through and explored is
a wonderful land!  And if the LORD
is pleased with us, he will bring us safely into that land and give it to us.
It is a rich land flowing with milk and honey.

Same land, same time frame they saw the
same things and yet instead of a negative report they came back with a positive
report.  Why?  Perhaps the truth comes in the words of Sugar
Ray Robinson who said  “I’ve always
believed that you can think positive just as well as you can think negative.”

The two
spies who brought back the positive report were named Joshua and Caleb, Joshua
went on to write a book of the bible and this is what God said about Caleb Numbers
14:24
 But my servant Caleb has a different attitude than the others
have. He has remained loyal to me, so I will bring him into the land he
explored. His descendants will possess their full share of that land.

I’d be
very surprised if anyone here could name any of the ten from the negative
group.

He had it all, a successful career, a wonderful
life, adoring fans, everything a man could want. And than in one minute it was
all over, he was doing what he loved, jumping competitively   when his horse stumbled pitching him to the
ground and then it was all over. 
Christopher Reeves went from being a Superman to being a quadriplegic
who even needed a machine to breathe for him. 
I would think that Christopher Reeves probably has some pretty good
reasons to be negative to have a downward attitude but listen to what he said: “You
play the hand you’re dealt. I think the game’s worthwhile.”

You get to choose how you are going to
look at life, will it be with a negative attitude, always able to find a
problem in every solution, always able to spot the dark cloud that comes with
every silver lining or will it be with a positive attitude?  Will you be a part of the problem or a part
of the solution?  Will you light the
candle to chase away the darkness or will you be the one who blows out the
candle to prove how dark the room is? 
Only you will decide that.

Some Have
a Backward Attitude

Some people just can’t seem to leave the
past.  They are always focusing on what
used to be.  They seem unwilling to leave
yesterday, or probably closer to the truth to leave their memories of
yesterday.  Which of course should come
with a warning label that says “Any resemblance these memories may have to the
actual events is purely coincidental.”

Let go back to the story of Israel’s
exodus from Egypt.  Do you remember what
happened whenever the going got a little hard in the wilderness?  The Israelites would begin grumbling and the
grumbling would always go in the same direction, “Oh why did we leave Egypt? Things
weren’t so bad in Egypt, oh we ought to go back to Egypt.”

They had been slaves, forced to make bricks
out of mud and straw, whose very lives were held in the whim of Pharorah.  The conditions are recorded in Exodus 1:11-16  So the Egyptians made
the Israelites their slaves. They appointed brutal slave drivers over them,
hoping to wear them down with crushing labor. They forced them to build the
cities of Pithom and Rameses as supply centers for the king.  But the more
the Egyptians oppressed them, the more the Israelites multiplied and spread,
and the more alarmed the Egyptians became.  So the Egyptians worked the
people of Israel without mercy.  They made their lives bitter, forcing
them to mix mortar and make bricks and do all the work in the fields. They were
ruthless in all their demands.  Then Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, gave this
order to the Hebrew midwives, Shiphrah and Puah:  “When you help the
Hebrew women as they give birth, watch as they deliver. If the baby is a boy,
kill him; if it is a girl, let her live.”

Wow, you gotta hate that, but that isn’t
what the Israelites remembered.  Listen
to their fond memories of their days in Egypt. 
Numbers
11:4-5
 Then
the foreign rabble who were traveling with the Israelites began to crave the
good things of Egypt. And the people of Israel also began to complain. “Oh, for
some meat!” they exclaimed.  “We remember the fish we used to eat for free
in Egypt. And we had all the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic we
wanted.

Like them, most of our yesterdays are
coloured by nostalgia.  George W. Ball was
US Secretary of State under John F. Kennedy and he made this statement “Nostalgia
is a seductive liar.”

We can become so caught up in the past
that not only can’t we see tomorrow we can’t see today.  You can’t live in the past, and you can’t
change the past.  One of the great things
about starting Cornerstone from scratch was that we couldn’t talk about how great
things were back in 1953 or 1983.  We had
no past, but we do now.  And we need to
be careful that we don’t live back there, remembering the good old days. 

This is the season in the Wesleyan Church
of pastoral change.  Under normal
circumstances if a pastor is going to resign on the Atlantic District it
happens in February or March, and no I’m not resigning.  Some are pleased with that declaration while
some might be disappointed.  But it is
what it is.

And sometime the new pastor finds that he
has a tough time prying people out of the past, “Why when so and so was pastor
here things were really happening, he was such a great preacher, and visited
all the sick and shut ins from the church, and his kids were perfect and he
never offended anyone.”  And it goes on
ad nauseam.  And I’ve been on both ends
of that, I’ve followed Pastors and have not been able to live up to their
legacy, and if you listen to some folks in at least one of my previous churches
you’d think I can walk on water, and I can’t.

And for all of those people I want to say,
let’s not forget the past, but let’s not dwell there.  It was Zig Ziglar who said “Yesterday ended
last night.  Today is a brand-new day”

And the same holds true for your personal
lives.  As wonderful as yesterday may
have been, it is yesterday. 

Yesterday may be a nice place to visit,
but you shouldn’t be living there.  I’ve
said it before but you might want to write it down this time, “The past makes a great classroom
but it shouldn’t be your living room.”

   

Paul
wrote to the early church in Philippians 3:13  No, dear brothers
and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting
the past and looking forward to what lies ahead,

But
looking backward isn’t the only option, Some
Have a Forward Attitude 

What are your dreams?  You do have dreams don’t you? John Barrymore
said “A man is not old until regrets take the place of dreams.” How do you
picture your tomorrows?  Regardless of
our past the future stretches out before us like a giant sketchpad waiting for
us to make our mark.  What is the picture
going to be? What are your dreams for your life, your family, and your church?  Where do you want to be six months down the
road, a year, five years ten years?

If you can’t see it now you won’t be able
to have it.  Before your dreams can come
true, first you have to have dreams.  We
will never build anything on the ground until we build castles in the air.

When Joshua and Caleb saw the promised
land they not only saw it for what it was, they saw it for what it could
become.

For the first ten years that Cornerstone
existed we dreamed of having a building of our own and here we are.  But that was only a part of the dream the
dream wasn’t just to build a church, it was to build a Church. 

That is a community of people who come
together to worship Jesus, to support and love one another and to reach out to
our communities to introduce more people to Jesus. 

From day one the purpose of this church
was very clear, to reach the pre-churched, the de-churched and the un-churched,
we were put here to help depopulate Hell. 
That is our dream that at the end of the day there are more people who
know Jesus and are going to heaven because this church was here.

But that one can’t only be Denn’s dream it’s
going to have to become the dream of all of us. 
And that’s only going to happen as we seek God’s face and what he wants
us to do to reach people, to determine what we need to do to honour God and
fulfil his will. 

So let’s go back to the beginning, “Your
Attitude determines your Altitude” But how do you determine your attitude.  Well when you are flying you can’t always
judge it by the horizon because sometimes that can be deceptive in bad weather
or uneven terrain, and so there’s a thing called an Artificial Horizon
on the aircraft’s instrument panel.  And
even when you can’t see the true horizon you can know what the attitude of your
aircraft is.

Sometimes in life it’s hard to determine
what your attitude is because of outside circumstances.  Our lives aren’t always lived under clear
skies.  And as believers we don’t have a
something to keep our eyes on instead we have a someone. 

You might recall that we often refer to
Hebrews 11 as the faith hall of fame, and the heroes of the Old and New Testament
are celebrated there, and after we are told their stories we are reminded in Hebrews 12:1  Therefore, since we are
surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip
off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us
up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.  

Kind of
big expectations and so the author of the book of Hebrew tells us in the next
verse, Hebrews 12:2  We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the
champion who initiates and perfects our faith. 
Circumstances and people may disappoint us, and they
may try to rob us of our faith but Jesus is constant.  Keep your eyes centred on him.  How? 
By reading his word, by spending time in prayer, by worshipping with his
people. 

And hopefully the end result for the Christ
Follower is found in  Philippians 2:5  You must have the same
attitude that Christ Jesus had.   That’s why we are called to be “Christ
Followers”.

So how’s your attitude, and how’s your
altitude, how high are you willing to go with God?  Only you will be able to determine how high
you will allow him to take you.

Fly Away

We are home from our vacation. We had a great time and everything went smoothly right up to our flight home.  Plane left on time, flight crew was great, we arrived on time and then we attempted to land in Halifax.  We experienced some of the worst turbulence that I have ever been in and when we finally came in for touch down the wheels just touched down when the pilot pulled us back into the air.  That was breathtaking. 

To make a long story short, we landed in Sydney, Cape Breton (not Australia), where we had to remain on the plane for four hours before attempting to land at Halifax again.  When the Halifax thing didn’t work out we flew to Montreal, but by now the toilets weren’t working and there was no drinking water left for the two hundred passengers.  Once we landed in Montreal we cleared customs, made our way to the domestic terminal, boarded another aircraft and flew to Halifax, arriving 10 ½ hours after our scheduled arrival. 

When we were waiting to deplane the senior flight attendant told me that through it all nobody complained or got nasty and how much easier that made her life.  And really, isn’t life easier for all of use when people aren’t complaining or nasty?  Have a great week and remember: To see what is really possible, you will have to attempt the impossible.

Ships of the Bible

We love cruising!  We took our first cruise in 2007 and decided
that as long as we were able to, that we were going to cruise every year.  And we have, mostly Caribbean but one Alaskan
and we are looking at the possibility of a Baltic Sea cruise, maybe in 2019.
And cruising seems to be a natural fit for
us, both of my parents and Angela’s mom come from an island and I come from a
long line of sea farers, at least my father and grand father and my great
grandfather were ship’s captains so maybe it’s not that long.
 I
first went to sea when I was fifteen, and after four years of throwing up
decided that might not be the best place for me to spend the rest of my life.
 Lord
Nelson had advice for people like me, because he reportedly said that “The best
cure for seasickness is to sit under a tree.” 
I’ve tried it and it works.
But even with sea sickness it’s hard to
break the allure of the of the sea, it’s hard to get the sea out of your blood  my office is decorated in nautical stuff and I
have a plaque on my office wall with the words of  Psalm 107:23-24 Those who go down to the sea
in ships, Who do business on great waters, They see the works of the Lord, and
His wonders in the deep. 
So coming home this week ships were on my
mind and what’s on my mind usually ends up beoming a message and so  my first thought was to preach on the ships of
the Bible, you know worship, fellowship and discipleship.  But then I thought, “no that’s really
stretching it a too much”
And so I came back to the Psalm 107, which
is a poem about those whom God has touched and redeemed.  Verse two asks this question Psalm 107:2  Has the Lord redeemed you? Then speak
out!  Tell others he has saved you from
your enemies. 
And then David, the author of this Psalm
goes on to talk about various ways God delivered his people, the people He
redeemed, and one of the things he referred to was, those who went to sea in
ships.  And I began to think about
different instances in the bible where people of God were on ships, or involved
with ships.
Probably the first time a boat of any kind
is mentioned in God’s word is way back in the book of Genesis, which is the
very first book of the Bible.  It’s a
story that most if not all of you are familiar with and that is the story of
Noah and the ark.  And the entire story
is summed up in one verse in the Book of Hebrews in the New Testament.  It is here that we read this account. 
Hebrews 11:7 It was by faith that Noah built an ark to save
his family from the flood. He obeyed God, who warned him about something that
had never happened before. By his faith he condemned the rest of the world and
was made right in God’s sight.
So the first ship in the Bible was The Ship of Redemption.  The world was going to hell in a handbasket,
so to speak and God spoke to the only righteous person on earth, a man named
Noah.  And he commanded Noah to build an
Ark, which would save his life as well as the life of his wife, his three sons
and their wives.  And as a bonus the ark
would preserve a sample of each species of animal alive at that time.  You’ve heard the story.  And there are a couple of things we can learn
from the story. 
The first thing that Noah had to do and we need to do We
Need To Admit Our Need. 
It must have
been a tough one for Noah to believe, he had never seen a great flood before,
and why would a loving God destroy the world? 
And besides that, what God was talking about was impossible.
I’m pretty sure that Noah must have had a whole list of
objections, but eventually he had to say “Ok, I’m not that good of a swimmer,
this is a pretty rotten world that we are living in, so maybe I better do
something” 
Each person here today who is a believer, who has come to the
point that they have accepted Jesus Christ not only as their saviour but also
as the manager of their life had to first come to the place that they
acknowledged their need.  That they
realized that the Bible was right when it said in Romans 3:23  For all have sinned; all fall short of God’s
glorious standard. And tougher yet they had to acknowledge the truth of Romans
6:23 For the wages of sin is death. . .  
If we are to going to get on the ship of redemption then we
are going to have to admit our need, admit that we are drowning and stop
pretending that we are only waving.
The second thing was that Noah had to acknowledge that There
Is Only One Way. 
I’m sure that when
God told Noah to build an Ark that Noah must have had a few questions, like
“What’s an Ark?”  I mean that would be a
fair question considering that Noah had never built an Ark before, or for that
matter even seen an ark before. 
And I’m pretty sure that once God told Noah what an ark was,
how big an ark was, and what an ark was made out of that Noah had another
question “You have to be kidding?”  “Like
why can’t I just take my family up on top of a mountain and the animals can all
swim? There must be another way?”   But
that was God’s way.  And I know all about
the impossibilities of the flood and of Noah’s Ark, and how that couldn’t
possibly happen.  But we are dealing with
a God thing here, and if God can only do the possible then he isn’t much of a
God.
And just as there was only one means of deliverance for the
Righteous of that day there is only one means of deliverance today, and it’s
not a boat.  It is the sacrifice made by
Jesus Christ, when he died on a cross for us almost 2000 years ago.  Jesus himself confirmed that when he said 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.
The third thing that Noah had to do was to Accept That
Redemption 
Noah could have built the
boat, filled it with animals and family members and if he hadn’t actually
gotten on the ark he would have drowned. 
Regardless of how strongly he believed he still had to take that step
and actually do it. 
There are people here today, sitting in these seats who know
that they need salvation, who know they need forgiveness, and who know they
need God.  And they are standing outside
the boat looking up at a door that could close at any minute and are not
willing to take that next step.  And
friends without wanting to be melodramatic, times a running out, it’s starting
to rain and you gotta make up your mind. 
To mix a couple of metaphors it’s time to sink or swim, fish
or cut bait the word of God 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,
God is ready to help you right now. Today is the day of salvation.
If you have never entered into a relationship with God we are
going to give you an opportunity to do so at the end of this message.
So you on the ark, have you taken that step?  Have you allowed God to take control?  Some would say that if you have done all
those things that from now on it will just be this easy little journey, gently
floating down some sublime little river without a ripple or without a
care.  Uh-huh, sorry, God still leaves
you with your will and you make the choices of what ship will carry you through
your Christian life.
The next ship I want to look at from the Bible also comes
from a familiar Bible story, you can find it pretty much summed up in Jonah 1:3
But Jonah got up and went in the opposite direction in order to get away from
the Lord. He went down to the seacoast, to the port of Joppa, where he found a
ship leaving for Tarshish. He bought a ticket and went on board, hoping that by
going away to the west he could escape from the Lord.  This was a Ship of Disobedience    
Here was a man, a servant of God, one of the redeemed and he
was asked to do something, something that everyone of us has been asked to do,
and that is to tell other people about God. 
God commanded Jonah to go to a city called Nineveh and to
preach to the people.  And instead of
obeying, Jonah ran in the opposite direction completely.
He Knew What He Was Supposed To
Do 
This
wasn’t a mistake, it wasn’t a slip, it wasn’t an opps, this was a deliberate
act of disobedience.  Jonah was fully
aware of what he was supposed to be doing. 
God is not a God of unwritten rules.  When I was in Bible College a couple of times
I got in trouble, well I actually got in trouble more then a couple of times
but a couple of times I got in trouble for breaking an unwritten rule. 
“Denn, actually it was probably Denny you aren’t supposed to
do that.” And I’d say “Do what?”  and
they’d say “you’re not supposed to do what you’re doing” and I’d say “Why not?”
and they’d say “Cause it’s against the rules” and I’d say “I don’t remember reading
that rule” and they’d say “It’s an unwritten rule” and I’d say “Aghhhhhh” But
that wasn’t the case here at all.  Jonah
knew what he had to do.  And if we were
willing to admit it we know what we are supposed to do and not supposed to do.
It’s not a hypothetically question, like; You are walking across
the bridge that spans a raging river, you look down and see your ex-wife and
her lawyer struggling in the water.  You
know that you are a weak swimmer and can only save one of them, would you a) go
for a coffee or b) go to a movie?
No. When God gives us direction he expects us to respond.   And if we don’t know then that’s why we got
the book.
He Didn’t Do It.  Jonah’s first act
of disobedience was not doing what he knew he was supposed to do.  In the book of James 4:17 Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not
do it. 
What is it that you know you are
supposed to do, but you aren’t doing?  I
don’t know, I know some things that Christians are supposed to be doing,
spending time in prayer, reading the bible giving to God’s work, loving and
caring for one another, going to church. 
But what is it that He has asked
you to do, and for whatever reason you aren’t doing it?  I’m just asking.  But it wasn’t enough that Jonah didn’t do
what he was supposed to do he also did what he wasn’t supposed to do.
If you know the story then you know
that Jonah was supposed to go east and he went west, and not just a little bit
west he was heading for the end of the known world.
And you probably know the rest of
the story, a storm blew up and threatened to destroy the ship, the sailors pitched
Jonah over board, because they presumed, correctly, that he was a “Jonah”. 
Interesting how biblical terms work
their way into everyday usage.  It was at
that point that he was swallowed by a very large fish, I know it’s impossible
but let’s give God a little credit here, ok? 
 
If this was a common occurrence
then we wouldn’t see God’s hand in it.  
There’d be the story of how Jonah got swallowed by a fish, and how Bob
got swallowed by a fish, and then the one about Sue getting swallowed by the
fish.
And so Jonah stayed in the belly of
the fish for three days and was then upchucked onto the beach where he decided
that maybe Nineveh wouldn’t be so bad after all.
Too bad Jonah hadn’t read Galatians
6:7 at the beginning of the story, you know where Paul wrote Galatians 6:7
Don’t be misled. Remember that you can’t ignore God and get away with it. You
will always reap what you sow! Have you read Galatians 6:7? Are you sailing on
a ship of disobedience?
If you have entered into a relationship with God but you are
living in disobedience to his will for your life we are going to give you an
opportunity to get things sorted out at the end of this message.
The next ship is mentioned in Luke 5:3 Stepping into one of
the boats, Jesus asked Simon, its owner, to push it out into the water. So he
sat in the boat and taught the crowds from there.  This ship wasn’t actually a ship, it was just
a boat, they say the difference between a boat and ship is you can put a boat
on a ship but you can’t put a ship on a boat.
But seriously, I worked as a helmsman on a six hundred foot
oil tanker and when the crew was ashore, eventually someone would look at their
watch and say, “Look at the time we better get back to the boat.”
Simon Peter, who most of us know better as simply Peter owned
this fishing boat and I find it interesting that almost every time it’s
mentioned in the Bible Jesus is asking Peter to do something and Peter is
obeying. If Jonah sailed on a ship of disobedience Peter sailed a Ship of
Obedience
  
The first command that Jesus gives
to Peter is “Push out”.  This is the easy one, nothing tough, just
“Hey Pete, I need to use your boat as a floating platform to preach off, could
you shove it out a little bit?”  
It’s interesting how God starts us off with the easy
ones.  And that’s where you need to start
being obedient. Cause if it don’t happen with the easy ones it won’t happen
with the tough ones. And they did get tougher. 
Just a couple of verses later Jesus told Peter to cast his nets. 
Now you gotta understand, Peter and the guys had fished all
night and hadn’t caught anything.  It was
one thing for Jesus to ask them to push the boat out into deeper water so that
he could use it as a pulpit, they didn’t have to do anything, kick back and lay
in the sun and listen to what he had to say. 
But this is a whole new kettle of fish, so to speak. 
Now this was going to require some effort, but listen to
Peter’s response in Luke 5:5 “Master,” Simon replied, “we worked hard all last
night and didn’t catch a thing. But if you say so, we’ll try again.”
The request got a little tougher but Peter was still
obedient. If the first command was to Push out the second command was to Cast Out In Matthew 14 We read another
incident that happened in Peters boat. 
The disciples had gone ahead of Jesus in the boat while he went up on
the hillside to pray, and while they were crossing the sea of Galilee a storm
blew up that threatened to capsize their vessel, and just when the apostles had
given up hope of surviving who should appear but Jesus, walking on the
water.  Listen to what happens next  Matthew 14:28-29 Then Peter called to him,
“Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you by walking on water.” “All
right, come,” Jesus said.
So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the
water toward Jesus.
A little tougher eh what? 
First it was push out the boat, then it was cast your net, then walk on the water.  And Peter was obedient.  The really tough though one came at the end
of Christ’s ministry.  It wasn’t on the
boat but it was related to the boat. 
In the days following the resurrection Peter and some of the
fellows had gone back fishing and one night after catching nothing a voice
called out from the bank telling them to cast their nets on the other
side.  Which they did and they caught a
ton of fish, more or less. 
It was then that Peter recognized Jesus, jumped overboard and
swam ashore.  If you know the story then
you’ll remember how they go through the dialogue where Jesus asked Peter three
times if he loved him and three times Peter said he did, and Jesus told him to
feed his sheep, which meant; take care of the believers. 
Now listen to what Jesus tells Peter in John 21:18-19 The
truth is, when you were young, you were able to do as you liked and go wherever
you wanted to. But when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and
others will direct you and take you where you don’t want to go.” Jesus said
this to let him know what kind of death he would die to glorify God. Then Jesus
told him, “Follow me.”
Wow, and even more wow was that Peter continued to
follow.  Now Peter would never have
gotten to the position of leader of the early church if he had of disobeyed at
any of those points.
How many people have heard of the Peter Principle?  It was developed by Laurence Peter,
A Canadian, we do that whenever we talk about someone who is even remotely
connected to Canada we add, “A Canadian”. 
William Shatner, Celine Deone, Alex Trebreck, it doesn’t
matter.  Accept when we mention Justin
Bieber.  That was what we call a
Tangent.  The Peter Principle basically
says “An employee within an organization
will advance to his or her level of incompetence and remain there.”
 
Which means of course that you go into the school system as a
supply teacher and you do a pretty good job at that so they make you a teacher
and you do a great job at that, so you become a vice-principle and you excel at
that, and they make you a principle and you really stink as a principle, and
there you stay.  By the way that example
was used because I had to use an example and for no other reason so if you are
a teacher or a principle take a deep breath and relax ok?
I have developed the Guptill Principle of Christian Growth
that says that “Every believer will continue to grow in their Christian walk to
their own personal level of disobedience” 
You know what happens you become a Christian and you are so
excited and as the Holy Spirit leads in your life you are so willing to obey
God.  And then you come to an area that
you are either unwilling or you think you are unable to obey and you go into
rebellion.  And your Christian growth
stops. Plateaus, and there you remain bitter, unhappy and miserable.  You’re not a good saint because you’re being
disobedient, but you’re not a good sinner cause you know better. 
So there you are. 
Three options, the first is that you stay there and stay miserable and
make everyone around you miserable, the second is that you regress and become
disobedient in those other areas of your life that you once were victorious
over until you walk away from Christ.  Or
here’s what God’s hoping will happen, you surrender that area of your life and
begin to grow again.  And the choice is
up to you.
So where you at?   What
boat are you sailing on today?  I hope every
one of you is on the ship of redemption. 
But I kind of  doubt it.  But you can be.   And if you aren’t I would suspect that
because you are here today you know what you have to do.
And if you are on the ship of redemption I hope that your Christian
walk is one of obedience, and if not than you know what to do to change that.
Let’s pray.

Hello?

One night our phone rang at 4:45, in the morning! You know that if you get a telephone call at that hour it can’t be good news. Nobody calls you at quarter to five in the morning just to say hello or to tell you that you’ve won the lottery, in which case it would be a wrong number at our house. We have had people call at that hour to say G’day, but that was because they were confused about the time difference.

It is amazing how many thoughts can go through your mind between the time the phone first rings and when you finally pick it up.  Within seconds, you have considered every possible tragedy that might have necessitated someone calling you at that horrendous hour, because you know in your heart of hearts that it will be bad news.  In our case whoever was calling hung up as Angela answered the phone and the caller ID showed it was a payphone.

I wonder if our prayer lives are reflective of early morning phone calls, they only happen when there’s a problem? God wants us to bring Him our troubles, but I’m pretty sure He wants to hear the good news as well.Have a great week and remember: To see what is really possible, you will have to attempt the impossible.