Philippians 3:16

I’m not a big sports fan, but you know
that.  I have a favorite hockey team, and
I picked the Habs because that has the potential to annoy the most people.  But I really don’t watch sports.  If we have a Super Bowl Party, I will watch
some of the game.  When the Habs make it
to the playoffs, I will watch them play. 
In Australia I faithfully watched a yearly
rugby league match called the State of Origin. 
And I watch the Olympics, when the Canadians are in competition, mostly.   
And while I don’t always watch the
competitions there were two stories that caught my attention.  One of course was Bolt winning Gold in the
100 metres, 200 metres and 400 metre relay, for the third time.  And the big one of course was Michael Phelps
bringing his lifetime total to 28 medals, 23 of those gold.
They have not only been winners; they have
been consistent winners. They have proved themselves over and over. 
We’ve just finished with the 2016 Olympics
and this 3:16 seemed a natural because it contains an analogy of sports
competition.
Through the past 10 weeks we’ve been
looking at various Chapter 3s verse 16 in both the New and Old Testament.  Not because there is anything mystical about
the combination but simple because it seemed kind of cool.   And you’ve heard me, Stefan and Deborah look
into a variety of books and topics.
This week we’ve landed in  Philippians 3:16  But
we must hold on to the progress we have already made.   And you know the cardinal rule of
biblical interpretation right?  Yep; after
the but comes the truth.
So like all the other verses that we’ve
looked at Philippians 3:16 can’t stand by itself.
So, let’s go back a little bit and we land
in the Scripture that was read this morning Philippians
3:12-15  
I
don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have
already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which
Christ Jesus first possessed me.  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,  I press on to reach the end of the race and
receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.
 Let all who are spiritually mature agree on these things. If you disagree
on some point, I believe God will make it plain to you.
And so Paul compares the Christian
experience to a race, and with that comes two thoughts for having a successful
race. 
He says if we are going to reach the end of
the race and claim the prize that we will need to do two things.  We will need to forget what is behind and we
will need to look forward to what lies ahead.
And then he reiterates the point in vs 16
by telling us to “Hold on to the progress we’ve made.”
Two distinct commands, made in opposite
directions and yet affirming one another. 
Throughout the Bible we are treated to a
Hebraic Literary device called parallelism and that simply means that something
is stated twice in different ways.  For
example, Psalm
23
says “The
Lord is my shepherd”  “I shall not want” and
Psalms 78:1 says  Psalm 78:1
 “O my people,
listen to my instructions.” “Open your ears to what I am saying”
 and Ecclesiastes 3:1  “For
everything there is a season,”  “a time
for every activity under heaven.”
 I’m
sure that King David would have been proud of Paul and his writing style. 
So if we are going to achieve all that we
have been called to achieve, if we are going to run the race that has been set
before us and if we are going to hold on to the progress that we’ve made to
this point then there are somethings that we are going to have to let go of.
Things that need to be disposed of.  Not simply placed in a closet to be taken out
and dusted off from time to time, fondled and examined, but gotten rid of
completely.
So in the race we discover that what is
behind is fine, but it is behind and unless our effort remains consistent it
has little bearing on the result of the race.  
A runner doesn’t place any stock in how many circuits he’s done, only
the number that are left.    If you watched the 200 metre semi-finals last
week in the Olympics in those last 20 metres Usain Bolt knew that the first 180 metres weren’t going to count for
anything unless he stepped on it. 
And as great as yesterday may have been and
regardless of what you may have accomplished yesterday you need to understand
the reality of the old cliché  “Today is the first day of the rest of your life” 
How do you want to spend today?  Yesterday is gone, it cannot be altered, changed
or relived. 
If you continue to live for yesterday you
won’t only miss out on today, there’s a pretty good chance that you’ll miss out
on tomorrow as well.  What do we need to
hold on to and what do we need to let go of?
1) In
Order to Hold unto Forgiveness We Need to Let Go of Resentments
   Our lives stretch out in
front of us like an unmarked page, maybe we’d better take the time to clean our
pens before we leave our mark. 
Resentments are dangerous toys for
Christians to be playing with and there is no place for them within the grace
that God has given us.  My favourite
American President  of all time was
Abraham Lincoln, and Emerson once said about
Lincoln “His heart was as great as the world but
there was no room in it for the memory of a wrong.” 
If somebody did something to you yesterday
or last year, forget it.  If somebody
said something about you as a kid, forget it. 
I love the comment that says “Speak well of
your enemies, after all you made them.”
You say “Preacher I can forgive but I can’t
forget.”  That may be your philosophy but
it’s not the philosophy of the Bible. 
Instead Jesus told us in Mark 11:25  But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are
holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins,
too.”
You see the measure with which you forgive
is the measure that Christ uses when He forgives you.  “But Denn you don’t know what they did to me
or said to me.”  No I don’t, and my heart
breaks for all of the hurts out there, but it also breaks for the hurt that
people do to themselves when they hold on to and nurture the hurts of the
past.  Why?  Because that will destroy you quicker than
anything. 
We all know 1 Corinthians 13 as the love
chapter of the bible and part of that chapter tells us 1
Corinthians 13:5
 It (love) keeps no record of being wronged.
So when you constantly bring those old
hurts up to your friend, family member or spouse, when you can’t let it go, you
are really saying “I don’t love you enough to let this go.”
When you dwell on how hard done by you are
it will eat you up and make you bitter. 
If someone can make you stoop so low as to hate them, they win. 
As we step from today into tomorrow let’s forget
all of the petty hurts and injustices, and all of the big hurts and injustices
from the past.  It’s time to let go of
those resentments.
If you can forget only one thing in today,
forget the grievances that you have against others whether they be friend or
foe and get on with your life.
2) In
Order to Hold unto Trust, We Need to Let Go of Worry
If you’ve been in our living room then you know that we have a
rocking chair, and rocking chairs are like worry.  They give you something to do, but they don’t
get you anywhere. 
I am convinced that 2/3 or those who suffer
mental illness are worrying about something over which they have no
control. 
What happens is that worry starts off as a thin stream of fear trickling
through our minds.  But then as it is
encouraged, it cuts a channel into which all other thoughts are drained.  All your good positive thoughts are diverted
into the channel of worry.
Has that ever happened to you?  You start worrying about something and pretty
soon you discover that it has consumed all your other thoughts. 
Let’s put it into perspective.  There are 773, 672 words in the Bible, don’t
ask me how I know, just trust me on it. 
The word worry is used 36 times.  compare that with trust that is used 137
times, faith used 255 times, believe used 185 times and love used 646
times. 
And most of the times that the word worry is
used we are either being told to not worry or being asked why we are
worrying.  
It’s been said that “Worry has killed more people than work.”  but maybe that’s because more people
worry then work.  Listen up people,
“Worry” is a sin.  it’s not just a
danger, not just a nuisance, not just a pastime, not just a habit it is a
sin! 
There are Christians who can’t understand
why people struggle with alcohol or tobacco or cussing and yet they say they can’t
stop worrying.
The same Bible that says do not commit
adultery and do not kill also says do not worry.  Worry is a sin because worry is saying, “I
don’t believe that God can handle my problems.” 
Too often we are like the old lady who
said, “I always feel bad when I feel good, because
I know that I’ll feel bad after a while.”  There are two types of things that we worry
about, a) things we can do something about, and b) things we can’t do anything
about.  So we ought to do something about
the first group and forget the second group. 
Corrie
ten Boom survived the
concentration camps of Nazi Germany and she reminds us “Worrying
is carrying tomorrow’s load with today’s strength- carrying two days at once.
It is moving into tomorrow ahead of time. Worrying doesn’t empty tomorrow of
its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.”
 Face it;  Whatever is going to
happen will happen, whether we worry or not.
3) In
Order to Succeed, We Need to Let Go of our Failures
Too many people today are paralysed by the fear of failure.  Much like Mark
Twain wrote, “The cat, having sat upon a hot stove lid, will not sit upon a hot stove
lid again. But he won’t sit upon a cold stove lid, either.”
Nobody likes to fail, but it is unfortunate
that some people seek to escape failure by not trying, which in itself
guarantees failure.  Maybe we need to
adopt the philosophy of George Bernard Shaw
who said, “When I was a young man I observed that
nine out of ten things I did were failures, I didn’t want to be a failure so I
did ten times more work.” 
We can’t be afraid of failing because fear
of failure becomes the fear of trying. 
With every attempt comes the possibility of failure. 
Let’s go back to sports analogy.  Every runner in the hundred metre sprint with
the exception of one failed to win.  But
that doesn’t mean that they will never run again. Here is an aside, did anyone
see the difference in Andre De Grasse’s reactions between when he won the
bronze in the 100 metres and when he won the silver in the 200 metres?  Recently there was a study done that showed
that athletes were visibly happier with bronze then with silver, and it was
almost palpable in Andre’s case.  Think
about it when you win bronze, you just made the podium, when you win silver you
just lost the gold, you were the first loser.
Every achievement in human history had the
potential to fail.  When we were
recruited to start what would become Cornerstone we were told that it would be
really tough and the majority of new church projects actually failed.  That was encouraging.  As a matter of fact, since Cornerstone
started our district has started 10 new churches, only 5 are still worshipping.
But if we had allowed the fear of failure to
colour our decision there would be no Cornerstone today.
Everyone one of us has failed at some point
in our lives, and if we are going to be all that God wants us to be then we
will need to look beyond our past failures to future successes.  Failure is not defeat, at least it shouldn’t
be. 
And the person who decides whether or not
yesterday’s failures will colour what you are attempting to do today is you.   
The only impact that yesterday’s failures
should have on today’s endeavours is that they should have made us wiser.  Let’s forget our failures as we move into the
future.
4) In
Order to Reach for the Future, We Need to Let Go of the Past  
We’ve already
talked about not letting our failures get in our way but we can’t let our
successes get in our way either.
There is nothing wrong with having pride in
the achievements which God has permitted us, if it’s not a gloating pride and
we recognize that it was God who was the author of our success.  But our achievements have as little bearing
on tomorrow as did yesterday’s failures. 
When I was selling on commission it didn’t
matter how good last week was you started on Monday with no sales.
No matter how high our attendance was last
year, no matter how many people came to our services over the past twelve months,
no matter how many people were touched and no matter how many people came to
the Lord we can’t stop trying.
It doesn’t matter how fast Andre De Grasse
ran at the Olympics, if he wants to eventually win gold in the Olympics he has
to keep pushing himself for tomorrow.
When the runner is a lap ahead of his
opponents he doesn’t stop to gloat, the race isn’t over until the very
end.  Too many sports teams have gotten
lazy in the last period, inning or quarter only to have an almost certain
victory snatched out of their grasp by a hungrier team.  No matter how good we think we are doing we
are never good enough to stop trying.
Victories need to be used just as failures
are, as simple lessons of life.  If we
learn not to do a particular thing because it results in failure, then we have
to learn to follow our successes.  The
trick is just because something worked well yesterday doesn’t necessarily mean
that it will work just as well tomorrow. 
New ideas and concepts can quickly become dated and traditional if we
aren’t careful.  We can’t hold onto the
old simply because it is old, nor can we embrace everything new that comes down
the track just because it’s new.  The
church is here to minister to society and as society changes so must the
church.  We don’t change the message, but
we may need to change the medium.
Techniques, programs and equipment that were
suitable 50, 30, 20, 10 5 or even 1 year ago may not be suitable or effective
today.  We can’t always base our
operation or what worked in ancient history or for that matter what worked
yesterday.  We need to continue to learn
and to use those things that we learned to further the Kingdom of God.  We need to forget the failures and also the
victories of yesterday and push onto new victories tomorrow.  Let’s never become one of those churches that
is always talking about the good old days, and how good God was back then, and
what a perfect world it used to be.
But simply forgetting isn’t enough, Paul
continues to say in Philippians 3:13-14  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,  I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the
heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.
It’s not enough to let go of the past if
you’re not ready to stretch ahead and grab hold of the future.  You know what they say, “It doesn’t matter if you are on the right track, you’ll
get run over if you just sit there.”
God has great things in store for you!  If you want them.  But unless you reach out and take them
they’ll never be yours. 
Today you are at a different place than you
were yesterday.  And tomorrow you will be
at a different place than you are today. 
Some things that will happen you have no control over, but you can
control how you will face tomorrow. 
Your future belongs to you, it’s yours and
it’s there if you want it.  No matter
what your past may be your future is spotless.
I believe that this is going to be a great
year for Cornerstone and I intend to do everything I can to make it just
that. 
I plan on straining ahead toward what is
ahead.  I believe that things will be
done in, through and by Cornerstone Wesleyan Church that have never been done
before, do you believe that?
Can you join me in believing that?  Do you believe that Cornerstone Wesleyan
Church has something to offer to our communities, to Hammonds Plains, Bedford,
Sackville, Dartmouth and Halifax?  Do you
believe that we are preaching a Christ who is relevant for today and do you
believe that we are offering the needed love and acceptance that the people of
our communities are crying out for?
I believe that we do, and I believe that we
can see souls saved and lives changed. 
Can you see it?  Can you reach
it?  Can you believe it?  but more than that I believe that our people,
you, are going to get a deeper vision of the Lord and reach out to the people
whom you love and care for.
We have to dream.  We have to have a vision of the future.  But more than that we need to be willing to
reach out for that dream, willing to strive for it to yearn for it to strain
toward what is ahead.
The picture that Paul is drawing is that of
a runner, not content to simply run, but pushing himself to be victorious,
reaching out with his fingers straining to push himself over the finish line
before his competitors.
Paul was ever pushing, ever straining for
the cause of Christ.  He was never
content to simply watch the race go by but instead had to be in the very fore
front.  Not content to finish last, or
third or even second.  Instead Paul
sought to run the race as a winner, forgetting the laps that were behind him,
his eyes seeing only the victory tape at the end of the course and pushing himself
on to that victory.
God has brought you to where you are, you
don’t have to start over but every day you have to start.   

Spending for Gold

–>

I kind of like the Olympics, I don’t watch a lot of them but do enjoy what I watch and enjoy cheering on the home team.

And then I stop and think about how much the Olympics cost.  Montreal finally paid for the 1976 games in 2006.  Was it any wonder the Olympic Stadium was nicknamed “The Big Owe”?

My personal investment in the Canadian team was a little over $3.50.  Which isn’t a lot until you multiply it by our population and realize that each of our medals cost Canadians 5.5 million dollars.  Not a bad deal when you discover the Australians paid double that for their medals. And I don’t begrudge it, that’s just the price of a couple of cups of coffee over four years. 

But I wonder why countries like Brazil, where over half the population lives in poverty, feel the need to spend tens of billions of dollars to host the games?  Guess it goes back to what my Daddy used to say, “I’m spending money I don’t have, to buy things I don’t need, to impress people I don’t like.”

I will never be responsible for Olympic spending, but God expects me to be responsible with what he has given me, and that is enough of a challenge.

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

James 3:16

James 3:16
The date was October 1st 1770 and the event
was the funeral of noted evangelist of the time George Whitfield.  Whitfield was a contemporary of John Wesley and
Wesley had been asked by Mr. Whitfield to deliver the funeral message.
It is interesting to note that their
relationship went back to their days at Oxford and they had both been part of
the group who formed what was known as the Holy Club, a group that would
eventually led to the formation of the Methodist Church.
Whitefield was a number of years younger
than Wesley and although he was close friends with Charles Wesley, John’s
younger brother, his relationship with John was more mentor and protégée.
A few interesting facts about George
Whitefield.   In 1739, when he was 25, he
visited the Colonies, in what would eventually become the United States, and
held evangelistic meetings.  One
historian said that George Whitefield became America’s first celebrity and by
the time he returned to England that 80 percent of all American Colonists had
heard him preach at least once. 
It is said that outside of royalty he was
perhaps the only living person whose name would be recognized by any person
living in the Colonies.  It was during
that time that he became close friends with Benjamin Franklin and Franklin once
estimated that without amplification Whitefield could be heard by more than
30,000 people.
After Whitefield preached in one community Benjamin Franklin wrote, “wonderful…
change soon made in the manners of our inhabitants. From being thoughtless or
indifferent about religion, it seem’d as if all the world were growing
religious, so that one could not walk thro’ the town in an evening without
hearing psalms sung in different families of every street.”
One source stated that during this
relatively short ministry, he died at 56, which used to seem really old, that
he had He preached at least 18,000 times to perhaps 10 million hearers.  So you can understand what Whitefield meant
when he said “I would rather wear out than rust out.”
But back to the funeral.  I’m sure that there were those who were
confused by the fact that Wesley was asked to preach Whitefield’s funeral,
especially when they discovered that Whitefield himself had requested Wesley.
You see even though John Wesley had been
George Whitefield’s mentor during the early years of Whitefield’s ministry the
two had a falling out over doctrine.  And
for the past twenty years were at odds. 
You see Whitefield was a Calvinist and Wesley was an Armenian.  And if you know what that means then you
understand the rift, and if you don’t know what that means you’ll have to buy
me a coffee because we don’t have the time to get into it this morning. 
Suffice to say that Calvinist and Armenians
often find themselves on opposite sides of the theological spectrum.
And for years their theological views separated
these two preachers.  They spoke
publically against the others views and wrote theological discourses defending
their stands.  It wasn’t bitter or nasty,
they didn’t call each other names they just didn’t agree and they didn’t
pretend they did. 
Neither one of the men was a stranger to
opposition or disagreement, as a matter of fact we are told that Whitefield
welcomed opposition, he was quoted once as saying “The
more I am opposed, the more joy I feel”.
And then something happened. Listen to how John Wesley described what happened at
Whitefield’s funeral.
“There
are many doctrines of a less essential nature … In these we may think and let
think; we may ‘agree to disagree.’ But, meantime, let us hold fast the
essentials…”
Wesley and Whitefield had come to a place
where they agreed to disagree.  They
decided that the kingdom was greater than their personal views.
I heard that phrase when I first began my
ministry, when I discovered that one of my greatest supporters in our church
and I differed theologically and Russell explained that we just needed to
“Agree to disagree” and it worked.  And
through the past thirty years I have agreed to disagree with a pile of people.
It was only in the past couple of years
that I discovered that was a Wesley phrase, but it wasn’t original with Wesley.  In a letter to someone a few years earlier
Wesley had written,  “If you agree with me, well:
if not, we can, as ‘Mr. Whitefield used to say, agree to disagree.’”
We are in week nine of our 3:16 series,
which if you haven’t been with us through the summer we been preaching from
various Chapter 3 verse 16s found in the Bible. 
We began back in June with the obvious one John 3:16 and have gone from
there, both in the Old Testament and the New Testament.  And the staff has been really enjoying the
series.  Hope that you have as well, but
if not then I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree.
This week’s 3:16 comes from the book of
James.  We might be tempted to think this
book was written by the Apostle James but it was in fact written by James the
half-brother of Jesus, same mother different father.
And I love the book of James, it is so full
of practical advice.  Not everybody agrees
with me,  Martin Luther once wrote, “St. James’ epistle is really an epistle
of straw
.”  But
that wouldn’t be the only thing that Luther and I would have to agree to
disagree over. 
And James writes about the dangers of the
tongue and warns about playing favorites in church, he tells us that faith
without works is dead, that’s a part of what upset Luther. 
Over and over again James addresses issues
that have the potential to damage the church. 
And in this particular section James
reminds his readers of the dangers that can arise when we disagree with one
another.  Which is where this week’s 3:16
comes in.   In James 3:16 we read, James 3:16  For wherever there is jealousy
and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind.
But like all the other 3:16 this verse
can’t stand alone, and it begins in James 3:1  Dear brothers and sisters, not many of you
should become teachers in the church, for we who teach will be judged more
strictly.
So specifically this passage is directed
toward those who teach in the church, and while we might be tempted to narrow
that down to pastors it really goes much broader. 
And so it is in the section that Shawn read
for us that James lays out guidelines for “Agreeing to Disagree”
The first thing we need to realize is that We All Teach    While this scripture was specifically
directed toward those who taught formally in a church setting it really applies
to all of us.
Because anytime we attempt to persuade
someone of our particular view we step into the shoes of a teacher.  And that is where difficulties arise, because
the only things we attempt to teach are those things that we feel passionately
about. 
Which is why Barclay
wrote “One of the most difficult things in the
world is to argue without passion and to meet arguments without wounding. To be
utterly convinced of one’s own beliefs without at the same time being bitter to
those of others is no easy thing; and yet it is a first necessity for the
Christian teacher and scholar.”
We might be trying to convince someone of
our particular theological view, or political view, or preference for our
favorite sports team or food or music choice but in all of that we are teaching.  Or attempting to teach. 
There was a time that was done face to
face, or if you wanted to reach a broader audience you wrote a letter to the
editor of the local newspaper.  My dad
loved to write letters to the editor, he was that guy.  And I must confess that I have written a
letter or two in my day.
Today we have social media and people try
to convince others of their view via Facebook or Twitter or whatever platform
they choice to use.  And because sharing
a link or cutting and pasting is much easier than actually sitting down,
composing a letter, writing a letter, finding an envelope, addressing the
envelope, buying a stamp and mailing a letter, more people attempt to persuade
others of their views. 
Unfortunately, because it’s that easy we often
don’t think about what we are saying or conveying.  It’s a very passive aggressive way of getting
our opinion across.
So what can we learn in today’s scripture.
James 3:14-16  But if you are bitterly jealous and there is
selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and
lying.  For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such
things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic.  For wherever there is
jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every
kind.
The
Wrong Side of the Argument
There seems to be a lot of stuff here but
when you boil it down there are two factors that come into play here and colour
our teaching in a very negative way.  Two
things that will make things go south, and James identifies these as Selfish Ambition and Jealousy.
Selfish Ambition is the need to win the
argument no matter what.  Ultimately that
is what it’s all about.  And this is the
one I struggle with the most.  Before I
was a preacher I was a high school debater. 
And when I debated you argued both sides of the issue.  So you weren’t crafting your arguments because
you were passionate about the issue, you were crafting the arguments so you
could win.
That for right or for wrong the goal was to
convince people to believe how you believed. 
And when you are being scored on a win lose basis there is no problem,
but in life it’s normally not that simple.
Not everybody will believe what you
believe, no matter how passionate you are about it, and if your goal is to make
sure everybody believes what you believe you will a very annoying person to be
around.
I realize that not everybody will believe
everything that Denn believes.  That
would require that everybody was a Habs fan, that everybody thought a really
good hamburger was the perfect food, that everybody crossed their theological
Ts and dotted their doctrinal Is just like I do, and everybody would roll their
eyes when people talked about the moon landing. 
Sometimes even I have a hard time believe everything I believe. 
And if my goal in life was to persuade you
to believe as I did. . .I would probably alienate you and possible that would
stand in the way of my sharing the really important thing that I have to share
with you, the love and grace of Jesus.
You might not know it but I’m fairly
passionate pro-life, and early in my ministry it coloured a lot of what I said
and how I said it.  And I was very public
and very loud about my beliefs.  And
there were people who didn’t attend our church because of that stand.  Was it a bad stand?  Nope, I am still passionate about what I
believe when it comes to protecting life from natural conception to natural
death.  But that can’t stand in the way
of what I have been called to do and that is to help depopulate hell.  And my political views, or how I feel about international
situations, or the Habs, or the moon landing are all secondary to my calling.     Now
if you ask me how I feel about the subject I will tell you, and if I’m in a
situation when I need to speak up, I do. 
But it no longer defines who I am.
And even in spiritual issues, I know what I
believe but if my only goal is to make you believe the same way, it probably
won’t happen.
There isn’t a person at Cornerstone or
maybe in the world who would be in 100% agreement with me on everything.  And that’s fine, hopefully we can agree to
disagree.  
And I have to realize that the Apostle Paul
didn’t convince everybody to believe the same way he did, for that matter Jesus
didn’t convince everybody to believe what he said.  I can preach into your head but only the Holy
Spirit can preach into your heart.
The second side of the equation is
Jealousy.  And maybe you are wondering
how that works.  I think that comes into
the equation when you are arguing one side of the argument but wish you were on
the other side.  
And in this situation you are really trying
to convince yourself that what you believe is right and in order to do that you
belittle the other person’s beliefs and arguments.  Because if you can convince yourself that
their beliefs have no merit than you will feel better about what you believe. 
Sometimes when I hear or read the arguments
of those who deny faith it seems that they are jealous of the faith they don’t
believe in.  And there are times that I
hear Christians argue against immoral behaviour that it seems that they are
jealous of what they are missing.
James
3:13, 17-18
 If
you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life,
doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom.  


But the
wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all
times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and good deeds. It
shows no favoritism and is always sincere.  And those who are peacemakers
will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.
The
Right Side of the Argument:   
In this section James speaks of the characteristics of Godly
wisdom.  Remember he is telling folks how
they should teach, and it is apparent that that if you are going to make an
impact it has to go beyond the words that you use. 
And he so starts by telling us that if we
are going to teach then need to start by living your message.  Doesn’t matter what you are teaching about,
if your example is inconsistent with your message, your example will win
out.  And it all goes back to you have to
walk the walk and talk the talk but you also have to walk the talk and talk the
walk.
If you say you are concerned with the
environment and drive a hummer, the environmental message might be lost.  If you say you love God but you live like the
Devil, you will have a pretty shaky witness. 
If you say church is a priority but you only make it out every six weeks
or so. . .
And listen to the attributes of this type
of this type of wisdom.  We are told this
type of teaching is Pure, Peace loving, gentle, willing to yield to others,
full of mercy and good deeds.  It shows
no favoritism and is always sincere.
Are they the attributes that you
demonstrate while you are trying to convince someone of your point of view?
How many have been watching the Olympics,
even a little bit? 
So have you watched the sprints?  It seems like the eyes of the world are on Bolt
and De Grasse,  this has been so
surprising for so many.  Here are two
competitors, one will win one will lose. 
It’s that simple.  And at least during
the past week we’ve seen that they can still enjoy one another’s presence.
Here are some things I’ve learned, though
years which are some practical ways you can demonstrate those attributes.
Don’t
be Anonymous:  
If you have a problem with somebody or something then own it.  It is really hard to deal with anonymous
complaints or differences of opinions.  Though
the years I have received my share of “Suggestions”, and when there is a name
signed to the “Suggestion” then you can at least talk about it with the
person.  But when there is no name you
can’t enter into a dialogue and you don’t even know if it’s valid, a suggestion
coming from someone who is committed to Cornerstone and it’s ministry has to
carry more weight than the same suggestion coming from someone who attends
another church.
Don’t
draw Lines in the Sand: 
There are somethings in life that I don’t like.  I don’t like anchovies on my pizza.  I don’t like rap music.  I don’t like Brussel sprouts and I don’t like
lines drawn in the sand.  You know what I
mean.  In the movie, the hero, or
sometimes the villain will use a stick to draw a line in the sand and then they
say something like “If you step over that line bad things are going to happen.” 
And sometimes we do that, we get to the end
of the argument or disagreement and we finish with an ultimatum, “If you don’t
do this, or don’t do that then . . . “ We draw a line in the sand, and it’s
really hard to back away from that.
The year I graduated from High School I
went to work fishing with my father and that winter the boat was laid up having
some work done so the crew scattered and found different work.  I was working back at Tip Top and  a situation came up and I told my manager
that if it happened again I would quit. 
That evening I was telling my father what I had done and he said “You
know if it happens again you are going to have to quit.”  And he told me about a captain he worked with
on the tugs who was always threatening to quit, and it became a joke and so did
he.
Well you can guess what happened, the
situation came up again and I had to quit, didn’t really want to but the line
had been drawn in the sand.
I was wisely counselled when I accepted my
first positon as a full time solo pastor “Choose carefully the hill you want to
be crucified on.”
In the past couple of months, I’ve had a
couple of people draw a line in the sand, one in effect said “If Cornerstone
holds the same view as the Wesleyan Church on this position we are
leaving.”  Seriously? Where do you go
from there? 
There was a fairly significant vote this
summer in how the Wesleyan Church defines membership, I voted against it, I was
in the minority.  But simply because I
didn’t agree with it doesn’t mean that I take my ball and go home when it
didn’t go my way.  Have I been convinced
that it was the right move?  Not
yet.  But it was a move that has been
made.
And finally,  Don’t
make it personal: 
This really goes
back to the agreeing to disagree philosophy. 
We live in a society that speaks loudly about tolerance but has very
little tolerance for those who don’t agree with society. 
Sometimes you may want to say “The world is
full of idiots, and you are their king”, 
but really, is it helpful?
The problem is that once you allow it to
become personal then it’s all downhill from there.  You eventually digress into name calling and
demonize the person you are arguing with. 
And if you’re not careful even offline arguments tend to follow Godwin’s
law to a certain degree.  Are you
familiar with Godwin’s law?  First stated
by American attorney Mike Godwin it states,
“As an online argument grows longer and more
heated, it becomes increasingly likely that somebody will bring up Adolf Hitler
or the Nazis.”
You don’t have to convince everyone of your
point of view.  And if they don’t agree
you’re your point of view, or your theology for that matter it doesn’t make
them less of a person.
As a matter of fact you can have relationships
with people who don’t agree with you. 
Reg Thomas is a Wesleyan pastor in Perth Andover NB, and we have been
best friends since we were 14.  And we
disagree on pretty much everything.  But we
are still best friends.
In closing, listen to the words of Peter, 1 Peter
2:17
 Respect everyone, and love your Christian brothers and
sisters. Fear God, and respect the king.

Here He Comes

“Planet Earth Pauses to Watch the Spectacle of Sprint”  That was the headline that caught my attention the other day, and at first I thought that if the rest of the world was like me, the headline probably wasn’t far off.  There doesn’t seem to be an Olympic event that captures the attention of the world like the men’s 100 metre sprint.  It is the sporting event that I watch faithfully… every four years.  And it’s not just a gold medal at stake, there is the entire bragging rights of being the fastest man in the world.

But then I realized that the headline was more hyperbole than reality.  Most of the world has more important things to worry about than a 10 second race, things like survival.
However, the Bible tells us that there will be an event that will capture the attention of the entire planet, and that event is the return of Jesus.

And when that happens everyone will pause, and while there were those who were indifferent to the outcome of the Olympic event there will be no one, not one, who will be indifferent to the return of Christ.  And the only person who can decide what the return of Christ will mean to you, is you.

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